Doctor Who

It’s practically its own genre.  It’s halfway between B-movie, avant garde theatre, rep Shakespeare and absurdist comedy.  On one level, it’s an exciting adventure show that mixes horror with high comedy, sending impressionable youngsters hurtling behind the sofa, while older viewers laugh at the Doctor’s wit.

On another, it is (to the horror of moralists like Mary Whitehouse) liberal humanist propaganda (with a side order of strangulation by obscene vegetable matter), in which the hero wins the day by being curious, asking questions, and challenging bureaucracy and authority.

On another, it is an intellectual comedy that deals in social satire, hard science and high end physics, evolutionary theory, Buddhist parables, and cultural relativism.

While having taxmen made of seaweed, dangerous monsters that decompose into narcotics, executioners made of liquorice allsorts, and alien criminal masterminds with six copies of the Mona Lisa in their cellar (with “This is a fake” written in felt pen).

And a madman in a box who lands in someone else’s story and warps the narrative around him.

The TARDIS doesn’t just travel in time and space; it travels in story.  One story might show the Doctor land in a Shakespearean drama; the next, Hammer Horror or a mash-up of Sherlock Holmes and Fu Manchu; after that, a hard SF story rewritten by Tom Stoppard, or The Prisoner of Zenda with androids.  The show is, as Jon Pertwee’s Doctor observed, serious about what it does, not about the way it does it.  As script editor Douglas Adams said, the programme is “complex enough for the kids to enjoy, and simple enough for the adults to follow”’.

The television episodes are listed below.

The series also includes:

  • Novels and short stories (Virgin’s New and Missing Adventures, BBC’s Eighth Doctor and Past Doctor Adventures)
  • Big Finish’s audio dramas

Although written for a fan audience, the best of these are imaginative and intelligent, and as good as anything the BBC produced.


 

First Doctor: William Hartnell

This is where it all began.  There’s a sense of magic and mystery that the show later lost.  Who is this mysterious old man traveling through time and space in a police box?  Hartnell is one of the three best Doctors, ruthless, charming, mischievous, imperious, sentimental. The show is wildly experimental and ambitious.  Science fiction stories set on planets of giant insects, museums where the TARDIS crew see their future, and mammoth thirteen episode Dalek stories rub shoulders with historical adventures: The Crusade, done as Shakespearean history play; The Myth Makers, a proto-Blackadder comedy of manners set in the Trojan War; The Aztecs and The Massacre, debates about cultural relativism.  In many ways, this period of the show has never been bettered. However, it’s an acquired taste if you’re not used to black and white 405-line television.

Season 1

  1. An Unearthly Child (23 November – 14 December 1963)
  2. The Daleks (21 December 1963 – 1 February 1964)
  3. The Edge of Destruction (8 – 15 February 1964)
  4. Marco Polo (22 February – 4 April 1964)
  5. The Keys of Marinus (11 April – 16 May 1964)
  6. The Aztecs (23 May – 13 June 1964)
  7. The Sensorites (20 June – 1 August 1964)
  8. The Reign of Terror (8 August – 12 September 1964)

Season 2

  1. Planet of Giants (31 October – 14 November 1964)
  2. The Dalek Invasion of Earth (21 November – 26 December 1964)
  3. The Rescue (2 – 9 January 1965)
  4. The Romans (16 January – 6 February 1965)
  5. The Web Planet (13 February – 20 March 1965)
  6. The Crusade (27 March – 17 April 1965)
  7. The Space Museum (24 April – 15 May 1965)
  8. The Chase (22 May – 26 June 1965)
  9. The Time Meddler (3 – 24 July 1965)

 

Season 3

  1. Galaxy Four (11 September – 2 October 1965)
  2. Mission to the Unknown (9 October 1965)
  3. The Myth Makers (16 October – 6 November 1965)
  4. The Daleks’ Master Plan (13 November 1965 – 29 January 1966)
  5. The Massacre (5 – 26 February 1966)
  6. The Ark (5 – 26 March 1966)
  7. The Celestial Toymaker (2 – 23 April 1966)
  8. The Gunfighters (30 April – 21 May 1966)
  9. The Savages (28 May – 18 June 1966)
  10. The War Machines (25 June – 16 July 1966)

