BritBox -- Americans can see Classic Who!

TheDustyZebra

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An ad for this site showed up on my Facebook feed recently, and it's a godsend for Americans like me who have never had access to the old Who, as well as a ton of other British TV.

There's a seven-day free trial (they do ask for a credit card up front) and then it's $6.99 a month.

There are some large swaths of the old shows that are unavailable, but great loads of them that are, as well. And since I've never managed to find more than one or two of the old episodes, I'm wallowing in it. I've managed to determine fairly quickly that I don't care for the First Doctor at all, am pretty meh about the Second Doctor, and have found one to love like the modern ones in the Third Doctor.

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The earlier stories are more ensemble cast pieces really - the other characters such as Barbara and Ian are just as important as the Doctor.
 
The earlier stories are more ensemble cast pieces really - the other characters such as Barbara and Ian are just as important as the Doctor.

I hated them, too. And especially hated Susan.

I suppose if I'd been around to watch them in the sixties, I wouldn't have minded, but the depiction of helpless women flopping their heads around with a hand to the forehead, fainting and stumbling and squealing and screaming, just doesn't fly anymore. And all of the "wait out here, my dear, while the menfolk handle everything".
 
I hated them, too. And especially hated Susan.

I suppose if I'd been around to watch them in the sixties, I wouldn't have minded, but the depiction of helpless women flopping their heads around with a hand to the forehead, fainting and stumbling and squealing and screaming, just doesn't fly anymore. And all of the "wait out here, my dear, while the menfolk handle everything".

Not sure which serials you saw. I don't think e.g. The Aztecs is like that for example. But these things are rather of their time so I tend to make allowances. I love Pat Troughton but he does tell Polly to make the tea to keep the scientists calm while he's trying to sort things out (I think that was in The Moonbase which otherwise is quite a good story). Some of the female companions are worse screamers/wet blankets than others - I can't take to Victoria, for example. Zoe is one of my favourites but they do still insist on having her scream even though she's a highly intelligent scientist! And Jon Pertwee's first companion, Liz, who was a level headed and sensible scientist was dropped after one season in favour of Jo Grant who is the soppy thicko screamer par excellence. I think because the powers that be felt Liz was too cerebral and the viewing audience needed a 'normal girl' with which to identify - also the Doctor didn't need to explain stuff to Liz.

Ironically, Susan started off quite different in the first pilot - really weird, but again the powers that be didn't like that and said she had to be made into a 'normal teenager', i.e. screaming and throwing a fit over everything.
 
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Not sure which serials you saw. I don't think e.g. The Aztecs is like that for example. But these things are rather of their time so I tend to make allowances. I love Pat Troughton but he does tell Polly to make the tea to keep the scientists calm while he's trying to sort things out (I think that was in The Moonbase which otherwise is quite a good story). Some of the female companions are worse screamers/wet blankets than others - I can't take to Victoria, for example. Zoe is one of my favourites but they do still insist on having her scream even though she's a highly intelligent scientist! And Jon Pertwee's first companion, Liz, who was a level headed and sensible scientist was dropped after one season in favour of Jo Grant who is the soppy thicko screamer par excellence. I think because the powers that be felt Liz was too cerebral and the viewing audience needed a 'normal girl' with which to identify - also the Doctor didn't need to explain stuff to Liz.

Ironically, Susan started off quite different in the first pilot - really weird, but again the powers that be didn't like that and said she had to be made into a 'normal teenager', i.e. screaming and throwing a fit over everything.


Well, I started at the beginning, which was the caveman one. It said it was Season 1, Episode 1, but now I wonder, as you say "first pilot" -- was there something before that, then? Because it was pretty bad. I was sure I'd seen the first episode before, though, and it was something else entirely, so maybe that's what that was about.

I also watched the one with the Daleks and the Greek gods... err... I mean the Thal.

I'm not one of those people who thinks everything ought to reflect current values, and I can usually make generous allowances for things being of their time, but this was just more than I could stand. I can generally take Star Trek TOS as it comes, for instance, but this was so much more OTT.

Darn, though -- I've been liking Liz, so I'm sad to hear she's going away to make room for a screamer. But simply having a better Doctor may make it palatable. If not, well, Tom Baker here I come! :D
 
There was a pilot episode which has been released on DVD in various versions, except that's just what it's called now - British TV didn't really have the concept of pilots. The first episode, An Unearthly Child, was redone because the first recording was disastrous, with cameras crashing into scenery and various other problems. Also, when head of Drama, Sydney Newman saw it, he thought it very poor and had certain things changed for the re-recording, especially Susan's character which was rather fey and odd - The Pilot Episode.

It's the episode that sets up the whole series - basically, Susan's teachers are concerned about the oddities she exhibits and follow her home to the junkyard, discovering the Tardis and being kidnapped by the Doctor. It leads into the caveman story - you see the shadow of a caveman over the Tardis at the end.
 
I never liked Jo Grant though after her you get Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen of blessed memory) and things pick up then companion-wise. But there are some good stories with JG in so I ignore her as much as possible.
 
Have you seen Inferno yet DZ? One of my favs and has a very interesting alternative version of both Liz and the Brigadier!
 
I'm not sure that I saw the Caveman serial when it was first** broadcast.

The one bit I (vaguely) remember was either at the end of the last episode of it -- I do recall wondering what was going on -- or was repeated at the beginning of the next serial, The Daleks... or both! (This was all a very long time ago.)


** - I've seen bits of it since, on documentaries about the show. The film, Doctor Who and the Daleks, has a somewhat different set-up, with no detour anywhere near cavemen.
 
It's the episode that sets up the whole series - basically, Susan's teachers are concerned about the oddities she exhibits and follow her home to the junkyard, discovering the Tardis and being kidnapped by the Doctor. It leads into the caveman story - you see the shadow of a caveman over the Tardis at the end.

But wait, that's where it started. The bit with the teachers following her home and all that is S1E1 in the BritBox collection. She was actually a lot more tolerable at the start, yes.
 
But wait, that's where it started. The bit with the teachers following her home and all that is S1E1 in the BritBox collection. She was actually a lot more tolerable at the start, yes.

Just to clarify if I confused you - that's "An Unearthly Child" which was recorded twice - the second version was transmitted. The first was shelved for years until fans found out about it and it eventually was put onto DVD after being, I think, shown at conventions. But the original first version had Susan in particular as rather fey and strange. Sydney Newman's directive was to make her a normal teenager (even though she's supposed to be an alien of course, and that was the direction they had taken in the first version).
 
Old Who companions were a very mixed bunch. Yeah, some were screamers (Susan, Victoria and Mel I'm looking at you!), others were brainboxes and some were fighters - check out Remembrance of the Daleks for an ace example :)

Jo Grant was an interesting one for me, as she actually evolved from an easily hypnotised klutz into someone who could tell The Master where to shove his hypnosis.
 

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