An Unearthly Nerd

Watching Doctor Who: Series 1 Serial 1: An Unearthly Child


The first disc is in the machine, and I'm already comforted by the familiar BBC tune. Let's see how it goes shall we?

Susan, an annoying and obstinate child, has begun to make her teachers concerned. Instead of inviting her grandfather in to talk about it they decide to go to her home. When they get there they find Susan lives in a junkyard. Finding this unacceptable, they enter the premises without even knocking and proceed to badger an elderly gentleman about why she's shut inside a Police Box.

But phew, it's okay, he's a time travelling alien and she's actually inside his ship... and luckily, he is her grandfather, despite his pimp-like attire.

In a vain attempt to possibly make both teacher disappear and to keep his ship a secret, he randomly slaps the controls and they end up on earth in the stone age. Can they outwit primitive man and make it back to civilisation? As it turns out... only just.

Personal warning here... I'm probably going to fangirl occasionally.

An Unearthly Child - A mingling of the two filmed episodes



You've got to love the original theme and opening montage. It has, in part, been in the new series, but it wasn't quite the same obviously.

Ahhhhhh! The TARDIS hidden in Foreman's Scrap Merchant. So familiar, yet so different. No way of knowing what's in store for us.

Susan, genius, but she's slipping. Her grandad is a Doctor, but very anti-social... hmm, bit of a mystery don't you think... Nice to see this is back in the good old day's when you could stalk a student at their "home" without repercussions.

An English fog is indeed mysterious, Susan. But evidently it's only mysterious in the unaired episode.

A history critic, she has my problem, things aren't really accurate unless you're there... and she probably was. She's also an early Jackson Pollock. Ahead of her time, picking up the decimal systems very quickly. Vigilant to the point of paranoia, but still misses two of her teachers parked metres away. Susan might need to work on a few skills.

By the way, is anyone else freaked out by the statues in there or is it just me? Oh, it is? Never mind then!

Jumpy camera action, way ahead of its time. People pay millions for that in movies these days.

"Susan, don't be afraid, we just followed you."

"It's alive!" That's a slight leap Mr Chesterton, it's just a little vibration. And how would he have her locked up in there when he came in after she did?

It's the round things! Some lovely ornaments, and a low hanging boom. It looks so new and shiny... and minimalist. But then I suppose it would, wouldn't it! Few hundred years later, of course the place is going to get that lived in look and have a lot of clutter.

She is being a little ridiculous, all those places to go and she wants to go to Cole Hill School.

The Doctor over this first encounter is a little... malevolent. He does change his tune down the line, he seems very adamant that the secrets of them and the TARDIS shouldn't be known. But then takes them on an impromptu trip with a noise that reminds me of the sounds of the evening somewhere tropical. In the aired episode everyone is a lot less angry, and they seem to want to explore some of the unanswerable questions about this bigger-on-the-inside box. I'm quite glad they made the change, I'm was left a little angry with the first version.

In the second go at taking off into time and space, there's some fantastic wobbly moving about acting, it makes me wonder if the guys on Star Trek didn't give it a bit of a watch before they went on set.

And the episode ends with them parked precariously on a sand dune with the shadowy figure of someone approaching, while their unwanted guests are somehow unconscious inside.

It is quite difficult to work out how I feel about it. I love black and white classics, especially some sci-fi and horror, but this is so much different. Not only do I know what to vaguely expect from the series, I'm so used to all the new fangled techniques and tricks that go into things like this these days.

I don't quite feel like I've watched the first 20 minutes ever made of Doctor Who... but I am intrigued.

The Cave of Skulls



Time to find out who was casting that shadow... a cave man with seemingly perfect eyebrows.

"Put more of the dead fire on!" Actually laughing right now, excellent comic relief from the cave man there.

I feel like someone is ahead in the script. Barbara is asking what the Doctor has done and Ian is saying she can't possibly believe them... she didn't say she did.