 

Season 4

  1. The Smugglers (10 September – 1 October 1966)
  2. The Tenth Planet (8 – 29 October 1966)

 


Second Doctor: Patrick Troughton

This is the period that gets raved about the most – possibly because so much of it is missing.  Most of the stories were junked by the BBC in the early ’70s.  Troughton’s impish charm and excitable schoolboy demeanour influenced Matt Smith.  A lot of the stories are, however, formulaic, variations on base-under-siege. The most interesting stories are Power of the Daleks (lost), The Macra Terror (lost), Evil of the Daleks (lost), The Enemy of the World and The Mind Robber.

Season 4 (continued)

  1. The Power of the Daleks (5 November – 10 December 1966)
  2. The Highlanders (17 December 1966 – 7 January 1967)
  3. The Underwater Menace (14 January – 4 February 1967)
  4. The Moonbase (11 February – 4 March 1967)
  5. The Macra Terror (11 March – 1 April 1967)
  6. The Faceless Ones (8 April – 13 May 1967)
  7. The Evil of the Daleks (20 May – 1 July 1967)

 

Season 5

  1. The Tomb of the Cybermen (2 – 23 September 1967)
  2. The Abominable Snowmen (30 September – 4 November 1967)
  3. The Ice Warriors (11 November – 16 December 1967)
  4. The Enemy of the World (23 December 1967 – 27 January 1968)
  5. The Web of Fear (3 February – 9 March 1968)
  6. Fury from the Deep (16 March – 20 April 1968)
  7. The Wheel in Space (27 April – 1 June 1968)

 

Season 6

  1. The Dominators (10 August – 7 September 1968)
  2. The Mind Robber (14 September – 12 October 1968)
  3. The Invasion (2 November – 21 December 1968)
  4. The Krotons (28 December 1968 – 18 January 1969)
  5. The Seeds of Death (25 January – 1 March 1969)
  6. The Space Pirates (8 March – 12 April 1969)
  7. The War Games (19 April – 21 June 1969)

Third Doctor: Jon Pertwee

Dr. Who has been exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, and works with a paramilitary organization called UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) to defend the world from alien invasions and the schemes of the Master, an evil renegade Time Lord.  Pertwee’s dashing, action man Doctor with a twinkle in his eye is delightful, both more commanding and more human than other Doctors.  The camaraderie of the Pertwee team – the Brigadier, Sgt Benton, Captain Yates, and, of course, dear sweet Jo Grant – and the topicality of the stories made it one of the show’s most popular periods.

Inferno is one of the three most terrifying hours of television ever made; Carnival of Monsters, which takes place on a steamship crossing the Indian Ocean in the 1920s with a plesiosaur outside the porthole, and on a planet of mad bureaucrats, is a brilliant satire on the class system and television (“Our purpose is to amuse, simply amuse…nothing serious, nothing political”).  The Green Death is the famous One With The Maggots In Wales, and tackles big business and pollution. Other classics: Dr. Who and the SiluriansThe Ambassadors of Death, and The Dæmons.

Season 7

  1. Spearhead from Space (3 – 24 January 1970)
  2. Doctor Who and the Silurians (31 January – 14 March 1970)
  3. The Ambassadors of Death (21 March – 2 May 1970)
  4. Inferno (9 May – 20 June 1970)

 

Season 8

  1. Terror of the Autons (2 – 23 January 1971)
  2. The Mind of Evil (30 January – 6 March 1971)
  3. The Claws of Axos (13 March – 3 April 1971)
  4. Colony in Space (10 April – 15 May 1971)
  5. The Dæmons (22 May – 19 June 1971)

 

