Doctor Who 1963-89, The Classic Years

10 Oct

These days longevity seems to be a terrible thing, the pace of technology, for example is so rapid there’s always a ‘must have’ upgrade for the new fangled gadgets, so now we have undoubtedly established that all things don’t last very long, I can smoothly move onto doing a post about a TV show that is currently celebrating its Fiftieth anniversary.

Any show that has the remarkable staying power that sees it commissioned for so long is more than a little impressive.  My odyssey into the universe of Doctor Who starts where it should at the beginning, well, as much of a beginning as a programme that can encompass all of space and time (and beyond) has.   For those of you who have missed out on all the fun that has been going since 1963 here’s an extremely brief overview:


An alien (Time Lord) travels through time and space with a succession of different companions in a ship that can go anywhere in time and space and is stuck looking like a 1960’s Police Telephone Box.  Many adventures are had and lots of different actors play the main role of the Doctor (more of this in a later post) as well as his aforementioned fellow travellers.  Iconic bad guys and sci-fi set pieces litter the history of the show, not to mention different writers, styles, story arcs and show credits.

That is a simplistic look, fair enough but the complexities of the show are many and I could be here all day listing them (and missing out loads as well), suffice to say that an overview of what makes this show more interesting than lots of other shows in (or out) of the genre that have a huge budget and run to a decent compliment of episode per season is no easy task.

You can probably already guess the answer to this but what connects: Cyrano de Bergerac, the great fire of London and some bee people.  Yes that’s right, Doctor Who, a show that can happily combine any conceivable – or otherwise – ideas, for the universe is infinite so anything can be imagined and I would argue be made into a plausible (for the show) plot line.  I say this because however glaring a plot hole or contradiction that I come across, I can usually explain it fairly quickly with some counter argument to what happened, even if the show appeared to miss its own mistake. Anything that can be made feasible in the context of later self referencing itself makes more a more fun programme to invest in and potential plot lines that last for decades.Pyramids of Mars

From this viewpoint, the sheer scope adds depth and makes any sort of parameters and rules more or less redundant and allows for varied themes and episodes.  A lot of TV series tend to have an established feel to the episodes and tend to have only one a series that differs, The X-Files always did a comedy episode for example, whereas Doctor Who manages to frequently combine humour, horror, whimsy and sadness (to name a few) within the same episode.  The feel of one type of episode can be turned on its head at any moment.  This draws in the viewer and is sometimes so seamlessly done that you don’t immediately realise the change.  It’s this sense of the unknown that keeps you hooked for every episode and constantly expecting the unexpected.

With a not very big budget, especially compared to our American brethren’s visual output, Doctor Who has always excelled at the extremes of special effect, from the genuinely sinister and horrifying to the downright laughable, that of course is part of the charm.  Any show that wants longevity has to become inventive in its use of effects but more importantly has to introduce varied themes and ideas and most importantly good layered stories.  Stories that tackle a huge range of ideas and science based theories, the aping of social themes, satire and above all multi layered messages.

To modern eyes the wobbly sets and acting can look dated but the beauty of the show is it tackled such themes as genocide and equality, racism for example but with a lighthearted veneer making it family friendly and something to dwell on after watching.  So lots to be rewarded with for watching this show then and I haven’t mentioned all of it.seadevilsdvd


Posted by on 10/10/2013 in Doctor Who


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28 responses to “Doctor Who 1963-89, The Classic Years

  1. colemining

    10/10/2013 at 20:08

    I love this. And Doctor Who. But I already told you that. Connecting history and speculative fiction… all good things.


    • Ste J

      10/10/2013 at 20:13

      I got a bit ranty with this but there is to much to fit in…still I have plenty of weeks before the big ‘un to write a shed load more posts. I am determined to cover as many aspects as possible.


  2. gargoylebruce

    10/10/2013 at 23:34

    The key is having great writers and great actors – the slightly budget costumes can be overlooked because of the power of the performances…although admittedly, some of the vintage episode villains are spectacular in their budget oddity by today’s standard!


    • Ste J

      11/10/2013 at 07:34

      You are right, no show works without charismatic actors and clever writers. I love the slightly mental outfits that people wear. You never see that in Sci Fi people laughing at other races for their weird clothing…we need more of that, or perhaps a spin off, Fashion Doctor Who!


  3. Lyn

    11/10/2013 at 06:10

    Ahhh I love it when you talk Dr Who to us! I remember those smoking hands…Pyramid of Mars wasn’t it?
    “Kneel before the might of Sutekh!” 🙂


    • Ste J

      11/10/2013 at 07:32

      Well remembered, it was indeed the Pyramids of Mars. I have I think 15 posts that I have in mind (so far) so expect a lot more. Special effects may be all awe inspiring these days but smoking hands are just so sinister and awesome and scare children which is always good in my book.


