Monday, May 27, 2013

The Order of Rassilon #11: William Hartnell, The Crotchety Old Fool

Every Doctor Who blog should include a ranking of the Doctors. Who is best and Who is worst in Who? So, with the series now on hiatus, I thought it might be a little fun to count down the Doctors, from worst to first. I call it "The Order of Rassilon."

I look forward to hearing who agrees with me, and who vehemently disagrees with me. So we're going to start it out with the worst in the history of the franchise, the First Doctor, William Hartnell.

I wear a weird ugly hat now.  Weird ugly hats are cool.

Yes, he started the franchise.  Yes, the original show couldn't have survived without Hartnell's unbridled enthusiasm for the show, keeping everybody's spirits up during filming.  Good for him.  Punk wouldn't have gone anywhere without the Sex Pistols, but they still sounded like a special ed class playing guitars.  Honestly, I don't know what it is about Hartnell that made the show so popular that it could survive a replacement of every single cast member (several times over).

Famously, film was so expensive during the black and white era and they had to keep shooting even when things went horribly wrong.

If this was the stuff that was deemed suitable for air, I want to see what exactly a Hartnell blooper reel would look like.  What's the stuff that he fucked up so badly that they couldn't salvage it for television? I'm sure it has to exist.  He'd have to have, like, wet himself or something.

As old and feeble as he looked, would you believe that Hartnell actually played the role from ages 55 through 58?  My dad is 79 and he looks about 20 years younger than Hartnell did in his Doctor Who years.  He must have done some really hard living in his younger years.  I imagine him waking up every morning and drinking a big glass of paint thinner and smoking about a carton of cigarettes.  When they brought him back for the 10 year anniversary episode (keep in mind, 68 years old), he was so feeble that they had to write the script in such a way that Hartnell could perform the entire episode sitting down.

He could have shot this on the can and nobody would have been the wiser.
So yes, when it comes to Doctor Who, first is worst.  But then again, the whole point of the series is that it's supposed to be constantly renewing itself, and constantly getting better.  For all we know, Hartnell might have been very proud of the fact that every Doctor that followed him surpassed him.

Probably not, though.

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