Monday, April 15, 2013

Doctor Who Week: William Hartnell

Welcome and hello to Day 1 of Doctor Who Week and I thought I would start us off with the very first actor to portray this monumental character of science fiction and start ushering a golden age for the genre.  So batten down the hatches, flip that defensive screen and take off the hand brake.  This is Doctor Who: The Dead Planet.

Gee, I wonder what this episode is about?

The only interest we have in the spoilers is their total extermination!!

The Doctor (William Hartnell of Sabotage at Sea, The Peterville Diamond, The Dark Tower, The Ringer, Hell Drivers and The Army Game) has shanghaied his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford of Horrors of the Black Museum, The Ghost Train Murder, The Day of the Triffids and Mix Me a Person) and her teachers Ian Chesterton (William Russell of The Great Escape, Breaking Point, This Man Craig, Harriet’s Back in Town and Superman) and Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill of Joyous Errand, Out of This World, No Hiding Place and Romeo & Juliet) off  to an alien world with the TARDIS (Time and relative dimension in space) and the teachers demand to leave but our fuss budget  Doctor purposely sabotages the TARDIS so they need to look for mercury to repair it.   

Donner! Party of four.

Wandering out into this alien world it is noted that there are high concentrations of radiation and the party makes their way to a huge metal city.  As our brave four explore the city, Barbara gets separated from the rest of the part and is threatened by a creature with a metal arm.  Before too long the entire crew is captured by the Daleks.  Ian and Barbara feel horrible from the radiation in the area and Susan is sent back to the TARDIS to retrieve some anti-radiation pills when she comes across a second alien species known as the Thals.  These people have been engaging in war with the Daleks for some time.  Susan attempt to broker a peace treaty between the two warring factions and for a time it appears to be working but the Daleks open fire upon the Thals during a friendly exchange of food and supplies.  Yeah didn't see that one coming.

And now I have just a few remarks and observations about this particular episode.  This episode is the first appearance of the Daleks as a long running animosity towards the Doctor and his fellow Timelords.  This episode was watched by a little over 6 million viewer when it was originally aired. Their re-occurrence has of course continued into the current series as the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctor has had to face his most hated enemy time and time again.

Vacuum cleaner salesmen will be exterminated!

This story follows almost a hostage escape scenario and the genocidal Daleks are completely devoid of emotion and mercy and have been a staple of this particular series.   This was filmed in 35mm anamorphic lens which does take the focus off your main foreground but can capture the whole surroundings of the film project.  As William Hartnell developed arteriosclerosis and made it near impossible to say his lines let alone run about, it was the producer Mervyn Pinfield came up with the concept that the Doctor could regenerate himself by altering his physiology into a completely different man but in essence the same fellow.  All memory and personality is still his and changes into Patrick Trouton and we shall go over the second doctor tomorrow.