Doctor Who

In October 2015, I began rewatching at least one randomly chosen Doctor Who serial per week. Here are the quick reviews I’ve been tweeting…

1 Mawdryn Undead (1983): Super stuff. More a plot than a story, but very clever and very entertaining. The Brig’s ace too. (Watched: 24 October 2015.)

2 The Seeds of Doom (1976): Two bases under siege – one cold, one old – for the price of one. Vivid, violent and verdant. (Watched: 31 October 2015.)

3 The Krotons (1968/69): Dull drama about dull people doing dull things. Patrick Troughton was ace, though, wasn’t he? (Watched: 7 November 2015.)

4 The Two Doctors (1985): There’s a great, macabre, witty story in there somewhere, but it’s badly directed. Still fun. (Watched: 14 November 2015.)

5 Carnival of Monsters (1973): Wow. Based on some sensational ideas. Witty and dynamic. Two great cliffhangers. Tremendous. (Watched: 21 November 2015.)

6 The War Machines (1966): Rooted in the present but looking to the future. Ben and Polly instantly great. Dodo: extinct. (Watched: 28 November 2015.)

7 Delta and the Bannermen (1987): Dreadful script. Inept direction. Some really poor acting. Irretrievably ghastly. (Watched: 5 December 2015.)

8 Nightmare of Eden (1979): Clever, pacey, built on terrific ideas. Shame it looks cheap and one actor’s taking the piss. (Watched: 12 December 2015.)

9 The Crusade (1965): The cod-Shakespearean dialogue is good fun, but after a strong start the plot peters out a bit. (Watched/heard: 19 December 2015.)

10 The Claws of Axos (1971): Brisk storytelling, the UNIT family, psychedelic direction, Jo’s short skirt… Just fabulous. (Watched: 26 December 2015.)

11 The Underwater Menace (1967): In-fucking-sane. And mostly rubbish. Lovely to see early Troughton, though. He sparkles. (Watched: 27 December 2015.)

12 The Invasion of Time (1978): A thoroughly interesting set-up, but it just descends into technobabblistic tosh. (Watched: 28 December 2015.)

13 Resurrection of the Daleks (1984): Dr Who as a muscular action movie. Not subtle but great fun. Brilliantly nasty too. (Watched: 29 December 2015.)

14 The Daleks (1963/64): The storytelling is as simplistic as it comes. The first one to bore me rigid, sadly. (Watched: 30 December 2015.)

15 The Sontaran Experiment (1975): Inconsequential, forgettable filler. (Watched: 31 December 2015.)

16 Ghost Light (1989): Great Doctor Who = fascinating ideas + engaging storytelling. Well, this has tons of the former. (Watched: 1 January 2016.)

17 Death to the Daleks (1974): Pertwee, Sladen, Carey Blyton, the CSO operator – they’re all trying hard to polish a turd. (Watched: 2 January 2016.)

18 The Enemy of the World (1967/68): Tremendous fun. It rattles along and is inventively directed. (Watched: 9 January 2016.)

19 Meglos (1980): Mostly garbage, but as I’d only seen it once before it was fun to refamiliarise myself. (Watched: 16 January 2016.)

20 The Visitation (1982): Always loved this one. A solid, enjoyable serial that accomplishes what it sets out to do. (Watched: 17 January 2016.)

21 The Myth Makers (1965): Some funny lines and nice ideas, even if not a huge amount happens. (Listened to: 19-22 January 2016.)

22 The Hand of Fear (1976): Stylish location work, great first cliffhanger, good creature make-up… Really dull second half. (Watched: 23 January 2016.)

23 The Trial of a Time Lord (1986): Episodes 5-12 are diverting but there’s a lot of dross. The trial format totally fails. (Watched: 26-30 January 2016.)

24 Spearhead From Space (1970): This is so well made that part of me wishes they’d shot all Dr Who on film. Terrific. (Watched: 31 January 2016.)

25 The Mind Robber (1968): *Wildly* inventive. Surreal, pacey and a lot of fun. (Watched: 6 February 2016.)

26 The Rescue (1965): Far too simplistic. The set of the crashed space ship is nice, though. (Watched: 7 February 2016.)

27 The Ribos Operation (1978): Marvellous. A smart, Hustle-like plot, some fun characters and a sexy Romana. (Watched: 13 February 2016.)

28 Arc of Infinity (1983): …[sigh]. Just nonsense, isn’t it? (Watched: 17 February 2016.)

29 Silver Nemesis (1988): This is like that trifle Rachel makes in Friends. Ingredients thrown in whether they work or not. (Watched: 20 February 2016.)

