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

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the TARDIS Eruditorum Series

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Paperback, November 11, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

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 (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,126,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 1 on a whim. The price for Kindle was right, and an in-depth look at the early years of Who seemed interesting especially when the current events of the time and the behind-the-scenes action was factored in.

Sandifer does a wonderful job of balancing the historical aspects, the summary, and his opinion on each episode. He's not shy about giving his opinion and comparing/contrasting them with the others who've published. Sandifer also critiques some of the "extra" Who of the time (movies and other tie-ins) and some of the Missing Adventures written for Hartnell.

One of the two things that really made this book for me was the fact that Sandifer made sure to look at each of the episodes through the lens of how the episodes were first viewed. When talking about the Daleks, it was in the context that no one had ever seen them before. We didn't have the Genesis of the Daleks or the Time War with which to paint the experience. Taking time to pause and look through the eyes of a viewer from the 1960s was wonderful especially when other things going on in England at the time politically and socially was mixed in. A wonderful perspective.

The second part was the look at the behind-the-scenes. The filming pace was almost year-round - some individual episodes were written without a principal or two to give them time off. The changes in lead producers and the effect it had on the show was significant. What was the thought behind the Dalek Masterplan arc? Too many people in the TARDIS? Was William Hartnell really more racist than most people at the time? All of this painted how early Who was made, and it's fascinating history to read.

I can't wait for the Troughton volume to come out. If you like backstory, history and behind-the-scenes by all means buy this.
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