Except for Castrovalva, which I have always hated for some reason
January 11, 2011 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Give me your best Doctor Who serial recommendations. I've seen 'em all, but want to get back in touch.

Over the course of my life, I am pretty confident that I have seen every Doctor Who episode that survives (unless formerly missing episodes have been recovered since my childhood). I think the Davies reboot is fantastic, but I have a real soft spot in my heart for the old ones that I used to watch growing up--two competing PBS stations (WNYC and WLIW, sometimes even WNET) would each show a different entire serial on Fridays and Saturdays. One of them also used to show Blake's 7, too, which I almost might like even better.

I watched all of Blake's 7 a couple of years ago, but I don't have the time to watch all the Doctor Who serials again.

Are there particular Doctor Who episodes that are regarded to be the best? A smattering the different doctors and companions would be great.

Off the top of my head, I'd love to see Tom Baker offer a jelly baby in a particularly lecherous manner (also the one where we meet Sontarans with Mary Jane, which I think was the first episode I ever saw). Turlough being especially mean. Peri being especially bosomy. Colin Baker being also especially mean. Terminus. K-9. Romana staying in that other mystery dimension (did we see her regenerate from the first actress to the second)? A million other things.

Any episode that is especially good. Any episode that is especially bad.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Perplexity at 11:45 AM on January 11, 2011

Remembrance of the Daleks and The Curse of Fenric feature Sylvester McCoy at his best.

Revelation of the Daleks features Colin Baker at his best as well, although none of his TV serials ever did him justice. (It's also got Peri.)

The Mind Robber is a great Troughton serial, and it's one of my favorite Who-related things ever.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:46 AM on January 11, 2011

State of Decay has Adric being especially snotty.

Although really, how could you tell?

I ♥ Adric.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:49 AM on January 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, Perplexity, I should have included that link, as well--there's some good stuff in there. My question is a bit broader than "which are the best for the initiate"--I'm looking for the most annoying Adric episode, or the not particularly good episode where Tegan left and you were kind of sad to see her go, despite her accent. Sort of the essence of everything good and bad over the past 40 years, since I don't have time to watch them all again.

On preview: elsietheeel has hooked us up with an essence of Adric serial. Oh, Adric and your gold star for mathematics. So misunderstood.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:54 AM on January 11, 2011

I lovelovelove Inferno of the Pertwee era. The Time Warrior, also a Pertwee story, is corny and hilarious. Talons of Weng Chiang and the E-Space trilogy from the Tom Baker era are very good as well.
posted by orrnyereg at 12:02 PM on January 11, 2011

The gold star was for mathematical excellence, in point of fact. /hopeless nerd
posted by orrnyereg at 12:04 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gotta include City of Death.
posted by kmz at 12:06 PM on January 11, 2011

The Happiness Patrol is awesome in it's ridiculousness.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:08 PM on January 11, 2011

Response by poster: The gold star was for mathematical excellence, in point of fact. /hopeless nerd

This is exactly the sort of knowledge that has atrophied in me.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:08 PM on January 11, 2011

Hated Adric. Really did. And yet, that broken gold star, just lying there on the floor ... that was rough.

For my money, I'd recommend going for broke with all 633 minutes of the Key To Time arc. You get the White Guardian, the Black Guardian, lots of K9, and both Romana incarnations (sort of).
posted by grabbingsand at 12:57 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it helps, this site lists every classic story in order, organized by Doctor, and here's a post I made not long ago of just the ones Netflix has to watch instantly (if you're in the US). I'm part-way through Pyramids of Mars in my viewing.
posted by davextreme at 12:58 PM on January 11, 2011

My favorites:

Tomb of the Cybermen - 2nd doctor
The War Games - end of 2nd doctor, very long (possibly the longest serial)
Genesis of the Daleks - 4th doctor
The episodes in the Key to Time arc are all pretty good, particularly The Pirate Planet (written by Douglas Adams, no less!) - 4th doctor
The Face of Evil - 4th doctor, 1st appearance of his companion Leela (who is the best companion)
The Invasion of Time - 4th doctor

... oop, hang on, have to get back to work!
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:59 PM on January 11, 2011

(And as far as Romana regenerating is concerned, that happened in the first eight minutes or so of Destiny of the Daleks. See?)
posted by grabbingsand at 1:04 PM on January 11, 2011

These are my favorite serials by Doctor.

1. The Aztecs
2. Tomb of the Cybermen, only because it's the only one that remains in its entirety
3. Invasion of the Dinosaurs, because it has Sarah Jane Smith AND the Whomobile
4. Tom Baker was my Doctor. I'm quite fond of The Android Invasion, The Seeds of Doom (especially the scene where he introduces Sarah Jane), The Face of Evil, The Pirate Planet, oh I'm sure you'll get a lot of recommendations for old Tom
5. Terminus
6. The Mark of the Rani
7. Battlefield
posted by Ruki at 1:09 PM on January 11, 2011

How has no-one mentioned the Green Death? Huge maggots! Hippies! The Welsh!

