View Poll Results: How would you are An Unearthly Child?

Voters
16. You may not vote on this poll
  • 10: It can move anywhere in time and space?

    1 6.25%
  • 9: Fear makes companions of us all

    2 12.50%
  • 8: One man is not bigger than the whole tribe

    7 43.75%
  • 7: It's reading normal, Grandfather

    4 25.00%
  • 6: No Grandfather, no!

    1 6.25%
  • 5: It doesn't roll along on wheels you know

    0 0%
  • 4: Za will not make fire.

    1 6.25%
  • 3: What are you doing out there?

    0 0%
  • 2: Doctor who? What's he talking about?

    0 0%
  • 1: Make fire!

    0 0%
Results 1 to 23 of 23
  1. #1
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    Default Rate and Discuss: An Unearthly Child



    A mysterious child who's got her two teachers intrigued. A strange Police Box in a junkyard that hums. An eccentric old man who is more than he seems. A seemingly harmless bout of curiousity takes Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright into a frightening trip to the dawn of humanity and the quest for fire.

    Yes, we're back at the very start of Doctor Who. What do you think of the very first adventure?

  2. #2
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    I watched it again quite recently and was surprised at how good the cave sequences were. I remembered them being dull and repetitive but there is a lot in them and they're actually very effective. Rather than being a letdown after the incredible opening episode, they take that episode and show us that everything that was said in it is true. The characterisation is excellent, the world we find ourselves in is believable and you can feel the gritty desperation as our heroes try to escape this impossible situation.

    But three episodes was definitely enough.
    Dennis, Francois, Melba and Smasher are competing to see who can wine and dine Lola Whitecastle and win the contract to write her memoirs. Can Dennis learn how to be charming? Can Francois concentrate on anything else when food is on the table? Will Smasher keep his temper under control?

    If only the 28th century didn't keep popping up to get in Dennis's way...

    #dammitbrent



    The eleventh annual Brenty Four serial is another Planet Skaro exclusive. A new episode each day until Christmas in the Brenty Four-um.

  3. #3
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    I used to love the opening episode and then give up, but the last time I tried (a few years ago) I too enjoyed the whole story, probably for the first time ever.

    I've lent this to my cousin's son who's 13, I told him he may find it a bit slow but he still seemed interested. I wonder what he'll think?

  4. #4
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    When Whitney & I watched this earlier this year, I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed the latter three episodes of this story.

    Everyone bangs on and on about how wonderful the first episode is. I don't think anyone can dispute that, but I feel that the rest of the story gets somewhat lost because of it.

    I believe that the whole saga with the cavemen is actually the b-plot of this. What we see is four people learning to trust each other and to work together. We see The Doctor, about to bash in a caveman's brain with a rock get a lesson in humanity from Ian. The two aliens learn compassion from the two humans.

    While they may not completely trust each other by the end of this story, this is the beginning of a character arc that will culminate in The Edge of Destruction.

    That is why I love this story. 8/10

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  5. #5
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    I'd love to talk about this story in-depth, but my essay in You and Who is all about An Unearthly Child, so you'll have to wait until then!

  6. #6
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    I will say one thing, though (that I don't mention in Y&W): the opening episode and the three that follow are two 'different' adventures really, and I'll always consider them to be An Unearthly Child and the three-part The Tribe of Gum.

    That's what being a big fan of In-Vision magazine does for you...

  7. #7
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    It can't just be coincidence that today, November 2nd, marks the 30th anniversary of the repeat series, The Five Faces Of Dr. Who, of which An Unearthly Child formed part of.
    It was my first experience of this serial and I thought it was just amazing, a terrific piece of television history, and it was great that they decided to show this.
    My initial thoughts were of how different the main characters were to how I remembered them, I actually started watching in 1964 when the series started its 2nd year, by which time the characters had settled down and had got to know each others quirks. In An Unearthly Child, the characters, particularly The Doctor, were more abrasive and abrupt with each other, it would take a while for them to get used to travelling together, but what a journey it would prove to be.

  8. #8
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    Oh my gosh, imagine the outcry if the BBC trashed this very first story

    I gave it a 9. Like many others, I enjoyed Eps 2-4 more this time than when I first watched it. However, there was no way it could have lived up to the utterly brilliant first episode. The Doctor seems to be very much a secondary character in Ep 1 as we see everything through the eyes of Ian & Barbara.

    I can only imagine what it must have been like watching this episode when it was first transmitted. Admittedly there were other things happening in the world at the time

  9. #9
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    I've always loved the caveman episodes, right from 1981. Actually, just thinking about it now, I'm surprised I do actually - what appeals to me about them is partly how gritty and grim and 'real' it is. The cliffhanger at the end of part 2 (the skulls) is full of despair, the 'regulars' sweat and look a mess and Barbara has some moments of hysteria, etc, etc. My taste in Who is usually a bit lighter than that, but I really enjoy the caveman stuff.

