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Monday, January 31, 2011

I Don't Know, I'm Not a Doctor: Serial 1 - An Unearthly Child; Part 4 - The Firemaker

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 4: The Firemaker (1963)
Starring: Doctor 1 - William Hartnell

Quick recap: The doctor and his inappropriately young female companion have traveled back in time to caveman days with two unsuspecting teachers. The cavemen are in a battle over which useless twat will be the leader of the tribe, Za, the idiot son of the former leader, or Kal, the last surviving member of another tribe. It's generally accepted that whichever of the two gets fire will rule the tribe. Za captures the companions to get them to make fire, but they escape and then inexplicably team-up with him. The whole group gets recaptured by Kal, who has just murdered an old lady and framed Za for it.

Ka's frame-up job is believed by pretty much everyone blindly, but once the doctor shows even the slightest amount of scrutiny to it, the whole thing falls apart. He points out that Za's knife, which supposedly just stabbed a lady to death, has no blood on it. He then begins to compliment what an awesome knife it is (it's a rock). Kal decides he'd rather be known as a murderer than someone with a subpar kniferock, so he busts out the murder weapon to show just how effective it can be. The companions, who just last episode were so kind as to stop and help Za out of "kindness" now incite the tribe to stone Kal.

Za thanks the companions for reasserting his leadership for him the only way he knows how - by RE-recapturing and putting them back into the Cave of Skulls. And, despite the fact that these people escaped from this very cave earlier that same day, they aren't bound or restrained in any way, leaving them completely free to re-escape.

They don't re-escape though. They decide that since the tribe had treated them so well thus far to do the tribe a solid and make fire for them anyway; and when i say "they" make fire, I mean Ian does all the work while the women sit nearby "helping" while the doctor pouts in a corner refusing to be any part of it.

Za enters the cave and once again flip-flops on his relationship with them, even going so far as to HILARIOUSLY confuse that Ian's name is "Friend". Get it? It's funny because... well I'm sure it's funny somehow.

Then Kal breaks into the cave, and, in a fight that looks more like the first day of junior high wrestling practice than a deathmatch, gets killed by Za.

Za continues to not let them leave though, so they devise an escape plan. The pick up some skulls from the cave floor, mount them on torches, and set these up around the campfire, assuming of course that the cavemen will mistake skulltorches for dead bodies. Then they sneak out somehow.

Despite this being probably the worst plan I have EVER heard, it totally works somehow. The cavemen cry over the flaming, bodiless corpses, and the gang sneaks away. The cavemen remain enthralled until one of the skulltorches falls over and the illusion is ruined. A vertical torch with a skull on it totally looks like a human corpse, but horizontal? Don't be ridiculous.

The cavemen chase after the group, but the group reaches the TARDIS in time and makes a blind jump. They can't just go back to 1963 because A) the TARDIS is malfunctioning, and B) the doctor's a dick. The land in some weird swampy area, which I'm sure we'll learn where and when they are next week. The doctor asks Susan to check the radiation levels, which are fine, until she looks away and they jump to MAXIMUM DEATH.

That's it for Episode 4, and with it Serial 1! Check back soon for more Who!

Miss one? Check out our previous episodes below:
Serial 1 - An Unearthly Child; Part 3 - The Forest of Fear
Serial 1 - An Unearthly Child; Part 2 - The Cave of Skulls
Serial 1 - An Unearthly Child; Part 1 - An Unearthly Child

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