Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Doctor Who, where I over-analyse each of the Doctors to find out which is best.
The way this is going to run is very simple: I take ten categories and give each Doctor points 1 to 10 along the way. Now some of this may seem familiar since I will be repeating myself, but I plan to have this be a be all and end all look at my favourite fictional character. So join me each week as work out which of the Doctors in my absolute favourite.
The First Doctor is an interesting character. When we first meet him he’s not a hero. Far from it. He just wants to see the universe and keep his nose out of trouble. He’s more of a plot device to get characters from A to B and explain things than the character we know and love. So he starts out not being the best character. But as time goes on he becomes a lovely grandfather like figure. He has a twinkle in his eyes and a sharp comment ever ready on the lips. He’s one of the odder Doctors, since it takes a very special actor play a character like that. Still he’s great fun to watch and fall in love with as the time goes on. 7/10.
The phrase often used to describe the First Doctor’s costume is, simply put, the â€œEdwardian Gentlemanâ€. A simple coat and chequered trousers, what really completes this ensemble is the walking stick he carried with him. Honestly the best thing about this costume is that it was practical. It fit him well… but that was about it. It’s essentially a middle of the road sort of thing. Good, but not terrible nor great. 5/10.
The Story: An Unearthly Child is an… interesting story, to say the least. We have one episode set in the then present 1960s England, the other three in caveman times. We are drip fed things as an audience as the two teachers, Ian and Barbara, try to find their pupil Susan and work out the mystery. Once whisked away by the enigmatic Doctor they’re forced to co-operate. So how is the story? It’s… passable. It’s eclipse by the simple better The Daleks story that comes next, and is on the whole rather forgettable at times. 4/10.
The Doctor’s Introduction: Wow… Seriously show this to someone who’s only watched New Who and they’ll be shocked by how different the Doctor is as a character. There’s no charm to him, no warmth, no heroic qualities. Just a grumpy old man who is rather selfish and cruel at times. He straight up is willing to murder someone at one point just to get back to his ship. To this day I still don’t know why I watched past the first few episodes. Well, okay, I watched them because Ian Chesterton is a badass who deserves more recognition (as is Barbara Wright, perhaps even more badass than him)… but I wasn’t staying for the Doctor. Honestly it’s amazing seeing how far he’s come as a character. 2/10.
Overall: This… is a very bad introduction to the show. History has recorded that, quite rightly, it was The Daleks that saved Doctor Who. Had Sydney Newman stood by his guns and refused to let the any ‘bug-eyed monsters’ into his show… I wouldn’t be writing this blog today. A terrible introduction for an otherwise fantastic show. 2/10.
Final Verdict: 8/30 aka 2.7/10.
Susan Foreman: Has there ever been a character more mysterious than Susan? I mean she is the character that sets the story in motion, way back in The Unearthly Child. So she has mystery going for her… and that is about it really, if we’re entirely honest. She’s a kid character in every sense of the word. But since she’s the Doctor’s granddaughter, that makes her pretty interesting. 4/10.
Ian Chesterton: Now when it comes to badass companions, Ian is the first. Hell he was set up as the main character, with the Doctor being a side character in the series. Yeah you wouldn’t think that now, but go back and re-watch the first season with this in mind. It suddenly makes a lot of sense. But yes, Ian is a badass. If you stop and think about everything he does over the course of his adventures (which will take way too long to list), it just goes to show how awesome he is. 8/10.
Barbara Wright: The female foil to Ian, they complimented each other perfectly. Each character helped out where the other one failed. As such Barbara was the more compassionate of the two. But that doesn’t make her any less awesome. She faced the Daleks three times and still defied them. 8/10.
Vicki: It’s clear that she existed only to replace the Doctor’s granddaughter. She’s not a bad character… there just isn’t much more to her than that. No real change or anything. 2/10.
Steven Taylor: If Vicki replaced Susan, then Steven replaced Ian and Barbara. Again, he’s not a bad character… he just doesn’t have a lot to do in the grand scheme of things. He only exists because the Doctor isn’t a physical man, but other than that he’s unremarkable. A good take on the Dan Dare model of the 50s. 5/10.
Katarina: The writers wrote her in, tried her out, and killed her off… before they’d even cast the actress. An interesting idea, having a companion who didn’t understand the world around them… but yeah, she’s only remembered for being killed off. In fact in a cruel irony the only episode that survives of her is her death scene, that being the first thing the actress ever filmed. 1/10.
