TARDIS Eruditorum - A Critical History of Doctor Who Volume 1: William Hartnell - Philip Sandifer There are lots of fandoms out there, whole swathes of the population idolatrously dedicated to things ranging from My Little Pony to The Lord of the Rings, but I don’t think any fandom has quite the ravenous, delightful insanity of Whovians. For those not in the know (and if you’re reading this, I find it hard to believe that you are not), Whovians are the rabid flocks of people wholly-and sometimes scarily- dedicated to Doctor Who. I count myself among these lunatics, quite proudly, and yet there are issues with the kind of fanaticism that one encounters in the community. To understand how this works, it’s necessary to understand that there are two distinct types of fans that comprise the overall group, and here I will call them “critics” and “sheep.” Both of these sound negative, and to an extent they are semantically negative, but they are an important distinction. Among fans, there are those who love their obsession of choice, in this case Doctor Who, but as fans they are incredibly demanding and generally well-informed; they refuse to allow their love of the Whoniverse to overshadow any issues they may find with the content of the show/books/etc. and they are outspoken in any criticism they might have- hence “critics.” The other group blindly swallows everything given to them, thinking it’s just-fucking-wonderful and EXPLODES when the critical fans have anything negative to say. The sheep love to pull things out of context and rant about how their love is the only true love, blah, blah, blah and how can this person have an opinion that isn’t ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE about this thing that I love?? But to be critical is to give credit to those who create this great thing we love and to acknowledge that, while it is, in fact, not perfect, it is worth the effort of criticism.

Artists and writers have always had a beef with critics, and yet it can be argued that criticism is necessary to the better understanding and appreciation of art. Whether to galvanize the defenders of a work through negative observations, or to spread the golden praises of the beloved, criticism acknowledges that a show/book/work of art is worth the trouble of analysis and that there is something valid and valuable to be said for its existence; whether the opinions of the critic are ultimately positive or negative is not really the point.

Why this long-winded introduction to what is essentially a book about a science fiction children’s program? Well, because there are those who will say this book isn’t worth reading because it occasionally has negative things to say about a show that you either love or don’t give a shit about. But I want these people to know that this author has good things to say as well; in fact, this book is MOSTLY GOOD THINGS, but it doesn’t gloss over the early (rampant) difficulties of Doctor Who and some of the problematic elements of the show in general, and of William Hartnell in particular.

The actual, more detailed review will go up in a few days, hopefully. I just needed to get this out of my system first.

(Reprinted from my tumblr: geeklit101.tumblr.com)