If you have been following The Geekville Podcast, or The All Purpose Doctor Who Thread on the board, you may know that I have been undertaking the task of playing catch-up on classic Doctor Who. For those of you who do not have the time or patience to wade through nearly 800 episodes of the series, I will be providing what I call a “Condensed Viewing Guide” for each of The Doctors. This way you won’t have to spend countless hours on episodes that don’t have any real ramifications on the long term lore.
There are two main reasons why there will be episodes skipped, especially in these early seasons
1) The obvious reason that The BBC scrapped as many as 100+ episodes to save on space. I am omitting any entirely missing stories. While reconstructed stories can be fun for some die-hards, they can also be difficult to watch for others due to them being primarily audio. Episodes that have been officially released with some sort of addition will be considered for inclusion though.
2) The early seasons have little in common with the modern lore, because of course nobody knew the show would be the smashing success it was. It was just episodic TV that was trying to find its footing for a young skewing audience. For example, the Time Lords race isn’t even mentioned until the sixth season’s “The War Games”, the final story of The Second Doctor.
So with that out of the way, let’s start with The First Season of The First Doctor (1963-64).
The simple beginning is in the Pilot Episode “An Unearthly Child”, which introduces us all to The Doctor, his original Companions of Susan Foreman, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, and of course The TARDIS. The rest of the original story arc is rather uneventful, as it involves our heroes stuck in a political power struggle between English speaking Cavemen over finding fire. Nothing eventful to the show’s history happens here other than the historical value of it being the first story. So after the premiere episode, I recommend skipping ahead to the next story, which introduces The Doctor’s greatest foes….
No collection would even be recognized without “The Daleks”. This seven-part story gave us the debut of the menacing Daleks, and much of their early history and technology. Their presence is still heavily felt in the Whovian Universe to this day. Their first story arc is a no-brainer.
“The Aztecs” is a nice addition to the list due to it introducing The Doctor’s code of ethics to not interfere with history. This of course may seem to contradict the modern Doctors’ view on time and history (“Time is not a line…”), but it does show that no matter what time or reality he’s in, The Doctor is very mindful of the ramifications to his actions when it comes to history.
And finally, round out Season One with “The Reign Of Terror”. This continues on the theme of traveling through history, and The Doctor enforcing that history is not to be messed with. It also gives a little time to the relationship that seems to be developing between Ian and Barbara, as well as The First Doctor’s ability to impersonate highly esteemed people to save his friends. It was recently given an official BBC release with animated reconstructions of the two missing episodes, thus its inclusion here. Also the final shots of the episode make for a nice season-like wrap up.
So to summarize, watch the following episodes as a Condensed Viewing of The First Doctor’s First Year
“An Unearthly Child”
“The Dead Planet”
The Aztecs (Available for streaming on Netflix)
“The Temple of Evil”
“The Warriors of Death”
“The Bride of Sacrifice”
“The Day of Darkness”
Reign Of Terror
“A Land of Fear”
“Guests of Madame Guillotine”
“A Change of Identity”
“The Tyrant of France”
“A Bargain of Necessity”
“Prisoners of Conciergerie”
And what show would be complete without a drinking game? Alcohol is of course not needed, this is just for fun. Be responsible, people!
Join us next time when we will dive into Season Two of The First Doctor!
Most, if not all the episodes listed above can be found at Amazon’s Main Page