Saturday, 6 June 2009

Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child (Pilot Episode)

"I knew this sort of thing would happen, you stupid child!"

This was quite wonderful. Brilliantly directed by Waris Hussein- the first scene fades into the second scene by a dissolve, which I suspect we won't be seeing again for quite some time. You also see that in the early scene with Ian and the wonderful Babs in the classroom that the clever camera angles and positioning almost distract you from the fact that all of this is basically exposition. But the script is good enough to get away with it.

Incidentally, Susan is a better dancer than I am. And I flatter myself in saying that's quite something. Also, she manages to look quite sinister whilst strutting said funky stuff, which is quite an achievement.

Jacqueline Hill slightly fluffs her line when Barbara is in the car with Ian outside 76 Totters Lane but, hey, this was filmed as live. Overall I feel the reputation the pilot has for fluffs and mistakes is overblown- very little was noticeable, and the... incident... on entering the TARDIS I shall gloss over.

Oh, Ian has no matches... but why should such an incidental detail be pointed out...?

The Doctor comes across as very sinister and villainous, and this, I suspect, is what Sydney Newman was unhappy with. A number of the Doctor's lines appear here which would later be cut, most of which make him appear supercilious and sinister. Some are great, though: "You and your companion would be footprints in a time where you were not supposed to have walked". William Hartnell's performance is pitched quite differently from what we would later see. His laugh is really quite sinister.

Both the TARDIS sound when Ian and Babs first enter and the dematerialisation sound are both rather more avant-garde and clearly influenced by Stockhausen than we would come to expect. But then again, it was the 1960s!

Overall, brilliant. Of course, the Doctor came across as too nasty and this had to be changed. But as a piece of drama, magnificent. The pilot...5/5.

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