Written by Anthony Coburn and C.E. Webber
Directed by Waris Hussein
An Unearthly Child
The Cave of Skulls
The Forest of Fear
Ian Chesterton, a science teacher, and Barbara Wright, a history teacher, are confused by one of their student’s behavior. They both agree that while young Susan Foreman is highly intelligent, she’s seems unaware by the knowledge of everyday occurrences. On a whim, Ian and Barbara decide to investigate Susan’s background. What they discover is something surprising, unearthly, and a chance to see the Universe.
Where do I even begin? The first adventure. The first companions. The first of everything.
This first installment of the series was fun to watch. So the sets weren’t the greatest and at times you can tell when someone has flubbed their lines. Despite these issues, I still thoroughly enjoyed these four installments because I decided that it was better to merely suspend belief and just accept the craziness. At the heart of these installments there lies genuine storytelling and an eagerness for adventure. And as any Doctor Who fan will tell you, adventure is why we return for each episode.
I can’t help but wonder how bad it really was for the Doctor before he began to travel; that he would isolate himself so completely that he forgot what it meant to connect with other individuals outside of his family. Of course that’s the problem with watching a program with hindsight. We know that the Doctor stole the TARDIS, or as the TARDIS later explains, she stole him. You can’t help but wonder about his past and his future within this first appearance. This is the first time he was presented to the world, but what happened before his time on Earth? Why was he so distrustful of Ian and Barbara in the beginning, when later interactions with companions seemed carefree in comparison. How long had it really been since he first began his travels with Susan in the TARDIS?
The characters of Ian and Barbara are fun to watch in that they are still incredibly human and willing to fight to stay alive. The chemistry between the two is tangible and it’s fun to watch their interactions. The difference between their interaction with the Doctor versus future companion interactions is that they were forced to travel with the Doctor. The modern series presents companionship as if it was an honor. This Doctor is so distrustful that he refuses to believe that Ian and Barbara couldn’t keep their interaction a secret. As future episodes will reveal, the relationship between the two teachers and the Doctor does morphs into genuine friendship but it’s only after surviving through brutal conditions does the foundation of their friendship is formed.
The later parts of this serial are a little darker than I expected in that the presentation of the past is quite violent. It doesn’t sugarcoat that in order to survive any struggle become an “every man for himself” scenario. It’s a dark world, even if you travel with an optimistic heart.
Due to a circuitry malfunction the TARDIS is now stuck as a Police Box. This could be the fault of Ian Chesterton, who pushed random buttons on the console in an attempt to escape.