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Analysing The Top Doctor Who Stories (DWM 2014)

Guest contributor Thomas Capon offers an in depth analysis of the top episodes from DWM’s recent poll.

caves-day-genesis

Previously we’ve considered the 1998 DWM survey and the 2009 DWM Survey. Today the results of the most recent survey were released and are viewable here on DWTV. We’re going to look at the results in a bit more detail and at the same time do some comparisons to the results of previous surveys from both DWM and here at DWTV.

Top 10 Comparisons

You’ve no doubt already seen and analysed the results of the top 10 stories and the bottom 10 stories. Rather than look at them in any detail, here’s some tables for comparison:

Best

2014

2009

1998

The Day of the Doctor

The Caves of Androzani

Genesis of the Daleks

Blink

Blink

The Talons of Weng-Chiang

Genesis of the Daleks

Genesis of the Daleks

The Caves of Androzani

The Caves of Androzani

The Talons of Weng-Chiang

Pyramids of Mars

City of Death

The Empty Child

The Robots of Death

The Talons of Weng-Chiang

Human Nature

Remembrance of the Daleks

The Empty Child

Pyramids of Mars

City of Death

Pyramids of Mars

City of Death

The Tomb of the Cybermen

Human Nature

The Robots of Death

The Evil of the Daleks

Remembrance of the Daleks

Bad Wolf

The Web of Fear

Worst

The-Twin-Dilemma-dvd

2014

2009

1998

The Twin Dilemma

The Twin Dilemma

The Twin Dilemma

Fear Her

Timelash

The Space Pirates

Time and the Rani

Time and the Rani

Timelash

Timelash

Underworld

The Underwater Menace

Time-Flight

Time-Flight

Time-Flight

Underworld

The Space Pirates

Time and the Rani

The Space Pirates

The Underwater Menace

Underworld

The Dominators

Paradise Towers

Paradise Towers

The Rings of Akhaten

Fear Her

Delta and the Bannermen

The Space Museum

The Dominators

The Gunfighters

Average Rankings

Below are the calculated average placing of a story from each Doctor’s era. This time I’ve converted these numbers into an index so that they are comparable with the other surveys.

Doctor

2014 Average Ranking

2014 Index

2009 Index

1998 Index

1st

148

0.61

0.61

0.62

2nd

111

0.46

0.49

0.45

3rd

99

0.41

0.46

0.46

4th

112

0.46

0.47

0.43

5th

135

0.56

0.56

0.50

6th

170

0.71

0.72

0.62

7th

145

0.60

0.66

0.58

8th

152

0.63

0.68

0.56

9th

95

0.39

0.37

X

10th

109

0.45

0.39

X

11th

121

0.50

X

X

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

Looks like the different Doctor’s era rankings are fairly consistent. Most noticeable increase is the +0.12 jump between 1998 and 2009 for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor and the most noticeable decrease is the -0.06 for the Seventh Doctor between 2009 and 2014.

Let’s compare how the Doctor’s eras rank (from the 2014 survey) against the actual Doctors (using the Favourite Doctor results from the same survey)

50th-anniversary-doctors-hurt

Doctor

Rank by Doctor

Rank by era

1st

9

9

2nd

4

4

3rd

5

2

4th

1

5

5th

6

7

6th

11

11

7th

7

8

8th

10

10

9th

8

1

10th

3

3

11th

2

6

This produces some surprising results. Eccleston’s 9th Doctor did fairly poorly in the Favourite Doctor survey despite the fact that his era as Doctor is ranked as the best while both the Fourth and Eleventh Doctors did well in the Favourite Doctor survey despite their eras doing less well in the story survey.

‘Spearman’s rank coefficient’ is a mathematical method of measuring correlation. It gives a value between 1 and -1 where 1 is total agreement and -1 is total disagreement. Using this, we discover that the correlation is 0.58 which makes sense. There is a bit of correlation but also clear signs of variation.

Regeneration Story Rankings:

  1. The Day of the Doctor (1)
  2. The Caves of Androzani (4)
  3. The War Games (12)
  4. Bad Wolf (13)
  5. The Stolen Earth (35)
  6. Logopolis (62)
  7. Planet of the Spiders (81)
  8. The End of Time (82)
  9. The Tenth Planet (85)
  10. The Time of the Doctor (95)
  11. The TV Movie (152)
  12. Time and the Rani (239)

Notes: Brackets show the story’s overall ranking out of 241. The Stolen Earth and The Day of the Doctor have been included on this list even though they weren’t strictly speaking a ‘Hand over the key to the TARDIS’ episode.