30 The Curse of Peladon (1972): Terrific. Lovely detail in writing and acting. Pertwee and *excellent*. (Watched: 27 February 2016.)

31 The Android Invasion (1975): The first half is good fun, but once the mystery is solved the story gets very dull. (Watched: 5 March 2016.)

32 Marco Polo (1964): Slow, but delightful. And the on-set photos and telesnaps convince me it must’ve looked gorgeous. (Listened to: 5-11 March 2016.)

33 The Faceless Ones (1967): Too long, but fun, engaging, well directed, funny and features Wanda Ventham. Enjoyed it. (Watched/listened to: 12 March 2016.)

34 The Horns of Nimon (1979/80): A dreary, tatty, Poundland-budget story with a rotten guest cast. What *is* Crowden doing? (Watched: 20 March 2016.)

35 The Caves of Androzani (1984): Intense and inventive. Superb performances. The best Doctor Who story of all time. (Watched: 25 March 2016.)

36 Planet of the Daleks (1973): Is this as bland and boring as 1970s Doctor Who ever got? A slog to sit through. (Watched: 26-28 March 2016.)

37 The Savages (1966): Enjoyable stuff. Pacey for a Hartnell, with some great grandstanding for the Doctor. (Listened to: 29 March to 1 April 2016.)

38 Horror of Fang Rock (1977): Magnificent. Brilliantly written, claustrophobic and detailed. Tom’s on monumental form. (Watched: 2 April 2016.)

39 The Ice Warriors (1967): Enjoyable start, but decends into generic monotony. Worth it for Peter Barkworth: he’s great. (Watched: 9 April 2016.)

40 Robot (1974/75): There’s a real sense of this being made by people who know what they’re doing. Very enjoyable. (Watched: 19 April 2016.)

41 Vengeance on Varos (1985): So much good stuff – great ideas, satire, cynicism – but all muddied. Not a success, sadly. (Watched: 24 April 2016.)

42 Paradise Towers (1987): Decent ideas. Good visuals. But, Jesus wept, the drama-school performances are so tiresome. (Watched: 7 May 2016.)

43 Four to Doomsday (1982): Never seen old Doctor Who and are curious what it was like? Yeah, don’t watch this one… (Watched: 15 May 2016.)

44 Terror of the Autons (1971): Entertaining stuff. Debutants Jo and the Master are instantly great. (Watched: 21 May 2016.)

45 The Smugglers (1966): Buggered if I could follow what was going on half the time. (Listened to: 24-30 May 2016.)

46 Full Circle (1980): Lovely stuff. Very good storytelling. Nicely directed. Enjoyable. (Watched: 5 June 2016.)

47 The Seeds of Death (1969): Drawn-out, but generally enjoyable space pulp. (Watched: 12 June 2016.)

48 The Reign of Terror (1964): Middling, with boring guest characters. (Oh, and the epileptic editing of the animated eps!) (Watched: 18 June 2016.)

49 The Robots of Death (1977): Plotting, dialogue, (most of) the acting, direction, design, Pamela Salem… All *gorgeous*. (Watched: 19 June 2016.)

50 The Monster of Peladon (1974): Not as fresh, fun or focused as Curse, but still more engaging than I’d remembered. (Watched: 20 June 2016.)

51 The King’s Demons (1983): Dreary, dull and forgettable. Everyone looks like they know it’s nonsense. (Watched: 21 June 2016.)

52 The Pirate Planet (1978): Funny dialogue gets steamrollered. The production comes off as tatty. All a bit of a mess. (Watched: 22 June 2016.)

53 Planet of Giants (1964): It’s a very Dr Who-y idea and is staged inventively… Just a shame it’s really boring. (Watched: 23 June 2016.)

BONUS-WATCH K9 & Company (1981): Not great, not awful. Sladen shines. (Watched: 24 June 2016.)

54 The Curse of Fenric (1989): Absolutely magnificent. There’s a huge amount going on, all weaved together with panache. (Watched: 26 June 2016.)

55 The Power of the Daleks (1966): It’s striking how much it focuses on the guest characters. Good stuff, though. (Listened to: 27 June-2 July 2016.)

56 Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970): Great, dynamic storytelling. The plot keeps moving; the characters are interesting. (Watched: 3 July 2016.)

57 Terror of the Zygons (1975): Such confidence to it! It’a marvellously directed and zips along. The monster’s shit, tho’. (Watched: 15 July 2016.)

58 The Awakening (1984): A fun story with a good guest cast and great sets. Flashes of horror too. Rushed ending, though. (Watched: 17 July 2016.)

