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Doctor Who: The Regeneration Reviews – An Unearthly Child

Doctor Who: Season 1, Episode 1
An Unearthly Child

Written by: Anthony Coburn
Directed by: Waris Hussein
Produced by: Verity Lambert & Mervyn Pinfield

Broadcast Date: 23rd November 1963 – 14th December 1963

Reviewed by Ryan Denyer for the Gallifrey Times 

In celebration of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary, I will be going through all 11 Doctor’s and reviewing their introductory story as well as their regeneration story. This will take some time and I will be going in order of Doctor so please remain patient. Also during this series of articles will be one story from each Doctor chosen by the Gallifrey Times team! 

The best place to start is the beginning. Without these first set of stories we wouldn’t have the show we know and love today. These fist stories paved the way for the next 50 years.

Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright

We start the episode at a normal school, Coal Hill, which depicts the normal busyness of a school. The first two characters we are introduced to are Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton. They seem like normal teachers and are portrayed brilliantly by the late Jacqueline Hill and William Russell. They are two of the strongest companions in the First Doctor’s era and sometimes even outshine the Doctor himself in their ability to remain opinionated and willing to co-operate.

Susan is mysterious from the off and although I find Carole Ann Ford’s portrayal as Susan Foreman a little like a whining child, it does improve during the next few episodes and we get to see Susan mature into a young women who doesn’t need her grandfather anymore.

Susan Foreman

The first episode is brilliant and is a must see for all who fans but the next 2 episodes feel dragged and just plain boring! We don’t get to see any real action at the only bit of action I could get out of it was when Susan decided to stupidly jump on a weapon wielding, caveman’s back! The episode shows great potential but doesn’t use it to the full extent and then doesn’t work. If Anthony Coburn had thought about the storyline and how each episode was going to plan out correctly then we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Thankfully, the story picks up by the 4th episode when we resolve the storyline and  get back into the TARDIS and get set for a next adventure. It is said that Anthony Coburn was to right another story for the second season The Robots which never saw the light of day. I don’t know how I would’ve felt about this as I don’t like to watch an episode, dislike it and then slate off everything that writers ever written that’s not fair but this episode was just such a mess during the middle that I feel The Robots would’ve been like that to, looks like we’ll never get to see that though.

The 1st Doctor

Now, I’ve left the Doctor until last because he’s been the hardest to write about! The show is called Doctor Who but this episode didn’t feel like the Doctor was featured heavily. Of course (and don’t all you Hartnell fans come searching for me after this) Ian and Barbara are the more interesting and better characters for at least until they leave as that’s when we start to learn more about the Doctor’s people and the way they work. The show is about mystery, I mean look at it nowadays it’s shrouded in mystery, but us die hard fans need something to feed on some sort of knowledge and we don’t have that here. I know there weren’t any die hard fans during this episode but we needed something to keep the audience watching. If it wasn’t for it coming in a box set I probably wouldn’t have purchased The Daleks (That’s a lie, of course I would’ve!)

So as a round up this episode I’m divided on. The 1st episode is great, the 2nd is not so good, the 3rd is just bad but the 4th is great again. The best characters are Barbara and Ian by far although I think I’d have liked the Doctor more if he’d have actually been in it more. Susan I can give or take with depending on her attitude.

Ryan’s Rating: 7/10
Next Time: The Time Meddler starring William Hartnell, Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves