Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Running Men

Would you dedicate an entire year to sitting and watching every single Doctor Who television episode ever made, including the lost ones? I don't think I would; but then, I'm not exactly the most hard-core of Dr Who fans. I don't mind watching the ones that still exist, but having run screaming in terror after five minutes of the Shada reconstruction, I suspect that the other recons are probably not for me. But thanks to the bravery of Messers Robert Shearman (all round thoroughly nice chap who we kidnapped, er, interviewed last year) and Toby Hadoke (apparently he has a Lepidoptera problem with his knitwear), technically I no longer have to. Because they've done it for me.

And my, that's quite a weight of paper you have there. Its pretty small print as well, so its more than worth the asking price, if for no other reason than to honour the memory of the rainforests that gave their lives in its production. And there are little running men on the tops of all the pages; the ones on the right hand side even form a flickbook! Further evidence, if it were needed, that there's proper geeks behind this enterprise. Mad Norwegian ones, in fact.

The book itself is laid out like a diary, day by day, from January 1st to May 7th 2009, covering Hartnell and Troughton's tenures. Each participant gives his views on both of the episodes watched on that particular date, and occasionally a few asides about Dr Who news, conventions they're attending and life in general; Toby even manages to get married in the middle of it (but technically not in this installment). Rob is a good writer and his sections are positive, bouncy and mostly forgiving; I'm not familiar with Toby's work at all, but his sections are also witty if a little less rosy, on the whole, than Rob's.

I have to admit, I haven't read all of this book, just the sections for the episodes I've actually seen. And seeing as this volume (the first of three) covers the 1960s, that means there's an awful lot of episodes that the BBC kindly tossed in a skip, set fire to or just plain wiped. I have seen Invasion, though; I love what Cosgrove Hall did with the animated missing two parts and would dearly love to see more lost episodes resurrected this way, as would Toby. Sadly, seeing how long ago Invasion came out and there's been nothing else like it since, I suspect that's very unlikely to happen.

I don't agree with all of the opinions in there, although there's a lot that I do. Rob is right about the mistep of Roy Castle in the first Cushing movie (yes, I know its not canon, but they review both films anyway) but wrong about the TV version of Dalek Invasion Earth being better than the film (its alright, he doesn't respect me anymore since he found out I don't like Inferno, so I can say that with relative impunity).

Even having read just a teeny weeny bit of this book, I'm looking forward to the next two installments and I'm intrigued to see how they're going to divvy up the remaining Doctors between them. Stylistically, there are a few proofreading errors, but this is a small press publication and these things happen; ultimately, its still highly readable and I can't wait to fill in the gaps for the episodes I can catch up on properly on DVD, just to see whether I agree with the boys' take on the proceedings or not.

(Should you wish to follow the adventures of another pair of brave souls as they attempt this same gargantuan feat, the lovely Sue and her almost as lovely husband Neil Perryman are wading their way through everything over at the Tachyon TV site. I've never met Sue, but she must be lovely to sit through that lot. If that's not love, I don't know what is).


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