TV Club: An Unearthly Child

There’s also the Adventure in Space and Time physical media release that contains a DVD copy of An Unearthly Child.

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Is this (and the others in this series) something that should be merged into the TV Club?

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I’ve just completed my review for this serial. My overall rating is a 3/5.

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Loved the first ep of Ian and Barbara being confused
why an old man and his cousin are living in an old
police box in a junkyard.

But when the caveman come the pacing just shatters
my puny brain…

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Not sure I’ve ever seen Susan described as the Doctor’s cousin (Carole Ann Ford would have a fit, she’s very proud of being the Doctor’s granddaughter) - although of course, ‘cousins’ is what the Doctor’s relatives are called in the New Adventure Lungbarrow.

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Oh no, this was my fault :sweat_smile: GRANDDAUGHTER!

Wait, is she a timelord? Has that ever been explained?

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Not in the TV show - mainly because she was long gone before the word Time Lord was even mentioned. That said, she does return to Gallifrey - or at least the Death Zone - in The Five Doctors.

Her long life span is explored a little in the audios.

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oooooohhhh! Will def explore more of this!

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Really nice way to start off the show. The first episode is very atmospheric and the rest of the serial is surprisingly very compelling. I like the dynamic between Za and Kal and the banter between the Doctor, Ian, and Barbara is very entertaining. Susan felt a bit useless and 1 dimensional however. She didn’t contribute much to the last 3 episodes.
8/10

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I will keep myself short (if somebody is interested in something a little more “in depth” I wrote a review on the site about this serial: Review of An Unearthly Child by RandomJoke · TARDIS Guide)
But what of it is there to say what hasn’t been said? The first episode is stellar, such a perfect introduction with some wonderful directing and great performances. While not as strong as the first, the last 3 Episodes are in my eyes still fairly solid. Our leads mainly do the heavy lifting here and their report with one and another is just a blast to watch, especially considering where they would end up in later serials with a far more friendly way with one and another. While at points it can drag a little, I think the cavemen parts are by far a lot more solid than most people would give it credit for. Overall a wonderful serial that kicked started a legacy and for that I have massive respect already.

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It’s not, though. The Doctor comparing Ian and Barbara to savages explicitly sets up the theme of the caveman episodes. And Ian and Barbara’s struggles to comprehend the Doctor and Susan in the first episode are reversed in the rest of the story when they encounter the tribe who can’t comprehend them.

The whole story is great.

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Just have to say, as I’m sure many would agree, the forst episode is excellent. A wonderfully cradted 20 something minutes of television that still holds up. Unfortunately the next 3 parts don’t hold up so well, but that first episode is so perfect.

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I’d never thought of it like that - thanks!!!

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Agreed, although it could still play out, just slightly differently. There’s the duty of care angle to explore if there are concerns about student welfare. I guess they’d approach it from that direction today, which would actually really set things off well. I could imagine either Moffat or RTD having a field day with that kind of opening.

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I do hope the rights issues get sorted. I own An Unearthly Child on DVD, but it’s a shame that those who don’t and watch the classic series on iPlayer can’t see it.

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You are not alone with that hope. Sadly, it isn’t something I’m expecting in the short term. It’s difficult to negotiate with the unreasonable (and unpalatable to deal with people who promulgate such abhorrent and harmful views as he does).

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Our best hope is probably if Disney one day get the streaming rights to the classic series. Disney would have the money to pay Stef Coburn for the Unearthly Child rights. It just might mean it would only be available on Disney Plus rather than iPlayer.

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Serves them right for keeping the Tales of the TARDIS all to themselves :wink:

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Both this an Unleashed.

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First of all: Kudos to @BillFiler.
I was never before able to enjoy Episodes 2 to 4 of the serial. This time around, I had just read his very positive thoughts about the episodes set in the Stone Age. With that in the back of my mind, the whole watching experience was really elevated. Thanks, BillFiler. :slight_smile:

Episode 1, I think, is just a timeless classic. I watched all 3 versions on DVD and liked every one of them.

To mention just one thing about episode 1: It’s interesting to see the motivation of the Doctor for kidnapping Barbara and Ian change between the pilot and the other version. I think it was in the first that his reasoning was to avoid changing the timeline. It seems two persons going missing was deemed less dangerous by him than two people telling wild stories about sheds that are bigger on the inside. :wink:

In the second version, his decision to take off was tied to Susan wanting to stay on Earth and in this time. And him not being able to let go? Him not wanting to lose her? So he got carried away.

I guess I like his first reasoning more because the second has just too much of a touch of keeping Susan with him against her will. I am aware there are more aspects, her not being an adult, him being her guardian, and so on. But paired with definitely kidnapping Barbara and Ian: However flimsy it may be to argue with protecting the timeline, it’s still a better and less awful reasoning, in my opinion.

On the other hand, the second, more emotionally driven builds kind of a better arc to the later departure of Susan.

Episodes 2 - 4 are - as mentioned before if watched with the ‘right’ mindset :wink: - very interesting indeed.
I think that the guest cast did an excellent job with the material they had.
Were translation circuits mentioned? Regardless, with my future knowledge, it was fascinating to see how the translation broke down in parts because the minds of the people back then were so primitive that they couldn’t grasp the concepts introduced by the newcomers. Conversely, it was also intriguing when communication succeeded because some of the concepts already existed back then.
The story was a strong one, too. I absolutely understood the motivations of Kal, Zal, and Hur. It was indeed curious that the alien (the Doctor) was the one to understand their motivations better than Barbara and Ian. For Kal, Zal, and Hur, everything was a matter of survival. Of course, they did not set the “new tribe” free just because concepts like “honour” or “quid pro quo” would make it necessary.
Okay, Barbara would have helped Zal anyway, just out of the goodness of her heart. But I think even so, she expected him probably to be thankful?
Again, with future knowledge: the Doctor in the first serial is much more of a Time Lord than later on. I mean, they are, all in all, not the most sympathetic of people.
In this first serial, observing the kindness Barbara brings to an enemy, I think that’s where “Never be cruel and never be cowardly” started. Without his early companions, how easy might it have been for the Doctor to become like the Time Meddler, or, given enough negative experiences, even go down the path of his old friend the Master?
It was really interesting to watch this first serial with the future in mind. :slight_smile:

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