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Analysing The Top Doctor Who Stories (DWM 2009)

Guest contributor Thomas Capon analyses the top episodes according to DWM from 2009.

The-Caves-of-Androzani-art-cd

Previously we’ve considered the 1998 DWM survey in order to gain an insight into fan favourite Doctors, stories and seasons, all from the classic series. Back in 2009, DWM ran another survey. This survey included New Who stories up to The Planet of the Dead. Here are the results:

The Top 10

  1. The Caves of Androzani (5)
  2. Blink (10)
  3. Genesis of the Daleks (4)
  4. The Talons of Weng-Chiang (4)
  5. The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances (9)
  6. Human Nature/ Family of Blood (10)
  7. Pyramids of Mars (4)
  8. City of Death (4)
  9. The Robots of Death (4)
  10. Bad Wolf/The Parting of Ways (9)

While Tom Baker succeeds in again securing half of the stories in the top 10, Genesis of the Daleks fails to regain the top spot missing out to Peter Davison’s swansong: The Caves of Androzani. The two new boys on the block, Eccleston and Tennant are able to make a name for themselves by grabbing two places each in the top 10.

The Bottom 10

  1. The Twin Dilemma (6)
  2. Timelash (6)
  3. Time and the Rani (7)
  4. Underworld (4)
  5. Time-Flight (5)
  6. The Space Pirates (2)
  7. The Underwater Menace (2)
  8. Paradise Towers (7)
  9. Fear Her (10)
  10. The Dominators (2)

The clear loser here is Colin Baker with the bottom two stories being from his era. But Pat Troughton doesn’t fair much better with three of his stories making it to the bottom 10. Sylvester McCoy’s Season 24 also contributes with two stories while David Tennant’s Fear Her and Tom Baker’s Underworld complete our list.

Average Rankings

rose-eccleston-2005

Below are the calculated average placing of a story from each Doctor’s era:

Doctor

Average Ranking

9th

73

10th

78

3rd

92

4th

94

2nd

98

5th

111

1st

121

7th

131

8th

135

6th

143

Note: Multi-doctor stories and Mission the the Unknown as part of the era of the incumbent Doctor at the time of airing.

Well I didn’t see that coming. Not only did Chris Eccleston’s era rank the highest, but Jon Pertwee was able to overcome Tom Baker to third place behind Eccleston and Tennant. DWM editor Tom Spilsbury recently stated that New Who fans tend to vote generously and perhaps that explains why Doctors number 9 and 10 did so well in the survey.

Regeneration Story Rankings

  1. The Caves of Androzani (1)
  2. Bad Wolf/The Parting of Ways (10)
  3. The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End (13)
  4. The War Games (29)
  5. Logopolis (53)
  6. The Tenth Planet (55)
  7. Planet of the Spiders (89)
  8. The TV Movie (135)
  9. Time and the Rani (198)

Notes: Brackets show the story’s overall ranking out of 200. The Stolen Earth has been included on this list even though it wasn’t strictly speaking a ‘Hand over the key to the TARDIS’ episode.

Not even generous voting New Who fans are able to deny that The Caves of Androzani is the ultimate regeneration story. Nor that Time and the Rani is the worst regeneration story for that matter.

Season Average Ranking

tom-baker-4th

In this section, we’re going to look at each season and find the average ranking for a story in that season.

Top 5 Seasons

Doctor

Season

Average Ranking

4th

13

48

3rd

7

51

4th

14

55

10th

Series 4

68

9th

Series 1

73

The Baker, Hinchcliffe and Holmes combination dominates this list with two of the top three seasons being from their era. RTD’s New Who once again puts up a good performance with last and first series taking spots 4 and 5. Season 7 completes this list.

Bottom 5 Seasons

Doctor

Season

Average Ranking

7th

24

189

6th

23

142

5th

20

137

4th

17

134

6th

22

134

Not many surprises here except perhaps for the inclusion of Season 20, the anniversary season leading up to The Five Doctors. Both of Colin Baker’s seasons also make this list along with McCoy’s first season and Douglas Adam’s season 17.

Full List

Doctor

Season

Average Ranking

5th

The Five Doctors

38

4th

13

48

3rd

7

51

4th

14

55

10th

Series 4

68

9th

Series 1

73

2nd

5

74

4th

12

74

3rd

10

78

10th

Series 3

79

10th

Series 2

81

7th

26

83

3rd

8

95

10th

2009 Specials

103

4th

18

104

5th

19

105

1st/2nd

4

107

1st

1

108

2nd

6

112

3rd

9

114

3rd

11

115

5th/6th

21

118

4th

16

120

7th

25

120

1st

2

126

4th

15

127

1st

3

131

4th

17

134

6th

22

134

8th

The TV Movie

135

5th

20

137

6th

23

142

7th

24

189

Conclusion

Well, I hope you’ve found that interesting. When the results of DWM’s latest survey are out shortly, we’ll go through them and then compare the changes in the fanbase’s taste over the years. We’ll even use some mathematical formulae to help us measure the changes.

