I recently came across the original episodes of the long-running series Doctor Who. Yes, 1963 with William Hartnell as the doctor. I was shocked by what a jerk he was. Yes, I know he has been a smart aleck, a wise-cracker and completely arrogant in other incarnations but in this first one, he was just a grumpy old man.

I don’t consider myself a big Whovian. In fact, haven’t even seen all the doctors. Here are my favorites of the ones I have:

It was interesting to look back at the first episodes from the eyes of the 1963 viewer. Yes, the budget started out low (and stayed that way until very recently) and yes, the they had seen scifi – but not like this. The idea of a phone booth (the TARDIS) that holds an impossibly large space/time ship on the inside alone must have been shocking. The thought that it would last for 50 years wouldn’t have even entered their minds.

The fact that the series has last so long (albeit with a pause before the reboot in 2005) is a testament to a well-designed premise. The doctors travel in time and space giving countless opportunity for adventure. The biggest design feature that led to longevity was the fact that the doctor himself can regenerate – fixing the issue with aging stars or waning ratings.

I don’t think this trip through Doctor Who history will make me want to watch each and every episode (who has that kind of free time,) but it did make me remember fondly Tom Baker’s quirky behavior, his impossibly long scarf and love of Jelly Babies candy.

by Chris Doelle

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