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The worst of the worst

This is what the poll reveals as the Worst Who stories (listed in order of decreasing consensus by Doctor).

Fifth Doctor: (33 respondents, of whom 1 said that they were all fantastic) The run(a)way winner is Time Flight, voted the worst by 15 of you. The novelisation is no better. In second place, though a long way behind, is Black Orchid on four votes, followed by Kinda and Warriors of the Deep on three, Four to Doomsday and Snakedance on two, and Earthshock, Arc of Infinity and The King's Demons on one each. The only one of these that I would be slightly defensive about is Snakedance.

Second Doctor: (28 respondents, of whom six think they are all fantastic) Far in front of the field here is The Underwater Menace, tagged as worst by 12 of you. The only other story to get more than one vote was The Krotons with four. Scattered votes went to The Highlanders, The Macra Terror, Fury from the Deep, The Dominators, The Space Pirates and The War Games. All of this is understandable enough, and I guess that the reason more people didn't vote for, in particular, The Dominators and The Space Pirates is that not many have endured them.

Ninth Doctor: (54 votes, of whom 7 said they were all fantastic) Slightly surprised that the winner here by a convincing margin is The Long Game with 16 votes, followed some way behind by Aliens of London / World War Three (my own choice) and Father's Day both on nine, Boom Town on 8, with The Unquiet Dead on 4 and a solitary (incomprehensible) vote for The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances. No votes at all for Rose, The End of the World, Dalek, or Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways. I'm more than a little surprised by the hate for The Long Game, which like a number of other Tenth Doctor episodes (Boom Town, Father's Day) I enjoyed a lot more on re-watching, and which seems to me about as good as The End of the World.

Sixth Doctor: (32 votes, of whom six said they were all terrible and two diehards insist that they are all good) Quite close here, with Timelash beating out The Twin Dilemma (my own choice) by 9 votes to 8. The Mark of the Rani got two votes, with one each for Revelation of the Daleks and for each individual segment of Trial of a Time Lord. No specific votes, perhaps surprisingly, for Attack of the Cybermen, Vengeance on Varos or The Two Doctors, but they are covered by the six who disliked everything.

Seventh Doctor: (36 votes, including two each for "all great!" and "all terrible!", and another two for the mistakenly included option of the whole of 1989's Season 26) Three stories at the top here, Time and the Rani winning with nine votes, followed by Delta and the Bannermen with eight and The Happiness Patrol with seven. One each for Paradise Towers, Silver Nemesis, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Battlefield, The Curse of Fenric and Survival; none at all for Dragonfire, Remembrance of the Daleks or Ghost Light. I find this completely incomprehensible. I didn't think much of either Time and the Rani or The Happiness Patrol, but I am obviously alone in finding them way ahead of either Battlefield (my own choice) or Remembrance of the Daleks.

Third Doctor: (33 votes, including a record 7 who liked them all) The clear winner here was my own pick, The Mutants, with eight votes, twice as many as its nearest rival, The Time Monster with four. The Claws of Axos and Carnival of Monsters each got three, Invasion of the Dinosaurs two, and one each for Doctor Who and the Silurians, Terror of the Autons, The Mind of Evil, Colony in Space, Planet of the Daleks, and The Monster of Peladon. While I do agree that The Mutants is unusually awful, I don't think it is that much worse than most of the other stories listed here, and indeed several which got no votes (The Dæmons, The Three Doctors, Planet of the Spiders).

Tenth Doctor: (58 votes, including one who likes them all and two who want to defer judgement until after next Saturday) A tie! Fourteen votes each went to the late Season Two stories Love & Monsters and Fear Her. This is way ahead of Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks which got six votes (including mine). 42 got four votes, Voyage of the Damned three, with two each for Tooth and Claw, The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit, and The Doctor's Daughter; and single votes for New Earth, Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel, The Idiot's Lantern, Army of Ghosts / Doomsday, Human Nature / The Family of Blood, Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords, The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, and The Unicorn and the Wasp. Again, I'm surprised by the concentration of votes on two stories which I didn't especially warm to either but which seem to me equal if not superior in quality to some of the others listed here.

