So, you’ve met, and fallen for, the most recent regeneration of our favorite rogue Time Lord. You’ve seen his impossible time machine, psychic paper, and sonic screwdriver. You’ve met his latest partner in crime, his daughter, and the girl in the fireplace. You’ve said hello and goodbye to Rivers, Ponds, Roses, and tin dogs. You’ve cowered behind your sofa on the numerous occasions it seemed the monster-of-the-week might actually win, and possibly cheered when our mad hero from Gallifrey inevitably defeated them at the eleventh hour.
You want to visit the Doctor’s past, present, and future. You want to tremble at the first terrifying appearance of the Daleks, Cybermen, or Silurians. Maybe meet Sarah Jane Smith or The Master for the first time. Where do you start? After all, there’s fifty years worth of adventures to sift through, 27 of which have missing episodes.
That’s easy! Here’s my highly-opinionated list of the 11 must see classic episodes for the new fan. But be careful, spoilers alert…
11. The 1st Doctor – The Unearthly Child
“Let me get this straight. A thing that looks like a police box, standing in a junkyard, it can move anywhere in time and space?” – Ian Chesterton
The best place to start is, of course, the beginning. While this is far from the best of the William Hartnell era, it is included simply because it was the one that got the ball rolling.
The Unearthly Child introduces us to teenage student, Susan, as well as Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, two of Susan’s teachers, who are concerned for her due to what they consider to be “strange” behavior. They follow her home after school, only to find that she lives in a blue police telephone box in a junkyard with her grandfather, a surly curmudgeon of a man, who calls himself The Doctor. They go back in time, meet some cavemen, get imprisoned, escape, create fire, and off they go on another adventure.
The TARDIS is revealed, as is the concept of “Time And Relative Dimensions In Space”, coined by Susan. The Chameleon Circuit is also introduced, if not by name.
This story establishes the tone of the series, from the spooky opening theme tune, to the “traveling through space and time” elements that mean this show can go anywhere and be about anything. It is still, to this day, unlike any other show on television.
It may be a bit sluggish to some fans of the flashy CG and lightning fast edits of the current series, but is well worth at least a viewing. The good news is that the BBC has released it as a three story box set called The Beginning, which also contains the first appearance of the Daleks in… The Daleks.
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