In 1963 a phenomenon was born. I didn’t exist at the time, but I have still seen the effects of it. Doctor Who began as an idea for an educational science fiction program. It has grown into one of the longest lasting television series of all times with almost 800 episodes (exactly 784 if Wikipedia is to be believed). That’s 26 seasons from 1963 to 1989 and another 6 starting in 2005 when the series was revived and a 7th premiering this month. I’ve read that the effect this show has had on television in Great Britain amounts to having revived the idea of a television show that the whole family can watch. There’s something for everyone.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick run-down of the show. The show is about the adventures through space and time of a Time Lord, an alien race that’s basically human except not at all, called the Doctor in a spaceship that’s bigger on the inside called the Tardis. He is a genius and manages to save the world, whether alien or human or both, from grave peril. When he himself is on the verge of death, he can regenerate, a biological action unique to his species that changes his body and his personality while still remaining fundamentally the same person. In reality, this is just a clever excuse to allow the character to be played by 11 different actors so far (I’m not counting the technicalities and the instances of questionable canonicity). The Doctor almost always travels with human companions who serve various purposes in the series. So far, from the six seasons I have seen, their most common purpose is to humanize the Doctor and perhaps as people that the audience can relate to. I for one cannot quite relate to a 900 year old space-time traveling eccentric genius with two hearts.
So here’s my challenge to myself, I will watch the entirety of classic Doctor Who. I let the record stand here in writing; I probably have no idea of the full extent of what I’m getting into. I don’t know how long it will take me. But I plan to accomplish this task to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, some episodes are missing, but more on that later. The old series is in a serial format, with several episodes making up a single story; whereas the revival is in an episodic format with most episodes a single, contained story with the occasional two-parter. Therefore, my quest begins with the very first Doctor, William Hartnell, with the very first serial, An Unearthly Child.