More Doctor please.
June 18, 2008 1:14 PM   Subscribe

[DoctorWho filter] What else would you recommend for a family that has watch the new series together but wants more Doctor Who? General DVD, book, comic book, etc recommendations dealing with the Doctor Who universe are highly encouraged, but I do have a specific question inside.

Key points I'd like to learn: Are there any books, comics (or videos that I missed) that detail the events leading to the demise of the Time Lords? How about The Doctor or The Master picking their names?
posted by TheDukeofLancaster to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Lots of classic series Who have been released on DVD, but I would particularly recommend anything from either (or both!) the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker tenures as the Doctor.

The demise of the timelords is a new conceit designed specifically for the reboot of the show under the stewardship of Russell T Davies (recently appointed OBE). In the classic series the Timelords were still in existence.

The Doctor's real name has never been revealed in the TV show - in fact, this was recently referenced in "Silence in the Library", where Professor Song whispered it in his ear so he could know that he would meet her again later in this (Tennant's) regeneration. I am not sure about other formats, such as the books, but I'm sure someone will pop along to let you know. The same goes for The Master - the origin of the name has never been revealed in the TV show.

My favourite classic Who stories are:

City Of Death
Genesis Of The Daleks
Pyramids Of Mars
Spearhead From Space
posted by Blacksun at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2008

The older Doctor Who shows probably won't satisfy your questions regarding the cannon of events, but each show itself is pretty deep. Recall that the original episodes were four to six half hour shows, so more than movie-length in some cases when you put them together. It's a lot of television...

I'm a purest, I liked the stuff I watched when I was kid, so that means I'm an exclusive Tom Baker fan. The Baker episodes, especially the early ones are just great.

Don't know how that jibes with fans of the modern show, but they can't hurt.
posted by wfrgms at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2008

A family, you say? You need The Doctor Who Cookbook.

No clue about your more inside question.
posted by spec80 at 1:50 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've watched a couple old episodes (one where The Doctor witnessed the creation of the Daleks in particular). That one was great.

Didn't I catch a reference too The Master and The Doctor choosing those names? Implying (if not stating) The Doctor took his name because he's a healer and The Master took his because he likes control.

I did catch the reference to the real name, thanks!

Sounds like the two that gave specific recommendations cite Tom Baker as a good start point. Fourth Doctor here I come!
posted by TheDukeofLancaster at 1:59 PM on June 18, 2008

I was wondering the other day myself, since I'm plodding through the hefty bulk of pre-2005 episodes at a snail's pace. The Time War that keeps getting mentioned is unique to the 2005 series and is probably a future plot that the show will explore at some point. Here's the wiki with all the assembled pieces thus far.

The Doctor/Master origins seem to be stattered through the classic series (look up the wikis for LOTS more), but in a nutshell they've just picked academic titles because they sound important:
The Master's title was deliberately chosen by producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks as evocative of supervillain names in fiction, but primarily because, like the Doctor, it was a title conferred by an academic degree.
As for further viewing, someone just asked about the best classic Who series to pick up. There's also a more child/teen-oriented spin-off of the 2005 series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which is fairly watchable even for adults. There are also a million audio plays by Big Finish, novels, and other things I can't speak for.
posted by cowbellemoo at 2:00 PM on June 18, 2008

I second exploring Sarah Jane Adventures. The show is definitely made for children, and is structured the same as Who. It's not fantastic, but it's pretty serviceable for what it is. (It also manages to make the Slitheen less annoying, which is a feat.) Furthermore, we're likely to see a second series of that show before we see more post season 4 Doctor.

Do not, repeat, do not, touch Torchwood.

You already know everything you're going to learn about the Time War and the Doctor/Master's names. (It's pretty much all there in the new series.) Like you, I'm aching to learn more about the event, but I doubt it will ever be fully described or ever shown, as that would introduce a complex backstory and explanations that the Time War plot was originally created to avoid. (Additionally, at this point it's hard to imagine anything they can show matching what we imagine the War to have been like.)
posted by greenland at 2:21 PM on June 18, 2008

Oh! I just remembered. See if you can find a copy of the completed cartoon episode "The Infinite Quest". It's actually not too bad and the events fit most anywhere in season 3.
posted by greenland at 2:24 PM on June 18, 2008

The Big Finish audio plays and novels are very good. In fact, the upcoming book Doctor Who: Short Trips - How the Doctor Changed my Life features a short story by one of our fellow mefites.

