“An Unearthly Child”

Welcome to the beginning of the Doctor Who Journey! The show began in 1963 and was in black-and-white until it made the leap to color with the Third Doctor in 1970. When it first began, it must have been hard to imagine how popular and beloved the show would become. Almost fifty years later, the TARDIS and the Daleks are national icons. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The basic premise of the show: The Doctor, an alien from the planet Gallifrey, travels through time and space in his ship, the TARDIS, which is permanently stuck in the shape of a 1960s police telephone box because of a faulty chameleon circuit. The Doctor usually travels with companions, most of which are human, although there are a few exceptions.

Now, on with the show!

“An Unearthly Child” is the very first serial of Doctor Who. We’re introduced to Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, two schoolteachers, who are worrying about one of their students, Susan Foreman. She is usually extremely bright, but has recently been distracted and edgy. After school one day they decide to follow her (extremely creepy; imagine two of your teachers driving together in a car just to stalk you!), and discover that Susan has disappeared into a scrapyard. They search for her, but she is nowhere to be found!

But what’s this?

A police box? What would a police box be doing in the middle of a scrapyard?

From this point on, you’ll have to pardon me; I did watch this a pretty long time ago, so I don’t have a great memory of what happened.

I believe they hear noises coming from inside the police box, possibly Susan having an argument with someone? They decide to investigate and eventually meet Susan’s grandfather, who doesn’t go by the name Mr. Foreman, but rather, Doctor. Just Doctor. Ian and Barbara are rightly confused about what exactly this “Doctor” is doing inside a police telephone box with Susan, and force themselves in.

Only to discover that this police box is no police box at all! Instead, it’s bigger on the inside! The Doctor and Susan confess that they’re alien time travelers, and the Doctor, after some persuading from Susan, takes Barbara and Ian to who knows where.

After the first episode, things get really weird, and thusly I don’t really remember what happened. I wasn’t even sure what was happening while I was watching it. The TARDIS lands in prehistoric times, and the Doctor is perplexed that his ship has remained as a police telephone box. I thought that was hilarious. That was SERIOUSLY the first time the chameleon circuit malfunctioned? Awesome!

Anyway, the TARDIS crew is soon attacked and taken prisoner by cavemen. There’s apparently a power vacuum because nobody knows how to use fire. Cavemen: Why trust your secret of fire to only one person? This is obviously going to be problematic for you. Stupid cavemen.

Well there’s a lot of sitting around and talking, and then there’s a jailbreak. One of the cavemen escorting the Doctor and co. gets injured, and the Doctor initially wants to leave him behind and escape to the TARDIS. That was a big shock for me! Wow, the Doctor actually doesn’t want to help anyone? He’s really selfish? I’ve noticed that this first series puts a large emphasis on simply observing and not helping. Coming from a New Who perspective, it’s really outlandish! So, the First Doctor makes himself out to be a selfish, reclusive, grumpy old man.

Fortunately that changes dramatically in the coming episodes!

The TARDIS crew eventually make it back to their ship and dematerialize, having saved the tribe of cavemen from the wrong guy taking charge, whoever he was. The Doctor attempts to take Barbara and Ian back to Earth, in order to save himself from having other people on board to mess with him. He sure is grumpy! But what’s this? The TARDIS isn’t on Earth, it’s somewhere else! Stay tuned, for next time we have a dance with The Daleks!


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