Big 50: DWTV’s Favourite Doctors & Stories (Part 2)
The Doctor Who TV community and contributors select their favourite Doctors and stories.
Yesterday, five members of the DWTV community named their favourite Doctor and episode. Today we continue our journey through the ranks starting with…
If you had asked me in 2010 who my favourite Doctor was, I would have answered, without a moment of thought – David Tennant. Soon after, I would have emphatically answered Tom Baker. But it was the following year that I actually decided to crack down and rank the Doctors, and decide which I preferred… and Tom wasn’t at top. Or David…
It was Matt.
“Why?” I hear you ask. “Why did I put him above the classics, above the greats?” Because – to my mind – he is the amalgamation of what made them all great in the first place. He has the air of ancient wisdom that Hartnell displayed (Moffat once described him as having “old eyes”). He has the joyousness of Troughton, Petrwee’s way with words, Tom Baker’s child-like wonder, Davison’s sensitivity, Colin Baker’s confidence and McCoy’s air of mystery. Not only that, but beneath all this, he has the tortured soul of Eccleston, and often displays Tennant’s gravitas. He takes everything I loved about each Doctor, and makes it his own, giving us a character that is both young and old, child-like yet deeply troubled. Kind, sensitive, loving, yet with a sliver of ice in his heart. And because of this, Matt remains my favourite Doctor, and hopefully will for years to come.
And one of the episodes that assured my love for his incarnation was none other than my favourite episode of all time Vincent and The Doctor. I’ve always loved the work of Vincent Van Gogh, and his art has always been of inspiration to me – so to find they were doing an episode featuring him, I was… cautious. You see – The story of Van Gogh is an emotional one, for sure, and I worried that the serious aspects would be brushed over for the sake of a light hearted romp (Especially coming from Richard Curtis).
And by golly was I wrong. Not only is the direction fantastic, the acting and dialogue sublime, any instances of humour are brilliant… and the emotional scenes. My giddy aunt, this episode packs an emotional punch. In fact, the museum scene at the end is the only television scene in history to bring me close to tears, and that’s saying something. The speech about Vincent, brilliantly performed by the always wonderful Bill Nighy rings true, even to this day. Which brings me on to Vincent himself – Tony Curran. My golly is he a fantastic actor, who brings Vincent to life before our eyes, giving us a powerful insight into his creativity, his flare, and the demons that haunt him day and night. And no better scene to highlight this than that in which Vincent shows the Doctor and Amy how he sees the world around him – one of my favourite televised scenes of all time, and nothing short of a masterpiece. So, to sum it up in one word: magnificent. Absolutely magnificent. Richard Curtis – I salute you.
Favourite Doctor? This one has to go to Christopher Eccleston‘s Ninth Doctor, who in his own words is, ‘fantastic’. To be honest, it was a very fitting word to end his era. What makes a perfect Doctor? For me the answer to this is the one who makes you fall in love with the show, or the one who wants you leaving more, or the one who brings the show to life and epitomises everything the Doctor stands for. For me Eccleston does all three.
I can’t think of an episode of his short era which wasn’t fantastic, plus the fact that Chris only stayed for a single series meant that there was definitive character progression. For me, he even looked the part of an alien, not just his appearance, but also his mannerisms. I loved the fact that he had a Dalek encounter before the series finale, as it help to raise the stakes and allowed the Doctor to have an emotional investment in the events. So in short, these are only a few of the reasons that I love the ninth Doctor.
Favourite Story? I was torn, between about ten stories, which I finally got down to four. Of the four The End of Time, is the easiest for me to talk about. From what I gather it is a marmite episode. Story wise, this is very sound, some of the ideas involved, such as the eternity gate, the master race and the Time Lords’ return were some of the best since the revival of the show. Direction and visuals were top notch too. Scenery was well utilised. My favourite being the Doctor and Wilf in the shooting sphere things.
As for character relationships and viewer payoff, you could not have asked for much more. The Doctor and Wilf was one of the most authentic and believable Doctor/companion relationships. The reward scene, where the Doctor visits his old companions, is perfectly executed allowing everyone back, whilst not saturating the story.
The Doctor’s anger at Wilf when I first viewed the episode live, it felt out of place to me. However, I have come to realise just how poignant and reflective on their relationship. It’s only natural when you loose something to get angry. Either way, the Doctor or Wilf, that great bond was broken, and that is a great loss to worth getting angry about. It may be worth stating here that I believe, that he thought he was going to die a lot faster than he actually did. This would go to further explaining his reaction to Wilf and suggest his reward was improvised rather than self serving.
The regeneration scene, is great “I don’t want to go”. I don’t think any Doctor has wanted to regenerate. So why is ten the only one to say it? Bear in mind, he is the only Doctor to be alone in the run up to and during his regeneration. He is also fully conscious at the time of the regeneration. Normally he puts up a front for his companions, this time we get to see how he really feels, and to be honest, it is no surprise.
My favourite Doctor is the Eleventh. Matt Smith is the guy who got me into Doctor Who. His Doctor is the only one that had me hooked the first time I saw him and he is just brilliant. Matt really shows the Doctor’s age, despite his youthful body. And while he does act fairly child-like at times, you still know that he is over 1000 years old, and he has a massive weight on his shoulders. He is my favourite Doctor because of his youthful energy, his sense of humour and I love how he is fascinated by all the new things he sees. I love his confidence and the fact that he is well aware that no matter where he goes, he is the smartest person in the room. He is my favourite because he is just so alien. He’s also sharp, brilliantly smart and really passionate. This Doctor is the reason I am watching the show now, and he will always be my favourite Doctor for that reason.
My favourite episode is the series 5 two parter The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone. These episodes were the first Doctor Who episodes that I watched. I first turned over the TV at the end of the first part, just as the Eleventh Doctor was making his “there’s one thing you never put in a trap” speech, and by the time I had rewatched the episode and then watched Flesh and Stone I was hooked. I love these episodes because there is brilliant banter between the Doctor, Amy and River, plus the supporting cast are very good too.
This two parter introduced us to a couple of new aspects to the Weeping Angels, the fact that an image of an Angel is itself an Angel is a great idea, and the scene when it was coming out of the screen is one of the creepiest things I’ve seen on this show. Amy proved herself to be a capable companion by stopping the Angel. As well as that, there was what happened when Amy looked into the eyes of the Angel as it was coming out of the screen, the Weeping Angel moved into her mind, and then was making Amy very subtly countdown to her death. I love the subtle clues we get in these episodes such as, the Aplans have two heads, but all of the statues the crew were walking past only had one, and then there was the horrible realisation that they were surrounded by Weeping Angels. I like how this episode had some hints toward the series finale too, like the crack in Amy’s wall being caused by an explosion, another hint, this time from River; that the Pandorica will soon be opening.
I love the Doctor’s final confrontation with the Angels, and we were wondering how he was going to stop them, but he already knew, giving the Angels a hint by saying “I think they’ve forgotten where they’re standing. I think they’ve forgotten the gravity of the situation” There was also the Eleventh Doctor in his conversation when he ‘went back’ to Amy, at this point for this Doctor, the events of The Big Bang had happened and he was travelling back across his own timeline, and at this point when he told Amy to remember what he told her when she was seven, she couldn’t remember because he hadn’t actually told her yet! This episode is packed with action, comedy and some heart-breaking moments as well, like the scene of Father Octavian’s death, where he had some moving lines, and also gave the Doctor an ominous warning about River Song.
Speaking of River, this was the second time we see her, and she was back in fine form, she showed off her intellect again, she noticed the Aplans at the same point as the Doctor. And this was the first time we saw her with the Eleventh Doctor, and they were brilliant together. This was the two parter that got me into the show and it will always be one of my favourites because of that. The acting in the episode is top notch, and the plot is brilliant, a great example of Steven Moffat at his best in my opinion.
Favourite Doctor? Jon Pertwee! For some reason, this eccentric scientist and action hero doesn’t get a lot of praise. Yes, he’s generally respected by the fandom, and most people seem to like him, but I don’t see that many who love him. This strikes me as odd, because in my opinion, Pertwee is one of the most talented actors ever to have graced our screen. He brings a great energy to his performance. He has the ability to be absolutely hilarious with a simple look, whilst his voice in deep and rich, giving gravitas and power to his Doctor. I like how he sometimes resorts to action in order to overcome his enemies, and his love of gadgets and vehicles brings a loveable side to his Doctor. He has excellent interactions with many characters, whether it’s his fatherly attitude to Jo and Sarah Jane, his entertaining banter with the Second Doctor or his relationship with his devious archenemy, the Master. I haven’t often cried at Classic Who (don’t kill me), but Jon has made shed a tear twice, once when he said goodbye to Jo and drove off into the sunset, and then when he regenerated. He is, without a shadow of a doubt, a truly marvellous man, and a fantastic Doctor.
Favourite Story? The Waters of Mars! I throw the word ‘masterpiece’ around quite a bit, but in my opinion, the one episode of Doctor Who which is totally worthy of this title is The Waters of Mars. I literally cannot see fault with it. I like Gadget, he’s pleasantly similar to K-9 and I love how the Doctor used him to save Mia, Adelaide and Yuri (Who needs atom clamps? I’ve got a funny robot!). Every member of the crew is brilliantly acted and written in my opinion. At first Roman seems grating and annoying, but then we see his brave side as he tells the others to leave him, before he dies horribly. Yuri is so loveable, providing some nice humour in this generally dark and gritty story, and Steffi has a fantastic death scene. Ed is a brilliant character, the second-in-command who’s always being put down in his boss, because of something which happened between the two in the past (I love the subtly in their relationship with each other, with us never seeing the fully story). Adelaide is fantastic, played to perfection by Lindsay Duncan, but David Tennant steals the show as the Doctor finally pushed over the edge. The Time Lord Victorious is a terrifying idea, almost as terrifying as the fantastic Flood. Other great points are the music, dialogue and direction, and the makeup department’s work on the Flood.
I just wondered, between you and me—in a hundred words—where do you think Matt Smith rates in the history of Doctors…?
Well. Um, big question, um, but to me, Matt is the finest Doctor of them all. Certainly the most alien Doctor of all time. The most beloved. His command of acting, the most magnificent. He transformed the craziness of his exciting life into ecstatic beauty. Whimsical is easy to portray but to use your passion and love to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our show. No one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange wild man who screamed “GERONIMO!” and ate fish custard, was not only the world’s greatest actors but also one of the greatest Doctors who will ever live.
The 11th Doctor is the best, no doubt about it (to me). Some claim he is “childish”…”stupid”…”Not serious enough”…but oh no, no way Jose! For this Doctor is the oldest of them all, has seen the most, and god damn it he is the wisest. His pain and torment of his past life is clear as anything, look! You’ll see him sigh as he stares at the TARDIS monitor…thinking no-one can see him, but we can. He lives life as one big adventure, with a large grin and a hint of magic he is running away from it all…he is living life like a big kid…because he is the oldest of them all, and that my friends is a great Doctor.
Hail to ye! The man with the bowtie and floppy hair! For you are the most magical, emotional and brilliant Doctor…ever!
A Christmas Carol has all the ingredients to be the best Doctor Who episode of all time. The magic of “Ember” is visually stunning (watch it in Blu-Ray if you can!”). The story itself is complex, gripping, and emotional and heart-warming. Honestly, I watched it in August and felt like it was Christmas!
The plot itself is confusing, magical and has a perfect resolution. Steven Moffat manages to create a perfect Kazran(s) (and yes I know he is based on Scrooge) who goes from being hated straight away to becoming a sweet man who has changed in time for Christmas…
Highlight of the episode?
Abigail’s song, no doubt about it. The snow falling…the best song EVER in Doctor Who (in my opinion), everyone saved, it’s stunning and never fails to bring goosebumps. Of course there are darker themes…the shot of Kazran and Abigail laughing together on the sleigh will be there last ever moment together…
Still! I hope I haven’t ruined the story for you. But if we get a special this year half as good as A Christmas Carol then I will be delighted!
Join us tomorrow for the part three of this article.