Top Ten Doctor Who Stories (As of Feb 2012)

 

THE ELEVEN DOCTORS

By Will Barber – Taylor

Note: The order will go from the lowest to the highest.

10: Voyage of the Dammed

After the events of The Last of the Timelords and Time Crash, The TARDIS is hit by the space ship Titanic.   The Doctor readjusts the controls of the TARDIS so that he lands inside the Titanic.  When The Doctor, (David Tennant) sees a cocktail party taking place, he decide to join it. He soon becomes embroiled in a mystery on the ship; the robots of the ship keep breaking down or trying to kill people.  Just as The Doctor is getting near to the truth, the space liner is hit by a series of meteorites.  The Doctor must lead the survivors of the crash to safety but something is waiting. The Robots are trying to pick off the survivors and something is buried deep within the vaults of the ship.

The Voyage of The Dammed’s plot has some very good parts, the scene where The Doctor defeats the Heavenly Hosts on the bridge, is an example.  It also has some bad parts.  Some bits of the plot feel like rip offs from Titanic (a movie from the 90s starring Leonardo di Capri.) and also Robots of Death (A Tom Baker story from 1977.) with the Heavenly Hosts being a direct rip off of the Robots from Robots of Death.

The atmosphere is very good and makes use of the claustrophobic feeling of the piece. The story could be excellent but did not reach its potential because it is too much like other work being recycled. The acting is a bit dull apart from The Doctor, David Tennant. Tennant is fantastic in this episode really giving it energy and pace.  His grief at the death of Astrid is excellently played.

The reason this story is in my Top Ten is because of David Tennant’s acting.  Tennant’s grim determination to help the survivors of the crew survive is wonderful.

9: Terror of the Veniods

The Doctor (Colin Baker) presents his defence in his Trial. Set several years in the Doctor’s personal future, the court is shown The Doctor and his future companion, Mel receiving a distress signal from the space liner, Hyperion Three.  It soon becomes clear when they arrive, that the captain of the ship, who knew The Doctor from a previous adventure, did not send the distress call.   Soon all hell breaks loose.   With a murderer on the loose, The Doctor has to play detective.  The Terror of The Veniods has just begun…

Terror of the Veniods is an odd story on the surface.  When The Veniods first strike it is unexpected and sinister.  Their final battle is extremely dramatic.  The Veniod dialogue portrays their delusional hate of all living creatures except other plant life extremely effectively.

Michael Jayston superbly accuses The Doctor of genocide when he plays The Vallyard. .  Honor Blackman’s portrayal of the mad professor is demonstrated particularly forcefully in the scene where she tries to reason with her Veniod creations, before being killed.  The bad acting is mainly from the Veniods themselves.  Their voices don’t sound sinister at all but more like a group of 17th century castrati.   Even the movements of the Veniods aren’t menacing; when they move they are reminiscent of the late Michael Jackson.  During the Veniods final destruction, their deaths could be confused with disco dancing.   The costumes of the Veniods are great but not flexible to move in.

The reason this story is in my Top Ten is because at the heart of it is a good story.  It has some great murder mystery moments and for all its faults feels like a return of the Peter Davison or Tom Baker era.

 

8: The Claws of Axos

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and UNIT receive information that a strange alien craft has landed.   The Doctor and UNIT discover that the craft contains a group of golden humanoids who are offering the powers of Axonite, a powerful substance, that will change the world. The Doctor however isn’t convinced and soon discovers that the Axons are working with his old enemy, The Master.

This is a perfect example of a 70’s Doctor Who story. It has action, adventure, mystery and suspense. The plot of the story is good apart from the start. The opening episode lags a bit until we experience the lure of The Master.  After this point, the story has a steady pace though episode three and four.   Unfortunately it feels disjointed and lagging behind for the rest of the story; particularly the scene where the Axons attack UNIT.

The acting is quite good particularly from Chinn, (Peter Bathurst) the scheming, incompetent minister.   Roger Delgado is a truly menacing being in his portrayal of The Master. .Jon Pertwee plays the part of the third doctor with great panache in the final part when he tricks the Axons into a time loop.

The costumes of the Axons are very good believably depicting the idea of organic plants to good effect.

The reason this story is in my top ten is because the monsters’ costumes are effective and The Master is very well played.  I have rated it as number eight because I feel that although I enjoy the story, it is often over rated.

7: The Unquiet Dead

The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) decides to take Rose to Naples in 1860.  Instead they arrive in Cardiff in 1869.  They discover that the locals are being haunted by the dead.  Teaming up with Charles Dickens, they soon discover that creatures called the Gelth are using the dead people as transport.  As The Doctor sides with the Gelth, can Rose convince him that history should not be changed?

This is Mark Gattis’s first televised story.   It is a gothic horror story which features great villains in the Gelth.   At first they appear to be benign aliens but in fact turn out to be invaders.   The plot brings across a truly Hammer Horror style story with walking dead and strange goings on at a local funeral home.

The acting in the story is excellent. Simon Callow is believable as the weary Charles Dickens who tries to rationalise everything.   Eccleston really shows his versatility as an actor, one moment going from rage and the next joking about death.  Billie Piper is also impressive in this episode showing us that  Rose was a good companion in the beginning.

The reason this episode is in my Top Ten is because it is a truly good episode, with great acting from all the cast and an excellent atmosphere of gothic horror which fits Doctor Who like a glove.

 

6: The Curse of Fenric

The Doctor (Sylvester Mcoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) land in an army base in 1943.  They soon discover that Dr Judson has created The Ultima Machine, a spy cracking device.  The local commanding officer Commander Millington is going to let the Russians steal it because the machine is booby trapped. Soon greater events unfold.  An ancient enemy of the Doctor’s is resurrected using the help of The Ancient One, a creature from Earth’s distant future. The Doctor must once again fight with Fenric, this time for the sake of humanity.

