Which Who? Doctor Who DVD recommendations.
June 16, 2008 2:23 AM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations for (original series) Doctor Who DVD releases.

I enjoyed The Five Doctors anniversary DVDs and want to wallow in more nostalgia but there are so many available, I don't know where to start. Any Doctor is OK by me; I'd like to have a good selection across the series. I'm looking for a combination of story, production and extras but mostly just classic Who-ness. What are the must haves?
posted by mtonks to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
There are some good user lists at Amazon for old Who recommendations. I looked into which episodes are most highly thought of and these usually come out well:

1: The Aztecs; The Daleks; Daleks’ Master Plan
2: Tomb of the Cybermen; The Invasion; The War Games; The Web of Fear
3: Inferno; The Daemons; Spearhead from Space
4: The Talons of Weng-Chiang; Pyramids of Mars; Genesis of the Daleks; City of Death; Robots of Death
5: Caves of Androzani; Kinda/Snakedance; maybe Earthshock (some love it, some don't!)
6: Revelation of the Daleks; Vengeance on Varos
7: The Curse of Fenric; Survival; Ghost Light
posted by hatmandu at 2:33 AM on June 16, 2008

It must be Pertwee or Baker, or you're wasting your time.
posted by taff at 2:54 AM on June 16, 2008

The Talons of Weng-Chiang, City of Death, and Robots of Death are all fantastic Baker-era episodes.
posted by gac at 4:05 AM on June 16, 2008

It must be Pertwee or Baker, or you're wasting your time.

Meh. William Hartnoll was the one true timelord. All others were fakers.

Though Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy were worse than fakers. These actors should have been taken out and shot for crimes against the franchise.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:08 AM on June 16, 2008

'The Talons of Weng Chiang' was the scariest thing ever when I was a kid - go with that. I particularly enjoyed the gothic horror episodes, though these appear much less scary to an adult. See also 'Horror of Fang Rock'. City of Death would also be on my list. Staying with Tom Baker, 'Stones of Blood' is good.

I'm firmly in the 'love it' category on Earthshock, the cybermen where always the scariest Who villains for me, plus its got Beryl Reid and the ending is a stand out for Who.

I hope no-one minds me asking a 'what is this story here. I think its Tom Baker. It features 2 groups (1 definitely not human) fighting underground/indoors, one may be sontaran or similar and has guns with these little plastic shields around them. Can't remember much about the plot.
posted by biffa at 4:16 AM on June 16, 2008

maybe Earthshock (some love it, some don't!)

Doesn't everybody love a happy ending?

We've been watching some old Tom Baker stories recently. There's some good stories in The Key to Time set (particularly The Pirate Planet and The Stones of Blood), but there's also an awful lot of filler (The Power of Kroll in particular).

Nthng Pyramids of Mars, Inferno, and The Talons of Weng-Chiang. I also loved The Curse of the Cybermen, but I've heard that's an unpopular opinion.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:17 AM on June 16, 2008

The Sea Devils. Delgado is outstanding, Pertwee even better.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 4:38 AM on June 16, 2008

Some more ... State of Decay, Deadly Assassin, Warrior's Gate.
posted by coffeefilter at 5:16 AM on June 16, 2008

Without even checking the other lists posted:

First Doctor:
Unearthly Child (the first episode)
The Aztecs
The Sentinels - very classic early 60's scifi - some very creepy photography
The Dalek Invasion of Earth - mandatory viewing to understand Dalek brutality and the Dalek obsession with earth that runs through the entire series, even the current revival of the series.
The Chase

Second Doctor:
My knowledge here is spotty, but the episodes I have seen are unremarkable standard 60's era camp. The Doctor is more clownish and the bad guys are less brutal to enable him to pull that off.
The War Machines.

Third Doctor (Pertwee):
Carnival of Monsters
Death to the Daleks
The Three Doctors
Anything from season 8 or 9
-avoid the Green Death
-avoid Inferno

Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker): This is the golden era of Doctor Who
All of season 12 - the episodes follow back to back, i.e. each begins where immediately where the previous one ended. Great intro to the sontarans, Daleks, and Cybermen all in this season.
All of Season 13 except Terror of the Zygons and Planet of Evil.
Hand of Fear
Talons of Weng-Chiang
Deadly Assassin - very eerie scenes when the Doctor is in the Matrix.
Brain of Morbius

Pyramids of Mars - very creepy bad guy
Horror of Fang Rock - a great illustration of the Baker-era Who formula - the moral choices of the supporting cast determine whether and how they die (honorably, dishonorably, etc. - all other Baker era Who follows this formula)
Invasion of Time
From Key to Time cycle:
Stones of Blood
Power of Kroll
(the others are too long and/or ponderous).
Destiny of the Daleks
City of Death - my personal favorite episode of all time, co-written by Douglas Adams (under a pseudonym)

Fifth Doctor (Davidson):
Castrovalva (should be watched immediately after Logopolis).
Earthshock - bad-ass killer robots
Enlightenment - another personal favorite
The King's Demons
Five Doctors

Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker):
-the pickings here are slim
Mark of the Rani (she has a cool tardis)
Season 23 (Trial of a Time Lord) is way overhyped. The episodes are disjointed, and the resolution is meaningless. Skip this or lose all respect for the show.

