Doctor Who, first time through

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Hober Mallow, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    So I've started watching Who from the very beginning, starting with Netlix's Doctor Who: the Beginning, featuring the first three William Hartnel story arcs. I decided to share my impressions with the more hardcore fans here. I won't post long reviews, I'll just give my general impressions of each story and get some of your views.

    I'm not new to Who, but neither am I all that steeped into the show's mythology. I watched the show as a kid on a semi-regular basis for a time, have seen the McGann TV movie, and the first couple seasons of the new show.

    My first Doctor was Peter Davidson. At the time I didn't realize that there were other actors who had played the Doctor, or that the series had been on the air for decades by that time. So Davidson was the Doctor as far as I was concered.

    Then came the regeneration into Colin Baker. I misunderstood what was happening. When the Master's face appeared and ordered the Doctor to "Die!" I thought that the Master's mind had merged with the Doctor, and that Colin Baker was supposed to look like a cross between the Master and the Doctor. My idea was "confirmed" to me in the next episode, when it seemed to me the Doctor's evil "Master" side attacked his companion.

    I stopped watching not long afterwards. When I tuned in again, the Doctor was a funny little man with a funny hat. I guess that's when I figured out the Doctor could regenerate his form.

    A few years later, I started watching again, and my local PBS station was playing the Tom Baker episodes. It wasn't long before Tom Baker supplanted Peter Davidson in my mind as the Doctor. There's just something about Tom Baker; once you've seen his Doctor, you can't help but compare all the other Doctors to him -- even the earlier ones.

    Anyhoo, I'll get to my "reviews" now, and I'll keep it up if it seems like anyone cares. My posts may, however, be sporadic.

    "An Unearthly Child"

    Starts out great. The central focus of the first episode isn't the mystery of the Doctor, but the mystery of Susan. I love the fairly cryptic, "I was born in another time," comment.

    Then they went back in time, met some cavemen who speak pidgin English, and I fell asleep.

    The Doctor in this arc could not be more different from later Doctors; not only does he not particularly care about humans (or humans specifically of the 20th Century, if we're to stick with only what we know about the Doc from this early period; obviously it's not known that he's an alien and may simply be a human from the future), he seems to consider them beneath him and Susan. The most shocking scene from a "looking-back" perspective is the scene in which the Doctor is prepared to murder an injured caveman in order that they might not be slowed down in their progress.

    Most of the story is dull. I was glad when it was over because I knew what was coming up...

    "The Daleks(!)"

    Radiation is increasing. Here we go!

    We visit Skaro for the first time. There's a city in the distance. The Doctor wants to investigate, so he sabotages the TARDIS so the others have no choice but to go with the Doc to the city.

    We meet the Daleks. "Exterminate!" We meet the Thals.

    What surprises me the most about Hartnell's Doc is just how inactive he is. Okay, he's an old man... but then we have Ian. Ian is hardly the type of companion who we're used to in later seasons, the one who has to follow the Doctor's lead because he has no idea what's going on and the Doctor isn't showing all his cards. No, this Ian is actually more like the future Doctors than Hartell's character. He's the take charge kind of guy with a seeming obligation to get involved.

    How to reconcile the cantankerous old Doctor, who finds humans worthy of little more than an upturned nose and who'd rather fly off in the TARDIS and leave everyone else to their fates than be bothered to get involved, with the later versions of the character?

    Here's my idea for a retconned explanation:

    The Doctor's experiences with Susan and Ian changed him utterly. First, we have Susan's love of 20th Century earth, a love he would adopt partly because of her, and party because of Ian. In time, he comes to admire Ian's spirit of adventure, Ian's taking of moral positions and putting them into action, his getting involved, and that this, more than physical regeneration, gave the Doctor a renewed spirit. Eventually, even the Gallifreyans would take notice of the Doc's newfound obsession with earth, especially earth of the 20th Century, as they mention to Patrick Troughton's Doctor before they force his regeneration and institue his exile on earth.

    Well, it's just an idea. And I've only just seen the first few Hartnell story arcs, so feel free to disagree.

    Okay, it's going to be a week or so before I get the next story in the mail. I wish Netflix streamed more Who.
     
  2. VDCNI

    VDCNI Captain Captain

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    Hope you enjoy it. I've seen them all but am planning to do a big watch/listen from the start once the DVD's have all been released.

    I actually like the caveman bits of the first story - yes nothing much happens but it's a great character piece - for the Doctor and Ian anyway, Barbara doesn't really come into her own until the next few stories. It also has a much better script and acting from the guest cast than The Daleks.

    I'm not a fan of the Daleks but their first story is very strong - Nation is great at ideas and pretty solid on the action stuff but struggles with dialogue and the Thals are pretty nothing characters - though Philip Bond does some good stuff with his more cynical Thal and he and Jackie Hill do a nice job with the potential romance given that there's not really much there in the script.

    Your retcon is pretty much fan consensus - that travelling with humans changes the Doctor and the next story is a major factor in that development though Barbara is just if not more important in that than Ian or Susan. There's also an element that the Doctor and companions had to be more pro-active eventually as there is a limit to the stories you can tell when all they want to do is get back to the Tardis.
     
