WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH CLASSIC DOCTOR WHO
So soon after I became a Whovian in late 2012, I found out about Classic Doctor Who - that is, the original show that aired from 1963 to 1989. Thanks to the DW 50th Anniversary in 2013, I was able to find out more about it, and finally started watching most of it last year (I need to get back to it!).
- •The stories feel deeperClassic DW was aired in the serial format, meaning a single story would be aired over multiple weeks. (As few as 2 and as many as 12!) I feel like this allowed them to develop the stories more and make them deeper and more complex than today's 45-minute episodes often can.
- •You get over the low-budget nature of Classic Who quicker than you think.When Doctor Who first started, many people at the BBC did not believe it would even succeed, so it was given a rather small budget. And occasionally this DOES show. The effects get better over time though (especially once the show goes to color), and you can easily get over that aspect.
- •HISTORY!Early on, pure historicals were actually a thing in Doctor Who. And there are some good ones. I like "The Crusade" quite a bit. It shows both sides of the Third Crusade, and has been noted for portraying Saladin positively, which is rare in Western depictions of the Crusades. "The Romans" is a comedic depiction of Roman times that's definitely worth it. Even the later "pseudo-historical" serials, like "The Time Warrior," are good.
- •Lots of canon infoYou can gain SO much context on the world in which Doctor Who exists by watching Classic. Watch the Third Doctor era for context on UNIT and The Master. For context on Gallifrey and Time Lords, check out Tom Baker's era - not only does he have two stories set on Gallifrey ("The Deadly Assassin" and "The Invasion of Time"), but they also greatly expanded the mythos of both the Doctor's planet and his race from Tom Baker's run onwards.
- •It's good if you like a scareYou think Moffat is dark? Try the Fourth Doctor era! A number of his serials are quite scary, including "Pyramids of Mars," "The Hand of Fear," "Image of the Fendahl," "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" and "Horror of Fang Rock."
- •See the origins of the monsters you think you knowBy watching Classic Who, you can see the origins of the show's longest-running enemies, like the Daleks, Cybermen, and Sontarans, as well as of enemies only recently brought to New Who, like the Zygons or Ice Warriors. There are a lot of good Dalek serials, the Cybermen are quite scary early on, and all four Ice Warrior appearances ("The Ice Warriors," "The Seeds of Death," "The Curse of Peladon," and "The Monster of Peladon") are great.
- •It IS doable to watch it outside the UK, and legally too!Well, mostly legally. Anyway, I worked out that if you watch one serial a day, you can finish Classic in 5 1/2 months. Hulu Plus has over half the episodes, and there are some on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Netflix too. I also was able to find some DVDs of it via my local library. I did end up having to use Dailymotion for some of the eps though (mostly the Hartnell and Troughton reconstructions I watched), hence the "mostly legally."
- •The bonus stuffDid you know there's a pilot version of "An Unearthly Child" that never aired? You can find it on the DVD set "Doctor Who: The Beginning." Also, Hulu includes among its New Who clips the 1981 pilot for a show called "K-9 and Company," a spin-off featuring Sarah Jane and K-9. While this never made it past pilot stage, it's very good and I recommend it!
- •The CompanionsClassic Who, of course, has Companions. Including a number of strong women, like the knowledgable history teacher Barbara, the lovable and smart Vicki, the clever secretary Polly, the brave reporter Sarah Jane, the fierce warrior Leela, smart AND pretty Time Lady Romana, and the tomboyish Ace. For guys you have the snarky Scottish highlander Jamie McCrimmon and action guy/science teacher Ian Chesterton, among others.
- •Something to watch between seasons of New WhoMy original plan with Series 8. I failed at this though.
- •If you need a place to start...Try the series "Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited." It's a special series BBC America aired in 2013 as part of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary festivities. There are 11 episodes, one for each Doctor then existing. Each consists of a short documentary detailing the featured Doctor, his Companions, and his main enemies, followed by a serial from that Doctor's run. The specials are available on DVD (spread over 3 DVD sets) and I think on Amazon Instant Video too.