Sunday, October 12, 2014

The First Doctor Part 1

Not quite a George Washington, not quite a skullet.  Great hair though.

I watched the episodes of the classic series I could easily get my hand on in more or less chronological order.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the same approach.  It’s not that the First Doctor’s era is bad, but it’s very different from the show on the telly (British slang!) today, not to mention modern telly-vision.  Also, the episodes frequently descended into members of the Tardis crew getting captured, rescued by the rest of the crew, who themselves get captured.  Fortunately the people originally captured are now free to liberate the recently captured.  I felt dirty padding out a paragraph with that sentence.  The early writers of Doctor Who sometimes felt comfortable stretching that sentence into 2-3 episodes.

Serials of note (Some good, some not as good.  Read the description):

 An Unearthly Child

Doctor Who begins with  history teacher, Barbara Wright, and a science teacher, Ian Chesterton, discussing brilliant, but weird student named Susan Foreman.  They decide to figure out what her game is, so they follow her home to the now familiar police box.  They go inside, and in a real dick move the Doctor decides he can’t let them leave, so he takes them back to 100,000 B.C. and the rest, as they say, is history.

The most amazing thing about the first serial is how little it has in common with the modern series or indeed the rest of the classic series.  For one thing the Doctor is a selfish asshole, not the hero we’ve come to expect.  More to the point the Doctor isn’t even the main character; the whole thing is from Barbara and Ian’s point of view, and not just in a clever Moffat-y “get to-know-the-new-Doctor” sort of way.  Although the show firmly became The Doctor’s by the end of the first Doctor’s run, most of the early serials focus on the companions. 

It’s also noteworthy that the aforementioned Susan Foreman is The Doctor’s granddaughter?  This would seem to imply that The Doctor also has at least one child, and by extension The Doctor has also fucked.  None of this has ever been touched on again in the classic series or the new.  I only bring it up because it’s weird as shit.
The Doctor's granddaughter
The Daleks

This serial is sort of a generic “monster of the week” affair, but the monster in this case happened to be the iconic Dalaks.  While the plot is most notable for being the very first “monster of the week” Doctor Who story the design of the Daleks was an instant success, and Dalekmania took the UK by storm.  As important as the Daleks are to the show’s mythos, they’re even more important as the show’s first big hit.  Instead of being “that sci-fi show”  Doctor Who became “that sci-fi show with the Daleks.”  Other than the debut of the Daleks this story is just kind of meh.
This picture is awesome
The Aztecs *available on Netflix*

Doctor Who originally began with an educational agenda (hence the two schoolteachers.) Part of the original idea is that Doctor Who would travel to historical places and sciencey sci-fi places to teach kids about history and…Daleks I guess.  The historical serials were straight-up history with no sci-fi elements, save time travel, thrown in. You don’t have to worry about talking space-pumpkins or werewolves in Aztec times because there were goddamned Aztecs there practicing human sacrifice.  Serials of this type eventually went the way of the Aztec’s themselves, but I still think there’s room on the show for a little realistic culture shock horror.  Also, The Doctor kind-of, sort-of has a girlfriend in this episode, which is about as close as he comes to having a girlfriend until the new series.  This serial also establishes that you can’t change history, an antecedent to the fixed point nonsense of the current series 
Barbara as an Aztec God.  If someone asks if you/re a God you say yes.

1st Doctor Part Deux coming right up.

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