Running Through Corridors: Volume 2: The 70s by Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke (book review).

September 29, 2017 | By | Reply More

‘Running Through Corridors’ is a series of books that detail a very special ‘Doctor Who’ marathon. Written by Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke, the books detail the email exchanges between two friends and fans who watch one episode per day and write to each other about it in this double column length book. This second volume sees the pair tackle the 1970s as they attempt to communicate each day about every story from the decade between ‘Spearhead From Space’ and ‘The Horns Of Nimon’. This is some Imperial Phase Who spanning the whole of the Jon Pertwee era and most of Tom Baker’s reign.

Each day, the pair watch the episode and then Shearman, most famously known as the writer of the first series story ‘Dalek’, but also for his Big Finish work: ‘Deadline’, ‘The Holy Terror’, ‘Jubilee’ and ‘The Chimes Of Midnight’, e-writes to Hadoke, himself a Doctor Who documentary maker, podcaster DVD commentator and stand-up comedian, known for his ‘Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf’ show. Hadoke then responds and the dialogue carries on thus throughout the book. At first, it’s easy to see how their expertise is applied to their critique. Shearman identifies elements of narrative, pace and tone. Hadoke is quick to spot which actors, famous or otherwise, appear in the episode.

Both have been fans of the show for a long while and what makes much of their critique unique is learning how they first viewed an episode or how their opinions on a particular story might have changed. This is a much more refreshing approach to reviewing the stories rather than the latest ‘hot take’ from a reviewer the day after broadcast. Watching the whole thing so closely together also allows them to pick the changing rhythms of the show, its motifs and often where it repeats itself within a matter of stories, despite those stories perhaps ending and beginning seasons. They are both extremely knowledgeable and even the most learned fan can pick up some new facts or make connections that they hadn’t previously considered.

What makes this even more enjoyable is that while this marathon of ‘Doctor Who’ continues, their lives do, too. The exchanges in this book were written between May and August 2009. Hadoke is on tour in New Zealand and later gets married, during his viewing of ‘The Android Invasion’. This level of personal detail could come across as rather self-serving and a little smug, but actually works charmingly and adds a little colour to the context of how the episodes are perceived. Shearman, in turn, isn’t afraid to hold back on things he doesn’t like. Episode Five of ‘The Time Monster’, for example, barely gets a mention. He then goes on to describe the ‘Daisyest Daisy’ speech from episode six as ‘over-written flab’, which I think is quite difficult to argue with, no matter how nicely Pertwee plays it.

This therefore makes ‘Running Through Corridors: Volume 2: The 70s’ a lengthy, immensely detailed, but loving and personal look at, what for many, is the high point of classic ‘Doctor Who’. The entries for each episode never overstay their welcome and both authors clearly have a deep passion for their chosen subject. I suspect the best endorsement I can give is that I want to read volume 1, as I enjoyed reading this so much. The only thing I would say is that it might seem a little too intense for a new fan to the show, but maybe I’m being over-cautious.

Another ‘Doctor Who’ writer, Paul Cornell, once said that every fan must one day undertake ‘the great pilgrimage’, the marathon watch-through of ‘Doctor Who’ in order. To be honest, the last time I tried that I ended up stalling at ‘The Web Planet’ so it’s credit to Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke that they’ve come so far and been so damn entertaining about it all. Recommended.

John Rivers

September 2017

(pub: Mad Norwegian Press, 2016. 390 page enlarged paperback. Price: £23.32 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-93523-407-4)

check out website: http://www.madnorwegian.com/

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Category: Books, Doctor Who

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