The Black Archive #40: The Underwater Menace by James Cooray Smith (Obverse Books, 2020) An intelligent and impeccably researched reappraisal of the somewhat maligned Patrick Troughton story. Cooray Smith not only considers the production on its merits but also takes into account the historical circumstances behind its coming to lodge unfavourably in Doctor Who fan consciousness.
The Black Archive #39: The Silurians by Robert Smith? (Obverse Books, 2020) A wide-ranging, clearly written analysis that recasts The Silurians’ apparent failings as strengths and offers, by considering aspects of the serial from a rational, scientific standpoint and giving them a societal context, something of a reappraisal of the Third Doctor more broadly.
The Black Archive #38: The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords by James Mortimer (Obverse Books, 2019) Refreshingly, Mortimer doesn’t attempt to relate Series Three’s two-part finale to any particular body of theory, preferring to assess its dark themes as presented within the context of Russell T Davies’ helmsmanship. A short, accessible read, albeit occasionally gawky in…
The Black Archive #37: Kerblam! by Naomi Jacobs & Thomas L. Rodebaugh (Obverse Books, 2019) Jacobs and Rodebaugh bring academic rigour and methodology to Kerblam!, reading the story at a far greater depth than its author can have intended. Their analysis—focussing on AI development and socio-political systems—supports the contention that Kerblam! suffers from plot-driven superficiality.
The Black Archive #36: Listen by Dewi Small (Obverse Books, 2019) A brief but lucid analysis invoking Freudian psychology and assessing Clara’s role in moulding the Doctor’s character (particularly by way of bootstrap paradox). Small belabours some points but steers clear of narrow-mindedness, instead contextualising the story’s workings within Doctor Who’s long history.
The Black Archive #30: The Dalek Invasion of Earth by Jonathan Morris (Obverse Books, 2019) A bit light on actual analysis but nevertheless an impressive piece of research, comparing different iterations of The Dalek Invasion of Earth (both televised and film versions at script, broadcast and even novelisation level) to establish who was responsible for which elements.
The Black Archive #29: The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon by John Toon (Obverse Books, 2019) A slim volume given the double episode. Toon touches on conspiracy theories (as a tonal setting) and the nomenclature of historical stories, while concentrating mainly on the moral ambiguity of the Doctor’s actions. Some easily digestible philosophical points are tabled for discussion.…
The Black Archive #31: Warriors’ Gate by Frank Collins (Obverse Books, 2019) Warriors’ Gate, one of the standouts of Doctor Who’s original run, arose from an unlikely concatenation of circumstances. Collins delves deep into the specifics of its shared authorship (interesting) and also the more nebulous resonances of literary and cinematic influence (less so).
The Black Archive #34: Battlefield by Philip Purser-Hallard (Obverse Books, 2019) The sections on Arthurian legend outstrip the casual reader’s needs (Purser-Hallard is an authority). The remaining chapters delve astutely into Battlefield’s production-level evolution and aspirations, piecing together a cogent analysis of where this unheralded story succeeds and what it might have offered.
The Black Archive #35: Timelash by Phil Pascoe (Obverse Books, 2019) Pascoe approaches Timelash without an obvious agenda to push, motivated by a fondness for the story yet making no attempt to proselytise. His exposition is centred around the use of HG Wells as a character, and evinces the creative bleed-through between texts.