First Memories and a Reminder
While listening to TARDIS Tara’s semi-live Comic-Con reports Podshock Episode 157, and reading and hearing various other reports on the Doctor Who panel, one comment really stood out in my mind. That was Julie Gardner’s comment on what made her fall in love with Doctor Who. She reported that the first story that Russell showed her when they started work on the series was the Season 17 story “City of Death”, and from that moment she said she has been a confirmed fan.
Now Season 17 frequently gets a bad rap from the fan community, but it’s my favourite season of all them – including the Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant years! And it was my first. As a six year old, my first, very vivid memory of Doctor Who is the first cliffhanger of City of Death as the sinister count reveals his true persona – wobbly mask and all. I was duly terrified and had to watch next week – when I got to experience the thrills of a chicken that turned into a skeleton, and back into an egg, and more of the well dressed one-eyed green man. How thrilling! I was hooked for life! Even more so when I got to see the great big pit creature, the menacing Mandrels, and the sparkly bulls wearing loincloths over the following weeks. I loved them all – and didn’t care that the effects might have looked cheap, or that it was being played for laughs – my imagination was captured by this weird man in a scarf, his lady friend and tin dog, and all these alien-looking creatures and planets. Autumn 1979 was the year that this Doctor Who fan was born – in a world of just 3 channels, and every Saturday after Grandstand I was by the television, waiting.
The following year when the show (finally) came back I was absolutely pertrified when that nice safe man with the scarf got spikes all over his face and started killing people. Yes – its another not-quite-so-well regarded story. But to this 7 year old, it was great. (I should probably also admit at this point that my favourite story from the “Five Faces of Doctor Who” repeat season that showed up the following year was “The Krotons” by a country mile!)
So why tell you all this? Well, other than to completely devalue my standing as knowing what is and is not “good” Doctor Who from the typical fan perspective – but who wants to be typical? Not me! – it’s to remind us all that Doctor Who is first and foremost a kids show, which sometimes we forget when complaining about aliens that make slightly rude noises, or villains not taking themselves completely seriously, or scientists with silly accents. Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson and the rest of the Cardiff team for the last 5 years never forgot that, and I hope Steven Moffat and his team don’t either! And most of all, we shouldn’t forget it – it’s so much more fun to just go along for the ride! I’m can’t wait for the next one, but in the meantime, I’ve got Nightmare of Eden, The Krotons, and Planet of the Dead, and many, many more, to watch a few more times!