Favorite 50 Doctor Who story countdown

For the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, I’ve decided to attempt something that normally I find excruciatingly difficult: picking favorites.

I’ve chosen 35 stories from the classic series and 15 from the new series that I personally think most fondly of. They’re the stories I’ve been most eager to own on DVD, the ones I’d be most excited to rewatch, the ones that contain the elements that, to me, make for the most pleasurable Doctor Who.

They are not necessarily the best stories. This is not about objective critical judgment. I’ve included only televised stories I’ve personally seen, so that automatically rules out a number of audio-only 60s stories that might otherwise have made the cut. I’ve definitely omitted some stories most “serious” fans would hold up as shining examples of the potential of the show (such as “Carnival of Monsters,” “The Brain of Morbius,” and most of the late McCoy era) and included some that regularly come in for abuse. Many of my choices are colored by nostalgia, such as the story that scared me the most as a child, and the two Davison stories about which most people’s most polite remarks are usually “at least they’re not ‘Time-Flight.'” Many of them I’ll probably change my mind about in a month, after rewatching some other story that didn’t quite make the cut this time. That’s fine. There’s plenty of Who to go round.

I’ll post the first 15 stories, along with very short remarks about each, on Nov. 1. The second 15 will come on Nov. 8, and the third 15 on Nov. 15. Then I’ll post longer reviews (perhaps more like reminiscences) of each of my 5 top favorites each weekday leading up to the 50th anniversary special on Nov. 23.

I don’t want to spoil it too much, but the breakdown of stories by Doctor looks like this:

FIRST DOCTOR: 0 (sorry, Hartnell)
SECOND DOCTOR: 1 (stupid lost episodes)
THIRD DOCTOR: 9
FOURTH DOCTOR: 15
FIFTH DOCTOR: 7
SIXTH DOCTOR: 1
SEVENTH DOCTOR: 2
EIGHTH DOCTOR: 0 (sorry, McGann)
NINTH DOCTOR: 3
TENTH DOCTOR: 6
ELEVENTH DOCTOR: 6

4 Replies to “Favorite 50 Doctor Who story countdown”

  1. well, well … this is GREAT! my friends and i are glad to have come across this and are definitely looking forward to your faves! glad episodes from 3rd, 4th (of course!), 5th made your list – will be interested in your picks for these (esp. for 4th). pretty die hard! AWESOME! FASCINATED which you’ll select for 6th (while i haven’t seen all of those epis). also, admittedly, didn’t stick on 7th or 8th much. finally – the remaining 9th, 10th, 11th – very interested to see which you selected. i know i have a few faves.

    separately – as i am new to your site, any consideration for perspectives on the many companions? maybe any notables in the fave episodes you have selected.

    thanks again for this!

    1. Cool, I’m glad this mini-project is appealing to someone else besides me. 🙂

      I’ve thought about writing something eventually about companions. For now I can say that my favorite by far is Romana (both of them), followed in some order by Zoe, Leela, Liz Shaw, and believe it or not Adric. I like the smart and/or tough ones — what can I say? That said, there have been very few bad ones. You can’t go wrong with Sarah Jane or Jamie, and I do like Jo depending on who’s writing her. In the new series I don’t think there’s been a bad one in the bunch, really. I’m not a huge fan of most of the ’80s companions, I’m afraid, though when Tegan and Nyssa get something to do they do it well.

    2. Yeah, my reaction was also ptrety much a nonreaction but, I expected the lead up to be the more exciting part going into it. Even though you find out the face of the new doctor, that doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the new personality of the doctor- which is really the most important part- and which we’ll just have to wait and see about.

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