William Hartnell, as The First Doctor, had the task of birthing The Doctor and the whole concept of Doctor Who. Who could imagine a story about an old police telephone box apparently rotting away in a junk yard would spawn a science fiction show spanning all of time and space, and with the staying power to reach a huge fan base around the world over 55 years later?
The fact that that's the case has a lot to say about William Hartnell and the other members of the initial TARDIS crew.
This is where the story began. A Time Lord already on the run and we, the viewer, are thrown without explanation into the strange world offered by the TARDIS. Press a few buttons and the whole of the universe is available outside the door.
The TARDIS crew was: The Doctor (William Hartnell), Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford), Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian Chesterton (William Russell)
What an auspicious beginning to a TV show which would become iconic. Did they know the show would last as long as it has?
An Unearthly Child is constructed as a very good starting point, introducing the people to The Doctor and his ways. The episode introduces us to the Cold Hill School and the junkyard in which the Doctor and Susan live. Schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright are concerned about Susan Foreman, who seems to have a very alien outlook on England. She is precocious but seems to have strange gaps in her understanding of the world. They have come to her listed address to investigate. Her listed address is this junkyard, which they simply cannot grasp. Then they meet this strange gruff old man who tries to get them to leave, but instead makes it look like some kind of pedophilia or homelessness situation.
Looking back at Doctor Who Unearthly Child with Mark Gatiss et al
In 2013 for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, this gathering happened at the British Film Institute to discuss and go over the early early days of Doctor Who. The special focus was on the first four episodes, starting with An Unearthly Child. With those episodes the mold for Doctor Who was set, that you step into this thing which looks like a police box, that's supposed to blend in with its surroundings, but is intent on remaining a police box, and allows travel to all of time and space.
It's fitting given the season finale which is upon us, to have watched the earliest of the Dalek appearances. This story was the second episode cluster of the first Doctor Who season way back in 1964, that's how long the Doctor and the Daleks have been fighting each other. In The Daleks the Doctor and companions accidentally land on this strange desert-like planet where the trees and flowers are made of stone and the lizards are made of metal. As their explorations lead them to meet the Thals and the Dals. These races had been fighting a long running war over centuries which left their planet a radioactive wasteland. The two groups chose different paths to survival, the Thals having forsaken war to take up gentler livelihood and the Dals encasing themselves in machines and taking on the word EXTERMINATE as their major vocabulary.
Doctor Who: The Edge of Desctruction (S01E03)
The Edge of Destruction is a confusing two-part story. Confusing because the characters are having memory lapses, inability to recognize each other, and none of it is explained until the end when the problem is worked out. Along the way the cast turns on each other in varying alliances. The argument between Barbara and the Doctor is very astonishing.
Doctor Who: Marco Polo (S01E004)
Marco Polo is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in 7 weekly parts from February 22 to April 4, 1964. Although audio tracks and still photographs of the story exist, none of the footage of this serial has survived. This is the first "pure historical" Doctor Who story, in that there are no science fictional elements other than the fact that the Doctor and his companions have travelled to the past. I watched the Loose Cannon reconstruction of this story and it's a great loss that the original footage has been lost. It's clear from the still pictures used by Loose Cannon that the sets and costumes were very well done, and that this story must have been a great spectacle.
Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus (S01E005)
The Doctor and companions land on an island with a pyramid shaped tower. I saw that tower and thought Atlantis but the story had nothing to do with Atlantis, so much for that. In any case they immediately fall into intrigue and a planet full of mysterious peoples. The tower contained a remnant of the technological development of the people of that planet, it contained a machine that broadcast a signal which made everybody agreeable and peaceful. But some were not affected by the machine and there had been a war etc. The machine was operated by five keys, and the keys had been scattered for safekeeping. The Doctor and Companions then are sent on a quest to travel across the planet and recover all the keys.
Doctor Who: The Aztecs (S01E006)
The TARDIS lands in a tomb which the Doctor and Companions quickly determine is in the Aztec Empire during the 1400's. This is the height of the Aztec empire, and Barbara is accidentally identified as the reincarnation of one of their Gods. The Companions are unable to return into the tomb to escape in the TARDIS and thus ensues an adventure through a slice of Aztec culture as the Doctor and Companions attempt to work out how to get back into the tomb so they can escape in the TARDIS.
