Doctor Who (1963)

Season 1 Episode 2

The Cave of Skulls

Aired Saturday 5:15 PM Nov 30, 1963 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
97 votes

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Episode Summary

The Cave of Skulls
Earth, 100,000 B.C. The enigmatic Doctor, afraid that schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright will reveal his secrets to the people of 20th century Earth, has taken them and his granddaughter Susan back to the dawn of human history. There, the four travellers are dragged into the savage politics of a tribe of cavemen who have lost the secret of making fire…moreless

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  • The Doctor, Ian, Susan and Barbara, go back in time and find a clan tribe that takes them hostage.

    This is a pretty mediocre story. It's clear that the writers made this episode arc to develop the characters as the story is not original nor unique.

    The Doctor and the gang travel back in time to early modern times. It's supposed to be prehistoric times, but due to budget problems and inconsistencies with the guest cast, you'd never quite believe it was so.

    The Doctor and the group by a clan of caveman and cavewoman who illogically speak pretty good English!!! Good English not withstanding, they took the group hostage. We see there is trouble within the clan itself as several people are vying for power.

    As mentioned, it's rather an uninspiring story after the entertaining pilot. Gladly the story would improve after this dreadful start with the introduction of the Daleks, but this story arc with the clan isn't really the best of the William Hartnell years. This story arc drags for about three episodes, but this is more like a two episode parter. The only things that stick out are that we get more information about the Doctor and Tardis, how he despite him being a Timelord doesn't quite have control over time and balance.moreless
  • Good

    This is an excellent episode, with the original TARDIS crew arriving in prehistoric times and the Daleks are nowhere mentioned or seen Mr Misconception for the review before me, because they appear in ages time, thank you very much! Anyway, they also establish about the chameleon circuit being broken and then they get captured by a tribe who want to make fire. Personally, it's not a great glitzy first episode as you would expect, as I would not have chosen to go back into the prehistoric times for a new series, as I, as a watcher, was not enthrawled. They should have the Daleks as the first set of the episodes and then perhaps gone into the past, however, the early past episodes I did not enjoy as they were not sci-past episodes like they later became, as the earlier ones were more about the culture in olden times. However, a good episode all the same.moreless
  • Somewhat Leisurely but worth the trip.

    This is the story that established \"Doctor Who\" as a major success on British television in 1963/4 and therefore led to the amazing saga that has unfolded over the years. Made under difficult conditions (small studio with below par equipment, executive dislike of the script and concepts, some of the cast unenthusiastic), the work of designer Ray Cusick in designing the Daleks led to a craze among the young viewers and guaranteed the programme\'s success and longevity. The production is superb in places (Tristram Cary\'s incidental music gets a special mention) and patchy in others but the overall impression is one of a seven episodes of well made and thought provoking television.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Ian: Just a minute. You say we've gone back in time?
      Doctor: Yes, quite so.
      Ian: So that when we go out of that door, we won't be in a junkyard in London in England in the year 1963?
      Doctor: That is quite correct. But your tone suggests ridicule.
      Ian: But it is ridiculous. Time doesn't go round and round in circles. You can't get on and off whenever you like in the past or the future.
      Doctor: Really? Where does time go, then?
      Ian: It doesn't go anywhere. It just happens and then it's finished.

    • Susan: We've left 1963.
      Doctor: Oh, yes, undoubtedly. I'll be able to tell you where presently. 0? That's not right. I'm afraid this yearometer is not calculating properly. Hm. Well, anyway, the journey's finished. [ to Ian ] What are you doing down there?
      Barbara: What have you done?
      Ian: Barbara, you don't believe all this nonsense.
      Susan: Well, look at the scanner screen.
      Doctor: Yes, look up there. They don't understand and I suspect they don't want to. Well, there you are. A new world for you.
      Ian: Sand and rock?
      Doctor: Yes. That's the immediate view outside the ship.
      Barbara: But where are we?
      Ian: You mean that's what we'll see when we go outside?
      Susan: Yes, you'll see it for yourself.
      Ian: I don't believe it.
      Doctor: You really are a stubborn young man, aren't you?
      Ian: All right, show me some proof. Give me some concrete evidence. I'm sorry, Susan. I don't want to hurt you, but it's time you were brought back to reality.
      Susan: But you're wrong, Mr. Chesterton.
      Doctor: They are saying I'm a charlatan. What concrete evidence would satisfy you? Hmm?
      Ian: Just open the doors, Dr. Foreman.
      Doctor: Eh? Doctor who? What's he talking about?

    • The Doctor [ of the TARDIS ]: It's still a police box. Why hasn't it changed? Dear, dear. How very disturbing.

    • The Doctor [ to a sceptical Ian ]: If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds… and watch them wheel in another sky – would that satisfy you?

    • Susan: It should have changed. Wonder why it hasn't happened this time.
      Barbara: The ship, you mean?
      Susan: Yes, it's been an Ionic column and a sedan chair.
      Barbara: Disguising itself wherever it goes.
      Susan: Yes, that's right. But it hasn't happened this time. I wonder why not.

    • Barbara: You're very quiet.
      Ian: I was wrong, wasn't I?
      Barbara: Oh, look, I don't understand it anymore than you do. The inside of the ship, suddenly finding ourselves here. Even some of the things Dr Foreman says...
      Ian: That's not his name. Who is he? Doctor who?

  • NOTES (1)

    • This episode establishes that the Doctor's TARDIS should change to blend with its environment, but doesn't because of a broken circuit.