First, a little history on my association with Doctor Who. I first became aware of British Sci-Fi via The Tomorrow People which was running on Nickelodeon in the United States during the late 1970's and early 1980's when my parents got cable TV in 1979. I watched the original series through a couple of times. I was collecting comic books at the time, especially The Uncanny X-Men, so this tale of the next step in human evolution was already familiar to me. :)
I was vaguely aware of Doctor Who somewhere around that time (there are a couple of references in The Tomorrow People), but had not actually seen it. At some point in the early 1980's, I caught an episode of Doctor Who on our local PBS station, and remember thinking it looked pretty cool, but I never actually started watching it and to this day don't remember which story, or even which Doctor, I saw. :(
It wasn't until much later, almost two decades actually, that I had my next encounter with Doctor Who in the late 1990's. Somehow, I even managed to miss the hoopla around the 1996 movie which was so-produced with Fox here in the states! In 1999, I started working with a guy who shared a lot of my interests (gaming, comics, sci-fi, etc.) who happened to be a huge Doctor Who fan. We got to talking about it at work and around the same time, BBC America began showing the Tom Baker stories on Saturdays beginning at his first serial, Robot. They also started showing Red Dwarf and the BBC adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia, so I was watching a LOT of BBC America. :)
I watched Doctor Who faithfully until BBC America stopped showing new episodes (after the end of the serial The Robots of Death). Again, it was a couple of more years before I got back into it, although I remained a closet fan. :) I moved on to another job and one of my co-workers and I were on a business trip around late 2000 and somehow we got on the topic of The Tomorrow People. I did a Google search to show him what it was, and to my delight, I discovered that they were about to be released on Region 2 DVD. I purchased a region-free DVD player that would convert PAL to NTSC and began purchasing them as they were released in the UK. I figured the series was too niche to ever be released in Region 1, which it now has been... sigh. After re-watching The Tomorrow People, I decided to renew my acquaintance with the Doctor by purchasing the Region 1 DVD's that were available. Unfortunately, they had been releasing them for a couple of years at this point and I had a little catching up to do to buy them all. I also purchased the Region 2 DVD of the 1996 Paul McGann movie since it was caught up in red tape and I had no idea when it might eventually be released in Region 1.
This, of course, means I was in the position of being a big fan of the original series by the time it was announced that Doctor Who would be returning to our TV screens in 2005. YAY! I had already managed to see all the episodes of the new series by the time SciFi Channel (or SyFy now) finally picked them up in the US. Meanwhile, I was still playing catchup on all the DVD releases of the now "Classic Series".
Once I finally got caught up with the DVD releases, I began trying to fill in the gaps in what I'd seen by watching the Tom Baker serials that had not been shown on BBC America and had not yet been released on DVD. Since the DVD releases jump all over the place, there are a LOT of gaps. After filling in all of the Tom Baker gaps, I decided to do the same for Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy in order. I also started listening to the Big Finish Productions audio adventures during this time. I've listened to all of them (except the Bernice Summerfield standalones) in production order, including spinoffs, up through the ones that were produced in early 2009. I also listened to the new work Tom Baker was doing with BBC Audiobooks: Hornets' Nest. This lead me to some of the previous audio dramas Doctor Who and the Pescatons, The Paradise of Death, and Doctor Who and the Ghosts of N-Space. I also found a local Doctor Who group (The Blue Box Companions) and began attending and talking to other fans who shared my obsession. :)
Since I had still not seen all of the first three Doctor's serials, I decided to go back and fill in the gaps with Jon Pertwee since at least all of his stories exist (even if some are only black and white). After completing the Pertwee stories, that left me having seen everything from The War Games to present, although not necessarily in order.
Which brings me to where I am now... Sadly, whole stories are missing from William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. :( Interestingly enough, in the days before VCR's existed or were common, children used to put microphones up to the TV speaker and make audio recordings of TV programs (I remember doing this in the 1970's with a cassette recorder). Due to this, audio for EVERY story has miraculously survived. The BBC has released CD's of this audio (in several formats includings some with linking narration by an actor/actress in the serial) and a wonderful DVD box set called Lost in Time which contains almost all of the orphaned episodes, clips, etc. from missing episodes and incomplete stories.
As I write this, there are only a handful of serials/episodes from Hartnell and Troughton that have not yet been released on DVD (two complete serials, three partially complete serials, and two serials that were previously on Lost in Time but had an additional episode returned late last year):
8. The Reign of Terror (incomplete, but the missing parts are currently being animated for release later this year)The episodes which were returned late last year need to be cleaned up, have footage restored, etc. and the BBC and 2|entertain have promised to get them into our hands as soon as possible. I'm hoping that will be later this year. :)
9. Planet of Giants (complete and supposed to be released later this year)
18. Galaxy Four (which had previously been missing all four episodes, but had episode 3 found late last year)
29. The Tenth Planet (incomplete, but the final episode was officially reconstructed for its VHS release)
32. The Underwater Menace (episode 3 was on Lost in Time, but episode 2 was found late last year)
39. The Ice Warriors (missing 2 of 6 episodes, perhaps the BBC plans to animate it?)
47. The Krotons (complete and supposed to be released later this year)
Needless to say, with all of these missing episodes, it's impossible to truly watch much of the first two Doctors. While Hartnell's first two seasons are reasonably intact, Troughton only has six complete serials. Thanks to the children with tape recorders I mentioned earlier, we have audio for the missing stories, so the BBC was able to animate the missing episodes for The Invasion to make seven watchable stories from the Troughton era. Thanks to these audio recordings, the existing clips, telesnaps, and a lot of hard work, a dedicated group of fans known as Loose Cannon have produced reconstructions of virtually all of the missing material allowing us to "watch" these missing episodes and get SOME idea what they might have been like. Until either these episodes are found or the BBC decides to produce official reconstructions (either animation or stills like they did for The Tenth Planet), Loose Cannon is the closest we can come to experiencing these episodes without hopping into a TARDIS of our own and going back to the day they aired...
So, I'm going to start with documenting my journey through these early serials of Hartnell and Troughton and we'll see where it goes from there (assuming I've not bored you to death already)... :)