Confession #2: I Haven't Seen Them All

Now I may damage my cred with certain parts of The Community by this admission (perhaps especially those Neo-Whovian friends who regard me as a font of knowledge about Classic Who), but the sad truth of the matter is, I haven't seen all the Doctor Who stories out there. Shocking, I know.

This lapse in my own Doctor Who education is the product of one of my general character flaws (or "quirks," depending on who you ask): I'm not only a completist but also very particular about what I choose to collect. When I began my search for Classic stories, I didn't want anything on VHS, dinosaur technology that it is, so I started looking for what was out on DVD. Rather to my surprise, not everything had yet been released. (What had the BBC been doing all these years that I didn't care about Doctor Who? They were supposed to be getting everything ready for me, for when I discovered a new obsession!) Not only that, but each story (often misleadingly labeled as an "episode") was its own DVD, worth anywhere from $10 to $35 ("on up" for boxed sets of related stories) at list price. Yikes!

Much to my chagrin, my local library system failed me. Not only were there no DVDs in the system to check out, there were precious few VHS tapes, either. Fumbling around in the dark on my own, not having found any real link to The Community yet, I didn't even know whether or not to waste my time with what the library had. There had to be a better way...

Then I hit paydirt. Nosing around on eBay, I found a lot of roughly forty-five stories on DVD - every one that had been released in Region 1 (here in the US) up to about 3 months before the auction. Although the asking price was more than I really had to spare, it was a great deal for what was being offered; I couldn't pass it up.

Suddenly, I had an embarrassment of riches. I'd read a few reviews or passing comments by this time, so I had an idea of what was considered "great" (Genesis of the Daleks, for example) and what was considered contemptible (Timelash). Sometimes I agreed, and sometimes I didn't, but I got a feel for all the Doctors and many of the companions, forming my own opinions and preferences among them. (In the meantime, I hemorrhaged cash, trying to catch up on the constantly-growing list of releases.)

Originally, I watched them in broadcast order, starting with the earliest stories and prowling the now-defunct Outpost Gallifrey website for plot synopses of the missing stories - or parts of stories, for One and Two (I tend to refer to the various Doctors by number; another "quirk" of mine). This afforded me an awesome sense of continuity, most especially because that meant I didn't find it weird (as I do on subsequent viewings) to see the Brigadier (going by Bret) working next to One - still military but with a completely different manner (The Daleks' Master Plan), or Romana chatting with herself (The Armageddon Factor). As my collection expanded, I backfilled the viewings, which often led to brief confusion (was Story X before or after Story Y?).

As I did so, I also got a great feel for the uniqueness of a regeneration (don't get me started on the RTD-era "it should always look the same" crap; perhaps that's a rant for another post). The first regeneration is one of the few snippets that remains from One's final story - and what a blessing to fandom that bit of serendipity is. I've seen four (or is it five?) of the other six, including The Movie, and it's always amazing to watch that prone figure morph. (Note to Neo-Whovians unfamiliar with Classic Who: not till the transition from Nine to Ten did the Doctor stand for a regeneration scene.) Having all of these finally in my repertoire made my first "real time" regeneration (Ten to Eleven) simply delicious to anticipate. Now I know how Old Skool fans must have felt.

The upshot of all this is that, while I can proudly say I've watched every Doctor Who story that's been released on DVD in Region 1, plus The Movie (OK, OK... I haven't gotten around to watching The Dominators or Meglos yet; it's been a busy couple of weeks), I've still never seen The Krotons, Planet of the Spiders, Terror of the Zygons, or any of a couple dozen other well-known stories. My education continues.

Maybe I'm due for another chronological viewing bonanza...

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