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Who recommendations

tijsmans was asking what classic Who he should watch to get up to speed (or, as he put it, to become "a legitimate Who fanboy"). He already has Genesis of the daleks and The Deadly Assassin; my other recommendations to him were as follows.

First Doctor
The first two stories, An Unearthly Child and The Daleks; then I think the Dalek Invasion of Earth, and finally The Tenth Planet (where unfortunately most of the crucial fourth episode is lost). The Daleks Master Plan is also really good but unfortunately only three of the twelve (or thirteen, depending how you count) episodes survive on video.

Second Doctor
Sadly most of the stories have been destroyed, at least in video format; the best surviving ones are the Tomb of the Cybermen, the Mind Robber, The Invasion and The War Games.

Third Doctor
Starts really well with Spearhead From Space, and then Inferno; then try Terror of the Autons (first story with Jo and the Master), The Three Doctors (a bit silly but if you have followed the course so far you will be keen for nostalgia), Carnival of Monsters and The Green Death

Fourth Doctor
Well, you've got two of the best - some would even say the two best - already. I would also recommend The Ark in Space, Pyramids of Mars, The Robots of Death, The Talons of Weng-Chiang and City of Death.

Fifth Doctor
Much more difficult to pick here. The only ones I have re-watched recently are Earthshock (not so great), The Five Doctors (OK) and The Caves of Androzani (brilliant - directed by Graeme Harper who has also directed several of the better episodes of New Who). But I also plan to go back and re-watch the linked stories Kinda and Snakedance some time fairly soon, and I have very good memories of Mawdryn Undead.

Sixth Doctor
There is a widespread view in fandom that holds that all the Sixth Doctor stories were terrible. I agree with that view, but you may want to make up your own mind.

Seventh Doctor
I really liked two of the last three stories ever broadcast, Ghost Light and The Curse of Fenric. I don't like Remembrance of the Daleks, though almost everyone else does.

Eighth Doctor
Only one story, but you have to have watched it to gain your fannish credentials!

Discussion welcome!


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2007 06:02 am (UTC)
Coilin Baker
I was surprised to find that a number of the Sixth Doctor big finish audios work rather well. Probably something to do with not being able to see *that coat*, and maybe he's taken some acting lessons and stopped shouting quite so much. Having said that I tend to go for the silly ones, and rather liked the Wormery.
Jul. 4th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
Re: Coilin Baker
I've been very much enjoying the Colin Baker / Evelyn audios; haven't yet got to The Wormery though!
Jul. 4th, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Coilin Baker
I've not listened to them, but everyone I know who has has loved them. I do have a bit of a soft spot for Revelation of the Daleks as far as TV adventures go.
Jul. 4th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
If you want to see the Sixth Doctor, Revelation of the Daleks is a clear level above the other stories in quality.
Jul. 4th, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)
Pertwee - add *all* of the sublime Season 7.

McCoy - add The Greatest Show In The Galaxy.

Baker(C) - hhhhhhmmmmmmm. No, you know, I can't think of anything that bears repeated watching, apart from Michael Jayston's superbly controlled performance as the Valeyard in the abysmal ToaTL.
Jul. 4th, 2007 04:42 pm (UTC)
Baker, C - Vengeance on Varos has some nice sequences. I think the script is very strong and Sil is a decent 1980s villain. I love Revelation. There's not much Baker in it, but that's a plus, and the characterisation elsewhere is pretty good. Decent performances all round (aside from jenny Tomasin as Tasambeker) and cracking turns from William Gaunt and Clive Swift. And it's Graeme Harper directing - which puts it a level above virtually all classic series post-Maloney work.

For Pertwee how about Mind of Evil as well as season 7 - scripted by the writer of Inferno, UNIT as an effective military operation for once, and Delgado sparkles.

