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100 Favorite Moments of Doctor Who in Celebration of its 50th Anniversary - A Journal of Zarjaz Things
October 2013
The Hipster Dad
Thu, Oct. 24th, 2013 09:53 pm
100 Favorite Moments of Doctor Who in Celebration of its 50th Anniversary

1. THE DALEKS (1963): In the program's first iconic cliffhanger, companion Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill), in a camera's-eye view, recoils, screaming in horror from what appears to be a sink plunger held by a stagehand. The screen fades to black followed by the words: Next Episode The Survivors.

2. PLANET OF GIANTS (1964): It takes our heroes an age and a day to figure out what the audience already has, but that first cliffhanger, in which a simple housecat poses the latest threat to their lives, is really quite beautiful.

3. THE TIME MEDDLER (1965): Again, the heroes are several steps behind the audience, particularly a modern one who knows the twist from the show's reputation, but the cliffhanger in which Vicki and Steven (Maureen O'Brien and the excellent Peter Purves) enter the Monk's TARDIS must have caused ten million jaws to drop in its day.

4. THE DALEKS' MASTER PLAN (1965): Twelve high-drama weeks helmed by one of the show's greatest directors, Douglas Camfield, in which the Daleks are teamed up with both Kevin Stoney and Peter Butterworth, Nicholas Courtney guest-stars for the first time, Jean Marsh joins the cast, and not one but TWO companions are killed. The existing three installments are completely amazing, and there's a sense of danger and boldness that the modern show quite honestly never matches. This was the only time in the program's history where absolutely nothing was safe.

5. THE WAR MACHINES (1966): The BBC enters the Swinging Sixties with full force - Adam Adamant Lives!, managed by Doctor Who's original producer, debuted just two days before this serial began airing - with the introduction of Ben and Polly (Michael Craze and Anneke Wills), two of the best companions the show ever had, and whose time in the show is mostly missing from the archive. Also features the mad-beyond-words cliffhanger "Doctor....WHO....is required! Bring...him...here!"

6. THE POWER OF THE DALEKS (1966): You can't blame Ben and Polly for neither understanding nor trusting what has happened to the Doctor. He now looks like Patrick Troughton and isn't really explaining very well why he's changed. Plus, Daleks.

7. THE FACELESS ONES (1967): Again, most of this is missing, including Ben and Polly's farewell, but there's a fab replacement quasi-companion in Pauline Collins' Samantha, and the crystallization of Patrick Troughton's rapport with his great co-star Frazer Hines, who plays Jamie.


9. THE WEB OF FEAR (1968): Recovered a couple of months ago, this somehow lived up to the legend, which was impossibly high. The Battle of Covent Garden in part four, which sees every one of Col. Lethbridge-Stewart's men killed by the robot Yeti, is the best action sequence in the show for the next twenty years. The character, played by Nicholas Courtney, will be a recurring player and trusted friend for many years to come.

10. THE INVASION (1968): Camfield, Stoney, and Courtney again. It's eight weeks that could have just as easily played as ten, with everybody involved at the height of their powers, and the amazing moment in which the Cybermen prove their control of London in an iconic scene in which they storm down the steps at St. Paul's Cathedral.

11. THE SEEDS OF DEATH (1969): To be perfectly fair, this really isn't all that good, but the scene in which the Doctor saves his own skin by telling the Ice Warriors who've cornered him that they can't possibly kill him without angering their leader, because he is a genius, really is magical.

12. THE WAR GAMES (1969): It's really maybe only one episode too long, so packed as this is with power. The first cliffhanger, with the firing squad, and the second, with the Roman chariot duke it out for the "damnedest thing we've ever seen" award. The scene in which the Doctor and the War Chief first lay eyes on each other and the audience realizes that they know each other - that's pure damn magic.

13. SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE (1970): Jon Pertwee's debut has a million things to love - he just came right in and owned the character, didn't he? - but that iconic shop window mannequin scene, that's one of the most amazing things ever made for TV.

14. DOCTOR WHO AND THE SILURIANS (1970): "This is our planet! We were here before man!" Doctor Who began traumatizing my kids in the Pertwee era. A chance comment in a cave in Chattanooga to my eldest - "This is like where the Silurians live!" - prompted nightmares several weeks after we finished watching the story.

