DWM 466 End of Part One
Fan Twin is watching a lot of Doctor Who at the moment. His time is basically divided between school, sleep, food, Doctor Who, football and cricket (we recently took the boys to their first cricket match. See, that fooled you – we don’t just do Doctor Who-related things, you know. Although out of all sports, cricket probably has the most connections with Doctor Who, racking up the Fifth Doctor’s outfit, Black Orchid, that scientifically convincing bit with the cricket ball in Four to Doomsday, the TARDIS landing in the middle of a match in The Daleks’ Master Plan: Volcano, the unused Douglas Adams script Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, and the novels of Paul Cornell. For a few moments during the match I thought it might have even more cult TV connections when the commentator announced that the next few overs would be ‘powerplay’, but apparently that’s something to do with fielding restrictions and is not, as I’d hoped, them showing an episode of Blake’s 7 on the big screen).
Anyway. Doctor Who. He’s watching in order (which is a process he’s embarked on before in various ways) but this time he’s skipping all the Episode Ones. Now, I love Episode Ones. I love being given the space to find out about the characters and the situations they’re in before being plunged into the world of adventure. I love having a few moments of peace with the TARDIS crew before they are inevitably accused of being responsible for whatever happens to be going on in the place where they’ve landed. I love how the tension builds and builds ready for that initial cliffhanger.
So why does Fan Twin spurn these lovely intros? I don’t think it’s simply impatience – although I’ve never tried the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment on him (and not just because it’s tricky getting hold of vegetarian marshmallows), I’m pretty sure he’d pass with flying colours. We are, after all, talking about a child who has been known to watch all of The Krotons in one sitting. The easiest thing to do was to just ask him. His answer, not exactly an unexpected one, was that it was because he liked starting where the monsters came in and he liked there to be lots of action. Of course, he gets all of that in recent Doctor Who Episode Ones, also known as The Entire Story, Actually, Unless It’s One of Those Two-Parters. There isn’t time for all that build up these days, which is a shame but understandable, and maybe that’s why Fan Twin expects his entertainment to hit the ground running.
Being sad and old, I do occasionally look back with rose-tinted glasses on those days when you came to a story completely fresh with no real idea what the story would be about. You might not even have seen a picture of the new monster. You might not even know if there even was going to be a monster in it! Ooooh, the anticipation! (Not that I’m saying you can’t be surprised by recent Who. I nearly choked on my jammy dodger when Jenna Coleman popped up in Asylum of the Daleks, for instance.)
We’re all deep into Troughton territory at the moment, Fan Twin in his Who-binges and husband and I in our one-episode-a-night anniversary year watchthrough (we’re at The Web of Fear – now that’s an Episode One to send shivers down your spine). I wasn’t around to watch the Second Doctor when originally broadcast, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was pretty much the golden era of Episode Ones. Unlike the majority of the Hartnell years, viewers could now tell an Episode One when they saw it because it had ‘Episode One’ written at the start (or ONE, in the case of The Ice Warriors), and there was a pretty good chance of a new (or new-old) monster turning up – the first two Troughton seasons only had one monster-free story apiece. But there was no Doctor Who Magazine (sob! Those poor deprived children of the Sixties!), no internet, no camera phones to take sneaky pictures of filming with. Children tuning in for The Web of Fear Episode One knew it featured the Yeti because the Doctor himself had told them in a trailer after The Enemy of the World Part Six, but they probably wouldn’t have known what the new, extra-scary Yeti looked like unless they happened to be Fan Twin’s godfather (aka Justin Richards) who, at the same age as Fan Twin is now, got to visit a Web of Fear rehearsal and saw a Yeti costume. Can you imagine how exciting that must have been? (I’m talking about the ‘not-knowing-in-advance’, but obviously meeting a Yeti counts as just a little bit exciting too.)
Anyway, when Fan Twin and I had our little chat about Episode Ones, he said he’d start watching them again. ‘I’ll do it with the next story,’ he told me.
The only problem was ‘the next story’ turned out to be The Invasion, where the monster isn’t actually revealed until the very last second of Episode Four. Oops.
But it turned out that he adored the whole thing, and it’s now his favourite Second Doctor story. Take that, twenty-first century instant gratification!