I have not enjoyed the new comics from IDW Publishing much at all, but your mileage may vary. I found the artwork too stylized for my tastes, and it just doesn't seem to catch the flavor of the show for me. They are also reprinting a Doctor Who Classics series, and most of the artwork in the stories so far has been by Dave Gibbons and is worthwhile just for that.

I don't get the Torchwood hate, I have liked it just fine. There have been a few clunkers (Cyberwoman? blech.), but on the whole it has been an ok show. Very different in flavor that Doctor Who, though.

I have read a few of the newer hardcover novels for the new series. Out of the three I read, one was very good and the other two were just ok. Those were the first three, though, commissioned before the new series had even begun to air, so the newer ones may be more consistent.

The older paperbacks from BBC Books are generally pretty good, and the Target novelizations are at least fun. (That's not the store Target, it's a series of novelizations of the classic series stories).

I have been pleased with Who North America as a source of Doctor Who merchandise, I have ordered from them a few times and never had any problems. They carry quite a few books and magazines.

Speaking of magazines, Panini Comics has done a series of magazines called Doctor Who Magazine, In Their Own Words, and they are uniformly excellent. Each volume covers a specific period of the show, and gives you a blow-by-blow history of the show using excerpts from interviews in Doctor Who Magazine from over the years. The first volume is particularly good, because it has quite a bit of primary history from the creation of the show with extensive interviews from Verity Lambert and others who were right there at the beginning. You would probably really enjoy these magazines.
posted by Lokheed at 3:19 PM on June 18, 2008

At this point it's hard to imagine anything they can show matching what we imagine the War to have been like.

I agree and, because the current show is vastly better funded than it was in its past incarnations, I like to imagine they're prepping us for a future incarnation with even *better* effects and prodction values that will someday show us a Time War worthy of our fantasies. :)
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:21 PM on June 18, 2008

Many, many people will remember Tom Baker fondly because he was there longer than any other Doctor and because many people now in their thirties grew up with him (I know I did). He'll always be "classic" Doctor to many. Many Jon Pertwee stories are also great. The black and white era stories are probably a bit less accessible to modern kids (not to knock them, they're great stories for their time) and many are missing or incomplete; the show went into pretty sharp decline after the Fifth Doctor so I wouldn't bother with any of those until and unless you become fanatics :)

The Tom Baker era would be good to watch with a family, especially if you can combine it with The Sarah Jane Adventures (since Sarah Jane was one of Tom's companions). The story you're talking about with the creation of the Daleks would be Genesis of the Daleks and it's fantastic. I also echo greenland that Torchwood is not going to fit your needs.

The demise of the Time Lords has only been explored in the modern shows, not the classic ones, so the hints and shadows we've had are all we have to go on so far. Keeping canon straight wasn't such a concern during the sixties and seventies shows, and there are some things it's difficult to mesh with the modern shows, but that's all part of the wonderful charm :)
posted by andraste at 3:29 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

As others have mentioned, the Time War and the destruction of Gallifrey is something that was introduced when the series reboot happened with the Ninth Doctor. Logically speaking, however, since the first episode of the Ninth Doctor seemed to imply his regeneration was very recent (he was still checking out his new face in the first episode), it would obviously suggest that the Time War and destruction of Gallifrey happened during his eighth regeneration. Given there was only one televised adventure of the Eighth Doctor, the telemovie, it seems we won't ever know more about this war unless the producers tell us more during the TV series.


There were numerous books and audioplays featuring the adventures of the Eighth Doctor and, as luck would have it, these tell the story of a Time War with the Faction Paradox, described as a "time travelling voodoo cult" and the possible destruction of Gallifrey at the end of the war. To quote Wikipedia...
"The Doctor and Fitz travelled in Compassion for some time, until the machinations of Faction Paradox came to a head back on Gallifrey. As it turned out, in the new timeline triggered by the Doctor's infection, the Doctor was destined to become "Grandfather Paradox", the mythical founder of Faction Paradox. The only factor keeping the original sequence of events in play was the Doctor's TARDIS — which had rebuilt itself after its apparent destruction on Avalon, and had now materialized in a twisted form above Gallifrey, holding within itself the Doctor's original reality.