15. TERROR OF THE AUTONS (1971): And then there's this damn thing, which would be wild and amazing with the introductions of Roger Delgado as The Master and Katy Manning as None-More-Seventies Jo Grant anyway, a brash comic strip of harsh color, super close-ups, and blue-screen technology, even before my kids were driven to tears by it. Before it finished, one child was locking his teddy bear in the freezer and the other was collapsing in screams at the sight of her own inflatable chair, because the Master has one as well, and his eats people.

16. THE MIND OF EVIL (1971): The program's most tone-deaf moment comes amid a superbly-directed, incredibly '70s story about nerve gas missiles and prison reform, sort of Clockwork Orange on Saturday afternoons. Here, it's revealed that the Doctor is a close chum of, get this, Mao Zedong. Maybe the Doctor decided to knock over Terra Alpha in 1988 to atone for being such an unbelievably poor judge of despot.

17. THE SEA DEVILS (1972): It's not just a good story, with a great performance by Delgado, good monsters, good guest stars, and the Clangers, but there's this terrific musical score that sounds like somebody stole Brian Eno's first synthesizer and threw it down a flight of stairs.

18. THE THREE DOCTORS (1973): You can tell that Pertwee's not really graciously allowing Patrick Troughton to steal his every scene, but the Trout gets away with it. The sweet way that he completely charms Jo and absent-mindedly asks her to teach him "I am the Walrus" on the recorder just leaves you wishing the producers would have taped 26 episodes with one actor and 26 more with the other every year.

19. CARNIVAL OF MONSTERS (1973): The Drashigs. Good grief. They're giant worm monsters with dog-snouts that shriek like banshees, and sure, if you're an adult, they're fairly neat puppets. If you're six, they are pure and undiluted nightmare fuel that terrify you for the next ten months and send you into Daddy's bed every time a car drives past.

20. THE GREEN DEATH (1973): See, David Tennant's Doctor got his heart broken every third week, but it's here, after top-line performances from all the cast, great location filming, an incredibly seventies room-sized supercomputer, an even more incredibly seventies commune full of hippie scientists, and carnivorous maggots the size of your arm, that the Doctor first sits down and makes the audience cry after Jo breaks absolutely everybody's heart by leaving him to marry a man she described as a younger version of the Doctor.

21. ROBOT (1975): After Pertwee's last and very troublingly subpar season, the debut of Tom Baker isn't very good and looks awful - worryingly, it points to the very cheap future of videotaping on location - but it also points the way forward when the Brigadier says that naturally, the only nation that could be entrusted with every other nation's missile codes is Great Britain, and the Doctor replies "Well, naturally. I mean, the rest are all foreigners."

22. THE SONTARAN EXPERIMENT (1975): "It's absolutely typical of Harry. How anyone in his right mind can fall down a whacking great subsidence like that..."

23. GENESIS OF THE DALEKS (1975): If, during one of the most tense and edge-of-your-seat scenes ever done on this show, your children are not digging their fingers into your arms in sheer panic, leaving marks that will last a month, when the lead Dalek shouts back at Davros that it does not know the meaning of the word "pity," because Davros never taught the damn things what it means, then you've done something wrong. Sorry. You'll have to have another child and try again.

24. TERROR OF THE ZYGONS and THE SEEDS OF DOOM (1975 and 1976): Douglas Camfield's final stories as director, both written by Robert Banks Stewart and with music by this damn genius called Geoffrey Burgon, whose work is so good, you'll want to punch every subsequent producer and director for not hiring him. Both are brilliant, especially the scary way in the second story that the Doctor realizes that his interplanetary, children-safe melodrama has crashed into a contemporary thriller full of violent and uncompromising men with guns who'd rather shoot you than put up with clever, witty banter.

25. PYRAMIDS OF MARS (1975): Notable as the final time that my kids ran screaming from Doctor Who, but, geez, those robot mummies are a terrific last horror to go out on, aren't they?

26. THE BRAIN OF MORBIUS (1976): This one tells us, full stop, that there were eight Doctors before Hartnell, and that Tom Baker's playing the twelfth. Fandom has been looking for excuses for this ever since.

