Very Brief Doctor Who Reviews – Season One

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An Unearthly Child – The first episode is brilliant. Seriously, if Doctor Who was only just being invented now, it would still be a perfect opening episode. Unfortunately, it’s followed by three rather tedious episodes of grunting and capture/escape. I fully back the movement to have the episode 1 and episode 2-4 classified as two different serials. 5/10

The Daleks – Yes it’s the first Dalek serial, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not the greatest story Doctor Who ever produced. It’s about three episodes too long (episode 6, appropriately titled The Ordeal, is particularly painful), and the final battle is a bit anti-climactic. 6/10

The Edge of Destruction – Creepy and weird and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I love that the TARDIS’s solution to telling people a button is stuck is to leave them a bunch of cryptic clues and make them all want to kill each other. It marks an important turning point in the relationship between the humans and aliens on the ship. I like the spookiness, but the resolution is so disproportionate that it undercuts everything that’s gone before. 5/10

Marco Polo – Like too many early Doctor Who serials it has a bit of non-ending, where the Doctor and friends just leave without really resolving anything. The story as a whole meanders – appropriate, as it’s a 13th century road trip – but there’s enough going on in each individual episode to keep you interested for 25 minutes at a time. 7/10

The Keys of Marinus – For a story where ever episode has something different going on, I have very little to say about this one. The Doctor has his first opportunity to act as the hero he’ll later become when he defends Ian in his trial. Proof, perhaps, that Terry Nation was damn lucky with Raymond Cusick’s design work on the Daleks. 5/10

The Aztecs – Barbara Wright is hands down the best thing about the first season of Doctor Who, and this is her showcase episode. The Doctor and Ian also get quite substantial plotlines; even Susan, who is stuck on film for most of the story, has her own thread. Really well plotted, as the weight of cultural misunderstandings pile up until the TARDIS crew has no choice but to leave. Bonus points for the relationship between the Doctor and Cameca; the moment at the end when the Doctor decides at the last minute to keep the brooch shegave him is so sweet. 8/10

The Sensorites – Some of the dialogue is pretty clunky (“Are their hearts in the middle of their chests, like ours?”). The Sensorites are one of the few species where not all members of the same species think the same… too bad the writer didn’t make them really individual by, you know, giving them names. I don’t hate it as much as fan wisdom says I should, but equally I can’t say there’s anything particularly good about it. 5/10

The Reign of Terror – Maybe if you are interested in this period of history it would be more engaging, but I found this to be a pretty dull historical. The Doctor appears to be having fun playing dress-ups (that’s good), while his friends are in imminent threat of death (that’s bad). Nothing special. 4/10

Originally published 1 November, 2016
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