Season 9

  1. Day of the Daleks (1 – 22 January 1972)
  2. The Curse of Peladon (29 January – 19 February 1972)
  3. The Sea Devils (26 February – 1 April 1972)
  4. The Mutants (8 April – 13 May 1972)
  5. The Time Monster (20 May – 24 June 1972)

 

Season 10

  1. The Three Doctors (30 December 1972 – 20 January 1973)
  2. Carnival of Monsters (27 January – 17 February 1973)
  3. Frontier in Space (24 February – 31 March 1973)
  4. Planet of the Daleks (7 April – 12 May 1973)
  5. The Green Death (19 May – 23 June 1973)

 

Season 11

  1. The Time Warrior (15 December 1973 – 5 January 1974)
  2. Invasion of the Dinosaurs (12 January – 16 February 1974)
  3. Death to the Daleks (23 February – 16 March 1974)
  4. The Monster of Peladon (23 March – 27 April 1974)
  5. Planet of the Spiders (4 May – 8 June 1974)

 


Fourth Doctor: Tom Baker

Tom Baker is the most famous Doctor.  Teeth, curls, scarf, and a robot dog.

The first three seasons, produced by Philip Hinchcliffe and script edited by Robert Holmes, are considered by some to be the best years of the show. These are the Gothic years: horror, literary pastiche, and intellectual SF. The Ark in Space has the last members of the human race threatened by giant ichneumon wasps.  Genesis of the Daleks is the best Dalek story after the 1960s, and the best surviving Dalek story full stop.  The Seeds of Doom is an Avengersesque episode, in which the Doctor faces giant cabbages from outer space and an insane millionaire.  In The Face of Evil, the Doctor lands on a jungle planet with his face carved into a mountainside; the story involves Jungian psychology, anthropology, and the politics of religion. The Robots of Death and Horror of Fang Rock are homages to Agatha Christie set on an Art Deco mining ship and a lighthouse.  The Talons of Weng-Chiang is a gloriously dark proto-steampunk romp through Victorian adventure stories; the Doctor becomes Sherlock Holmes and encounters a villain who is part Fu Manchu, part Phantom of the Opera, and keeps a giant rat (of Sumatra?) in the sewers.

The next three years – one of which was edited by Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide fame – are lighter and more character driven witty and imaginative conceptual SF. The best story is Adams’s City of Death, set in Paris, about an alien warlord with six copies of the Mona Lisa in his cellar.

Season 12

  1. Robot (28 December 1974 – 18 January 1975)
  2. The Ark in Space (25 January – 15 February 1975)
  3. The Sontaran Experiment (22 February – 1 March 1975)
  4. Genesis of the Daleks (8 March – 12 April 1975)
  5. Revenge of the Cybermen (19 April – 10 May 1975)

 

Season 13

  1. Terror of the Zygons (30 August – 20 September 1975)
  2. Planet of Evil (27 September – 18 October 1975)
  3. Pyramids of Mars (25 October – 15 November 1975)
  4. The Android Invasion (22 November – 13 December 1975)
  5. The Brain of Morbius (3 – 24 January 1976)
  6. The Seeds of Doom (31 January – 6 March 1976)

 

Season 14

  1. The Masque of Mandragora (4 – 25 September 1976)
  2. The Hand of Fear (2 – 23 October 1976)
  3. The Deadly Assassin (30 October – 20 November 1976)
  4. The Face of Evil (1 – 22 January 1977)
  5. The Robots of Death (29 January – 19 February 1977)
  6. The Talons of Weng-Chiang (26 February – 2 April 1977)

 

Season 15

  1. Horror of Fang Rock (3 – 24 September 1977)
  2. The Invisible Enemy (1 – 22 October 1977)
  3. Image of the Fendahl (29 October – 19 November 1977)
  4. The Sun Makers (26 November – 17 December 1977)
  5. Underworld (7 – 28 January 1978)
  6. The Invasion of Time (4 February – 11 March 1978)

 

