It’s Doctor Who Day and We’re going to spend a big chunk of time watching Doctor Who, both Classic and Nu. Beginning with…
The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Episode 1: “World’s End”
You have to admit, this looks pretty good.
I thought I’d seen this before, but maybe only bits and pieces. The first few moments have my attention; they’re both dystopian and compelling! It’s amazing how well that’s conveyed by a run-down area a sign, and a strangely dressed man shambling into the Thames.
The Tardis materializes and it looks worn and damaged. I wonder what’s up with that.
The Doctor and crew think they’re getting Ian and Barbara back home. This will be a recurring theme for the next 6 decades or so.
But the Doctor quickly suspects that they’re landed in the wrong time. The others remain optimistic even as debris blocks their re-entry into the TARDIS.
I’m thinking it’s sad that we never saw any more of Susan in the modern series when “Grandfather” tells her that what she needs is a “jolly good smacked bottom!” Sigh.
They seem to be making use of abandoned properties around London quite effectively.
And things start happening; Barbara and Susan are taken by men offering to protect them as gunfire is heard in the distance while Ian and the Doctor find a corpse wearing a sinister-looking helmet, which they seem to think is some sort of cell phone.
It’s a compelling start and even though it’s mostly about atmosphere at this point there are some enjoyable details including the “robomen” who may well have inspired the Cybermen two years later and a spacecraft that is strongly reminiscent of “Attack of the Flying Saucers.” In the final moments, we get our first glimpse of a Dalek rising from the river.
The Dalek Invasion of Earth Episode 2: “The Daleks”
The Dalek confronts Ian and the Doctor proclaiming “We are the Masters of the Earth.” “Not for long,” is the Doctor’s reply. Lots of classic tropes here; I wonder if these are the first occurrences.
But the Daleks have certainly evolved from here; they’re already fascistic but seem content to rule rather than destroy. Offering to let prisoners survive if they surrender is very unDaleklike, but then conversion into Robomen isn’t exactly survival.
They’ve noticed the Doctor though and realize that he’s smarter than the average bear.
We get a bit of backstory; Earth was bombarded by meteorites, then most of the population was wiped out by a plague. By the time humans could combat the plague, it was too late. There were only small groups of survivors, too separated to join forces, and too small to resist effectively.
The humans have a bomb, but it looks like a bottle of perfume. And it’s stunning how dumb they all are; thinking that they now have a “superior weapon.” Barbara helps them improve their plan somewhat though. Not enough I would guess.”
By the way, is it me or does that guy look like Radar O’Rilley?
The episode ends with the humans’ attack underway and the Doctor in the process of being robotized.
Joanne and I watched “Rose,” the first full episode I ever saw, over lunch. It’s a near-perfect starting point.
Looking back, it’s astounding how well RTD balanced a comfortable introduction for new fans by including nice, familiar touches for old friends (…look at the ears) and integrating hints about what happened post-McGann. The show had some growing to do, Jackie & Mickey were still caricatures and the show hadn’t quite decided that it wasn’t a kids’ show any longer, but the Doctor was compelling and Rose was clever and capable. Without Eccleston & Piper, we might not have Nu-Who today.
Watching this gives me hope for the next few seasons.
Partners in Crime (2008)
Next is “Partners in Crime,” the opener of my favorite series of Nu-Who due mostly to the presence of Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. I’m psyched we could be revisiting this team in a few months.
Donna makes the perfect foil to the Tenth Doctor and there’s so much to like about this episode, including the choreography of the Doctor and Donna missing each other throughout investigating Adipose. The scene where the two finally see each other is just wizard.
This is our first time watching this since watching Sara Lancashire in Julia. She inhabits these characters so well it’s hard to believe the two roles are the same actress. This one is an excellent performance through and including that nice Wyle E. Coyote moment.
The Eleventh Hour (2010)
We’ll end with “The Eleventh Hour,” the best opening episode for a new doctor in Nu-Who, perhaps in all Who. It’s fun watching the new Doctor do the Tigger thing from The House at Pooh Corner. But the most impressive moment follows after Amilia has rolled with the crashed TARDIS, the strange man with the swimming pool in his library & the nuttiness of fish fingers and custard with complete equanimity the Doctor says, “Must be a hell of a scary crack in your wall.” That line gives me chills every time.
Then it’s off to the races, into an episode that melds humor, intrigue, action, and heart into a seamless whole. The cast is excellent and this Doctor, being a bit odd makes it all the easier to see him as alien. The episode and what follows works very well.
It’s time for bed, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to a Peter Capaldi episode as I consider him to be the doctorest Doctor. But I’ll be back soon to finish The Dalek Invasion of Earth. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this.