But I am a fan of all kinds of science fiction. I love hard sci-fi from Niven to Gibson's cyberpunk, the space opera of Star Wars, the wonder of Star Trek, Doctor Who's playful attitude towards sci-fi drama, the hard-hitting Blake's 7, and more.
I'll let others post about Star Wars today, and instead let my Doctor Who nerd flag fly high. And I am a huge Doctor Who nerd. My brother and I ran a fan club in the 1980s. I've been to the major conventions, even helped organize some of them—through which I met some of the original cast! I also love the Doctor Who audio stories from Big Finish; you may remember I shared a few recommendations of my favorite stories. And a few years ago, I put together a cool Doctor Who quiz for a fan event, sort of a Jeopardy! style trivia contest.
Like any fan of the series, over the years I've assembled my own list of the best and worst classic Doctor Who stories, and I wanted to make a single list of everything. For each Doctor in the classic series, which are the best stories, the stories that still stand up? And which are the worst stories, the stories that are truly unwatchable on their own merit? It's a fun list. I'd like to share it with you.
Thinking about the "Best" list, I looked for stories that still stand up for modern viewers. While classic Doctor Who was produced with a tiny budget, many stories were outstanding. For this list, I picked stories with good pacing, decent acting, and not (too) wobbly sets. The 4th Doctor gets two stories in the "Best" list, but Tom Baker also had the longest run so that seems fair:
1st: The Time Meddler
Features the first appearance of another Time Lord, although the title "Time Lord" would not be used until much later.2nd: Tomb of the Cybermen
Not the first appearance of the Cybermen, but you can see the beginnings of the modern design.3rd: The Time Warrior
The first appearance of a Sontaran.4th: Ark in Space
The only classic story that could be produced in the new series without editing. This would have made a great story with Matt Smith's Doctor, Amy and Rory.4th: State of Decay
The middle story of a three-part "E-space" trilogy of stories, featuring vampires.5th: Caves of Androzani
A very strong regeneration story. And interestingly, the only story on my list to feature the Master, albeit as a cameo.6th: Revelation of the Daleks
The last 6th Doctor story before the series was put on temporary hiatus, which is why this ends on a freeze-frame.7th: Remembrance of the Daleks
Returns to the show's roots in Coal Hill School and Totter's Lane. A few references to the 1st Doctor in this story.In selecting stories for the "Worst" list, which stories were awful not because of the acting or the sets, but because the story was just a bad idea? If a story could be improved through better acting, sets, or editing, then I did not consider it for the "Worst" list. These stories are truly bad on their own merit:
1st: The Web Planet
Featuring a civil war between giant insects.2nd: The Dominators
Awkward story introducing the Quarks, little robots where the BBC aimed for "menacing" and achieved "adorable."3rd: Carnival of Monsters
Takes place entirely within a sort of terrarium for different aliens.4th: Planet of Evil
The best thing about this story is the amazing alien jungle set. It's a shame the rest of the story was dreadful.5th: Time Flight
This is what happens when the producer decides "If we feature the Concorde, they'll let us ride in one!"6th: Vengeance on Varos
Slow paced and awkward, featuring two main characters who interact with no one else in the story.7th: The Happiness Patrol
When I was in high school, I recognized Doctor Who was nerdy. To avoid teasing, I only asked that my favorite show not feature a monster made out of sweets. Enter the Kandyman.What's your most and least favorite Doctor Who story?
image: Doctor Who wiki (© BBC, used under fair use)