THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS
More Top Tens

Previous Top Tens

Top Seven Doctor Who Books I Was Salivating to Start Reading by Rob Matthews

(it's not quite a top ten list, but I couldn't bring myself to falsify enthusiasm for an extra three tomes. And might I add, these are not necessarily the ones that turned out to be the best. Set Piece was buried on my shelf for weeks before I fell in love with it..)

  1. Goth Opera
    Actually, this is the one that inspired me to write this list. I haven't read a word yet.
  2. Lungbarrow
    I paid close to 100 for the damn thing and it was worth every penny. "Time's Roses are scented with memory...'
  3. Dying in the Sun
    I paid 5.99 for the damn thing and I want my money back. Not to mention huge compensation for the hours of boredom and disappointment I endured. When I saw it in a bookshop I snatched it up at once - forties Hollywood, Troughton's Doctor... how could it go wrong? Trust me, do not read it to find out.
  4. All-Consuming Fire
    Holmes and Who! My first NA and still a firm favourite.
  5. Human Nature
    See, this is why I'd rather shell out for deleted NA's than go round the corner and pick up the BBC books. It seems to me that the EDAs are only getting good reviews now that they're getting closer in spirit to the Virgin line. The Year of Intelligent Tigers and The Adventuress of Henrietta Street sound like NA titles to me.
  6. Love and War
    Enter Benny, exit Ace. Just when I'd given up on finding a copy , I discovered this. A few months ago in an English summer.
  7. Alien Bodies
    The title and cover didn't appeal to me much, but it had great reviews, and they were right.
  8. Rags
    Hmm. It seemed so important at the time. In retrospect it feels more like a bit of a stunt. Despite its horror you tend to forget about it. Perhaps that's because it's so irreconcilable with what we saw in the show - how could Jo Grant ever be cheery again?


Top Ten Most Terrifying (Extant) Doctor Who Scenes by Graham Pilato 28/11/01

In chronological order, of course

  1. Klieg gets jumped by Cybermen just when he thinks he's got the Doctor and the Cybermen right where he wants them in The Tomb of the Cybermen.
  2. Entranced Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill surreally open their mouths and poisonous gas exhales out at Mrs. Harris in Fury from the Deep.
  3. Doctor Lawrence goes nuts with plague all over the Brigadier in The Silurians.
  4. Poor Arnold Keeler, the man-becoming-cabbage in a quiet cottage bed, has gone and eaten something tender and come down with a case of the enormous writhing green tentacles when the nice butler comes round to check on him in The Seeds of Doom.
  5. Harrison Chase, millionaire and plant-lover extraordinaire, has also come down with a case of green envy - except he doesn't become the plant, he just loves the plant. His butler and mercenary for hire couldn't see the love of a green world for what wonders it could be, so, along with that nosy girl, young Miss Smith, Chase has them all strangled by the vines in the Green Cathedral aisles in The Seeds of Doom.
  6. The Ogri greet the local campers with great warmth and throbbing closeness in The Stones of Blood.
  7. A dull middle-class Englishman gets the shock of a lifetime to find himself gradually turning into a cactus and then, oddly, into an evil 4th Doctor with a great purple coat in Meglos.
  8. The classic line of so many great terrifying "body horror" scenes is spoken in Resurrection of the Daleks by a nobody military officer on a space station prison just when his partner is smelling something very strange: "What's h-happening to me?" Of course, his face and hands are falling off - what did he expect?
  9. "Kill me, Natasha, Kill me!" says Stengos. He's just turning into a Dalek today... or perhaps, yes, perhaps you should shoot your father, Natasha. He doesn't seem to want it like so many others have at Tranquil Repose... in Revelation of the Daleks.
  10. What's in the secret room, Doctor? What's under that big black boxtop, Doctor? Who's that girl with the pulsing Vervoid veins and the half-Vervoid face in the box, Doctor? Perhaps we've seen too much, Doctor? Is that the Terror of the Vervoids in The Trial of a Time Lord, Doctor? Why is it people seem to hide in dark, foreboding places particularly when they're so very frighteningly ugly, Doctor? I could do with some carrot juice, I suppose...


Top 50 Most Important Doctor Who Stories by Graham Pilato Updated 18/4/05 Originally 30/11/04

I really wanted to condense this into a top ten, but that was just impossible without simply listing a representative first appearance of each Doctor while tossing in The War Games for good measure... in fact, I hardly managed 38 the first time -- for the 38th anniversary... So, I thought I'd revise this and, since so much is flowering lately, in Doctor Who and otherwise, update it to a number that ends with zero... And I might as well mention that I've lost this huge file twice in the last year and rewritten this almost-nearly-maybe comprehensive Doctor Who history twice now. I hope it's educational if not at least ... fun. And I know I'm not just preaching to the already totally versed -- I wrote this for friends who needed it -- not that they asked, tho...

(in chronological order)

1. 100,000 BC (a.k.a. An Unearthly Child) - [11/63 - 12/63]: a marvelous formula, a great exploring anywhere in space-and-time potential, a great cast, a great and mysterious hero, a great young and female producer, a great and talented script editor, a great first episode. Oh, baby. In the second episode the chameleon circuit of the TARDIS is introduced, being broken, making a hell of a lot of sense for the ship to remain a Police Box a hundred millennia ago... and even a bit today... It's occasionally considered the first historical story, sort of, as the story deals only with the past and not a science fiction environment. But this, of course, is entirely speculative pre-historical fiction, and all about being somewhere gotten to in a time machine -- thus, it's really sci-fi, sort of. It's also the first time we see characters speaking English when you might think something closer to foreign or incomprehensible clacking should be in its place. A Time Lord gift, this is, in season 14; an effect of the TARDIS' telepathic cirucits, it is, via some of season 10's technobable, mm-hm, by the time of the seasons of the 1990s novels. The willing suspension of disbelief would go on to be a valuable trait amongst Doctor Who fans, of course. Especially once the times changed...

