Wednesday, January 4, 2023

First Doctor Revisited: "An Unearthly Child"

“Who is he? Doctor who?” –Ian Chesterton

It’s been almost five years since I indulged in some Classic Doctor Who. By using the word “indulge” some people might laugh, because of the outdated effects and storylines. True, plenty of the stories might not be successful now (especially with how often a damsel in distress accompanied the Doctor) but the stories are still solid. I wanted to highlight some of my preferred Classic stories, starting with where it all began: 76 Totter's Lane.

While watching “An Unearthly Child” for the first time in 2013, my best friend offhandedly commented, “Just think, this grumpy old Doctor turned into Matt Smith.” I responded, “Yeah, fifty years of character development will do that to you.”

That really is what Doctor Who is: a story of character development. Even before the concept of regeneration was dreamed up to recast the Doctor, the First Doctor had plenty of time (and space) to run around with his human companions and grow as a person. He turned from a grumpy old man, only affectionate towards Susan, into a warm and loving grandpa to anyone who traveled with him (even Dodo, who I struggled with).

It’s amazing to think that this legacy of almost 60 years of Doctor Who began with two nosey school teachers who wanted to learn more about a mysterious girl. And it still blows me away at times that the Doctor, who’d eventually stand for fairness and humanity, kidnapped Ian and Barbara to keep the TARDIS a secret. It seems like his early adventures with Susan could have been more in line with the Time Lords’ policy of non-interference. But his adventures with Ian and Barbara began to change that, starting with teaching cavepeople to make fire.

And the rest is history. I hope to have more of these posts coming in the next while. It took me a year and a half to watch Classic Doctor Who for the first time. Let’s see how long it takes me to make my way through to the modern era this time. In the meantime, here’s a parting quote from the First Doctor in the first episode:

“Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension? Have you?... to be exiles? Susan and I are cut off from our own planet, without friends or protection. But one day we shall get back. Yes, one day. One day.”

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