This Saturday we continue our BBC-approved series spotlighting the various eras of Doctor Who. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Doctor so we’re kicking off the year with a screening of the very first Doctor Who serial – An Unearthly Child. Here’s the official blurb:
Susan Foreman is a mystery to her teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. She seemingly knows more than she should about the past… and the future. Ian and Barbara are further baffled when their curiosity leads them to follow Susan home one night, only to find that her “home” appears to be a deserted junkyard. There, they discover an odd police box and a strange old man who claims to be Susan’s grandfather and calls himself the Doctor. The journey of a lifetime is about to begin…
The screening kicks off at 3 PM and admission is free (though you can reserve your seat by buying a $5 food and beverage card). Arrive early for a chance to win prizes and for an intro by our host Jef With One F. Jef is a contributing writer to the Houston Press and Houston Chronicle dealing with video games, comic books, and of course Doctor Who. He describes himself a recovering rock star taking it one day at a time, and his onstage adventures can be read in "The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned in The Black Math Experiment." Look for his coverage of Doctor Who at the Houston Press art blog, Art Attack, when the series returns in April.
To prep Jef for Saturday’s screening, we asked him a few questions about his love for Doctor Who.
Do you remember the first episode of Doctor Who you watched?
The Fourth Doctor serial, “The Ark in Space” with Harry and Sarah Jane as companions. When my wife Lynda and I decided to get into the show we asked around for advice on where to start in the massive run or it. There were two camps, people that suggested Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, and people who suggested the new series from the beginning.
Being real you-have-to-start-at-the-beginning kind of people, we opted for the earlier stuff. “Ark” is a great story, full of cheesy special effects, but also the quirky wonder that made Baker so famous in the role. It’s still one of my favorite stories.
Who is your favorite Doctor?
I am a big fan of Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. He’s such a wonderfully tragic figure, and I wish he’d gotten a longer run. He managed to complete the transition from the sort of distinctly asexual alien figure of the first seven to the more human and romantic incarnations begun by Paul McGann. I don’t think the show would be what it is now with Eccleston’s genius. Finger’s crossed we’ll see him one more time this November.
For fans who have never seen a single episode of Doctor Who, where’s the best place to jump in?
Honestly, I would suggest “Rose” from the first season of the new Who. Classic Who is fantastic, of course, but unless you’re a real big fan of early science fiction television it is going to seem kind of hokey. Once you’re invested in the history a little more, then you don’t even notice the flaws. If you insist on going classic first, The Seventh Doctor story “Curse of Fenric” and the Fourth Doctor “Pyramids of Mars” are well-paced, fun serials.
If you had the power of the TARDIS at your fingertips, what would you do with it?
I would travel back in time ten years and tell Kat Cresswell to let the doctors amputate her leg before the cancer could spread. Then I would go into space and find her a bitchin’ robotic leg. Then her, Lynda, and I would run. Just run, next stop everywhere and anywhen.
What episode would you most love to see on the big screen?
The 1996 Paul McGann Doctor Who TV movie. Yes, it’s pretty awful, but it tries so damn hard, and McGann is actually a really good Doctor doing his best with a terrible script written by people that had no idea what they were doing. And I’ve gotten to like the Eighth Doctor a lot better from his novels. I think he could use a little dose of legitimacy on the big screen.