In a final confrontation with his future self, the Doctor resolved the timeline conflict by channeling the TARDIS's built-up energies through its weapon systems, thereby destroying both the Faction Paradox fleet and Gallifrey itself. In so doing, the TARDIS was able to rewrite the altered timeline with the original one that it "remembered". As a side effect, however, the Doctor’s entire memory was erased — apparently from the trauma of the event."
Later stories imply that perhaps Gallifrey is still around. But there are a few points to remember here. First and foremost, Doctor Who books and comics have always been of dubious canonicity. Whereas the Star Trek franchise has said nothing but the TV series and movies are canon, and whereas George Lucas has said that Star Wars books and comics are all considered canon, no one from the Doctor Who franchise has ever said whether or not the books are considered canon, so it's up to you to decide if you think this ever happened or not and how it fits into the adventures of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Secondly, the TV series says the Time War and the destruction of Gallifrey was because of a war between the Time Lords and the Daleks (which, for your info, ties somewhat nicely into a Fourth Doctor adventure, Genesis of the Daleks, wherein the Time Lords tell the Doctor that he must destroy the Daleks because one day they will dominate the Universe). So if the writers of the TV series ever decide to tie the events of the Faction Paradox story into the TV Time War storyline, there will need to be some major explainin'.

In regards to the part of your question where you ask what older Doctor Who you should watch, the afforementioned Genesis of the Daleks is your first stop, especially if you're interested in the Time War. Executive producer of the current series Russell T. Davies has even commented in an episode of Doctor Who Confidential that the origins of the Time War date back to this story, where the Time Lords struck first. Davies also made reference to this attempted genocide as a root of the Time War in a text piece in the Doctor Who Annual 2006.

Other DVDs of the older series you might want to watch, if you can find them,are;

The Time Meddler (First Doctor)
The War Games (Second Doctor)
Spearhead from Space (Third Doctor)
The Three Doctors (Third Doctor)
The Sontaran Experiment (Fourth Doctor)
The Invasion of Time (Fourth Doctor)
Logopolis (Fourth Doctor)
The Five Doctors (Fifth Doctor)
Resurrection of the Daleks (Fifth Doctor)
The Mark of the Rani* (Sixth Doctor)
The Two Doctors (Sixth Doctor)
The Trial of a Time Lord (Sixth Doctor)
Remembrance of the Daleks (Seventh Doctor)
Doctor Who (The Eighth Doctor's Telemovie**)

* Because I have a feeling the Rani will be making an appearance in the new series very soon, if not this season.
** Because we all had to see it, and you should have to suffer along too.

Beyond that, I also recommend the novelisation of 'K-9 & Company' (I enjoyed it at least) and any of the Eighth Doctor audioplays, because they're neat. And just for fun, make sure you find/download Doctor Who & The Curse of the Fatal Death, a Children In Need special starring Rowan Atkinson as The Doctor. While it should not be considered canon by any means, it's amusing, if only to see Joanna Lumley as the unofficial Thirteenth Doctor.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:45 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Torchwood is worth a look. Some people hate it, some people like it. Decide for yourself.

Effigy2000's list of Dr Who Stories is good.

Perhaps you could add:

Earthshock (Dr 5)
The Talons of Weng Chiang (Dr 4)

The Big Finish audio dramas, as have been recommended, are sometimes good. It would be good to find them rated somewhere. The early ones they made, with Charley Pollard as companion, are good. You could try:
Storm Warning,
Sword of Orion,
The Stones of Venice,
Invaders from Mars,
Shada and
The Chimes of Midnight.

There is more info in wikipedia's entry on Big Finish audio.
posted by sien at 4:47 PM on June 18, 2008

The Sarah Jane Adventures is suprisingly good. I'd Nth avoiding torchwood. The spin off books for NuWho and the comics in Doctor Who Monthly are pretty high quality as well - DWM do a yearly omnibus of their comics stories which has just come out a few weeks ago, so if you hit your local comics store you might find one.

