One Story from Every Doctor (Part 2)
Guest contributor Andrew Marsden picks out his must see stories for every Doctor (Part 2 -- Doctors 6-11).
The second part of my feature looking at what stories would provide good introductions to the previous incarnations of the Doctor covers the Sixth to the Eleventh Doctors. As before, these suggestions are here to provoke interest and debate.
If you missed part 1, find it here.
The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)
REVELATION OF THE DALEKS
The Sixth Doctor was quite possibly the most controversial incarnation of the Doctor. He was loud, brash, egotistical, manic, occasionally violent and cursed with a terrible costume. But that wasn’t to say that the Sixth Doctor was the worst Doctor ever. In fact, Colin Baker always gives his all in the role and is always enjoyable to watch. It is, however, a shame that his tenure of the Doctor was marred by poor scripts and an over-reliance of violence and, ultimately, the outright hostility of the then controller of programming at the BBC (who not only hated Doctor Who as a programme but, allegedly, personally disliked Colin Baker). Incidentally, Colin Baker also has the distinction of being the only actor to play the Doctor who had appeared previously in the series as another character (he had appeared in the Fifth Doctor story Arc of Infinity where his character shot the Doctor).
Revelation of the Daleks is a blackly comic tale of body snatching at a futuristic funeral home (where dying people are put into suspended animation prior to death). The missing bodies, it transpires, are being experimented on by Davros who either turns them into Daleks or into a protein substance (which has eradicated famine in the galaxy). Interestingly, the Doctor doesn’t play a major part in the action of the story until the second half of it. But nonetheless, this story highlights just how much potential there was in the Sixth Doctor.
RUNNER UP: Vengeance on Varos was quite possibly the second best Sixth Doctor adventure -- although it was a very violent piece for a programme which went out at tea time (fittingly, the subject matter of the story was about violence on TV). The Trial of A Time Lord, the season long story which ultimately proved to be Colin Baker’s swansong in the role combines the best (Colin Baker’s performance) and worst (at least five of the thirteen episodes of the story are very weak) of the Sixth Doctor’s era but is still worth watching.
The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)
THE CURSE OF FENRIC
The final season of the classic series proved to be one of the strongest seasons of Doctor Who for some time. The Curse of Fenric just about edges it as the best story of the Seventh Doctor’s era. After his somewhat shaky start over doing the comedy in an attempt to lighten the series up after the grim Sixth Doctor era, the Seventh Doctor became one of the darkest incarnations of the character. This story highlights the manipulative nature of the Seventh Doctor as well as his strong relationship with his companion Ace. Set during World War 2, this tale features vampire like creatures called the Haemovores and sees the Doctor battle an ancient evil and test the faith of himself and Ace. A story so complex, it is best viewed in the ‘Special Edition’ movie edit available on the DVD rather than the original four part transmitted version.
RUNNER UP: Remembrance of the Daleks, the opening story of the show’s 25th anniversary season, proved that (despite what the powers at be at the BBC thought) there was plenty of life left in the series. The first story to hint at the Doctor’s manipulative nature and the first to hint that the Doctor was more than what we had been led to believe this story featured two factions of Daleks engaged in a civil war on Earth in the 1960’s battling for control of an ancient Time Lord artefact. It was quite possibly the strongest story since The Caves of Androzani. And, for historical purposes, the final story of the classic run of the show, Survival, which pitted the Doctor against the Master, is well worth watching.
The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann)
DOCTOR WHO (THE TV MOVIE)
The only televised adventure for the Eighth Doctor was designed as a pilot episode for an American produced new series of Doctor Who. As a result, it remains controversial. But what is surprising is how it seems to act as a bridge between the classic series (the Seventh Doctor bows out at the start of this adventure) and the new series (the Doctor shows a romantic interest in the companion). Yes, the plot has numerous holes (not to mention the whole notion of the Doctor being ‘half-human’, a revelation which, it seems, has been ignored by the new series) and, yes, it is very ‘American’ but it shows how much potential Paul McGann had as the Doctor -- his performance is really fantastic and it is a shame that we never got to see more of him on TV (in audio, though, was another matter).
The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)
THE EMPTY CHILD/THE DOCTOR DANCES
Steven Moffat’s first story for the revived series remains the highlight of the Ninth Doctor’s all too brief tenure. Very atmospheric and creepy, this tale introduced us to Captain Jack and by this point, Christopher Eccleston had settled in nicely to the part (which made his almost imminent departure all the more heartbreaking). It also made the seemingly innocent phrase, “Are you my mummy?” absolutely terrifying!
RUNNER UP: Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways. TV satire! Thousands of Daleks! The Ninth Doctor regenerates! The first regeneration story of the new series didn’t disappoint (although, admittedly, the Daleks were defeated far too easily by Rose, the ‘Bad Wolf‘).
The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)
HUMAN NATURE/THE FAMILY OF BLOOD
Based on a ‘New Adventure’ novel featuring the Seventh Doctor during the ‘Wilderness years’ of 1990-1996, this two part story examines what makes the Doctor who he is and highlights how alien he is. Throw in some creepy villains aided by Scarecrows and this shows without a doubt why Doctor Who is one of the most important, thought provoking TV shows ever.
RUNNER UP: Blink. Yes, I’ve bucked the trend and had this as a runner up. Why? Because my niece, who provided the inspiration for this piece, is terrified of the Weeping Angels and won’t watch to watch this!
The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith)
THE ELEVENTH HOUR
A tricky one to choose, not least for the fact that the Eleventh Doctor’s adventures are still ongoing and we could be treated to many more classic stories. But I decided to go for his debut story – it is, quite simply, the best post-regeneration story (so far). I, like many others, approached The Eleventh Hour was a feeling of apprehension – a new production team and a new, relatively unknown (not to mention young) actor playing the Doctor could have easily have resulted in a disaster. But instead, Steven Moffat gave us one of his best scripts with wonderful dialogue (“I’m the Doctor. I’m worse than everybody’s aunt!”), humour and tension and Matt Smith established his Doctor from the word go (something previous incumbents of the role hadn’t necessarily achieved). We also got to see the effect the Doctor has on people (Amelia, later Amy, Pond’s belief in him) and a nice twist on the introduction to a new companion. It was, in short, a triumph. Whoever has the honour of playing the Twelfth Doctor will have a big task ahead of them!
RUNNER UP: The Doctor’s Wife was the undoubted highlight of series six of the new series. Lots of references to the show’s past and the chance to see the personality of the TARDIS in action plus a creepy entity in House led to an unforgettable episode. I very nearly had this as my top choice but The Eleventh Hour was a more ‘important’ episode as it had to establish a new Doctor and production era – there was more riding on its success.