The Sexual Politics of Cavemen
The glaring problem with watching Doctor Who from the very beginning is that, almost immediately you have to watch The Tribe of Gum. And, let's face it, nobody should have to watch The Tribe of Gum. It's less like watching paint dry, and more like watching the constituent components of paint be slowly formed over the course of several millennia by geologic processes too slow to observe with the naked eye.
Let's talk about it.
The Cave of Skulls
Collectively, the first four episodes of Doctor Who are considered the first full story although An Unearthly Child really stands alone as it's own thing. The following three make up the first "historical" story, as the original concept of Doctor Who was to alternate between educational historical stories and then fantastical speculative science fiction stories. A spoon full of sugar, and all that.
The Cave of Skulls starts off the stone age story with a 25 minute episode that seems to contain roughly six hours of cavemen bickering over how to make fire while spouting Shakespearean soliloquies. Toss in a little horse trading over which caveman gets to have the girl (who is conveniently named
Her Hur), and you have a truly miserable viewing experience. These poor, unfortunate actors spent days in a hot studio wearing literally-flea-ridden animal skins, and honestly I think they were the lucky ones because at least they got paid for the experience.
The only two moments of (unintentional) levity are when the phrase "Doctor Who" gets spoken - first by the Doctor himself, and later by Ian. I could practically hear Peter Griffin jumping out and pointing.
The episode ends with our four leads all having been captured by the tribe, and imprisoned in the titular Cave of Skulls. Because, of course.
The Forest of Fear
In the second interminable half-hour, our heroes escape from the Grotto of Noggins with the help an old woman conveniently named The Old Woman (I am not making that up). They immediately flee into the titular Forest of Fear. Because, of course. This 25 minute episode only seems to contain about three hours of bickering, so I'll count that as an improvement.
After much running around in the dark, plus a wild animal attack that happens entirely off screen due to budgetary constraints, our heroes have very nearly made their way back to the TARDIS before they are surrounded and re-captured by the tribe.
Look, I love this show, I truly do. But the simple fact is that if the Daleks hadn't come along in the second storyline then nobody anywhere would have even heard of Doctor Who today. It would have fizzled out and fallen down the memory hole, deservedly so.
One more day of this faux Quest for Fire pre-knockoff and it will be behind me. Tomorrow's episode is called "The Firemaker". I wonder what it will be about?
Companion(s): Ian Chesterton, Susan Foreman, Barbara Wright
Episode(s): The Cave of Skulls, The Forest of Fear
Steps Walked: 5,800 today, 11,449 total
Distance Walked: 2.49 miles today, 4.89 miles total
Weight: 303.1 lbs today, net total change -4.2 lbs