Doctor Who: The Daleks, Part One: The Dead Planet

The Daleks: the Doctor’s most famous set of foes debuted in the second-ever serial of the series: 1963’s “The Daleks”. Far from a “Christmas special” (the first episode aired on December 21), the moody and tense first episode established a world far removed from the campier caveman serial that had just ended. They were no longer on Earth, and the possibilities of the series were endless.

Much has been written about the Daleks becoming the signature enemy of the series and the “Dalekmania” that spread throughout the UK as the series progressed. But what Terry Nation brought in this first episode at least was just as valuable: he set a tone and a status quo for the series, established “scientific facts” (to steal a term from MST3K) about how the passengers ate and slept on board the TARDIS, and generally laid the groundwork for the whole series in a tense, but not scary, 22 minutes. The final scene with Barbara being menaced by an unseen beast (with a plunger attachment) is rightfully one of the most famous of the show.

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Name Origin: Dennis, Massachusetts

800px-Dennis_MA_highlight_largeDennis is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Prior to the arrival of the English, the area was known by its Indian name of Nobscusset. The first European settlers, John Crow, Thomas Howes, and William Lumpkin, arrived in 1639 when the area was part of  Yarmouth. In 1721, a church was built and the area was organized as the East Parish of Yarmouth. In 1793, the local villagers broke away from Yarmouth and incorporated separately as the town of “Dennis”.

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Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child, Part Four: The Firemaker

“Are you saying you don’t know how to work this thing.” – Barbara

And so the first serial of Doctor Who ends with a whimper rather than a bang. This episode felt extraneous, the careful build-up of tension over the previous episodes was tossed aside quickly. Much of the intelligence of the script and characters are gone here, although the Doctor’s speech to the tribesmen stands out as the first time in the series that the Doctor talked himself out of a mess.

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Name Origin: Chatham, Massachusetts

Chatham_MA_highlight_largeChatham is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area was inhabited by several hundred members of a tribe known as the Monomoyicks. The first European to visit the area was the Frenchman Samuel de Champlain in 1605, but after difficulty with the natives he ultimately departed and founded Quebec City in 1608. He gave the region its first European name, “Port Fortune”.

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Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child, Part 3: The Forest of Fear

“Fear makes companions of all of us.” – The Doctor

This second caveman-focused episode is an improvement over the first, in large part because the first had to spend so much time setting up the conflict and the story. This episode flows quickly, establishes a clear villain, and is overall fun to watch. We also get some running!

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Name Origin: Brewster, Massachusetts

Brewster_MA_highlight_largeBrewster is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. The original Indian name for the area was Sawkattuckett (later Anglicized as Sawtucket) and the current town was settled in 1656 as the north parish of Harwich. The town split off from Harwich in 1811 and was renamed Brewster, in honor of the Pilgrim elder and Mayflower-passenger William Brewster (1567 – 1644).

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Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child, Part 2: The Cave of Skulls

“If we knew his name, we might have a clue to all this.” – Ian

After a fantastic first episode, the second has a reputation for being terrible. It is not, but it is also not the classic that the first was. The script is poor and the acting is worse.  That said, the premise is decent and the episode is mature fiction: there is no clear antagonist and the relationships between the characters are complex, as are what drives the plot forward. But even so, the script isn’t as tight as the first episode, the direction and costuming not as well done. The guest stars here are simply unable to build the gravitas they need while covered in fake dirt and furs. It is worth watching, but just.

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Jonathan Bourne, namesake of Bourne, Massachusetts

Name Origin: Bourne, Massachusetts

800px-Bourne_MA_highlight_largeBourne is a town in Barnstable County, on Cape Cod. Initially settled in 1640, it was a part of Sandwich until 1884 when it ceded and incorporated, taking the villages of Sagamore, Buzzards Bay, Cataumet, Pocasset, and Monument Beach with it. Prior to being settled, in 1627, the Pilgrims had set up a trading post called Aptuxet Trading Post (meaning “little trap by the river”) in what would eventually become the village to facilitate trade between Plymouth Colony, New Amsterdam, and the local Wampanoag Indians.

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Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child

“You’ve discovered television, haven’t you?” – The Doctor

“An Unearthly Child”, the first episode of the serial now given that name, is a science fiction classic. How could it not be? First airing on November 23, 1963 (the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy), the episode has held up surprisingly well over time – but only as an introduction to the characters, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan. There is no villain of this episode, except perhaps the Doctor, and most of the 22 minutes are spent establishing the characters. As a result, Ian, Barbara, and Susan are better painted than most of the later companions of the classic series. It does not hurt that this entire episode is told through their eyes as they perceive the alienness of the Doctor and Susan.)

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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)

2294_frontThis is one of the games that made my childhood. I loved the Castlevania series, even if it was just too difficult. The first Castlevania, for the NES, was a source of perpetual frustration – I can’t count how many times i made it to Frankenstein before getting killed over and over again. Castlevania II: Belmont’s Quest was a funny RPG and I have some vague memories of getting to the end of it with the help of a strategy guide. Castlevanis III was a milestone with new characters, an assortment of possible paths to complete the game, and deployability. Castlevania IV, for the SNES, was a graphical update – but never really sang with me.

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