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Doctor Who: The Rescue (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Rescue originally aired in 1965.

Oh, but Doctor, the trembling’s stopped.

Oh, my dear, I’m so glad you’re feeling better.

No, not me, the ship.

– Barbara and the Doctor

The Rescue is a surprisingly sturdy two-parter, following directly on from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Despite the fact it’s noticeably brief, the adventure is fairly important in the grand scheme of Doctor Who, representing the first time that the show has a recruited a new companion since our bunch of time-travelers departed Earth. However, it’s also a well-told little story, and one which emphasises the relatively subtle shift in the Doctor’s character and role in the story.

While An Unearthly Child and The Daleks presented the character as a cantankerous and untrustworthy trickster, the show has gradually pushed the character into the role of the hero, culminating in the Doctor’s successful attempt to save the whole planet Earth in The Dalek Invasion of EarthThe Rescue continues this trend, presenting the Doctor as a genuinely sympathetic and compassionate old man, pretty far from the grump we first met.

The version of the Doctor we see in The Rescue feels a lot more like the character we’d come to love over the rest of the show’s fifty-year history.

Here' there be monsters...

Here’ there be monsters…

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