TARDIS Eruditorum: An Unofficial Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 4-Tom Baker and the Hinchcliffe Years

By Philip Sandifer

Rating: 3 stars

This collection of academic essays about Doctor Who is not a book that I would have bought or read of my own accord, but it was a Christmas present last year, and now that I have read it, it was quite interesting.

Adapted from the blog of the same name, this is the fourth volume of the series, covering the first half of Tom Baker’s reign as the Doctor, under producer Philip Hinchcliffe, regarded by many as the show’s Golden Age. I haven’t read any of the other books, but I don’t feel that I really missed out on anything.

The book has an essay for each of the Baker stories that it covers, although it tends to use them as a jumping off point for discussing ‘around’ the series, Britain and popular culture of the era in general, a technique that the author refers to as ‘psychochronography’ and which is described in more detail on the blog prelude linked above. As well as these, there are other essays, generically headed under titles such as ‘Time Can Be Rewritten’ (essays using some of the novels as jumping off points, rather than the TV show); ‘Pop Between Realities, Home In Time for Tea’ (about other TV shows of the era and how they affected British culture); ‘You Were Expecting Someone Else?’ (dealing with spin-off material); and some other generic essays, some written specially for the book, rather than being adapted from the blog.

I’m not an academic and I often have trouble reading academic texts, so I was unsure about this. To be honest, reading this hasn’t changed that. Some of what he wrote does seem awfully pompous (especially the [awfully long] essay on The Deadly Assassin) and some left me scratching my head. But there’s also some solid critique of Doctor Who in there, and something that made me think again about stories I really like (particularly The Talons of Weng Chiang).

So, interesting enough, but I don’t think I’ll search other the other volumes of the series. I might go and read the blog though.

Book details

ISBN: 9781494254346
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Year of publication: 2013

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