Season 16

  1. The Ribos Operation (2 – 23 September 1978)
  2. The Pirate Planet (30 September – 21 October 1978)
  3. The Stones of Blood (28 October – 18 November 1978)
  4. The Androids of Tara (25 November – 16 December 1978)
  5. The Power of Kroll (23 December 1978 – 13 January 1979)
  6. The Armageddon Factor (20 January – 24 February 1979)

 

Season 17

  1. Destiny of the Daleks (1 – 22 September 1979)
  2. City of Death (29 September – 20 October 1979)
  3. The Creature from the Pit (27 October – 17 November 1979)
  4. Nightmare of Eden (24 November – 15 December 1979)
  5. The Horns of Nimon (22 December 1979 – 12 January 1980)
  6. Shada (unfinished)

 

Season 18

  1. The Leisure Hive (30 August – 20 September 1980)
  2. Meglos (27 September – 18 October 1980)
  3. Full Circle (25 October – 15 November 1980)
  4. State of Decay (22 November – 13 December 1980)
  5. Warriors’ Gate (3 – 24 January 1981)
  6. The Keeper of Traken (31 January – 21 February 1981)
  7. Logopolis (28 February – 21 March 1981)

 


Fifth Doctor: Peter Davison

Things start to go downhill. Davison, the youngest Doctor, is saddled with the worst companions and an obsession with the past. Davison would do much better as Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion.  The Caves of Androzani – a heavily charmless, violent story about gunrunners and bat guano – has been voted the best story ever, but it REALLY isn’t.  Far and away the best story is Kinda, influenced by Tom Stoppard, Jung and Buddhism.

Season 19

  1. Castrovalva (4 – 12 January 1982)
  2. Four to Doomsday (18 – 26 January 1982)
  3. Kinda (1 – 9 February 1982)
  4. The Visitation (15 – 23 February 1982)
  5. Black Orchid (1 – 2 March 1982)
  6. Earthshock (8 – 16 March 1982)
  7. Time-Flight (22 – 30 March 1982)

 

Season 20

  1. Arc of Infinity (3 – 12 January 1983)
  2. Snakedance (18 – 26 January 1983)
  3. Mawdryn Undead (1 – 9 February 1983)
  4. Terminus (15 – 23 February 1983)
  5. Enlightenment (1 – 9 March 1983)
  6. The King’s Demons (15 – 16 March 1983)
  7. The Five Doctors (25 November 1983)

 

Season 21

  1. Warriors of the Deep (5 – 13 January 1984)
  2. The Awakening (19 – 20 January 1984)
  3. Frontios (26 January – 3 February 1984)
  4. Resurrection of the Daleks (8 – 15 February 1984)
  5. Planet of Fire (23 February – 2 March 1984)
  6. The Caves of Androzani (8 – 16 March 1984)

 


Sixth Doctor: Colin Baker

Things go really downhill. Colin Baker has shown himself in the excellent Big Finish audio plays to be a wise and compassionate Doctor.  But his time on television was saddled with awful scripts (convoluted plots that bring back elements from the past) and a producer and script editor who hated each other. It didn’t help that Baker’s Doctor had the most garish costume and tried to strangle his companion.

The best stories are all from Big Finish, and include Dr. Who and the Pirates, Jubilee…ishand Year of the Pig.

 

Season 21 (continued)

  1. The Twin Dilemma (22 – 30 March 1984)

 

 

Season 22

  1. Attack of the Cybermen (5 – 12 January 1985)
  2. Vengeance on Varos (19 – 26 January 1985)
  3. The Mark of the Rani (2 – 9 February 1985)
  4. The Two Doctors (16 February – 2 March 1985)
  5. Timelash (9 – 16 March 1985)
  6. Revelation of the Daleks (23 – 30 March 1985)

 

Season 23

  1. The Trial of a Time Lord (6 September – 6 December 1986)
    1. The Mysterious Planet (6 – 27 September 1986)
    2. Mindwarp (4 – 25 October 1986)
    3. Terror of the Vervoids (1 – 22 November 1986)
    4. The Ultimate Foe (29 November – 6 December 1986)

 


Seventh Doctor: Sylvester McCoy

The show recovers. Fresher than it has been in years, with only a quarter of the stories referring to the past, and a determination to engage with modern Britain and, if possible, bring down Thatcher. Written under the influence of Gormenghast and approaching magical realism. Ghost Light, set in a Victorian mansion where very strange things are going on, is easily the best story in more than a decade.

