Total rewatch

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Gavin70, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. Gavin70

    Gavin70 Commander Red Shirt

    May 7, 2018
    Just before Christmas, my 15yo son suggested we go through a total rewatch of the show from the very beginning, including reconstructed episodes. While I've seen every episode before (and most multiple times) I think this is the first time that I've ever actually watched the entire show in order. We've just finished season 2 and I thought I'd share my thoughts so far, both general and episode specific.

    General Thoughts
    • There's a lot more continuity than I remembered. Past adventures are frequently mentioned, and with the format of individual episode titles, the final episode of one story often leading directly into the next.
    • The TARDIS exterior is a lot more shabby than it is now. It looks old and beat up.
    • The special effects and make up are atrocious by today's standards, but given the era and budget they did a pretty good job. My son often laughs at some of the effects but he understands that these episodes are (in his terms) "ancient" and were probably considered cutting edge in their day.

    Episode Specific Thoughts
    100,000 BC - I generally treat this as two stories. The opening episode "An Unearthly Child" provides an introduction to the 5 main characters (The Doctor, Susan, Ian, Barbara, and the TARDIS) and sets the scene for an interesting show. The remaining 3 episodes are a bit of a let down after the opening, but set the tone for the show.
    The Daleks - an excellent introduction to the series' main monster. Probably a bit long at 7 episodes, but it never really drags at any point. We get to know Ian and Barbara a lot better and see their relationship begin to develop (it never really develops fully as it would today, but I guess in that era, chaste friendship was as much as we could hope for).
    The Edge of Destruction - a pretty weird episode that doesn't really go anywhere much, but again builds the characters and introduces the idea (that doesn't really go anywhere for a long time) that the TARDIS is alive.
    Marco Polo - this one really tested me. With no remaining footage and just still images, this story dragged on for what seemed like forever. Almost nothing really happens except a lot of moving from one place to another. The pictures suggest that this story must have looked great, but it's pacing really was a struggle to get through.
    The Keys of Marinus - An interesting concept that must have pushed the show's budget to it's limit. The general idea of 6 episode stories was to limit the number of sets that needed to be built, and this one required new sets for pretty much every episode. It also provided the very first "Doctor lite" episodes as the Doctor gets written out for a couple of episodes. In the end the story really goes nowhere as they spend 6 episodes collecting keys for the machine, only to destroy the machine at the end rendering their work useless.
    The Aztecs - perhaps the pinnacle of the historical episodes, this story both looks great and is well paced. A real opportunity for Barbara to shine as a character, cementing her (in my opinion) as one of the best all time companions.
    The Sensorites - a bit of a strange story and quite slow in places. A lot happens that is never really explained. And the idea of a species evolving that has no way to distinguish individual members aside from clothing is fairly laughable.
    The Reign of Terror - a great story that entertains the whole way through.
    Planet of Giants - an intriguing concept that would make great viewing with modern technology. The effects on this story have dated poorly. The dead insects and worm look OK, but anytime the main characters have to interact with the giant sized world it's very clear. The scene where Ian sees the dead body and is obviously staring at a wall with an image being projected onto it had both me and my son laughing out loud. But this episode showed that the producers weren't afraid to step outside the box and try new things.
    The Dalek Invasion of Earth - The best Dalek story of the first Doctor's era, in my opinion. With only the individual episode titles, the cliffhanger with the Dalek emerging from the Thames must have had the audience at the time on the edge of their seats. Every character has a chance to shine and the story nicely fills out it's six episode length without any pacing issues at all. And the Doctor's speech at the end stands the test of time as one of the great Doctor speeches.
    The Rescue - A bit of a pointless story really, only existing to introduce Vicky. Bennet's scheme really doesn't make a lot of sense and it's never really explained how the aliens survived or what they're doing.
    The Romans - a fun romp (albeit making light of some fairly serious issues). The scenes where Barbara and the Doctor are walking around Nero's palace just missing each other had my son tearing his hair out at the sheer absurdity of it all. Great for entertainment value as long as you don't think too hard about it all.
    The Web Planet - possibly the story that has suffered most from dated special effects. This was a brave attempt to show a truly alien planet, with no human (or humanoid) species. The ways in which the show attempted to make things look alien, blurred lenses to show alien atmosphere (dance movements for the Menoptra, alien ways of talking/thinking) really did a good job with the technology and budget available. If this story were remade with modern effects, it would be a truly terrifying episode.
    The Crusade - a great story and (perhaps surprisingly for it's era) one that shows both sides with both good and bad people. There's no attempt to show one side as the good or bad guys, just individual bad guys on both sides.
    The Space Museum - the first episode is great, once again trying something new. The idea of skipping a time track is truly intriguing and sets up a great story. Unfortunately it's doesn't really hold up over the full story, devolving into more of a standard runaround.
    The Chase - A fun story. The Daleks developing time travel (and dimensional transcendence) puts their technology on par with the Doctor and seeing them turn up in a variety of locations is fun. The ending with Barbara and Ian leaving is sad, but the introduction of Steven is great. On a side note I spent most of the night wondering where I'd heard the voice effect of the Mechanoids before. At around 3:30am I remembered that it was the same type of voice effect used by Leia's bounty hunter disguise in Return of the Jedi.
    The Time Meddler - The first time we meet another Time Lord (although we don't know them by that name yet). A bit of a silly plot but the Doctor's interactions with the Monk are a joy to watch. And Steven and Vicky are sadly relegated to a side plot of getting in and out of the monastery without really impacting on the plot until towards the end.

