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Monday, January 10, 2011

I Don't Know, I'm Not a Doctor: Serial 1 - An Unearthly Child; Part 1 - An Unearthly Child

First things first, if you want to watch along, the episode I'm reviewing is available from Amazon. Additionally, a lot of these old Doctor Who episodes are available on YouTube (see below), in addition to services such as Netflix. I encourage you to watch along with me and leave your thoughts in the comments!

Secondly, a big spoiler warning for anything I say after this sentence. I'm not sure if it's still common courtesy to put spoiler warnings on content that is almost 50 years old, but I'm going to air on the side of caution.

Disclaimers out of the way, lets watch some Who!

Serial 1: An Unearthly Child
Part 1: An Unearthly Child (1963)
Starring: Doctor 1 - William Hartnell

One of the problems with reviewing old TV and movies is that what constituted compelling watching back then and what constitutes compelling watching now has changed. One of the main things that suffers from the change is pacing. Modern tv and film tend to get a lot more information conveyed much quicker than their older counterparts. However, "the classics" manage to stay relevant despite their slower pacing. Lets see how Doctor Who holds up:

They have, inexplicably, decided to start their program with literally TWO MINUTES of zooming in on a phone booth. I honestly can't imagine this was EVER compelling tv, and it certainly isn't now.

Luckily, after the two minute slow jam phone booth oogling, the show gets markedly better. Two teachers discuss a student who is inexplicably good at both science and history, as though she can travel through time. The only questions she ever gets wrong are ones where the answer will be different in the future, for example, the character in the show correctly predicts that Brittish currency will be on the decimal system in the future, and shortly after the show aired, they switched.

The teachers of course pick up on none of the not-at-all-subtle clues that this girl is a time traveller, and then proceed to do what any concerned teachers would do. They stalk her. They follow her to her home, which happens to be a junkyard.

It's at this point, halfway through the episode, that we first meet the titular doctor. Normally I'd begrudge a show for waiting so long without showing the protagonist, but in this case it makes sense because the doctor is kind of a dick. He spends the whole time berating and demeaning anyone who doesn't blindly believe in time travel. The teachers (rightfully so) believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but apparently the doctor does not and treats them like disobedient 5 year olds.

Eventually the teachers decide the Doctor is a crazy person who is wholly unfit to be raising a child and decide to leave with the girl, however, before they can leave, the doctor, in a fit of douchery, zaps them all back in time. To CAVEMAN TIME.

That's it for the first episode! Check back soon for more Who!

Miss one? Check out our previous episodes below:

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