Doctor Who – Helping Current Fans with the Classics – Season 1

My next nerdy feat is to watch classic Doctor Who. I started a couple of weeks ago and have been plugging away pretty hard core. I’ve made through two and half seasons already. I’ve realized that a lot of crazy stuff happens in what appears to me as a short amount of time. With this in mind. I’m going to be rapid firing a few posts this weekend about everything that’s happened so far. Needless to say for any of these posts about classic Doctor Who…. Spoilers.

Hello, Sweetie!

I know that there are a lot of friends of mine that don’t want to start the current Doctor Who run because they are like me and don’t like to jump right in the middle of a show. This blog, for the next however long it takes me to watch, is going to become my journal of my journey through Doctor Who. For any current or future Doctor Who fans that want to know what happened in the early days this blog is for you. Just think of it as River Song’s journal that the Doctor gives her. In order to accomplish this feat I need to do some catch up. I’m at a good stopping point in the series to do this. Here’s what’s happened so far.

(I know it’s not black and white, but you get the point)

The 1st Doctor – The Research Scientist

1st Doctor – Played by William Hartnell

The first Doctor was played by William Hartnell. His portrayal of the Doctor in the first season is the biggest shock to any Doctor Who fan that started in 2005 like I did. The Doctor in the at this point is still a bit eccentric, but at the same time quite cantankerous. He’s a old man who seems quite frail. I find that each Doctor has a unique personality and this one is that of a research scientist. He doesn’t like being contradicted and he is more curious in investigating even if it’s dangerous for everyone else. In the first episode he admits not liking Earthlings from our era. He equates them to Native Americans seeing a train for the first time when they come into contact with the TARDIS. He doesn’t seem like a pleasant person to be around, possibly he’s more interested in science than people. If you just look at the progression of actors to play the Doctor you’ll notice they tend to get progressively younger. I don’t know if that’s a plot point that will later be exploited or if it’s something we as an audience will accept. Back in the 60’s it may have seemed more plausible that an older gentlemen would be more technologically proficient whereas in the present the opposite is true.

Companions

– Susan Foreman

Susan Foreman – The Doctor’s 1st Companion

Susan is the Doctor’s first companion that we are introduced too. The other shocker….. she’s his granddaughter! During the first episode she is going to school in 1963 England. She has two teachers that are concerned about her home life since she is very knowledgeable in a variety of subject (past some of the teachers) and clueless to more common trivia. Her last name, Foreman, appears to be part of the alias that they set up for her to go to school. The name has stayed for all the credits but is never fully addressed. Even though she is apparently a time lord she doesn’t seem to know that much more than her human companions. She becomes the damsel in distress most of the time.

– Barbara Wright & Ian Chesterton

Barbara Wright – The Doctor’s 2nd Companion

Ian Chesterton – The Doctor’s 3rd Companion

Barbara and Ian are the aforementioned teachers from Susan’s school. They follow her home to a junk yard where they see her going into an old police box. When the Doctor comes back to the TARDIS to enter they force their way in and accidentally find themselves hurled into space and time. As a fan of the current run of Doctor Who it is strange to think of the Doctor having companions that were unwilling to go with him in the first place. The companions are much more important in the early seasons since the Doctor seems to be quite helpless. Ian in particular seems to be the one who has to get them out of any sticky situations that involve physicality. The Doctor may still be in charge, but you don’t feel safe like you might with Tennant or Smith.

Adventures

Interior of the First TARDIS

The fact that this is a time travel show that came out in the 60’s there’s nothing really unique according to today’s standards. Most of the adventures end up being the Doctor and his companions investigating their surroundings and not being able to get back to the TARDIS to get away. This is pretty standard time travel trouble. There are typically two settings: past Earth history or alien planet in the future. The adventures pretty much alternate back and forth between the two. In the second adventure we are already introduced to the Daleks on their home planet of Skaro. The only thing strange is that the Daleks are powered in a similar fashion to bumper cars which obviously becomes a plot point. They are confined to their metallic-lined city in the first adventure that they are in. There is, however, a reference to the fact that there is an alien being inside the Daleks, but they leave it alone for now. The Doctor didn’t know about the Daleks before this adventure, but he will never forget them after. This is the adventure that starts the ongoing feud between for the rest of the series. Most of the alien species look like humans for the most part except for the Daleks and the Sensorites that look like this:

I love that each Sensorites has a goatee. They look like space beatniks.

Additional Differences

The Doctor doesn’t have complete control of the TARDIS. More specifically where and when it is going. This leads to quite a few references to the fact that the Doctor doesn’t know much about the TARDIS. For current Doctor Who fans this leads credibility to that fact that the Doctor stole it while on Gallifrey. This lack of control is what keeps Ian and Barbara on the TARDIS for as long as they are. The chameleon circuit of the TARDIS supposedly were working before the 1st episode, but become damaged on the first adventure. This keeps up with the point that the Doctor isn’t able to fix much about the TARDIS.

There are a few times where it is mentioned that the Doctor and Susan are aliens, but no details past that. For all of Season 1 there is nothing about Time Lords or Gallifrey. Lastly, the sonic screwdriver has not shown up yet.

These episodes are presented in more of a serial format. The episodes are only 30 minutes long but each adventure encompasses anywhere from 1-8 or more episodes. The first season spans 42 episodes there are only 8 adventures.

There is another problem if you do decide to catch up on classic Doctor Who, there are missing episodes. Many of the episodes were junked in the 60’s and 70’s for space reasons. Many of these episodes do have the surviving audio, so if you don’t mind listening to an episode with production stills to go with it you can watch a lot of the episodes. I’ve watched all of seasons 1 and 2 and there is something for each episode. For more information on the missing episodes: Click Here.

Season 2 coming soon.

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