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Podcast / Doctor Who Target Book Club Podcast

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"Hello, Fellow Time Travelers, and Welcome...!"
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This podcast, created in 2016 by Tony Whitt, a former writer for Cinescape, WhatCulture, and various other web magazines, is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a project in which he and a panel of two other people read and discuss the Doctor Who Novelisations from the 1960s through the 1990s in story order. (Not to be confused with The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast, which looks at all of the various forms of Doctor Who fiction produced over the last five decades.) A new episode is released every other week, give or take, on Soundcloud, iTunes, and YouTube. The panel generally features an intermediate-level fan who has read none of the books but has watched some of the episodes (either Danny Celedon or Dalton Hughes) and a novice fan who has neither read the books nor watched any (or very few) of the episodes (in the beginning this was Sheena Anna Para, and now it tends to be semi-regular Jenny Ingersoll or near-permanent panelist Alyson Fitch-Safreed). The panel then looks at reviews by other readers as culled from Goodreads.com before giving their own opinion of the quality of the writing, the story, and anything else that comes to mind. Episodes run anywhere between fifty-five minutes to an hour and half, depending on how involved the discussion gets.

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Tropes:

  • Catchphrase :
    Tony:"Hello, fellow Time Travelers, and welcome back to The Doctor Who Target Book Club, the podcast in which we undertake the Insert Adjective Here task of discussing, in story order, all of the Doctor Who novelizations. My name is Tony Whitt, and today we again have our three-person discussion panel, including our so-called expert who’s been a Who fan since 1979 – that would be me..."
    Tony:"And now without further ado, here are some Fast Facts..." Cue the sped up version of the Doctor Who theme for the anniversary special Dimensions in Time and a sped-up version of Tony's voice giving publication info about the book.
    Tony:"Here's the thing..." Usually this gets trotted out just before Tony carefully contradicts a misunderstanding of a panel member or brings up a bit of trivia about the episode or book in question that was previously unknown. He uses the phrase a LOT, though.
    Tony:"Thank you very much for listening, and enjoy your travels!" The only time this exact catch phrase has not been used at the end of an episode is for the very first one, presumably because Tony was still trying to find one that fit.
    • Rarely does an episode go by without a panelist saying of a book that "it was a fast read" - not surprising, given that hardly any of the books is over 150 pages...
    • Not quite a catch phrase, but Alyson tends to refer to books as "beach reads" or "summer afternoon books" - appropriate, since all of the episodes she's participated in so far have been recorded in the summer...
  • Caustic Critic:
    • It's rare that any of the panelists get truly negative, beyond saying that a scene didn't work or that a character had little motivation, but it happens. Tony's opinion of John Lucarotti's novelization of Marco Polo is particularly low, which made it all the more interesting when both Jenny and Dalton had glowing things to say about the book.
      Tony:"Before I get into the reasons I disagree with both of you..."
    • This has changed somewhat with the episode on The Sensorites, in which Tony really lets the televised story (though not so much the book) have it - though he soon admits that the story is still not as bad as The Space Museum:
      Tony: "The Sensorites - the one oozing sore on the ass of the first season of Doctor Who...the prolapsed anus, if you will, of the Hartnell era..."
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  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A real world example of this seems to have happened to Sheena Anna Parra, who was a regular member of the panel until she...wasn't. No references have been made to her in subsequent episodes, and the one time Tony referred in an episode to former panelists, he listed Danny Celedon but not Parra. The YouTube videos featuring her still exist on the site, as do her episodes of the podcast, but otherwise, she's disappeared as completely as Chuck did.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • In the SAVAGES episode, Tony points out the absurdity of one of the alien characters observing that he doesn't like Tuesdays. Alyson defends the writer's sense of humor, not realizing that Tony is objecting to the use of "Tuesday" on an alien planet, even though he starts repeating "Tuesdays, Alyson! Tuesdays!" during her observations. (He can even be heard muttering to Dalton, "She's not hearing me, is she?") She finally does hear him, though, at which point she says, "Oh."
  • Couch Gag:
    • The aforementioned Opening Narration includes a different adjective to describe the sheer mind-bending enormity of the task this podcast has set itself. For the first episode, An Unearthly Child, the project was called "massive," followed by "gargantuan" for The Daleks, "enormous" for Edge of Destruction, "gigantic" for Marco Polo...you get the idea. Tony will occasionally try to make these funny, resulting in his referring to the task in the Keys of Marinus episode as "Yuge!" before helpfully pointing out to his listeners that he was trying for a Donald Trump voice there.
