For some months now, I have been working my way through the old Doctor Who reconstructions. As of today I only have three Patrick Troughton serials to download before I have reached the end of the black and white era of this, the longest running science fiction television show in the world.
I've been fishing for seeds and peers to download these from for almost a year now, and I'm enormously grateful to the geeks of the internet for sharing these shows over point-to-point clients such as μtorrent (that's "mutorrent", not "utorrent", a waggish distinction apparently chosen to guarantee future arguments). The reconstructions are not copyrighted material, being largely fan-made ensembles of surviving footage and still photographs wed to scratchy soundtrack recordings, and thus are entirely legal to download in this manner. It takes a certain dedication to the show to enjoy watching them, but I have found it a delight to experience what the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras of the show were truly like, and each has a charm all of its own.
The reason for the reconstructions in the first place was that the BBC, between 1964 and 1974, systematically destroyed or wiped its archive material - including 108 of the first 253 episodes of Doctor Who. So when the odd serial in the sparsely populated Troughtan era serials contains a whole intact episode, and I get to see Frazer Hines' character Jamie running from a ridiculous man-in-a-suit yeti monster, or enjoy the magnificently expressive face of Troughton's Doctor, it gives me an odd frisson - a thrill born from the scarcity of the surviving video material. When I was able to watch the manifest absurdity of the original tin-foil suited cybermen in The Tenth Planet serial, at the end of William Hartnell's run on the show, I couldn't help but relish their absurdity and enjoy the innocent imagination of 1960s science fiction.
Thank you Doctor Who fans for taking the time to lovingly piece together these reconstructions, and thank you internet geeks for sharing them. I am in debt to you all.