My Favorite Doctor Who Stories for Each Season (Some Spoilers)

I decided to list my favorite story of each season (or “series”, if you prefer) of the program. It was harder than I thought, because


a) There were some seasons which contained several favorites of mine, and it was difficult to choose between them.

and

b) There were some seasons where I realized that I wasn’t wild about any of the stories, but I had to pick one in order to complete the task I’d set myself.


The Old Series
1) An Unearthly Child: The cavemen stuff is tolerable, but that first episode is amazing. Must’ve been a real “mind-blower” back in the day.


2) The Time Meddler: The Monk made an interesting adversary for the Doctor. Also, I enjoyed Steven’s reaction to time travel.


3) The Gunfighters: A good comedy story that turns dark when people start dying. Unintentionally amusing for some of the “RADA cowboy” accents.


4) The Tenth Planet: Always had a love for those Mondasian Cybermen. It’s possible this choice might have been different if so many of Troughton’s first stories weren’t missing.


5) The Tomb of the Cybermen: My all-time favorite Cyberman story, and my all-time favorite Troughton story.


6) The Invasion: The first UNIT story – fun if a bit over-long. “The War Games” might have been in here if it hadn’t been longer still. Way too padding, there.


7) Inferno: A number of good ones here – “Spearhead from Space” and “Doctor Who and the Silurians” were close runners, but in the end, I’ve always been a sucker for a good “mirror universe” story.


8) Terror of the Autons: A good introduction for Jo Grant, Mike Yates and the Master. An OK story in a season that was not helped by the Master being the heel in every story.


9) The Sea Devils: Always loved the design of these guys. Probably my favorite Delgado Master story.


10) The Three Doctors: The first multi-Doctor story. The interplay between Troughton and Pertwee was fun. Shame Hartnell was so ill, though.


11) The Time Warrior: The introduction of the Sontarans, and of my all-time favorite companion, Sarah Jane Smith.


12) Genesis of the Daleks: Every story in this season is a favorite, the Dalek origin story just edging the others out. My “Golden Age” of Doctor Who.


13) Pyramids of Mars: Another hard choice, with Sutekh edging out a number of contenders. The Hinchcliffe/Holmes Horror Era is my favorite period of the show.


14) The Masque of Mandragora: Another favorite among a season of favorites.


15) Horror of Fang Rock: Another favorite in a strong season. This is where Louise Jameson really came into her own.


16) The Stones of Blood: The least weak of the weak-overall “Key to Time” arc. The “trial” scene drags. Beatrix Lehmann managed to “out-eccentric” even the mighty Baker.


17) Destiny of the Daleks: A pretty good story in an otherwise mediocre season.


18) State of Decay: Another pretty good story in an otherwise mediocre season. One has the feeling that Baker was tired by now.


19) Earthshock: A good story in an otherwise weak season. I always liked David Banks’ Cyberleader.


20) Mawdryn Undead: The least weak story of an otherwise weak season. Always glad to see the Brigadier again.


21) The Caves of Androzani: A good story in Davison’s strongest season.


22) Revelation of the Daleks: A good story in an otherwise mediocre season. Colin Baker was much better served in the audio stories, at least the ones I’ve heard.


23) Terror of the Vervoids: Not to sound like a broken record, but the least weak of the otherwise woeful “Trial of a Time Lord” arc.


24) Delta and the Bannermen: An amusing (relatively) light-hearted story.


25) Remembrance of the Daleks: The best Dalek story in years, and my candidate for McCoy’s best story.


26) The Curse of Fenric: Another favorite in a series of favorites. Odd that the program’s strongest season in years should be its last.


The New Series
1) Dalek: My favorite story of the Eccleston Months. If this had been the last Dalek story ever, I would have been fine with that.


2) School Reunion: A number of strong stories in this season, but the return of Elisabeth Sladen beats them all for me.


3) Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks: My favorite story of Martha’s run.


4) The Unicorn and the Wasp: Quirky and fun, reminiscent of the old show. Look for David Tennant’s dad appearing briefly as a butler.


5) Victory of the Daleks: My favorite of Smith’s freshman outings. I do always wonder how viewers in India react to the portrayal of Winston Churchill as a lovable scamp.


6) The God Complex: An interesting look at fear and faith. A favorite “oddball” story.


7) The Crimson Horror: A fun story with the Paternoster Gang in rare form. Fun watching Diana Rigg hamming it up to beat the band.


8) Mummy on the Orient Express: A strong story in a strong season. Another hard choice.


9) Sleep No More: Another interesting story that moved a little outside the program’s usual pattern.


10) The Pilot: A strong story, introducing Bill and setting up the season’s arc quite well. It’s even got the extremely unexpected return of the Movellans!


11) Arachnids in the U.K.: Spiders creep me out, but I enjoyed this episode nonetheless.


12) The Haunting of Villa Diodati: My favorite of the latest season. Watching the Doctor and pals interacting with Byron and pals was amusing.


Favorites That Aren’t Part of a Specific Season
1) The Five Doctors: Terrance Dicks doing his best to make a good story of what could easily have been a cluster.


2) The Waters of Mars: Probably the scariest episode ever, with the Doctor getting a memorable shock at the end.


3) The Day of the Doctor: This was just about everything I’d hoped it would be for the 50th anniversary special. A shame Eccleston wasn’t there, but it did mean that we got John Hurt’s amazing turn as the War Doctor. About the only weakness I’d say is that it’s very continuity-heavy. It wouldn’t make a good introductory episode for someone who’d never seen the show before.


