Mostly because it interested me to do so, and because they were among the first Doctor Who stories I watched, here’s a brief summary of my dredged up memories of Pertwee stories. These are the sorts of things that I’ll be mentioning from now on, having opened the door to that strand of the project. (I have no particular reflections on Troughton and Hartnell, which I watched so sporadically and rarely that I have little to say beyond “I didn’t much like Hartnell as a kid/teenager, and very much liked Troughton.”) So I thought, in the interests of playing fair, I’d add a quick postscript to the Pertwee era in which I summed those bits up.
Inferno: I remember mostly being struck by how old this one was. Even without looking at an episode guide, the bizarre opening credits and lack of either of the Pertwee companions I recognized made it clear that I was off in an odd end of the Pertwee era – presumably the early days, since I’d seen the latter days. I remember thinking parts were cool, but finding the whole story off-putting, and being in shock when it turned out to be seven episodes long – probably the first point where I realized that sometimes Doctor Who stories were the length they were for less than stellar reasons. So yes, I’ve actually always hated Inferno.
The Claws of Axos: I thought this was improbably silly at the time, and it ends up exemplifying for me what I hated about the Pertwee era. A stupid Trojan Horse plot with silly gold men and gaudy colors that struck me as impossibly boring. Which is amusing, because it was one of my favorites on this pass.
Day of the Daleks: I think this was my first Dalek story, and I popped it in eagerly because I knew the Daleks were the big enemy and I couldn’t wait to see them. You can see where this is going – utter disappointment at the degree to which the Daleks are just not a part of this story. Though I remember even at the time thinking the basic idea was cool. I remembered this story as much more timey wimey than it was, which suggests that the time travel aspects did stick.
The Sea Devils: Unlabeled on a tape that contained other things, this one took me ages to actually discover, and was one of the last stories I did discover my parents’ copies of. I actually quite liked this one, but it was in digest form with the cliffhangers edited out, which on the plus side meant I only had to watch the sword fight once, but on the minus side means that the Master just sits in prison for 90 minutes straight, which turns out to be a bit of a letdown, and is something I still can’t un-notice watching it episodically.
The Time Monster: One side effect of being a fan for whom every new Doctor Who story – even the Pertwee ones – was a treat that one never knew when one would have again – is that I completely failed to have any idea what stories I was supposed to hate. I mean, this was in the early days of the Internet, and all the official books treated everything but The Gunfighters as if they’re good. So it actually didn’t really occur to me that there might be a Doctor Who story that was bad. And since I was already down on this story for being a Pertwee story, there wasn’t much else it could do to annoy me. The result is that I failed utterly to notice that this story was crap, and was mostly charmed by the clever bits. Which is probably why I spared it my wrath on the blog as well.
The Three Doctors: With no nostalgic fondness for Troughton or Hartnell and no sense of the history of the show or of the significance of the Time Lords being in danger, this mostly felt very odd and clearly not what such a story should be to a 1990s audience. (The Five Doctors, in this regard, ages much better, feeling like exactly the sort of phoned in reunion special one expects from the premise) The result was that the story seemed boring, Omega seemed like a generic shouty baddy, and I just hated the thing. Making this the second Baker and Martin story to be way, way better than I remembered.
Carnival of Monsters: An odd one. I could tell, long before I had the vocabulary to describe it, that there was something profoundly different about this story from the rest of the Pertwee era, and the mismatch with what I expected made it stand out and intrigue me in a way that Pertwee stories otherwise didn’t. But it was years before I finally understood its significance, and so I remembered it as one I didn’t much like, since at the time I never quite figured it out.
The Time Warrior: Actually, in this case I remember the bad tracking on the tape that rendered the lower 20% or so of the image a blast of static at all times while watching this. That stood out more than the story, which I feel like I enjoyed, but could be wrong. Amusingly, trying to watch it this time my audio desynced on two of the episodes, and I was forced to purchase them from iTunes to watch them. I am clearly cursed with regards to this story.
The Monster of Peladon: I actually enjoyed this at the time, having never seen Curse of Peladon. Without that to compare it to, and without any knowledge of the 1974 miners strike, this turns out not to be much worse than any other Pertwee story. Pity that it aired to an audience that probably had seen Curse of Peladon, and certainly knew about the miners strike. It’s much better for bored American eleven year olds who have no clue what’s going on. And yes, I vividly remembered Alpha Centauri.