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Newsweek Doctor Who Special Edition - The Edwardian Cricketer Book Review

Newsweek Doctor Who Special Edition - The Edwardian Cricketer Book Review

Author: EdwardianCricketer/Tuesday, August 20, 2019/Categories: Blog, Book Review

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I’ve been watching Doctor Who since I was about 11 years old (since about 1981) when my local PBS station was broadcasting it. Some of the first episodes I remember seeing were from Tom Baker’s last season. I started reading the novelizations of the episodes about a year later when my school library had a handful of the Pinnacle reprints in a book sale. I feel hard for the series and have dedicated countless hours to it, viewing and reading and writing. I didn't know Doctor Who had been cancelled until probably a year after it had happened. Of course, I was devastated.

The announcement of the TV movie brought much excitement and an equal amount of skepticism and even some resentment. Then I saw it and was furious over the things the writers seemed to have gotten wrong. I have softened to it considerably in the years since then to the point to where I actually like it now and I like Paul McGann’s Doctor. I’ve enjoyed the handful of 8th Doctor Big Finish audios I’ve listened to.

Following how the TV movie had been received, I felt the same trepidation when it was announced that the Doctor Who was coming back to TV in 2005. I watched Christopher Eccleston in Rose and have followed it ever since, even if sometimes I really don’t like the story very much. Bad Doctor Who is better than no Doctor Who. Of course, we each have our own idea of good and bad.

I had kept collecting the Target books and these days I have them all. I write reviews of them for a couple of blogs (Krewe du Who, Dr Who Online, and Goodreads). And for all that Tom Baker was my first Doctor, I claim the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) as my Doctor. I cosplay him at conventions and have also participated in panels about Doctor Who books.

I guess you can say I’m a fan.

It’s with all this in mind that I say I was super excited last year when I saw that Newsweek had a whole edition dedicated to Doctor Who. I think I devoured it then and found myself a little perturbed that they had gotten some things wrong. I decided to sit down and write about it but that didn’t happen right away. It wasn’t until I recently re-read it and realized that most of what I had initially seen as wrong is simply matters of opinion. Some of it is reliant on one’s idea of canon in Doctor Who.

Now, my own opinion is that there are three things that don’t exist in Doctor Who: canon, continuity, and consistency. They can’t. The show has been around since 1963 and has gone through so many producers, script editors, directors, and writers, none of whom seemed to have checked to see what had been written before, that the 3 Cs simply can’t exist. Atlantis has been destroyed at least three different ways in the world of Doctor Who. The 3 Cs. Nope.

What I present below is a list of “errors” I found in the Newsweek edition dedicated to Doctor Who. Some will probably argue that I’m just being a curmudgeonly, pedantic old school Doctor Who fan. Hi there! And so, here it is:

 

Pg. 9 – Newsweek claims that Doctor Who has had an influence on our culture and uses as an example the use of the word “cyber.” According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “cyber” didn’t appear until 1992 and pertains to computers and networking. However, “cybernetics” originated in 1948 and is “the science of communication and control theory that is concerned especially with the comparative study of automatic control systems (such as the nervous system and brain and mechanical-electrical communication systems).” While it may be true that the commonly accepted usage of “cyber” didn’t appear until the 90s, us Doctor Who fans may have been using the word for longer than that but in the context of “cybernetics” and in relation to Cybermen: cyberguns, cyberleader, cyber-conversion. I don’t think Doctor Who has influenced the computer-related terminology as we know it: cybernet, cyberspace, cyberattack, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                      Pg. 10 – In the “Did you know?” badge, Newsweek says “To design the iconic TARDIS, BBC bought the rights to the blue police box from the Metropolitan police.” According to a well cited article in Wikipedia “In 1996, the BBC applied for a trademark to use the police box design in merchandising associated with Doctor Who.” The Metropolitan Police filed an objection in 1998, saying they owned the rights to the police box image. The Patent Office ruled in favor of the BBC in 2002, “arguing that there was no evidence that the Metropolitan Police—or any other police force—had ever registered the image as a trademark.” 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_box and

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2352743.stm


Pg. 13 – Newsweek says “the TARDIS has a thematic look: the roundels.” Not every control room had the roundels. At least, not all control rooms had the big round panels on the walls. Some had hexagons with circles inside them, like the ones in series one. Series seven and eight were a mix of styles with hexagons in one space of control room and lit ringed circles in another. The 8th Doctor’s TARDIS had no roundels at all. 

http://www.thedoctorwhosite.co.uk/tardis/

 

Pg. 15 – The must-see classic story listed is Legend of the Cybermen, which is a Big Finish audio play. The must-hear modern story listed is The Doctor Falls, which is a BBC television broadcast episode.

https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/doctor-who-legend-of-the-cybermen-301 and

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08xhhn4

 

Pg. 17 – Listed in the 2nd Doctor’s top stories is The Mind Robber which refers to the Master from that story in a way that suggests he is the same as the Master who would be introduced later in the series. Even allowing for some ambiguity, it is generally accepted that these are not the same character.

http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_2u.htm

 

Pg. 17 – Also lists the Brigadier as one of the 2nd Doctor’s companions. Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart was introduced in The Web Planet and brought back as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in The Invasion. While he was unarguably a returning character for the 2nd Doctor, the Brigadier wouldn’t become a companion until the 3rd Doctor’s run.

http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_2q.htm and

http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_2v.htm

This may depend on one’s definition of what makes a companion, an item that makes for lively debate in many forums and is sometimes discussed on podcasts. I have my own idea of what makes a companion and a re-occurrence such as this doesn’t count.  

