Sunday, 15 May 2011

1x02 The Cave Of Skulls

“It’s still a police box. Why hasn’t it changed?”

Broadcast Date: 30th November 1963

This opening story is one of the reasons I’ve decided to review this blog episode-by-episode rather than story-by-story. Nine times from ten everybody gives this four-part story a top class rating when really they’re only taking the first thirty minutes into account.

The biggest problem with this episode is that it feels like a studio setting. One of the reasons “An Unearthly Child” worked so well was that you could believe the scenery. No location footage took place until “The Reign Of Terror” (1964) but that doesn’t stop you believing the BBC found a real junkyard or school classroom. The locations on this episode, however, look too studio-bound and basic.

The TARDIS makes it's first televised journey...

The new additions to the cast are Cavemen and Women who we follow as they share their want of fire. The tribe have a great subplot here that isn’t revealed much, of who gets to rule the tribe. This is hideously underplayed due to the “We want fire” story. It’s a wonderfully simplistic story for the first time travel, I mean I couldn’t imagine the first adventure being with the Aztecs or the Romans, but the problem is the story is so simplistic there’s no plot.

It’s great showing how the most important need for Cavemen is fire, but that doesn’t mean we need five pages of dialogue about it, with no sign of one of our main characters in sight bar an unconscious Billy Hartnell laid out on a slab.

However this episode still isn’t too bad. We get to learn more about the Doctor and his love for all knowledge. Ian and Barbara differ themselves from almost any other classic companion as, despite being transported two thousand years from their own time, you always feel like they can handle themselves (unlike Susan). There’s also the first time of many where somebody asks ‘Doctor Who?’ which always bring a smile.

There are a couple nice little twists and turns such as the reason for the Doctor not being able to make fire. The episode is well cast, but the story itself is already beginning to feel overlong. Every time I return to watching this story I desperately try to interest myself in this first historical and this does start off magically, but fast becomes old. Ignoring this, there is a chillingly classic cliffhanger to look forward to.

Tomorrow: 1x03 The Forest Of Fear
Coming Soon: 6x04 The Doctor’s Wife

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