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Monday, January 17, 2011

I Don't Know, I'm Not a Doctor: Serial 1 - An Unearthly Child; Part 2 - The Cave of Skulls

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 or on 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 2: The Cave of Skulls (1963)
Starring: Doctor 1 - William Hartnell

Now that the series' four main characters (the doctor, annoying girl, man teacher and lady teacher - they all have names, but I have already forgotten them) have been introduced, and some conflict has been set up amongst them, and the audience is beginning to become interested in them, the show does the only logical thing it could do at this point: it ignores them almost entirely to focus instead on caveman politics.

You see, Za (it's a bit of a sad commentary that I remember the cavemen's names, but not the protagonists', but mainly its the annoying bit that the cavemen talk only in 3rd person) is the current leader. He is the son of the former leader, who was able to hunt and make fires. Za can't make fire, and wastes all his time attempting in vain to start one (by rubbing his hands against a bone). There's another dude, Kal, who is an outcast from another tribe, who is consistently hunting and bringing the tribe food. Some people want to make Kal the leader since he actually does shit for them, but Za insists that "the firemaker is the leader" despite the fact that he cannot actually make fire, or do anything else useful.

Upping the ante is an old man who will whore out his presumably desirable daughter to the leader. She seems to like Za, despite him being fucking USELESS. There's also a crazy lady who's convinced fire will kill them all and they should freeze to death instead.

I only go into this much detail about the caveman politics because the show spends most of an episode setting this up, so it MUST be important.

In one of the rare moments where we actually get to see the series regulars, the doctor splits off by himself to have a smoke, when he is immediately captured by Kal who sees him light a match and is convinced that the doctor has "fire hands". Kal brings the doctor back to camp. There's some more arguing over who should be leader, since Kal is now clearly much more suited to be.

The doctor's companions then stage the most poorly planned rescue attempt ever. I'm assuming it was poorly planned, there wasn't time to show the planning amongst all the caveman politics. But unless their plan was "get captured immediately", it was at the very least poorly executed.

Za decides, in his first real act of true leadership, to swallow his pride and allow these strangers to show him how to make fire, for the good of the tribe. JUST KIDDING! He orders them to be killed, but not right away. Much better to tie them up in a cave and go to bed. Nothing wrong with that plan!

They spend the last 10 seconds of the episode in the titular Cave of Skulls. To drive the point home, somebody's like "Hey look, some skulls! From DEAD PEOPLE."

That's it for episode 2! Check back soon for more Who!

Miss one? Check out our previous episodes below:
Episode 1 - An Unearthly Child

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