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TARDIS Eruditorum - A Unauthorized Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 1: William Hartnell Paperback – November 11, 2011

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About the Author

Philip Sandifer has a PhD in English focusing on film and media studies. He teaches and is a freelance writer.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1467951587
  • ISBN-13: 978-1467951586
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,728,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By pango on January 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had thought no one would be able to match the legendary six-volume Lawrence Miles and Tat Wood analysis of Doctor Who, which seemed like the last (very long) word on the subject. Then came a blog started last year by one incredibly productive academic, and suddenly there's a viable challenger.

First, a caveat: as other reviewers have noted, the book version is missing a chapter, and sadly, it's for a fantastic story (and good essay), "The Massacre." You may wish to get the Kindle version if that omission will bother you (Sandifer has put his revised essay up for free on his site, and will include it in the next volume.) Also, the restrictions of self-publishing are evident in places. I wished for some different fonts now and again, some pull quotes or something to break up what can seem like an endless run of identical-looking pages. But that's really minor stuff.

What's great about Phil's book is his fearlessness, his willingness to stake out a jaw-dropping argument (e.g., that "The Ark" and "Celestial Toymaker," two fairly revered Who stories, are irredeemable racist garbage) and make his case clearly and succinctly (and convincingly). His take on the "Tenth Planet" argues that serial has been entirely misunderstood by generations of fans, and that it's in fact the horrifying sudden demise of the show, from which Who has never quite recovered. He analyses the much-maligned "The Chase" as postmodern goof. He rightly praises Maureen O'Brien, the oft-forgotten, secret Mod heart of Hartnell's best era. With great insights into Nineties novels that attempted to reclaim the era.

Essential stuff. Buy this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Beasley on January 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Much like the blog where this material was originally written, this book is a thought-provoking look at the William Hartnell years of Doctor Who. I loved Sandifer's efforts to interpret these stories in the context of their time. The essay on The Tenth Planet is a great example of this approach, where Sandifer strips away all of the fan lore that has built up over the years to look at how intensely frightening this story must have been. Also valuable were Sandifer's look at the influences on the writers, from other television shows to the occult, and at how fandom has reinterpreted this era of the show.

A downside of this format is that it requires knowledge of the stories themselves, or access to a good reference. Sandifer doesn't spend time summarizing what each story is about. This is something to keep in mind. My print edition also had numerous typos and a missing essay (however, the essay will appear in the next volume, which I intend to buy!). These are minor downsides - on the whole, this book is an excellent read for dedicated fans of Doctor Who and deserves to stand with other works like About Time and the Discontinuity Guide.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Wagner on January 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Phil Sandifer has been blogging the history of Dr. Who from the very first episode on 1963, wandering through a "psychonography" of the program, not just the characters, but the actors, the producers, the writers, and the times and cultural events that shaped it, unconsciously. This first volume collects his blog from the very first entry through the end of the William Hartnell era, but also includes some excellent expanded material, essays written just for the book, and a nice wrap up of Hartnell the man and "The Doctor" as portrayed by same.

It's a fascinating and thought provoking ride - not always fun, as Sandifer is unafraid of challenging quite a bit of received fan wisdom, and of bringing to light painful topics such as the blatant racism in several early stories, but honest and interesting, with a voice that invites discussion.

To be fair to the reader, I'd point out that there were some printing mistakes in the paper edition of this first volume, including an entire missing chapter. If you've got a kindle or e-reader that will support the electronic edition, I'd go for that first since you'll get the corrected form.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robbie Dorion on October 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I recently got into, and completely caught up with NuWho, and started watching Classic Who from the beginning. I felt like I needed something to help put it into perspective, and I found this author's blog. After watching a few stories and reading the blog posts that went with them, I noticed a link to his book, which is a cleaned up and expanded version of the blog. This does a great job of putting everything in perspective, and brings up some great points to think about for each episode.

The only problem I have in the content and criticism is what I see as a tendency to be too quick to call something out as racist. Sure, in retrospect "But... you're perfect!" is probably the wrong choice of words for Susan to use in the first Dalek serial when confronted by the tall muscular fair skinned blond hair blue eyed Thals, just like Hemingway's characterization of Cohn as the unpleasant Jew and use of the n-word in The Sun Also Rises now seems a little insensitive. Going around harping on art that wasn't able to rise above the cultural prejudices of its time seems to me to be a bit... I'm not sure, distasteful? Sure, there's some stuff that deserves it, but this isn't that.

The only problem I have with the presentation of this Kindle book is it doesn't seem to have a table of contents, which seems to me to be a huge oversight that makes it quite a bit more burdensome to use. Perhaps its my fault, I don't have a Kindle anymore, and this is the first book I've ever read with the PC Kindle app. If not, I would really greatly appreciate having a table of contents in the book, I couldn't imagine it being left out on purpose, it would mean the blog is more functional then the book!

Overall, this is a great companion for watching the first Doctor, and provides me with the contextual information I needed to appreciate the series.
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