The Doctor Who Newbies Guide
The Whoniverse is a vast construct. 26 years of the Classic TV series, a decade and a half of novels, half a decade of audios, and the new TV series adds up to a lot of material. And stories frequently make references to other stories. In fact, one of the major criticisms of the ongoing series of novels has been that too many of them are part of ongoing story arcs. Although most stories do explain what you need to know, references to the past can easily leave you confused and bewildered.
That's where the Newbies Guide comes in. Though it is only starting to cover the novels and audios, we eventually plan to include the complete TV series as well. It gives you a guide to everything you need to know to understand a story. Where possible, I have tried to minimise or eliminate spoilers for the story being discussed, but it's not always possible. Also, be aware that a very large proportion of entries include spoilers for other stories.
How does it work?
We've got separate indexes for various series, so look in the individual indexes to find the story you're after. Each individual entry contains the following information:
- Basic information - the title, writer, etc.
- Placement - roughly where this story fits into the Doctor's timeline.
- Links - tells you if this story is part of a story arc, is a sequel, has a sequel, or is standalone.
- Doctor - which Doctor (or Doctors) appear in the story, with a brief description. This also notes if their appearance is only a cameo or flashback.
- Companions - which companion (or companions) appear in the story, with a brief summary of who they are.
- Recurring Characters - Other characters we've seen before with a brief biography. We also use this section for real-life historical characters, in case you don't know the relevant part of history. Appearances may be confined to a flashback or cameo.
- Recommended Viewing - Which TV stories would help you understand the plot better. Includes a brief summary of the relevant information, so you don't actually have to watch them.
- Recommended Reading - Which books would help you understand the plot better. Includes a brief summary of the relevant information, so you don't actually have to read them.
- Recommended Listening - Which audios would help you understand the plot better. Includes a brief summary of the relevant information, so you don't actually have to listen to them.
The Newbies Guide assumes that you can handle throwaway references to previous adventures without having to know where they come from. After all, an awful lot of throwaway references refer to events that have yet to be chronicled. Therefore, if I don't explain a reference, then either it's not important to the plot, or I've mucked up. If you really want to track down every single reference, try looking at this site's Discontinuity Guide (for books), tetrap.com's DiscContinuity Guide (for audios) and the book The Discontinuity Guide (for TV stories).
A note on story titles
For historical reasons, there are several Doctor Who stories that have more than one name. The early Doctor Who stories had onscreen titles for each episode rather than for the whole story. As a result some of them have acquired several names, though most are only referred to by one. There are a few later examples where the title is ambiguous as well. Rather than use all the possible names every time we reference these story, here are the names we'll be using:
When referring to short stories from any of the short story collections, we use the anthology title, then a colon, then the story title. We have usually omitted the subtitle of those collections that have them, to make this easier to read. So, for example, the short story Continuity Errors from Decalog 3: Consequences would be referred to as Decalog 3: Continuity Errors.
- 100,000 BC: The first Doctor Who story, commonly referred to as An Unearthly Child, the title of the first episode. 100,00 BC is the final working title. We may occasionally use An Unearthly Child when referring to the first episode. Some fans also call this story The Tribe of Gum.
- The Daleks: The second Doctor Who story, and the first Dalek story. Its working title was The Mutants, but to avoid confusion with the Jon Pertwee story The Mutants, it is usually referred to as The Daleks.
- The Edge of Destruction: The Third Doctor Who story, often called Inside the Spaceship, its working title. However, The Edge of Destruction - the title of the first episode - is more often used.
- The Massacre: Technically, this story is called The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, but The Massacre is used widely enough to drop the cumbersome ending.
- The Silurians: The onscreen title is Doctor Who and the Silurians, but we have chosen to drop the first part because it's just silly.
- Shada: This story has two versions - the version that was only partly filmed in the Tom Baker era, and the webcast version featuring Paul McGann. When referring to Shada, we have noted whether we are referring to the original version or the online ('BBCi') version.
- Trial of a Timelord: Season 23 consisted of 3 or 4 stories (depending how you count) under a single title. We use the onscreen title Trial of a Timelord for the whole thing, but the widely used titles The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp, and Terror of the Vervoids for the three stories that are presented as evidence at the trial.
- Enemy Within: The 1996 TV Movie never had a proper title. Fans tend to refer to it as the TV movie, and the DVD release calls it Doctor Who: The Movie. We have chosen to use the semi-official title Enemy Within, because we feel that the story needs a title.
- Twilight of the Gods: This title has been used for two different books. One of them is part of Virgin's Missing Adventure series, and the other is part of Virgin's spin-off New Adventures featuring companion Bernice Summerfield. When referring to either book, we note whether it is the 'MA' or 'NA' version.