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Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
End of Ten: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2009


Author: Stephen James Walker
Telos Publishing
RRP: £14.99, US $29.95, Cdn $27.95
ISBN: 978 1 84583 035 9
Available 31 August 2010

Ah the end of an era for David Tennant’s Doctor Who and as ever Telos Publishing is there with another unofficial and unauthorised guide.

End of Ten, written by Stephen James Walker, sets out to cast a critical eye on the 2009 season of shows, which consisted of specials. Four stories - The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead, The Waters of Mars and the two-parter, The End of Time - are covered in detail.

The book is broken up into five sections, the first of which deals with the gap year chronicling developments on the show and what the cast and crew engaged in. Although the show proper was off the screens there was enough speculation over its future to keep it a live subject for many fans, especially the search for a new actor to replace Tennant. The first four chapter chronicle, in detail, this time, from just before the gap year up to and including the transmission of Tennant’s last story.

Part Two: Bio-Data provides some background information on the main cast and principle creative team. Part Three: Production Credits is a five page list of everyone involved in the show, with an indication as to which show they worked on.

Getting away from creating lists, Part Four: Episode Guide takes a look at the individual stories. Whereas the previous portions of the book were factually based, this section is very much Walker's take on the individual stories, which means that you do not have to agree with his analysis. In many cases I found my own take on the show at odds with Walker's, but as the writer it is his prerogative to put forward his point of view.

The layout of this section seemed overly familiar until I remembered that Walker had co-written the excellent Doctor Who: The Television Companion, so the book follows a similar pattern of credits, synopsis, quotes, continuity and discontinuity, throwing a few press reactions before Walker gets his critical teeth into each show. Whereas The Television Companion had a variety of often differing views this analysis is Walker's alone. For the greater part this is a well thought out and informative critique, however at times there are apparent inconsistencies in his view of the show.

On page 89 he appears to be praising the Doctor declaring himself as the ‘Time Lord Victorious’, a fairly extreme departure for the character. Here Walker declares that this adds an ‘emotional punch’ and even goes some way to linking it to previous doctors, yet by page 117 any behaviour which seems to diverge from Walker's own view of the Doctor's character comes under some stiff criticism.

Likewise, he bemoans that The End of Time - Part Two left plot threads and mysteries unanswered, for the most part this is criticised until we get to the ‘Woman in White’ which he prefers to be left as unanswered as he would like the character to have been Romana, even though Davies stated that it was the Doctor's mother. If he thought that was bad he should avoid Lost at all costs.

Page 113 to 215 consists of the appendixes which list all the original books, comic strips as well as a quick look at Dreamland and Doctor Who at the Proms.

Even with some of the inconsistencies Walker displays a depth of knowledge about Who, both current and past which allows him to form strong opinions on what he feels is good Who. The book is well written and because of its layout can be used either as a reference or dipped in and out of.

You don’t have to agree with Walker, at many points I didn’t, but what a really dull world it would be if we all held the same opinions, what the hell would we talk about then? As an afterword I agree with Walker, it should have been Romana.


Charles Packer

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