Dodo Chaplet: Following the trend, we have a young girl character… yawn. It’s been down twice at this point, there really isn’t anything here to talk about. Dodo is a nice character, but certainly the most forgettable. 0/10.
Polly: It’s hard to judge her based on the fact that she only had three stories with the First Doctor (one of which is missing, and the other is partially animated), but the character does a serviceable enough job. 3/10.
Ben Jackson: See above. Serviceable job, but only comes into his own when the next Doctor rolls around. 3/10.
Final Tally: 31/90, or 3.4/10.
Honourable Mentions: The Daleks gets a mention for being such an influential and terrifying story, while The Aztecs gets a mention for it being one of the few pure-historic stories that is actually engaging and gripping to watch.
Story: The Daleks Invasion of the Earth. The Doctor finally gets Ian and Barbara back to their own time… only to find it overrun with Daleks. They’ve conquered the world and have sinister plans for it. Honestly when people ask â€œwhy are the Daleks so popularâ€ this is the story I point too. It’s a great story about revolution and fighting against tyranny. It’s aged a bit now, but the story still holds up and has some great moments in it. 7/10.
Monster: They’re the Daleks. If I need to explain to you why the Daleks are so great you’re never gonna understand it. 10/10.
Nostalgia Factor: I will always remember as a kid when the Dalek emerged from the River Thames. Remember back then there was no internet or real interest in Doctor Who. I’d watched the Daleks, but didn’t think I’d be seeing them again. Hell even each episode had a different title so I didn’t have that to warn me. I just know that there’s a great cliffhanger where the Dalek comes out of the water. Add on top of that a story that made me fear the Daleks and it’s not hard to see why I remember it so fondly. 9/10.
Best Moment: Now I could point out the Daleks gliding around London, or the Dalek coming out of the water, I think there’s one specific moment that proves why the First Doctor was so badass.
- Doctor: Leave this to me, dear boy. I think you’d better let us go.
- Dalek: We do not release prisoners. We are the masters of the Earth.
- Doctor: Not for long.
- Dalek: Obey us or die.
- Doctor: Die? And just who are you to condemn us to death? [sotto] I think we’d better pit our wits against them and defeat them.
- Dalek: Stop! I can hear you! I have heard many similar words from leaders of your different races! All of them were destroyed! I warn you! Resistance is useless!
- The Doctor: Resistance is useless? Surely you don’t expect ALL the people to welcome you with open arms?
- Dalek: We have already conquered Earth!
- The Doctor: Conquered the Earth? You poor, pathetic creatures, don’t you realise? Before you attempt to conquer the Earth you will have to destroy ALL living matter!
- Dalek: Take them! Take them! [The Doctor and Ian are taken away] We are the masters of Earth! We are the masters of Earth! We are the masters of Earth!
- It’s a badass moment because it’s the Doctor standing up to the Daleks and saying he’s gonna defeat them. It inspired many great moments after this, but this is the one where it all started. It’s a small moment, but a badass one nonetheless. 9/10.
Ranking: If I had only twelve episodes of Doctor Who to watch, and I had to rank those twelve from best to worse, this would be number seven, ergo getting a score of 4/10.
Final Verdict: 39/50 or 7.8/10
Dishonourable Mentions: The Space Museum is one part good, three parts bad. The idea that the TARDIS team have arrived unstuck in time, and thus are seeing their future, is an interesting idea… and that’s pretty much all that comes of it. Still, almost the worst.
Story: The Sensorites is historic since it’s the first time the Doctor actively chooses to do good, rather than being forced into because he can’t run away. So historically it’s important… but other than that it’s as boring as sin. It’s a six-episode story that could be three at most. 3/10.
Monster: The titular Sensorites are like the Ood… only with a lot blander visual design. Hell the plot even revolves around one of them being replaced with another guy because they can’t even tell each other apart. So while they get a point for that alone… yeah they’re really bloody dull. 1/10.
Guilty Pleasure Factor: I did watch this as a kid and vaguely remember it. I don’t know if I liked it or not, but it definitely existed. But yeah, it’s still as boring as all sin. 0/10.
Worst Moment: The worst moment is that I simply cannot remember what the worst moment was, it’s that damn forgettable. 0/10.
