Doctor Who fans say that “you always remember your first Doctor” and that’s half right for me. My first experience with Doctor Who was around 2010 streaming the show Netflix. As with the nature of the beast that is Netflix it’s easy to get lost in multiple titles as such my first experience with Who was both New Who with Tennant and classic Who with Jon Pertwee. That’s probably a bit of a ramble, BUT this is my first major Doctor Who discussion and I wanted to give context for the inception of my fandom. That being said one of the major things that drew me to Pertwee as The Doctor were his comparisons to James Bond especially the campier style of 70’s Bond.
I must admit I’m a sucker for 1970’s James Bond too and I agree that Pertwee’s era really captured that goofy charm. All that to say….this episode barely feels Bondlike, but not in a bad way. It honestly feels like a weird hybrid of Doctor Who and The Twilight Zone with a Rod Serlingesque parody of cheaper SciFi television. What is this episode about though? Carnival of Monsters is best to go in as blind as possible given the twists and turns out the story. HOWEVER, I can say that the episode starts with The Doctor and Joe Grant arriving on a mysterious boat in the 1920’s while aliens meet amongst themselves and madness ensues.
Again, I hate how vague that I have to be to not ruin such a surreal experience, BUT I can also say if you love Cabin In The Woods and it’s approach to narrative you’ll adore this. I haven’t seen much Classic Who (but all of New Who) however, season 10 really seems to be almost meditative in terms of figuring out the show’s identity. It started with an episode celebrating the three men to play The Doctor. That same episode showed who created their society. The season had an episode with the character who was the most popular at the time (the Daleks).
Additionally, it had THIS episode commenting on WHAT the show was. In that sense I feel that not only is this Doctor Who story quintessential Who viewing, but so is the tenth season. It also really tripped me out to see Ian Matter playing a small character in this episode, only to play a major role later as Harry during Tom Baker’s era. I’d love to hear what y’all think of the episode. Please comment below and let me know how you feel about Jon Pertwee as The Doctor. He may be my favorite classic Doctor.