Who’s 50: The 50 Doctor Who Stories to Watch Before You Die – An Unofficial Companion by Graeme Burk & Robert Smith?

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I read this book at Kinokuniya KLCC and apparently it was the only one without being shrink-wrapped from the random Doctor Who shelf. I watch through all of the new series episode and sometimes I love them and sometimes it was meh but I was open to all discussion and I’m not really biased with favourites as long as they have good story. I only watch the First Doctor series and haven’t went through all the rest of classic doctors yet. I have my own favourites and although I haven’t venture through all of the classic doctors series yet but seriously, you can do without reading this very overpriced (RM89 wtf??) book.

As a reviewer, atleast I try to come out explaining the book and make readers interested enough in the things I’m reviewing and for an episodic guide, this book fail at making me interest enough in whatever they’re trying to sell. There’s a lot of factoids being splashed through the pages and most of the time the commentary tend to go out of the specific episode content after a short one sentence summary of the episode and straight into the behind-the-scenes and stuff in one page without any much a separation between them. They don’t spend their time dissecting the episodes and do pros and cons but most of the time they name drop. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s a book on a tv series and you just lay a lot of commentary transcript on some random overexcited fan ramblings in it. Normally I wouldn’t mind if its on a blog but when its being published, its another level of pretentiousness. And RM89 for a published series of blog posts from fans?! What a rip off.

I do think this was being published too early to be a good fan representative of the 50th Anniversary and it does seem that it was intentionally published to milk up the hype. Seriously, couldn’t you wait for the 50th Anniversary episode before publishing this? Or the Christmas special episode? Mind you, there’s a “The Day of the Doctor” minisode and “the Fifth-ish Doctor” as a 50th side which was out after this book was published and those was worth gushing about.

Oh, and the only recommended viewing of the 9th Doctor was “Rose” and “Dalek”? Really? 9th Doctor shouldn’t be defined on plastic monsters and sad suicidal Dalek (Spoilers: (view spoiler)). “The End of the World” was a great and deep futuristic story with a lot of aliens and deaths in it as a proper DW reintroduction episode after all those years. “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” was wonderful and the “Are you my mother?” meme survived to this day and “The Parting of Ways” is very moving and notable story on the change 9th did especially on the prevailing Bad Wolf meme. No matter what Christopher Eccleston did to avoid being typecasted as the Doctor now, the least you can do is to appreciate his contribution to the verse. And 10th Doctor’s “Blink” was only good because it follow the horror story format. I’m really surprised that there are no mention of “Midnight” which is a very powerful episode that really show off the acting chops of David Tennant and the side characters with near minimal special effects and props and great script and intensity which greatly resemble how the Doctor Who franchise survive today. A story of a man in a ship and the people he interacted and the bad things that they experienced and shared together and the effects he had on them after that. As soon as I see the lack of “Midnight” mentions and the Moffat fanboy gush of “Blink”, I know that this book wasn’t for me. Moffat was good in singular episode with monsters introduction but he overuse the props and special monsters/effects but he doesn’t thrive on giving the characters depth particularly the female characters. I nearly sum up Moffat as the Micheal Bay of BBC. Clara is a bit refreshing over Amy Pond but she’s still wasn’t as complex as Sarah Jane, Rose, Donna and Martha. Clara was often a mother figure and a friendly good listener companion rather than playing actual active role in the new series (she did in the early episodes but in between them, Clara does seem to step back as the Doctor’s cheerleader). You could say that RTD was a male feminist and understand human emotions over Moffat’s monster and cinematic technical capabilities. And considering this book doesn’t seem to expand itself outside their authors way of explaining DVD Special content things, you might lose yourself amidst unnecessary trivia of the Doctor than the actual Doctor Who verse itself.

If you have DVDs of the series and have seen all the DW Confidential and stuff, you might benefit from this book more but if you’re thinking about purchasing this as a guide through all the DW franchise, you’ll probably do fine watching the series on your own or from reading through online recommendation without this ‘companion’ in hand. Its an unnecessary purchase, the paper quality reflected the content of this very expensive paperback book and it is really bulky. Feel free to read this book but as a Whovian, I rather spend my money wisely and did not consider this book as a good long term investment (just wait when there’s a big sale going on). Heck, I doubt my parents would like it. You see, both of my parents was the same first generation Whovian as Peter Capaldi so really, even if I fill up with all classic DW lore and get involve with the fanverse discussion and arguments, I can’t compete with them at all and neither could the fanboy authors of this book.


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