Sunday, January 27, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: William Hartnell The First Doctor

“It all started out as a mild curiosity in the junkyard, and now it's turned out to be quite a great spirit of adventure.”

William Hartnell was the first man to carry the mantel of The Doctor and the one who got this 50 year phenomenon started.  It was because of him and his wonderful portrayal of The Doctor that we have the show we all know and love today.   We owe a lot to the man who donned that white wig and opened the TARDIS doors for the first time. 

When I first watched the early stories with William Hartnell I didn’t care for the 1st Doctor at first.  I thought his stories were boring and did not care for his portrayal at all.  I was young and loved the stories in color and just didn’t care for the black and white stories. I was initiated into the world of Doctor Who by watching Tom Baker stories on the local PBS station.  So my first foray was with all those classic stories during the time when the stories were really good.  When they finally showed William Hartnell’s stories there was a level of excitement but I just did not care for him.  I don’t know why. Maybe in my youth I just didn’t really appreciated what he was doing.  Don’t take me wrong I enjoyed the stories and have them all on DVD but I just wasn’t a big William Hartnell fan.

Now I’m older and wiser, well in theory anyway, and after watching his stories over and over again I have gained an appreciation of what William Hartnell has done.  Even his stumbling over his words I enjoy because in real life people stumble over words all the time and with him doing that it brings realism to the role.  The more you watch him you can see different aspects of The Doctor that the next 10 guys have taken from him.  He was so monumental in shaping the character.  The kindly, intelligent, fighter for the weak and oppressed all came from him.  William Hartnell’s era should be more appreciated from the new fans because so much that we have now all started back then.

I have grown to enjoy his stories.  I still enjoy watching them all the time and even though they are dated and the sets look cheap and they used models instead of CGI there is a certain charm about them.  They have a unique style of storytelling that uses science fiction as a back drop.  Always telling a message and trying to prove a point.  But what we have to remember is that it is a science fiction story and its really good science fiction at that.  But what makes it all the more believable is William Hartnell and his performances as The Doctor.  He took the role so serious that you could see he wasn’t going through the motions when he approached a new episode.  He tackled it head on and with a determination to do the best story he could.  Science Fiction wasn’t easy and back in the 60’s it was, well, comical at times.  But William Hartnell gave us his all and his dedication to being The Doctor was one of the contributors for us having a show in 2013. 

The First Doctor era was more than just bad sets, models, and black and white television.  It was an era that had a lot of good stories that still hold out today.  There were Daleks and Cybermen and a funny monk from Gallifrey that caused havoc now and again. The era started it all off and these are the stories that helped get us to where we are now.  The historicals and the ones on alien worlds should be viewed over again with a respect of their historical value to what they brought to Doctor Who.  Cause without those early stories and William Hartnell there would be no Doctor Who and no 50th Anniversary.

So here is to William Hartnell.  The man who brought the Doctor to life and the one who got it all started and kept it going for others to embark on the journey.  William Hartnell was a man who loved being the character and loved doing it for the kids so they could have someone to believe in to save them from all the nasty creatures that Doctor Who had produced.   A wonderful actor and a wonderful Doctor who should have his stories watched by the newer fans of the show so they can see how good he really was.

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