Archive: Doctor Who Part One-A curiosity in a Junkyard

Doctor Who Part One-A curiosity in a Junkyard
Doctor Who is a series that’s emerged from becoming a long-lived cult British series with semi-obscurity in the United States, to a major cultural phenomenon. In the last decade, it’s revival has gained thousands of new fans. It’s got a simple, but flexible, premise-it’s basically the adventures of an eccentric alien from a race of time travellers-“The Time Lords”, who can go pretty much everywhere in a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space) time/space machine-which, on the outside, resembles a 10 foot tall, narrow blue police box (a now outdated police-use phone booth in the UK) but inside, is a giant spaceship (controlled from the first room, the “Console room”, which has a mushroom-shaped control panel). This Time Lord is known as The Doctor (An alias-his real name has never been revealed-hence the title). For reasons that are somewhat vague, the Doctor left his home planet, Gallifrey and became a traveller and eventual hero (Despite their knowledge and power, most Time Lords just observe the universe and don’t meddle, something that often leaves him at odds with his people). He also has the ability to change his body into another persona whenever near death, a process called regeneration, which also alters several elements of the Doctor’s personality (Although his heroic nature, intelligence and wit is pretty much a constant)

 

The series began in 1963, with William Hartnell, who initially played the Doctor as an elderly man, a bit cantankerous, strict and at times sinister and manipulative but also capable of surprising tenderness (especially towards his granddaughter), and a mischievous sense of humor. At this point in time, the Doctor had recently left Gallifrey, and had gotten stuck in 1963 Earth, along with his companion, Granddaughter Susan (Susan’s exact nature, or if she really is his genetic granddaughter, is never really fully explained in the series. Most fans do presume she is a time lord/lady, at least). He hid the TARDIS in a junkyard, where it assumed the shape of a battered police box (using the Tardis’s abilities to ‘blend in’ with the surroundings.), and sent Susan to the nearest school. However, Susan’s advanced knowledge, failure to blend in, and just general odd behavior arouse the suspicions of two schoolteachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbera Wright. They followed Susan home one day, to the junkyard and the mysterious police box…

“Shut the door, Susan.”
….Where they met the Doctor, and marveled in disbelief as they entered the massive ship. The Doctor’s not too pleased-not only at their disbelief, but is also fearful they’ll alert the authorities to the existence of his ship and alien nature. He locks the teachers in, and sets the TARDIS to take off.
It lands in 10,000 BC. Ian and Barbera remain in a state of shock and disbelief, and the Doctor discovers that his ship’s disguise is permanently jammed in the police box shape. Exiting the TARDIS, they get involved in a caper involving cavemen and fire. Eventually, Ian and Barbera sort of resign themselves to the fact that they’re stuck with the Doctor and his malfunctioning time machine, until he can properly get them back to 1963 (The TARDIS has a tendency to not be accurate with it’s time travel, in addition to the disguise problems).

Their next adventure takes them to the planet Skaro- a radioactive wasteland with petrified forests, deserts, and mutant creatures run amok, the scars of a long-ago nuclear war. Despite this, two intelligent races now share the planet. One are the Thals, who have developed strong, resistant bodies and are generally peaceful. The other race however, has devolved into squid-like creatures, who roam around in armed battle tanks, and talk through a grating filter. They are the Daleks, and they will become the Doctor’s greatest enemies.

 

Barbera menaced by the first Dalek.

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