Cave of Skulls and One Bad Geico Commercial

Our last episode (An Unearthly Child) left us, as you may recall, with the image of the TARDIS and a shadow approaching it.

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Remember? Good.

I simply couldn’t stand the suspense, so I went ahead and watched the following 3 episodes to get me some answers.  I had instant gratification when the first image of the 2nd episode of this little clump, The Cave of Skulls, is that same TARDIS/shadow deal and the immediate zoom out to see that the shadow is cast by…a caveman!

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A very concerned caveman.

Cut to a scene in…a cave! With cavemen! They are speaking in incredibly fluent English, with the exception for a fair bit of grunting and interchanging the odd pronoun (is it really that hard to say “I” instead of “me”??). We discover that there is a serious problem– Za, the supposed leader of the tribe, cannot make fire.  Whoever has fire is the leader, and Za’s dad had the fire.  But then apparently someone killed his dad for this power…and then they lost the fire…and now we can’t figure out how to make more.  Za’s mom is vehemently opposed to making more fire, and wants to sabotage it.

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Meanwhile we meet a cavewoman who is totally into Za and wants him to make fire, because otherwise her father will give her away to Kal, the next strongest caveman. Blah blah blah feminism blah.

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She is so into him.

Meanwhile in the TARDIS, our favorite teachers wake up, because either the Doctor knocked them out or they are just tired.  They hear the Doctor and Susan talking, doing a standard systems check, and note that the “year-o-meter” must be reading wrong, because it says the year “0”.  Hmmm. The Doctor asks Susan what the Radiation Detector reads, and she says it’s fine.

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Can you spot the plot? Let’s log that away for later.

Also, there seems to be an enormous amount of trouble with the scanners and systems in the TARDIS.  This is something that’s all too familiar to modern Whovians, because the Doctor can never seem to fly the TARDIS properly, something which the teachers comment on.  At this point, Barbara is starting to actually believe all of this time-and-space-travel business, while Brad remains a skeptic.

Here is our first title-dropper of the series:



Brad/Ian: “Give me some proof, Doctor Foreman!”

Doctor: “Ehh? Doctor Who?”

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“Doctor Who?”

They then realize that Doctor Foreman isn’t his name, nor is Foreman either of their surnames at all, but rather the name they chose for the sake of it being on the outside of the junkyard they had previously parked the TARDIS at on Earth.

Brad then mentions something to the Doctor that time isn’t a wheel that you can get on and off at any point you wish, to which the Doctor chuckles and says he will never understand how time works.

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Timey-wimey…

They decide to venture out of the TARDIS because that could not possibly deliver any undesired consequences, and the following observation by the Doctor just made me futuristically nostalgic:

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“It’s still a police box! Why hasn’t it changed? Dear, dear…how very disturbing…”

Things then take a turn for the worse, because leaving the TARDIS is never a good idea.  The Doctor gets kidnapped by a the caveman who was watching them (he turns out to be Kal, the rival of Za…the names are so creative I almost can’t take it), and Susan absolutely loses her shit.  I’m talking “I just got skewered with a hot poker” kind of screaming. I’m talking Black Friday at a Walmart kind of shit-losing.

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The scene cuts back to the cave (thank the Time Lords, I couldn’t listen to her scream anymore) where the tribe is convinced that the Doctor can make fire for them. The Doctor is useless and says he can’t, meanwhile his friends find him (that was fast!), and all three of them get thrown into the “Cave of Skulls”.  The episode ends with them observing that all the skulls in this cave have been split open at the top. Fantastic.

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An Unearthly Child and WTF Doctor?!

Alright, team. It’s been a while since my first post, and the main reason for that is my ginger rage. Apparently it’s always smart to save the blogs you post before your computer runs out of battery and erases your life’s work*, so I’ve been stubbornly putting off this rewrite.

(*contains slight exaggeration)

My procrastination has not entirely been in vain, however.  I have finally learned how to use the internet and was able to find quite a few of the episodes of Doctor Who unavailable on Netflix.  In this bundle was the very first episode, the unaired pilot called An Unearthly Child. So our journey shall really start at the very beginning… (Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it…) …A very good place to start (dammit).

An Unearthly Child

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We open to a title sequence that looks like some sort of sand-in-a-lava-lamp-but-timey-wimey deal, with our favorite theme song playing in the background. We see a junkyard and a mysterious Police Box (I assume it’s blue…but hey, it’s still black and white at this point). We’re then left to wonder what that all meant as we completely change tactics and are now inside a school.

