We now know that the new series of Doctor Who will launch on September 1st! Why the BBC treats such things as state secrets and don’t bother to tell anyone until less than three weeks before is beyond me, but there you are.
To celebrate the launch of the new series, we at What Culture are assembling a whole slew of articles! And our first one is all about the First Doctor’s time, and his seven greatest stories!
Now here are the criteria for my selecting these: Each story must be one that I’ve seen (obviously), and must be complete in one form or another. This means that, in theory, “The Gunfighters” is eligible (though don’t hold your breath), but “The Tenth Planet” is not. That in mind, let’s get going!
7. The Keys of Marinus (Story 005, 1964)
First off, it features George Colourius, one of the actors from Citizen Kane in what was, I am sure, a highlight of his resume. Second, it’s a really frickin’ weird story that shouldn’t work, but does.
The Doctor (William Hartnell), Ian (William Russell), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), and Susan (Carole Ann Ford), all arrive on Marinus, a place with a glass beach alongside an acid sea. That alone is pretty interesting, but then they meet up with Arbitan, guardian of the place, who explains that there’s trouble afoot and the Keys of Marinus are needed to keep everything functioning and happy.
Thus the TARDIS crew receives their quest and goes looking for the different pieces in a set of stories that really put me in mind of an old-school RPG (it really is just a series of fetch quests). The stories themselves are insanely varied, and include, bizarrely, a bit of courtroom drama with the Doctor acting as a lawyer.
But that strange variation in story type works, and it shows that, even from the early stages, this was going to be a very different sort of TV show.