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A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0786437160
ISBN-10: 0786437162
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Details the program from inception through to cancellation. Muir provides the reader with all the requisite cast, credit, and episode details, as well as synopsis and in-depth analysis...very well indexed...detailed bibliography and videography. --Booklist/RBB

Doctor Who' fans will be delighted with the book...the interviews are informative. --Classic Images

Essential...provides critical and historical examinations of the ideas, morals and philosophies contained in the hit television series...for avid Dr. Who fans. --Midwest Book Review

About the Author

John Kenneth Muir is the author of twenty-one reference books covering science fiction and horror on film and television, including award winners Terror Television (2001, Booklist Editors' Choice), Horror Films of the 1970s (2002, ALA Best Reference) and The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television (2005 New York Public Library Best Reference).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (October 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786437162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786437160
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,447,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Library Binding
The reader comments on the Amazon site lead me to expect this book to be a serious academic study of "Doctor Who," exploring the themes and stories both as elements of the popular culture and as literary forms. Muir demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of science fiction television from "Captain Video" to "Red Dwarf." Sadly, he doesn't appear to have read many books, thus the scholarly critique I had anticipated was not to be found. He is not interested in sociological or psychological deconstruction, nor with any rigorous application of literary theory. You won't find any arcane academic language, references to Derrida or Freud, or other intellectual posturing. But neither will you find it to be a satisfying analysis of the cultural and literary interaction between the show and it's audience.
Instead, Muir mostly concerns himself with "Doctor Who" in relationship to other television shows which aired before, during and after it. Much energy is focused on the question of which show was first to address a topic or use a plot device, and how the same formulas have been recycled repeatedly.
He begins with a cogent analysis of the origins of "Doctor Who," identifying H.G. Wells' The Time Machine (specifically, the 1960 George Pal film with Rod Taylor) and Nigel Kneale's marvelous "Quatermass" stories (produced by BBC TV in late 1950's) as the two templates around which the vast majority of "Doctor Who" stories are built. However, he ignores any literary antecedents that must have had at least as much if not more influence on the original series writers. You will not find the names Jules Verne, Arthur C.
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Format: Library Binding
John Kenneth Muir has given researchers of Doctor Who and culttelevision perhaps the definitive work on the Doctor Who phenomenonwith his book "A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television." The book, currently available as a hardbound edition, covers almost every element of Doctor Who from the program's origins to fandom, to the show's various spin-offs in novel and comic book form. Muir has given researchers a book which is an excellent jumping off point for more detailed investigations. Written in a scholarly style, the book opens with an inquiry into the show's origins and into its developments as it changed during the tenure of the various actors to play the Doctor. The book's first few chapters also devote time to an investigation of morality and meaning in the serial's programs, as well as cinematography and special effects. The series itself is investigated by a section that presents the show's critical reception, which was perhaps one of the most interesting reads in the tome. It was thrilling to read both the positive and the negative opinions of reviewers and critics. The book continues with a look at each and every story, giving technical information, a synopsis, a listing of the guest cast, and a short commentary on each of the series' stories. While the commentary section might be seen as built strictly on the author's opinion, Muir uses this section to provide valuable information and connections between Doctor Who's own programs. Connections are also made between these stories and other science fiction series or films. This look at each of the stories fills over 300 pages in this book and provides excellent information on the series.Read more ›
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Format: Library Binding
If you are an avid Doctor Who collector like I am, you probably have several of the many programme reference guides available to the fans already. Also, like me, you may wonder what makes a new reference work valuable; why should one buy THIS book; what does it offer that others I already own do not already say?
These were the questions I was asking when I discovered the publication of Mr. John Kenneth Muir's library-bound book, A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television. Like many other works, this book catalogues the 159 television serials extensively, and makes mention of the many other formats of the myth (the two 60s movies, the countless novels published both concurrently with and after the series' end, the 1996 television movie, the merchandise, the fan clubs and the internet resources, to name a few). The book also lists technical details of each episode, something exhaustive detail-seeking fans will appreciate.
But the thing that makes this book unique is its tracking of the themes of Doctor Who. We all are aware of at least some such themes in our treasured show : the alien invasions, the oppression and ultimate redemption of the weak, the evil imperialistic corporations, the evil threats from mythological origins, time paradoxes, environmental crises, or the question of interfering with known history. We are probably also aware of many of the show's antecedents, whether it be movies or programs we have only heard the names of (The Quatermass Experiment), or early USA science fiction that lent its own ideas - despite being launched later than Doctor Who (like the original Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica).
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