Home : Archive : TSV 61-70 : TSV 61 : Review

The Pocket Essential Doctor Who

By Mark Campbell

Book review by Paul Scoones

Just what we need — yet another Doctor Who episode guide... The appeal of this one is that, as the title implies, it's slim enough to slip into the pocket, presumably to take down to the store when trying to work out which video to buy next, perhaps.

At first glance, this is a perfectly serviceable guide, covering such standards as cast, main crew, UK broadcast dates, plot synopsis, etc. A great introductory book for the new fan discovering the show for the first time. Or is it? Although this does indeed seem to be the target audience, the book's author has surprisingly imbued his work with a deep cynicism about the show. Campbell hasn't come to praise the show — he's come to bury it, although as he insists in his long-winded introduction, the show was dead and buried long before he even started.

Campbell's controversial perspective of view carries over into his critical rating of the individual stories. On a scale of 0 to 5, Paradise Towers gets a 5, Timelash 4, Genesis of the Daleks 3 and Ghost Light gets the guide's only 0 (even Dimensions in Time rates higher). Differences of opinion are all very well, but I can't shake the feeling that Campbell is being deliberately provocative and flying in the face of popular opinion to draw attention to what is, after all, a very dispensable book in a market already crowded with Doctor Who episode guides.

Is this book, as the title claims, ‘Essential’? Well, I've had my copy six months now and it still looks brand new. My copy of The Television Companion is now so battered and dog-eared from continuous use that I've had to buy a second copy. There's your answer. [1/5]

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).