Step back in time...

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55 comments
chrisew
chrisew

I think the only thing that baffles me is Season 20 rating so poorly. Even with The Five Doctors being counted separately, that was a solid enough season. I can think of nearly a half dozen seasons below it that didn't make the list.

FreddieC
FreddieC

Caves of Androzani is first immediately followed by Twin Dilemma as worst...

PaddyB
PaddyB

I'm not a huge fan of the Caves of Androzani. It definitely isn't bad and the plot and characters are alright but I'd never say that it was the best episode ever.

Scott1996
Scott1996

I'm surprised Season 7 came so low, I love Inferno and Spearhead from Space

MrRazza, WANTED: A Lord of Thyme
MrRazza, WANTED: A Lord of Thyme

I think the fact is, while the 4th Doctor is the fan favourite, the eccentric, amusing, floppy-haired giant taking his booming voice across the universe, his long tenure meant that there were some weak periods, and he could also come across as erratic. 

While as a Doctor Number 4 does just about beat Doctor Number 3 as my favourite of the classic era, I think Mr Pertwee's portrayal is the most consistent, so in an episode ranking I think it's perhaps not that surprising that it's the other way around. 

I would really struggle to dispute that top series ranking even now, 5 years on.

The Mind Probe
The Mind Probe

Thanks once again for an excellent article! 





I think some of these results are definitely due to episodes having aired just before the poll was taken, such as The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End ending up as the 13th best story ever! I'm sure (and hoping) this figure will drop a lot, as (even though I don't hate it like some people do) it's hardly the best Who has to offer! 



I'd really like City of Death to top it… but I have a sneaky suspicion The Day of the Doctor might be the new winner!

WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

Why wasn't Love and Monsters in the bottom 10? By far the worst episode of the show ever.

troughton who?
troughton who?

You can tell people vote generously for the stories they like when it comes to new who. The amount of 10/10's people give here is amazing. On the other hand, if someone dislikes a story, you're looking at 1s and 2s out of 10. It's like there's no middle ground/

Liana21
Liana21

From this Top 10, taking out Robots of Death (that I haven't watched yet) and Human Nature/ Family of Blood (I know is quite a favourite for so many, but I don't connect with it), I really like all, I watched Caves past week and it's stunning. So my oen Top 10, not counting Matt, would be similar, just changing Robots of Death and Himan Nature by Silence on the Library/ Forest of the Death and another recent discovery, Enemy of the World.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Hooray. The Gunfighters wasn't in the bottom 10. *Goes off to celebrate*

Hang on a minute. Time And The Rani NOT in last place? Grrrrrrr

Henry Stratton
Henry Stratton

There are some beauties from Sylvester's era which bumped season 25 and 26 up I guess. Remembrance of the daleks ,the curse of fenric , the greatest show in the galaxy and battlefield (well I liked that one ). It's a pity doctor who got canceled for the next series , or series 27 would have had a new companion , ice warriors in the Cold War and honourable insectoid samurai (not kidding , go look up big finish lost stories: thin ice and the crime of the century)

Henry Stratton
Henry Stratton

The strange thing is I really like paradise towers , and I enjoy fear her , and I think love and monsters should be cast into the bottom. Ten forever more. But I guess my opinions aren't that if the other dr who fans . Then again I think that's good . It's good when a show can generate differing opinions and discussions within its fan base.

Baker Street is on the Orient Express
Baker Street is on the Orient Express

I have used this list quite a lot in recent years when buying DVDs, although only as a rough guide. It's interesting to see it presented like this though - great articles!

The Finn
The Finn

Just to be clear: am I correct in assuming that the "bottom 10" list is, so to say, "upside down", so that number 1 is #200 on the list and so on?

YaelMoise supports the nuking of space-spiders
YaelMoise supports the nuking of space-spiders

@chrisew It's the season I started watching at. I'm told this season was one of the reasons for Peter Davison leaving. Even he felt it wasn't a good season. 