Other brilliant stories include The Greatest Show in the Galaxy,  The Curse of Fenric, The Happiness Patrol, Survival, and Paradise Towers.  

And that’s fully half the McCoy era.

Season 24

  1. Time and the Rani (7 – 28 September 1987)
  2. Paradise Towers (5 – 26 October 1987)
  3. Delta and the Bannermen (2 – 16 November 1987)
  4. Dragonfire (23 November – 7 December 1987)

 

Season 25

  1. Remembrance of the Daleks (5 – 26 October 1988)
  2. The Happiness Patrol (2 – 16 November 1988)
  3. Silver Nemesis (23 November – 7 December 1988)
  4. The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (14 December 1988 – 4 January 1989)

 

Season 26

  1. Battlefield (6 – 27 September 1989)
  2. Ghost Light (4 – 18 October 1989)
  3. The Curse of Fenric (25 October – 15 November 1989)
  4. Survival (22 November – 6 December 1989)

 

And then it ended.

 


Or not quite.

Eighth Doctor: Paul McGann

  1. TV movie (May 1996)

Revived series

Not as good as the ’60s – ’70s run, or

Ninth Doctor: Christopher Eccleston

Series 1

  1. Rose (26 March 2005)
  2. The End of the World (2 April 2005)
  3. The Unquiet Dead (9 April 2005)
  4. Aliens of London / World War Three (16 – 23 April 2005)
  5. Dalek (30 April 2005)
  6. The Long Game (7 May 2005)
  7. Father’s Day (14 May 2005)
  8. The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances (21 – 28 May 2005)
  9. Boom Town (4 June 2005)
  10. Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways (11 – 18 June 2005)

 


 

Tenth Doctor: David Tennant

(“The annoying one”)

Series 2

  1. The Christmas Invasion (25 December 2005) – special
  2. New Earth (15 April 2006)
  3. Tooth and Claw (22 April 2006)
  4. School Reunion (29 April 2006)
  5. The Girl in the Fireplace (6 May 2006)
  6. Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel (13 – 20 May 2006)
  7. The Idiot’s Lantern (27 May 2006)
  8. The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit (3 – 10 June 2006)
  9. Love & Monsters (17 June 2006)
  10. Fear Her (24 June 2006)
  11. Army of Ghosts / Doomsday (1 – 8 July 2006)

 

Series 3

  1. The Runaway Bride (25 December 2006) – special
  2. Smith and Jones (31 March 2007)
  3. The Shakespeare Code (7 April 2007)
  4. Gridlock (14 April 2007)
  5. Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks (21 – 28 April 2007)
  6. The Lazarus Experiment (5 May 2007)
  7. 42 (12 May 2007)
  8. Human Nature / The Family of Blood (26 May – 2 June 2007)
  9. Blink (9 June 2007)
  10. Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords (16 – 30 June 2007)

 

Series 4

  1. Voyage of the Damned (25 December 2007) – special
  2. Partners in Crime (5 April 2008)
  3. The Fires of Pompeii (12 April 2008)
  4. Planet of the Ood (19 April 2008)
  5. The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky (26 April – 3 May 2008)
  6. The Doctor’s Daughter (10 May 2008)
  7. The Unicorn and the Wasp (17 May 2008)
  8. Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead (31 May – 7 June 2008)
  9. Midnight (14 June 2008)
  10. Turn Left (21 June 2008)
  11. The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End (28 June – 5 July 2008)

 

Specials

  1. The Next Doctor (25 December 2008)
  2. Planet of the Dead (11 April 2009)
  3. The Waters of Mars (15 November 2009)
  4. The End of Time (25 December 2009 – 1 January 2010)

