Eruditorum Press

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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.

35 Comments

  1. Lewis Christian
    August 19, 2013 @ 1:11 am

    I'm going to keep this brief:

    TARDIS Eruditorum is great.
    About Time is great.

    Why haven't you been invited to co-write with Wood?

    Reply

  2. John Toon
    August 19, 2013 @ 1:34 am

    Hooray! I'm not the only person who thinks The Satan Pit was Patent Sh*t!

    Reply

  3. Jenda
    August 19, 2013 @ 2:28 am

    I also hated The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit to be honest, far more than I did Fear Her / Love & Monsters (although all four one after the other is a particularly bad run of episodes in my opinion considering how strong the beginning of the season is).

    I've never read any of the About Times but I LOVE Tardis Eruditorum so I know it's on my "eventually" list.

    Reply

  4. Alex Antonijevic
    August 19, 2013 @ 3:07 am

    None of what you said makes me particularly inclined to read this…

    Reply

  5. Seeing_I
    August 19, 2013 @ 3:51 am

    I can't wait to read this, though your post has confirmed some of my fears about this book. Chief among them that whereas the prior volumes were written with years of hindsight and rewatchings, giving Wood & Miles decades for their opinions to mature and perspectives to change, this one is written when it's all still new. Second, the lack of a co-author means that the push and pull of differing viewpoints is lost – something which damaged volumes 6 and 3.2 in my opinion. (Though Miles hates the new series even more than Wood, so maybe that's for the best.)

    However I do really respect Wood's writing and look forward to furiously disagreeing with him on many points while seeing other things in a light I'd never considered. 🙂

    A personal note – I first found these books mere weeks before the new series was announced in 2003. I had just met a fan in my town and he let me borrow V3. "What use could I possibly have for yet another episode guide?" I asked, all jaded. Then I read the entry on The Time Warrior and was amused, entertained, challenged, and informed all on one page. The book series, and my new friend, have been with me all through the wild journey of the past 10 years, as our beloved curio became a global phenomenon. I look forward to looking back!

    Reply

  6. C.
    August 19, 2013 @ 4:02 am

    Thanks for this preview, Phil. Sounds pretty much what I expected.

    The post-Miles About Times were frustrating reads for me, not merely for the lack of dueling perspectives. I think Miles as a co-writer simply made Wood a sharper, less indulgent writer, made him defend his positions better, and perhaps trimmed down W's worst impulses. Wood unchecked can be garrulous and his attempts at humor leaden (example no. 1: "Critique" of TV Movie) and his tone can veer into, for lack of a better phrase "nerdy dickishness" at times.

    I'm sure AT7 is still magnificent, but I wish he'd agreed to another full collaborator with a more generous view of "BBC Wales," in W's words..

    Reply

  7. Jenda
    August 19, 2013 @ 4:15 am

    Seconded.

    Reply

  8. Seeing_I
    August 19, 2013 @ 5:21 am

    There's another thing your review mentions which I'd like to bring up. You say a couple of times that Wood obviously views the new series as a betrayal of everything the original series was. This is something I hear again and again. However, I'd just like to point out (as I did vigorously at TimeGate this year) that the original series cannot truly be thought of as a single thing – it was entirely contingent on who was making it at the time, what they remembered of prior episodes and whether or not they gave a fig for any kind of internal consistency (which, usually they didn't). It's only in hindsight that we tend to view the original series as its own, holistic entity, and its only the continuity of production that makes "The Reign of Terror" and "The Happiness Patrol" seem like part of the same show, and it's only with decades of familiarity are we are able to view with equanimity the massive changes and reversals that took place over the course of its life. Now, with the luxury of nostalgia, we can pick and choose the bits of Doctor Who that work for us and ignore the bits we hate.

    The original show "betrayed" its own premises from story to story and era to era. The revisions made to Time Lord society in "The Deadly Assassin" were famously decried as heresy, but now we thrill to see the Seal of Rassilon included in "The Sound of Drums." I spoke with a hard-core Hartnell/Troughton fan (who's only 20, bless!) who'd never considered that if he'd been watching in real time, he'd have viewed the Pertwee years as an utter travesty instead of the cozy detour it now looks like. Or that he'd likely have stopped watching after "The Twin Dilemma," which only with hindsight can be swept under the rug, because we know "Remembrance of the Daleks" is coming.