    Overall I'm thoroughly enjoying the show so far. I'm a bit nervous as we enter season 3 as there are a lot of missing episodes here which may make it a bit more of a struggle. But I'm committed to see it through.
    Timewalker, Qonundrum and Pindar like this.
  2. Evil Robert

    Evil Robert Admiral Admiral

    Feb 27, 2002
    Ass End of the World
    I would love for "Marco Polo" to be found (or a full scale animation) because, my secret hope of having Seasons 1 & 2 having box sets would be a lot closer (and it wouldn't be hard to annimate the missing two eps of "The Crusade" in that case to make it happen).

    Seasons 4-6 are a lot more hole-y unfortuantely to really have a box set work (sadly) but I think the first two seasons, being the closest to being complete, would work.
    Pindar and The Nth Doctor like this.
  3. Gavin70

    Gavin70 Commander Red Shirt

    May 7, 2018
    I'm surprised that The Crusade hasn't already been done. I would have thought a couple of missing episodes would have put it ahead of stories with more missing episodes like Power of the Daleks or The Macra Terror
  4. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 18, 2017
    The clinic located by the Q Continuum

    A direct serialization, like swinging from vine to vine, but there is little continuity. Apart from the main premise of their being kidnapped.
    They probably took a real one, to save on cost. It looks more realistic and less plasticine too.

    Pretty much. When I first saw Hartnell's era, it was decades behind my time... the look didn't faze me. I too just knew it was made in an older period of time but wanted to see just what was presented. It seemed weird at times, especially the Dalek voices...

    4 characters. Classic WHO treated the TARDIS as a ship. Not NuWHO's big grown vegetable that calls the occupant it kidnapped "sexy" or whatever. Classic WHO was a bit more consistently mature...

    There was criticism a the time as well. I prefer those 3 episodes over that caveman movie made around that time that had nothing but jiggle, since there are a running themes in the 4 episodes that set up the show. Fear making companions being one of the easiest to notice. It's still plodding at times, but it's not more than the set-pieces that stand out. A caveman episode is not going to be that exciting, even with jiggle.

    Episodes 5 through 7 could be condensed but they went over-budget, so it's possible they extended the length of this story to compensate. The weakest ones still have enough...

    There's nothing wrong with platonic or familial friendships and I don't mean characters snapping at each other than having a good feelz afterward. Everyone wants " teh 'shipping", possibly because they're too desperate and can't get any in real life? Many possible reasons... But plenty of soap operas already do shipping, it's their bread and butter. Sci-fi is so much more expansive as a genre.