27. SEASON 14, ENTIRELY (1976-1977): As consistent as a season as the show ever had, with Baker on perfect form, Elisabeth Sladen getting the best departure scene of anybody in the classic series, Louise Jameson getting the best debut, two amazing scripts by Chris Boucher, and a brilliant Victorian-era finish that, these days, troubles a more ethnically sensitive society in its whitebread approach to Chinese tongs and yellow perils, but provides an amazing pastiche of a Sherlock Holmes vs. Fu Manchu saga that somehow, we'd never seen before. Frankly, the only eye-rolling moment for 26 straight episodes is one director getting the silly idea that primitive tribal huts should be shot under studio lights so bright that they reflect off the actors' skin.

28. THE RIBOS OPERATION (1978): Arguably Robert Holmes' very best script, with Baker paired with a lovely new leading lady, and two excellent opponents in an intergalactic con man and an unhinged feudal lord.

29. CITY OF DEATH (1979): True, part one lags from a little too much "Look! We're in Paris!" location filming, but with one high-concept Douglas Adams idea crashing madly into each other and consistently hilarious dialogue - "Well, you're a beautiful woman, probably" - and the pleasant sight of Baker and new companion Lalla Ward clearly falling in love offscreen - they married soon after, though it wasn't to last - this story has a certain bouquet that leads many to call it the classic series' finest hour...

30. SHADA (1980ish): But that's possibly because a strike interrupted production of this one, terminally, after they'd shot about 40% of it. What survived is complete and pure genius, with even more sparkling wit, higher concepts, wild ideas, and beautiful chemistry among all the players. "I'm not mad about your tailor."

31. DOCTOR WHO AND THE STAR BEAST (1980): Tom Baker's finest line never actually delivered by Tom Baker: "Mrs. Wiggins, there are aliens at the bottom of your garden!" Pat Mills, John Wagner, and Dave Gibbons collaborated on 32 episodes of a comic. It's had its ups and downs and moments of greatness for the last thirty-three years, but it was never as great as introducing one of the Doctor's finest enemies, Beep the Meep.

32. WARRIORS' GATE (1981): The really astonishing thing is looking at every single music video by Spandau Ballet, Japan, Duran Duran, and all their peers in 1981-82 and seeing just how much they ripped off this deeply odd serial from Tom Baker's last season.

33. LOGOPOLIS (1981): Don't let my fangirl daughter fool you with her love for David Tennant. Tom Baker was her Doctor. When he died at the hands of the Master in this story, she was inconsolable for weeks. We had to wait forever to start Davison until she quit mourning.

34. KINDA (1982): One of the most frightening depictions of madness in the series, Davison's Doctor is out of his league against opponents who won't be beaten by the usual rules. Janet Fielding takes a lip-bitingly sexy seductive turn when an alien force possesses her, and imagery holds the key as time is running out for a helpless society damaged by first contact from human colonists. Brilliant across the board.

35. EARTHSHOCK (1982): Rather less than its reputation suggests, this is nevertheless really well-directed by Peter Grimwade, and the first-episode cliffhanger that the Cybermen are back had my eldest son so blown away by excitement and happiness that his favorite baddies had returned that he quite literally started weeping with joy.

36. SNAKEDANCE (1983): If for nothing else, this is an amazing story that plays out what it's like when the Doctor, in the pre-psychic paper days, really does look like an unhinged lunatic, making really ridiculous warnings of imminent doom like a religious nut preachin' that Satan's a-comin'. Also features future sitcom star Martin Clunes dressed like Robin Hood, space pirate.

37. THE FIVE DOCTORS (1983): The living definition of something I've seen too damn much, I can't even watch a commentary track. But my memories are pretty amazing, especially letting Troughton and Pertwee have another chance to one-up each other, cementing the notion that some Doctors just don't like each other. Later stories - mostly novels of course - have built on this idea, and I think that it's lovely. It also sparked the idea that Troughton's Doctor had all sorts of adventures as an agent of the Time Lords before he was exiled to Earth as Pertwee, which is also lovely.

38. THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI (1984): The heir-apparent to Douglas Camfield, Graeme Harper, made his amazing directing debut in an equally amazing Robert Holmes story. This thing's the living definition of everybody involved giving 110%. Davison's last TV story is so darn good across the board. Even the lighting is right. In a perfect, sensible world where directors and musicians were on BBC staff and not freelance, this team would have made every story of the next year.

39. STARS FELL ON STOCKBRIDGE (1983): Dave Gibbons' final comic adventure for the Doctor is a completely beautiful little story about a UFOlogist having a quiet opportunity to confirm his dreams. On its own, it's a simple and intelligent script. That it sets up characters and situations that the comic has revisited for twenty-plus years is even better.

40. THE MARK OF THE RANI (1985): The Master and the Rani's double-act...
...THE TWO DOCTORS (1985): Er, that is, Colin Baker and Frazer Hines work really well... um, Sontarans...
...REVELATION OF THE DALEKS (1985): Eleanor Bron's quite good, isn't she? And William Gaunt?
Look, the honest truth is that if you watch Colin Baker with your kids, you will have an awesome time. I mean this absolutely. The Sixth Doctor is a perfect hero for children. I will defend his era to the death on that ground. Nicola Bryant is consistently excellent in her role, and Baker is really good in his, but I honestly don't enjoy these stories outside of watching them with enthusiastic kids. It's worth remembering, however, that this is the way that Doctor Who was meant to be enjoyed. It is a program for families. Period.

41. DELTA AND THE BANNERMEN (1987): Holy God. This is incredible. There's a far-too-serious breed of fan who doesn't embrace the love of the great Sylvester McCoy TV episodes. They are magical at their best, despite the worst-ever production quality - all videotape cheapness and too-loud Casio keyboard music - and two very bad stumbles out of the gate to start his run of twelve serials. With this story, they got it so very right. With the Doctor awkwardly comforting a lovelorn girl in 1950s rural Wales after a soc hop, and hugging a Fender guitar while warning a man of the dangers of injecting alien jelly into his blood to be with the space princess he loves, this is Doctor Who shooting way above its limitations and hitting it perfectly every time. Plus, "Hey! That's the property of Uncle Sam!" "Where is he, your Uncle Sam?!"

42. REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS (1988): In the steepest learning curve ever seen in television, Andrew Morgan, who did such a woeful job on McCoy's first TV story, turns in the best directing job in the entire classic series. It also includes Terry Molloy's best performance as Davros, and That Scene, where Sophie Aldred, the new companion, who was pretty weak in her debut adventure, announcing to the world that Ace was going to be one of the all-time greats. From her battle cry of "Who you calling small?!" and then beating the hell out of a Dalek with a stellar-juiced baseball bat and then running across lab tables and shattering a hotdamned window, this is Doctor Who's pronouncement that the show is going to try to fire on every single cylinder.

43. THE HAPPINESS PATROL (1988): So this lunatic, tyrannical despot has built an executioner robot made of candy. To the British audience, it looked like an old advertising mascot. To anybody else, it looks like an acid flashback. Also, when you phone this robot, which is called the Kandyman, it answers the telephone, "Kandyman!" My God, it's brilliant. The despot, by the way, she's Margaret Thatcher, and the Doctor topples her government in one night. Sheila Hancock is amazing in the role in every scene, with her finale making a case for being the best single scene in the entire series.

44. THE GREATEST SHOW IN THE GALAXY (1988): The Seventh Doctor years at their most 2000 AD-influenced, this is not just a shot glass of rocket fuel, it's six straight shot glasses of rocket fuel. Swimming effortlessly among a dozen wild ideas thrown at the wall, it's one of the show's weirdest, most unpredictable, and strangest hours. Also, despite a couple of efforts in season 26, the show's final scary monsters: a hearse full of undertaker clowns.

45. THE CURSE OF FENRIC (1989): Honestly not quite as good as its legend, this does feature some really good performances and moments. A game show host called Nicholas Parsons is completely fantastic in his role as a priest who's lost his faith, and the original show's last great cliffhanger comes at the end of part three, when a scientist in a wheelchair gets hit by a lightning bolt and stands up behind the Doctor, his eyes an ugly yellow, to say "We play the contest again.... Time Lord."