    Like the weather, if you don't like the conditions now, you may rest assured that tomorrow will be different. This is something many older fans, myself included, need to remember any time we are ready to condemn the new show for giving the Doctor a love life or sticking close to Earth for far too long or any of its other crimes. In 20 years' time, it will all just look like another tile in the mosaic that makes up what we think of as "Doctor Who."

    Reply

  9. Dr. Happypants
    August 19, 2013 @ 5:42 am

    I had a group of friends whom I introduced to Doctor Who with Rose when it first aired, who watched the first two new series with me. It was cute; I'm an American, so I'd never really had people to watch Who with before. They loved series 1, but lost interest after series 2, and The Satan Pit got one of the most negative reactions from them all season (and they reacted negatively to a lot of things in series 2). So yes, I'm bitter. Stupid Satan.

    Reply

  10. Lewis Christian
    August 19, 2013 @ 5:44 am

    This, sir, is a wonderful and brilliant comment. A Facebook-esque like from me.

    Reply

  11. Alan
    August 19, 2013 @ 6:19 am

    You say a couple of times that Wood obviously views the new series as a betrayal of everything the original series was. This is something I hear again and again.

    This attitude always baffles me. I adore the old show and still acknowledge that it was a children's show with no budget that consistently punched above its weight class. At nearly any point in its history, it would probably have become very similar to NuWho if (a) the BBC had committed resources to it with the expectation that it would become a tent pole of the whole network, (b) the show had access to state of the art FX, and (c) the production staff consciously thought of it as a program for adults first and kids second instead of a mildly subversive kiddy show. The hatred some fans of ClassicWho have for NuWho reminds me a lot of people who spoke in perfect seriousness about how George Lucas and Phantom Menace "raped my childhood." Or who were furious that the Battlestar Galactica reboot had a female Starbuck.

    Reply

  12. The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca
    August 19, 2013 @ 7:41 am

    Those two are somewhat false equivilencies – the first is a blinkered view of old media with a heavy overlay of nostalgic perfectionism. The later, on the other hand, is buffoonish sexism blurted out by unloved man-children from the comfort of their MRA pillow forts.

    They're both stupid, mind, but they're stupid for entirely different reasons.

    Reply

  13. The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca
    August 19, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    I never loathed the episodes, but I've never much liked them, since they rely on Davies' most tiresome narrative love, the triumph of humanism over specious belief. Also, this episode introduced the Ood, that most hated of aliens, because it gave the production staff the opertunity to bleat about Dawkins and the Selfish Gene and take what was an actual, interesting concept and throw it out the window by making them one more oppressed species the British White Male has to save from slavery. Ugh.

    I think I had a similar problem with the last season. It wasn't enough that there was this strange asteroid planet where they have a temple in which they sing forever to their god. No, the god has to be evil and actually a terrible monster because of course it does. Ugh. New Humanism as a form of cultural imperialism, if that makes any sense.

    By-the-by, I'm not condoning slavery. It's just that the Ood, as originally introduced, were a 'slave-race,' i.e. a species that on a genetic level had no free will. That's a really interesting concept, one that ought to be explored better that just saying 'wait, no, they do, they just have it suppressed by stuff.' it's a cop-out.

    Reply

  14. Unknown
    August 19, 2013 @ 8:12 am

    "That essay makes the case that the advent of mobile phones fundamentally changes the way the series works by removing the concept of falling entirely out of the world."

    I could see how it could be used to reinforce it, if it lead to a moment where the connection to home breaks unexpectedly….

    Reply

  15. Lewis Christian
    August 19, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    Phil,

    Can you confirm or deny whether the book tackles the series' episodes only, or whether it touches upon the likes of TARDISodes etc. too?

    Reply

  16. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 19, 2013 @ 8:50 am

    The TARDISodes are dealt with.

    Reply

  17. Triturus
    August 19, 2013 @ 8:53 am

    the sense that Wood feels like the new series is a desecration of everything that Doctor Who once stood for is at times more palpable than is helpful for the book.