Doctor Who: The Sensorites (S01E007)
A very confusing and intricately plotted series which ends up in a very interesting place. The Doctor and Companions find themselves on a spaceship where the inhabitants appear to be dead. They're about to say "whatever" and leave when it appears maybe they aren't dead. They're able to resuscitate the inhabitants and embark on this strange journey.
Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror (S01E008)
This was a very difficult series to watch, because of the horrendous conditions the Doctor and companions endured. They find themselves landed in the French countryside and it's nice and idyllic until they start meeting people. A young boy acts very badly towards them, and shortly after they come into a farmhouse that's infested with spies who use this place as a safehouse, and shortly after that a French Army unit arrive to arrest the spies. It turns out they have landed during the French Revolution during the time of Robespierre, the chief orchestrator of government during the Reign of Terror.
Doctor Who Season 2
It was in season 2 where Doctor Who started to take on one of its key elements: Change. Not only does the setting vary from week to week, because of the TARDIS, the cast of characters can change. This constant change means Doctor Who can remain fresh and renew itself.
At the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth Carole Ann Ford decided it was time for her to leave. The writers engineered a romance between Susan and someone they met on Earth. By the next episode, Susan was replaced by Vicki, the lone survivor of an ill-fated mission to a far off planet. Likewise, at the end of The Chase both Jacqueline Hill and William Russell had decided it was time for them to leave, and the writers found them a Dalek time-traveling space craft they could take to London.
Due to a glitch the Doctor and Companions end up small. Very small. As in, smaller than the typical insect. But they don't realize this at first, as they are wandering through a landscape of strangely large but familiar looking objects. Such as a box of matches the size of a car. After awhile they realize they aren't trapped in an oddball amusement park, but instead they have been shrunk and the problem for them is how to return to "normal" size.
To make matters interesting the place they land was the home laboratory of a chemist working on a very potent insecticide. One which is especially dangerous to the humans in their extremely tiny size, as Barbara learns when she touches some of the insecticide.
Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth (S02E010)
This is the second appearance of the Daleks, and it's shocking to the Doctor and companions to see the Daleks away from Skaros and especially to see the Daleks had survived their previous encounter. The Doctor and Companions land in London along the Thames, which they recognize, but they also recognize it's eerily quiet. Too quiet. Something is wrong as they slowly discover strange clues such as a sign prohibiting throwing dead bodies in the river. They eventually find a calendar saying it is 2164.
Doctor Who: The Rescue (S02E011)
The Doctor an Companions, in need of a new young lady to be the Doctor's friend, land on the planet Dido. It seems the Doctor has been to Dido before and expected to find friendly and peaceful people. Except what they find instead is a crash-landed space-craft and a local who is anything but friendly or peaceful.
Doctor Who: The Romans (S02E012)
We join the Doctor and companions in Ancient Roman times, chilling in a "borrowed" villa in the countryside. They're enjoying a well earned rest when the Doctor gets bored and wants to see Rome. He takes with him his new friend, Vicki, to come and see Rome as well. That leaves Ian and Barbara at the villa supposedly party poopers who aren't into seeing the sights and painting the town red or some such.
Doctor Who Video Snippets: The Romans (S02E012)
In The Romans, we see The Doctor and Vicki go to ancient Rome, supposedly leaving Ian and Barbara alone in a villa they found unoccupied. But, Ian and Barbara were captured by slavers and ended up in Rome as well, as slaves. In the meantime The Doctor takes the place of a gentleman who was intent on killing Ceasar Nero, and various ensuing odd occurrences occur. One of which is The Doctor giving Nero the idea to burn Rome so he can implement his grand vision to redesign Rome.
Doctor Who: The Web Planet (S02E013)
Upon leaving Ancient Rome the TARDIS is mysteriously pulled off course and onto the planet Vortis. The story was pretty confusing to me. The Doctor and Ian explore the planets surface, finding a barren landscape, craggy rocks, pools of acid, etc. The planet is occupied by two species that look like giant bugs, the Zarbi are enormous ants, while the Menoptra are enormous bees. "Enormous" means people-sized. What was confusing was the relationship between these races and their motivations.