  3. Emh

    Emh The Doctor Premium Member

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    Huh, interesting theory. I've read many fan theories on The Sixth Doctor's demeanor (including Colin Baker's take as developed in the Big Finish audio plays), but I have to say I kind of like it. I'm not going to agree with it but it's interesting nonetheless.

    As VCDNI has already confirmed, your theory on The First Doctor is pretty much spot on. The Doctor's travels with Ian and Barbara changed the course of his life and all of the following companions continue to have a profound effect on him.
     
  4. Iamnotspock

    Iamnotspock Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's pretty much the consensus, and something that later writers have taken up and run with; Russell T Davies did a sort of condensed version of the early Hartnell character arc in the Eccleston season, with Rose Tyler meeting a damaged, scarred Doctor and changing him for the better. I wouldn't even call that theory a retcon - it seems to be what was presented on screen at the time. After all, the first Doctor changes radically and becomes much closer to the more familiar character, even before the first regeneration.

    Also, a tiny point; it's Davison, not Davidson. :)
     
  5. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Interesting. As I move through the rest of the Hartnell-era (or, at least, through the complete episodes Netflix has) I'll be watching for the Doctor's development.

    Ah, thank you. :)
    My Netflix DVD actually skipped during the scene in which the Doctor and Ian remove a Dalek from his sausage casing so that Ian could climb inside. Did we actually get to see the Dalek at this point, aside from the rubber glove under a blanket we see a moment later?

    Yes, it would make for an uninteresting series if the main character didn't really want to, well... be the main character. Sort of like Captain Pike from the first Trek pilot. I liked Hunter as the captain in "The Cage," but he was more of an anti-hero to Kirk's hero. No matter what happened to Kirk, he never questioned whether or not he wanted to or should be a starship captain.

    Looking forward to the Doc's character development.
    It was just my ignorance about regeneration. But it'll be fun for me to see that scene again in light of what I know now about the Doctor. It's been probably twenty years since I've seen that episode.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
  6. CaptainMatt

    CaptainMatt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Whatever one thinks of Rose, she did the Doctor some good between his first meeting with her and his eventual regeneration into his 10th incarnation.

    It did in retrospect seem like a shortened version of the 1st Doctor softening up to his companions and locations he ended up in. Nice.

    And yes, it IS Davison, not Davidson, never has been and never will despite endless people making the mistake. Including Doctor Who Magazine when he was first announced as the new Doctor. Oh well...
     
  7. 23skidoo

    23skidoo Admiral Admiral

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    I also like the "Master as Doctor" theory, and it would have made a much better introductory storyline than Twin Dilemma.

    Hober, are you only going to watch the existing stories, or will you also seek out the soundtrack recordings for the missing episodes? There are several box sets available and last I looked they'd covered all the missing Hartnell stories. I don't know if Netflix does CDs though they may be available on iTunes if you're into that. Also, there should have been a 2-parter tacked on to the end of The Daleks, "The Edge of Destruction" which is a key episode because it set up a number of elements of the series some of which paid off in 2011. There should also have been a 30-minute condensed audio version of the missing story "Marco Polo" which if nothing else would help bridge the gap between Edge of Destruction and the next complete story, Keys of Marinus (which I warn you isn't particularly good, but the season gets better after that).

    Alex
     
  8. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Also, you can find fan reconstructions of the missing stories on Youtube or Dailymotion
     
  9. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    I'm planning on scouring youtube to see what I can find. I can't really spend any extra money, so I'm limited to what I can find on Netflix and youtube, or wherever else on the net. Unfortunately, there's only five or six Troughton story arcs available; I'm not sure what I'm going to do there, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. It's gonna be a while before I get through the Hartnel episodes. Luckily, Netflix seems to have all of the complete Hartnell stories.

    If nothing else, maybe you kind folks can give me short synopses of missing stories when I come to them, if I can't find any audio or fan reconstructions on the net. :)

    Interesting. "Edge of Destruction," part of the "Doctor Who: The Beginning" set, is the next DVD in my Netflix queue, right after some crap my girlfriend ordered. You say it's only a two-parter? That kinda sucks. But if it's a key episode, I'll watch it carefully. :)

    Looks like it's on youtube, or at least a part of it.

    That one's in my DVD queue as well, and "The Aztecs" is streaming, so I won't have to wait for that one in the mail. Actually, I think most of the Pertwee and Tom Baker stories are streaming, so once I get there, I'll be able to watch more than one story every week or two.

    I'll scout out Dailymotion to see what they have. Thanks.
     
  10. 23skidoo

    23skidoo Admiral Admiral

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    There are plenty of websites featuring detailed synopses, including the Doctor Who Reference Guide http://drwhoguide.com/who.htm and the TARDIS Index File wiki at tardis.wikia.com.

    Also, keep in mind the three-DVD set called Lost in Time, which contains surviving individual episodes from lost or incomplete stories. There's nothing from Marco Polo, sadly, but when you get up to The Crusade and The Daleks Master Plan in the order of things, it may be worth checking out so you can see at least some of what was being done at the time.

