Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Review - An Unearthly Child/The Daleks
by, 15th July 2013 at 03:35 AM (500 Views)
Doctor Who was pitched by Canadian Sydney Newman in early 1963. It was given they go ahead and filming began in August 1963. Unortunately, the pilot episode was not recieved well by Newman and it had to be reshot. Newman liked this reshot version and it was to air on November 16. But another show was already paid to air for its last episode on November 16 at 5.15, so Doctor Who was moved to a week ahead, November 23. But the day before, events were to take place that would shake the world.
Originally Posted by BBC Home Service, November 23, 1963, 5.15pm
Doctor Who was unveiled to a public too shocked to pay it full attention. It racked up 4.4 million viewers and was repeated the next week before An Unearthly Child, episode 2.
PLOT: An Unearthly Child
Episode 1: An Unearthly Child
Episode 2: The Cave of Skulls
Episode 3: The Forest of Fear
Episode 4: The Firemaker
The first episode starts in a junkyard in London and introduces the four characters who were to form the core of the production's first year: the Doctor, teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, who are concerned about one of their pupils at Coal Hill School named Susan Foreman, who seems to know of the future of England.
Susan is precocious, but seems to have strange gaps in her understanding of the world, the teachers have come to her listed address to investigate. Here they encounter a police box, the programme's main prop, known as the TARDIS, from within which they hear Susan's voice. (At the time, such boxes were a fairly common sight on the streets of London, but only police officers held a key to open them.) The TARDIS proves to be no ordinary police box: when Ian and Barbara enter, they discover it to be much bigger on the inside than the outside, and furnished with futuristic-looking controls. The time machine retains its outward appearance when it travels through time, which Susan explains as a malfunction in the circuitry that is supposed to adapt its appearance to its surroundings.
Susan lives with her grandfather, the mysterious Doctor, who does not otherwise identify himself. He is a cranky, hostile, suspicious old man who appears to be a fugitive. Fearing that Barbara and Ian will give away the secret of the TARDIS and make life impossible for him in London, he takes the machine to the Stone Age.
In the remaining three episodes, the four become involved in a brutal power struggle within a Stone Age tribe. In "The Cave of Skulls", the group encounters a Paleolithic tribe and are subsequently imprisoned by them in a large cave. In "The Forest of Fear", they are shown to escape from the settlement, but are subsequently intercepted before reaching the TARDIS. They barely escape with their lives by exploitation of Ian's knowledge of how to produce fire, which induces fear and respect in the primitive Stone Age society. The final episode, "The Firemaker", has the group mediating separate factions of the tribe before fleeing successfully to the TARDIS. They travel, seemingly at random, to a new destination; even the Doctor does not know where. The TARDIS's view screen shows a mysterious scene, a petrified forest, which acts as a teaser for the next story. As the time travellers leave their machine, a radiation meter is shown on the console of the machine, unheeded by them, registering "Danger".
EPISODE RATING: 7/10
Worth a watch, but after episode 1, it gets plain tiring. But a great way to celebrate 50 years.
Episode 1: The Dead Planet
Episode 2: The Survivors
Episode 3: The Escape
Episode 4: The Ambush
Episode 5: The Expedition
Episode 6: The Ordeal
Episode 7: The Rescue
This story introduces two plotlines in Doctor Who, that of the TARDIS' navigational circuits malfunctioning and that of the supposed destruction of the Dalek race. In this case, instead of bringing its crew back to Earth, the TARDIS lands in a petrified jungle, and the Doctor has to try to fix their position by taking a reading of the stars. The Doctor insists they explore a futuristic city they spot beyond the forest but Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright are not convinced. In the forest someone touches Susan's shoulder, however the Doctor doesn't believe her. Later a box of vials is found outside the TARDIS. To force his companions to do so, the Doctor claims the fluid link of the TARDIS is running low on mercury (a ruse he later admits to), forcing the crew to travel to the city in search of more mercury.
Inside the city, Barbara becomes separated from her colleagues, and is, in the iconic first episode cliffhanger, threatened by an unseen creature with a metal arm - the first appearance of a Dalek. Before long, the entire crew is captured by the Daleks. Susan is eventually sent to retrieve anti-radiation drugs from the TARDIS, the Doctor realises this is what the box contained. Susan encounters a second species, the Thals, who used to be at war with the Daleks. The Thal who left the drugs reveals he encountered her in the forest. Susan attempts to broker peace between the two groups, and while it appears to work, the Daleks eventually betray the Thals, opening fire on them at what was supposed to be a peaceful exchange of food. The Daleks try using the anti-radiation drugs, but discover they are fatal to Daleks. They decide to bombard the atmosphere with more radiation.
In the ensuing chaos, the Doctor and his companions escape with the Thals, and learn their version of the history of their planet. They also learn that the Thals are avowed pacifists. They are unable to leave Skaro, however, as the fluid link has been taken by the Daleks. In order to save them from the Daleks, the TARDIS crew convinces the Thals of the importance of aggression and warfare, and manages to lead the Thals in a successful attack against the Daleks. At the end, it is believed the Dalek race has been destroyed when their power supply is knocked out. The TARDIS crew leave Skaro, but an explosion in the TARDIS knocks them out.
EPISODE RATING: 10/10
Oh come come, now. It's the Daleks. For the first time. And it's a long story so there's more to absorb. WATCH IT.
NEXT REVIEW: The Edge of Destruction/Marco Polo
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