Watch it?: Most definitely
Importance: It’s the first episode ever! You also meet the important characters for the rest of the season.
This is where it all started. An Unearthly Child is the first episode of Doctor Who and introduces us to the first Doctor played by William Hartnell. This is where we learn how the Doctor ended up traveling the universe and having adventures.
Obviously, if you want to start watching the classic Doctor Who, I would suggest starting here. In the first episode, we are introduced to the four main characters in the first season of the show. The Doctor; his grand-daughter, Susan; and two of her teachers from school, Ian and Barbara. Ian and Barbara are both worried about Susan since she seems to be a genius with some major gaps in her knowledge. After a failed attempt at seeking out Susan’s grand-father, Barbara convinces Ian to help her follow Susan home so they can talk about their concerns. While looking for Susan they stumble upon the Doctor’s Tardis and the Doctor himself. After arguing with the Doctor, they eventually make their way into the Tardis where Susan attempts to explain the situation. (This is also where we learn what Tardis stands for. ) You also learn that they were exiled from their planet and are living as fugitives.
The Doctor is suspicious of Ian and Barbara, and in order to keep them from exposing him and Susan, he starts up the Tardis and takes them to the Stone Age. Thus beginning the first full serial of Doctor Who.
Now, in this first episode, the Doctor seems to rub the wrong way. He constantly belittles Ian and Barbara for being small-minded and ignorant. (He also makes a rather racist comment about Native Americans, but this is because this show aired in 1963, not because the Doctor is racist.) However, despite the fact that our first impression of him is rather prickly, it is clear that the Doctor is just worried about the safety of his grand-daughter. He’s doing what he thinks he needs to do to protect her, and in the end, that is admirable.
Of course we all know that this is going to end well anyway, so we can’t be too angry with him. This is also the beginning of the Doctor finding companions to take on his journey. Of course Ian and Barbara didn’t volunteer for the job…*shoulder shrug*
I also love that the sound the Tardis makes when it takes off hasn’t changed for fifty years. The theme music is also really similar. These sounds are so iconic for this fandom and it’s amazing to me that aspects of the show like this have continued on for so long. It’s one thing that makes Doctor Who so great. It doesn’t forget where it comes from, and no matter how much it has changed over the years, some things never do.
Ian Chesterton: And, frankly, I don’t understand your attitude.
The Doctor: Yours leaves a lot to be desired.