With Matt Smith Doctor Who on its first American style mid-season break, (we don’t usually get them in the UK) I have no decent Saturday night entertainment to write about.
It got me thinking about writing about some of the classic Who from years gone by. Which I intend to do shortly starting with some profiles of the previous 10 incarnations of the Doctor.
Now, Who fans are split into 2 categories : people who enjoy the new and old series and people who either haven’t ever checked them out or can’t bear to watch them now.
And lets be honest, some of them are hard watching. The average Tom Baker feature was usually split into 6 or 7 x 20 minute parts which would amount in most cases to a feature length movie. Indeed, this is where Who became famous for its many cliff hangers week on week, with the average 6-7 episodes being screened over a month or two. Now if the episodes were good one’s, like say Tom Baker’s “Pyramids of Mars” or Jon Pertwee’s “Time Warrior” the hour and a half would race by. But if the feature was a pants one like most of Sylvester McCoy’s, then they were pretty long, uncomfortable viewing.
Also the terrible special effects and less than convincing acting could spoil an otherwise enjoyable episode.
That said, what sets old Who apart is the extremely original writing which for the day was astounding and even now is considered contemporary.
Check out Tom Baker’s 1974 feature “The Ark In Space”, in this episode the Human race have gone into hibernation on an automated space station surrounding a dead earth, to survive. Problem is, a space insect race known as “the Wirrn” are wanting to lay eggs in the crew and munch their way through the whole lot. This was Alien, 5 years before Alien.
Additionally, the Tom Baker 1976 feature “The Deadly Assassin” whilst itself borrowing heavily from the Manchurian Candidate with a complicated plot involving assassination on Galifrey, featured a scene where the Doctor plugs himself into a digital world called, funnily enough “The Matrix” to fight an unseen nemesis!!
So if you haven’t took a plunge into old Who, then do it. I would recommend you start light with something enjoyable which spans across a number of Doctor incarnations and story spans; 1983′s “The Five Doctors”. An enjoyable romp featuring the first five doctors and all of their companions to date.
Youtube pretty much has all of the classic Who’s on.