 


Eleventh Doctor: Matt Smith

Series 5

  1. The Eleventh Hour (3 April 2010)
  2. The Beast Below (10 April 2010)
  3. Victory of the Daleks (17 April 2010)
  4. The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone (24 April – 1 May 2010)
  5. The Vampires of Venice (8 May 2010)
  6. Amy’s Choice (15 May 2010)
  7. The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood (22 – 29 May 2010)
  8. Vincent and the Doctor (5 June 2010)
  9. The Lodger (12 June 2010)
  10. The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (19 – 26 June 2010)

 

Series 6

  1. A Christmas Carol (25 December 2010) – special
  2. The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon (23 – 30 April 2011)
  3. The Curse of the Black Spot (7 May 2011)
  4. The Doctor’s Wife (14 May 2011)
  5. The Rebel Flesh / The The Almost People (21 – 28 May 2011)
  6. A Good Man Goes to War (4 June 2011)
  7. Let’s Kill Hitler (27 August 2011)
  8. Night Terrors (3 September 20111)
  9. The Girl Who Waited (10 September 2011)
  10. The God Complex (17 September 2011)
  11. Closing Time (24 September 2011)
  12. The Wedding of River Song (1 October 2011)

Series 7

  1. The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (25 December 2011) – special
  2. Asylum of the Daleks (1 September 2012)
  3. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (8 September 2012)
  4. A Town Called Mercy (15 September 2012)
  5. The Power of Three (22 September 2012)
  6. The Angels Take Manhattan (29 September 2012)
  7. The Snowmen (25 December 2012) – special
  8. The Bells of Saint John (30 March 2013)
  9. The Rings of Akhaten (6 April 2013)
  10. Cold War (13 April 2013)
  11. Hide (20 April 2013)
  12. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (27 April 2013)
  13. The Crimson Horror (4 May 2013)
  14. Nightmare in Silver (11 May 2013)
  15. The Name of the Doctor (18 May 2013)

 

Specials

  1. The Day of the Doctor (23 November 2013)
  2. The Time of the Doctor (25 December 2013)

 


Twelfth Doctor: Peter Capaldi

Series 8

  1. Deep Breath (23 August 2014)
  2. Into the Dalek (30 August 2014)
  3. Robot of Sherwood (6 September 2014)
  4. Listen (13 September 2014)
  5. Time Heist (20 September 2014)
  6. The Caretaker (27 September 2014)
  7. Kill the Moon (4 October 2014)
  8. Mummy on the Orient Express (11 October 2014)
  9. Flatline (18 October 2014)
  10. In the Forest of the Night (25 October 2014)
  11. Dark Water / Death in Heaven (1 – 8 November 2014)

 

Series 9

  1. Last Christmas (25 December 2014) – special
  2. The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar (19 – 26 September 2015)
  3. Under the Lake / Before the Flood (3 – 10 October 2015)
  4. The Girl Who Died (17 October 2015)
  5. The Woman Who Lived (24 October 2015)
  6. The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion (31 October – 7 November 2015)
  7. Sleep No More (14 November 2015)
  8. Face the Raven (21 November 2015)
  9. Heaven Sent (28 November 2015)
  10. Hell Bent (5 December 2015)
  11. The Husbands of River Song (25 December 2015) – special

 

Series 10

  1. The Return of Doctor Mysterioso (25 December 2016) – special
  2. The Pilot (15 April 2017)
  3. Smile (22 April 2017)
  4. Thin Ice (29 April 2017)
  5. Knock Knock (6 May 2017)
  6. Oxygen (13 May 2017)
  7. Extremis / The Pyramid at the End of the World / The Lie of the Land (20 May – 3 June 2017)
  8.  Empress of Mars (10 June 2017)
  9. The Eaters of Light (17 June 2017)
  10. World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls (24 June – 1 July 2017)
  11. Twice Upon a Time (25 December 2017) – special