Monday, 16 May 2011

1x03 The Forest Of Fear

"Fear makes companions of all of us."

Broadcast Date: 7th December 1963

The opening to this episode was very nice. Norman Kay’s simplistic score captured me as we followed the Old Mother in a shot that was held for too long. I remember an old Doctor Who Magazine article calling her the original ‘bitchy’ mum rather than Jackie Tyler or Sylvia Noble and it’s true. Eileen Way is one of the best things about this episode.

Everything with our main gang of heroes is so well scripted. We see the Doctor tired after trying to free Ian from his bonds, a great little set up for what becomes one of the first Doctor’s recognisable features; being older and more strained than any of his companions. Doctor Who and Barbara have some fun little dialogue aspects too, which we see more of in later episodes (most notably ‘The Edge Of Destruction’).

Trapping the heroes in a cave together is the perfect way to show us how they interact with each other and slowly become friends over the next few stories. Anthony Coburn is a wonderful scriptwriter with these characters, it’s such a shame he never did anymore. I’d have loved to see another historical Who bearing his name on the credits.

Trapped in the cave of skulls

Despite my memory always passing over the cavemen episodes as slightly tedious and overlong, these are surprisingly fantastic/ Yes, the story is getting tiresome, but the characterisation is just wonderful to watch and this episode in particular really sets up our TARDIS crew for the rest of the series. I always think of this team as one of my favourites, but I never really picked up that it’s this single episode where they begin, rather than the previous two. Annoyingly, Susan is given little, but it’s good to see Babs screaming in fear and shock rather than her.

One of the most shocking and talked about aspects of the first Doctor is seen in this episode too, where he supposedly contemplates killing an injured man rather than waste time saving him. This action speaks volumes about who the Doctor is and creates one of the longest themes of the character, how he needs people to stop him sometimes. This is something that has continued all the way through to Tennant’s era in ‘The Fires Of Pompeii’ and ‘The Waters Of Mars’.

If ‘An Unearthly Child’ began the legacy then ‘The Forest Of Fear’ really kicks it up a gear and it deserves a lot more credit I previously gave it. Admittedly, the fire story is still there and still not moving anywhere, but that doesn’t matter. This story is about three people. Ian, Barbara and the Doctor.

But not Susan.

Coming Soon: 1x04 The Firemaker, The Impossible Astronaut/Day Of The Moon

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