59 Mission to the Unknown (1965): What a bizarre thing… (Listened to: 18 July 2016.)

60 The Daleks’ Master Plan (1965/66): Rambling but occasionally entertaining. Daleks often least interesting thing in it. (Listened to/watched: 18-25 July 2016.)

61 Destiny of the Daleks (1979): Terry Nation plotting + Douglas Adams flippancy = not terribly successful. Dull. (Watched: 23 July 2016.)

62 The Mark of the Rani (1985): Was getting quite caught up in this one… But then it falls apart alarmingly in Part Two. (Watched: 24 July 2016.)

63 The Time Monster (1972): This one falls into a certain category of Doctor Who story: rubbish… but fun with it.  (Watched: 25 July 2016)

64 The Web of Fear (1968): I just don’t see what the fuss is about. An often boring and repetitive base-under-siege. (Watched/listened to: 26 July 2016)

65 The Invisible Enemy (1977): Technically ambitious, full of good ideas… But quite shallow. No heart to anything. (Watched: 30 July 2016)

66 Kinda (1982): A fascinating, ornate serial where writing, acting and direction are working in harmony. A real treat. (Watched: 6 August 2016.)

67 Revenge of the Cybermen (1975): Lots of ‘As you know’-type dialogue, not gripping, but it passed the time well enough. (Watched: 12 August 2016.)

68 The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988/89): Great set-up – stylish, surreal, sinister – but I’m not sure it sustains it. (Watched: 13 August 2016.)

69 The Three Doctors (1972/73): Worth seeing for Pertwee and Troughton (and Katy and Nick). Nothing special otherwise. (Watched: 18-19 August 2016.)

70 The Keys of Marinus (1964): Like some weird cheese dream. Acid seas! Snow! A rapist! A courtroom! George Coulouris! (Watched: 20-21 August 2016.)

71 The Space Pirates (1969): What a load of old shit. Probably the worst serial yet in this redo. (Listened to/watched: 22-25 August 2016.)

72 The Keeper of Traken (1981): Some nice concepts. But, Christ Almighty, it needs more oomph. So, so dull. (Watched: 26 August 2016.)

73 Snakedance (1983): Stunning. Fantastic. Written with depth and feeling; acted and directed with skill. (Watched: 1 September 2016.)

74 The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977): Wildly entertaining mish-mash of Victorian cliches. (Aside from the rat and racism.) (Watched: 2-6 September 2016.)

75 Colony in Space (1971): Not as bad as its reputation suggests, but still nothing special. Interesting situation. (Watched: 8-10 September 2016.)

76 The Romans (1965): Witty, dynamic, economic. An epic movie on a TV budget and in 100 mins. Really enjoyable; never dull. (Watched: 13 September 2016.)

77 The Evil of the Daleks (1967): Blimey, that fight between Jamie and Terrall bangs on when you’re listening to the audio. (Listened to/watched: 16-18 September 2016.)

78 The Stones of Blood (1978): Fun to begin with, but sadly the second half swaps a Wicker Man vibe for some silly sci-fi. (Watched: 20 September 2016.)

79 Doctor Who (1996): The plot’s nonsense, but never mind. This is fun, zippy, looks great and is brilliantly directed. (Watched: 27 September 2016.)

80 Timelash (1985): Let’s be positive: Herbert’s quite fun and likeable. (Watched: 4 October 2016.)

81 Dragonfire (1987): Not a classic, but more fun and more interesting than I’d remembered. Best story of its season. (Watched: 10 October 2016.)

82 Warriors of the Deep (1984): Tripe dialogue, LE lighting, dodgy cast. But I like the setting and action-film feel. (Watched: 18 October 2016.)

83 Planet of the Spiders (1974): Less than the sum of its sometimes interesting, sometimes nonsensical parts. (Watched: 24-25 October 2016.)

84 The Edge of Destruction (1964): Bold, brave, bonkers… but boring. (Watched: 30 October 2016.)

85 The Brain of Morbius (1976): Enjoyable. Shame there’s no location filming. Staging of outdoor bits feels a bit am-dram. (Watched: 31 October 2016.)

86 Fury From The Deep (1968): A great, pulpy thriller. The missing Troughton story I’d most like returned. (Listened to: 1-6 November 2016.)

87 The Creature from the Pit (1979): Fun, breezy and entertaining. Good storytelling too. Shame about the blowjob. (Watched: 13 November 2016.)

88 The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve (1966): Beaucoup d’hommes parlant puis beaucoup de gens mourir. (Listened to: 22-27 November 2016.)

