Doctor Who Project: 100,000 BC/An Unearthly Child

It’s still a police box! Why hasn’t it changed? Dear, dear, how very disturbing!

Having voraciously devoured the first three seasons of the new Doctor Who series, and with the fourth season still to come this spring on the BBC, I’ve decided to set my own time machine back to the beginning of all things Whovian and start watching the series from the start in November, 1963. Well, I’m not literally going back to 1963, but you never know when you hang out with the Doctor.

We begin with William Hartnell and the first story of Doctor Who, “100,000 BC.”

Shadow approaching the TARDIS at end of Episode 1, An Unearthly Child

I’ve seen the majority of Doctor Who stories, having lucked into the beginning of the cycle on Maryland Public Television in the mid-1990’s, so for most stories, I’ll be re-watching them, looking at them with a knowledge of what is to come in the series. My boon companion for this perhaps overly-grand project will be David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker’s Doctor Who: The Television Companion, an exhaustive story guide with critical commentary from the authors and from various Doctor Who fanzines.

“100,000 BC” (Story Production Code A, also known as “An Unearthly Child” owing to the first episode of the story) kicks off the central conceit of the series, The Doctor and his companion(s) arriving at an unknown destination.

This time, the First Doctor (though the notion of his regenerative powers were still a few seasons in the future), his granddaughter (!) Susan, and her teachers, Ian and Barbara, hurtle through time and possibly space to a prehistoric setting. A petulant Doctor wishes to teach Ian and Barbara a lesson in humility, because they had the audacity to suggest he couldn’t travel in time. The Doctor has no clue where or when they are, since the TARDIS is busted, and he needs to take a Geiger counter along to calibrate his time sensor as they hop out of the TARDIS into a studio set covered in sand. And then…

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