    This has put me right off buying it, I'm afraid. I don't particularly want to read a book written by someone who really hates something I like, as I'll just end up getting annoyed.

    The "new series is a betrayal of the old" classic fans baffle me no end. If you hate the revival that much, why force yourself to watch it over and over again and then write lengthy books on it? I just don't get it.

    Reply

  18. Lewis Christian
    August 19, 2013 @ 8:55 am

    Ah, thanks! Have the book on pre-order anyway, was just curious. Looking forward to reading!

    Reply

  19. Eric Gimlin
    August 19, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    I'll put the books on my to get list, but I'll want to start with one of the earlier ones.

    Side note: If About Time gets a Pop Between Realities, Tardis Eruditorum needs one as well when the time comes.

    Reply

  20. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 19, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    I want to stress that Wood is capable of putting aside his biases enough to thoroughly understand the series, and even understand the people who like it. The book is in no way a 500 page hit job on the new series. That said, it also doesn't particularly embrace it, except in isolated moments. Why write the book? For the same reason I didn't skip the Pertwee or Colin Baker eras – it's part of a larger topic.

    Reply

  21. Triturus
    August 19, 2013 @ 9:11 am

    Thanks, I appreciate the clarification.

    I do get the impression that some people just flat out detest the entirety of the new series, and yet can't stop watching it and telling everyone how awful it is, which just strikes me as, well, not good for one's general well-being!

    Maybe it's the inevitable result of being a really hardcore fan for so long, that they can't bear to 'let go' even though they hate what it's become. I don't know what I'd feel like if I hated the new series, but then it was only enjoying the new series that got me back into classic Who, after having pretty much given up being a fan in the late 80s.

    Reply

  22. Triturus
    August 19, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    Won't that create some sort of terrible paradox?

    Reply

  23. matt bracher
    August 19, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    I'd recommend starting with seven, but only because there's a frightful lot of material to work through to get there. And starting with Hartnell would be interesting / odd because, since they were written out of order, volumes six and three (second edition) include essays addressing the new series. "Where Were Torchwood?" being a remembered title.

    Incidentally, it's amazing how much volume three GREW when it went from being the first book in the series to the (until now) last.

    But I wasn't paying enough attention to note the change in tone when it went from a coauthored series to solo.

    Reply

  24. matt bracher
    August 19, 2013 @ 9:39 am

    "The Rose Tyler years" is a wonderful way of describing this volume. Thank you, Phil.

    I inquired about volume seven quite a long time ago on the MNP Facebook page, and when it was finally announced I was actually dismayed to learn that it was only going to cover the first two seasons. I'd assumed that it would cover all of RTD's time on the series, a la focusing on the production eras of the classic series.

    Then I stopped to consider just how many stories there were in the new series (as opposed to comparing only the number of episodes to the classic series) and felt somewhat better.

    The perspective on Rose's presence on the show makes me feel better still. That certainly counts as an era and a logical break-point.

    I've had it on order with Amazon since early April, and I'm only slightly bitter that you got to devote two days in August to devour it. It'll arrive just into the new school year, so my enjoyment will be mercilessly prolonged by having to make most of my time available to teaching.

    But thank you for a clear review and comparison to the other volumes. This may not be all it could be, but to get that I'd have to wait for a decade or more. And apparently wish for a cowriter. Most of all, thanks for the assurance that despite its shortcomings it's going to be a fantastic read!

    Reply

  25. encyclops
    August 19, 2013 @ 10:16 am

    Wood unchecked also has a tendency to throw out references which he then doesn't bother to explain ("look it up if you want to know," "if you didn't grow up in the UK you'll never get it," etc. — cute once or twice, frustrating after that). And I really really wanted to know what Miles thought of the Sixth and Seventh Doctor eras.

    Reply

  26. encyclops
    August 19, 2013 @ 10:35 am

    I can't wait to get my hands on this. I'm glad of the warning that he hasn't embraced the new series as enthusiastically as you have, and am actually looking forward even more now to his perspective. "Desecration" might be an overstatement as far as I'm concerned, but I felt more or less the same way for a long time — I really liked the innovations of the new series, but didn't find the stories as satisfying as I felt they should be. I've generally made my peace with it now, so it'll be interesting to see whether I find myself cheering Wood on or booing him.

