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TV Tuesday: Doctor Who's first season!

So I just finished watching the first season of Doctor Who (1963-64) and I enjoyed it even more than I expected to. I know watching all of Doctor Who isn't always going to be smooth sailing, but Season One was genuinely a lot of fun, both in its own right and as a supplement to watching new!Doctor Who. Barbara and Ian, the sensible good-hearted schoolteachers who got themselves mixed up with a grumpy old time traveler and his granddaughter, are always fun to watch, and the Doctor quickly develops into a frustrating and lovable character whose foibles have to be kept in check by his traveling companions (whom he kidnapped in a fit of pique) (but it's all right now; they're friends, mostly).

Some favorite moments: the confrontation and careful reconciliation between Barbara and the Doctor in "The Brink of Disaster," Susan resisting the Doctor's patronizing protectiveness and insisting on her right to her own perspective in "The Sensorites," the Doctor huffily insisting that on a cosmic scale France is essentially exactly the same as England and he can totally fly the TARDIS so stop insinuating that he can't, Susan reminsicing about her as-yet-unnamed home planet (the orange sky! the silver leaves!), every interaction between the Doctor and Cameca in "The Aztecs," and basically every time Barbara was on my screen doing anything at all.

Runner up: meeting the Daleks for the very first time, poor little plunger-handed death machines. I have a soft spot for the Daleks and was delighted to see them introduced so early (in the second serial ever!) already their own hopeless, implacable and ridiculous extermination-fixated selves.

It helps that I actively enjoy the staginess, I think. The sometimes haphazard props and sets in the early episodes are a reminder that this show is new and under construction, that these are actors telling a story with the tools available to them, and I have to be willing to help them out. The serial structure can be frustrating -- there are a lot of self-contained stories that end in abrupt recapture or some other impending disaster in order to set up a suspiciously similar story ending in yet another cliffhanger -- but I've gotten so used to it that it's more funny than anything else.

What I'm a little worried about: sooner or later, I'm going to run into some Vintage BBC Racism, aren't I? (No specific spoilers, please, but. . . it's going to happen, right?) "The Aztecs" was surprisingly ok, despite some odd claims about world history and the one villain guy being played as a Stock Evil Foreigner, but nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain, and I feel sure the casual racism train is going to catch up with me any day now. Other than that, I don't know what to be worried about. I'm just enjoying the journey.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Sep. 22nd, 2015 04:33 pm (UTC)
and basically every time Barbara was on my screen doing anything at all.

Totally true. Barbara! &Herats;

that these are actors telling a story with the tools available to them, and I have to be willing to help them out.

That is rather a lovely way to look at it. :-)

There will be some vintage casual racism, but DW fans have never yet agreed on which stories it happens in (or happens worst in), so you will just have to wait and see.

Enjoy S2! The Aztecs is one of the very best Hartnell stories, but there are some other gems to come still & I hope you continue to have fun with it. I'll go now because otherwise I will become spoilery, because I love [SPOILER].
evelyn_b
Sep. 22nd, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, I also love the scene your icon is from!

The first serial of S2 is a delight so far -- Team TARDIS gets accidentally shrunk due to some timey-wimeyness (that the Doctor is very annoyed at being asked to explain, NOT BECAUSE HE CAN'T FLY THE TARDIS, just because your twentieth-century minds would explode!!) and now they're all crawling around on giant matchboxes and unmasking corporate malfeasance. It's very fun!

(I love when the show's writers get around the bother of working out a sci-fi explanation by cranking up the Doctor's defensively patronizing stubbornness: side-step a writing problem, build a character!)

Also, I don't know if you've seen the latest episode of the current series yet, so I will refrain from rambling about it, but I thought it was very good, and it contained several of my favorite things.
lost_spook
Sep. 23rd, 2015 01:14 pm (UTC)
and now they're all crawling around on giant matchboxes and unmasking corporate malfeasance. It's very fun!