    The first filler story, which changes feel in the middle. It provides closure since the Doctor can't remain antagonistic forever and he learns something in the process thanks to the humans. We learn about his previous adventures, which allows the inference that those led to his paranoia by the time he met Ian and Barbara. It does mention the TARDIS doesn't react in the way that others do, just as how it does. It's perhaps the earliest attempt to describe AI, AI that isn't something that comes from the future that kills all humans. It's still reacting solely to what amounts to programmed criteria via heuristic or predictive algorithm.

    The novelization might come off better.

    It's rare in sci-fi to see a planet comprised of multiple societies, often due to time or money restrictions and it's adequate an allegory to just show one. Thankfully many of the vignettes leave one wanting more or asking about how the society rebuilds. It's not a perfect story but it's a creative one

    Filming 40+ episodes per year with ease, there are times when every regular gets a week or two off.

    The attempted rape of Barbara is also incredibly chilling and adult for a family show. But it doesn't feel gimmicky, it feels like an actual threat in an unknown situation. That vignette's villain is easily one of the creepiest, given how he deals with everyone.

    And, yup, the ending is one heck of a subversion. Where do they all go from there? Still, the machine was already disabled but at least Arbitan removed the shield before he was murdered.

    Big-time. The first time a young companion wants to change humanity for the better without thinking of implications and the experienced Doctor keeps begging "Don't!" The script and acting by all are marvelous, especially for 1964. Barbara often had good scenes and set pieces, and being a history teacher who the heck could blame her for wanting to try. This also harks back to the also clever idea "fixed point in time" (NuWHO has plenty of moments of greatness too!), which explains why history can be changed in some cases but not others.

    When I first saw it, it was boring. Decades later, despite the pacing, I found much more to enjoy. And for 1964 it was novel to make the humans the baddies, a trope not yet overused beyond the point of nihilism either.

    Not my thing but I'm glad most of it exists in the archives, right down to the first-ever location filming.

    Bold for the time, and was originally an episode longer. The moral message isn't overblown or over-"generiziczed" either. I'll need to rewatch it.

    The Dalek cliffhanger looks great but the story, despite pacing perfection, has issues, is a lot more B-flick than any other Dalek story prior to or since, and Susan is written off in a cringeworthy cliche as she barely knows the guy. It also brought up questions that could have had more creative answers (again, this is sci-fi and not "Days of Our Lives".) At the time it was marvelous, but it's the show's first attempt to try a "big screen epic to the small screen". More style than substance, by far.

    They just needed to bring in a Susan Surrogate(tm). Vicki would shine, especially when Steven comes in...

    It's a weird mix. I preferred watching the documentary and listening to the commentaries on the DVD.

    Epic at the time, but it's as superficial with its narrative as it is trying to sell something so alien. especially at six episodes. I don't think it would work today, especially when modern day Earth and modern day companions and their soap opera being given more emphasis.

    The one scene where the Zarbi hits the camera is the biggest unintentional laugh ever, but then recalling the size of Lime Grove studio it's amazing how smooth the whole production looks on screen. That's got to be taken into account.

    I wish episodes 2 and 4 existed. 3 was solid, 1 is truly amazing - definitely has a bit of jaw-dropping realism in having to scarper to get clothing. But this is still the First Doctor, without the magical wardrobe.

    2-4 are so generic it's beyond belief. The Doctor's interrogation scene almost makes up for it as it's that good...

    The idea is good but it's trying to be too funny. The final two episodes try to reel it in. Ian and Barbara get a very good exit scene. The 60s trope of computers gone wonky exemplifies the Mechanoids. (Lookup Josh Snares on youtube for a great video on the Mechanoids...)

    Pretty much, but it's fun seeing Vicki and the Doctor point out to Steven that he's wrong. The Monk's revelation is huge, the mystery throughout is still good, and the final part is spectacular. The Doctor's funny side returns as well, though this would not become a predominant trait.

    Cool! Can't wait to read!

