Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Q. What’s even more embarrassing than being a Christian?

A. Being a Doctor Who fan too.

I of course am both, and have been both since about 1982.

Growing up feeling sleighted for both of these allegiances inevitably led to some sense of insecurity, so how relieving that Steve Couch, Tony Watkins and Peter S Williams have at last written a book about both subjects together.

BACK IN TIME - A Thinking Fan's Guide to Doctor Who by Steve Couch, Tony Watkins and Peter S WilliamsAlas, to me, its basic premise seems to be flawed.

It’s not the rushed copy, or the absence of much new information, or even the fact that the very first sentence that I read gave away something from the next series. (avoid page 120) No, I really have 2 problems:

1. The hero-worship of the new series.

The new series of Doctor Who is I think, as I just might have mentioned before, the least achieving in the show’s history. While the effects were weak by today’s standards, and the subject matter of teenage sex, homosexuality and sniggering flatulence so obviously out-of-place in this family show, its biggest shortcoming was still its consistently poor scripts.

To write a whole book attempting to extrapolate some meaning from words of such little depth, was a bit of a fool’s gambit from the start.

You cannot think about this series without quickly realising how much of it disagrees with itself.

You certainly can’t go putting your foot in it with statements like “Quality was the benchmark of the new Doctor Who.” [page 20]

Hardly the attitude of any “thinking” fan.

This blind cheering sadly underpins the whole tone of the book, although even they are forced to concede on page 80 that “{the scriptwriter} is more committed to telling the story well and making an emotional impact on the audience than being rigorously consistent with previous series. He’s also more concerned about this than maintaining the internal logic of the stories.” Yep, just like in the show, even here there's a self-contradiction. (you can’t tell a story well without internal logic)

2. Secondly, the authors have chosen to write “from a Christian perspective”, although the book does not appear to have been written for Christians, but for non-Christians.

There is precious little mention of the book’s Christian content on the cover (only the quote above from the back cover) As a result, whenever the transition is made from say the episode Boom Town to the faith required for scientism, the transfer feels quite awkward and even a bit ashamed of itself.

It must be said however, that these are the sections where the book’s real strength shines through.

Page 156:

Richard Dawkins says that ‘When religious people just have a feeling inside themselves that something must be true, they call their feeling “revelation”.’ [A Devil’s Chaplain page 245] On this definition of revelation, Dawkins’ belief that the only way to know things is through evidence may itself count as a revelation – after all, he can’t have any evidence for it. Hence, according to Dawkins’ own advice, it is a bad reason for believing anything.

One of the reasons why I used to like Doctor Who was because it was so thought-provoking. How ironic that this book should satisfy that, now that the show doesn’t.

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