89 The Ambassadors of Death (1970): Gets a bit meandering after a while, but still plenty to enjoy. (Watched: 28 November-4 December 2016.)

90 Genesis of the Daleks (1975): Lots of style; some substance. Overrated, perhaps, but still very, very good. (Watched: 4-11 December 2016.)

91 Black Orchid (1982): Lightweight but very charming. Good fun. (Watched: 13 December 2016.)

92 The Dominators (1968): This one made virtually no impression on me! (Watched: 17-18 December 2016.)

93 The Tenth Planet (1966): Enjoyable enough. Love the Cybermen having human hands. It’s a shame that was dropped. (Watched: 20 December 2016.)

94 State of Decay (1980): Spooky and macabre. Good stuff. But what actually *is* the Wasting? (Watched: 22-23 December 2016.)

95 Survival (1989): Brilliantly written (with focus and fun) and directed (shit fake cats aside). Very good score too. (Watched: 27 December 2016.)

96 The Mutants (1972): A couple of good ideas, but a mixed guest cast. Poor and quite dull. (Watched: 29-31 December 2016.)

97 The Sun Makers (1977): Got quite caught up in this one and enjoyed it. Shame it looks so cheap, though. (Watched 7 January 2017.)

98 Terminus (1983): Got quite bored during this one, sadly. Didn’t seem to have much impetus. (Watched: 13-14 January 2017.)

99 The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964): Much better than the first Dalek story. It’s got bite. (Watched: 18-19 January 2017.)

100 The Macra Terror (1967): Such a shame it’s missing. The visuals of the colony and the monsters must have added a lot. (Listened to: 24-27 January 2017.)

101 The Face of Evil (1977): Not been a big fan of this one before but on this viewing it grabbed me. Clever and satirical. (Watched: 27 January 2017.)

102 The Twin Dilemma (1984): There *are* plusses – Colin, Nicola, Kevin McNally – but it’s so gaudy and chintzy. (Watched: 30 January-1 February 2017.)

103 The Green Death (1973): Should be talked of with Caves, Talons, et al. As close to perfect as makes no difference. (Watched: 5-10 February 2017.)

104 An Unearthly Child (1963): One of telly’s great first episodes… then 75 minutes of dully dull dullness. (Watched: 14 February 2017.)

105 The Androids of Tara (1978): Chuffing brilliant. Terrific plot, well directed, lots of fun, and it looks great. (Watched: 18 February 2017.)

106 Frontios (1984): Rough round the edges, but still has things to commend it. Entertaining. (Watched: 24 February 2017.)

107 Remembrance of the Daleks (1988): A sportscar of a serial: there’s huge power, high speed & precision engineering. Wow. (Watched: 3 March 2017.)

108 The Abominable Snowmen (1967): Very boring. (Listened to/watched: 4-9 March 2017.)

109 The Dæmons (1971): Very enjoyable. A fun, pacy story made by a cast and crew on top form. (Watched: 10 March 2017.)

110 Pyramids of Mars (1975): Entertaining and well made. But I’m not convinced of its greatness. Part Four is nonsense. (Watched: 12-13 March 2017.)

111 Galaxy 4 (1965): Enjoyable enough fluff. Love the flashback in episode three – artfully directed. (Listened to/watched: 15 March 2017.)

BONUS-WATCH Shada (1992): The really interesting thing about this serial is (Watched: 18 March 2017.)

112 Earthshock (1982): Not flawless – it ain’t the strongest guest cast ever assembled – but very exciting and well staged. (Watched: 24 March 2017.)

113 Invasion of the Dinosaurs (1974): A good thriller with intrigue, twists, action and politics. (Poor SFX, obvs.) (Watched: 31 March-1 April 2017.)

114 The Invasion (1968): Diverting enough. Good incidental music. Jamie goes mising for nearly two eps and no one notices. (Watched: 4-7 April 2017.)

115 The Web Planet (1965): The staging (SFX, costumes, sound design, camerawork) more interesting than ice-age-slow story. (Watched: 9-14 April 2017.)

116 Image of the Fendahl (1977): Percentage of plot understood: 50. Percentage of Wanda Ventham ogled: 100. (Watched: 21 April 2017.)

117 The Ark in Space (1975): Very enjoyable. The three regulars all shine. (Watched: 23-24 April 2017.)

118 Attack of the Cybermen (1985): Starts well, but gets increasingly dull the longer it goes on. Just mush by the end. (Watched: 30 April 2017.)