The good thing about that is that it was pre-CSO and they had to build all the giant sinks and matchboxes. In the 1970s, it'd have all been terrible CSo and less fun. :-)

I have seen the most recent episode! I may occasionally get a day behind, but I'm in the UK, it's on the BBC, I have no reason to be not watching it religiously as it airs. (I have to instruct my Mum not to ring me up.)

Aw, glad you're enjoying it! I'm awaiting Part 2 before I have a verdict, but Michelle Gomez has made it effortlessly to second-favourite Master (even if I have to apologise to Anthony Ainley every time I think that)* and is great fun (and channels all her predecessors by turn; you can tell she's another fan). Also, one day when you get to Genesis of the Daleks you too can be impressed at the way they used that in this! (It could be a while - Dr no. 4! You've only ten years and two Doctors worth of stories in the way.)

* (because of course no one will ever be better than Roger Delgado because Roger Delgado. But she trumps Simm, crispy and Roberts Masters instantly! ♥)
evelyn_b
Sep. 23rd, 2015 03:09 pm (UTC)
Michelle Gomez is a beauty and a joy. I loved every interaction between her and Clara, and I loved her genuinely frightened reaction when she recognized the planet they were on. She's just killing it -- she and Coleman both, really. Such a confident start to s9! Though I guess I should wait for the second part, too.

Poor Doctor :( Wouldn't it be funny if it were Missy who somehow managed to pull him back from the brink? And by funny, of course, I mean "a friendship older than your civilization and infinitely more complex."

I look forward to meeting the rest of the Masters! Especially this Roger Delgado guy everyone keeps talking about :D (I do have an abiding love for Derek Jacobi!Master, briefly though he burned).
lost_spook
Sep. 23rd, 2015 04:03 pm (UTC)
Missy is wonderful! It's lovely to be enjoying her so much. :-D

And Ainley and Delgado are both great! I feel a little disloyal immediately putting Missy above the Ainley Master, because he played him for so long and loved it so much (he, er, used to ring up the DW production office in character to ask if he was coming back again; apparently that worked), but yes.

And, aha, I don't want to get annoying about Roger Delgado and have you disappointed when you meet him, but then again, who's going to be disappointed with the original Master? You may still prefer another incarnation, but he's very charming!

evelyn_b
Sep. 24th, 2015 03:12 pm (UTC)
I probably won't be disappointed! I am already delighted by the combination of this large picture + your icon.

I feel a little disloyal immediately putting Missy above the Ainley Master, because he played him for so long and loved it so much (he, er, used to ring up the DW production office in character to ask if he was coming back again; apparently that worked)

I love Ainley already. That is too adorable.
scripsi
Sep. 24th, 2015 03:27 pm (UTC)
Both Delgado and Ainley are really good and I hope you won't be disappointed! I feel Missy picks up from both of them, which I like a lot.
scripsi
Sep. 24th, 2015 02:45 pm (UTC)
but Michelle Gomez has made it effortlessly to second-favourite Master (even if I have to apologise to Anthony Ainley every time I think that)*

Yes, I may say this too soon. At the moment she squabbles with Ainley about second place in my mind. :) But I'll always love Delgado best.
scripsi
Sep. 24th, 2015 02:42 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoy it! I don't mind the staginess either. You'll just have to accept it, and if you do I find that one's brain kindly goes along with the fantasy.

And Barbara! <3

What I like least with old Who are how stories can drag out at times with a number of more or less empty cliff hangers.
evelyn_b
Sep. 24th, 2015 03:08 pm (UTC)
Hah, yes, the endless empty cliffhangers! They can get pretty bad. I feel like the writers' ability to write multi-part stories without always resorting to "and then Ian got captured by THE REIGN OF TERROR! No, wait, he's fine; happy reunions for everyone! BUT THEN SUSAN FELL IN A DITCH! Ha ha, no, it's cool; she's ok. WAIT NO THE TARDIS IS ON FIRE!! Nah, psych, it was just an illusion!" is sloooowly improving, but it's not necessarily improving all that evenly.