Has The Caves of Androzani finally been beaten as the ultimate regeneration story? Not really if we’re honest. Just because the story has a regeneration doesn’t really make it a ‘regeneration story’. Let’s do a little comparison between the classic regenerations (as the 1998 survey obviously doesn’t have the newer regenerations) to see if there has been much change in the fanbase’s taste over time.

Regeneration

2014 ranking

2009 ranking

1998 ranking

The Caves of Androzani

1

1

1

The War Games

2

2

4

Logopolis

3

3

2

Planet of the Spiders

4

5

5

The Tenth Planet

5

4

3

The TV Movie

6

6

6

Time and the Rani

7

7

7

Correlation with 2014:

0.96

0.82

It is clear that there is a strong correlation over the years with tastes having changed very little in the past 16 years and virtually not at all in the last 5.

Season Average Ranking

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

3rd

7

48

4th

13

54

4th

14

62

3rd

10

79

2nd

5

81

The Baker, Hinchcliffe and Holmes combination again dominates this list with two of the top three seasons being from their era but this time misses out again to Season 7. Interestingly New Who fails to get into top 5 this time.

Bottom 5 Seasons

Doctor

Season

Average Ranking

7th

24

225

6th

23

168

5th

20

160

1st

3

159

6th

22

158

While Douglas Adams manages to escape the bottom five, yet again both of Colin Baker’s seasons also make this list along with McCoy’s first season. Season 20 also retains its position with newcomer season 3 completing the list.

Full List

These results are particularly lengthy, so click to expand show

Again there is strong correlation between now and 1998 with even stronger correlation between now and 2009.

Overall correlation between surveys

I’ve made a table for you to see the overall correlation between the surveys:

1998

2009

2014

1998

X

0.95

0.92

2009

0.95

X

0.97

2014

0.92

0.97

X

This shows that the 2005 reboot has done very little to change fan tastes. Rather newer fans tend to agree with the fanbase as to which stories are exceptional and which are poor.

DWM and DWTV: Best of Matt Smith

best-of-matt-smith-day

Recently as a community DWTV carried out a survey/poll and came up with a ranking of Matt Smith’s episodes. Let’s compare those results against DWM’s.

Again due to length please click to expand full results: show

I work the correlation out to be 0.93 which indicates that there is a strong agreement between the readers of DWM and DWTV concerning Matt Smith’s era as the Doctor.

Me and DWM

For those interested further in my views, I also worked out my correlation with the readers of DWM which came out as 0.69. So I’m in general agreement with some noticeable differences. If you want your Spearman’s rank coefficient to be calculated: email me your story rankings: [email protected] (I can’t guarantee that you’ll get a reply. Depends how many people email me their rankings and how clear your rankings are.)

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found these set of articles interesting and fun. There’s always more you can do with numbers so what are you waiting for? Open up a spreadsheet and start calculating. We ranked the stories by Doctors, why not try companions, enemies or setting. Go experiment!

Step back in time...

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180 comments
Mary Sue's Vertue
Mary Sue's Vertue

The thing is, nobody can dispute these poll results. It was a postal vote, via entry form. taken from the very core of Doctor Who's fandom, the readership of DWM, the only official BBC sanctioned monthly publication. It was not done online, so nobody can accuse any particular fan base, with their own agenda, for hijacking it, and although the results had few surprises it was pleasant to see every era of the show represented with high ranking story's. So don't be too despondent if one of your favourites finished in a lowly position, or get irate if a story you despise finished higher, it's like they said in the magazines editorial, it's not about the best or worst, it's a celebration of ''Doctor Who'', and no one can argue with that

capaldi3699
capaldi3699

3 episodes that everyone hates that I like: love and monsters, fear her and rings of akhaten. I know I'm gonna get loads of hate for this

microbat98
microbat98

In my eyes, 7B has been the worst series so far. The only good episodes to come out of it were Rings and Name. So the fact that Rings is disliked so much that it appears on the bottom ten, instead of the awful Journey, Crimson and Nightmare, is actually painful to read. How can so many people seriously think that it's that bad?

And Day's probably just a phase. Or because it has the majority's favourite Doctors (most of which's only Doctors) in the same story. It's a great story, but not #1 worthy. That'll fade; I'm sure.

ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

I'd like to suggest that Caves of Androzani was a regeneration story. It was primarily about how the Fifth Doctor regenerated, and why. Day of the Doctor was a multi-doctor story that had a regeneration thrown in for fanservice so that we could have the full set. If they had left Hurt's regeneration out, it would not have changed the main thrust of his only episode in the slightest. If they had left Davison's regeneration out, Caves would have been an entirely different episode.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Here's the thing about TOTD and The End Of Time. Time has a better story than The End Of Time (not saying much), but The End Of Time's last 20 minutes and the regeneration are so good they automatically put The End Of Time high up on the list.

Whogasms
Whogasms

Let me just mention Standard Deviation and Regression just to seem clever.

Seekles
Seekles

"Has The Caves of Androzani finally been beaten as the ultimate regeneration story? Not really if we’re honest. Just because the story has a regeneration doesn’t really make it a ‘regeneration story’."

Erm, what's the point in doing these "in-depth analysis" if you're just going to alter the facts to suit your personal opinion? The Day of the Doctor features a regeneration of the Doctor. It is a regeneration story. The story beat The Caves of Androzani in the poll. The Day of the Doctor has beaten The Caves of Androzani as the "ultimate regeneration story".

Like it or lump it, it's as simple as that, but please don't alter the facts to suit your personal opinion. It just defeats the purpose of the poll and your analysis.

Gallifreygreg
Gallifreygreg

Yes, the twin dilemma is crap, but compared to Love and Monsters it's The Caves of Androzani

MrThorfan64
MrThorfan64

I'd count TDOTD as part of the regeneration episodes, but no that overrated S4 finale.

Stormegeddon
Stormegeddon

Did anyone else's mind go..."what the hell?" when the read all of these graphs?

Oodkind
Oodkind

Tomorrow: Analyzing how people will rank the episodes in ten years! We just have to analyze the change of episode rankings over the 16-year interval and find the average rate of change to estimate the placement of every episode in ten more years. Then the next day, let's rank Peter Capaldi's episodes based on the placements of Tennant's and Smiths at the end of their runs... We can keep this series going on for weeks!

MrRazza, the Newly Qualified Omega Identifier
MrRazza, the Newly Qualified Omega Identifier

You really outdid yourself here. Numbers and averages and tables and indexes and correlation and rankings... 

Anything that appeals to both the Maths nerd and the Doctor Who nerd in me is glorious

Jimmio78
Jimmio78

come on. rings of akhaten was great. great aliens. an awesome monologue at the end. definitely not in the bottom 10 episodes. hell, id put it in the top 20

Polyphase
Polyphase

I'm always a bit shocked that the Twin Dilemma is the worst episode, I can think of a few worse ones :)

YaelMoise
YaelMoise

Unbelievable work on this article, Thomas Capon. Really unbelievable. Thank you so much. It's a terribly interesting read :)

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

Good to see The Time of the Doctor didn't do too badly, though I think it's criminal that it scored below The End of Time.

KingOrokos
KingOrokos

I'd just like to say a huge thank you to Mr. Capon for putting so much effort into this little series of articles. All of this data must have taken quite a bit of time to put together and it makes for a very interesting read.

IanChestertonJr
IanChestertonJr

172. "The Happiness Patrol" ... Now, let's take a moment to reflect upon that!...

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

I'm shocked series 2 made it higher than series 6 and 7.


capaldi3699
capaldi3699

I totally agree. Bells, Journey, Crimson and Nightmare were truly awful episodes. And I think Rings and Name were to of the only good ones, Hide deserves some praise as well.

LucasW
LucasW

The Hurt regeneration. Was only really there for neatness. We don't even see the whole regeneration! I think the criteria for what constitutes a regeneration story should really be "is the story in some way based about a regeneration?" And Day is not solely the story of the War Doctor's regeneration.

The Finn
The Finn

@Seekles But regeneration wasn't the main focus of the story, that's what he means. A regeneration story focuses on the regeneration. The Day of The Doctor didn't, regeneration was just an addition.

capaldi3699
capaldi3699

I think the same. And, although I may get a lot of hate for this......... I LIKE Love and Monsters

LucasW
LucasW

Obviously the majority of people disagree sadly. I don't like this sort of poll, I refuse to call any Doctor Who episode bad. I can see something good in every episode, even if I do enjoy criticising.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

@Malohkeh  I thought it was SLIGHTLY better, but only slightly. School Reunion and Girl In The Fireplace automatically put it above 6 and 7 in my opinion.

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

@Malohkeh I'm not either. Highly enjoyable to me. Overall, I find it very difficult to choose a fav from the RTD era since all 4 series are awesome, IMO!

TheDreamer
TheDreamer

@MrRazza @Polyphase Well... it's all very subjective, as always, but here's my list (and I haven't watched half of classic yet, so there's bound to be a few more added to my list later on, lol)



The Power of Kroll - Key to Time 5 (4th Doctor)

The Green Death (3rd Doctor)

Black Orchid (5th Doctor)

The Daleks (1st Doctor)

Robot (4th Doctor)

Attack of the Cybermen (6th Doctor) 

Time and the Rani (7th Doctor)

Paradise Tower (7th Doctor)

Revelation of the Daleks (6th Doctor)



Polyphase
Polyphase

@MrRazza @Polyphase It's only my opinion but there's

Survival

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

Paradise Towers

Snakedance

To name a few


Malohkeh
Malohkeh

@stargazer0118 @Malohkeh I love all of RTD's era except Series 2. I just don't care for it, as a whole. It's all personal opinion, but that's mine.

ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

@YaelMoise @Malohkeh I'm not surprised it beat series 7. Both of them had some clunkers, IMO, but I liked the best of series 2 better than nearly every Season 7 episode. I won't debate series 6, because I am not a huge fan of River Song and I understand that a lot of people are.

capaldi3699
capaldi3699

I agree with most but I liked survival

YaelMoise
YaelMoise

@Malohkeh @stargazer0118 It's one of the things I love best about this show - how everyone can look at the same episodes and see things so differently.  :)

Series 2, with School Reunion... The Girl in the Fireplace... the "Pete's World" episodes (all four of them - God, I think I've rewatched Pete meeting Jackie in Doomsday about a million times. I can basically recite it by now), and the Ood story - well, the series is one of my favorites. 

David Tennant was my second go at regeneration. The first time I witnessed it, the first time a Doctor I loved (5th) was taken from me and replaced by a stranger (6th), I just got up and walked away. 

That didn't happen this time. I grew to love him to the point where I was no longer sure if I liked 10th or 9th (or 5th) better anymore. For me, that's a tiny little miracle. It underlines for me how good the writing was, how good the stories were, and how good the acting was. 

I understand that it's not the same for others, and that's great, it really is... but, yeah, I'm really not surprised that series 2 wasn't lower than the 6th and 7th series.


G_Unitt
G_Unitt

I wasn't a fan of Series 3 on the whole either, I felt Martha was a really wasted character. Some great stories, but on the whole I didn't like it. AND THAT FINALE... I don't even want to think about it...

TheDreamer
TheDreamer

@ClaireAbraham @TheDreamer @MrRazza @Polyphase @MeglosProductions Nothing wrong with that. We don't all have to like the same things. :)

@MeglosProductions




My favourite classic stories (so far, I'm still working on classic, I've seen all of Six and Seven, about half of Five, 1/3 of Four, and Three, maybe 1/4 of Two, and a few of One) are:


The Five Doctors, Terror of the Vervoids (I love all of Trial of a Timelord, but this one more than the rest), Battlefield, Talons of Weng Chiang, Curse of Fenric, City of Death, Destiny of the Daleks, Mark of the Rani, The Three Doctors, Caves of Androzani, Death to the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks, Silver Nemesis, The Aztecs, The Armageddon Factor, Ghostlight, Time Warrior, Tomb of the Cybermen, The Sontaran Experiment, Nightmare of Eden, Frontier in Space, Planet of Fire, Genesis of the Daleks.


My fave 1st Doctor one is the Aztecs... So far, anyway.

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

@YaelMoise @Malohkeh @stargazer0118 I love individual episodes in series 2 (particularly The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit and The Girl in the Fireplace. The overall dynamic between Rose and Ten didn't work as well for me, though, and it has the most episodes that I dislike (Fear Her, Love and Monsters, The Idiot's Lantern, New Earth, etc.). There's a fair few episodes I'm apathetic about, as well.


I'm glad there are people (including you) who enjoy that series. It's great that this show can explore so many different styles and ideas, which appeal to different people in different ways. There's something for everyone.