Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Try a bit of the Classics.... (1)

We're now, finally, in the Anniversary year - 50 years since "Doctor Who" first hit the screens with William Hartnell's Doctor.  What a ride it's been!  With the revival of the show in 2005, an established Who fandom suddenly found that an influx of "New Who" fans caused an issue or two.  The main issue were those who immediately assumed that anything prior to 2005 was rubbish - obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion but, quite often, these "opinions" were coming from those who had never even watched a single episode of Classic Who.

All we ask - and by "we" I mean those of us who love Classic Who - is that those who came to the show in 2005 or later, at least give the Classics a try.  Watch an episode...watch a few clips...then if you don't like it then fine - at least you tried.

Where do you start though?  26 seasons of Classic Who is a bit daunting!  I have a list of suggestions and I've decided to split this into two parts.  The first five stories are below - the rest will follow at the weekend (or before, depending on time constraints).   The reason for choosing these stories is simple - they are stories that I love to bits.  Every Doctor is represented but I wanted to give you stories I love.  Some are traditional episodes, some are a bit more surreal - something for everyone?  Probably not but with Netflix now having Classic Who available and the BBC Shop offering free UK delivery (with a sale on at the moment too), now seems the right time to try some Classic Doctor Who.  If you want clips then try the BBC's Classic Doctor Who channel as they have playlists for the first seven Doctors:

1. An Unearthly Child - William Hartnell

An absolute must on everyone's list.  This is where it started - the first ever episode of "Doctor Who".  A great introduction to William Hartnell's wonderful "grumpy old man" Doctor and his 'grand-daughter', Susan together with school teachers and superb first companions, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright.  There's a fabulous air of mystery about this story and here's a clip to get you in the mood:

2.  Tomb of the Cybermen - Patrick Troughton

Missing for years, this story's return caused quite a stir - and rightly so.  A "classic" in every sense of the word - and for New Who fans, this is Matt Smith's favourite too.  This has everything: Cybermen, a cracking Doctor, great companions and great supporting characters. Just check out the design - it's breathtaking - and if you watch the new "Coming Soon 2013" trailer, you might notice that one of the clips from Neil Gaiman's upcoming Cybermen episode has a similar design:

3. The Daemons - Jon Pertwee

Oh, those wonderful stories with UNIT - the Brigadier, Sergeant Benton, Mike Yates - combine that with Pertwee's "action" Doctor and the inimitable Jo Grant and you have something rather special.  I love "The Daemons" - a peaceful village, burial mounds, an interfering professor, a very strange vicar, the devil - and, of course, the local white witch...what's not to love?  It just blew me away when I first watched it as a child - and I'm half convinced my nail biting habit started with this story!  All together now - "as my will, so mote it be!":

4. The Green Death

The first time "Doctor Who" broke my heart - this is Jo Grant's final story.  Yet, her leaving doesn't overshadow the story, it's not tacked on - it makes perfect sense and is a logical progression for her character.  It's beautifully done, very understated and I dare you not to shed a tear as the Doctor drives off into the night in Bessie at the end.  Of course, most will remember this as "the one with giant Maggots in" but it's also a story that is still relevant now with it's "big business and profit versus environmental concerns" thread that runs through the whole story.  Just...try not to think about the fact that some of the giant maggots were inflated condoms:

5. Death to the Daleks

I'm well aware that this probably won't be on many lists but I love this story.  I think a lot of my love stems from the supporting characters and, in particular, the adorable Bellal.  Bellal is an Exxilon and one of the cutest characters you'll see.  Basically, something on the planet is draining all power - from the Tardis, from the Dalek weaponry - and the Doctor et al need to find out what it is and turn it off.  Sounds simple but the  Doctor and Bellal's journey through the Exxilon city whilst tracked and stalked by Daleks is wonderful, even if some of the puzzles are...well...a tiny bit simple:

To be continued...more stories coming soon including "Pyramids of Mars" and Classic Who's version of "Wholock"....