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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
$41.68 $26.78

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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: #2,258,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Apparently, this book is based on a series of blog entries by Mr. Sandifer, though, according to him, these entries are somewhat revised and expanded. I have never read his blog so I can’t comment on that, but I am certainly happy to have this book. Like most books of criticism, I have differences of opinion about certain things. On the other hand, Mr. Sandifer is obviously a well-read, well-watched fan—something that I don’t always find reflected in writing about Doctor Who—and he’s got a number of perceptive things to say about the show.

For example, I am fascinated by his discussion of “the problem of Susan”, (i.e. the problem of sexual maturity in children’s stories) drawn originally from Susan in the C.S. Lewis Narnia stories but equally applicable to the Doctor’s granddaughter. I find his connections between pop culture and the development of various episodes quite interesting. He also has been the only writer I’ve read so far whose been able to get me thinking about some of the Doctor Who materials beyond the episodes themselves. I don’t really care about the novels and stories that have been written to fix continuity mistakes and flesh out the characters (often with a lot of bare flesh), but at least Mr. Sandifer has some thoughtful connections to make between the stories and the show, though it gets a bit much for me after a while.

As to my disagreements with Mr. Sandifer, most are minor; however, I do believe he grossly overreacts to the racism in “The Ark” and “The Celestial Toymaker” to the point where he considers them “not canon”. I’m glad he discusses the racism in these episodes because most modern viewers would likely be ignorant of this; particularly in “Toymaker”.
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