For Hartnell I'd have The Aztecs (for the origin of we can't rewrite history. probably the best surviving historical). I'd also have The Time Meddler - the first pseduo-historical and a comedy and the first sign that (Susan apart) the Doctor wasn't the only one of his race. It also has the great Peter BUtterworth - which would make up for Carry on up the Khyber not appearing on the 1000 films you should see before you die ;-)

Jul. 4th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
The Mind of Evil seems like an odd choice to me. It has great action sequences, but the ones in The Ambassadors of Death are better. And the plot is so made-up-as-we-go-along (where did all the Chinese people go?) that it's distressing to watch it at a rate of more than one episode a week.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 5th, 2007 08:33 am (UTC)
"The Aztecs" should be mantadory, for Barbara's divinity, and the Doctor's engagement.
Jul. 4th, 2007 10:00 am (UTC)
First Doctor: I would drop "The Tenth Planet" and "The Daleks' Master Plan", and add some more historicals. "The Aztecs" and "The Time Meddler" for sure. I'd also ideally include "The Gunfighters", "The Myth Makers" and "The Massacre", depending on tolerance for audio and/or comedy.

Second Doctor: "The Mind Robber" and "The Invasion" work really well watched back-to-back (which is how the were originally transmitted). Is there room to include "The Evil of the Daleks"? (in fact, including both "Power" and "Evil" effectively gives the sixties' forerunners of the new first season Dalek stories...)

Third Doctor. I'd lose "The Three Doctors" (the advantage of the Hartnell comedies is that they're actually funny) and maybe add "Planet of the Spiders". It has its problems, but the combination of spirituality and indulgent vehicle chase sequences typifies the Pertwee era, and it's the first "proper" regeneration as we now understand it.

Fourth Doctor: Can't argue with your selection. I'd like to add "The Brain of Morbius", "The Masque of Mardragora", "Horror of Fang Rock" and "Warriors' Gate", but that's probably a Tom overload. Golly, he did a lot of briliiant ones, didn't he?

Fifth Doctor: Definitely "Kinda" and "Androzani". "Mawdryn Undead" isn't bad, and I would add "Enlightenment" - the sort of story that only Doctor Who can do. There's also "Frontios", which is nicely creepy and expands both the Who universe and the idea of the Tardis.

Sixth Doctor: A couple of the "Trial" stories are actually pretty good. Surprisingly, they're the ones Robert Holmes had nothing to do with. It's tricky to watch "Mindwarp" and "Terror of the Vervoids" as standalones, though, but it's even trickier to watch the whole "Trial" season without switching off part-way through "The Impossible Planet". "Revelation of the Daleks" is OK, though I think it's overrated. Conversely, "Mark of the Rani" is very much underrated, and is a very enjoyable story.

Seventh Doctor: "Ghost Light" and "The Curse of Fenric", certainly. Also "Remembrance of the Daleks", despite your misgivings. And, just to finish things off, "Survival": the first of the RTD-style Who stories.
Jul. 4th, 2007 10:02 am (UTC)
it's even trickier to watch the whole "Trial" season without switching off part-way through "The Impossible Planet".

Of course, I meant "The Mysterious Planet". "The Impossible Planet" is a poor episode from an entirely different season.
Jul. 4th, 2007 12:01 pm (UTC)
Hartnell, 'An Unearthly Child', but you don't need to sit through all that caveman business. I enjoyed 'The Romans' recently.

On Troughton, if your friend is fine with audios, I hugely enjoyed listening to 'The Macra Terror', 'The Faceless Ones', and 'The Highlanders'. And I'm not much of an audio person.

Pertwee: Anything from season 7, or perhaps the first Master story, to be topical? I also liked 'Mind of Evil'. Later Pertwee all merges into one long slow parade of poor chromakey and shrieking for me, unfortunately.

Tom: It would be nice to show how the show changed, so something from the Hinchcliffe era, something from Douglas Adams, something from the final season. 'Pyramids of Mars', 'City of Death' and 'Logopolis' would be my choices.

Davison: almost impossible to choose, I love the Davison era. Mr A. and picked out 'The Visitation' for friends recently; 'Kinda' is my absolute favourite, 'Androzani' a very close second.

Colin: Poor Colin, great actor, crap scripts. God help me, but I kind of enjoy 'The Two Doctors', would probably choose it over 'Revelation of the Daleks, which I just find a bit sick. I remember like the Vervoid story from 'Trial', but it's ages since I've seen it.

McCoy: 'The Curse of Fenric' and 'Ghost Light', but I think you need to watch 'Ghost Light' twice.

Don't forget the McGann movie! ;-)
Jul. 4th, 2007 12:46 pm (UTC)
An Unearthly Child', but you don't need to sit through all that caveman business.