Seventh Doctor (McCoy):

One additional: Beg borrow or steal the Shada VHS. I don't think it's on DVD. Although the episode isn't complete, what was filmed is so perfect a combination of Baker-era Who and Douglas Adams that missing pieces are forgivable.

I'm sure other people have other opinions, but these are mine after multiple repeated viewings of my now very worn VHS library of the entire series (to the extent it was broadcast in the US).
posted by Pastabagel at 8:00 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

From later in the original series, in addition to some of the others mentioned up-thread like Caves of Androzani (and I won't go into the Baker years, because there's so many of them, it's pretty well-trod territory), I especially liked:

1) Logopolis
2) Castrovalva
3) Kinda/Snakedance

But almost anything from the Peter Davidson years is good, IMO.

Pertwee had a lot of good moments, too, and any of the episodes in which the Master or the Daleks figure is worth checking out:

1) The Green Death
2) The Sea Devils
3) The Claws of Axos
4) Day of the Daleks
5) The Mind of Evil

But for the really classic stuff, Patrick Troughton's hard to beat, though it is campy, and some object to the Doctor-as-seeming-buffoon take he has on the character (which I think was actually an important contribution he made to the series). And personally, I've still got a bit of a crush on the Doctor's companion Zoe from that era. Here's a couple to try:

1) The Wheel in Space
2) The Seeds of Death

And on review, I agree with most of what PastaBagel said--except about The Green Death and Inferno from the Pertwee years. And pretty much everything he said about Troughton, who is tragically under-appreciated.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:17 AM on June 16, 2008

maybe Earthshock (some love it, some don't!)
Doesn't everybody love a happy ending?

I actually spit out water at my monitor on that one!

I thnk everyone got the recommendations covered... personally, I've grabbed a ton to show the wife (a nu-who fan) and she's surprisingly liked some of the McCoy era... I think looking at them decades after, without having any preconcived notions makes them a bit more enjoyable (and yes that goes for Colin and his amazing technicolor coat as well)
posted by niteHawk at 9:13 AM on June 16, 2008

hatmandu and pastabagel's answers are both very good.

I truly think Tom Baker is the best of the best. This is a religious question among classic Who fans, and often but not always comes down to which Doctor they watched first. My answer for his seasons is up on Netflix already, at http://www.netflix.com/StrangerLists?prid=661624674&showList=201643 -- and many of them are available to watch instantly online there. Though that doesn't give you the DVD extras.

Tom Baker:
Robot ***
The Ark in Space ***
Genesis of the Daleks ***
Pyramids of Mars ***
The Hand of Fear
The Robots of Death ***
The Talons of Weng-Chiang ***
The Androids of Tara
-- I said The Armageddon Factor but that's really just to soften the actress change in the next storyline --
The City of Death ***
Logopolis -- for the change of doctors
posted by clauclauclaudia at 9:31 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks all for the recommendations. I think The Talons of Weng-Chiang and Earthshock first, then I'll make my way through the lists above -- should keep me out of trouble for a while!
posted by mtonks at 9:49 AM on June 16, 2008

My personal favourites:

The Daleks (1963 - 1964)
The mind robber (1968)
Spearhead from space (1970)
Pyramids of Mars (1975)
City of death (1979)
The caves of Androzani (1984)
Revelation of the Daleks (1985)
Ghost light (1989)

All are available on DVD.
posted by rjs at 12:48 PM on June 16, 2008

Have a look at alt.binaries.drwho if you have Usenet access. This group has a lot of debate about which were the best episodes, plus some bits and pieces ... :-)
I agree with most of the people here that Tom Baker's Doctor is the best. My favorites are the episodes with Leela as his companion -- some thoughtful discussion about the nature of primitive peoples vs. civilization. You can see a list of these episodes at Leela's Wikipedia page . But I quite got into Sylvester McCoy when Ace (Sophie Aldred) was his companion. See Ace's wikipedia page for a list of those. She could kick a$$ with her habit of tossing nitroglycerine into any threatening situation, Survival is one of those strange episodes that stays with you.
posted by Susurration at 6:05 PM on June 16, 2008

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