I love the various Archive series Obverse Books do. Deep critical dives into individual episodes of genre TV they’re the exact sort of thing I love to read and to do myself. I’ve had the pleasure of writing about the Star Trek: Discovery ‘Through the Valley of Shadows’ for Obverse as well as the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special ‘The Day of the Doctor‘. Most recently, I got to contribute to the very unusual Black Archive on a very unusual season of Doctor Who, ‘Flux.’
Six episodes, both a serial and surprisingly stand-alone, ‘Flux’ through everything at the wall and was both defined and powered by pandemic restrictions. It’s a fascinating piece of TV, often brilliant, often intensely frustrating and it demanded a different approach to the usual ‘One author, one story’, Obverse have perfected. This time, it’s seven authors, six stories with James Cooray-Smith, Emma Smith, Phillip Purser-Hallard, Oliver Tomkins, James Mortimer and Matt Hills covering the individual episodes while I wrote the introduction and conclusion.
That approach meant each episode gets a full examination but also allowed us to put the season in the wider context. Doctor Who as a show has always been defined by response to trauma, whether that’s political machinations at the BBC or a global pandemic and it was both a surprise, and oddly, reassuring, to see how the show’s perpetually embattled life matches that of The Doctor themselves. I also took a look at how the show became a coping mechanism during lockdown and how that changed the perception of it yet again in the public eye.
Working at this sort of critical level is always demanding and always rewarding. I loved being able to tie together the amazing work the other authors did in the context of the show’s many lives and crises and the book turned out brilliantly with some amazing perspectives on the stories and how they work. It’s available now.