Saturday, November 9, 2013

Doctor Who: Josh's list of each Doctor's iconic adventure

I've mentioned previously that I really enjoy the Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays. I'm not really a fan of the rebooted series. I think it's a quality production, but in moving it from a cult property to an international phenomenon, a lot of the quirky weirdness that I so enjoyed was lost. I don't think it's bad by any stretch of the imagination (except for Moffat's treatment of women);

 it's just no longer a show I'm interested in watching.

And that's fine. It's not a show that appeals to me. It is a show that appeals to to a lot of other people. By any metric you'd care to use, NuWho is much more popular than Classic Who ever was. But Big Finish scratches that Classic Who itch for me, so don't cry for me, Romanadvoratrelundar.

I like the Doctor Who RPG a great deal. The supplements are simply outstanding, particularly the sourcebooks for each individual Doctor. The books are not merely summaries of adventures, but some truly thoughtful analysis of what makes a First Doctor adventure different from those in other eras. With that in mind, I've been thinking about the adventure for each Doctor that I find most representative of that era's theme.

First Doctor: The Celestial Toymaker: I really have minimal experience with the the First Doctor, and I picked this one because it's one of the few I've seen.

Second Doctor:  Ditto the Second Doctor. My friend Jen sleeps with a Patrick Troughton pillow which she snogs before bed every night, but I've only caught a handful of his episodes. I'll go with The Mind Robber. It's got Zoe and Jamie and it's available to stream on Netflix.

Third Doctor: My first impulse was to pick The Three Doctors, but even though it's my favorite of the Pertwee era, it marks a shift of how I think of his run, the Monster of the Week UNIT adventures with the Master showing up now and again to be a dickhead.  I think I'll go with Terror of the Autons. It has the Master, Autons (obviously) and Jo Grant, whom I consider the definitive Third Doctor companion.

Fourth Doctor: I'm picking two, because he seemed to have two distinct eras. Genesis of the Daleks from the Sarah Jane (Sarah Jane is an always will be a Fourth Doctor companion to me) era, City of Death from the Romana era.

Genesis really codified the Dalek mythology (though, like many fans, I wasn't thrilled that Davros showed up in every subsequent Dalek episode for the next fifteen years).

I can't find the quote, but someone else said that City of Death is the episode you show your non-Whovian friends. It doesn't take itself seriously. It's fun in a way I can't quite articulate.

Fifth Doctor: I was able to come up with the other adventures pretty easily, but not so for the Firth Doctor. I had to talk to my friend Eric, as he had mentioned once that the Fifth Doctor was his favorite. Davison had a number of problems. He had to follow the extremely popular Fourth Doctor, and he was hobbled with some terrible companions (Tegan? Kamelion?! PERI?!!) He did have Nyssa and she went a long way towards salvaging his runI personally found his run a bit bland, but not offensively so, and I liked quite a few of his stories. My favorite would probably be Earthshock. The appearance of the villains is surprising if you haven't been spoiled, and we get the death of a companion for the first time in a while. 

Long overdue
Sixth Doctor: I'm warming to him considerably after listening to the audio dramas, where he's actually very good, but his TV run was still shit. Blarg. I suppose anything but Trial of a Time Lord, but that doesn't leave much, does it? I guess my favorite is the one where he tries to strangle Peri (The Twin Dilemma), presumably so he won't have to listen to Nicola Bryant's terrible American accent one moment longer.

Seventh Doctor: The Seventh Doctor also had shift in the themes of his adventures over the course of his run. He started out in a goofy Colin Baker wig, with a bunch of silly affectations lifted directly from McCoy's earlier career, and then got darker and darker. I was never a fan of Mel, and I think his run didn't really take off until Ace came on board. They had some great chemistry, which continues in the audio plays. The run had its problems (Silver Nemesis and Remembrance of the Daleks are essentially the same story and Ace even points this out), but he's my second favorite Doctor, after Tom Baker.  I think if I had to pick a favorite episode, it would be The Curse of Fenric, for the part where the Doctor recites the name of his earlier companions in order to raise the psychic barrier against the Haemovores.

Eighth Doctor: I'd been limiting myself to the the episodes broadcast as part of the TV series for the purposes of this list. However, as Paul McGann got slightly over an hour as the Eighth Doctor on TV, and numerous appearances in other media in the role, I'd argue that his iconic stories come from the spin-off media. With that in mind, I nominate Zagreus as the definitive Eighth Doctor adventure.

 It's a fortieth anniversary production, and it features McGann, as well as almost anyone who had ever played a role in the Classic series. It's an outstanding tribute, and the ending, with the Doctor exiled to a parallel universe, showcases the endless possibilities I loved about the old series. It really seemed like anything could happen.

Ninth Doctor: The Ninth Doctor had a shorter run than he deserved. Dalek really should have been called something else, but it was a great episode, and Eccleston does an outstanding job of portraying a man still poisoned with survivor's guilt.

Tenth Doctor: School Reunion may well be my favorite of the new series, but I don't think it's terribly representative of the Tenth Doctor's run. Human Nature/Family of Blood is almost as good, however, and it does have the elements of disproportionate revenge that I associate with Ten.

Eleventh Doctor: forthcoming: The one where John Hurt kills his rubbery-faced ass. I still hate Matt Smith.

John Hurt puts the hurt in "Hurting Matt Smith's stupid face"

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