Doctor Who: The Space Museum (S02E015)
The Doctor and Companions arrive at a strange place, a seemingly deserted building full of artifacts. They had a mishap during landing which lead to their being disjoint from time. In the building they eventually see people but the people cannot see them. Curious as to what's going on they explore further, and then find a room containing the TARDIS and they're shocked to see themselves on display. The realization comes, they're seeing their own future and the question comes, how do they avoid this future? Is the future predetermined and there is no way to avoid it? Or are they able to, having been informed of the future, take steps to avoid the future? Or are any steps they take part of the predetermined steps which will take them to their future even as they take those steps to avoid the future they already know about?
Doctor Who: The Chase (S02E016)
The Doctor and Companions had, in the previous episode, acquired a gizmo. A Time-Space Visualizer. This was one of the prizes in the space museum, and at the end of that series they showed the natives of that planet destroying all the gizmos in the museum. The Doctor said, uh, wait a minute, would you mind if I take that gizmo with me? The Time-Space Visualiser is a television-like thingymajob which can pick up on any event in the whole of time and space.
Doctor Who: The Time Meddler (S02E017)
Okay, so who's the new companion? Turns out the guy they met last episode managed to sneak aboard and he's now their new companion. He's a little green, however, but is probably gonna learn himself a thing or two about dodging space monsters. In any case they arrive somewhere on the beach at the base of some tall cliffs. Unsure when/where they've arrived they go exploring and eventually learn they're in Northumbria in 1066 just before the Battle of Hastings. Coincidentally they've landed at the place where the Vikings led by Harold Hardrada were to invade, and due to the Viking invasion King Harold Godwinson of England had to divert the troops to fight the Vikings and then when William the Conqueror invaded the army was worn out from already fighting one foe.
Doctor Who Season 3
By this season, the schedule was beginning to take a toll on William Hartnell. And there was plenty of change in the cast as well.
Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) who joined in The Rescue left in The Myth Makers. Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) stayed until the end of The Savages. Sara Kingdom (Jean Marsh), who would have made an excellent long-term companion, lasted only through The Daleks Master Plan. Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane), who brought a young persons perspective, lasted only a few stories, starting with The Ark. Then for The War Machines, there was a transition from Steven and Dodo to Ben Jackson (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills). Ben and Polly would last until Season 4, and handle the first Regeneration christening The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton).
Doctor Who: The Myth Makers (S02E020)
How did the Greeks get the idea to build a giant horse and use it to sneak their troops inside Troy? Why, the Doctor told 'em, that's how they got the idea. Uuuuuhh... It's got to be boring to be laying seige to a city for 10 years. Ten years!! Sheesh, some people just can't let go of a grudge, can they?
Doctor Who: The Daleks Master Plan (S03E021)
A very long story, spanning 12 episodes, it is an extensive delving into the ultimate goal held by the Daleks. Namely the EXTERMINATION of everything which is non-Dalek. A prequel was shown, "Mission to the Unknown", which didn't even show The Doctor at all. Instead it showed a group of military men on a mission to a jungle-filled place where some of the plants had a special poison which converted people into more instances of those plants. A very rugged and dangerous place full of death and Daleks, but no time travelers. In the Master Plan we see there is an empire of several intergalactic races of beings. It's a little confusing because Mavic Chen is said to be the Guardian of the Solar System but at the same time that role places him in leadership over the whole conglomeration of intergalactic cultures. Either they mean something else by 'Solar System' or, well, I'm just confused.
Doctor Who: The Massacre of St Bartholomews Eve (S03E022)
A very confusing story this one is. Following their battle with the Daleks the Doctor and the sole Companion, Steven, land in medieval Paris. Yes, Paris again, fortunately it's not the horrors of the Revolution. Once they determine the era the Doctor sets off on a mysterious errand having to do with meeting a scientist and to deliver some papers. He leaves Steven to his own ends, and of course Steven gets involved with High Intrigue of the highest levels.
Doctor Who: The Ark (S03E23)
This series establishes a continuity point which is violated by the modern Doctor Who episodes. But, okay, a violation of continuity? What else is new? The question of this series is what happens with a society where one part is downtrodden and dominated by another part, and then the tables turn and the formerly downtrodden are now in charge? The story involves a generation ship, that is a space ship that's built for a multi-hundred-year journey. There is a crew of people manning the equipment and watching over the ship, and there are millions of earthlings in cold storage. They're on a 700 year journey to a new homeworld and along the way they'd met the Monoids, a race of mute humanoids, which the humans forced into a servant relationship with the humans.
