The very first episode of Doctor Who aired November 23, 1963 and features William Hartnell as the Doctor. Other cast members are Carol Ann Ford as Susan Foreman (the Doctor’s granddaughter?), William Russell as Ian Chesterton and Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright.
Ian and Barbara are teachers at Susan’s school (rather nosy ones too). They are concerned because Susan is odd (she is also annoying and is one of my least favorite characters / companions – at least in the episodes I’ve seen). Susan is really bright, almost a genius, at times and then at other times seems completely clueless. Barbara, Susan’s history teacher, even goes so far as to check out Susan’s address, which turns out to be a junkyard, so her and Ian decided to find out what’s going on with their student.
There are some funny scenes in the school. Well, some of what’s funny are the hairstyles. There is also this scene where Susan is rocking out (tripping out) to some popular music.
Susan annoys me from the first episode until, well, I don’t want to jump ahead since I writing about each episode individually. She has a cool haircut, which I’m sure girls wanted to emulate in 1963 and she excels at screaming – sometimes over nothing.
So, Ian and Barbara have a number of Susan flashbacks while staking out the junkyard and waiting for Susan to arrive. When they finally enter the junkyard they are dumbfounded to encounter a police box. Of course, we all know it’s the Tardis but this is the first ever sighting of it. Ian and Barbara snoop around some more, hide when they see an old man (the doctor) arrive and then have an altercation with him. They eventually push their way into the Tardis – really Ian and Barbara are such busybodies in this episode) and are shocked when they discover that it is SO big on the inside. Ian is convinced that it must be an illusion. The Doctor does not want to let Ian and Barbara leave because he knows they will tell the authorities what they have discovered (an annoying girl and a cranky old man in a possible spaceship?) and basically kidnaps them starting their first adventure.
I don’t care for Ian and Barbara much in this episode. I don’t think any of the main characters are likable. But, I will. I will.
A note about our very first encounter with Doctor Who. He really isn’t nice the way we are used to the Doctor being. He seems almost evil and is very stubborn, disagreeable, and talks to Ian and Barbara like they are children. Although, in his defense, they did push their way into the Tardis uninvited. If I didn’t already know about Doctor Who and this was the first time I encountered him, I would think he was the bad guy. He is an anti-hero and the viewer is left to identify with Ian and Barbara who have no idea what is going on and are being taken somewhere in space and/or time.
I love his hat and scarf, though, and wish he wore this hat all the time. Maybe it’s just for when he’s cold. We also get our first trademark Hartnell word repetition – many words need to be said three, even four times in rapid succession. Yes, yes, yes, yes!! And this has the first Hartnell use of “dear child”. Maybe this episode should have been called “Yes, yes ,yes dear child.” I suppose since the Doctor is, who knows how old, everyone is a child to him.
(And here is a man I used to work for. Separated from Hartnell at birth?)
This is one of my favorite Hartnell episodes. It sets us up for the series, raises a lot of questions, makes us wonder who this Doctor really is and leaves me wanting more without even featuring any creepy or cheesy aliens. It introduces the four main characters and starts us on our journey.
As Doctor Who often had 4-6 part stories, The Unearthly Child is the first of four parts. I wish I could say the next three enchanted me as much as the first but all I can see is meh. I don’t like the rest of this story arc – not one bit.
- “I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it.”
by The Doctor
- “But it was a Police Telephone Box. I walked right round it. Barbara, you saw me.”
by Ian Chesterton
- “Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension? Have you?... to be exiles?”
by The Doctor
- “Your arrogance is nearly as great as your ignorance.”
by The Doctor
- “I know that free movement in time and space is a scientific dream I don't expect to find solved in a junkyard.”
by Ian Chesterton