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the doctors are in

Written By: Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?

I’ve always had a fascination with Doctor Who. Even before I started watching episodes on a regular basis as a college freshman on Chattanooga’s PBS station, I thought the show was strange and mysterious. I understood the show had a legacy, even if I didn’t completely understand how far reaching it was.

While I never took the time to go back and watch all the episodes of the classic series, I once found myself drawn to non-fiction works about the show. When the new series started several years later, I found it hard to find time to watch the new episodes, regardless of how much I liked the series. And that meant very little time to read about the show, aside from quick websites.

Getting the chance to read The Doctors Are In helped reignite my interest in the stories behind the actors that have played the role of The Doctor. But that’s only a small part of the sum of the book.

Burk and Smith? (yes, the question mark is part of his legal name) have created a well planned guide to introduce each of the Doctor’s incarnations. Within each chapter, the writers focus on a specific Doctor, and lead with information about the production of the show at the time the actor playing The Doctor comes on board. A biography of the actor is given, and then the attention shifts more to information about that Doctor, including his top companion and his classic foe. There’s a look what makes that incarnation of The Doctor tick, his greatest and most humiliating moments, and a point and counterpoint critique of The Doctor by the two authors. The chapters conclude with reviews of the “essential stories” from each Doctor’s tenure.

Each without the information on the authors in the introduction of the book, you can tell that they are well acquainted with each other. It’s enjoyable to read their options on Doctors and episodes, especially when they don’t see eye to eye on the subject. It’s also worth noting that these two gentlemen KNOW Doctor Who. Both have written short stories about the Doctor’s adventures, and they have co-authored a couple of other non-fiction books about the show.

I found that I agreed more with Burk on many of his views about the various Doctors and episodes. Smith? made a serious faux pas in my book by badmouthing David Tennant. At the same time, he wrote my favorite part of the book, a synopsis of The Ninth Doctor episode, “The End of the World” set to the tune of R.E.M.’s song of the same title. Good work, Mr. Smith?. (I don’t even know if that’s how I should punctuate that sentence.)

I see this book appealing to long time fans of the series, to get fresh perspectives on each of the Doctors. There’s certainly a place for newer fans as well, looking for information about The Doctor’s past, and what episodes might be worth checking out.