The Toymaker is an immortal jokester and game master. He inhabits a world of his own making, in which he traps people, makes them play games where the losers become his prisoners. Into this snare fall the Doctor and Companions. They play a series of stupid games. They win but the toymaker has a final move which is set to destroy them if they make the move. But they manage to trick him and escape without being destroyed.
Doctor Who: The Gunfighters (S03E025)
In another historical story the Doctor and Companions land in Tombstone Arizona a couple days before the infamous
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Sigh. So that gunfight has been portrayed in other fictional works so why not here as well. What happens? First the Doctor has a toothache because the goofy toymaker from the previous episodes had given him some candy which made a toothache. Who does he see in Tombstone? Why, Doc Holliday, that's who. The lot of them immediately fall into the middle of a feud between the Clantons, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and a couple others. The Clantons have a score to settle with Holliday, y'see.
Doctor Who: The Savages (S03E026)
The Doctor and Companions arrive on a strange planet, the Doctor is certain they have arrived in the "distant future" but Steven isn't so sure as there are signs it is the Iron age or something. The Doctor goes out exploring leaving Steven and Dodo behind, they encounter some savages who attack them with spears while the Doctor meets some soldiers from a city. They all eventually come to the city and find a civilization of high advancement, scientifically minded, highly advanced artists, etc. It is a beautiful place where they are welcome to stay. Except that Dodo feels something isn't right, she slips away and finds a laboratory in which the life force of people are sucked out of them. It turns out this civilization's high achievements are at the cost of stealing life force energy from the "savages". The supposedly highly advanced people regard these others, the "savages", as nothings, and by regarding them as nothing they then treat these "savages" without regard for humanity or concern for their wellbeing.
Doctor Who: The War Machines (S03E027)
Goodbye Dodo, welcome Polly & Ben. The Doctor and Dodo land in London near the Post Office Tower. The Doctor senses something is amiss with the tower and goes to investigate. Somehow we are next in the central control room for what would have to be a highly top secret installation, at the top of the tower, and somehow the Doctor is being led into the room. Through a series of events we learn of a computer, WOTAN (Will Operating Thought ANalogue), which is said to be the ultimate in machine intelligence and is intended to become the hub of a network of computers which will make all decisions for mankind. Except WOTAN has a plan of its own, to wipe out humanity because humanity gets in the way of the superiority of the machines. WOTAN has hypnotic powers and uses them to enslave groups of humans who are ordered to build War Machines. Coincidentally the machines have a gun that looks a lot like a DALEK gun. Maybe their special effects budget didn't have money to pay for design of a different gun.
In The War Machines, The Doctor encounters scientists developing an artificial intelligence computer which is planning to take over the world. The computer has been hypnotizing folks and ordering them to build robots (the war machines) that are meant to rampage around London and take over the city. These videos show different points in this episode.
Doctor Who Season 4
This season was split between William Hartnell who played the first two stories, and Patrick Troughton who took over as The Second Doctor. Read on at: The Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton
The TARDIS crew was The Doctor (William Hartnell), Ben Jackson (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills)
Doctor Who: The Smugglers (S04E028)
The Doctor starts to leave with the TARDIS, all alone, because Dodo sent a message that she wished to stay in London. Except, Ben and Polly have accidentally boarded the TARDIS just before dematerialization. Once he sees them he's knowing that they're stuck with him for awhile, but of course they're obstinate that they're in 1966 London and that Ben has to get to his ship, etc. Then the ship lands somewhere and, despite now being on a beach, still thinking they're in 1966 they start heading towards the church they see in the distance. And thus ensues an Adventure in the past.
Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet (S04E029)
Woah.. the first appearance of the Cybermen, and the first regeneration. And a real tense story to boot. The Doctor and Companions land on a new planet, which the Doctor declares to be the "Coldest Place on the Planet". It is 1986, and they are at the South Pole near 'Snowcap Base' which appears to have been a rocket base that sends up missions to study the weather. It's presented as a stereotypical military base, with a small contingent of stir crazy men, with no females in site anywhere. Shortly after their arrival a "new planet" shows up in their instruments, they're able to see pictures of the planet and it has land masses recognizably the same as Earths. Except the land masses are pictured as being upside down. The Doctor recognizes the place and declares this is the planet
Mondas, and that they are about to have visitors. Apparently he knows all about the Cybermen and their planet.