46. LOVE AND WAR (1992): So Doctor Who transferred to novels, published by Virgin, leading to the misfortune of calling oneself "a Virgin Doctor Who fan." The first eight had some good and bad moments, and then we meet the archaeologist Professor Bernice "Benny" Summerfield, the Doctor's greatest-ever companion, in Paul Cornell's second of these novels. She asks the Doctor whether he has a girlfriend and he says no. Boyfriend? No. Model train set? (beat.) Possibly.

47. CONUNDRUM (1994): I love novels with unreliable narrators. This one is one of my all-time favorites, when the lead character in the story - the Doctor - begins addressing the narrator directly. A book that was once ruined for everybody by the revelation of its plot twist, it's worth rediscovery for anybody who just likes well-written fiction.

48. ALL-CONSUMING FIRE (1994): It goes way, way, way off the rails before it finishes, but for a good chunk of its structure, this is a brilliant pastiche of "lost" Sherlock Holmes fiction, with our heroes Holmes and Watson - Watson bewitched by the charming Miss Summerfield - crossing paths with a mysterious stranger with memberships to both the Library of St. John the Beheaded and the almost-as-exclusive Diogenes Club.

49. FALLS THE SHADOW (1994): It's Doctor Who versus Sapphire & Steel, only Sapphire and Steel have gone mad.

50. WARLOCK (1995): The second of three novels by the show's last script editor, Andrew Cartmel. In probably the saddest thing in the universe, the cat who's been hanging around the Doctor's odd little house on Allen Road in Kent is unceremoniously killed. The Doctor is offered an apology. He has a response to that.

51. HUMAN NATURE (1995): They later remade this as a TV episode and it was excellent. It wasn't as good as the original. There's a bit where one of the villains tries convincing Benny that he's actually the Tenth Doctor which I completely love.

52. RETURN OF THE LIVING DAD (1996): I really don't find Kate Orman's contributions to the Doctor Who canon worthy of the acclaim that they often receive. But this one, despite one of the dreariest of her hurt/comfort tropes (hypothermia!), offers not only a long-overdue look at what happens to the alien casualties of the Doctor's actions, but also an Auton spatula. Bliss.

53. SO VILE A SIN (1997): Orman again took charge of this story, first-drafted by Ben Aaronovitch. Of all the Doctor's companions to die in action over the years, Roz Forrester gets the most heartbreaking exit. Blunt, sad, and painfully powerful.

54. DOCTOR WHO (1996): Had Fox picked this up as a series, it probably wouldn't have been very good, but when Doctor # 8, Paul McGann, shouts "These SHOES! They fit PERFECTLY!," he establishes himself as one of the greats.

55. THE DYING DAYS (1997): Virgin bid farewell to their license with one and only one Eighth Doctor story, something that, in an alternate universe where Fox and the BBC might have spent lots of money on a Paul McGann TV series, could have played out. Lance Parkin pits the new Doctor against the Ice Warriors. It ends with Benny throwing him on a bed. Fade to black, while...

56. THE ROMANCE OF CRIME (1995), THE ENGLISH WAY OF DEATH (1996), and THE WELL-MANNERED WAR (1997): ...as they were telling new adventures of the Seventh Doctor, Virgin also had a line of not-quite-as-good Missing Adventures of previous incarnations. The best, by far, were Gareth Roberts' three Douglas Adams tributes, set during Tom Baker and Lalla Ward's time in the TARDIS. Not only do they evoke Adams perfectly throughout, but they end with a completely unexpected curtain of their own.

57. ALIEN BODIES (1997): The books are now published by the BBC's line and they're honestly not very good. Most of these books, by far, misfire, but some of the contributions by author Lawrence Miles are wild standouts. In this one, the Doctor's presence at an auction being held among several aliens on Earth for a mysterious artifact is already a triumph of mad ideas done brilliantly. It takes the greatest, wildest turn in the world when it's revealed that the artifact is the Doctor's own corpse.

58. INTERFERENCE (1999): In which the Eighth Doctor meets the Third, and the Third gets killed by a shotgun blast to the chest before he makes it to Metebelis Three where we expected that version to die. Now just wait a minute.

