Later this year, the British science-fiction epic “Doctor Who” will celebrate its momentous fiftieth anniversary. 50 years of the Doctor, his companions, new alien worlds and all sorts of multi-dimensional craziness. As part of this huge milestone, Applause Books has released the “Doctor Who FAQ”. Written by Dave Thompson, who has written over 100 books about music and pop culture, this 330+ page tome holds all the secrets of the TARDIS and those who have ventured in it.
The subtitle of the book is “All that’s left to know about the most famous time lord in the universe”, and that could not be any more true. We get the entire history of the creation of the Doctor, his famous theme song, a rundown of all of the doctor’s, his companions, enemies, and much, much more. There are extensive sections on famous episodes, villains, the lost episodes, and even how the Doctor has affected pop-culture, with parts on merchandise and even appearances in modern music. You have no idea how many songs there are about the Doctor that are actually meant to be serious (unlike “Doctorin’ the Tardis”).
This is not a reference book about every single episode, with detailed synopses of each. There is a chapter that is a checklist of all the episodes, but to run down every show would take a whole book unto itself, and I believe it already exists anyway. The “Doctor Who FAQ” is really a deep and meticulous examination of all things Who-related, put into bite-sized morsels that are packed full of info that even the most hardcore Who fan may not know. I consider myself a casual fan of the show, so much of the stories were new to me, but even older fans will enjoy the behind-the-scenes information as well on the parts about the merchandise and contextual chapters that discuss its impact during each era.
The book is one part history lesson, one part sourcebook, and one part opinion. Thompson does not shy away from showing a bias to certain things he likes or dislikes, something that I did not like at first. Again, understanding that the author comes from the world of “Rolling Stone”, where the authors opinion is just as important as facts (if not moreso), makes this much more palatable. Frankly, I found it annoying and I disagreed with the author on several things, but I must give him credit for his research and knowledge on the subject matter, so I can let him get away with his biases.
Overall, it’s a very fun FAQ, partly because of Thompson’s distinct snarky voice, and also because of how it adds depth to what has often been a very campy sci-fi show. Even if I found him grating at times, I would much prefer Thompson’s sense of humor and language over a stuffy author that took this show far too seriously. Let’s get serious, folks, it’s a show about a guy in a time-traveling phone booth – if you can’t have some fun with that, then you are a lost cause (and possibly also a brony).
You can order Doctor Who FAQ: All Thats Left to Know About the Most Famous Time Lord in the Universe from Amazon.com for around $15, and is worth if it you are a true Whovian who wants to get even more serious about this sci-fi classic. It’s even better for a newer fan who is afraid to get into the enormous world of Who. Why spend over $4,000 on all of the DVD’s (Thompson did the math and figured it out) when you can grab this book and get a grasp on a very large universe that is decades in the making, and then jump in knowing exactly what you need (and then some) about the Doctor.