01644: Rainy Sunday with the Doctor

On this rainy, rainy day, Tobie and I ended up spending it with the Doctor. And not just any Doctor, but the first Doctor, as played by William Hartnell. I've been working my way through downloading the various serials of the Classic Doctor Who series and it's a rather tedious project. And it's not even a perfect collection of the episodes - with a number of them lost due to lousy retention policies at the BBC. At least fans have rebuilt some of these lost episodes using recorded audio from fans, screen caps from promotional materials and sometimes fan animations.

Hartnell is certainly a very different kind of Doctor compared to the ones most of us have been exposed to recently because of the revived show. The later Doctors all tend to be eccentric heroes - they seem to go out of their way to save the human race even though they represent a completely alien species. But this first Doctor is different - and justifiably so. He's cranky and selfish seemingly with little regard for the welfare of others. He causes more trouble than he is able to manage and he seems to get his companions into horrible situations. But this is an early version of our beloved character after all, so I look forward to see him progress over the years and grow into the Time Lord that we all love.

Today we were able to finish two serials - An Unearthly Child and The Daleks. In both stories, it's interesting to note that the companion Ian Chesterton is proving to be way more of a "hero" type of character than the Doctor himself. In these two stories alone, he helped with the key moment that helped save them from danger or worse. He found a way to get out the cave in the first serial and he was essential to the plans that helped them escape the Daleks in the second serial. I shall continue to watch his involvement in the episodes with great interest.

The female characters aren't quite as strong. Sure Sally is compelling enough as the Doctor's "grand daughter" but she still suffers from the damsel in distress syndrome common in the era. And it's even worse for Barbara Wright, who seems more likely to swoon at any given moment more than anything else. Perhaps she'll get better as the show progresses, but thus far I'm not seeing a lot of nerve out of her.

Overall it's a fun adventure so far and I'm enjoying it a lot. I doubt that we'll have time to watch all of the classic episodes  before the big 50th anniversary special at the end of the year, but we'll certainly try to get as far as we can.
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