59. THE ADVENTURESS OF HENRIETTA STREET (2001): Miles has a jawdropping final contribution in this really clever book that is assembled as a lengthy academic paper about some curious events in the 1780s involving a mysterious "Doctor" and a Chinese "Doctor Nie Who." Absorbing and engrossing and completely original.

60. THE FINAL CHAPTER / WORMWOOD (1998-99): Meanwhile, the comic books were telling their own continuity. The Eighth Doctor is killed and regenerates into a polite, balding fellow with a toothbrush in his coat pocket. This "Ninth Doctor" is all a clever trick of our hero, but the six months of fandom screaming "They can't DO THAT!" are the most entertaining in memory.

61. OPHIDIUS / BEAUTIFUL FREAK (2002): This had me screaming "They can't DO THAT!" and I'm the one who brags that they can and should do anything and everything. The Eighth Doctor's companion Izzy has her brain swapped into an alien fish-lady's body, and things proceed under the predictable rules of this kind of fiction until the con artist alien fish-lady gets herself killed, disintegrated into atoms in Izzy's original body, leaving the companion stuck in somebody else's hideous skin, unable to ever return home to Earth.

62. CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION (2002): Oh, spoiling this one should be a crime. You remember those humanized Daleks from 1967's "Evil of the Daleks," right? Well, many of them actually survived. And they're hiding out from persecution. And they worship the Doctor as their savior.

63. WHERE NOBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME (2003): Roger Langridge got the job of illustrating several really good one-off stories for the comic, including a great one where the actor Tom Baker saves the BBC studios from an invasion from space and the eighth Doctor gets a copy of the first issue of Marvel's Doctor Who Weekly. But the very best Langridge story is one where a lonely eighth Doctor confides in a bartender and the two part, quite cheered up after a very weird night, neither at all aware that, lifetimes ago, they were good friends.

64. DOCTOR WHO AND THE CURSE OF FATAL DEATH (1999): Rowan Atkinson is the ninth Doctor, and Richard E. Grant is the tenth, and Jim Broadbent is the eleventh, and Hugh Grant is the twelfth, and Joanna Lumley is the thirteenth. There are people who write lots of fanfic about these characters. Grant has been a pretty good Great Intelligence, but he hasn't once, in that role, had a line as great as when Jonathan Pryce's Master insists "I'm not camp!" he gets to reply: "Oh yeah? Nice tits."

65. ROSE (2005): One word. "Run."

66. THE EMPTY CHILD and THE DOCTOR DANCES (2005): Four words. "Are you my mummy?"

67. BAD WOLF (2005): To be fair, many of the problems of modern Who come from the new status quo that the Doctor is always being a huge badass and having this gigantic legend that foreshadows his every move. Tennant and Smith have been good and been bad with this "lonely god" business, but neither actor even once came close to the power of Christopher Eccleston confirming to the Daleks that he has no weapons, no support, and no plan, and he's still going to win. "Rose? I'm coming to get you."

68. THE PARTING OF THE WAYS (2005): This is the best regeneration scene. Period.

69. SCHOOL REUNION (2006): Look, Anthony Stewart Head is fine in this, and the Krillitane plot is pretty entertaining, but this could have been fifty minutes of Sarah Jane and Rose one-upping each other with the monsters they've seen and Mickey taunting David Tennant's Tenth Doctor about "the missus and the ex" and I'd have enjoyed it just as much. I love how, having established that the new show is all about the now and the future, this does such an amazing job of addressing the past. It's beautiful.

70. THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE (2006): I also like how, with Rose's ostensible boyfriend on board the TARDIS, the Doctor can run around back and forth to France and snog Madame de Pompadour and Rose does not know how to handle that at all.

71. LOVE AND MONSTERS (2006): The explanation that Raxicoricofallipatorius has a sister planet called Clom is the funniest joke I've ever heard.

72. DOOMSDAY (2006): If you're not punching the air as the Daleks and Cybermen start trash-talking each other like guests on The Maury Povich Show, I don't know what's wrong with you.

73. HUMAN NATURE and THE FAMILY OF BLOOD (2007): Series three has lots of flaws, and an unbelievably poor finale, but the middle bits are pretty amazing. Tennant's on fire in this one, and the casting is pretty much perfect across the board.

