Doctor Who Encyclopedia
Discover (almost) everything that’s ever happened and unhappened in Doctor Who
Since Steven Moffat took over as showrunner of Doctor Who, he hasn’t given viewers an easy ride on the TARDIS. It’s been confusing at best, and downright, incomprehensibly timey-wimey at worst, so this Doctor Who Encyclopedia app could prove rather useful. It may be a little more expensive than your average entertainment app, but gives users access to over 3,000 entries written by former Who script editor Gary Russell.
It has been adapted from the recently released hardback version, and lends itself beautifully to the iPad. The app opens with a whir of the TARDIS, which spins as interactive portals orbit around it, such as ‘The Doctor’ and ‘Enemies’. New-fangled know-how has been used expertly here, with the sci-fi-sounding ‘parallax technology’ on board. This gives the screen a 3D effect, making still images come to life. The entries are logically laid out into character, place, episode or object, and users can search for something specific in the A-Z section.
It packs in a lot of information, from trivia-busting nuggets such as the number of Abigail’s cryogenic chamber in ‘A Christmas Carol’ (it’s 7258), to the home planets of baddies like the Daleks and Cybermen. However, the encyclopedia only covers the two series of Matt Smith’s tenure, so don’t expect to see any ancient mysteries solved, such as Peter Davison’s penchant for a celery stick on his lapel. For an additional £4.99, you can gain access to information spanning David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston’s incarnations too.
Another drawback is the fact that users cannot pinch and zoom into photographs or text. This is all fixed, albeit at a reasonable size, but it would have been better if images could be used as wallpaper for the iPad, for example. It’s also peculiar for an encyclopedia of a television series that there is no multimedia content anywhere on the app besides a few sound effects. The closest it gets are the episode numbers that hover near every reference, and links to episode summaries with the option to purchase them through iTunes.
Where it does shine is the Portal, which has special interactive scenes for the Doctor, Amy, Rory, River Song and other major players. These areas are like a merry-go-round of images, and offer an engaging way of exploring content. The text that appears on every definition is written in an accessible style that will suit any age without talking down to its readers. Some passages could have been a bit longer, but the information offered here is enough to get the general idea. A Connections bar appears at the bottom of every page, and comes complete with the episodes, characters, places and objects that are related to the topic in question.
The app is undeniably a slick device that is designed with little nods to the show it’s based on. For instance, the typewriter that appears when you want to search for a specific subject is just like the one on the TARDIS main controls, and the lightning that flashes on the home screen is just like the storm that rages during the opening credits. It’s surprising that there is so much to learn for two series’ worth of episodes, and in the long pause between the Christmas special and series seven, it’s an app worth investing in for Whovians looking to while away the time. Despite its shortcomings and steep price tag, it’s still a lot cheaper than the book counterpart, and with plans to add more into the mix, it will surely become timeless.
What it lacks in multimedia content it makes up for in accessibility and sprawling information.
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