Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The First Doctor

I’m back with another Doctor Who post! Actually, it’s the first in a series. Over the past few months I’ve been watching a bunch of Classic Doctor Who, whatever was available and that I could reasonably get my hands on without breaking the bank (Hulu and Netflix DVDs have helped out a lot). I’ll be discussing each Doctor in turn, addressing my favorite story from each season, my least favorite story, and one story (or on the rare occasion two stories) that I believe deserve honorable mention (often my second favorite story, but also stories that have long-term significance). I’ll also comment on my favorite and least favorite companions. So with that, here I go:

The TARDIS team is coerced into helping
find "The Keys of Marinus"
Season 1
Top Story: The Keys of Marinus
By the time I got “The Keys of Marinus” from Netflix DVD, I was into the Second or Third Doctor on Hulu and I was getting a little drained of six-episode stories, so this story was refreshing. Even though it was six episodes long, each episode was a different setting, different subplot, making it more interesting and faster moving. Overall, this is one Classic Doctor Who story that would be easy to watch over multiple sittings, whereas many Classic Doctor Who would work better in one sitting.
Flop Story: The Edge of Destruction
It’s one of the first stories of the series and from my understanding it was made out of necessity. While this story did begin to bond the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara as friends instead of allies of necessity, it was kind of boring. If I understood correctly, the “villain” of the story was more cabin fever and the TARDIS’s protective mechanisms more than anything. This story also really didn’t help my dislike of Susan. She was completely crazy in this story for seemingly no reason. It just seemed like everyone on the TARDIS was completely irrational in this one.
Ian and Barbara meet the First
Doctor in "An Unearthly Child"
Honorable Mention 1: An Unearthly Child
The second, third, and fourth parts of this story aren’t the greatest, but I had to mention “An Unearthly Child” since this is where it all began. At the very least, I recommend watching the first episode so that you get a taste of where the Doctor began (he wasn’t always so adventurous and fun-loving) and how he actually kidnapped two of his first companions!
Honorable Mention 2: The Daleks
Another one that needed mention was the introduction of the Daleks, one of the most popular Doctor Who aliens. While a bunch of the elements of this story have since been abandoned in the Daleks’ design, the overall Dalek creatures haven’t changed much in 50 years.

The Doctor invites Vicki to join them
in the TARDIS in "The Rescue"
Season 2
Top Story: The Rescue
Just on the heels of leaving Susan in the 22nd Century, the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara meet Vicki. In contrast to Susan, she was competent, clever, and brave. In this episode, she is being tricked into staying on her crashed spaceship by the only other remaining survivor, Bennett, who turns out to be a homicidal maniac who had killed her parents and the people of that world. By the end, the Doctor and his friends invite the orphan to join them in their travels. It’s only two episodes, so it’s a nice easy watch, which I liked.
Flop Story: The Web Planet
I’m not sure what it was about this story, but I had a hard time getting into it. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki get attacked by the Zarbi on Vortis. Whatever the reason, whether it was the costumes, the story, the giant bugs, or whatever, I was not particularly a fan of this one. However, it is worth noting that the Zarbi later returned in the 50th Anniversary Comic “Prisoners of Time” again encountering the First Doctor and his companions.
Susan gets left in the 22nd Century
in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth"
Honorable Mention: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
It wasn’t on Hulu or Netflix DVDs, so I ended up buying it on iTunes. I figured it was worth it since this was the first time we said goodbye to a companion. After defeating the Daleks after their invasion of Earth in the 22nd Century, the Doctor learns that his granddaughter has fallen in love with a human she met, so he leaves her behind to live her life with him. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Susan, it was sad to see the Doctor say goodbye to his granddaughter. I would definitely be up for seeing her again in the modern series. I think she’d go really well with Peter Capaldi.

The Doctor cures the common cold
in "The Ark"
Seasons 3-4
Top Story: The Ark
In the distant future, with the impending destruction of Earth (maybe the same event we saw in “The End of the World” in Series 1?) there’s an Ark traveling through space with the remainder of humanity. The Doctor, Dodo, and Steven arrive on the Ark and accidentally infect the people on board with Dodo’s cold, so the Doctor has to figure out a way to save a civilization whose immune systems can’t handle the common cold. At the end of the second episode, the Doctor and his companions leave, only to end up on the Ark again considerably later, finding the Monoid servants now in control of the human race. Like “The Keys of Marinus” this story was really easy to enjoy, as it was in smaller chunks, instead of one long one.
Flop Story: The Gunfighters
I think it was the ridiculous nature of this story that made me dislike it. I really got sick of hearing the song about The OK Corral and it felt like they were just playing with cowboy clichés, as they made Doctor Who into a western. Out of principle, I watched the whole thing, but I wouldn’t watch it again.
The Doctor meets the Cybermen
for the first time in "The Tenth Planet"
Honorable Mention: The Tenth Planet
This one got honorable mention for the first use of the Cybermen and the first regeneration of the Doctor, both of which I really enjoyed. One thing I didn’t like was how little the Doctor was involved in it. It’s understandable, because William Hartnell’s health was failing, but I think if he had been up for it, the story would have been that much better. But then again, that’s the whole reason we got the regeneration into the Second Doctor, out of necessity. I will say that having seen more “advanced” Cybermen, it was interesting to see their weapons not connected to their bodies. As the Cybermen do, I’m glad that they’ve been upgraded over the years.

First Doctor Companions:
Susan Foreman: The Name of the Doctor (flashback) - The Dalek Invasion of Earth
Barbara Wright: An Unearthly Child - The Chase
Ian Chesteron: An Unearthly Child - The Chase
Vicki Pallister: The Rescue - The Myth Makers
Steven Taylor: The Chase - The Savages
Dodo Chaplet: The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve - The War Machines
Polly Wright: The War Machines - (2nd Doctor)
Ben Jackson: The War Machines - (2nd Doctor)

Ian and the Thals in "The Daleks"
Favorite Companion:
It’s a toss-up between Ian and Steven, but I’d choose Ian. I like the “action hero” aspect to both of them, but there’s something about Ian being one of the first companions that probably speaks to me. Also, he’s shown himself to be clever, often being able to keep up with the Doctor and match wits at times.
Dodo trying to be tough
in "The Gunfighters"
Least Favorite Companion: I’ll admit that I didn’t get a good sampling of her, but I really didn’t like Dodo. It was almost like she knew the Doctor liked her and she acted like it. Again, I only saw her in three full stories and a single episode of “The Celestial Toymaker” but all the same, I found her to be a really flat character. It was like she was Susan without any character development.

Alright. That’s all I have for the First Doctor. For the non-Whovians, I’ll be back with a non-Doctor-Who-related post next week. For the Whovians, be looking for my post on the Second Doctor, coming soon. In the meantime, here’s some links for if you’re interested in getting a glimpse of the First Doctor:

The First Doctor "returned" for a flashback in "The Name of the Doctor"

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