74. BLINK (2007): It's tough to find any reason to argue against this episode's legend.

75. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SARAH JANE? (2007): This is where the spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures first found its feet, in a time-twisting and freaky story with a great recurring villain, the Trickster, making his first appearance, and Jane Asher in a terrific guest role as the woman who would have been alive today had young Sarah Jane died in her place forty-odd years before.

76. TIME CRASH (2007): This didn't need to be any longer than it was, and when the insults stop and Tennant starts honestly praising his predecessor - and real-life future father-in-law! - Peter Davison, it's really a bit of genuine TV magic.

77. PARTNERS IN CRIME (2008): The beginning of my favorite series of the revived production, with my all-time favorite TV companion in Catherine Tate's Donna. Redefined from the odd, shrill character that fueled her debut appearance in 2006 in an equally silly runaround with Warner Brothers cartoon physics, and also bringing Bernard Cribbins into play as her awesome grandfather, Wilf, Donna is a character made better by her one, weird, experience with the Doctor. It has turned her into a better person, despite her lack of resources, and Tate's chemistry with Tennant is sheer perfection.

78. THE SONTARAN STRATEGEM (2008): Nobody likes this as much as I do, and I can see its flaws from space, but the scene where Tennant channels Tom Baker, putting his insolent feet on a desk and shutting off the sound while Christopher Ryan's Sontaran commander rants and raves on the video screen is pretty wonderful.

79. SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY and FOREST OF THE DEAD (2008): You kind of wish that Steven Moffat had trusted the audience enough to play with a Doctor who has met people, like his future wife River Song, who's introduced here, out of order before. There's a lot to like about this one - it includes Tennant's best-ever badass moment, telling the space bugs to use the library's resources and "Look me up" - and River's death is wonderful, but I'd have killed to see the Doctor not so baffled by the complexity of the situation. I figured it out pretty quickly, and I'm much thicker than the Doctor.

80. MIDNIGHT (2008): Tennant's tour-de-force, against an alien threat that's more excitingly and wildly alien than anything we've ever seen before. Brilliant throughout.

81. TURN LEFT (2008): Catherine Tate is amazing while carrying things on her own, but damn if Bernard Cribbins doesn't steal the whole show in a heartbreaking scene that shows the desperate British government rounding up foreign-born citizens for some sort of relocation. This is so bleak that it's stunning.

82. THE STOLEN EARTH (2008): This is what my dang children did to me. At the time, we were watching Doctor Who five days after its UK transmission. I was aware, from online friends, in the five days between this episode airing and us watching it, that something wild happened in the episode. Then we saw that cliffhanger, with the Doctor starting to regenerate. I went into complete lockdown for six days, terrified of being spoiled. I didn't go online for anything. Days crept by. I wanted to see part two so badly. Then I got an email from my daughter. Her older brother pulled the greatest prank in the universe on me. He knew I'd know it was a stunt if it came from him, but he also knew that his motormouth sister, who has no filter whatever, would, upon finding what happened, blab about it. So they conspired to get me. About six hours before we were due to watch the episode, I got an email from the girlchild. It read "Dad, I know who the new Doctor is!" I was CRUSHED. My own DAUGHTER... BETRAYED me! I almost cried. I spent two hours completely miserable. She fessed up that she knew nothing about any sort of new Doctor or what was going to happen, that her brother put her up to it. I got those kids together and read them the damn riot act. I raised hell with them. Their faces were drained of blood, and, voice raising, I said, "I've only got ONE THING to say to you!! Well done, children. You got me good, fair and square." They cheered and we hugged and went to watch part two.

That's how much I love this show.

83. JOURNEY'S END (2008): This is the only one of RTD's four season finales that I enjoy, and it's masterful. I love every bit of it. I also just bawl my way through Donna's departure, which, cruelly, goes on forever.

84. ENEMY OF THE BANE (2008): I love the way that The Sarah Jane Adventures just carried on its own wild, increasingly unhinged continuity, telling one great story after another and building up a splendid rogues' gallery. This time out, the Sontaran Kaagh teams up with Bane Mother Miss Wormwood, and Sarah Jane's best hope for help is her old friend the Brigadier.

