Thursday, 24 March 2016

On 24.3.16 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments

Longer review on Starburst.

With over fifty years of history, and as many bumps in the road as there have been changes in style, Doctor Who is a fascinating series to analyse – and certain stories are more intriguing than others. It’s with this in mind that Obverse Books have begun their series The Black Archive, in which each publication will spend twenty to forty thousand words picking apart a single televised story. And what better story to start on than that which brought Doctor Who back to TV screens after a sixteen-year hiatus, and set the groundwork for the popular phenomenon it would soon become?

This hundred-page volume from Jon Arnold comprises of four essays analysing Russell T Davies’ 2005 series opener Rose and its place within Who history. First, Arnold explores Rose as a starting point for new viewers, comparing it to the successful simplicity of An Unearthly Child and the not-so-successful 1996 TV movie. Next, he analyses Davies’ take on the character of the Doctor, and the decision to give him some proper character development, perhaps inevitable given the changes in genre TV since 1989. Third, Arnold talks about the character of Rose Tyler and Davies’ success in making the companion an equal to the Doctor in terms of dramatic possibilities. And in the final chapter, he discusses Davies himself, and how the writer’s crossing of populist sensibilities and artistic ambition crafted Doctor Who into the massive success it became.

Though it’s not a long book, and can be read in one easy afternoon, the first Black Archives instalment has a lot of interesting things to say about its episode of choice and what made it so successful. For those not so keen on Eccleston’s Doctor, Obverse are releasing three other titles this month, covering The Massacre, The Ambassadors of Death, and Dark Water/Death in Heaven – all the way from Hartnell to Capaldi! There are so many more Who stories worthy of this kind of quality criticism, so we’ll be looking out for what’s next. 


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