Long before Matt Smith ate fish fingers and custard across from Amelia Pond, before David Tennant uttered, “Allons-y”, and even before Tom Baker offered anyone a Jelly Baby, there was the first incarnation of The Doctor; a cantankerous, cross, and at times argumentative old man, stellarly played by William Hartnell.
On the 23rd of November, 1963, Doctor Who made its debut.
The universe would never be the same.
Originally released in 2006, this 3 DVD set covers the first three Doctor Who stories: An Unearthly Child, The Daleks, and The Edge of Destruction. There are also extras on each disc. Here’s the breakdown:
Disc one contains the four-part “Unearthly Child” story, as well as the unaired pilot episode that was reshot at creator Sidney Newman’s behest. Extras are limited to a 2 ½ minute “music video” (essentially an extended version of the opening theme), a studio recording of the original, rejected pilot, photo gallery, and a series of horrible comedy sketches, which are more embarrassing than funny.
Disc two takes us to the planet Skaro for our first glimpse of The Doctor’s oldest enemy: The Daleks. In addition to the seven-part story, the 17 minute documentary, “Creation of the Daleks” is included, as well as another photo gallery.
The final disc features the third story comprised of two parts, “The Edge of Destruction” and “The Brink of Disaster”. It’s the extras on disc three that alone could justify buying this set. “Over the Edge”, a 30 minute documentary, outlines the making of the two-parter. You also get the 10 minute special, “Inside the Spaceship”, which shows the creation of the TARDIS, the 12 minute, “Masters of Sound”, featuring the creation of the show’s incomparable theme and one-of-a-kind sound effects. A condensed (30 min.) audio track with accompanying stills for the fourth story, Marco Polo is also part of the extras. The real gem here however is the 2005 documentary, “Doctor Who: Origins”, chronicling how the show came to fruition and the early struggles the execs, cast, and crew faced trying to bring the show from conception to reality. When you see the challenges that were presented to all involved, it really is amazing Doctor Who got made at all, let alone the staying power it had, its subsequent regeneration in 2005 and the incredible popularity it now enjoys worldwide.
Negatives in this set are scarce; limited to the aforementioned “comedy” sketches and the mislabeling of discs two and three. So whether you enjoy the show in its current incarnation, you’ve loved it since childhood, or both, I highly recommend Doctor Who: The Beginning.
Greg “The Ungirthly Child” Randolph