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The Doctors of Doctor Who: William Hartnell

When I came back from a semester in Scotland, I found that there was very little about the States that had changed. Yeah, the dollar had gone down a bit more, and the Simpsons was over, but neither were huge shocks. Oh, and there was the Xanathurian invasion. That took me a little by surprise.
Hail Xanathu!
I also noticed that Doctor Who seemed to have gained a bit of popularity here in the US, and that's fantastic. If people are watching that, then maybe I can allow myself to regain just a little of my faith in this species. Now I don't want to pull the hipster card and say that I was watching Doctor Who before it was cool, (though for the record, I definitely was) but I can't help but fear that some of the new fans may not appreciate the history of the show. This is the longest lasting Sci-Fi series of all time, starting in 1963 and still going strong today, and Matt Smith isn't referred to as the eleventh Doctor just for fun. There were ten others before him, and we're going to look at all of them: starting with William Hartnell, the first Doctor.

Hartnell started with the show in 1963, and it probably was not what the new fans would have pictured it. To start off, it was a kid's show, meant to be educational about history and science, and therefore had a severe lack of Karen Gillan in a "police uniform." Second, at first the Doctor really wasn't the main character, that fell to his companions.

The first episode, "An Unearthly Child", two school teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, have taken interest in an unusual student: Susan Foreman. Susan is incredibly bright at science and math, but when it came to everyday knowledge, she seemed suspiciously inept. Instead of alerting a superior of their concerns, the two do the sensible thing and follow her home. Without her knowledge. Sneakily.
Remember, it's not bad if it's for your own good

The two follow her to a junkyard, where she ducks into a police call box. The two manage to follow her inside, and discover that it's...(wait for it)...bigger on the inside! Yes, this is the TARDIS, and with the TARDIS of course, comes the Doctor. This Doctor is less the excitable ball of energy and enthusiasm here, and more kinda of, maybe, sort of a total jerk. Wanting to maintain the nature of the himself and the TARDIS a secret, he essentially kidnaps the two humans and takes them back in time in the first ever trip in the big blue box. That starts a series of events that brings the group all around space and time, in good old Doctor Who fashion.

So what does the first Doctor bring to the overall character? Well, it's during his tenure that we first meet the Cybermen and the Daleks, the two most recognizable villains the in whole series. As for the Doctor himself, he starts out as a cranky, rude, patronizing old man, and had a streak of ruthlessness that once almost had him straight up murder a man to achieve his ends.
Today's episode is brought to you by the word homicide!
This Doctor is traveling the universe by accident, and because the circumstance is forcing him to, and at first he's highly resistant to it. After awhile though, he grows to enjoy his new lifestyle, and becomes more like a grandfather figure to his companions. This shift from cranky old man to the wise, loveable grandpa essentially encompassed the two versions of seniors that kids were most familiar with, and that they could easily connect with. For the rest of us, it's the beginning of the Doctor's journey's and the introduction of some of his most iconic enemies. Hartnell had a habit of messing up lines when they couldn't afford second takes (not by his own fault, but because he had an undiagnosed case of arteriosclerosis), but his tripping over his words just enforced the bumbling, eccentric old man character.

Sadly, by 1966 Hartnell was no longer in good enough shape for the role, and the writers had to figure out how to keep the show alive without the actor portraying their title character. A few options were thrown around, including introducing a son of the Doctor to take over. However, they eventually settled on the solution that was probably the most brilliant actor-swap excuse television had ever seen: regeneration. After a strenuous fight, the Doctor's frail, old form gives out, and we behold one of the most mysterious traits of one of the most mysterious figures in fiction: the ability to change from one man to a completely new one.
If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds, and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you?