I've written two different reviews for the first serial of Doctor Who. This one, the first of the pair, was written years ago, and recently turned up when tidying the back room of the house. Given how long ago I wrote it I can't remember too much about it, but reading it back I think I wrote the majority of it after the first episode of the four comprising the adventure, and then just tacked on a bit at the end to take care of the other three.
I cleaned it up and posted it on my old site, then basically copy-pasted it on Behind the Sofa, a Doctor Who blog. I had a bunch of other reviews there, none of which I remember doing but I very much enjoyed reading again. After I post my other review of AUC, I'll include some of them here. They're old and rough, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Having had my first, and only, experience of Doctor Who with 'The Curse of Fatal Death' when I was about 10, I wasn't sure what to expect from the new series, except for something amazing. It's nice to know not everything on TV is a letdown, isn't it? And so, now a Doctor Who convert, I took it upon myself to track down the very first episodes of the original series. Now, a few months later, I've committed to reviewing them all*. Let's start at the beginning, hmm?
There's something of a child in all of us, so it's nice to have an adult to look up to. Especially a mysterious and magical one at that. He may have changed since, but nothing quite beats that first fantastic meeting. It's hard to imagine how people felt back in 1963 when this first aired, but my first thoughts, as I'm sure were the thoughts of many others, were "Strange."
That's probably the only word for it - Strange. Even now there doesn't seem to be all that much logic behind it. And by the end of the first episode things aren't all that clear. Which only makes us want to watch more, to find out what it's all about. The whole point I suppose, but even so. It's only when the Doctor finally appears that things begin to make sense, and even then it's still bizarre. "A thing that looks like a police box, standing in a junkyard. It can move anywhere in time and space?"
Yes, it can. And with the second episode comes understanding. It CAN move through time and space.And it has. We realise what's happened now, and we can enjoy the marvels that will come of it. But for now they're in the past - or are they? Cavemen trying to make fire. It could be our past, or another planet altogether. We're never told. (Unless you could the other title for the episodes, '100,000 BC'. Which I don't.) And yet it doesn't matter. Just as Ian comes to believe, so do we.
The rest of the episodes pass and we're off again. Somewhere new. Somewhere exciting. Somewhere... different. Which is what Doctor Who is. Different. there isn't another show like it. And that's part of what makes it great. The actors involved have, and I hope always will be, amazing, the scripts, although they've had their bad days, have mostly been good and the ideas have been boundless. I may not be a great fan of William Hartnell, but even I can appreciate what he did for the show, and even the world. I'd hate to imagine a universe without the Doctor.
The Bumper Book of Made-up Doctor Who Facts** has this to say about An Unearthly Child: During the last episode of this serial, when William Hartnell had had one too many the night before with the production team, he was doubled for with the cunning use of a puppet made from latex skin and polystyrene hair. The team that made it went on to win critical acclaim for their work on Spitting Image.
*This didn't last.Well, it did, but only for a week or two.
**This was a feature pretty much every reviewer at the site did. They were planning on actually getting that book published - wonder what ever happened to that? Still, I had fun coming up with utterly random ideas, so at least it served some purpose.