Tuesday, April 11, 2023

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who Inferno

Doctor Who I
Something a little different again since I will talk about a single serial of Doctor Who. This time it is 1970's "Inferno."  It is the second serial (from the seventh season) to feature Jon Pertwee as the Doctor in exile on Earth.  The Time Lords have crippled his TARDIS and removed all knowledge of how to Time Travel from his mind. He is stuck on Earth and not taking it well, so he tinkers with the TARDIS all the time with mostly disastrous results. 

In Inferno he manages to slip into a parallel universe with a Fascist Britain. In both universes there is an experiment to drill through the Earth's crust, but at the point they are doing will cause catastrophic problems. The fascist universe is slight ahead in time as the "prime" universe so the Doctor knows what needs to be done.

I liked this episode for a lot of reasons. First it played into my growing interest in the idea of the Multi-verse, something that I began to explore in the comic "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and later in books like "Job: A Comedy of Justice" and "The Coming of the Quantum Cats."  It was something that at the time I was really ready to enjoy.  

Doctor Who: Inferno

Secondly, and this is the big one, it was the Doctor Who episode that introduced me to other Doctors. 

Growing up I watched Doctor Who on my local (St. Louis) PBS station KETC.  Now KETC has a huge market, and they played the Tom Baker era almost exclusively. But they were not the only local PBS station. Just to the north of me was WILL out of Urbana IL and it was connected with the University of Illinois at Urbana.  While I did not get that station on our cable package there were some in town that had access to it. Also there was a steady stream of VHS tapes coming down from Urbana to my hometown from people going to school there. Inferno was one such tape.

I remember watching it in, of all places, my High School's library. One of my friends had it and was watching in the "media room" which was supposed to be off limits to general students unless you worked there. I didn't. But I was fascinated by this episode and mostly by this "new to me" Doctor. I knew Pertwee came before Baker and that his Doctor was a different sort, but this episode was an eye-opener for me.

Recently, I had the chance to rewatch in prep for today's post. It is slower than I remember, but just as good.  Though I do find it very odd that I am right now older than Pertwee was in this episode (he was 51).

I have made a habit since first watching this one to check out all the Pertwee/3rd Doctor episodes I can. I know there are a few I have never seen. I have not sought them out because I do enjoy the joy of stumbling upon them just like I did with Inferno.

Since moving to the Chicago area I have had the chance to talk to others who watched Doctor Who from the same time period and how their PBS stations differed from my local St. Louis one. It has been very interesting and I'll talk more about it on "P" day.

A to Z of Doctor Who

All images are used with permission from the BBC and are copyrighted 2023 by the BBC.


PT Dilloway said...

I know on Pluto TV there's a Classic Dr. Who channel that's all the pre-2005 stuff so you might stumble across more Pertwee episodes there.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Oh I know all about Pluto. That was where I recently re-watched Inferno.

James Pailly said...

I have this one on DVD. It is kind of slow paced, but I think that works for this story. I think it helps that we have to sit in this alternate reality for a while, so we can really soak in the wrongness of it all.