Starring William Hartnell as The Doctor
with Carol Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, William Russell as Ian Chesterton and Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright

01 An Unearthly Child

The debut serial starts out fantastically, introducing the TARDIS and the key players with some finesse. However, when the story actually moves back in time to prehistoric Earth, it becomes very boring. There's worthy development for the main characters, especially the sinister, cantankerous Doctor and Ian, but the plot is tiresome and repetitive.


02 The Daleks

While vital to the series' early success, "The Daleks" is another very uneven story. The first half maintains some interest through good direction, neat design, an interesting script, the prickly relationship of the TARDIS crew, the nicely developing Doctor and, of course, the Daleks themselves. However, the need to return to the city feels contrived, with the story turning into an endless series of clichés and tackiness, not helped by the Thals being a dull bunch, that goes a long way to undermining the good work done early on.


03 The Edge of Destruction

An ultra low-budget filler story that attempts to fill two episodes with little more than paranoid atmosphere. The cast largely do their best with what little material they're given, but it's a thankless struggle. There's not even much decent character interaction due to the crew spending much of the first episode with memory loss. Overlong despite the short run-time.


04 Marco Polo

Superior costume drama with a surprisingly gripping narrative considering the length, with real epic scope. The story benefits from a fine guest cast, with the charismatic Mark Eden standing out, and the ever-impressive Derren Nesbitt excelling as Tegana. Even as a photo-based reconstruction, the sumptuous production values shine through, while the Doctor is finally becoming more natural and Ian really begins stepping up to the plate as the action lead. Not quite as splendid as its' reputation - still possibly being an episode too long - but still memorable.


05 The Keys of Marinus

The first outright clunker in the show's history, "Keys" is a spectacularly tacky episodic alien planet travelogue. The story lurches from unconvincing vignette to unconvincing vignette, with a lot happening simply to move things along. The guest cast are uniformly awful, and there's just no conviction to the thing. Very few clichés are left unused, and it's too slow to even be amusing.


06 The Aztecs

The first story to really look at the effects the crew could have on the past, "The Aztecs" works nicely at its' length, with the three senior crew members all given worthy roles - Barbara shines in her doomed attempts to save the Aztecs, the Doctor has a charming little romance with Cameca and Ian gets a splendid fight scene. There's also the first real discussion about changing history, which adds an edge that hasn't been in previous historicals. However, John Ringham's cheap Laurence Olivier impression is distracting.


07 The Sensorites

Pacing continues to be a massive problem. The initial stuff on the spaceship isn't too bad, with a nice hint of claustrophobia. However, the story takes a massive wobble when the unconvincing Sensorites appear, and then flatlines completely when the action switches to the Sense Sphere and the thing degenerates into a series of cyclical machinations, implausible coincidences and outright stupidity - notably the plot revolves on the Sensorites not being able to tell each other apart without their identification sashes. Awful.


08 The Reign of Terror

The production team are gradually learning to make stories more even, though the BBC junking a third of the thing may make this one a bit zippier than was originally intended. Nevertheless, despite some wobbly performances (notably James Cairncross), there's good intrigue going on, Hartnell excels and Dennis Spooner adds some lovely touches to the script. It's also grubby and gritty, befitting the period in history. Plus Barbara and Susan get to show some rare initiative when the lads are off adventuring.