1963 to 1969. Six seasons, Two hundred and sixty-three episodes. We’re going to watch them all, one at a time. Join us in our quest to recapture the magic of early Doctor Who!
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Background: The first six seasons of Doctor Who are missing huge chunks of episodes. Many have been recovered over the years, and there’s still hope that more will be found. In the meantime, several fan groups have created reconstructions (or recons) of the missing episodes. Most notable among these are Loose Cannon Productions.
In the mid-2000s, our founder (and resident Timelord) the Historian started watching these recons. Realizing that there now some version of every Doctor Who story, he decided to watch all the stories from the first six seasons, in order. He decided to watch only one episode per story per week–partly as an experiment to see how the pacing and cliffhangers worked with a solid week-long gap between episodes (the way they were originally aired), and partly as a tribute to classic Doctor Who.
He decided to start on the 45th Anniversary of Doctor Who and invited his friends to join him. Since Ketina and Ronelyn had a big-screen TV he asked them to host, and to be his “companions.” As a huge Doctor Who fan, Ketina jumped at the chance, though she doubted the whole “one episode per week” concept could last and dreaded the looming recon death-marches.
Yet still today, nearly every Friday night the TARDIS Project gang gets together to watch classic Doctor Who. As I, Ketina, type this, we’re nearly done with season 5. It’s been quite a journey. While I’m still not a fan of reconstructions, some of them are extremely well done. I also appreciate the “once episode per week” pace, if only because it leaves time for our discussions.
Over the years our format has changed quite a bit. Initially, The Historian would summarize and review the episode, followed by a short–usually silly–review by me. The Historian also wrote story wrap-ups and noted cool facts and insights.
The format shifted about halfway through season 1 when I started incorporating additional comments from our other participants. Then in late season 2 I decided to include verbatim discussion from our other participants after we finished each episode. Alas, most of what I typed was paraphrasing, and not everyone was satisfied with how I portrayed them. Someone (probably Ronelyn) got the fantastic idea to project my typing on the TV–everyone could see as I was typing and slow down their comments as I fell behind. I’m a fast typist, but I still can’t type at the speed of sound. While this revealed my typos and frequent spelling errors, the writeups became much more detailed. Over time I began to include notes, clarifications and sound effects <in brackets>.
Alas, around May of 2011 we hit a breaking point. Due to…well, basically life, The Historian was unable to keep up his detailed, extensive episode summaries. Without summaries, particularly of the recons, we worried that the discussions didn’t make sense. By August our Blogspot posts ground to a halt. But we never stopped watching, or having our weekly viewings and discussions.
Then 2013 arrived. It was the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, and we’d been at this madness for nearly 5 years. In honor of all that, Ronelyn and I decided to purchase the domain and restart everything on a new site. Personally, I was never satisfied with Blogspot, and thought we could do better on our own. It took longer to learn WordPress than we thought it would, so we didn’t get the site up by the exact 50th anniversary. But we did it, only a few months late.
For now, we only have discussions to post–the ones that never reached Blogspot. We hope to catch up on summaries for at least the recons, but there’s no timeline yet for when that will happen. Hopefully you’ll find our discussions entertaining enough–especially if you watch along with us. And as we enter season 6, we finally exit what I have affectionately referred to as “recon hell” so you can watch along on DVD.
Despite all our recon jokes, we could NEVER have done this without the phenomenal work of Loose Cannon Productions. Without their tapes, this Project would have been impossible. As much as some of us may complain, their work is pretty darn amazing. We’re (mostly) just lamenting that we cannot see the real thing–although we all hope that someday we will.