  4. Alastair Savage

    11/10/2013 at 08:39

    The Mind Robber – The Visitation – The Web Planet. How much of a nerd, am I?


    • Ste J

      11/10/2013 at 08:45

      The Mind Robber is one of my favourites, I have that one in my jaunt around all the Doctors…Nerd is a term that MUST be applied to fans lol.


  5. fantasticbookblog

    11/10/2013 at 08:41

    You seem to be on the pulse of what news I read, Mister Ste J, as I’ve just been looking at this and here you are talking of the great Doctor himself. This cannot be mere coincidence! Well, it can…


    • Ste J

      11/10/2013 at 08:50

      Timing is everything, it was actually a bit of a coincidence as I meant to publish this earlier on in the week. It’s great news about the founded episodes…I hope there is more to come before the big day! Now that will all be a matter of timing.


  6. Seyi sandra

    11/10/2013 at 10:41

    I love Doctor Who, I have watched it as long as I could remember, and would continue to do so! I can’t really add much to your article! It’s a classic!!!


    • Ste J

      13/10/2013 at 20:27

      It is certainly an institution. Generations love this, it is hard to see how it can ever be fully stopped. Inconceivable I would wager which makes me happy.


  7. Chelsea Brown19

    11/10/2013 at 17:08

    Sounds like an interesting show, and better than most of the crap the Hollywood’s turning out nowadays.


    • Ste J

      13/10/2013 at 20:24

      With such a varied history from cheesy to clever to downright emotional it coves so much. If you don’t like it I will personally drink a whole bottle of Pepsi Max.


  8. Christina ~

    12/10/2013 at 02:58

    Lots to be rewarded with indeed! Including this exvepically enticing peek into the Classic Years of Doctor Who! I know I will probably have my Whovian Fan Badge taken from me for admitting this in so public a venue…but I shall instead blame the country I live in for missing out on all the Classic Who. I grew up with lots of vintage sci-fi…so I am sure to love all the Classic Who…knowing I have so much to look forward to has left me in such a state to be sure….rather giddy to begin the exploration with you as my intrepid guide to all things Who…. xxxxx


    • Ste J

      13/10/2013 at 20:37

      I thin krather than being excommunicated from the ranks of Doctor Who fans, you will be envied that so many treats are in store for will love it, how do I know this? Because you have taste in many things and I know the very stories to draw you in! xxxxx


      • Christina ~

        14/10/2013 at 03:28

        Now I am all anticipatious!!! And ready as any good companion to the Doctor would be!!! (You being the Doctor in this poor attempt at an analogy) xxxxx


        • Ste J

          15/10/2013 at 11:09

          I was hoping you’d struggle but carry the analogy on, just for my amusement. I’d be a good Doctor, except for the running, I’d be more of a swift walk from danger type of guy. You’d be a great companion, just wear good shoes, that’s always sound advice. xxxxx


  9. LuAnn

    14/10/2013 at 14:54

    Since I am new to Doctor Who, reading some of these comments is like trying to learn a new language. I am looking forward to exploring new territories, with you as our illustrious leader. 😉


    • Ste J

      15/10/2013 at 11:07

      Glad to have you as part of my posse! Who does bring out the nerd in all who watch but in a fun way. Soon you’ll be debating and name checking with the rest of us in tin foil and wobbly wall heaven!


  10. RoSy

    15/10/2013 at 14:08

    Oh my goodness – 1963?
    How the heck will I ever catch up?
    Hmmmm…Any suggestions for a starting point?
    I really wanna’ be part of the cool club!


    • Ste J

      15/10/2013 at 14:14

      Well my friend, the start of the modern series, the one featuring Christopher Eccleston is a good starting point for new fans, of which I will be reviewing some in due course of the blog series, other than that..I shall be reviewing one story per Doctor so hopefully you will be inspired from that. Fifty years is a mammoth success and there’s no sign of it stopping either! At least you’ll not be wanting for an episode in a while.


      • RoSy

        15/10/2013 at 14:22

        Noted in my mental list. I hope it doesn’t get lost in there.


        • Ste J

          15/10/2013 at 14:47

          I will remind you…providing I remember, ha!


  11. Karl G

    26/07/2015 at 15:29

    I absolutely hate the new Doctor Who stories, none of stories are set in quarries or written by genius writers all the new stuff seem to be based around the Doctor knocking his companions off.


    • Ste J

      26/07/2015 at 18:01

      Haha, I agree with the quarries, they need to start doing some of those, save on the budget. There is a stupid amount of romance in it sometime, the last series especially was frustrating, it appears modern day TV expects romance when really all we want is a good story with subtext like Robert Holmes used to do so well.



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