    Back in the day they did a few two- and three-parters. Edge of Destruction was made as 2 because the series was only commissioned for 13 episodes to start with, so this was written as a potential finale. I'm surprised you got The Daleks yet Edge of Destruction wasn't included because it and Unearthly Child made up the Beginning box set. Maybe Netflix has different versions. (Or did I misread you - if you're streaming as opposed to getting the DVDs then of course you might not have the extra features.)

    Re: Marco Polo

    Assuming Netflix is distributing the same versions of the DVDs and we're not talking streaming, it should be an extra feature on the DVD with Edge of Destruction.

    The earlier stories should be watched in order if you can, though, as one story tends to lead into the next. Aztecs should be watched after Marinus (and you'll see Ian wearing a Chinese costume throughout Marinus - which was a carryover from Marco Polo). The world won't come to an end if you watch them out of order, though - there was no "Bad Wolf"-like arc back in the day, but you wouldn't want to see, for example, the two-parter "The Rescue" before watching "The Dalek Invasion of Earth". (They're coming up in Season 2) And The Aztecs is also important as while Marco Polo was the first true historical story (periodically early Who does an historical story with no sci-fi elements other than the TARDIS), it's the one that sets out some of the ground rules for time travel that have resonated ever since (even if they're broken by the Doctor quite frequently!)

    Both those sites I gave you can help with confirming story order (as can IMDb and other places). BBC Video also kindly numbers its releases in order of broadcast, not DVD release.

    Alex
     
  11. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Yeah, it's all part of the boxset. The plan I have with Netflix only allows me to order one disc at a time, so I had to order each story individually. For some reason, Unearthly Child is on disc 3, the Daleks dicc 1, and Edge disc 2; fortunately, I'm at least familiar enough with Who to know which disc to order first, or I would have been confused.

    Ah, excellent. That would actually help out a lot if some footage of missing episodes appear as extra features. Yeah, there are only a few Hartnell stories streaming, so I'll be ordering most of the discs. But if more missing episode clips are bonus features on the other discs, maybe I'll just order all the discs and stream nothing until the Pertwee-era

    Sonds good. I'll definitely be watching in order.

    Thanks, I'll check out those sources to make sure I stay on track.
     
  12. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Just dropped off my girlfriend's cheesy horror flick. I should get "Edge of Destruction" in the mail Monday.

    At this rate I'l be through the entire series by the end of the next ice age.
     
  13. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Nope, it was hidden from view, Hartnell and Russell doing their best 'I am disgusted by what I see' faces. The creature is scooped out, wrapped up in the cape, and we only see the rubber glove.
     
  14. The Dominion

    The Dominion Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I am actually doing the same run through from the beginning right now. :techman: I know much less about the series though, so it's mostly new to me. I just finished The Aztecs last night.
     
  15. CaptainMatt

    CaptainMatt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I tend to stick to the Tom Baker serials and the current episodes featuring Matt Smith with karen Gillan these days. Just my personal preference.
     
  16. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    What do you think of the Doctor so far? What did you think of "Unearthly Child" and "The Daleks?"
     
  17. The Dominion

    The Dominion Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I agree that the Doctor is somewhat underused. There are a few too many times where he seems to be a supporting character, despite the show supposedly being about him.

    I liked Unearthly Child, but the Doctor did seem like an uncaring bastard in it. The Daleks was a great story though. I like how the Daleks aren't dumb villains who can't see through their enemies moves, which is funny since their appearance makes them look like they could be mindless automatons.

    Marco Polo was also a good story, it's a shame it was lost because the sets look like they were some of the most elaborate ones they had done so far, and it was a long serial too.

    I'm curious to know what's going on with the TARDIS and why it's just sending them to random locations.
     
  18. Pindar

    Pindar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Started on The Sensorites today. Interesting scene at the start where they talk about how they have all changed since they started travelling together along with little snippets of what the doctor was up to before landing in Totters Lane.
     
  19. Anji

    Anji Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Dominion,
    Keep going with the Hartnells, they're very good for their time (pardon the pun). But hang on to your hat when you meet Patrick Troughton. Whatta guy! Funny, smart and completely unpredictable.

    When you get to "War Games" get into your jammies, pop up some popcorn and maybe even invite a friend or two over for this one. It's roughly 5 hours of all the Who you can handle. When I used to go to a con I always spent the night in the video room watching this one.

    Jon Pertwee will follow next. Be prepared to have your mind blown with politics, environmentalism, philosophy and human rights issues. And the guys from UNIT, you'll want to enlist the minute you meet the Brigadier.

    I could go on all night, but you have videos to watch! Enjoy!
     
  20. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Unfortunately for me, Netflix doesn't carry very many of the Troughton episodes. I'm not sure what I'm going to do at that point, but I'll think of something. A shame there are so many missing episodes from this period, too.

    I've seen many of the Pertwee episodes. I've always liked his Doctor, even though he's so serious and not nearly so alien or eccentric as the others.

    "Edge of Destruction" should be in my mailbox tomorrow.