Who needs all these books? 'Doctor Who' fans, that’s who

McClatchy Washington BureauJune 5, 2013 

ENTER BOOK-DOCTORWHO 1 MCT

"Who-ology" by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright is a very detailed collection of miscellany.

BBC — MCT

Obsessive “Doctor Who” fans, your wish has been fulfilled.

In honor of the golden anniversary of the show’s first broadcast comes a new volume from BBC Books, “Who-ology: The Official Doctor Who Miscellany” by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright.

The BBC television series “Doctor Who” started on Nov. 23, 1963, with the venerable William Hartnell as the first Doctor.

The Doctor, an alien with two hearts, regenerates into a new body when the show needs a new actor in the part. Over 50 years, there have been 11 Doctors, numerous assistants and visits to a fantastic number of planets and time periods, both in the past and in potential futures. The latest Doctor, Matt Smith, has just announced he’s leaving as of the 2013 Christmas Special, so the search is on for the 12th Doctor.

“Who-ology” covers all of the current ones. The chronology goes through the Doctors down in exhaustive detail, down to such details as the music used in various episodes. Incredibly, the only thing it neglects to include is an index.

But if you need to know about the “Edwardian roadster” the third Doctor drove in 1973, check page 289.

Need a gateway book into the world of science fiction for a young fan who enjoys “Doctor Who”? The BBC has also delved into its archives for the printed word.

It has reprinted 11 novels, one for each Doctor. Of note with these books is that they reflect the time of the Doctor (sometime in the last 50 years), and the period that the writers were writing in.

For example, Stephen Cole wrote “Ten Little Aliens” in 2001, starting his writing in September 2001. The plot was formulated earlier when he was an editor of a “partwork magazine” dedicated to Agatha Christie. Thus, as he explains in his introduction, the pitch was “’Starship Troopers’ (Heinlein) meets Agatha Christie.” He ended up using the First Doctor, played by Hartnell.

Hartnell’s elderly Doctor is much more physically fragile than, say, Jon Pertwee’s younger and more robust Third Doctor who stars in the “Last of the Gaderene,” originally written by Mark Gatiss in 2000. Here, the Doctor nearly gets minced by a large fan — something that the First Doctor would never have survived.

Gatiss went on to write episodes of “Doctor Who,” do audio and documentaries, and later star in the very popular modern BBC adaptation of “Sherlock” as Mycroft Holmes.

Finally, for the devoted fan — as separate from the obsessed fan — there is “Summer Falls,” a young adult novel written by Amelia Williams. Doctor Who devotees know that this is the married name of Amy Pond, a companion of the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. The Ponds, wife and husband, were lost to one of the Doctor’s great enemies, the Weeping Angels.

But in the latest season, one of the characters is reading “Summer Falls.”

That’s the way it is in the world of “Doctor Who”: A character reads a book by another former character in which the Doctor is thinly disguised as a museum curator.

Despite the incestuous intertwining of different aspects of the television series, “Summer Falls” is an entertaining fantasy novel with a female protagonist, a talking cat and exciting finale.

One could easily see it as a “Doctor Who” episode.

Twitter handle: @TishWells1

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