4) The Husbands of River Song: A fun comedy episode. I was never a big River Song fan, but she was good in this.


5) Twice Upon a Time: A fun wrap-up for the Twelfth Doctor. Bradley doesn’t quite convince as the First Doctor, but he does quite well for the essentially impossible task of replacing Hartnell.


6) Resolution: A good first Dalek story for the Thirteenth Doctor.

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DALEK: This Eccleston story was originally a Sixth Doctor (and Evelyn) audio (#40, 2003) from Big Finish titled "Jubilee." (I don't know if you were aware of that.) Unfortunately, this one is available via download only and it's not one of the ones I have found used so i have never heard it.

What, no "BLINK"? :P

I should be able to cover a season at at time with some counterpoints. 

In the meantime. I'll just say I inspired myself to find/order a reasonably priced copy of "Jubilee." 

1. I agree with you about episode one of "An Unearthly Child" ; I would go so far as to say that that one episode is even more influential than "The Daleks" in its entirety.

2. Similarly, I like "The Time Meddler" too, especially the fourth episode. I don't know if I would put "The Time Meddler" above "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" in its entirety, though. 

3. As with season two, I need to go with the longform "The Dalek's Master Plan" here.

4. Tough call. I'll agree with you on "The Tenth Planet" though, even if Hartnell wasn't in much of it.

(Maybe I'll do one Doctor per day rather than one season.)

The stories I've never really seen (like "The Daleks' Master Plan") tend not to resonate with me.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

1. I agree with you about episode one of "An Unearthly Child" ; I would go so far as to say that that one episode is even more influential than "The Daleks" in its entirety.

2. Similarly, I like "The Time Meddler" too, especially the fourth episode. I don't know if I would put "The Time Meddler" above "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" in its entirety, though. 

3. As with season two, I need to go with the longform "The Dalek's Master Plan" here.

4. Tough call. I'll agree with you on "The Tenth Planet" though, even if Hartnell wasn't in much of it.

(Maybe I'll do one Doctor per day rather than one season.)

 When i watch TV (conversely, especially something I am watching for the first time), i am invariably doing something else simultaneously (usually sorting a box of comics). I figure, I'll get the gist of wehatever it is. i really don't want to give my undivided attention to an unkown quantity, lest it prove not worth my while. If I decide to watch it a second time, then I will give it my undivided attention. Invariably. as i watch something for the firs time, my attention begins to wander. Most of the time I end up merely listening to new (to me) programs. Consequently, when i listen to audio versions of the missing episodes (such as "The Daleks Master Plan"), the experience is not unlike that of watching something the second time through, when I'm actually paying attention.

There was one guy who used to participate on this board (you probably remember him) who thought the new show was more imaginative than the original. I disagree with that assessment because, due to modern SFX, everything is pretty much spelled out for the viewer, no imagination required. The classic episode require a far greater degree of imagination... on the part of the viewer. even today, it had been my wont to listen to Big Finish audios in my car to and from work. Lately I've been listening to them (sometimes) at home on my DVD player through my television. Because I am usually always sorting comics at the time, the experience almost exactly replicates "watching" a new televised episode.

A well-done radio audio play definitely requires more imagination on the part of the listener.  Even with the best effects in the world, something like Chicken Heart would never work as well in a visual medium as it  does in a purely auditory one.

5. "The Tomb of the Cybermen" - Check. If we hadn't give season 4 over to "The Tenth Planet," I would have been tempted to nominate "The Moonbase." When i first saw it, I (mistakenly) thought it was the first Cyberman story.

6. "The Invasion" - Check. As with the last episode of "The Meddling Monk," I really liked the last episode of "The War Games" (but not quite enough to override the entire rest of the season, as with "Unearthly Child" episode #1).

Terrance Dicks said that "The War Games" was a hasty, last minute replacement for two other stories that fell through. For something like that, it wasn't bad.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

5. "The Tomb of the Cybermen" - Check. If we hadn't give season 4 over to "The Tenth Planet," I would have been tempted to nominate "The Moonbase." When i first saw it, I (mistakenly) thought it was the first Cyberman story.

6. "The Invasion" - Check. As with the last episode of "The Meddling Monk," I really liked the last episode of "The War Games" (but not quite enough to override the entire rest of the season, as with "Unearthly Child" episode #1).

THIRD DOCTOR:

7. I like "transition" stories, so I'd have to go with "Spearhead from Space" over "Inferno." "Spearhead" (or "Auton Invasion") is really a reboot of the entire series... in color! A good "jumping on point."

8. Check.

9. Check.

10. Check.

11. Check.

FOURTH DOCTOR:

12. Check

13. I'd pick "The Brain of Morbius" because so much was built on it later.

14. I'd pick "The Deadly Assassin" because it features Gallifrey and the Master,.

15. I'd pick "The Invasion f Time" because it features Gallifrey.

16. I'd pick "The Ribos Operation" because it introduces Romana and kicks off the arc.

17.  Check.

18. I'd choose between either "The Keeper of Traken" or "Logopolis"

"Brain of Morbius" is another favorite.  My favorite Philip Madoc story.   

To me, "The Invasion of Time" is like a good first draft that needed some work.

FIFTH DOCTOR:

19. Gotta go with "Castrovalva".

20. I thought "The Five Doctors" was 20th season. Beyond that I have no opinion.

21. I watched it multi[ple times but I do not understand the popularity of "The Caves of Androzani". I mean, it's okay, but I've got to go with "Planet of Fire" (intro of Peri, exit of Turlough, plus the Master).

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