Doctor Who Podcast Episode 10: Spotlight on Classic Who. ‘An Unearthly Child’

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With the dog days of summer upon us, we here at Sound on Sight are taking advantage of  Series Six’s summer hiatus by going way back in the wayback machine and revisiting some essential classic Doctor Who serials.

Therefore as both as a service for those new to Who, as well as for our own personal enjoyment,  we will spend the remainder of the summer of 2011 looking at some of the good, the bad, and the downright weird from each the first Eight Doctors of the classic series.

This week, Eric Mendoza, Lindsay Wood and Derek Gladu go back to where it all began, the original 1963 serial known as “An Unearthly Child”, staring William Hartnel as the Doctor.

  1. Derek says

    Thanks Rick. We hope to convert you eventually. When I think about Sound on Sight, certain words come to mind: intelligent, curious, fearless, and iconoclastic!

    Why did I think that this would mesh so well with Doctor Who?

    Thanks Kate. You might be right about the Doctor’s backstory. You are right that he had a Timelord’s haughtiness during the first season. All I was saying is that we don’t actually know for sure if he didn’t have Marie Curie, Herodotus and Teddy Rooseveld in the TARDIS at one point before we first “meet” him. We also don’t know for certain that that team was not the best TARDIS crew ensemble ever! (!)

    I also don’t need to have the definite answer on this issue either. We don’t need an “Episode 1” for the Doctor. I love mysteries.

    My feelings about Susan is that she had to be a relative in order to stand up to scrutiny of the mores of the time. In the first pilot she says they are from “49th century”, and there is no mention of Gallifrey or the Timelords. We have never found out for sure canonically, (and there is a great discusion here, about “canon” in the Who-nivese that I almost entirely agree with). It is entirely possible that she is his grandaughter. It is possible that he might have adopted her as she does have certain telepathic abilities, and a knowledge of Galifrey. She might also be the love child of Marie Curie and Herodotus (or Rooseveld) that the Doctor took under his wing for all we know.

    I also agree that Chesterton was a great companion, he is in my top ten of all time (time/space?), and because of the response I have had to this podcast less then 24 hours ago I actually have to change my article about Hartnel to include some thoughts about the companions of this era.

    I am glad that there is still so much interest in this series’s roots, but I should not be so surprised. Us Whovians are a rum bunch.

  2. Kate says

    One of the things that always strikes me about the Doctor Who theme song is just how much it was ripped off by the X-Files. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of ’em, but the latter was clearly influenced by the former.

  3. Ricky says

    I don’t watch Dr. Who but I love this podcast. I think it is far better than Sound On Sight’s film podcast. The first thing that caught my attention was the Dr. Who theme song that opened up the show. I was thinking to myself right away that it was one of the best theme songs I’ve ever heard so I agree with Derek. Nicely done!

  4. Kate says

    I enjoyed the podcast and had a few thoughts, re:Hartnell and this story in particular. I think you guys were way too kind to this story. While the first episode I think is very effective and works, once we hit the caves it went significantly downhill for me. The overacting of much of the guest cast was distracting. I didn’t have a problem with the dodgy production values (it takes a lot for me to fault Who for production values), but the writing and performances of many of the cavemen absolutely took me out of it.

    As for Hartnell, I love seeing this Doctor. I’d disagree that he’d had Companions before this story- the Doctor we see here is not dissimilar to the other Time Lords we’ll meet down the line. It’s fun to watch him transform over the course of Hartnell’s tenure from the aptly described arrogant dick ready to kill a caveman we see here to the kindly, quirky Doctor who Ben and Polly get to know before Hartnell’s regeneration at the end of The Tenth Planet. I’d credit this change to the Doctor’s exposure to Barbara and Ian, who challenge him to become a better man. Ian is by far the Classic Who Companion I’d most like to see cameo on NuWho, but I doubt it’ll happen.

    While I like Susan here (it never occurred to me to question her assertion that he’s her grandfather- guess I don’t have enough imagination), by the end of her run, she’s been given very little to do but be captured. My favorite First Doctor Tardis Team is the trio of Ian, Barbara, and Vicki. I like that the Doctor’s experience of saying goodbye to Susan (sort of) deeply affects him and that his relationship with Vicki is much more affectionate as a response.

    Looking forward to the rest of this podcast series! On to Troughton and, as I recall, the first appearance of UNIT.

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