So I've made it through the abridged First Doctor of the Original Doctor Who.
So these were the episodes, or rather stories, I watched in William Hartnell's original tenure:
1. An Unearthly Child
2. The Daleks
4. Dalek Invasion of Earth
5. The Mythmakers
6. The Tenth Planet
I say "Stories" because, much to my surprise, each "episode" is really four to six parts.
Overall, the one thing that really strikes me about the First Doctor in the stories I watched is how...well...how to put this delicately....how much of an utter douche he is. He doesn't seem to care about anyone but himself at first. Granted, by the end of his time, he's softened and shown a kinder heart, but he's still very much of an obtuse old man. That being said, there is a kind of charm in his insufferableness that draws me in, and I think that's part of the reason the show took off.
It's also interesting to me to see some insight into the Doctor's family, which is always barely hinted at in the modern series. While Susan strikes me as very much of a stereotypically annoying teenage
girl, the fact that the series started with not one but TWO Time Lords is something of a revelation to me. Which is why I'm thankful that "Dalek Invasion of Earth" was part of the recommendations.
One of the drawbacks to watching the series this way, despite the relief of not having to sift through 50 years worth of stories, is that the Companions are coming and going with little for me to latch on to and recognize; as this run progressed and now as I move into the Second Doctor and beyond, I'm starting each episode saying "who the hell are THESE clowns? What happened to the last people?" At least with "DIoE" I can see where it was that Susan broke from her grandfather.
Another thing I noticed is that at this point, much like series such as Classic Star Trek and Dark Shadows, that there's very little intentional comedy. Oh, it's funny because the effects are ridiculous, but it still takes itself very seriously and tries so adorably hard to pass itself off as a serious drama piece. While I doubt I would have gotten into the series had I started here, I do see why it became so popular and do see a lot of things I like here.
1. Seeing the genesis of the Daleks and how surprisingly consistent they've been over the years.
2. Tlotoxl, the antagonist of the "Aztecs" storyline, is just a great character and one of my favorites of the series so far. Smarmy, slimy, the kind of character I'd play in something like this (and not dissimilar-looking either).
3. While it was sadly an audio-only so I couldn't get the full scope (though I watched a reconstruction using stills), the "Mythmakers" arc was a fantastic story and a fun alternate look at the fabled battle of Troy. Also seeing Barrie "Basil of Baker Street" Ingham as Paris was a delightful surprise.
4. In the first regeneration arc "The Tenth Planet", we also see the first appearance of the Cybermen. While aesthetically they're absolutely horrible (think Galactus cosplayers with socks on their heads), I actually prefer their speech patterns here than what I'm used to. Rather than a deep monotone, their voices are almost melodic, like someone dialing a touch-tone telephone. It gives them a lot more character, I think, and separates them more from the Daleks.
While the final episode was also a reconstruction, true footage of the regeneration itself at least survives. And it's sad and confusing, and Hartnell doesn't really get any memorable last words to speak of.
Now on to number 2....