LadyGhosts of TV Past

What I Watched Last Night: Classic Doctor Who!

Yes, indeed, I am talking about Doctor Who again. You love it, I love it, and we are all better for it.

Because I am all caught up on the modern Doctor Who episodes, I’ve been watching what’s available on Netflix Instant from the “Classic” era. So far, I’ve worked my way through Doctors One through Three, and I’ve just waded into Four. Tom Baker plays Four, and enthusiasts will know he was the longest serving Doctor, having appeared on the show from 1974 until 1981.

Last night, I ended up watching two serials from Four – “The Ark in Space” and “Pyramids of Mars.” Both aired in 1975.

Doctor Who: The Ark In Space. The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane with a giant rubber bug.
The finest in rubbery, giant insect props

“The Ark in Space” brings the Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, and Harry Sullivan to a space station that appears to be storing all sorts of life and knowledge from human civilization. A collection of humans are in suspended animation and appear to have overslept by millennia. A few of the crew members have revived, and everyone discovers that an insect-like species, the Wirrn, were the ones who sabotaged the station’s controls. The story is divided into four 24-minute parts.

Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars. The Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, and Harry Sullivan
My 5 yr. old informed me that he’d like to be “The Doctor with the long scarf” for Halloween. It’s 10 months away, but sure, kid!

In “Pyramids of Mars,” the Doctor and Sarah Jane land in 1911 England, where the Doctor has detected an unusual field of energy. Inside a home, which will eventually become the property on which U.N.I.T headquarters sits, they discover Egyptian sarcophagi and the mysterious man who orders one of the “mummies” inside to kill the intruders. Everything turns out to be the doing of Sutekh, an ancient “destroyer of all living things,” who is imprisoned in an Egyptian pyramid and paralyzed by “The Eye of Horus,” an energy field located on Mars. This story is also divided up into four 24-minute parts, roughly.

My one paragraph summaries are rather simplistic, but do click through to see more details, if you like.

I quite like Tom Baker as the Doctor, though Two and Three have their charms as well. Because such little footage of One is still around, I can’t say too much about him except that the Netflix-available “The Aztecs” wasn’t really all that interesting for me. Watching the classic episodes, you can definitely see how they’ve done a good job maintaining that the Doctor is the same man, even though outward appearances change. Bits of Four – the brusqueness and the grin – remind me of Nine. I still have quite a few more installments to watch, but I hope they add more – especially the one and only televised appearance of Eight. But that’s somewhat because Paul McGann’s a fox. It’s true, despite the bad wig.

Come, let us discuss other classic episodes in the comments.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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