Who’s Your Doctor?
Alrighty then – time for a little diversion.
April 23 2011 – Dr Who Season Six starts. Here’s the trailer:
I’ve been a fan since 1982, when I first discovered the Doctor one Saturday night, channel-changing (no “surfing” then as we didn’t have a remote) and landing on the local PBS station. Just fun brain-candy sci-fi that didn’t take itself all that seriously.
Nowadays the production values are great, the special effects cooler, the locations and sets go way beyond your run-of-the-mill gravel quarry, and the story lines and season arcs are, for the most part, superb. I have found that plenty of the “reboot” fans were fans of the Original Series – and there are quite a few who discovered the series the same way I did, way back when: channel surfing and discovering this enigmatic time-traveling mysterious Time Lord known only as the Doctor.
Talk to any seasoned fan, such as myself, and they’ll tell you right off who their favorite actor was to have played the Doctor, and will volunteer which one ranks last on their list. For most, it’s either Jon Pertwee (#3) or Tom Baker (#4) as the favorites (mine is Tom Baker), with Colin Baker (#6) settling at the bottom. And everyone has their most favorite episodes, along with their least liked one.
I know that quite a few Catholic bloggers and readers are Dr Who fans as well. So let’s do an impromptu unscientific survey. Of all the Doctor’s you’re familiar with, which episodes of each were your most favorite, and least favorite? Let’s limit the discussion to the first 7 incarnations (forget about that dismal Fox movie from 1996 that featured Paul McGann as #8). You don’t have to give a reason if you don’t want to. Perhaps at a later date we’ll look at the Reboot Doctors, but for now, let’s stick with the Original Series.
Here’s my list – and I’m not including William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton in my list, because I haven’t seen enough episodes to make a valid comparison:
Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor, 1970-1974)
Most favorite: The Daemons – moody, suspenseful, the Master, a village besieged by malevolent forces, UNIT, an animated gargoyle – this one has it all.
Least favorite: Carnival of Monsters – finally released by the Time Lords from his Earth-bound exile, and this is what the Doctor gets? Running around the inside of a piece of electrical equipment? Puh-leeze.
Tom Baker (4th Doctor, 1974-1982)
Most favorite: Horror Of Fang Rock Tough to choose just one, especially with the “Key to Time” story arc of Season Sixteen, Baker’s first season as the Doctor, and so many others. This one, though, was taut, tense and claustrophobic – the classic setting of isolated characters beset by a desperate unknown killer.
Least favorite: Underworld Forgettable and rather pointless. Creature in the Pit comes a close second, with the famous “OMG The Doctor is performing f——- on that alien!!!” scene.
Peter Davison (5th Doctor) 1982-1984
Most favorite: Frontios – this combines the best of Dr Who elements: mystery, suspense, horror – oh, and the TARDIS is destroyed early on, too. Any episode that has characters getting sucked into the earth works for me.
Least favorite: The Five Doctors – which only had four. One of whom wasn’t even one of the original actors. Weak effort for the 20th anniversary of the show.
Colin Baker (6th Doctor) 1984-1986
Most favorite – Mark of the Rani – with only 11 episodes in Baker’s tenure, it was hard to pick out one good one. This one comes closest – battling his nemesis the Master, a new enemy in the Rani, a historic setting (the “alternative history” episodes tend to be the series’ strongest) – but it still isn’t saying much. The dinosaur in the bottle at the end ruined it.
Least favorite – The Twin Dilemma a very weak inaugural episode to kick off Baker’s run, and it never really recovered. A schizophrenic Doctor was wrong and unsettling. And Peri was a rotten companion, which didn’t help.
Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor) 1986-1989
Most favorite – Battlefield – UNIT, the return of Lethbridge-Stewart, the King Arthur myth – this one has good elements, and finally – finally – McCoy begins to play the Doctor with a bit less slapstick (Greatest Show in the Galaxy comes in a close second because the clowns are just so darn creepy). I kinda hope the Reboot Series extrapolates on the Doctor-as-Merlin idea someday.
Least favorite – Delta and the Bannermen – McCoy’s whole first year was terrible, and this one was the worst of the bunch.
Okay, Whovians – your turn!