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About Time 3: The Unauthorized Guide to…

About Time 3: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who: Seasons 7 to 11

by Lawrence Miles, Tat Wood (Author)

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Though chronologically third, About Time 3 was actually the first volume of the series published, and consequently the shortest. Several years later, an expanded edition of it was released, but that was announced after I'd gotten this one, and I decided that though I like the About Time books, I don't love them, and I had no desire to purchase the same book over again.

In some ways, being the shortest helps the book. I rarely felt like there was less going on than I remembered from the first two volumes, so one wonders if all that extra stuff is actually all that extra. In later-written volumes, every story gets its own sidebar essay, and some of these can go off into nowhereville; there are fewer essays here, and they're more focused, with fewer of them awkwardly placing Doctor Who in a cultural context. And these ones are more reasonable, though as Lawrence Miles would later observe, a few of them are primarily there to explain why Doctor Who isn't Stargate SG-1. On the other hand, some of those bizarre essays can take us somewhere interesting, and I don't know that the book needed two essays to explain why Lance Parkin is wrong in the obviously-murky UNIT dating debate. The most insightful essay was "Just How Chauvinistic is Doctor Who?", which concludes that the answer is less than you think-- until Jo Grant (and Terrance Dicks and Berry Letts) come along. And the appraisals of individual stories continue to be insightful and interesting; I don't know if I'll ever love Carnival of Monsters or The Time Warrior, but it's easy to see how they're two of the most important Doctor Who stories ever made.

There was one thing I missed from the first two volumes: the sense of the production of Doctor Who itself, and how that drove what was going on in the show. There are some mentions of how the filming format of the series was changing, but this doesn't receive the depth of detail it would in later volumes. On the other hand, this volume has a feature that was eventually removed: writeups of how various stories were referred to in later spinoff media. I can't blame them for discontinuing this; its coverage is inconsistent and sloppy, and it primarily seems to be there to explain how Miles and Wood are smarter than David McIntee, anyway. So though this book lacks some of the shortcomings of its successors, on the whole I preferred the later-written volumes to this one.
  Stevil2001 | Dec 29, 2010 |
No, I didn't watch the entirety of the Third Doctor's Tenure (and read the accompanying book) in the one month since I finished About Time 2. Apparently when the writers first started putting out the About Time series, they had no idea if the books would be successful or if they would be a big flop. So instead of starting with the guidebooks at the beginning, focussing on the less well-known first two Doctors of the black-and-white era, they began the guidebook series with the color era, pushed forward, and then jumped back to the beginning. As a result, Vol. 2 hadn't yet been released until I was already watching the Third Doctor, leading to me reading About Time Vols 2 & 3 simultaneously. ( )
  duck2ducks | Sep 4, 2008 |

Though third in chronological sequence, this was the first of the About Time series published, covering precisely the years of Jon Pertwee as the third Doctor, and almost as precisely the years of Barry Letts as producer and Terrance Dicks as script editor. It's a huge change of setting for the show with almost two thirds of the 24 stories - including the whole of the first Pertwee season - set on contemporary Earth with the UNIT team. (Compare precisely one contemporary adventure, plus some odd bits and pieces [including the first ever episode], of the 29 Hartnell stories, and a fairly steady rate of 10-20% for the remainder of the classic series; compare, of course, also 100% of the eighth Doctor's on-screen adventures, and a third of the stories since the 2005 revival.)

Miles and Wood have done a very good job of identifying the roots of each story, literary, political and televisual. It's not yet at the levels of genius that their Volume 2 reached, but there are some glorious moments, including the frightening similarities between Jon Pertwee, Jimmy Saville and Bruce Forsythe. They have also yet to give in to the unfortunate enthusiasm for endnotes which is one of the few really annoying things about later volumes. (The five fairly restrained end-notes here concern Enoch Powell, Oswald Mosley, Sooty and Sweep, the aforementioned Bruce Forsythe, and Catweazle.) There are the usual discursive essays, of which the two best are probably on the importance of the incidental music and on the implied history of UK politics in Doctor Who. ( )
  nwhyte | Sep 4, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0975944622, Paperback)

"About Time" serves as the definitive (albeit unofficial) guide to "Doctor Who" Seasons 7 to 11-the whole of the Jon Pertwee era. Written by Lawrence Miles (Faction Paradox) and Tat Wood (SFX, TV Zone), About Time not only examines the usual continuity concerns (alien races, etc.) in bursting detail, but looks at how the political / social issues of the 1970s affected the show's production. Essays in this volume include: "When are the UNIT Stories Set?", "Just How Chauvinistic is Doctor Who?" and "When was Regeneration Invented?"

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

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