And Classic Who of course...
posted by Artw at 4:50 PM on June 18, 2008

The review site Dr Who ratings Guide may be worth looking at. It has reviews of the TV series, books, comics, audio, Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures.

The review section of outpost galifrey also has reviews of Dr Who material.
posted by sien at 5:36 PM on June 18, 2008

(Also, if you're in the market for toys...I can vouch for the awesomeness of the new Sonic Screwdriver.)
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:21 PM on June 18, 2008

I'm a 20 something who started on the new Who, and watched through Sarah Jane Adventures, and have watched almost all of the Fourth Doctor adventures that are on DVD with my fiancee.

I would have to say that Genesis of the Daleks, while it would fit in to the Time War as a starting point, is a harder episode to watch than most of them. It's got a few points where it seems like the characters are stalling for time, and might be hard for kids to watch. It wasn't the most engaging for me.

Not all the Fourth Doctor adventures are on DVD, but they will be (I'm not going to get into the whole Shada thing...). This means that watching the episodes "in order" isn't really a huge deal, but depending on the season, the serials link up to each other a bit.

If you're torrently inclined, I've heard there are complete Fourth Doctor torrents of fairly good quality, but the DVDs have subtitles. I've found that the libraries here in the Twin Cities have a fair amount of the DVDs.

I'm partial to Romana II, one of the Doctor's companions, and as such, I definitely recommend City of Death.

If you're interested in the Master, there are three episodes in a weak arc from this era, when Doctor Who had some money and was at least on par with a good stage production. These three episodes are The Keeper of Traken, Logopolis, and Castrovalva. The "Master" episode that preceeds these is The Deadly Assassin, which can come off as an infodump about the Time Lords and time travel and how that all works in the universe, which has only been contradicted about as many times as its been referenced, but depending on your and your families interest, might be a good one to watch.

Many folks of the Classic Who era love "The Talons of Weng Chiang" but I found it a little boring myself.

If your kids are of the age where they could appreciate something on stage, like a local children's theatre or such, they can probably do some of the older Who stuff, but some episodes just drag on and on, like this post.

I'm going to second cowbellemoo on the Sonic Screwdriver. It's awesome.

The Sontaran Experiment is from the Fourth Doctor era, and features Sontarans, something your children may enjoy. It was definitely a watchable episode.

The Hand of Fear had a good pace, and features Sarah Jane.

The Horror of Fang Rock was another one that I thought had an ok pace, even though its a little of a whodunit atmosphere.

Have fun!
posted by adamwolf at 8:37 PM on June 18, 2008

To add something on Dr Who in comics world, there are quite a few graphic novel collections of the Dr Who strip that ran in Marvel's various publications from 1979 to the present. The graphic novels tend to be the early stuff, and were produced by a lot of people who are now big names in comics on one side of the Atlantic or both, including Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Pat Mills and John Wagner.
However, IMHO, a lot of these early strips don't adhere that well to the Who universe.
posted by biffa at 3:48 AM on June 19, 2008

I personally really liked Torchwood, though certainly not as much as Doctor Who, but I would definitely suggest you watch it yourself before letting your kids do so. I personally wouldn't have a problem with kids watching guys make out, but there are some darker elements to the show (and sometimes a sense of hopelessness that you never see with the Doctor) that aren't so kid-friendly. Of course, maybe your kids are all in high school anyway, in which case rock on.

Oh, and I always assumed "Time War" meant a war where time was used as a weapon, as Wikipedia's entry suggests. As in, paradox machines and going back in time to try to prevent the birth of your enemies, rampant temporal irresponsibility, that kind of thing. Which is, you know, significantly more awesome than just a war across time, but also doesn't really require any particular special effects. I do wish they'd do a special about the Time War, but I suppose it would have to mean bringing back Eccleston, and (besides loving Tennant) I sort of appreciate the way they drop pieces of the history throughout the show and don't fully explain everything to death.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:15 PM on June 19, 2008

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