85. THE NEXT DOCTOR (2008): Honestly, this one's not all that great, but David Morrissey is so darn good as proto-Doctor Jackson Lake that you get the real feeling that, had things gone differently, the show would've been okay in his hands.

86. PRISONER OF THE JUDOON (2009): Series three of TSJA is the most unhinged and insane. In this one, you've got a Judoon rhino-policeman in a commandeered car stopping to issue traffic citations...

87. MONA LISA'S REVENGE (2009): ...and in this one, the Mona Lisa is walking around with a laser blaster. You get the feeling that everybody involved in this series was having lots of fun.

88. THE WEDDING OF SARAH JANE SMITH (2009): Here, for example, is one of Tennant's best performances as the Doctor - he'd actually already finished the production of the main series, but with the excellent idea of being stuck with Sarah's companions in a single second of time, while she's trapped with the Trickster in a different second, he seems to find renewed inspiration.

89. THE WATERS OF MARS (2009): There's a bit toward the end of this - you all know the one - where the Doctor decides that he can change history whenever he wants. I was genuinely worried as hell about what was going to happen next. I honestly had no idea that it would result in anything as horrifyingly bleak as Adelaide Brooke's character committing suicide. Holy anna.

90. THE END OF TIME (2009): It's the scenes with Cribbins. He's so amazing. It's not the scenes with John Simm. In other productions, he's amazing, too.

91. THE TIME OF ANGELS and FLESH AND STONE (2010): Pretty much finished with the Weeping Angels after this story, which was an early highlight for Matt Smith's Doctor. The bits where companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) has something in her eyes and can't open them make this a very clever inverse of the situation in "Blink," when you couldn't close your eyes.

92. THE PANDORICA OPENS and THE BIG BANG (2010): It must be said that when Sylvester McCoy read the Pandorica speech in character at a Dragon*Con, he absolutely nailed it. On the other hand, I don't know that McCoy would have played the "How're things?" scene with the "thought-you-were-dead" Rory half as well as Smith. This also has one completely amazing cliffhanger, with everybody showing up to see the Doctor lose. The Doctor's farewell speech from the old man that he is to the very young little Amelia is the saddest thing in the world.

93. DEATH OF THE DOCTOR (2010): In which Jo Grant arrives at The Sarah Jane Adventures to marvel that the Doctor has regenerated into a baby. One of Smith's best moments as the Doctor is him stomping down that corridor in his awkward, loping stride, yelling at the aliens, "Are you telling people I'm dead?!"

94. THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT (2011): This entire subplot of the season vanishes up its tail almost instantly, but for 45 minutes, everything seemed bright and amazing, and Utah seemed like the promise of a great new start.

95. THE DOCTOR'S WIFE (2011): Neil Gaiman's debut episode - and boy, it's better than his second - is by leagues the best thing about the otherwise drab sixth series. I just love this thing to bits. It's smart, and knowing, and loves the past and future equally. The Doctor didn't steal the TARDIS; she stole him. That's magic.

96. THE SNOWMEN (2012): Well, there's the slightly stupid Sontaran. I like the Paternoster Gang a lot, actually. Clara the slightly sassy barmaid-nanny who does not act even remotely Victorian rankled like heck at first, but has been revealed to be pretty clever in a Moffatty way.

97. COLD WAR (2013): I always liked the Ice Warriors in spite of their disappointing stories, but this one is really good. I especially like David Warner's character being crazy about Ultravox and being concerned that in Clara's far-flung future, what matters most is that they're still together.

98. HIDE (2013): You know what would have made this story even better? If Dougray Scott was playing Bernard Quatermass. I actually thought that before I read that's what the writer, Neil Cross, had waned to do. Stupid copyright laws.

99. THE CRIMSON HORROR (2013): I'm not sure what's more worthy of comment, that it took Mark Gatiss six tries to write a script this good, or that it took the producers of Doctor Who FIFTY DAMN YEARS to give Diana Rigg a part.

100. THE NEXT EPISODE (2013): Because what happens next is always the best thing about Doctor Who.


Fri, Oct. 25th, 2013 08:36 am (UTC)