As Britain’s biggest sci-fi program, Doctor Who has developed a gigantic legacy. Although the show has largely promoted progressive ideals, there are still times when its content appears horrifically outdated by modern standards. With rumors that the BBC will be colorizing past black-and-white episodes of the show, fans are debating aspects of its classic series that wouldn’t work in contemporary times.
Whether it be because of clunky special effects or changing attitudes towards race, these elements from Doctor Who’s past are greatly disturbing. The sci-fi series’ previous episodes include many unfortunate details that wouldn’t work today, since society has changed significantly since their original broadcasts.
This article contains references to sexual harassment and racism. Please proceed with caution.
10 The Classic Series’ CSO Effects Pale In Comparison To CGI
CSO became a commonly used visual technique during the classic series. Acting as an early precursor to CGI, these special effects involved transposing one image on top of another and were used during the classic run to depict dinosaurs and troll doll Autons causing havoc across London. While these effects were once revolutionary, today, they pale in comparison to CGI.
Whereas CGI seamlessly places characters and objects inside various locations, the CSO procedure often resulted in fuzzy outlines appearing around the subject. With viewers now used to the jaw-dropping visual effects of modern blockbusters, such as the MCUand Jurassic World,the CSO’s imperfections would fail to impress if used today.
9 Cardboard Daleks Would Look Laughably Unconvincing With HD Cameras
Doctor Who’s frequent battle with budget constraints proved frustrating during the classic series, with the production crew forced to take various creative liberties. One such example is “The Power Of The Daleks,” where cardboard cutouts were used to represent a Dalek army. Although this clever deception tricked viewers at the time, modern viewers would be less likely to accept such a compromise.
Cardboard Daleks would look laughably unconvincing with the revival’s HD cameras, with the higher definition more likely to reveal the show’s visual shortcomings. In addition, audiences have grown used to seeing CGI Dalek troupes grace the screen, leading viewers to believe they would make for the perfect monsters for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. A return to cardboard cutouts would seem especially cheap by comparison.
8 Continuity Errors Would Be More Noticeable In The Modern Age
The classic series’ exploration of the series’ legacy was far from perfect, with the program making various mistakes regarding its established lore. Fortunately, viewers were more forgiving during the original broadcasts, with many of the show’s fans having either never seen or been unable to rewatch some of its earlier episodes. Nowadays, writers are expected to be more engaged with its mythology, making it considerably more difficult for errors to be made.
One notable example is “The Five Doctors.” Trying to recreate “The Abominable Snowmen’s” Yeti, costume designer Colin Lavers failed to realize that these fearsome creatures had a beak. Meanwhile, the Second Doctor appears aware that Jamie and Zoe’s minds were wiped by the Time Lords, despite this occurring after he regenerated. With past episodes now available on home media, it is unlikely that the show would get away with such glaring mistakes today.
7 Sylvester McCoy’s Wig Would Be Too Distracting In A Modern Episode
Colin Baker’s Doctor was disappointingly short-lived, with many believing his Doctor deserves a second regeneration. Following his unfortunate departure, producers found themselves with a major problem, as Colin Baker refused to return for his regeneration. This led to the decision to place a wig on Sylvester McCoy to make him look like the Time Lord’s sixth incarnation. Although this convinced viewers at the time of broadcast, it would unlikely work today.
With significant advancements in costume and make-up since the 80s, disguising an actor with a wig would no longer suffice for a regeneration. The greater picture clarity offered to recent episodes would also expose the wig further, making it considerably more obvious that the departing Doctor is not there.
6 The Classic Series Monsters Are Amusingly Cheap By Modern Standards
Doctor Who’s classic series was wildly ambitious, presenting some of British TV’s biggest storylines. Despite having limited resources, its crew impressively managed to realize these grand ideas. Its monster menagerie terrified audiences at the time, but under a modern eye, they, unfortunately, lack credibility.
The Zarbi and Menoptra from “The Web Planet” suffer particularly badly. These otherwise creatively designed creatures are clearly men in suits, and as a result, are extremely hard to take seriously. Modern monster suits such as the Judoon and the Mire feature expensive animatronic heads and heavy armor plating, and these classic series creations appear amusingly cheap by current standards.
5 The Celestial Toymaker Is Extremely Racist
“The Celestial Toymaker” is highly regarded as one of Hartnell’s finest serials, despite being mostly missing from the archives. Despite delivering a wonderfully creative installment, its titular villain leaves little to be desired today, acting as an extremely racist creation.
With the Celestial Toymaker rumored to be appearing in one of 2023’s most exciting projects, Russell T Davies would be wise to alter the character drastically. His extravagant fashion choices present an insulting mockery of the Chinese population, with the Toymaker dressed in stereotypical oriental clothing. Meanwhile, his name holds some unfortunate racial connotations, with the term “Celestial” being used as a derogatory term for Asian people throughout the 1960s.
4 Tomb Of The Cybermen’s Toberman Leaves Little To Be Desired
“Tomb Of The Cybermen” is considered one of Doctor Who’s most outstanding serials. Its eerie and disturbing story regarding Cybermen who break free from an ancient tomb has terrified fans since its original debut. Unfortunately, while viewers highly praise the classic adventure, its depiction of Toberman leaves much to be desired by modern standards.
Toberman is far from a positive depiction of the black community. Introduced as the conniving Kaftan’s servant, Toberman is frequently depicted as a dumb and simple-minded presence. This is made worse by the fact that he is the only black individual in the serial’s cast, making this an especially disappointing piece of representation from a contemporary perspective.
3 Mickey Smith Is A Deeply Problematic Character Nowadays
First appearing in “Rose,” Mickey Smith made history during his time in the show, becoming the first black companion. Despite this impressive legacy, Rose’s lovesick boyfriend is now a profoundly problematic character.
Mickey’s characterization is flawed during his early episodes, as he is frequently shown to be a bumbling presence. The Doctor’s first black assistant is cruelly dismissed by the Time Lord as an “idiot” during his ninth incarnation, marking this as a shockingly poor portrayal of the black population. Additionally, since he last played Mickey, Noel Clarke has become a highly controversial figure, having been accused of sexual harassment by several women.
2 Shockeye’s Pursuit Of Peri Would Be Seen As Sleazy Today
“The Two Doctors” provided fans with one of the show’s biggest episodes, uniting the Second and Sixth Doctors against the warmongering Sontarans. Despite offering an enjoyable viewing experience overall, Shockeye’s pursuit of Peri is a particularly gross watch.
The maleficent Androgum cook’s desperation to catch Peri would be seen as sleazy today, as he leers menacingly over the Doctor’s companion and describes her as a “fleshy beast.” Shockeye’s actions are incredibly disturbing when viewed through a modern lens, as he forcibly restrains Peri so that he can feel her flesh. This is made further uncomfortable by the fact that Peri is scantily dressed during these scenes, resulting in a challenging viewing experience.
1 The Classic Series’ Use Of Yellowface Would Never Fly Today
Although the show’s original run produced some of the most imaginative episodes, the classic series has come under heavy scrutiny for its unfortunate depiction of ethnic minorities. One of its most prominent issues is the use of yellowface, which would never fly today.
“The Daleks’ Master Plan” is one culprit of this deeply taboo practice, with actor Kevin Stoney adopting the yellowface to play Mavic Chen. Perhaps most notable, however, is John Bennet’s use of the controversial substance in his portrayal of Li H’sen Chang, turning an otherwise excellent performance into a deeply insulting take on Chinese culture.NEXT: The 12th Doctor’s 10 Greatest Accomplishments In Doctor Who