Actually, sometimes it's not even that diverse. . . it's more like "Oh no, Susan fell into a ditch! Phew, she's ok! WAIT NO THE DOCTOR FELL IN ANOTHER DITCH" for 6-8 episodes.

But I love it anyway. It's my clumsy baby show, toddling around and knocking over the occasional vase and FALLING IN DITCHES here and there, but so new and fresh and learning so quickly just the same.
scripsi
Sep. 24th, 2015 03:26 pm (UTC)
Actually, sometimes it's not even that diverse. . . it's more like "Oh no, Susan fell into a ditch! Phew, she's ok! WAIT NO THE DOCTOR FELL IN ANOTHER DITCH" for 6-8 episodes.

LOL, yes, exactly. :D

But I love it anyway. It's my clumsy baby show, toddling around and knocking over the occasional vase and FALLING IN DITCHES here and there, but so new and fresh and learning so quickly just the same.

Very aptly put! And it already has all the ingridients that makes it such a good show. I didn't fall in love with DW until the Third Doctor, but I like the earlier epsiodes all the same. :)
mosinging1986
Sep. 24th, 2015 06:06 pm (UTC)
(Here via Home Page)

I'm totally a New Who convert. When I first began watching the new eps I wanted to catch up on ALL the old eps. And then I learned how long this show had been on and how many there were. Overwhelmed doesn't even seem a proper word.

But I still want to do it at some point! Where can we find eps, though?
evelyn_b
Sep. 24th, 2015 10:28 pm (UTC)
I've had good luck finding episodes on Dailymotion, which is free and pretty easy to search, though there are ads and the video can run slow. They are also available on DVD, but I'm not sure how widely (my local video rental place has only New Who and 2-3 classic serials from the later large scarf era). Some libraries may have them (unfortunately, mine does not). I think most of the show is now available on Hulu Plus, though I haven't been subscribed to Hulu for a while. They might also be available on Netflix, but again, not sure.

I hope you enjoy catching up! I went for a very long time never starting Doctor Who because I was overwhelmed by how big it was, but right now I'm just excited about never running out. Starting with the new show is a good move; part of the fun of watching the original episodes is beginning to recognize all the callbacks and references.

Edited at 2015-09-24 10:29 pm (UTC)
mosinging1986
Sep. 25th, 2015 06:15 am (UTC)
part of the fun of watching the original episodes is beginning to recognize all the callbacks and references.

That's exactly why I wanted to try catching up! I feel like I've missed so much. Thanks.
newmoonstar
Sep. 26th, 2015 07:26 am (UTC)
Aw, the first season was my first taste of Classic Who too, & still my favorite. Going back and seeing the start of all the adventures after watching New Who for so many years was just magical. And Barbara is undoubtedly the awesomest badass lady in all of time and space. My favorite companion for always. ♥

The famous Exagerated Cliffhanger Endings (dun dun DUN!!) of the Classic series can be a bit forced & sometimes downright silly, but that's part of the charm of the serial format & just takes getting used to. (By the time I got to the Seventh Doctor, I didn't even question it anymore- there's an episode where he literally hangs off an actual cliff for no reason & I just shrugged like 'yeah, you gotta do what you gotta do to get those viewers back next week! LOL)

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the lack of truly egregious vintage racism in most of Classic Who- I think the Doctor's 'stupid red Indians' remark in the very first episode was the worst thing I ever heard a character say. There were a few times when they'd cast a black actor as a stupid muscle man & you sit there thinking 'REALLY?!', but I'd say on the whole it does better than most other TV & film of the period.

