Behind the Sofa Behind the Sofa
A Closer Look at Dr Who

Anthony Thacker
ISBN 9781842912720 (1842912720)
Kingsway, 2006

Category: Arts & Media
Reviewed by: Phil Groom

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Doctor Who?
And the Daleks!

The old ones are the best, and in this book Doctor Who and the Daleks come knocking at the door — and Anthony Thacker lets them in. But unlike my corny joke, he shows us that it's not a case of the old ones being the best — more a case of exploring the best of both the old and the new (Jesus and the Teachers of the Law come to mind, Matthew 13:52), of getting out from behind the sofa and getting interactive.

There's certainly no stranger Science Fiction than Doctor Who with its multidimensional, transtemporal storylines, aliens and scary monsters — and Thacker, author of A Closer Look at Science Fiction (Kingsway, 2001) is just as certainly no stranger to Science Fiction. He knows Doctor Who's storylines — not just the classic and current TV series but the audio versions, movie, spin-off novels and videos — and this exploration takes the lid off the stories to uncover profound social, religious and ethical issues raised in almost every episode.

If you're a Time Lord you can zip back and forth between past, present and future as much as you like — and with every swing of the pendulum, Doctor Who brings us relentlessly back to the present, reminding us that the past put us where we are now, that the future emerges from where we are now. Thacker is equally relentless in his critique, not content to accept things at face value or as simple entertainment but probing, analysing, bringing us back to reality again and again, raising questions, especially science fiction's perennial question of What if...?

Thacker's Christian commitment blazes through as he ties his questions in with his knowledge of the Bible, ending each chapter (and periodically interrupting them) with discussion pointers. Whether you're a fan of Doctor Who yourself, a youth leader with Doctor Who fans in your youth group or simply someone who likes to dig around behind the scenes, this is a book that will help you move beyond the scary monsters — to get out from behind that sofa and face up to reality.

If there's a downside to the book, it has to be the cover: far too much sofa (and what era is that sofa from anyway??) and not enough Doctor. Please, let's have a massive Dalek facing down a troop of Cybermen or something next time!

Phil Groom, June 2006

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.


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