Okay, I am just going to come out and say it. I love the First Doctor. I mean, I always had in the same way that I love every Doctor. But in this story specifically, I found William Hartnell’s incarnation to be fantastic. He was gleeful, funny, witty, caring and a little bit dashing too.
A spaceship called the UK-201 has crashed on the planet Dido. Only two survivors remain, Vicki and Bennett. The rest of the crew either died in the crash or were killed by a monster lurking on Dido named the Koquillion. Vicki and Bennett are waiting for a rescue ship to arrive when the Tardis lands in caves nearby. Barbara gets separated from the Doctor and Ian after they encounter the Koquillion briefly.
The Doctor mentions that he has been to Dido before, and is very excited to be there again, stating that they were very friendly and peaceful people. Ian and the Doctor then have to travel through the caves to get to Barbara. It is great to see the friendship between the Doctor and Ian flourish. They look out for one another and have fun doing it.
The end of episode one is a pretty great cliffhanger, and I can imagine children discussing how Ian could get out of it on the playground the next day. While navigating along a ridge, they see a creature that looks dangerous in the pit below them. They accidentally activate a booby trap and Ian is about to be forced off the ridge by razor sharp blades.
After they solve the problem by putting Ian’s coat over the blades, they find the way out of the caves. Meanwhile Barbara was found by Vicki, being careful not to be found by the Koquillion. After Barbara and Vicki get the chance to bond for a while, the Doctor and Ian find them.
Barbara had killed the creature that was at the bottom of the pit as she thought it was about to attack Vicki. But in fact Vicki likened it to her pet. She called it Sandy and fed it regularly. When the Doctor asks to have a talk with Bennett, he finds his room empty with a tape recorded message left to cover up his absence. The Doctor finds a trap door in his room that leads down into what he recognises as an old temple. He encounters the Koquillion who the Doctor straight away deduces is actually Bennett in an old ceremonial mask and cloak. It is revealed that Bennett killed a man on board his ship and so decided to pretend that a monster had done it, as Vicki was unaware of the incident. Then when the rescue ship arrives, he would be able to have his story validated by her. In actual fact Bennett killed all of the crew himself, as well as all of the natives of Dido.
Bennett attacks the Doctor and starts to strangle him. Two Dido people appear, and spook Bennett enough that he accidentally falls backwards off the ridge.
In the Tardis the Doctor wakes up and explains everything that happened. I am so glad to see the Doctor take a front seat in the action in this story, right down to a small action scene. It really felt like a more modern story because of it.
The Doctor then invites Vicki to travel with them, as do Ian and Barbara. She agrees at the end of the story. As much as Vicki does seem like a well acted and written character; I do wish that we had gotten a couple of stories with just the Doctor, Ian and Barbara, to see how the dynamic changed. However we got another young female in the place of Susan. She does seem different enough and look forward to the next story.
The tease for the next story, The Romans, was the Tardis falling from a cliff, with everyone inside. Very exciting.
Awarding this two-parter seven Sandys out of ten. It would have been higher, but the two Dido people arriving out of nowhere with no explanation sort of grated with me.