I hope you continue to have fun meeting all the new (old) Doctors, companions & monsters! :)

Edited at 2015-09-26 07:26 am (UTC)
evelyn_b
Sep. 27th, 2015 03:03 pm (UTC)
Barbara is magnificent. I'm going to miss her

I hope I'll go on being pleasantly surprised by the relative lack of racism! Better to be pleasantly surprised than unpleasantly surprised. One thing I have been continually pleased by is the good female characters. There are several! They're different from each other! I guess that's a low bar to clear, but. If you compare Carol, one of the astronauts in "The Sensorites" to any female guest star on the original Star Trek, the difference in how she's treated by her co-workers and Team TARDIS is really noticeable. Her costume isn't heavily gender-coded the way the uniforms are on Star Trek; there's no eyebrow-wagging, even from Ian and Barbara who are from the 1960s and might have an excuse for it; her presence as a member of the team is taken so much for granted that no one bothers to explain or defend it, and even though her fiancé’s space-induced madness has caused her a lot of pain, no one suggests that this is somehow the result of her "forgetting her woman's heart" by taking a job in space, or however they would have tried to frame it in Star Trek while grabbing her by the wrist and maybe forcing a kiss on her. She's just a character with a job and some circumstances.

Low bar. But still nice to see. And she's just one example. Cameca in "The Aztecs" and Jenny in "The Dalek Invasion" are also great guest characters who are treated thoughtfully by the script.

Thanks! I'm sure I will. I have a lot of confidence in this weird little show. <3
newmoonstar
Sep. 30th, 2015 03:22 am (UTC)
Yes, one of my favorite things about Classic Who is that the scripts don't usually waste time pointing out that female characters are women and should act a certain way because of it- which quite frankly is still a problem on some TV shows today. When I got to the Second Doctor's episodes especially, I was just floored by the amount of times there were guest characters who were scientists, rebel commanders, or other figures of authority who were women, and it was never made an issue of. It's a really nice thing to see. And of course, the stories themselves are pretty great too. Classic Who is just really awesome, but that's just stating the obvious. ;)
sue_bursztynski
Sep. 27th, 2015 07:24 am (UTC)
Ooh, I loved early Who! The Aztecs is huge fun. It would have been nice in colour. if you have the DVD, in the extras they gave interviews with actors and producers; I gather the pottery was painted by art students as the whole staging budget was 250 pounds. The actor who played the villain said he was playing it as Olivier's Richard III.

Another of my favourites is the very funny The Romans, which is after the departure of Susan, but still with Ian and Barbara, who get up to all sorts of things while the Doctor and new companion Vicki head for Rome from the villa where they have been resting - hilarious!

They didn't have much money for effects and sets, but they gad good scripts and amazing actors(not to mention that Ian was a hunk...)
evelyn_b
Sep. 27th, 2015 03:12 pm (UTC)
Aww, Ian. I don't have an icon of him yet, but he does his best.

I gather the pottery was painted by art students as the whole staging budget was 250 pounds

That's really cool! Honestly, I was so impressed when I saw the set of "The Aztecs." They really made it look like a place. The creative resourcefulness of the early Who team is so enjoyable in itself. I can't be mad when a particular puppet or set looks cheap, because I know their budget for the week is something like four paper clips and a couple of bob, and half the time the sets end up looking great anyway.

All of space and time on a couple of tiny soundstages. I love it.
sue_bursztynski
Sep. 27th, 2015 11:14 pm (UTC)
I hear that Star Trek - the original series - was also low budget, though presumably not quite as low budget as DW. They ended up rummaging in the bins from the next door show, Mission Impossible, finding the packaging in which the higher-budget show had received its goodies and spray painting them to make them look like alien sculptures. But the scripts were wonderful, written by classic SF writers, and if the sexism was there, so were the strong female characters. Uhura might have said, "Captain, I'm frightened," but she then just got on with the job anyway - and did it well.

And if you can practically see the zippers on the DW monsters, the scripts are excellent and the actors also.
evelyn_b
Sep. 27th, 2015 11:40 pm (UTC)
They ended up rummaging in the bins from the next door show, Mission Impossible, finding the packaging in which the higher-budget show had received its goodies and spray painting them to make them look like alien sculptures.

<3

Uhura is a great character. I was unprepared for how much I was going to love her, after all the cultural osmosis suggesting she was a bimbo whose job is redundant (maybe that was just Galaxy Quest?) Anyway, my expectations were wrong; she is a PROFESSIONAL TO THE CORE.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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