Time Of The Doctor: The Unoffical And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who: 2012 & 2013 by Stephen James Walker (book review).

As author Stephen James Walker points out in the introduction to the long-titled ‘Time Of The Doctor: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who: 2012 & 2013’, the modern series 7 was split across two years. As showrunner Steven Moffat points out, he didn’t want ‘Doctor Who’ become an expected occasion at a particular time of year. Mind you, when you consider that the original show went on for many years in 25 minute episodes at a regular time for many year and viewing figures started to dip when it was moved around, it shows either how times have changed or people have a lower attention span.


If you’ve been collecting these books over the years, you should be familiar with the format as Walker takes a walk through the various media events and activities before, during and after production, before looking at individual stories. Indeed, this might also point out things that you might have missed. I do have to wonder if anyone can claim to have been to or seen everything anymore though. After this, an examination of all the stories and in the appendixes, even books and audio-stories.

Walker’s accuracy only rarely has me raise my own comments and as its likely to be some of the things you might react to, I’ll include some as well. I wasn’t aware that a half hour prequel to ‘Asylum Of The Daleks’ was originally only available to the American audience before hitting the DVD/blu-ray boxsets. Finding out that there were so many, some being put only in the boxsets tends to mean that they are meant only for the die-hards or to entice people to go that way. There is a little matter of why was the on/off switch for this mad Dalek planet on it. That one I did have a ponder on and wonder if the Daleks actually had a warden down there until something went wrong.

With ‘Dinosaurs On A Spaceship’ and the Doctor allowing Solomon to die, you have to consider that he had already killed off a spaceship of Silurians and had he gone free, how many other people he could kill? In some cases, when no other justice service is available, it is often the Time Lords who have to serve in such cases and as the Doctor is the only one out there, decisions have to be made to save more lives. That being the case, Solomon’s place in time is obviously not going to change the future if he wasn’t around.

There are references in ‘A Town Called Mercy’ about how long the Doctor had been taking Amy and Rory out on adventures. I’ve felt a little uneasy that he’s been spreading this out over 300 years because it tends to leave too many gaps where we haven’t seen any of his activities. I mean, did he really avoid the Daleks and Cybermen in that time period? Didn’t he get any attachments to any other supposed companions in that time considering he likes to have company? I’d be more predisposed to thinking he made the number up to reassure them he’d been busy elsewhere than stalking them along their time-line.

With ‘The Rings Of Akhaten’, it looks like Walker agrees with something I wrote at the time that the Doctor tends to come over as something of a stalker in this story as he observes Clara’s childhood.

For ‘Cold War’, I’ve always had a problem with the TARDIS’ Hostile Action Displacement System (HADS) factility. The TARDIS in the past has withstood Daleks disintegrator blasts so what could possibly be more harmful? Even if it needed some protection, wouldn’t it make more sense to just dematerialise, which has been done in the past than relocation? The ‘relative’ aspect would still keep it associated with the submarine.

I did have a ponder on how the TARDIS exceeded the Doctor’s expectations in ‘Hide’ getting into a pocket universe but when you consider River Song’s comment that he ‘flies it with the break on’, you have to wonder if the Time Lord has fully read the time capsule manual. Considering that the TARDIS itself is a form of pocket universe about the size of a planet, it could have been much bigger than any place it arrives at.

The discussion on Neil Gaiman’s story ‘Nightmare In Silver’ by Walker is very thorough and honest. Just to contribute my own thoughts for when you read his. Gaiman is principally a fantasy not SF writer so would tend to include plot elements that would make a story work rather than having to justify why they were there or just use what’s available for plot solving. Walker points out that Gaiman expected to have Moffat go over his story and didn’t and you have to wonder at such exclusivity (Gaiman isn’t the only one Moffat just lets through) as being part of or not doing the job.

Something else I agree with Walker is how come the Paternoster Row gang hasn’t had their own TV series? In some respects, that’s easy. If Moffat wants to showrun it himself, then his duties on ‘Sherlock’ as well means he doesn’t have the time. Even so, you would have to wonder why he doesn’t let someone else do it rather than waste such a trio of potential.

There does come an odd question as to why Vastra can only contact River Pond after her personality had been embedded in that computer. Time-lines can be tricky but as the Paternoster Row gang are keeping up with the current regenerations and River Pond is living a life in the opposite direction or at least as far as the Doctor’s time-line is concerned, then you would have thought they would have been picking up on her physical than metaphysical presence.

Walker’s comments on the final two stories of Matt Smith’s tenure mirror comments I made at the time. With ‘The Time Of The Doctor’, adding another 300 years to the Doctor’s life-span always seemed like an odd choice to do, although you do have to wonder why is it always 300 years! Any mental dilemmas he had about his own actions over the years could have been resolved in a couple decades tops. Saying that, he could do anything he wants for centuries on end and then time travel and sort out trouble spots is always the normal solution. However, by that logic, he could sort out the problems of the universe in an indefinite age span.

As usual, with books of this nature, you’re going to read, digest and react, which is always healthy. Most of the time, I agree with Walker’s comments and in my own above, it’s more a case of the few I’m less sure about. If you’re collected the previous volumes of this book series, then you will certainly want to add this one to your collection.

GF Willmetts

August 2016

(pub: Telos. 466 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84583-944-4)

check out website: www.telos.co.uk

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