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.
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.
I wonder if we'll ever get that. Of course, if the show goes on, some future show-runner will almost certainly undo at least some of what Chibnall has done.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
Looking ahead, I suspect my favorite might be the one that explains what the heck is going on.