Eighth Doctor: 48 votes, of whom 37 said this was an unfair question and 11 voted for Doctor Who - the TV movie. Which can be read in several different ways.

First Doctor: (28 votes, of whom 2 liked them all) Another tie, but in a much more closely contested field. The Chase and The Gunfighters both got four votes; The Sensorites (my own choice), The Web Planet and The Space Museum got three each; An Unearthly Child and The Smugglers two; and one each for The Daleks, The Edge of Destruction, Marco Polo, Planet of Giants and Galaxy 4. I'm sorry to see The Gunfighters do so badly; I think it is rather special. (Though I'm glad that the other stories from that run in Season 3 got very few votes.)

Fourth Doctor: (37 votes, of whom 4 liked them all) A close race, but The Horns of Nimon with five votes just beats my own choice, Underworld which got four. Two votes each went to Revenge of the Cybermen, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Invisible Enemy, The Sun Makers, The Creature from the Pit, and Meglos; and one each to The Sontaran Experiment, Terror of the Zygons, The Hand of Fear, The Deadly Assassin, The Robots of Death, Image of the Fendahl, The Pirate Planet, The Androids of Tara, The Power of Kroll, The Armageddon Factor, Destiny of the Daleks, and State of Decay. I'm surprised some of those didn't get more, and also surprised by some of the absences (eg The Invasion of Time). However it is difficult to dispute the top two, and while I voted for Underworld rather than The Horns of Nimon, I think this is something about which reasonable people can disagree.

Thus is revealed the accumulated weight of Livejournal. I am in line with the majority on only three of the nine where there is a serious contest; blue_condition, whose debate with me sparked this, does rather better. So basically, Pete wins the argument.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
I must admit I've only read the novelisation of Delta and the Bannermen but it seemed to be the kind of story that could be good on TV. I enjoyed it a lot as a book.

I'm starting to suspect that I have odd taste since I have an urge go and write defences for both 'Fear Her' and 'Love and Monsters'. This could be because 'Love and Monsters' is by far my favourite episode of that season.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Give in to the urge! Give in to the urge!
Jul. 2nd, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
Those were also two of my favourite episodes of that season, and I don't get why either of them are so loathed. Well, I do have my suspicions, but making it explicit would be too insulting to old fanboys.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
Ooh I'm intrigued by your suspicions. I can see why people don't like L&M because it is gosh darned wierd, but that's what I like about it. Although I didn't like Fear Her as much, I really don't understand why it's so hated.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
The Long Game is a bit throwaway even in hindsight when it ties in to the end two-parter, and it's the only Nine&Rose story to be seriously affected by the cliquishness that became seriously nasty at times between her and Ten.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
I can ramble about Dr. Who for days
Being a decided fan of the Ninth Doctor, I can say that I disagree with "The Long Game" being his worst story, but understand it completely. The Long Game was a very safe, boring, flat episode. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't all that memorable. Nothing really stuck out for me. Even having a bad companion aboard, Adam, was played down.

Given that it was the harbinger for what was to come in "The Parting of The Ways", it should have been much more important. It's not like the current Whoniverse writers/producers are afraid of using foreshadowing to the hilt. The Tenth Doctor's run has been plagued with foretellings and signs and prophecies and omens and what not - all which I feel have been effective and just a little creepy.

The "worst episode" actually, IMHO, was "Aliens of London" - because it had the potential to be a really, devastatingly brilliant but instead settled for being campy and disappointing. We could have had a glaring examination of war, government, and those who profit from both - we got farting aliens. There were good points to be made, and it's certainly made clear in "Boomtown" that the actress playing Margaret had more than enough chops to carry off a spectacularly dark, challenging relationship with the Doctor. Their single conversation in TARDIS and at dinner in "Boomtown" was one of the most brilliant looks at the Doctor I've seen.

