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Start Wreck January 25 2013 12:03 PM

Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
About six months ago, I started watching Doctor Who from the beginning. Now, as I plan to continue to watch these until the very end, I decided to start a blog and write a few comments about each serial as I go. Things I liked, things I didn't like. Nothing in-depth, just passing thoughts and opinions.

Since I have never seen any of these before, I figure my "fresh eyes" perspective might be of interest to some. If not, it's a nice record for me. :)

The blog is here:
http://doctorwhofromthestart.wordpress.com/

Please bear with me while I upload (and back-date) articles. I'll be up to date in a few days hopefully.

Any suggestions and comments welcome. No spoilers, please. :)

Iamnotspock January 25 2013 05:53 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
I've recently started a re-watch (as I'm sure many fans are at the moment), and I've found a new appreciation for Hartnell. The line fluffs grate occasionally but for the most part I found it quite refreshingly natural for a character on TV (especially an eccentric and forgetful old man) to fluff his words and lose his train of thought the way people actually DO in real life. Even when it's unintentional it ties in with him getting Ian's surname wrong and the like. He was supposed to be doddery and comically forgetful, and I found it amusing to occasionally see the other actors smile in character at some of his fluffs. For me, it added to the character. I'd also contest that "No-one else, even the guest stars, have this problem"; not to the same degree, no, but the show was recorded 'as live', with retakes only being done if everything went completely tits-up, and several of the cast do occasionally fluff lines in those early stories. It's worth noting that the screen medium was very young at this point, and screen acting was far less naturalistic than it is today. :)

I also feel compelled to point out that Hartnell was not a well man at this time, and that his arteriosclerosis (of which he was suffering the onset) made it harder for him to remember lines and eventually contributed to his premature departure from the show. By all accounts, he would get very frustrated with himself and his inability to perform the role to his own satisfaction, and his resultant irascibility made him somewhat difficult to work with. In a way, while very sad for him (he was a great actor in his day) it gave the show its longevity. If Hartnell had been well enough to continue, the show would have died with him, but the fact that ill health forced him to leave before time necessitated the invention of regeneration...

Patrick Troughton rightfully receives much praise for his portrayal of the Doctor, and for being the template for who the Doctor is now (he's certainly the most influential on his successors), but I think it's all there in Hartnell's performance too.

The Mirrorball Man January 25 2013 06:06 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
^^
And the original Tardis gang is just a perfect ensemble of characters.

Start Wreck January 29 2013 12:34 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
Since Patrick Troughton took over, I've been enjoying these old episodes a lot more. I don't want to be too harsh on William Hartnell, but the show has become immeasurably better since he left. Admittedly, this isn't entirely down to the change in cast - the stories are more interesting too. More sci-fi, less "adventures in history". More monsters, better villains and generally just more fun.

Anyway, my blog is now up-to-date with where I'm up to. I just watched The Invasion, which I quite enjoyed.
http://doctorwhofromthestart.wordpre.../the-invasion/

Start Wreck February 12 2013 11:08 AM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
I have now seen all of Patrick Troughton's episodes, ending with The War Games:
http://doctorwhofromthestart.wordpre...the-war-games/

I wrote a summary of the second Doctor and listed some of my favourite episodes. Repeating myself a bit, but:
http://doctorwhofromthestart.wordpre...best-episodes/

Quote:

A remarkable thing happened when Patrick Troughton took over the leading role on Doctor Who - the show changed from 'occasionally good', to 'often great'. I can't put that entirely down to the character, because it seemed to me a result of the writing and the types of stories that they wanted to tell. Half of William Hartnell's run were historical type stories, where our heroes would be temporarily trapped in the past. The other half would be futuristic or science-fiction based. After the Doctor's regeneration, this changes - there is only one 'pure history' story (probably a leftover script) and that's it, not a single other. Every story from then on is either set in the future, or set in the present day, or has some sort of alien threat or science-fiction element to it. Oh, and monsters. Lots of monsters. The start of 'The War Games' is even more stark, then, since it seems like the first historical episode in three years, and even then it turns out it isn't!

Basically, I want to point out that the improvements made (and they were massive improvements - I was tempted to give up during some of Hartnell's more boring episodes) are not purely down to the change in actor, nor just the stories, but both of these things combined. I can appreciate the difficulties Hartnell had, but also the writers, in pinning down exactly what sort of show they wanted Doctor Who to be. Arguably, that's something that is still happening to this day.

There were some other series mainstays introduced during Troughton's run. For one thing, the title sequence changed (finally!) and introduced 'the face'. We also got the first use of the Sonic Screwdriver, first use of the alias John Smith, and first appearance of the Earth unit... er... UNIT. And, of course, there was a new Doctor himself.


