An Unearthly Child
By Jeffrey Zyra
50 years ago on November 23 a great television phenomenon was born and when two school teachers entered a junkyard and confronted an old man about to enter an out of place Police Box. What Ian and Barbara, and the people watching on TV, did not know what was in store for them. An Unearthly Child was the beginning of the ride of a lifetime and it all started with a mysterious girl who was, well, a bit alien.
Episode one of An Unearthly Child was just the perfect beginning. It had all the mystery you could want as we did not know who or what Susan was and why she lived in a junk yard. We also were not sure who the old man known as The Doctor was or if he could be trusted as, in essence, he kidnaps Ian and Barbara once they enter the TARDIS. The first impressions of The Doctor was of a man who was cantankerous, thinking of himself only and far non trusting of his new found companions.
As the story continues on we get glimpses of The Doctor we all know and love. Most notably in episode 3 when The Doctor proves who the murderer of the old woman were. It is that point in the story towards the end of episode 4 where Ian says that The Doctor is our leader that we see more of The Doctor that we know as he easily takes on the role of being in charge and starts using his experience to help his fellow travelers out of the situation that they are in.
This takes us to the story itself. Well the first episode is pretty good and gets the ball rolling. Its sets the main characters up nicely and you are indeed wondering who The Doctor really is. When we get back in time to 100,000 BC well the story is not all that great. In fact it drags quite a bit and could possibly have been an episode shorter. It was good to show that the TARDIS was a time machine but staying in caveman land for three episodes watching them trying to make fire was getting a bit dull for me.
I thought it lacked the excitement that the first episode had generated. It seemed almost comical at times watching the cavemen especially when they were saying their lines. In fairness it was the first story and they thought doing a simple basic story would help get people on board. But it wasn’t all bad. There were some pretty good moments between Ian and The Doctor and you could get a sense of respect forming between the two. An Unearthly Child isn’t a bad story and it isn’t a great story but it is one of historical merit. It is the first ever Doctor Who story and the first glimpse we get of something special. Luckily the story that comes next that introduces us to a certain enemy of The Doctor is the launching pad for the greatest 50 year old love hate relationship.
©Doctor Who 1963