Tish and tosh. The caveman episodes are great.
Jul. 5th, 2007 08:31 am (UTC)
And they provide an immediate counterpoint to the situation Barbara and Ian were in, in the first episode, since they go from being the primitives meeting technologically-advanced strangers, to being the strangers meeting primitives.
Jul. 4th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
For the second Doctor, there's one episode of Web of Fear remaining, I think it's released with other incomplete episodes and/or audio filler.

For the third Doctor, I would add The Silurians, though perhaps you have already implied that.

I quite like the Keeper of Traken-Logopolis-Castrovalva story arc. State of Decay is another goodie from the final fourth Doctor season.

On to the fifth Doctor, Enlightenment didn't work for me as a child but I rather like it now. Black Orchid is a delightful - and purely historical - story, and The Visitation is probably the best from that era, great as a Doctor-responsible-for-historic-event story.

There's a sudden break in my Target collection at Caves of Androzani, and I even stopped watching when Sylvester McCoy took over.
Jul. 4th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
No season 18? For shame! The Warriors' Gate - Keeper of Traken - Logopolis run is very strong, and very different from anything that went before it.

Kinda has a lot to recommend it, but unfortunately it's still two entirely distinct stories put together for no obvious reason, and the Mara story is by far the weaker. Probably still the second best Davison story though. "You can't mend PEOPLE!" "You forgot! I am in command here! I have the power of life and death over all of you!"

The shocking thing is how Season 20 was issued with a magick BOREDOM TOKEN that made everything it touched BORING. By MAGICK. Snakedance and Mawdryn Undead are both tedious beyond imagining. The quality of the cliffhangers brings this out. Episode 2 of Snakedance is Tegan telling a supporting character, "Look at me. Ha ha ha!". Episode 1 of Mawdryn is Turlough picking up a big rock while the Doctor farts. Mawdryn has a great idea but packs all the story into episode 4.

On Pertwee, sadly the thing to do is read the books, which are brilliant. The stories feature, well, too much Pertwee, and too much 1970s British humour where you shit on people below you and are in terror of people above you. (See repeated "Did you fail X at O-level as well as science, Jo?" jokes). I actually have a soft spot for Invasion of the Dinosaurs because the spaceship cliffhanger in Episode 3 is such a headfuck, and Carnival of Monsters as (as About Time noted) a pointer to the best of Graham Williams.

Agree with Revelation Of The Daleks as the tolerable C Baker one. Not genius, ah unevenly acted, wildly undisciplined, and totally not about the Doctor. But lots of genius BITS. It wasn't him he was somewhere else! Glass Dalek! He hav lightnin comin out of his hands! Soylent Green is people! Pretty much everything else is pretty much pants. In particular I never saw what the fuss was about with Vengeance on Varos; strictly for those who like their satire heavy-handed.

On McCoy, I'm going to enthusiastically second Ghost Light and Curse of Fenric, and I'm going to controversially throw in a nod to Dragonfire. It was written by Ian Briggs, the Curse of Fenric guy, and it's tragedy on an epic scale (and sadly a tiny budget). Lots of it does't make narrative sense, it's more "isn't this the kind of thing that happens?", and the episode 1 cliffhanger will leave you staring at your screen in horror. But it has Magenta from the Rocky Horror as a scheming ice queen, it has a stunning special effect at the end, and it's all about loss in a way that prefigures new Who more than any other story in classic Who. Greatest Show in the Galaxy has 60 great minutes spread lumpily across its 100 minutes of airtime; episode 3 is storming but the others are all more or less a trial as they currently stand.

Haven't gone into T Baker too much, but having just rewatched it I can see the argument for The Invasion of Time and episode 1 of The Ribos Operation as both being (a) important to the development of the series' mythology and (b) better than the equivalent amount of time spent asleep. I would substitute Seeds of Doom or Brain of Morbius for Pyramids of Mars as the best "X of Y" story. And I would watch episodes 1 and 2 of The Deadly Assassin again and again and again.

Jul. 7th, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)
There is a DVD set of the last two Tom Baker stories and the first Peter Davisons - The Keeper of Traken, Logopolis, and Castrovalva. That would be a lot of what I remember as topnotch old Doctor Who.

One real gripe I have with the BBC is that they don't issue DVD sets of entire series of old Dr Who. This compares unfavourably to other TV programmes.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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