With modern Doctor Who about to enter its third distinct era -
when Chris Chibnall takes over from Steven Moffat as head writer in 2018 - it
is odd to think that the
sci-fi juggernaut’s 21st century run is now old enough to be looked back on as a piece of television history in itself. But that’s what Doctor Who historian (and former Starburst-er) David J. Howe has done in his new retrospective on Russell T Davies’ time on the show.
Then and Now compiles Howe’s reviews of
every episode from ‘Rose’ to ‘The End of Time: Part Two’ that were originally
published on his blog Howe’s Who when
the stories first aired. These are then accompanied by new comments from the
author on how differently he views the episodes today. It’s a neat premise for
an analytical look at Who, and in
some cases it produces some really interesting results e.g. Howe originally
loved 2005’s ‘Father’s Day’ but now he can’t stand it.
As the material was initially intended
for a personal blog, the reviews are very subjective and stream of consciousness,
which makes for an enjoyably conversational read. The republication of Howe’s
original thoughts will also resurface some fond memories for Who fans,
particularly in covering Eccleston’s series where Howe is clearly just so
excited to have Who back on the
screen after 16 years without it.
You might not always agree with Howe (he
controversially doesn’t like Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, for instance), but
his underlying love for the programmes never fails to shine through. The writer
wears his fan credentials on his sleeve and regularly compares RTD’s episodes
to similarly-themed classic Who stories.
And, just like any self-respecting fan, he enjoys picking out the holes in
logic and any unanswered questions left by the end of the episode.
Unlike some fans who claim to be lovers
of the show but don’t seem to actually like it, Then and Now is clearly written by someone who
adores Doctor Who and who writes about it with enthusiasm and humour, as well
as giving it a fair and honest critique. A book made by a Doctor Who fan for Doctor Who fans, this is an easy recommendation.
THEN AND NOW - DOCTOR WHO / AUTHOR: DAVID J, HOWE / PUBLISHER: CREATESPACE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW