Big 50: DWTV’s Favourite Doctors & Stories (Part 3)
The Doctor Who TV community and contributors select their favourite Doctors and stories.
In the previous two parts, we’ve had a wide variety of fans from the community here on DWTV introduce themselves by discussing their favourite Doctor and episode. This is the concluding part and this time, we start with…
For me, it’s a no-brainer. My favourite Doctor is obviously the Eleventh Doctor, that strange wild 1,000 year old trapped in a 7-year old’s body. The reason why he’s my favourite and a fan favourite amongst many Whovians is that he is the Doctor. Like Tom Baker and many others, he was born to play the Doctor. Essentially the Doctor is Matt Smith. You can tell that Smith was influenced by Troughton, his mannerisms, quirks and charms even his darker side; you can imagine Patrick doing the same. And that bow-tie, how hard would it be to imagine Matt without his nerdy clothes? The bow-tie, the tweed, the skinny jeans and boots. And Matt’s just great with the fans, in all interviews; he’s just a down-to-earth kinda guy. He’s not fazed by stardom at all. He simply loves his job. Loving all the advantages that come with Who. And he is one of the greatest ambassadors Who has had.
I have so many favourite episodes but for me, my all-time favourite has to be City of Death. It has everything you could possibly want from a Doctor Who story. Humour, action, good villain, twists, good characters and great plot. And it’s not so hard to realise that it was written by the legendary Douglas Adams, the script oozes charm and humour, it contains some of the best moments in the show’s 50 year history. The Paris locations are used brilliantly and the chemistry between the two main leads Tom and Lalla is fantastic. City is one of the better stories of the mediocre Season 17, in fact, it’s the only where I would give it more than a 6 out of 10!
“I say; what a wonderful butler, he’s so violent!”
Surely not Doctor Who’s best line ever?
The Third Doctor is my favourite Doctor. His flamboyant and sometimes cantankerous character hides a gentle and affectionate soul, shown in his compassion for humanity and his friends. He’s very much a mix of the first incarnation and the second incarnation of the Doctor, whilst also presented as a new man (Or should I say Time Lord), which is what makes him so excellent. But the Third Doctor also has new, refreshing aspects in his era, that neither of his predecessors had before him. His newly found talent for Venusian Aikido makes him something of an ‘action man’, and of course, he is also famously known for being the Doctor exiled to Earth for most of his tenure, which made room for a whole variety of new, exciting stories (Opportunities that were used to their maximum potential, I must say). His gaudy and somewhat classy clothing made him appear as much more of a ‘dandy’ (As joked about by the First Doctor in The Three Doctors) than previous incarnations, but, in my opinion, made a very pleasant change from the fairly bland clothes worn by his predecessors.
As for the man behind the mask, Jon Pertwee acts the Third Doctor to perfection, making the role of The Doctor entirely his own, and owning the stage in every scene. His chemistry with his companions, played by Caroline John, Katy Manning, and Elisabeth Sladen, is something that I truly doubt many other actors in this day and age would be able to recreate. Pertwee even happened to know the person who portrayed the first incarnation of The Master, Roger Delgado, as a close friend, and as a result a lot of their scenes together flow with absolute sinister harmony, leaving the viewer in a stunned and thrilled silence.
My favourite Doctor Who story of all time is The Sea Devils, which stars the Third Doctor and Jo Grant. This story is, appropriately, set at sea, with the Doctor facing the Sea Devils (The Silurian’s aquatic cousins), and the Master. The acting in this story is stellar all round. Jon Pertwee, as always, steals the show, as he plays the inquisitive and witty Third Doctor. He has a few astounding scenes with The Master, played by the great Roger Delgado, who is being held in a top security UNIT prison. The Master is at his usual menacing self, as he attempts to wake the Sea Devil race from their hibernation from his prison cell, with the Governor’s help. A particular story highlight of mine is the sword fight between the Doctor and the Master. This scene allows us to see the Third Doctor’s incredible combat skills in action, and is also extremely entertaining!
The monsters in this episode, the Sea Devils, are a genius creation. Admittedly, their concept isn’t ‘new’, as the concept of an intelligent species that inhabited the Earth before man had already been explored in Doctor Who and The Silurians, but that doesn’t stop the Sea Devils from being my favourite Doctor Who monster. Their design is just perfect for it’s time, incredibly detailed and outlandish. The design team managed to create something that looked so alien, but also retained a reptilian form, which therefore looked somewhat familiar to Earth. Their voices are creepy and unnerving, whilst not raising to anything more than a loud whisper. Their heat ray weapons are fairly simple, and basically look like converted air hockey paddles, but are extremely effective handheld weapons. These contributing factors prove that the Sea Devils are an astounding enemy for this story, and despite being similar to the Silurians, are not the same.
The direction of The Sea Devils is hard to forget. The director, Michael Briant, uses different shots and angles to create an eerie, mysterious tone. There is one shot that stands out to me, and that is the scene when The Master activates his machine, which begins to summon Sea Devils from the bottom of the sea. As the Sea Devils emerge from the sea, one by one, you can’t help but feel slightly unnerved by the sight of their shaking, reptilian heads. Then, as one finally reaches the shore, you gaze in a fusion of wonder and fear at the chilling creature. That’s the effect great directing can have, and it’s definitely fair to say this story has plenty of it.
The storyline, in terms of quality, is first class throughout. It starts off with the Doctor and Jo travelling to the Master’s prison cell, and the story progresses fluidly from there. We go from the Doctor being pursued by a Sea Devil in an oil rig, to the Master summoning the Sea Devils, to an epic brawl between the soldiers of the naval base and the Sea Devils. No part of the story feels rushed or dragged out, which is something we can thank the writers, director, and actors for. In conclusion, The Sea Devils is my favourite Doctor Who story due to the factors I have listed, and that it holds a special place in my heart for being the first Doctor Who story I watched. I remember watching it as a 7 year old child and being enchanted by it’s imaginative charm, the incredible acting, and the terrifying monsters. Everything Doctor Who has ever been about, wouldn’t you say?
“D’you know, in 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important before.”
In a show that has lasted 50 years, I feel slightly guilty that my Doctor happens to be the incumbent. It’s not something that can be avoided, though. There’s no one thing in particular that makes the Eleventh Doctor my favourite, but Steven Moffat’s layered portrayal and Matt Smith’s truly brilliant interpretation of it combine create a perfect Oncoming Storm. In Smith’s Doctor, we have the tortured guilt of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors hidden underneath the eccentricity of the Second and Fourth Doctors. All of this would mean nothing if it wasn’t for a certain Matt Smith, one of the finest actors of his generation. You’d think a 30-year-old portraying a being over a thousand-years-old would be impossible, but no matter how childishly his Doctor acts, Matt’s acting is always able to make me believe he is that man to the extent I wouldn’t even think of questioning it. While I’m ready to welcome Capaldi, I don’t see Eleven losing his place any time soon. Frankly, his leitmotif; I Am The Doctor; says all that needs to be said.
Honourable mention: Patrick Troughton
Episode? The Girl in the Fireplace/The Angels Take Manhattan. I can’t really decide, but the reasons that I like the episodes are more or less the same so I thought I’d combine them. Screw the rules, I have words. I love the role that time and time travel plays in both of these episodes, as a linking mechanism, and how the Doctor is unable to do anything about it, which leads to their respective actors pulling out one of the best performances of their tenure, David in the scene where he realises its too late, and Matt in the graveyard scene. In addition, I love the performances and actions of the primary female character in each episode. In Fireplace, one of my favourite guest stars, Sophia Myles’ Reinette challenges and really sort of unnerves the Doctor through the knowledge she acquires in the mind reading scene. Plus, kudos for foreshadowing The Name of the Doctor 7 years early, Mr. Moffat. In Manhattan, my favourite companion, Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond saves the day through the sheer love of her husband, and has a departure that completely encapsulates her character arc. Of course, both endings felt like someone was attacking my soul with tweezers. Lastly, I have to add that both episodes feature some of the very best work a certain Murray Gold has done on the show. Truly magnificent, as are the rest of the episodes.
Honourable mentions: Genesis of the Daleks, Tomb of the Cybermen
With an entire pantheon of wonderful, unique actors and characters, it’s bordering on the impossible to narrow it down to one specific performance. But for me, whilst he doesn’t necessarily epitomise the Doctor’s character as I’d imagine him to be in the same way as McGann, the single best incarnation of the Doctor was Christopher Eccleston: a dark, brooding character, and the first to have his storyline arced around consequence. Eccleston was enigmatic and full of charm, often veiling his emotions with a façade of happiness. It was Eccleston’s development from dark to light, so to speak, and his more complex, adult characterisation that has made me appreciate him of late.
I’ve previously written articles on Human Nature/The Family of Blood and Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways and I have an oncoming article examining A Christmas Carol. The aforementioned I consider to be my favourite Doctor Who stories. But the episode I’m going to pick for this is what I think is categorically the best Doctor Who episode of all time: The Waters of Mars.
Doctor Who has regularly explored its mythos regarding ‘the fixed point theorem’, and has also frequently exposed it through means of poignancy and tragic science-fiction. The Waters of Mars is perhaps the finest, most profound use of the sub-genre, as even the Doctor himself begins to question his rights over time. Although he uses audience expectation to elicit confidence and hope for the Doctor, Russell T. Davies culminates the narrative in scaring the audience by what the Doctor has the potential to become: the ‘Time Lord Victorious’, the Doctor’s new perspective of himself. There is, ironically, an uncanny likeness in his talk of victory and authority to the creatures he strives to fight, and arguably that’s what makes the episode such a modern classic.
Despite the focal point being the Doctor’s character development, Davies is still enriching with the ‘main’ antagonist of the story, the unnerving and infinitely dangerous ‘Flood’ (previously nominated as the scariest Doctor Who monster in Tomas Edwards’ series of articles), a creature with as much mystery as the Midnight Entity and as much capacity to terrify as the Beast himself. And the ‘peripheral’ characters felt like tangible personalities, none a manifestation of a particular trait (a common trap of storytelling), but rather multi-layered, well-developed individuals who enhanced the story further. The Waters of Mars is a modern classic, and, most importantly, it’s exemplary Who.
My favourite Doctor is the 11th Doctor as played by Matt Smith. He’s over 1000 years old, he likes fish fingers and custard and his catchphrase is ‘Geronimo’. He’s also known as Amy’s ‘Raggedy man’. I love that quiff (hair) of his, the clothes that he wears: tweed jackets, trousers with braces and a shirt. And of course, the bow tie.
The 11th Doctor can be funny, clumsy and sometimes really dark and angry. He doesn’t like it when people try to get to him through the people he loves. One thing you will never want to do is to make the Doctor angry. He loves bringing along companions to see new worlds and he does an awful lot of running. Sometimes he doesn’t look back out of shame.
My favourite Doctor Who episode is The Eleventh Hour. I chose this episode because it was the perfect introduction to Matt’s Doctor. The Doctor and his new companion, Amy Pond, have just 20 minutes to help save the world from being incinerated.
One of the moments I knew that Matt’s Doctor was THE Doctor was the rooftop scene when he called back the Atraxi for a good talking to. Yes i’ve tried to put a better word to it. He asks ”Is this world protected” as he puts on the now trendy bow tie and tweed jacket. I thought this scene was awesome as he walks in through the holograms of his previous regenerations with the words ”Hello, I’m the Doctor. Basically run.” That’s when I knew he was the Doctor. The music in this episode was epic and exciting e.g The Mad Man with a box, Amy’s Theme etc.
The Hobbit is a story about, believe it or not, a hobbit. His name is Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo leads a simple life with enjoying the ordinary pleasure of day to day life. He’s comfortable where he is, the Shire, and has no desire to leave to roam the big world. One day however, he meets the wizard Gandalf and his life of comfort taken from him and he is thrown headlong into an adventure with thirteen dwarves.
Doctor Who is like that for us. One moment we’re sitting in the comfort of our homes, the next we’re thrown into an adventure (albeit through a screen).
Choosing between the eleven Doctors is like choosing between your thirteen dwarfish companions. One is a close friend, another is a brave warrior while a third is a guide speaking words of wisdom and comfort to you. It’s nigh on impossible. At different stages of the journey, you prefer one to another but, at the end of the day, they’re all you mates. Likewise don’t make me choose a favourite Doctor. One day I may enjoy Matt more than Pat, but another day it’ll be Jon who takes the top spot. All of them are my friends and it doesn’t matter beyond that.
Variety is a brilliant part of Doctor Who. One episode you are cruising with dinosaurs in a spaceship, the next you’re down on Earth facing a cyborg….. in the Wild West. These different genres does make it difficult to pin down a favourite episode. You may have noticed that I’ve refused to list episodes in the comments before and now you know why.
I can think of one episode which could easily be my favourite but sadly it can only really be watched in the month of December, otherwise it’s magic doesn’t really work. Oh the difficulty pinning down a favourite. That saying, there is one story which does stand out for me. Is it my favourite? I love it enough to say that it is my favourite ‘most’ of the time.
Human Nature/The Family of Blood is this story. A tale of love and loss. A tragedy all due to our favourite Time Lord trying to be kind. A heartbreaking moment it must have been for the Doctor when he heard Joan’s rebuke of him and realised the blood on his hands. The entire two parter is a lovely story which portrays the Doctor in a much different light to normal and causes us to recognise the danger he brings to both his enemies and his friends. One final point, ‘He who would valiant be’ is one of my favourite hymns and I did enjoy it’s use in this beautiful story.
So there you have it. Sadly no Arc of Infinity. Not sure why. But anyway, I hope that’s given you insight into the wonderful community that meets here on this site. Thanks again to DWTV and the wonderful people who made this article possible. Thanks for reading. Have a pear on me.