    Season 3 has its moments and as much as I'd love to even make tiny spoilers, I won't. You're in for a big treat or two too...
  5. VDCNI

    VDCNI Captain Captain

    May 26, 2009
    London UK
    I adore Marco Polo, it's actually my favourite First Doctor story, though I've never watched the recon that's just based on the audio which I find enthralling.

    The Romans I love too, well in general I much prefer the historical's of this era. The Aztecs & The Crusade are also excellent and still to come The Myth Makers and The Massacre which are of similar quality. For me the weakest of this era is Reign Of Terror which is all a bit predictable and poor Carol Ann Ford gets some terrible material.

    And yes Barbara rules, my joint favourite companion along with Leela.
  6. Emperor-Tiberius

    Emperor-Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Jul 30, 2005
    Kavala, Greece
    I've made a list of a conversative instance of a rewatch which would include all the TV Series and the most important/key audio plays for an enriched experience. If anyone's interested to know please quote me.
  7. The Borgified Corpse

    The Borgified Corpse Admiral Admiral

    Jun 4, 2000
    Ouch! Forgotten already? You were just down ther
    "An Unearthly Child" is a great introductory episode but the next 3 episodes with the cavemen are some of the worst guest acting in the entire history of Doctor Who.

    Ian/Barbara is my OTP for the entirety of Doctor Who! Anyone who disagrees can fight me! (Yes, that includes you, William Russell!)

    You just described Season 16's Key to Time arc. That's the same thing, only 4 times longer! What is the deal with Doctor Who's pointless quests for keys?!

    "The Reign of Terror" is a really rough sit for me. Most of the surviving episodes are pretty dull. Ian is barely in it. Susan doesn't really get anything to do. Barbara is just there for the bad guy to lust after her. And the animation for the reconstructions of Parts 4 & 5 is truly dreadful! A lot of the character models are either ugly, unrecognizable, or both. Most characters have this weird shadow under their lower lip that makes them look like they have a soul patch. And the editing is some of the worst ADD crap I've ever seen, jumping from one half-second close-up to the next.:barf2:

    I'm really impressed with how they handled Susan's departure in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth." Granted, she hasn't known the guy for very long but there are a few really well-done scenes that establish a lot of chemistry between the two of them. It's certainly better developed than the romances that Leela & Peri fell into.

    "The Romans" is my favorite William Hartnell story. I like the contrast between the seriousness of Ian's storyline and the door-slamming farce of the other storylines. It's also a helluva love story if you're a shameless Ian/Barbara 'shipper like me! :D:luvlove: :nyah:

    There are a lot of 6-part stories from the Hartnell years where almost nothing happens in Part 1. They bicker in the TARDIS for a while. They wander around a planet for a while. Just when something STARTS to happen, that's the Part 1 cliffhanger. I often show people Part 1 of "The Web Planet" when I want to waste their time. :p The Doctor burns Ian's tie and Barbara & Vicki debate the medical merits of aspirin. That's it!

    "The Chase" is pretty darn ridiculous. It has its fun moments though. Peter Purves' attempts at a hillbilly accent are pretty cringeworthy. But on the other hand, it took me at least 3 rewatches to realize that the hillbilly in Part 3 and Steven in Part 6 are the same guy, so kudos for making the characters so distinct from each other!

    Actually, Season 6 would require less animation work than Season 1. The only missing episodes from Season 6 are Parts 1 & 4 of "The Invasion," which have already been animated, and Parts 1, 3, 4, 5, & 6 of "The Space Pirates." So that's 5 episodes of "The Space Pirates" that need to be animated as opposed to 7 episodes of "Marco Polo."

    I assume that they're going from the conventional wisdom that historical episodes are less popular. Also, it seems that surviving episodes don't really matter. They want to be able to present the entire story in an animated format. As a result, their next animation will be for "The Faceless Ones" and they're doing animation for all 6 parts even though Parts 1 & 3 still exist in the BBC archives.

    When you're rewatching Season 3, when you get to "The Gunfighters," keep track of how many times they sing that "Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon" song. It will blow your mind!