But whenever I look at the Ninth Doctor's tenure, and I see "The Aliens of London", I know *exactly* why Christopher Eccleston left and why I don't fault him for it. I can only imagine the money spent on effects for those episodes, and it really is ridiculous. The effects only detracted from the episode instead of adding to it, as they did in "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances".

It's doubly foolish for them to have done that during the tenure of an actor like Eccleston who, if you just put him in a room with a chair, maybe a prop or two, and some good lighting, can really dazzle.

As for the Tenth Doctor, who has lucked out with an amazing amount of good stories in his run, I think "42" was the worst. I don't know why it didn't make the list, because, frankly it's just a complete repeating of everything that happened in The Satan Pit/The Impossible Planet.

Edited at 2008-07-02 09:20 pm (UTC)
Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
Re: I can ramble about Dr. Who for days
I completely agree on both The Long Game and Aliens of London (esp combined with World War Three).

I'm not so sure about 42, even on the grounds you offer - The Satan Pit / The Impossible Planet was a good story, so doing it twice is not necessarily a bad thing. I think the Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks has all the weaknesses you identify in the two Ninth Doctor stories and more.
Jul. 4th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Re: I can ramble about Dr. Who for days
I'm not so sure about 42, even on the grounds you offer - The Satan Pit / The Impossible Planet was a good story, so doing it twice is not necessarily a bad thing.

I agree that Satan Pit/Impossible Planet was a very good, riveting story, and it actually kind of gave me the shivers - always a good thing. However, I think in a show where you can do anything and go anywhere you want, practically, and if you're stuck, you can always mine Old Who for ideas and loose threads, repeating yourself is the worst kind of crime.

I mean, come on. We've got an entire Time War thread that could use mounds of explaining and developing, we've got loads of past companions. I mean, if you get that bored, have the Doctor run around with Torchwood for a while. Something, anything!

I will agree with Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks being a very, very, very weak story. Even the Daleks were boring in that story. *BUT*, it wasn't a repeat, and I give it slightly higher marks because of the brief moment of the Doctor's self-destructive nihilism in facing the Daleks and being fully prepared for extermination and seeming not to care. I think that moment is enough to salvage the episode.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
I'm saddened to see the Gunfighters do so badly, but I only know it from the Target novelisation - as long as you're in the mood for 'silly', this one fits the bill quite nicely. Although 'silly' and 'Hartnell' are words I'm wary of using in the same sentence.

I do wonder, though, how much of a fan I would be had I been weaned on the Hartnell's. It's a very different beast from those now, and like you I was brought up with the 3rd and 4th Doctors, with no real memory of 1 & 2's original broadcasts. Unsurprisingly, I find all the Hartnell's I've seen too slow and a little over-laboured, and this is certainly not helped by the fragmentary nature of what does survive. Mind you, Time Meddler is one that I am very fond of - and is it really wrong to keep hoping that the Meddling Monk may yet resurface?
Jul. 2nd, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
My Mum's almost the reverse. She was entirely weaned on 1, and calls him the only true Doctor, and she can't stand 10 or his stories.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
Six and Seven. *is annoyed on their behalf*
Jul. 2nd, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
I think there are few that you thought were classics that I thought were crud, and vice-versa - just minor differences of opinion on how bad some of them were ;)
Jul. 2nd, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
...with the possible exception of The Long Game, which was worth ten minutes at the end of another episode just to set up the Game Station.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
It's shocking that there were no votes for Terminus. Or SNOREminus, as I call it. Or SNOREminZZZZZ, as I may start calling it.
Jul. 4th, 2008 10:43 am (UTC)
Lord Niiimon!!!
How can anyone say that The Horns of Nimon is bad? It's so bad it's great! I mean, Graham Crowden as Soldeed, pacing the maze of the labyrinth crying "Lord Niiimon! Where arrre you?"
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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