 

Pg. 19 – Refers to UNIT as the Unified Nations Intelligence Taskforce. At this point in Doctor Who, UNIT would have been the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce.

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/vv.html and 

http://www.thedoctorwhosite.co.uk/doctorwho/themes/unit/

 

Pg. 23 – I found it curious that Newsweek placed K-9 with Romana II in the list of 4th Doctor companions when K-9 was introduced when Leela was a companion.

http://www.thedoctorwhosite.co.uk/doctorwho/characters/companions/

 

Pg. 23 – Also, Harry Sullivan is listed as a companion of the 3rd Doctor but he wasn’t introduced until the 4th Doctor’s first story.

http://www.thedoctorwhosite.co.uk/doctorwho/characters/companions/

 

Pg. 23 – Newsweek alludes to a story set in 2300’s Prague. This was probably in reference to a passing comment from the Doctor since no such story took place.  

 

Pg. 25 – The Brain of Morbius is listed as a top story for the 4th Doctor and Newsweek says Solan is building a body to house the consciousness of Morbius. Solan was building a nearly invincible body to carry the clear globe contraption that housed the brain of Morbius. Since the consciousness is in the brain, I guess this could be accurate. Too pedantic?

 

Pg. 29 – Says in the 5th Doctor’s top stories that The Caves of Androzani calls back to classic literature from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It always reminded me more of The Phantom of the Opera. Admittedly, I haven’t read either story so maybe someone more familiar with them could enlighten.

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/6r.html

 

Pg. 33 – Lists the Brigadier as a companion of the 7th Doctor. He was only in the episode Battlefield. At this point, the Brigadier was a returning character. Curiously, the Brig isn’t listed as a companion of the 5th Doctor as he was in two stories, Mawdryn Undead and The Five Doctors. See above comment on the definition of a companion.

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/7n.html

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/6f.html

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/6k.html

 

Pg. 35 – Newsweek lists Night of the Doctor in the 8th Doctor’s top stories and says he is about to regenerate. According to Ohila, one of the Sisterhood of Karn, the Doctor actually died and they had revived him temporarily with the Elixir of Life.

https://tardis.fandom.com/wiki/The_Night_of_the_Doctor_(TV_story)

 

Pg. 43 – Says Doctor Who remained “’on’ to an extent through radio dramas … new a beloved part of the canon.” See the comment above about the 3 Cs.

If all fairness, to my mind, canon is what a person makes of it. If a person wants the audios to be canon, then for that person they are. The same could be said for the myriad of original books published after the series went off air in 1989. For some fans, everything is canon; others pick and choose. 

 

Pg. 51 – Sarah Jane Smith and K-9 are listed as companions for the 10th Doctor. They were returning characters for the episode School Reunion.

http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_tv14.htm

 

Pg. 51 – Newsweek also listed River Song as companion. She was introduced in the two-part Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead and returned for several of the 11th Doctor’s stories as a recurring character.

https://tardis.fandom.com/wiki/River_Song

 

Pg. 51 – Lists Wilfred Mott as a companion. Wilf first appeared in Voyage of the Damned. He was Donna’s granddad and a recurring character while Donna was a companion of the 10th Doctor.

http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_tv32.htm

 

Pg. 61 – “The Lodger.” The text is about The Lodger but the picture is from Closing Time.

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/2010k.html and

http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/2011l.html

 

Pg. 63 – Says that the Weeping Angel sent Rory and Amy back to the 1930s. They were sent from 2012 and their headstone says they died aged 82 and 87, respectively. Would’ve been mid 1920s. Close enough.

http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_tv74.htm

 

Pg. 93 – The Husbands of River Song refers to “Death in the Library,” where the 10th Doctor first met River Song. Do they mean Silence in the Library?

http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_tv39.htm

 

This was a fun exercise. My little pedantic stroll through the special edition of Newsweek dedicated to Doctor Who shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Very little of what I came across that I originally saw as “error” truly is. There are a couple of mistakes that research and editing could have corrected. It’s equally as likely that I’ve missed something or that I’ve made errors along the way.

Thanks to Newsweek for publishing such a great piece. It is truly appreciated, no matter how much I tried to take it apart. Don’t take it personally. I do the same thing to Doctor Who. After all, I am a fan.

 

Sources

BBC - Doctor Who - The Official Site - http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/dw

Big Finish Productions - http://www.bigfinish.com/

Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/

Doctor Who Reference Guide - http://www.drwhoguide.com/who.htm

TARDIS Index File, the Doctor Who Wiki - http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Who_Wiki

The Doctor Who Site - http://www.thedoctorwhosite.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

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