#4 The ‘Real’ Hartnell-Era Story Titles
Once, the Hartnell Era Story Titles – or at least what people commonly believed to be the Hartnell Era Story Titles – were exciting, evocative stuff.
An Unearthly Child mirrored the spooky intrigue of that initial foray into an abandoned junkyard, The Edge Of Destruction promised edge-of-the-seat thrills that were amusingly at odds with the sedate wandering around roundel-festooned corridors, and The Massacre at least gave some indication of what the story might be about.
Then someone had the idea of actually going and checking BBC records (and it’s worth emphasising at this point that we should be grateful for their efforts), and came up with the rather more unexciting list we all know and love – and on rare occasions even use – today. As boring and perfunctory as they may be, it’s hard to feel any sort of resentment towards the likes of Doctor Who And 100,000 BC, Doctor Who Inside The Spaceship or Doctor Who And The Ridiculously Overlong And Historically Inaccurate Title (With Occasional Variations In Spelling), as they serve their purpose harmlessly enough and in any case their more cliffhanging counterparts are still in common usage.
There is one magnified fly in the DN6-infected ointment though, and that is the supposed ‘correct’ title of Mission To The Unknown, ‘Dalek Cutaway‘. There are frankly thousands upon thousands of reasons why this should not be taken seriously as story title, and less than one to suggest that it should be. For starters, does it even look like a story title? Alright, so many of the ‘proper’ Hartnell Era Story Titles are bland and functional in the extreme, but this one is taking bland functionality to a whole new level. It’s little more than a description, and the the way in which it was used on the few BBC documents it did appear on would seem to confirm that’s all it ever was. Conversely, anything even vaguely official – including the document sanctioning the wiping of the master tape of the episode - used Mission To The Unknown.
There’s also the question of why a single-episode story whose episode title appeared onscreen would even need an individual story title, and the clincher comes with the Radio Times using Mission To The Unknown separately as both episode and story title (and yes, they did use those ‘Doctor Who And’ ones as the story titles on numerous other occasions). And – ‘Excerpts From The Tardis Dictionary Disk’ aside – what the Radio Times says, goes. And anyway it sounds stupid.