Monday, June 17, 2013

TV Series Review: Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child

As I said previously, I really want to watch even more Classic Doctor Who this summer and, presented with a small selection at the local college library and no recommendations I panicked and decided that I might as well start with the beginning. In light of the fact that this episode is just a few months under 50 years old I'm going to cut out the production values part of the review since, well, it's a 50 year old tv episode, it's not going to look fantastic (and I might do this for other first doctor episodes since I rather doubt I'll have more to say on them). With that in mind, onto the review and I'm going to try and make sure that all of my reviews go back to their proper days this week, sorry about all of that everyone!

Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child

Summary: Ian and Barbara are school teachers who both are having trouble with one of their more brilliant students, a young teen named Susan who seems to both know more about their subjects than they do and also is bored by a lot of parts of them. Under the pretense of being concerned about her sudden bad grades the two attempt to find out where she lives with her grandfather but all they find at the address is an old junkyard with, well, junk and a police box inside. As any sci-fi fan knows this is not a police box however and soon all four of them find themselves in 10,000 BCE and caught up in a fight between cavemen.  

The Good: As I believe I've said before, I like it when the Doctor is written as a slightly darker, or even just grumpier, character and the Doctor here is a quite grumpy old man. It's a little hard to reconcile that with the man who stole a TARDIS to explore the universe, although considering that element must have been added in earlier I'll live (heck, here Susan says that she came up with tardis as a nickname which is completely different from what the rest of the series implies, again especially considering these are details I can let them slide here). Funny enough I think I liked the way this serial introduced the companions and the Doctor more than how a lot of the Nu Who companions were introduced, probably because I like the "ordinary people thrown into adventure" trope quite a bit (although I do feel like that scene dragged a bit, although that was certainly just to fill time within the episode) and after seeing Nu Who repeat the "person tries to track down the Doctor" trick a few times it's gotten a bit dull. Plus Ian and Barbara clicked for me almost immediately, I hope they stay around for a while since I want more adventures with them in it, well, I would like one detail to go away though. 

The Bad: There was a lot of screaming in this serial, like enough to fill a slasher horror film. It was a bit jarring since in The Aztecs there was no screaming at all and I've got the second and third serials checked out to watch next so I'll be interested to see if Barbara and Susan (but mostly Barbara) gradually stop screaming or if that was written out early on for being annoying (it also felt a little incongruent with Barbara's character earlier in the episode and with the fact that Susan is an adventurer, I really hope that all the screaming vanishes sooner rather than later). 

I feel like someone told me before that this serial wasn't really worth watching, or maybe that it wasn't that good, and while it certainly wasn't the best there's no reason I'd advise people to not watch it. It drags a bit and the characterization is a bit off but considering that later Doctor Who serials do refer back to it, and that in general it's good to know where something comes from, but it's hardly a bad serial and with the break until November it's not as if fans don't have the time to watch the older stuff.