Ranking: Ranking these twelve episodes from favourite to less favourite, this one comes in at number ten, giving it a score of 1/10.
Final Verdict: 5/50 aka 1/10.
Best Speech/Moment(Television only)
This one is a bit of a tough choice. Mostly because the First Doctor wasn’t as fun as making grand speeches as his successors are. Some are good at melancholy: â€œHave you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension? Have you? To be exiles? Susan and I are cut off from our own planet – without friends or protection. But one day we shall get back. Yes, one day….â€ Some are heartfelt: â€œDuring all the years I’ve been taking care of you, you in return have been taking care of me. You are still my grandchild and always will be. But now, you’re a woman too. I want you to belong somewhere, to have roots of your own. With David you will be able to find those roots and live normally like any woman should do. Believe me, my dear, your future lies with David and not with a silly old buffer like me. One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye, my dear.â€ But there’s one speech above all else that really hits the heartstrings. It’s no wonder they chose to use it in An Adventure in Time and Space, since it really does show a sympathetic side to the crabby old grandfather. From The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve (something now lost to us forever), we have this rather sad speech:
â€œMy dear Steven, history sometimes gives us a terrible shock, and that is because we don’t quite fully understand. Why should we? After all, we’re too small to realise its final pattern. Therefore don’t try and judge it from where you stand. I was right to do as I did. Yes, that I firmly believe. [Steven leaves the TARDIS] Steven… Even after all this time, he cannot understand. I dare not change the course of history. Well, at least I taught him to take some precautions; he did remember to look at the scanner before he opened the doors. And now, they’re all gone. All gone. None of them could understand. Not even my little Susan. Or Vicki. And as for Barbara and Chatterton â€” Chesterton â€” they were all too impatient to get back to their own time. And now, Steven. Perhaps I should go home. Back to my own planet. But I can’t… I can’t…â€
This is perhaps the most human we ever see the First Doctor. The first time we really saw the consequence of his travelling. While other Doctors moan about they’re alone and whatnot, he’s the first to really challenge the idea. It’s a shame this side of the Doctor never gets explored more, his frailty and his weaknesses. Still when we do see it, it is pretty awesome. 7/10.
Much of this Doctor’s expanded universe reflects much of what these characters stories were like to begin with. More often than not the character would sit in the background, occasionally becoming part of some sort of political plot or acting as a wise mentor. But on the whole he wouldn’t do a lot. Now this worked for the TV series because the other characters often made up for it. The likes of Ian or Steven or Ben would give the hero role the oomph it needed. But here… It just doesn’t quite work out as well. Oh don’t get me wrong, some of the better books are the First Doctor stories… but at the same time it’s not hard to notice that the Doctor is taking a back-seat in many of these stories. Maybe it’s just because of how I prefer my stories to be told, but I often find the First Doctor stories to be saved or hung by how good the side characters are. 5/10.
The Story: The Tenth Planet is one of those stories remembered more for the impact it had than the story it actually had. This story introduces the dual concepts of regeneration (or renewal as it was known then) and the Cybermen. Now I could go on about how the Cybermen work in this story, but I’ll save that for another day. As stands it’s pretty much the prototype for the famous ‘base under siege’ stories that would come to define the rest of the sixties. 5/10.
The Final Moments: Props go for the crew for making it work. A simple crossfade and some light sells it pretty well. But as for the Doctor’s final moments… Yeah they’re not that great. In fact his last words are almost the worst ones uttered by a Doctor (though sadly not the worst). It gets a point for the novelty aspect, but nothing more. 1/10.
Overall: The regeneration is pretty much entirely unrelated to anything that happens in this story. They try to use the argument that Mondas (the Cyberman’s planet that has just returned into Earth’s orbit) is draining him, but to be honest they could have used almost anything and got away with it. 1/10 for a least trying to come up with an explanation.
Final Verdict: 7/30 aka 2.3/10
The First Doctor’s run is famous for having a lot of ‘firsts’. First Doctor, first companions, first appearance of many now classic monsters and first regeneration. But on the whole I have to admit that, nostalgia googles aside, the First Doctor’s run is merely good. Historically it has a lot of good in it and the acting is all fine, but you really have to have the patience to sit through a lot of the slower episodes. Still worth a watch though. 6/10.
Final Verdict: 47.2/100
So there you have it. My look at this Doctor. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Tune in next week for my take on the next Doctor on the list. Till next time.