Choosing your top ten Doctor Who stories is a pretty tough job, with 239 television stories to choose from it gets rather difficult. Choosing number 10 is always easy, it’s always that episode that you know should be in your top ten but you don’t love it that much and choosing your number 1 is easy because that’s just your all time favourite story. Choosing numbers 9 through 2 is quite another story. The other problem you face is that there’s ten to choose and currently 11 Doctors which ultimately means you’re going to leave at least one Doctor out (unless you choose a multi-Doctor story, but lets be honest are any of them top ten worthy?) It’s a difficult task and one which should not be taken lightly, after all a top ten list on the internet is set in stone. Once I choose this top ten, it will be a reference point for anyone wanting to quiz me on my favourite Doctor Who episodes.
I did debate with myself whether or not to choose any Big Finish stories in this list and decided that I should probably leave that for another list so as not to confuse people who’ve never heard a BF story, the same goes for novels. So without further ado, here is my top ten Doctor Who Stories.
TEN – The Doctors Wife
I really really wish I could put this higher up my list, it has Neil Gaiman writing it and he is by far my favourite author. Not to mention we get a new enemy and someone who, for a while, you truly believed could put an end to the TARDIS. Matt Smith utters one of his best lines as the Doctor when House tells him that he’s “killed hundreds of Time Lords” Matts line? “Fear me, I’ve killed them all” it doesn’t matter how many times I watch it, that line still gives me a chill. All in all a very deserving number ten.
NINE – The Time Warrior
The introduction of Sarah Jane Smith to the TARDIS. I could really just leave it like that couldn’t I? Truth is that there’s so much more to this story than just the debut of Sarah Jane, there’s also the introduction of the Sontarans in one of the best reveals of the classic series. The end of part one sees Linx take of his helmet and turn to the camera revealing a hideous alien who was just terrifying. I remember watching that on VHS when I was younger and being terrified and to this day it still hold that little bit of terror for me. Jon Pertwee at his best.
EIGHT – An Unearthly Child/100,000 B.C
Where it all began. 1963 introduced the greatest television show in history to the world and it all started here. Totters Lane, a policeman, a grumpy old man, a teenage girl and two teachers. I rarely see this in a top ten list and I can understand why, it’s in black and white and the production values are extremely low but I love it. I can definitely count it amongst my most watched Doctor Who episodes ever. Back then we had a completely different show, there were no Time Lords, no Gallifrey no mythology. Everything was just brand new and exciting, nobody had any idea that 50 years later we would still be watching this show and that it would have such an incredible history to it. The plot for this serial is genius, I love it. It’s always a tie between this and The Aztecs when I want to watch some good old Hartnell.
SEVEN – The Ultimate Foe
A controversial one I know, how many people would put a story from Trial of a Time Lord on their top ten? Well I just did! Why? It’s easy, overall TOAT was poorly written and wasn’t strong at all no matter how you look at it. Aside from this being Robert Holmes final script which sadly he passed away half way through writing, I really think that this gave Colin Baker a fairly decent final story, although nobody knew at the time that it would be his last. When people think of Colin Baker it’s fair to say he gets a lot of flack but ultimately it was more the writing of his stories that made his run so miserable. In my opinion this was as good as it got with the Sixth Doctor. Let the abuse begin for where I’ve ranked it but for me it nailed it. The revelation of who the Valeyard is, the return of the Master, the creepiness of being inside the Matrix, some of the paradoxical stuff we were thrown. It has all the makings of a classic and for me it just is.
SIX – The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
Moffat haters calm down. I think we can all agree that this was the pinnacle of Christopher Eccleston’s series. It took us to the second world war, introduced Captain Jack, had some truly terrifying moments with those damn gas masks and “Are you my mummy” still creeps me the hell out. This is an story about the consequences of peoples choices and I thought it was perfectly written and the acting just nailed it for me. This was when Christopher Eccleston became the Doctor in my eyes.
FIVE – Human Nature/Family of Blood
“Here Russell, what do you want me to do with my episodes?” – “Erm, how about you turn the Doctor human?” – “Won’t that piss of the fans?” – “Do it so he’s only a pretend human”
That’s sort of how I imagine the conversation going between Russell T. Davies and Paul Cornell when planning Series 3. Of course Paul Cornell had written the 1995 novel “Human Nature” which the story was adapted from so I know the conversation didn’t go like that, but it’s nice to imagine. Weird that for me, I think that David Tennants best story as the Doctor is the story where he’s not actually playing the Doctor. I could have put Blink in here and truthfully I love Blink but it’s just not one of my top ten. Human Nature and Family of Blood just nail it for the tenth Doctor, scary ass Scarecrows, the girl and the balloon is something from the nightmare of a child and Baines is one creepy little man. A great resolution as well and one that sort of sticks a tiny lump in the back of your throat.
FOUR – The Caves of Androzani
A man in a gimp suit and Peter Davisons swan song. It’s both heart wrenching and slight funny at the same time. Sharaz Jek just cracks me up every time I see him but when you delve into the story he’s a very complex character. When I first saw him I thought this was going to be it, this is going to be the man that kills the Fifth, he’ll do something truly evil and kill him…………..if you haven’t seen it yet I won’t spoil it. There is a great scene ( I think anyway) with Peri and Jek. It’s often rated as one of the top Doctor Who stories and who would disagree with that? It’s just a shame that Peter Davison’s run wasn’t more like this because then it would truly have been brilliant.
THREE – The Enemy of the World
Oh how I leaped for joy last month, when the BBC announced that they had found and were about to release The Enemy of the World. My excitement level went through the roof, my heart started racing and my palms were sweating. I had heard the audio tracks and saw the one episode that was remaining but I had been waiting years for this. It immediately goes in at number three because it’s Patrick Troughton at his best. A dual role and a fantastic performance as both Salamander and The Doctor. Patrick Troughton is my Doctor and finally getting to see this work of art was like all my Christmases coming at once.
TWO – The Deadly Assassin
You give me anything that adds to Time Lord mythology and I’ll just lap it up. If you’re looking for a story that really bulks up on that mythology then you can’t do any better than The Deadly Assassin. The Master, The Matrix, a dead President, regeneration limit and more. This episode truly added to the essence of Doctor Who. It’s Goth feel was fairly typical of the stories we were getting back in the days of good old Tom Baker and it was just fantastic.
ONE – City of Death
My all time favourite Doctor Who serial. It never moves from this top spot and many contenders have tried to knock it off. Romana II is my ultimate companion, if I could have any companion round for a Sunday roast it would be her. I just wish that I had gotten to see Romana II and Troughton together. Alas Romana did her travelling with Tom Baker and this story is just the best I’ve seen. Appearances from John Cleese and a tremendous cast ensemble. A perfectly written story with a good few twists and turn thrown in. Some great cliffhangers, some amazing one liners and the Jagaroth! The Jagaroth are amazing and I wish that somehow they would come back into the modern day series. Scaroth just blows me away and the ending is nicely suited. Duggan! Duggan is the single greatest character ever written for this show that wasn’t a companion, he loves to hit things and he’s just hilarious. City of Death is my number one and it deserves it without a shadow of a doubt.
So there it is, my top ten Doctor Who stories. Sadly Sylv and McGann didn’t make it into the top ten and it’s not because I didn’t want them there because I love them both. It’s just that McGann only had one on screen story and lets face it, it wasn’t great (his acting was spot on but the story itself wasn’t) and Sylv just didn’t have a story for me that sits in the top ten. Remembrance of the Daleks just sits outside at number 11. Not long now until Day of the Doctor and perhaps, just maybe it will take one of these top ten spots.