I guess it takes the Doctor a few hundred years to be able to pin point where they are... taking samples and making tests?! And what is this door that opens to let them outside? And why are the round things on the outside now? And why are those doors bigger than the doors of the TARDIS? I sense this won't be my last frustration. Nice to hear he mention the fact it hasn't changed shape to fit its surroundings though.

That skull could be a horse, or you could have landed on a film set for the new blockbuster Cowboys Vs Cave Men.

Okay, next question... if the TARDIS has been a sedan chair... how do you get back inside it?

So the Doctor keeps a notebook of where they've been... no wonder his library is so big.

If I'm honest, I'm a little bored with this whole "make fire" bit. Although I do like how it makes me think of regeneration, what with the fire coming from his fingers and all, even though that's not why it's there.

Our four time travellers are tied up in a cave of skull (bit of a surprise that) and they've noted that they've all been split open. And right at this second I'm not convinced I'd have been bothered about watching episode three. But that's the problem isn't it... watching it now, I wasn't too bothered. But back in the 60s there was nothing like this, it's a bit like Big Brother... you watch it because it's strange and new despite the fact you're not quite convinced. I'm going to apologise now, I've upset myself by making that comparison.

What I've taken away from this episode... Me make fire. No, me make fire. Me scream at twigs to make fire.

The Forest of Fear



Back in the cave of skulls, but I'm finding it difficult to believe that they're can't undo these bindings. Hello, if your fingers are free enough to grip rocks and bones to try and hack apart the bindings then I'm sure they're free enough to pick them apart.

My second moment of query... why has no one trapped crazy grandma cave woman somewhere where she can't be annoying? Sort of the cave man equivilent of a care home if you will.

Fear makes companions of all of us... that feels a little deep to me.

How did they not know there was a back way into their, clearly important as they named it, cave of skulls?

(There a devilish bit inside me that wants them to remake these... don't mob me, it's just my brain thinking!)

The Doctor is very wise. No point in being scared my mere shadows. Excellent words to live by.

I can't help but think that Za's other half is really much much smarter than he is... as is always the way, am I right ladies?!

The Doctor is definitely at the beginning of his journey. He doesn't want to help, but it's only for their own safety not for any historical meddling reasons. Not the Doctor we're used to at all these days. At least he sulks the same as he does in these original ones.

If only it was as easy to convince people of things these days as it was back then.

So, the end of episode three leaves us wondering where the cave men got their own time machine so that they could travel to the TARDIS and arrive before the others. Even with Za injured it seems like a bit of an achievement to me.

The Firemaker



"It is a bad knife." Oh my god, this is hilarious. It also proves that Kal isn't exactly the brightest bulb, which is surprising considering he tried to frame Za for murdering the old woman.

"We keep them in cave with big lump polystyrene."

I'm going to paraphrase a bit... some stuff happens and the gang make fire for Za. Za fights with another cave man to some random drums and some bad facial expressions from the gang to cover the violence. Ian gives Za the fire to show his tribe. But that's not going to go they way they want it to, is it!

Why in gods name did Susan suddenly decide to put a skull on a flaming stick? What is wrong with that girl?! While I appreciate the way a master plan comes together quickly... this one kind of took the biscuit a bit. You're worried that Susan's homework is slipping but you're not worried she's decided to put a skull on a stick and wave it around... but hey... these would make a great distraction!

And there it is, that sweet vworp vworp vworp, as they land somewhere new. Susan really has got a death wish though, look at a dial a little bit longer at least!

---

After flipping through the extras, and watching the comedy sketches (the Corridor Sketch is not good, do not bother) I noticed that you can watch it with an info track on. At first the idea of that seemed a bit excessive... but the idea is growing on me. It might be my viewing material tomorrow evening.

I was pleasantly surprised I have to say. Do I think it was the best start to the series? No, probably not. When I did a little light reading I found out that the first serial was supposed to be The Giants, but the effects would have been a bit too much for a brand new series, which is understandable. It's also a shame, because the idea sounded really good. But it doesn't really matter what I think, clearly this new show took of in a big way!

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