Sneakily taking the hinges off the doors of perception

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. .
    January 26, 2011 @ 4:49 am

    "at times repetitive sequence of escapes and recaptures"

    This goes for every single episode for the first 20 seasons or so.

    I finished watching all the Dr. Who episodes in order a couple of years ago. I'm looking forward to your blog.


  2. Elizabeth Sandifer
    January 26, 2011 @ 5:53 am

    Nah, only the first 6 or so. As of Jon Pertwee, the show swaps escape/recapture with military guys listen to the Doctor/military guys ignore the Doctor.


  3. .
    January 26, 2011 @ 11:31 am

    Ah yes. You are correct sir. I just have a very prominent recollection of many a Patrick Troughton episodes in which this happens too many times (of course it didn't help that I watched them as 4 or 6 episode blocks instead of 30 minutes a week).


  4. wwhyte
    July 8, 2011 @ 8:45 am

    "This is not the Doctor, but an old man every bit as scared as Barbara. Or, perhaps more accurately, despite being played by the oldest actor to take the role, this is a young man in over his head." — yes yes yes! He's completely out of his depth in the first season, in particular, and only holding it together so as not to lose face in front of Susan.


  5. Henry R. Kujawa
    April 1, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    Philip Sandifer:
    ""She Loves You," the biggest selling single of the 1960s"

    REALLY? Wow. didn't know that.

    "it was instead explained by analogy, with the Doctor referring to the way in which television allows a much larger world to be contained in a smaller space"

    Try comparing that to how Roberta Tovey explained it in ther 1st movie, or how Peter Cushing explained it in the 2nd. (He was, and enjoying it.)

    "From here the story is a fairly staid and at times repetitive sequence of escapes and recaptures."

    One big reason I wish this had been 2 parts instead of 3.

    "paralleled in the conflict between Kal and Za for leadership of the tribe, with each of them being pale and less sympathetic versions of the Doctor and Ian"

    Amazing! Another one of those I never noticed before.

    "yes yes yes! He's completely out of his depth in the first season, in particular, and only holding it together so as not to lose face in front of Susan."

    It finally changes in "THE RESCUE, Part 2", when The Doctor single-handedly confronts the villain of the piece. Susan was no longer around to be looked after. He was able to come out of his shell. In THAT moment, he became the show's hero.


  6. brownstudy
    May 27, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

    Just finished reading your book on my Kindle and loved it! Can't wait for the next parts to come out.

    I just finished the "Unearthly Child/100,000 BC" serial and one thing that struck me about its resolution was how every member of the team has a key idea: Barbara to tend to Za, Ian to tend to Za and create fire and remind Za about the power of majority rule (kinda), Susan is the one who puts the skull over the torch and puts together an idea no one had had before, and the Doctor is the clever chap who unmasks Kal as the murderer and convinces the others to run him out of the cave. It took all 4 of them to get out of trouble. Later on, I think, the Doctor is the one who would get all 4 ideas, or maybe 3 out of 4 of them. Why burden the plot with more characters than you need when the Doctor can prove to be the clever one, over and over?

    Much as I love the Moffat/Smith series, it's not often enough that Amy or Rory help contribute to the resolution of the plot.


  7. Andrewstep1234
    October 1, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

    I have your first book and I love it. I think there are some people who have criticized it because it does not address the story lines in a fan based manner or provide 100s of factoids for the connoisseur but I think that is the whole point. This is a book which has addressed the hereto untold story of how DW has affected it's viewers since it began. Thank you. I will be buying the second book shortly and hunt you down if you don't get a move on with the others. You are a valuable Whovian asset sir.


  8. John Seavey
    June 24, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

    But it's not a staid series of escapes and recaptures. The Doctor and company don't escape in Part Three–they're released by a member of the tribe who wants them gone. They're not exactly recaptured, either; when they return, it's as allies of Za, albeit tentative ones. And it's the collapse of that alliance that drives Part Four.

    I really feel like these three parts could be the most underrated episodes of the series ever–it's basically a political thriller, set at the dawn of humanity. People get so caught up in the question of "Will the Doctor get back to the TARDIS?" (which is obviously yes) that they miss what's really going on.


    • Nathan Laws
      March 11, 2020 @ 9:16 pm

      Completely agree with this. An Unearthly Child (entire serial) is one of the best structured stories of the entire series, which is why I don’t split it up like this. You need part one and the Doctor’s reaction to Ian and Barbara to have the dichotomy between how the Doctor treats Ian and Barbara to how Ian and Barbara treat Za and Hur. The Doctor doesn’t stop cooperating with Ian and Barbara until he sees what happens when the tribe is made to cooperate “remember Kal is not stronger than the whole tribe”. You might as well say that “Za is not stronger than the whole TARDIS team”.


  9. Nathan Laws
    March 11, 2020 @ 9:24 pm

    I have a friend who references Eruditorum, so I wanted to check it out. I like the way that these entries try to put each story in historical context. I also like some of your ideas, such as the meta-level thinking about the TARDIS interior as fiction even within the universe of Doctor Who. There are a few things in this one that I disagree with.

    “The episode talks as though the major problem facing the tribe of cavemen is the looming ice age.” This can’t be possible, because Horg was “leader of many men” who “all died when the last great cold came”. They must be talking about winter, since there’s no way that an ice age has come and gone within Horg’s lifetime and is coming back again.

    “But here we see, in his first adventure, the Doctor brings us fire. In this regard, we are his creation.” Are we though? Za’s fire had already created fire before the story even starts. It’s likely that other tribes developed fire independantly. It’s also quite possible that Za’s tribe all died out for some reason or other. We know that Scaroth also brought a tribe fire, so unless we say that Scaroth is Za’s father then there must have been at least two tribes out there that had fire and if that’s the case the sum total of modern humanity can’t be said to be exclusively the Doctor’s creation.

    “And later, it is he who is inventive enough to engineer an escape from the cavemen via some clever manipulation.” It’s actually Susan who starts the plan and Ian who comes up with the full plan. The Doctor had nothing to do with the “skulls on sticks” idea other than to come up with the vague idea that they had to spook the tribe somehow.


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