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Edited by Deborah Stanish and LM Myles
Mad Norwegian Press (2012)
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
I’m a fairly recent Doctor Who convert. Early last year I became hooked thanks to wanting to watch the Neil Gaiman authored episode “The Doctor’s Wife”, so started with the Eleventh Doctor, and was so enamoured I went immediately back to the beginning of New Who and devoured the lot. Of course I have memories of watching Classic Who when I was a kid, with the Fourth Doctor, K9 and the Daleks being the only real things that I remember. And despite the best efforts of good friends trying to encourage me to embrace a bit of Classic Who now, I’ve struggled. Well, after reading Chicks Unravel Time, I just want to go back in time myself and be able to watch the whole of Doctor Who from the very beginning!
The essays in this book are passionate, engaging and entertaining, encompassing, as the subtitle suggests, every season of Doctor Who, written by women who clearly know their stuff. As we lead up to the 50th anniversary of the airing of the first episode, I can’t think of a better way to garner an understanding of the show in its entirety! Some authors focussed on characters, some on story, some on companions, some on production, but all, even those finding fault with aspects of the show, betray the writer’s love for Doctor Who, and this more than anything was a key factor in my own enjoyment. I particularly enjoyed contributions by Barbara Hambly (looking at the first new season reboot), “The Doctor’s Balls” by Diana Gabaldon (which has awakened in me a desperate desire to watch any Jamie McCrimmon episodes possible), LM Myles’ “Identity Crisis” (considering the importance of the very first regeneration), “For the love of Tom” by Sarah Lotz (because Tom Baker was “my Doctor” until I fell in love with Matt Smith last year!), “Donna Noble saves the universe” by Martha Wells (because, Donna!), and… Look, I’m just going to name every entry in the book at this rate. Trust me when I say this is a fantastic collection of essays examining a hugely popular show from perspectives you might not have considered. It’s an excellent introduction to Classic Who, with delvings into New Who, and I recommend it to both hard core and casual fans of the show.
To be completely honest though, I do have a complaint – I simply wanted more! Some of the essays I really wanted to be longer, and I would have loved to see further exploration of the tie-in media (Big Finish audio plays and the novelisations etc) in relation to the characters being discussed. But really, when the one complaint is that the reader loves the books so much she wishes it was longer? That’s a pretty good recommendation I reckon!