But the thing is... I love it to bits! I mean, it has the Brig in it... what's not to love?

floppy_who
floppy_who

@FreddieC Yep - that was a bit of a shocker when this survey first came out in 2009. But even as a teenager in 1984, I found the change in quality between the two episodes noticeable..

parrot999
parrot999

Agreed, though he is much more cnsistant than Tennant... The Tenth Doctor is a complete hypocrite in a lot of ways... If it was portrayed as him learning and evolving, I'd except that... But most of the time it wasn't..

Also, on an unrelated note, I have to wonder if Smith is going to pull a Troughton, and be in every multi-doctor special for the forseeable future...

Liana21
Liana21

I'm hoping for The Eleventh Hour getting a Top 20, Top 10 with luck, but counting with Caves, Genesis, City, Blink, Bad Wolf, and probably Day having a secure place on the Top 10, I know it's going to be difficult.

I think the Top 10 could be more or less 50/50 reparted between Classic and Modern and that Web of Fear and Enemy of the World could hit theTop 20 due to their recent discovery and release on DVD (and the fact that they're actually really cool).

PaddyB
PaddyB

@WhoPotterVian By far the most inventive, funniest and most character-driven episode of the show ever.

Liana21
Liana21

That's my favourite Nine' story too

Antee991166
Antee991166

@supermoff  Doctor Who Magazine ran one earlier this year. We'll be finding out the results in a month or two : )

TheTimeOfTheCommenter
TheTimeOfTheCommenter

They have. They recently did another survey for every story from An Unearthly Child to The Time of the Doctor. The results will be published in the next issue, which is out tomorrow. :)

Antee991166
Antee991166

@The Genie  I think the passing of time lets episodes improve in the eyes of the fandom. In 30 years time, we'll probably have a more positive outlook on this period of Doctor Who.

PK-S
PK-S

@The Genie I share such similar sentiments I'm tempted to copy and paste this comment :P

Antee991166
Antee991166

@Baker Street… is the Moment!  Timelash is okay in the first part, its just the second part loses all pacing and becomes incredibly dull. Its the only story from his first season that I truly dislike, all of the others have some merit with them, even if they have flaws.

Liana21
Liana21

I quite like Timelash, it's got its moments, like when Herbert faces The Doctor like he was a vampire. That's funny

YaelMoise supports the nuking of space-spiders
YaelMoise supports the nuking of space-spiders

@Baker Street… is the Moment! Yeah, he does have some nice things. It really is a shame. Attack of the Cybermen, for example is one I've gone back to more than once... and I even like most of "The Two Doctors", not to mention quite a bit of "Trial of a Time Lord".

But I gotta be honest with you, I have always hated "The Twin Dilemma". I mean, when I was little, this was the episode that got me to stop watching. So, I'm actually glad to see it up (down?) there. 




MrRazza, WANTED: A Lord of Thyme
MrRazza, WANTED: A Lord of Thyme

@parrot999 Personally I'm very much a Tennant fan, so I must respectfully disagree. For me the Tenth Doctor was the most human Doctor, and while I certainly see why this is what puts others off him, it's this that comes across as hypocrisy, we as a species seem rather prone to hypocrisy. 

As for the Smith prediction, it certainly wouldn't surprise me, he clearly has a great deal of affection and loyalty to the show.

The Mind Probe
The Mind Probe

@PaddyB @WhoPotterVian It's a story I hated at the time, and have liked more and more on each subsequent viewing. The dialogue is actually superb, and the story is very moving, only let down by a naff green fat-suit! 

Liana21
Liana21

I think the results go out in next issue, or that's what the cover says.

Liana21
Liana21

Have you seen the cover? It's pretty cool.

Baker Street is on the Orient Express
Baker Street is on the Orient Express

@YaelMoise @Baker Street… is the Moment! I haven't actually watched The Twin Dilemma yet, it's the only one of Colin's that I haven't seen. What's so bad about it?


Also, I'm a big fan of those episodes that you mentioned, and also Vengeance on Varos, which is great in how sick and intelligent it is. When it comes to The Trial of a Time Lord I'm not too keen on The Mysterious Planet, but the following three parts are great.



Antee991166
Antee991166

@Baker Street… is the Moment! @YaelMoise  First of all The Twin Dilemma has the strangling scenes which remain controversial, including the fact that The Doctor is unpleasant throughout virtually the entire story.. The enemies look exceptionally bad, the two twins in the episodes are pretty poor actors and the plot is incredibly slow and silly. By far his worst story, the only story on the same level of it is The Ultimate Foe. Things definitely improved in the next season though.

Liana21
Liana21

I like The Two Doctors, the chemistry between Patrick and Colin is so cute.