119 Time and the Rani (1987): Without merit. (Watched: 2-3 May 2017.)

120 Enlightenment (1983): Super. Engaging, inventive and well directed. Could do without the Guardians subplot. (Watched: 5 May 2017.)

121 Inferno (1970): Stunning. Gripping. So intense at times (Episode 6’s cliffhanger!). Sounds great too. One of the best. (Watched: 7-13 May 2017.)

122 The Celestial Toymaker (1966): Characters bickering over the rules of games. Childish and boring. (Listened to/watched: 14-17 May 2017.)

123 The Highlanders (1966/67): Nothing special, but it passed the time. The Doctor has fun with disguises, voices and hats. (Listened to: 17-19 May 2017.)

124 The Space Museum (1965): Spunks out its one great idea in the first ep and is then bland. Hartnell says ‘Hmm?!’ a lot. (Watched: 20-21 May 2017.)

125 Logopolis (1981): Big ideas, lots of series significance, but it judders and creaks. There’s no finesse to anything. (Watched: 24-25 May 2017.)

126 The Masque of Mandragora (1976): Not the most gripping plot (also too earnest), but pleasant enough and looks lovely. (Watched: 26-29 May 2017.)

127 Day of the Daleks (1972): Classic Pertwee-era Who: great storytelling driven by ideas, action and vivid characters. (Watched: 31 May-1 June 2017.)

128 The Sensorites (1964): Viewers in 1964 must have been easily pleased. Or maybe they had a lot more patience than I do. (Watched: 3-12 June 2017.)

129 Time-Flight (1982): Awful, tatty and an embarrassment. And that’s just the DVD packaging. The serial’s not great either. (Watched: 14-17 June 2017.)

130 The Wheel in Space (1968): It’s interesting how styles of storytelling have changed. This is so slow and plodding. (Listened to/watched: 18-21 June 2017.)

131 The Power of Kroll (1978/79): An enjoyable bit of sci-fi pulp, for the most part. (Watched: 22-23 June 2017.)

Just for a laugh, I’m keeping a note of how many episodes each regular character* has been in. (*Any character who’s in more than one story.) So far, I’ve had:

Total number of episodes watched: 582 (plus six episodes of Shada, and K9 & Company)

Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) – 143 (plus six episodes of Shada)
First Doctor (William Hartnell) – 110
Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) – 110
Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) – 107
Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines, Hamish Wilson) – 97
Colonel/Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) – 91*
Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) – 72 (and K9 & Company)
Ian Chesterton (William Russell) – 67
Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) – 64
Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) – 61
Sergeant Benton (John Levene) – 60*
Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) – 60*
Jo Grant (Katy Manning) – 59
Susan (Carole Ann Ford) – 47
Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) – 44*
K9 [2] (David Brierley, John Leeson) – 39 (plus five episodes of Shada)
Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury) – 38 
Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) – 36*
Leela (Louise Jameson) – 36
Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) – 36
Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling) – 36
Captain Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) – 35
Ben Jackson (Michael Craze) – 32
Polly (Anneke Wills) – 32
Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) – 32
Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) – 30
Romana [2] (Lalla Ward) – 28 (plus six episodes of Shada)
Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) – 28
Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) – 27*
Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) – 27
Turlough (Mark Strickson) – 27*
The Master [1] (Roger Delgado/Geoffrey Beevers) – 26
Liz Shaw (Caroline John) – 25*
Ace (Sophie Aldred) – 24
Mel Bush (Bonnie Langford) – 20
Romana [1] (Mary Tamm) – 20
The Master [2] (Anthony Ainley) – 19*
K9 [1] (John Leeson) – 15
Davros (Michael Wisher, David Gooderson, Terry Molloy) – 12
Professor Travers (Jack Watling) – 12
The Black Guardian (Valentine Dyall) – 11
Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane) – 11
Alpha Centauri (Ysanne Churchman) – 10
Sabalom Glitz (Tony Selby) – 9
Omega (Stephen Thorne, Ian Collier) – 7
The Rani (Kate O’Mara) – 6
Sil (Nabil Shaban) – 6
Katarina (Adrienne Hill) – 5
The Castellan (Paul Jericho) – 4
Lytton (Maurice Colbourne) – 4
Kamelion (Gerald Flood) – 3*
The Meddling Monk (Peter Butterworth) – 3
The White Guardian (Cyril Luckham) – 3
Corporal Bell (Fernando Marlow) – 1
Cyber-Controller (Michael Kilgarriff) – 1
K9 [3] (John Leeson) – 0 (and K9 & Company)

* including episodes as alternate-reality versions of character, android doubles and dream sequences.

Also: I reviewed a 1965 episode as part of my Dracula blogging project.