The Doctors Are In: The Essential and Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who’s Greatest Time Lord

The Doctors Are In

Out next month is an entertaining guide to the history of Doctor Who as seen through the different versions of his character over the years. The Doctors Are In, by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith, covers each Doctor, previous and modern (including “The Warrior” played by John Hurt). As part of their effort to answer “What made him the way he is? What motivates him?”, each chapter, one per version, includes the following sections:

  • A profile of the actor and his approach to the role
  • A short history of the context of his run
  • An important companion and foe
  • “Who is the Doctor?”, the meat of the character study
  • Three great and two embarrassing moments during his run
  • Each author’s analysis, most entertaining when they sometimes disagree
  • Reviews of the five episodes most essential to each incarnation

Tom Baker’s era is divided into two chapters, due to his long run and the show’s change in direction during that period. The first covers the “gothic horror” episodes, ending with The Talons of Weng-Chiang; the second, what they term “The Tom Baker Comedy Half-Hour”, playing off the star’s eccentricities.

The Doctors Are In

There are also appendices listing episodes, companions, and descriptions of multi-Doctor stories, as well as “Recommended Resources” for further reading. The authors previously wrote Who’s 50: The 50 Doctor Who Stories to Watch Before You Die.

The Doctors Are In gave me new insight on a show I’ve been watching a long time. I devoured the chapters. I found it particularly educational when it came to the older doctors, since relatively few of their stories are available to watch.

It’s helpful to read the book with this Doctor Who episode list open, since the authors do assume a certain number of shared references. There’s a list in the first appendix, but it only has title, year, and episode length, not description. Since I don’t know the episode titles and stars as well as they do, putting the shows in context for the series was helpful for me to follow along. I fear my wallet will never recover, since I now have many more Doctor Who DVD sets on my wish list.

It’s such a shame that so many of the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) years are gone. If I had a time machine, I’d visit the BBC circa 1967 and tell them they REALLY ought to have an archiving system… (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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