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I thoroughly recommend this set as good entertainment fifty years later, and also for its historical importance.,
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Beginning (An Unearthly Child  / The Daleks  / The Edge of Destruction ) [DVD] (DVD)
I watched these adventures as a boy when they were first transmitted. I thought that, when I returned to them almost fifty years later, they would seem creaky and poor. They don't. They come across as captivating stories still, and the techniques used to make up for the lack of special effects are still as effective as they were.
Without special effects, there was much more emphasis on the actors. When the characters are fleeing for their lives, the camera focuses in really close and it is the looks of terror on the actors' faces that conveys the danger they are in. Carol Ann Ford (Susan) was especially good at this. The added benefit is that, in the best traditions of hide-behind-the-sofa scariness, the danger is unseen. Is the bad guy catching the fleeing hero? What is it that has terrified them?
William Hartnell's Doctor Who was one of my favourites. He played the Doctor as slightly sinister - sometimes more than slightly. In the first episode he effectively kidnaps half his companions in order to protect his secret of being a Time Lord.
The first full story, about cavemen who have forgotten how to make fire, is interesting but not heavyweight, and had this been the standard of all the stories, the show would not have lasted as long as it has. But the second full story introduces the Daleks, who were destined to be the definitive TV baddies. With their electronic voices, ruthlessness and mechanical bodies they were the epitome of non-human nastiness - and they struck an immediate chord with the TV viewers of the day, to such an extent that the return of the Daleks was later to become a major TV event. In truth, the story is probably an episode too long: the action is therefore slow by modern day standards, but the hide-behind-the-sofa tension is starting to build.
With the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who approaching, this set is well worth a view. It will enable you to see how it all started but also to see if there are any links that the current writers might pick up and play back.
Putting this show into context: it was first transmitted on the day the President Kennedy was shot. The Beatles had just started to dominate the music scene. Television was black and white and home computers, mobile phones and the internet did not exist. Doctor Who was received as innovative, strange with its electronic music and, well, different from pretty well anything that had gone before. This box set shows why.
I thoroughly recommend this set as good entertainment even now, and also for its historical importance. Five stars.
Update August 2013: I watched this with my grandson this weekend, who has grown up with the David Tennant and Matt Smith Doctors. I was worried that he might find it disappointing. To the contrary: he loved the first episode and is now going to watch them all.