    I wasn't a big fan of "Impossible Satan Pit Planet" the first time round either, as I've mentioned. Your observation about Wood being invested in a particular idea of what the show's principles are makes a lot of sense and helps explain a lot of the (to me) strange calls he makes in other books. For instance, like "ISPP," "The Seeds of Doom" is a very well-made and entertaining piece of television that appeals as much or more to people who aren't hardcore fans, but there are key ways in which it feels out of sync with what the show is supposed to be about and to stand for. If you're the kind of critic for whom that is a bigger betrayal than being poorly made, acted, scripted, or just plain dull, then I can see how you might take the position that it's the worst of the era. It also is a lot more controversial than just bashing "Underworld" or "Fear Her" like everyone else, and makes one seem like a more interesting critical voice with something new to say.

    There are definitely times when reading your past entries that I could tell you'd read About Time, but you always bring enough fresh perspective (sometimes a little, usually a ton) to make TARDIS Eruditorum equally indispensable. When I rewatch a story I haven't seen in a while ("Time and the Rani," this weekend…I know!), I turn to both ongoing works to remind myself what you said about it.

    Reply

  27. encyclops
    August 19, 2013 @ 10:39 am

    Just checking: it's stupid to hate the Star Wars prequels, or it's stupid to say things like "raped my childhood" when all you're talking about are three charmless and forgettable kiddie science-fantasy movies?

    Reply

  28. matt bracher
    August 19, 2013 @ 10:43 am

    Phil…

    Just so I don't have to wait a few weeks, who is Dorothy Ail and what is her contribution to the book?

    I've been confused for months that Amazon lists her first, Wood second, and Pearson third.

    Reply

  29. Lewis Christian
    August 19, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    According to Pearson:

    "[S]he had an essay in Inside Out, and she's being listed as "With Additional Material By" this time around, just as I was for About Time 6.

    She's a great asset to the project; we've been lucky to have her aboard."

    Reply

  30. Daibhid C
    August 19, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    the observation that Love and Monsters contains the “arc clue words” for all four Davies seasons.

    "Bad Wolf virus", check.
    "Torchwood files", check.
    "Saxon leads polls", check.
    And the fourth season arc was the missing planets, right? So does just the mention of Clom count?

    Reply

  31. jsd
    August 19, 2013 @ 11:42 am

    @Dr. Happypants: I had a similar experience. I got my friends hooked on the new series with Rose, and we all got together to watch it every week it was on. I was in fan heaven! The last straw for the "not-we" was… Donna. Three weeks in they said "we can't stand her" and bailed. I, of course, stuck it out, but I didn't really enjoy much of that season and Donna is still easily my least favorite new series companion. I'm bitter too. Stupid Donna. 🙂

    Reply

  32. ferret
    August 19, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

    A sipping drink of fanwank? That's a mental picture I could have done without!

    Reply

  33. David Thiel
    August 19, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    Seconded. And I own volumes 2-6 of "About Time." I have no desire to read several hundred pages of someone complaining about how the new series destroys a platonic ideal of "Doctor Who" that, if it ever existed, disappeared sometime around 1965.

    Reply

  34. Doctor Memory
    August 19, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

    "…a desecration of everything that Doctor Who once stood for…"

    …which was what, precisely?

    No seriously. I'm probably being ungenerous here — I've never read any of Wood's essays and should take you at your word that he has interesting things to say — but this is madness. Doctor Who, largely despite itself, has significance. It has value

    But values? An ethos?! Dude, this series patently abjures continuity itself. It's barely possible to make the case that classic Doctor Who, in sum, represents the output of an ever-rotating bunch of salaried BBC employees of varying talent trying their best to make somewhat entertaining television on a shoestring budget and an unforgiving production schedule. Barely — not a few episodes call "trying their best" into sharp question.

    How on earth could you betray something that doesn't exist?

    Reply

  35. John
    December 29, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    It hardly seems fair to blame Impossible Planet/Satan Pit for something you don't like about Planet of the Ood.

    Reply

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