Doctor Who: First Doctor Summary
Starting with the last two serials for William Hartnell, they were pretty strong. It was obvious that he was starting to falter in the role, but the stories and supporting cast were strong enough to keep the show rolling.
As for the First Doctor, I enjoyed his stories a lot more than I thought I would. Many places in fandom categorize Hartnell’s Doctor as a curmudgeonly grandfather who wants to do things his way, and his way alone. His character has a lot more depth than that simple stereotype, and while he is a grumpy man, he also has a stunning capacity to love and care for those who he respects. Behind that gruff nomadic scientist is a sympathetic character with a childlike curiosity about the entirety of time and space.
I also had some trepidation about watching the older episodes, especially since so many are reconstructions, but the skills in acting and production shone through beyond the grainy images and telesnaps. I had watched The Aztecs long before starting the Timestamps project, and was thoroughly disappointed. To be honest, I needed the background of the preceding serials, and this time I had it.
The First Doctor’s adventures are truly worth the investment to watch them. And that’s why it’s so hard to say goodbye. Even after two serials of hardship in the fourth series due to the actor’s declining health, his farewell was quite up front and sincere. In those final two words, “stay warm,” Hartnell emoted his heartbreak and his gratitude for such a wonderful experience.
I’m glad I took the time to truly appreciate it.
Series Four (First Doctor) Average Rating: 3.5
Series 1 – 3.5
Series 2 – 3.7
Series 3 – 3.1
Series 4 – 3.5
First Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 3.41
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.