Reviewed: Then and Now: Volume 1 – Doctor Who In Review by David J. Howe

A collection of reviews and blogs regarding the first four revived series of Doctor Who, Then and Now is something of a nostalgic beast.

In the world of Who time moves fast and eras of the show, ironically, quickly become a flag for the past rather than maintain their up to date momentum at the time of screening. The Matt Smith years weren’t that long ago and yet it feels like a lifetime of events has occurred for the Doctor since Peter Capaldi took the keys. It’s no bad thing, in actuality it’s part of the show’s longevity.

But where this becomes pertinent for the review of this book is looking back on the, now considered, early years of Doctor Who. Over ten years have passed since the Time Lord returned to our screens and what a difference those years have made, if Then and Now is anything to go by.

Author David J Howe, a writer synonymous in the world of Doctor Who, takes the reader on journey through his excited eyes and ears. In 2005, fans of Doctor Who had been waiting many years for the show to return and finally, the moment was here. The first thirteen weeks of NuWho were exhilarating, shocking, funny, terrifying, heartbreaking and above all, fantastic. Howe uses his own blog to document his initial reactions after each episode, whether they be positive or negative, and in doing so reignites the joy and trepidation that many were feeling during the initial weeks of the show’s return. Would new Doctor Who be any good? Would the SFX live up to expectations? Would the Daleks be scary or rubbish? Above all, did Doctor Who have a place in the 21st century?

Thankfully, the answer was a resounding yes but what’s particularly interesting here is reading about those same worries and concerns for the show as well as the celebration of it’s creative brilliance in this refreshed, new format. Howe’s writing bestows someone who knows Doctor Who in detail and is not afraid to recount what he likes and doesn’t like. In an age where many are happy to faun of other’s work without taking into account some of the flaws that could be analysed, this is a refreshing read.

The ‘Now’ aspect of the title, has Howe look back at his previous findings and critique his own opinion, in agreement or disagreement, some years later. It’s a nice touch, to read the changes in opinion that time can bring but it could have perhaps been longer. It’s always interesting to read an author’s second opinion and discover their reasons, if any, for a change in attitude. Howe’s offerings, particularly on the first series, could have been longer.

This volume covers Series One through to Four and the 2008-2010 specials that saw the end of the Tennant era. It’s a rollercoaster read that will put you back in the days of yesteryear when Doctor Who used to go out on those early spring evenings. It’s a cracking read and one that leaves you wanting to read Howe’s opinions on the Smith and Capaldi years next.