Thoughts on the Second Doctor:

Immediately after regenerating into his new appearance, it's clear Troughton's portrayal of the character is markedly different. It's a confident character, more on top things, more capable. He's still a little self-involved and weird, but ultimately compassionate. He has a few quirks of his own (a recorder!) and manages to make the character something new.

Troughton gives a thoroughly consistent performance. Whether he's shouting panic-stricken commands to people or engaging in more solemn discussion about the wonders of time/space travel, so long as the writing it good, he's always enjoyable to watch, and he becomes what the show needed him to be - a strong leading character. Nonetheless, he's almost always helped out by the supporting cast, and at times even Jamie has to help set him back on the straight path.

Episode Highlights:

It's difficult to pick out the best episodes of Troughton's run. Firstly, because the quality is more consistent, so few stand out as remarkable against the rest. Secondly, because so many of these serials are incomplete or missing that I may favour a completed serial over a reconstructed one, despite its quality. That said, I have managed to choose what I think are the best examples, which I now list below.

The Power of the Daleks (6 parts, all missing)
The Tomb of the Cybermen (4 parts, all complete)
The Web of Fear (6 parts, only part 1 complete)
The Invasion (8 parts, 2 missing but animated)
The War Games (10 parts, all complete)
Now, if you'll excuse me, 1970 awaits. :)

Start Wreck March 7 2013 12:47 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
Still going strong. I've got as far as the end of season 8 so far. Just watched the (underwhelming) 'The Daemons'.
http://doctorwhofromthestart.wordpre...7/the-daemons/

Quote:

So, this brings season 8 to a disappointing close. I've enjoyed the Master's appearances so far but the stories have been a bit of a mixed bag. Here's hoping things improve
Pertwee's Doctor is such a GRUMP! I know you're exiled, Doc, but cheer up!

The Mirrorball Man March 7 2013 12:54 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
Quote:

Start Wreck wrote: (Post 7771189)
Pertwee's Doctor is such a GRUMP! I know you're exiled, Doc, but cheer up!

The third Doctor is a sanctimonious twat surrounded by idiots.

Eliczo March 7 2013 12:55 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
I have enjoyed reading your opinions of the stories, gonna catch up now....

Start Wreck March 7 2013 01:28 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
Quote:

The Mirrorball Man wrote: (Post 7771198)
Quote:

Start Wreck wrote: (Post 7771189)
Pertwee's Doctor is such a GRUMP! I know you're exiled, Doc, but cheer up!

The third Doctor is a sanctimonious twat surrounded by idiots.

Haha, yes, exactly this!

The Wormhole March 7 2013 02:27 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
I find Pertwee is an acquired taste. I wasn't too impressed with him at first, but now I consider him to be my favourite of the classic era Doctors.

Start Wreck March 21 2013 04:33 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
Season 9 ends on a more entertaining note:
http://doctorwhofromthestart.wordpre...-time-monster/

The Time Monster
Quote:

This one definitely teeters on the edge of hokiness, but unlike 'The Dæmons', it manages to go full circle into insane brilliance. There's a lot to be said about a story that simultaneously deals with time travel, flying gods, Atlantis, a minotaur, and a man who turns into a baby.
Quote:

the plot is just the right mix of loose science, history, and megalomaniacal villainy that Doctor Who should aim for more often. It wasn't perfect but it turned out much better than I expected it to.
:)

MikeS March 23 2013 04:33 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
If you don't mind my asking (I'm a noob to "old-Who" too and wouldn't mind getting acquainted), how does one go about "watching" and rating episodes when they are missing?

Cheers.

Smoked Salmon March 23 2013 04:41 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
I always found that the beauty of the show was that it's never quite the same each week. That means that as a fan, sometimes casual, sometimes more, for the past 30-35 years I've either moved stories, been indifferent or sometimes hated them. As a result, what I like to do is dip in and dip out of the various years, including nuWho, on and offer. This, for me, gives a fresher approach, allows me to dip into the era or Doctor I fancy at the time and keeps me more interested in the entire run as a whole.

Smoked Salmon March 23 2013 04:43 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
Quote:

MikeS wrote: (Post 7839811)
If you don't mind my asking (I'm a noob to "old-Who" too and wouldn't mind getting acquainted), how does one go about "watching" and rating episodes when they are missing?

Cheers.

Many of the deleted episodes remain either as novelisations or the original studio recordings.

In some cases where there is only one or two shows missing they have been animated using the aforementioned studio recordings. So, in a lot of cases, while the episodes themselves are gone, the stories are still there in some form or another.

MikeS March 23 2013 05:54 PM

Re: Doctor Who from the start (by a n00b)
 
^Thanks for the answer. Amazing that the BBC just binned a load of art. Do you still think there's any chance whatsoever of them turning up somewhere?


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