    The first episode, of course, is superb, although I feel I may have watched it too often - it's hard to watch sometimes without anticipating this line of dialogue, or that shot, etc. But nevertheless, it's such a striking and imaginative bit of TV - and yes, it's hard to imagine how different and compelling it was back in 1963.

  10. #10
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    I'm delighted to see the love for the cavemen episodes here because I've always thought they're rather cruelly overlooked by fandom in general. There's something so delightfully dirty about them- not in the rude sense, just in the sense that the travellers get filthy. It feels more real than any of their other travels somehow- they come out of it exhausted and messy after really fighting just to stay alive. As Andrew just said far more eloquently than I have.

    There's that moment where Barbara breaks down in fearful tears that is achingly real. Coming at Doctor Who from later on where everyone loves adventuring it's rather shocking. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the series. The stakes may not be universal domination or the end of everything, but it feels worse than any of those big stories somehow.
    And the Doctor is no help! What a shock! he's selfish, horrible, stubborn and rude. Not the figure you want to travel with, just someone Ian and Barbara are stuck with. It's very difficult to side with him though Hartnell is compelling throughout. This story is very probably his finest work on the show ever- he's magnificent throughout, creating a complex and wonderful character.

    "Fear makes companions of us all Miss Wright." Absolutely true and the definitive quote of the story for me. What it's all about- they're learning about themselves as individuals and as a team thrown together in the worst of circumstances.

    The first episode is of course truly wonderful. A magnificent piece of television. We were so lucky to get such a strong start.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Morgan View Post
    It can't just be coincidence that today, November 2nd, marks the 30th anniversary of the repeat series, The Five Faces Of Dr. Who, of which An Unearthly Child formed part of.
    It was my first experience of this serial and I thought it was just amazing, a terrific piece of television history, and it was great that they decided to show this.
    Oh it isn't! I plan these things carefully, honest! See here for more Five Faces fun http://www.planetskaro.org.uk/forums...ead.php?t=6842

  12. #12
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    To turn things on its head, as everyone has gone on about how underrated the final 3 episodes are, the first episode is just the most perfect half an hour of television I've ever seen.

    I adore it. I adore the way the first person in Doctor Who is.... ME! The viewer. The camera tracks our progress as we walk through a dark junkyard, and the fuzzy black and white video camera somehow makes it seem all the more cold and, yes, frightening. Who's swinging open the doors? It has to be me. And the theme music is STILL GOING! Why? And then, there it is, the TARDIS, what else could we see first. There is no musical or directorial indication that it is strange, or different, to borrow from later, it has no call to be there, so the strangeness lies in the fact that it is there. Big and strange and lovely and odd and it HUMS! Why is it humming?

    And then we're off back to the relative comfort and brightness of a school. I think because we know there was a pilot, and because this was shot virtually as live (I find it weird to imagine that when Ian and Barbara "remember", Carole Ann-Ford is on the next set acting out all the flashbacks! But she was!) I get wonderful "first night nerves" when watching this episodes. I can imagine them calling action, and everyone nervously getting through their lines, like a play. It's exciting. It seems to have a frission to me. And it all has the thrill of the start of an adventure, the beginning of something so incredible that 50 years later I'm sitting at work in a high tech office (well, we don't have running water but that's an organisational failing) talking about it. And this is an episode rich in ideas; it has them to spare! We have the strange girl, the teachers, the police box in the junkward, THAT music... and then crash, they're in the TARDIS and it's an enormous spaceship with a bonkers control room! I love the fact that shrill hum fills my head! And off they go, off to who knows where. The departure of the TARDIS from Totters Lane reflects the start of Ian and Barbara's adventures with the start of all our journeys, the very beginning of Doctor Who, a legend. And I love that funky dance Ian does as he is shaken around the ship.

    Looking back, this episode is like a moment in time, trapped in amber. It's gone now, all of it, bar a couple of very old people who are still out there somewhere. But once, some very talented and imaginative people went into a small TV Studio and imagined a limitless adventure, and four characters began for us a journey which will surely never end. God bless them.

    Si.

  13. #13
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    wonderful, Si!
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  14. #14
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    What a gloriously brilliant post Si! It's one of those things- I find it extraordinarily difficult to talk about the first episode because it feels like it's all been said, that we all know it's wonderful. It's great to see something that says "Why" it's such an extraordinary piece of Doctor Who.

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  15. #15
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    Absolutely.

  16. #16

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    I haven't voted yet, but Si has not only just said what I wanted to say, but opened my eyes to something I'd never thought of before!
    Great post!

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    Agreed, Excellent post there Si, I think it just about sums up what we all think about the first story.

  18. #18
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    The first episode is one of the most magical pieces of television I've ever seen - wonder, mystery, mind-wobbling concepts - followed by three episodes that I've never been able to drum up any enthusiasm for whatsoever. Just a lot of to-ing and fro-ing through a jungle and in and out of caves.