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We meet two teachers by the names of Barbara and Ian, who for the sake of simplicity, I prefer to call Barbara and Brad.  He looks like a Brad, and alliteration is just better.

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Definitely a Brad.

So, Barbara and Brad are concerned about one of their pupils– a girl of fifteen named Susan Foreman.  Susan is, as they put it, a complete and utter mystery.

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The mystery is how anyone could take her for being 15.

She shows a genius IQ, has knowledge of science and history beyond her years, and yet completely fails in the most mundane of areas, such as knowing how many shillings there are in a pound.

It’s 20. 20 shillings in a pound. Now forget that information because it’s useless as Britain has moved on to decimalization.

She also seems to be profoundly fascinated by modern music, and listens to it with a scholar’s ear as opposed to that of a passive fan.  Furthermore, the address listed as her residence, as Barbara has discovered, leads only to a– wait for it– junkyard! No one could possibly live in a junkyard, could they?

So, they do what any reasonable educator would do in this situation– they decide to stalk her a little bit.  They follow her “home” to the junkyard, see her go into the gates, but not come back out.  They go in after her, but cannot seem to find her.  All they can find is, well, junk.  They also notice a Police Box (which I still assume is blue) and are perplexed as to why it would be in a junkyard. Then an old man approaches, looking like a regular old grumpy cat and coughing in a complete non-committal fashion, and they see him unlock the Police Box with a key.  SPOILER ALERT: This man is The Doctor (as played by William Hartnell).

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From inside the box they can hear that same modern music that Susan loves, and hear what they think is her voice. Brad is brave enough to approach the old man.  He asks about the Police Box and says they are looking for their student, Susan Foreman.

Now, rather than employing pretty much any other tactic in the world to convince them that 1. Susan isn’t there and that 2. this Police Box shouldn’t be of any interest to them, the Doctor goes immediately to hostile denial and belligerence. They assess his attitude and the entire scenario, and conclude that this old pervert has totally kidnapped Susan and trapped her inside the Police Box.  Honestly, it’s a pretty fair assumption.

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Oh look, a whole new dick in a box.

Susan hears what is going on outside, and opens the door to check it out.  Turns out that the old man/Doctor is her grandfather, because as she opens the door, she says “Grandfather?”  I’m great at this.

Ian/Brad and Barbara rush inside, and discover that– GASP— it’s bigger on the inside.

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And so it begins.

Susan is really quite miffed at the pair of them for following her and being so nosy, because it is apparently yet inexplicably dangerous for anyone to know about this Police Box or about them at all.  The Doctor, as it turns out, is a total prick and actually calls Susan a “stupid child” and blames her for those teachers coming here, because now their secret is discovered. And naturally, since all of this information is top secret and perilous to human ears, they immediately thereafter pronounce that they are not of this time or of this world.  Susan was born in the 49th century, and the two of them were exiled from their planet and time for reasons hitherto unknown.

Another fun fact, one of the blurts of information we gather is that Susan made up the name TARDIS, which as we all know stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space.  She then says that her grandfather will never let them go, and things get a little bit too much like a SAW movie for my taste.

The Doctor gets on a professional creep face and laughs maniacally, as the teachers run around trying to escape.  As if they weren’t already having a bad day, he kidnaps them. Because that is what you do.

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“I’m going to watch you while you sleep, oh, god yes.”

The episode ends with a noise sequence that, as far as I can tell, was intended to do little other than cause you anxiety.  They are whisked away elsewhere, whether to another time or place is yet to be seen.  This is the final image before credits role:

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I love this production quality.

Now, here are some observations I would like to make.  As far as we know, the idea of making The Doctor a part of the species known as Time Lord, along with the concept of regeneration, was not yet developed.  The series started as a children’s educational show, which I find just a little bit creepy considering how fond this first Doctor is of kidnapping.  And this is my main point: The Doctor is a total jerk.  He is so far from the superhero we now admire him as, and the Time War has not even happened yet.  He has yet to make the biggest sacrifice of his life, and yet he seems to be on the same level of brutality that the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors get to when they are at their worst–but this is just his default setting.

So here is a theory on the personality of the Doctor which I have gathered from just this very first episode: It is in the nature of The Doctor to be a bit of a brute, and he is constantly fighting that innate state of being.  He chose the name The Doctor, because he flies around in his blue box (or black-and-white box) helping people, trying to make things better. But this is not who he is when he is left on his own.  His companions make him better, and he has to work to rid himself of that war-like personality.

Granted, I might be considerably more angry than usual had I recently been exiled from my own time and planet with no one but my over-dramatic know-it-all granddaughter for company.

We will see.