Can we please talk about how delighted The First Doctor is by everything?
No idea why he gets called grumpy. Your boy is pumped.
Shit that One Fucks with Heavy:
The Keys of Marinus
1. Glass. Just glass. “Glass instead of sand, intriguing, intriguing my boy!”
2. Acid that about melted his grandkid’s feet. “A sea of acid, astonishing!”
3. Teleporters. Obviously. “Very compact and very neat sir, if I might say!”
4. Teleportation itself. On account of the teleporters. “How exhilarating!”
5. A pomegranate. He about loses his shit. “I say, is that a pomegranate!??”
6. Truffles. He is so pure. "Truffles?? I do believe they’re truffles! WELL WELL!“
7. Charming Young Men. ME TOO, PAL.“Charming young man, yes, charming!”
8. More with the glass. “Look at these exquisite glasses, Chesterton!”
9. A rusty mug. It’s literally a rusty mug that he picks up and acts like it’s a tool. IDK maybe he’s drunk. “If I can have instruments like these, I might be able to overcome the fault in the time mechanism on the ship!” JK he’s under hypnosis.
Whoever cast Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman was a genius. The way Susan moves is… not quite human; just a tiny bit off. She’s a much more convincing alien than the Doctor, who actually has to remind people he’s not human. I’m certain Susan’s subtle, slightly-strange body language is deliberate, as Ford is a really good dancer.
I want to tell you a bit about Barbara and Susan, and why I still think they’re two of the best female characters who have ever been on Doctor Who, including NuWho. And yes, both of them, not just Barbara.
Classic Who under Verity Lambert is quite magical in regards to feminism in and of itself. This is the kind of show where you’d expect to go in and see the ladies getting shafted at the beginning of each adventure, told to hide or stay put, or being put in constant peril for the male characters to rescue them.
But astonishingly, that first season is extremely egalitarian toward both women. They share in the adventure, go everywhere that Ian and the Doctor do, and their gender is almost never used to enforce limitations on them.
It’s actually jaw-dropping to watch in an age where we’re conditioned to believe that all media of that time was completely dreadful towards women. However, there’s another element to this that really seals the deal, and it’s something I think a lot of writers fail to realize the impact of.
The thing that really makes both of these characters so beautifully progressive for their time isn’t just because of their own independent characters or the way the narrative treats them, it’s also because they’re on the same show together. Susan and Barbara’s dynamic really shows just why the Smurfette Principle is problematic and how much better your work can be when you have multiple female characters to play off of each other.
On paper, Susan’s character reads like a lot of other, young female characters you might see in media during the 60s. She’s innocent, easily frightened, and has the combined lung capacity of a dozen trained musicians. Now, I’m not at all saying Susan can’t stand on her own as a character. In fact, she has quite a few character traits (her intelligence, her Gallifreyan-codifying eccentricity that occasionally rivals the Doctor’s own) that do set her apart even by herself.
But what really pushes Susan’s character writing over the edge from simply good to utterly fantastic is the other female character she shares her time on the show with, Barbara Wright. It’s really no secret in the classic who fandom that Barbara is awesome. Ian positively looks like a non-action guy next to some of the things that she does. Unlike Susan, Barbara doesn’t even read on paper like her scripts were written with a gender in mind- she’s a good character, plain and simple, and being female is just an incidental trait of her.
So where am I going with this?
By seeing these two very different, but equally wonderful female characters together, we’re persuaded to see these character’s personalities as a part of who they are, rather then a result of their gender. We’re also persuaded to see women as a diverse group of people, and not as singular objects. We no longer see Susan’s skiddish traits as being ‘because she’s a girl’ because Barbara is there and she’s not skiddish. We no longer see Barbara’s neutral writing as just her being a one-note ‘strong female character’ because Susan shows us that while some women are tough, others may not be, and that’s okay. Both are okay. Both are wonderful.
You can be like Barbara; you can be like Susan. But most importantly, you can be like yourself. Don’t let society’s gender limitations define you; you are what you are, and that’s good enough.
For a show from 1963, that’s an incredible message.