    4/10


  19. #19
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    Some excellent posts so far. When I was younger I used to think of this as one episode followed by a three episode story, but looking at it now it isn't at all. The events of the three episodes that follow the pilot are perfectly in tune with the conceptual setup of the first.

    Ian and Barbara, modern humans, find themselves in a totally alien situation they have trouble understanding. Not only do they find themselves out of their depth, from their point of view the Doctor is a patronising old man, dismissive, treating them as children, constantly telling them they don't understand. They can't believe that anyone could be that way, and they can't understand his point of view at all.

    Then they find themselves transported to a distant time surrounded by primitive humans who not only would never understand the things they have taken for granted, but don't even understand basic things like friendship and compassion. Hur likens Barbara's compassion for the injured Za to a mother with a baby, but simply cannot comprehend why an adult should show such compassion to another adult. Ian is left wondering how to explain it to them, perhaps getting a gimmer of understanding of the Doctor's frustration when he couldn't understand the TARDIS earlier. It's not laboured on-screen, but the events of those three episodes help Ian and Barbara understand the Doctor a little more.

    There are some other interesting elements to it as well. For all the talk of women as property and Horg 'giving' Hur to the leader, just look at Hur and notice how often she shows higher intelligence than the men around her. While Za and Kal are posturing, it is she who makes the practical suggestion of letting them see the Doctor make fire as Kal has said. When Horg is uncertain what to do with her, it is she who convinces him that if he gives her to Za, Za will remember and always give Horg meat. When the Old Woman sneaks into the cave, she does not stop her herself but wakes Za so that he can do it and be seen to be the good leader he wants to be. And at the end, when Horg is shouting that Za has set the strangers free, it is she who reminds him that Za left guards on the other entrance to the cave. (Sadly she does revert to being stupid for a moment when she fails to understand 'Kal is not stronger than the whole tribe' and has to have Za explain it to her.)

    The Doctor can be harsh but shows all the signs of being the character we all came to love, helping Barbara cope with her fear in the cave, and immediately acting to save Ian: 'If he dies, there will be no fire!' Watching him trick Kal into giving himself away is a joy as well.

    Ian and Barbara are given plenty in this one too. Watch how they switch roles, from Barbara's insistence that everything is a game that Susan is playing and Ian wanting to understand what is happening to Ian's incredulity and Barbara's acceptance of the situation once they land. And Barbara's hysterical outburst has already been mentioned. It is indeed unusual, and not what we would expect to see. The most unusual thing about it is not that it happens in the first place: we see plenty more companions getting hysterical in later years for various reasons. No, what sets this apart is what triggers it. It's not a man threatening to kill her. It's not a hideous alien suddenly appearing. No, it's when she trips and falls on the corpse of an animal. It's a moment when what has happened to her up to then suddenly becomes too much, and something comparatively trivial compared to what she's already been through is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

    To be brutally honest, rarely would Doctor Who handle characters this well and believably over the next half-century.

  20. #20
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    watched this the other day and quite honestly I can't add any more than what's all ready been said and I agree that the episodes in the cave are every bit as good as episode 1 the BBC have quite rightly been heavily critisized for the junking of so many episodes but thank god they kept this one.

  21. #21

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    An Unearthly Child is a good story to kick off the phenomena that is Doctor Who. The first episode is very mysterious what with teachers Ian and Barbara trying to find out about their pupil Susan Foreman and stumbling upon her and her grandfather’s secret. However, the remaining three episodes are not as good due to the travellers being trapped in a cave for most of the time.

    My Grandad saw the first episode on its original broadcast. An important piece of Doctor Who history. 7/10

  22. #22

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    A little question I've sometimes pondered upon while watching episode 1, or the pilot episode...

    During those classroom flashback sequences, it was obviously done POV because it was recorded live and Ian and Babs were on the other set sat in a car so couldn't be in the classrooms with Susan, but what about their voices? Were they done live by the actors sat in the car on the other set, or were they pre-recorded and played in? It seems like they must have been pre-recorded because in either the pilot or the televised version (forget which) you can hear "live Ian" in the car being faded out whilst he's still talking. But on the other hand, if it was played in from a recording, then it must have been fed directly to the tape as it sounds clear and not like it's coming from a speaker in the studio, so does that mean Carole Ann Ford couldn't hear the lines she was acting along with? Which might explain why she was so slow in standing up and "interrupting" with her "of course, the decimal system hasn't started yet" line.

    Hmm.

  23. #23
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    I can't answer that question Zbigniev, but it's always been my understanding that the actors could hear whatever was on tape that was being fed live into the studio - so the voice-overs might very well have been on tape. I've always understood it that the actors could hear the incidental music, for instance, which was recorded onto the VT live in the studio alongside them, although I could be wrong.

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