I started this re-watching malarkey long before I decided to commit my ramblings to blog (I’ve actually been watching an episode per week – minus the summer break – since the first one on its 50th anniversary on 23 November 2013). So without wanting to start all over again Patrick Troughton’s debut seems like a good place to jump on. And how thoughtful of BBC Worldwide to time their release of the animated version of Power Of The Daleks for the exact day I planned to ‘experience’ it. Marvellous.
What struck me about The Tenth Planet was that there was little, if any publicity surrounding the last episode and the “renewal”. At a time when most people wouldn’t have been aware how many episodes comprised a story I presume that Hartnell’s last scene must have come as a surprise to many, even for those who knew he was leaving.
So it’s a funny one to start with in some ways as being a widescreen animated version, I’m not quite viewing it through ‘sixties eyes’ in the same way as everything so far.
I must say that although three years doesn’t sound very long, it does feel like a very long time since An Unearthly Child. The last year has seen some very experimental episodes, with the series dabbling in outright fantasy (The Celestial Toyroom), a western (The Gunfighters), ‘serious’ sci-fi and political allegory (The Savages), and latterly the future/modern War Machines and Tenth Planet. So from my 21st century perspective, that’s the blueprint for most of Doctor Who, all set out during the Hartnell era. All we need now is a tad more humour and an occasional base under siege…
It’s great to have a bit more mystery surrounding the Doctor.At the end of the previous episode the Doctor headed back to the TARDIS ahead of Ben and Polly. By the time they arrive back inside, the Doctor is already unconscious, so it seems feasible that an imposter could have attacked the Doctor and taken over his body. We’ve seen that sort of thing before after all. I enjoyed all this ambiguity over his true identity.
But of course the Doctor has been ‘renewed’ and the series is starting to look very familiar now. This feels like Doctor Who as I know it. This is the first episode that has made me laugh out loud for a start. I loved the Doctor’s cheeky ‘talking’ with the recorder, and the exchange between him and Hensell regarding his identity (Doctor: “I’m the examiner”; Hensell: “Why are you here?”; Doctor: “To examine”). I really enjoyed this new version of our hero. I’ve seen Patrick Troughton in a few other things recently, including a couple of episodes of The Saint (one where he had a Mexican accent, and the other Italian), and he seems very different here in Doctor Who. From what I’ve seen I think he is going to be brilliant.
Great use of Tristram Carey’s Dalek city music from their debut story too…whether intentional or not it’s a brilliant way of signposting what’s lurking in the capsule…