I don’t have a ton of memories about the classic era of Doctor Who. I would watch the occasional episode on Saturday night, but it was the Eighties and I was a teen, so I got out of the house as often as I could. Considering that I had no luck with women, I should have stayed home. (Some things never change.) Since I didn’t watch Doctor Who that often growing up, I can now watch the older stories as if they are new. Well, they’re new to me.
For some reason, which I cannot explain, I waited until after series five of “NuWho” to delve into the classics. Like many others, I wondered where to start. I figured that since the Doctor was a time traveller and things happen out of order for him, I could sort of go anywhere I wanted, and it would work itself out.
I didn’t want to be a “best of” viewer, since we all know that person whose music collection is comprised exclusively of greatest hits and compilations; I didn’t want to be that guy. I felt that I owed it to myself to take the bad along with the good. I couldn’t call myself a “Whovian” without sharing the pain, but I didn’t want deep hurting right off the bat.
I thought the logical place to start was with “The Unearthly Child,” since that was the very first episode, and go from there. It was part of “The Beginning Collection,” which also included “The Daleks,” and “The Edge of Destruction.” The plan, if there actually was one, was to start at the beginning, then watch one story from each of the Doctors, with each of the various companions. That way, I could get a sense of what the various characters brought to the show.
I always liked Sarah Jane, and I really enjoyed The Sarah Jane Adventures, so the next story I went with was “The Brain of Morbius.” I had read good things about it, yet it wasn’t considered a “Top 10” story; maybe top 20. I enjoyed the story and I am glad that I chose this one, since it was referenced in the 50th anniversary minisode featuring Paul McGann. I did see the TV movie, sometimes refered to as “The Enemy Within,” when it aired in 1996, and while I thought McGann made an exceptional Doctor, I think we can all agree that it was for the best that it didn’t go to series.
Somewhere along the way, I stumbled across a YouTube video called “How to Watch Classic Doctor Who by RitchandSpace. This video changed my thought process entirely. One of his suggestions was to watch the stories one episode per week, since that was how it origionally aired. All except for those time when it aired twice a week. Prior to this, I had “binge watched” the entire story at one sitting. For two and four part stories, this isn’t so bad. Any more that that, and I would pause between episodes to refill my snack tray. Yes, this does mean that it will take the rest of my life to watch all the available stories, but I will go broke at a much slower pace.
Another suggestion was to watch each of the various Doctors in chronological order. That is not to say, start with “The Unearthly Child” and make your way to the TV movie, but watch the first William Hartnell story, then the first available Patrick Troughton story, or even skip around and go to Peter Davison or Tom Baker. By doing this, you get to see the characters and relationships develop along the way.
Okay, maybe you should wait a bit on the first Sylvester McCoy story.