Thursday, March 26, 2009
After that iconic first episode (I'd use the term "pilot episode", but given that the first try of recording "An Unearthly Child" has been retconned as a "pilot episode", I won't), the first ever Doctor Who story settles down into a tale of prehistoric cavemen with monosyllabic names huddling around caves wondering if either of their presidential candidates, Za or Kal, can promise them fire and, thus, survival through the impending winter.
I fully expected to feel bored by this episode, in keeping with the general public perception of the last three episodes of Serial A (I refuse to call it 100,000 BC). The first thing I noticed is the pace. Those who have only seen the new series will probably find that things move along at a pace that can kindly be described as a pedestrian. There's fewer than 10 scenes in the entire 24 minute episode. Most of these are used to set up the situation that our travelers now find themselves in, as well as setting up the dynamic that exists between the cavemen.
To be fair...yeah, not a lot happens in the episode, but the cavemen actors do their best to make it look like Act I of a Shakespeare play. The writers manage to cram in not one but two cracks at the "Doctor Who?" gag, both within minutes of each other. The Doctor smokes (!) for a brief second, if only to provide the episode (and, indeed, the story) with it's thrust. Kal witnesses the Doctor striking a match to light his pipe, realizes that the Doctor's apparent powers to create fire from his fingers can light Kal's path to the leadership of the tribe, and kidnaps him. From here on, the Doctor and his companions are pawns in Kal's struggle with Za for leadership, and in the Old Woman's (why didn't she get a name?) desire to keep fire out of the tribe.
Of course, none of the events mentioned above really take off in this episode, but it's building to something.
Posted by Steven at 8:56 AM