The First Season, In SummaryThe First Season is over now. Eight Serials have come and gone, and we have truly come to know most of the principals. But what kind of first season was it? Well, that's what the blog is about, so I'd be remiss if I didn't cover the Season as a whole. (As a preview, that means when Hartnell's era ends after The Tenth Planet, I'll be reviewing his Doctorship as a whole, also. So yeah, blog readers, you can look forward to seeing how he does each episode, then each Season recapping, and each Doctor re-re-recapping. )
The Doctor: In the individual reviews, I've charted what the Doctor has been like, and he's been a character that grew from a curmudgeonly old kidnapper to an entertaining, resourceful man. There's the beginnings of the personalities we will see in the future - he likes to be underestimated, ignored, and left to his own devices. He's perhaps more surly then he will become, but the shortness of temper still shows up even in his younger incarnations. It takes a while for Hartnell to grow on you, but he does by the end of this season. The last two Serials in particular are his greatest of the eight, but that's sadly the best thing going for them. He's also adopted the lapel-grabbing mannerism that we will see in ... I'm pretty sure every future Doctor, although I don't recall the first time I actually saw it.
Companions: Ian and Barbara steal the series at this point. Ian's charming, handsome, and rational. When the companions ride alone, he drives! Barbara is strong, intelligent, observant, and clever. I know I harp on that a lot, but there's plenty of female characters that are bad female stereotypes with dialogue, and I think Barbara is an excellent departure from this, especially at a time before the Women's Lib movement made people conscious of the negative portrayals of women. Susan continues to default to the negative female stereotypes at this point. I know there are plenty of people who bash Susan, and plenty who stand up to defend her, but among these first eight Serials, the preponderance of evidence is against her. I know there's more glorious moments coming up for her, and she really needs them. The promise of An Unearthly Child was that we'd get a brilliant but odd alien girl, and we have ended with a typical teenager that happens to live in a TARDIS.
Continuity: I notice that the companions have yet to wonder why everybody, from the Cathay, Aztecs and French to the various aliens speaks English. I know in the future that gets answered, but it strikes me as odd that it was never asked and established early. I'll be watching for the first mention of that. Also, we've seen the TARDIS materialize (without the whooshing sound, though), seen it be hard to pilot, and learned a little about the Doctor and Susan. In the credits, William Hartnell has been listed as Doctor Who, not the Doctor, causing many flame wars among fans who insist that that's not his name, but what the heck, he's The Doctor, and I use "Doctor Who" in the post tags, so there you go. The only real discontinuity has been the debate over flying or materializing, and I happen to know in the future we will see both.
Summary: This was a mixed bag, with 3 Love its, 2 Enjoy its, 2 Bear its, and a Skip it. The Historicals were both the weakest and the strongest. Although that statement was not entirely true, The Keys of Marinus was the only Skip It so far, and it was decidedly not a Historical. As much as I want to classify whether one or the other kind of adventure is hit or miss, the fact is, at this point, the writing is all over the place, and there's no accurate predictor. Let's get some tighter scripts and some shorter serials (Yeah, I know, the mixed bag will continue to be an omnipresent force of the Classic Doctors, but I'm at the beginning of the era, and I can dream!)
Rating So Far: Enjoy it. Our destiny is in the stars, so let's go and search for it!