      • THE ROMANS episode refers to the task as "Herculean," which Tony points out to the panelists as if they won't get it.
    • As of the Keys of Marinus episode on YouTube, which featured a color photograph of a Morphoton brain from that same story, the very last image of each video featuring the disclaimer also shows the Morphoton with a caption to viewers above its head. The first was a simple "See you next time!" but in the Aztecs episode, in which Sheena Anna Para jokingly called the listeners "jerks" for not commenting on the podcast's Facebook page, the caption read "You're not jerks!"
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Tony and Alyson, for sure, even though the phrase has not been applied to them by anyone (yet). An example from a recent episode has Tony referring to Alyson's not having watched the latest episodes of the series yet, to which she responds, "If I actually caught up, who would you have to scold?"
  • Makes As Much Sense In Context: In talking about the brief swearing in the novelisation of The Sensorites, Tony brings up the later controversies with swearing in Doctor Who books, including Barry Letts' infamous use of the word "cowshit." He uses this trope verabtim to explain why he can't explain that word being in that book.
  • No Budget: Most of the episodes are recorded either in Sheena Anna Para's dining room using a single microphone, featuring a dog running around and occasionally barking; or via Facebook Chat, which has led to its own problems. Whether the sound quality of the finished episodes is affected by all this is up to you, listeners. Also, the main graphic for the show (as seen above) is a photo of some of Tony's action figures in front of his bookcase - and that's it. The accompanying YouTube videos for the first six episodes are little more than the podcast audio with intercutting photos, though the show has gotten more ambitious with these as of the Aztecs episode, which included images of the some of the cast and of the book itself. There's also a disclaimer at the end of each episode as of the Keys of Marinus episode attributing the copyright of these images to their respective owners - and, of course, the Morphoton brain.
    • While this is still the case as of August 2018, Sheena Anna Para has long since left the show (seemingly amicably) and the episodes are now recorded in Tony's home, Dalton's apartment, Jenny's kitchen, or other various places. There are still audio flaws despite the higher quality of microphones that Tony keeps saying that they have bought, and as one iTunes reviewer put it, you'll occasionally hear a production error left in (which is part of the charm).
  • Nostalgia Filter: Subverted. Tony is in his late 40s as of 2017 and has read most of the novelizations as a teenager or younger adult, but apart from the praise he showers on the first novelization of The Daleks, he tends to think more highly of novels written in the 80s and later, and in the case of The Aztecs in particular he has said "This reads a lot better now than it did when I was younger" or words to that effect. Since the podcast is reviewing the stories in story order and most of the 60s stories were novelized in the 80s, though, this may change as the series goes on.
    • It has: now that the pod is covering the first Target books written in the early 70s, when writers like Terrance Dicks still cared, Tony and the other panelists have remarked on how much better these are, even though they're still fond of the 80s-era books (unless those books are written by Dicks, in which case it depends on the year).
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Mostly subverted in the earlier episodes, in which Tony makes reference to not wanting iTunes to pull the show if they swear. But in the unedited Facebook Live discussion of The Sensorites, Tony says to one of the other panelists that they're going to swear through this episode because "that's the only way to survive it," and when he brings up the fact that one of the regular characters in the book says "Goddam it," Tony says, "The swearing shocked the FUCK out of me!"
    • In the same episode, when informed that the podcast now has its own Subreddit, Sheena exclaims, "Oh, shit, we're gonna get trolled like a motherfucker..."
    • At the very end of the episode THE ROMANS, Tony previews the next novelization THE ZARBI, which he refers to as "the one DOCTOR WHO book that refers to the title character as 'Doctor Who' all...the way...fucking...through."
      • This has since become the norm rather than the exception. One iTunes reviewer says, "There’s a bit of swearing and booze, but no more than a proper gathering of friends would exhibit at a correct viewing of ‘Death to the Daleks’ with a bit of spirited live commentary."
  • That Came Out Wrong: During a discussion of a reference to Jesus in the novelization of ''The Aztecs'', Sheena says that she didn't take the reference as one to Jesus, despite the character mentioned being crucified, which leads to Tony saying, "But that's just it...that kinda nails it down..." before he immediately bursts out in embarrassed laughter over what he's just said. Dalton follows this with "No pun intended," but Sheena seems not to notice.
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