2. Tomb of the Cybermen, only because it's the only one that remains in its entirety
What? We have all of the War Games, the Mind Robber, the Dominators, the Krotons and the Seeds of Death.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:16 PM on January 11, 2011

Pyramids of Mars and Robots Of Death (both 4th Doctor.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:47 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, Green Death, yes - the classic of 60's pin-up Jo, who I never wanted to like as much as I did, and the awesome hippie commune, and of course glowing green maggots. Oh, yes.

Adric insults everyone by turns in 30 seconds in Four to Doomsday. And then sides with the bad guys and has to be talked around. He's so obnoxious it's almost out of character. If you don't like Castrovalva this is almost as bad from a stupid companions perspective - but much better from an alien frogs and historical androids point of view.

And speaking of historical androids, my favorite "and why exactly does a Time Lord give a crap" evil plot that gets the Master nothing except for the pleasure of irritating the Doctor: The King's Demons.

Weng Chiang is good because Leela is still veryvery stabby; although I like Fang Rock, she's not in prime form (trivia if you like Sontarans - that's who the Sontarans are engaged in endless centuries of war with). Also interesting because I think this is about the time he did a Tardis redecoration and it's all in browns - but I haven't gone and looked that up to confirm.

Those sprang to mind stream-of-consciousness... who knows what I'd come up with if I thought about it a bit...
posted by aimedwander at 1:53 PM on January 11, 2011

Here are my favourites (note: self-link).
posted by rjs at 2:52 PM on January 11, 2011

A little bit of a sideways suggestion, but you might want to look into Big Finish Productions. They do new audio plays with the original actors from the "classic" series (and additional new companions), and gave the 8th Doctor a new lease on life after the movie-that-must-not-be-spoken-of. It's a lot like rediscovering old stories you've never seen (a couple were even tweaked and remade into episodes for the new series), and in fact they have a "Lost Stories" series made from original series scripts that were never completed for one reason or another. And they'll most likely be adding Tom Baker to the mix this year.

A few suggestions:
Spare Parts - 5th Doctor/Nyssa - Cybermen origin story
Master - 7th Doctor and an amnesiac Master in a haunted victorian house
Doctor Who and the Pirates - 6th Doctor musical with Colin Baker singing "I am the very model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer". Really.
The Chimes of Midnight - 8th Doctor mystery with much weirdness and humo[u]r
Jago and Litefoot - Spinoff series with some of the characters from Talons of Weng-Chiang
posted by slothdog at 3:41 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Both Black/White guardian arcs are fucking fantastic:
  • The Key to Time story-arc (4th Doctor: The Ribos Operation -> The Armageddon Factor)
  • The Black Guardian arc (5th Doctor: Mawdryn Undead -> Enlightenment)
Favorite one-offs:
  • The Talons of Weng-Chiang
  • The Pyramids of Mars
  • The Arc of Infinity
  • The City of Death
  • The Five Doctors

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:15 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pretty much anything from the Tom Baker period where Phillip Hinchcliffe had what we now think of as the showrunner job (including Pyramids of Mars, Genesis of the Daleks, and Talons of Weng-Chiang, plus my favorite, Masque of Mandragora). This is basically seasons 12-14, my favorite era of Doctor Who and with one or two exceptions, I could watch shows from it for the rest of my life.
posted by immlass at 4:27 PM on January 11, 2011

Ghost Light is very, very strange.
posted by permafrost at 4:33 PM on January 11, 2011

Not necessarily the best or my favourites, but I do recommend watching the first two serials, An Unearthly Child and The Daleks. There is something wonderful about seeing how everything has changed since those stories, and yet everything is still the same!
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:10 PM on January 11, 2011

I always liked the Brain of Morbius, because, well, there's a talking brain in a jar! Plus wacky priestesses who chant a lot and that Igor-like guy who winds up with a claw hand. And Sarah Jane is menaced even more than usual.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:16 PM on January 11, 2011

What? We have all of the War Games, the Mind Robber, the Dominators, the Krotons and the Seeds of Death.

D'oh, that's what I get for posting while hopped up on (needed) cough syrup!
posted by Ruki at 6:48 PM on January 11, 2011

Response by poster: This is so great! Thanks all. I'll be going through handing out best answers like Jelly Babies soon. Must confess: I never liked Weng Chiang that much, but I'll give it another shot (I did always chuckle at the giant rat, though). My Netflix queue is knee deep with Doctors.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:11 AM on January 12, 2011

« Older Instant access to Remember the Milk's SmartAdd?   |   Help me identify a pulp sci-fi/fantasy book from... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.