Third Dimension
The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2007

Author: Stephen James Walker
RRP: £12.99 (paperback), £30.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN: 978 1 84583 104 2 (paperback), 978 1 84583 017 5 (deluxe hardback)

Available 03 November 2007

Third Dimension is a comprehensive episode guide to Series Three of the new Doctor Who, following the ongoing adventures of the Doctor as he travels through space and time accompanied by his new companion Martha Jones and rejoined by his old friend Captain Jack Harkness. The full build-up and background are revealed, from the aftermath of Series Two and the departure of Rose Tyler right up to date, detailing all the major news stories, press releases, casting announcements and critical response...

The third unauthorised and unofficial overview of the latest season of Doctor Who from Telos Publishing sets a slight change of pace as a new writer takes the helm to guide us through the journey of Series Three.

J. Shaun Lyons, the author of the previous two essential volumes Back To The Vortex and Second Flight has admitted that his enthusiasm has waned, and now seems to have withdrawn from fandom completely, so it is left to Telos co-founder Stephen James Walker to step into his shoes and take this series forward.

The first thing you notice about Third Dimension is that it is noticeably slimmer than the previous volumes, nearly 100 pages so. I was initially worried that a more lightweight approach had been adopted by Walker, but rest assured, this book is as intensely exhaustive as its predecessors, and some of the slight pruning of material actually proves to be quite beneficial.

The format remains much the same as before, with the book split up into very clearly defined chapters. The first part plays catch-up, as Walker gives us the story so far from the cancellation of the original series to its glorious rebirth in 2005 and continued success in 2006. I wasn’t sure if this was entirely necessary in a book which is very obviously marketed at the dedicated fan, but Walker still manages to deliver an engaging read and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the guide.

We are then taken on a day by day journey into another year of Doctor Who, from July 2006 when fans were looking ahead to the forthcoming Christmas special, right up until July 2007 when the final episode of Series Three was transmitted. The excitement and anticipation is expertly captured here, as we re-live every new press report, every speculative rumour and every official announcement exactly as it happened. It’s a terrific ride, and hugely engrossing.

Following a section of biographies on cast members and the production crew, we come to the backbone of the book, an extensive critical analysis on each of the fourteen episodes of Doctor Who that were transmitted during this period. Here’s where Third Dimension differs slightly from the previous volumes, which featured lengthy essays from a large panel of writers and critics.

Walker instead dishes up a few snippets of reaction from fans and the press, and then delivers the main analysis himself. This could possibly be considered a controversial move, as it eliminates much of the differing opinion to pave the way for a sole authoritative voice from Walker, but in all honesty I think it works well, thanks largely to Walker’s erudite writing.

It’s a big disappointment that the insightful pieces from Kim Newman (one of the highlights of last year’s Second Flight) have not been followed on here, but I still think the trimming down of excessive analysis has made a tighter book.

The final chapter is a series of appendices covering the more peripheral aspects of the last year in Who, with extensive and detailed coverage on the Doctor Who Confidential documentaries, the slightly improved but still pretty awful second series of the children’s magazine show Totally Doctor Who, the quite jolly and likeable animated adventure The Infinite Quest, as well as the countless novels and comic strips that have cropped up over the last twelve months.

Overall then, maybe this is not something you’re likely to read from cover to cover, but if you savoured the first two volumes in this series, then Third Dimension is equally indispensable.

Danny Salter

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