Friday, September 3, 2010

Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child

Beginning a catch-up of highly rated Doctor Who stories, guided particularly by Alex Wilcock's recommendataions. [1][2][3]

In "An Unearthly Child" we're introduced to a mysterious old man known only as "The Doctor" who has a ship called a TARDIS that travels in time and space and a grandaughter called Susan. He is rather haughty and cranky but clever. She is enthusiastic and kind.

The story, such as it is, involves two of Susan's teachers Barbara and Ian following her home and discovering the TARDIS. The Doctor reacts to this by kidnapping the teachers and taking them to the Stone Age. After getting involved in the power struggles of the local cavemen over the creation of fire, The Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian escape in the TARDIS.

Audience reaction 2010:Two youngsters brought up on the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors found the slowness, laboured incidental music, pompous speeches, and low-tech effects alternately dull and hilarious. And it has to be said: television drama and production values have come a long way! But the atmospheric theme tune, the alienness of The Doctor, and the idea of the TARDIS still manage to create a sense of wonder.

Idle questions
  • With her intelligence and the power of the TARDIS, why did Susan so want to be a school pupil on earth in the 1960s?
  • How much control does The Doctor actually have over where and when the TARDIS ends up?