The Curse of Fenric is an excellently written story. It features a darker side to the already dark Seventh Doctor, using his companion and everyone else as pawns in his game with Fenric.  The acting in this story is superb particularly from Sylvester Mcoy and Sophie Aldred.  Sophie Aldred really makes Ace a 3D character in this story.  We witness Ace’s suffering and feel her misery as she wants to change her identity and escape from her mother.

The reason this story is in my top ten is because the whole story is excellently executed, the camera work is fantastic, the acting superb, the costumes excellent and the script marvellous.

 

5: The Doctor’s Wife

The Doctor ( Matt Smith) receives a Timelord distress call from a bubble universe.   Arriving there, he discovers that it is all a trap. The entity that lured him there is House.   House plans to use the TARDIS to travel the universe and consume other TARDIS’s.   Can The Doctor stop House from feasting on the universe?

This story is written by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline) who gives a real alien feel to the episode. .. Suranne Jones (Coronation Street, Single Father) is electric in this episode as she really plays a female version of Smith’s Doctor but more mad.  Smith himself is excellent as he throws himself into it.  He makes Gaiman’s excellent script come alive, particularly the scenes with the Junk Yard TARDIS.

The reason this episode is in my top Ten, is because it is overall an excellent episode.  Smith and Jones are on top form and Gaiman’s writing makes the character of the TARDIS feel alive.

4: Tomb of the Cybermen

 

Landing on the planet Telos during an excavation, The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie and Victoria discover an Archaeology team headed by Professor Parry and funded by the sinister Klieg and Kafka.  They plan to excavate the Tombs of Telos, the last known resting place of the Cybermen.  Kafka and Klieg plan to revive the Cybermen and use their strength to conquer the Earth.  The Cybermen, have other plans though which involve their oldest enemy, The Doctor.

This story is the earliest complete surviving Second Doctor story and it’s an excellent story.  The plot is effectively done by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davies, the original creators of the Cybermen.

Director, Morris Barry portrays the empty, deserted atmosphere of the Tomb  well.  The camera work would put much bigger budget films to shame.

Troughton excellently depicts all sides of The Doctor in this story. A memorable moment is when Victoria asks The Doctor if he can remember his family.  George Pastell is frightening as the insane Kleig, ready to take control of the Earth.  Shirley Cooklin is powerful as Kafka, obviously making sure Klieg does not botch up the mission and take all the power for himself.

The reason this story is in my top ten, is because the rhythm of the story and the acting and directing are on top form. This is one of the best Troughton stories produced.

3:  City Of Death

Arriving in Paris, 1979 The Doctor ( Tom Baker)  and Romana decide to take a holiday. They soon discover, however, that time experiments are happening. With the help of Private Eye Dougan, they discover that the mysterious Count Scarlioni is behind the experiments.  How is the famous Mona Lisa involved?

This incredible story is written by three people, David Fisher, Graham Williams and Douglas Adams. The story is mad, ambitious and a bit silly but it works.

Tom Baker is magnificent as The Doctor, very much playing to the script’s strengths.  Julian Glover is also brilliant as the scheming villain Scaroth, (aka Scarlioni) playing one of the maddest Doctor Who Villains of all time with obvious zest for the role.

The reason this story is in my top ten is, even though the story is mad, silly and not very Sc-fi it is one of the most fun Dr Who stories of all time.

2: The Waters of Mars

 

The Doctor (David Tennant) arrives on Mars in the year 2059 at the Mars base, Bowie Base One.  After a tense integration by the Captain Adelaide Brook, The Doctor discovers the date is the 21st of November. History says that on that day the base was mysteriously destroyed. Knowing this is a fixed point in time, The Doctor decides to leave. Before he does, there is an attack on the base and The Doctor can not interfere. Or can he?

This is The Tenth Doctor’s penultimate story and it is amazing.  The story by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford is a masterpiece. The dark claustrophobic atmosphere adds to the tension of the piece and the desperation of the people involved. .  The acting is also on top form from David Tennant and Lindsay Duncan especially Tennant carries of in the first half, the good side of The Doctor and in the second half he carries of expertly The Time lord Victorious. Duncan is a fantastic as Brooke showing The Doctor how wrong he is. How The Doctor is wrong to think he is some sort of god, when he is not.

The reason this story is in my top ten is because it is an excellent story, well acted, directed and it has a dark brooding atmosphere that adds to the tension leading up to The End of Time.

1: The Caves Of Androzani

The Doctor (Peter Davison) and Peri land on the planet Androzani Minor. They soon accidentally become embroiled in the spetrox war, between Shraz Jek former android maker now turned terrorist and his old business partner Morgus. The Doctor and Peri soon develop lethal spetrox poisoning. The hunt is on for a cure but with time running out can The Doctor save himself and Peri?

.The writing of this story by Doctor Who expert Robert Holmes is astonishing. The dark brooding atmosphere of this story really makes it feel like The Doctor can’t win. The character of Jek is inspired, the evil, twisted, deformed Jek feels very much like a Doctor Who version of Shakespeare’s Richard the Third.

Davison is on top form, showing of the heroic side of his Doctor well. His desperation to save Peri is evident and works well with the whole theme of desperation in the story. The directing by Graham Harper is excellent, including some wonderful camera shots during the scene when The Doctor is stumbling back to the TARDIS.

The reason this story is my number one Doctor Who story is because it is got style, sharp witty writing a fantastic cast and wonderful directing.

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