2. The Daleks (a.k.a. The Mutants) - [12/63 - 2/64]: as a series' immortality began. It's the Daleks, a new kind of cool Bug-Eyed Monster on a new kind of cool alien planet, Skaro. One of the best, most noble traditions of the show begins here, too, as these episodes carry a strong educational aim for the children watching -- here, it's the moral lessons of never being cowardly or allowing your own rights to be trampled by those who are stronger just because they can do it... on top of the environment of a post-apocalypse being presented in a very nearly scientific way. And, impressively literarily, most of the educational story is social allegory and clearly references some classic science fiction tales in motifs -- another good tradition that wouldn't end soon.

3. Marco Polo - [2/64 - 4/64] or The Aztecs - [5/64 - 6/64]: the first purely historical stories. More an ancient times travelogue and adventure as a story model, Marco Polo was, than a use of the culture of another place and time to react to and tell a relevant story as The Aztecs did. We get two distinct kinds of historical stories here, written by the series' master of the form, John Lucarotti. The honors should really go to the legendary Marco Polo, as it came first, but it only semi-exists anymore, so it's hard to recommend... and The Aztecs, in its being kept for posterity, has really been a bit more influential as a result. Barbara gets seriously involved in attempting to change history here, and the significance of that would be meditated so much in the years to come... Very cool, original stuff - highly educational too.

4. The Dalek Invasion of Earth - [11/64 - 1/65]: The series' immortality is very nearly assured here. The Daleks return! and are here!, on Earth!, in Britain! And they're more dangerous now -- they conquer worlds! Whoa, Dalekmania! The desperate sci-fi humans of the future are tragic and sympathetic, another first for the series, as we get an elaborate, established, somewhat believable, alternative human reality. They say it's the future, but the great location shooting sure looks like 60s London... Plus, we get the first story of aliens invading Earth. On top of all that, Susan is barred from leaving in the TARDIS at the end -- the first companion to go. I cried.

5. The Time Meddler - [7/65]: another TARDIS and another of the Doctor's people. This is the first historical story to let go of the formula a bit and mix things up -- a harbinger of the coming end of the historicals altogether during the Second Doctor's Era. It's the first story with a team of companions totally different from the original three. The Monk would become the first recurring, non-Dalek villain, too, another prototype...

6. The Tenth Planet - [10/66]: the first Cybermen story. The Cybermen are eerily presented as the possible future for humanity as we may replace our weaknesses until we achieve physical and mental perfection without soul. The first "base under siege" formula story that would become so common very soon in the late sixties. The first regeneration - William Hartnell's grandfatherly Doctor regenerated into Patrick Troughton's clownish hobo Doctor - the closest thing to an absolute assurance of the immortality of Doctor Who until Tom Baker came along.

7. The Power of the Daleks - [11/66 - 12/66]: the first story with a new Doctor. Even though this is a fairly important story for having a radical new, subtler, approach to scaring us with Daleks, it would be apparent even to a Teletubby-loving drooler that this story is about introducing a new actor as the Doctor. Patrick Troughton's lovable Beatle's uncle -- maybe Moe from the Three Stooges?, that sly goof with a recorder and that constantly distracted face, emerged as much a part of the legend of Doctor Who, right from his first appearance, as the Daleks and William Hartnell themselves did. A bit wobbly in the part at first, he wouldn't totally find his footing until The Moonbase, when the Cybermen also solidified their role as a returning menace. But from his first story to his last, Troughton's Doctor could be seen to be a character whose mystery was not quite in his past or his intentions as Hartnell's Doctor's was, even though those things were hidden from us too, but rather in the great intelligence clearly lurking behind an aura of apparent innocence -- and occasionally manufactured bluster... or subterfuge...

8. The War Games - [4/69 - 6/69]: The Second Doctor's highly entertaining and successful era comes to its end. The epic story that leads to the second change of the Doctor's appearance, also introduces the identity of the Doctor's home species for the first time -- the nearly immortal, nearly omnipotent Time Lords. Not quite answering the title question of the show, but surely changing it a bit, yet again. These Time Lords are aloof and, so, rarely intervening in the affairs of other peoples. Here, they intervene in the Doctor's affairs, for the sake of his own interventions... yeah. And...

9. Spearhead from Space - [1/70]: the new Doctor is played by Jon Pertwee dandily as he has been exiled by the Time Lords to England in the latter part of the 20th century on Earth. Seemingly so that he may work with the Brigadier and the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce to protect Earth from all sorts of hideous dangers immediately threatening... This is also the first story broadcast in color and shot entirely on film, the first story to feature no highly audience-sympathetic companions, the first story to find the Doctor set down fairly permanently in one location at the end instead of journeying away again in the TARDIS, and the first story of a highly shortened season that wouldn't actually run the whole year as seasons had before. Plus the Doctor's apparently got two hearts now.

10. Terror of the Autons - [1/71]: The classic, stable UNIT "family" of the Pertwee Era is formed, fictionally, with a new sympathetic companion again in Jo Grant, a regularly recurring villain in the Master, and two regular lower officers subordinate to the Brigadier in Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton; and nonfictionally, with a very stable and dependable producer/script editor combo in Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks. At this point in the series, the Doctor can be seen to be an even less mysterious figure than he'd ever seemed before and more a sort of unpredictable super-scientist member of a benevolent military establishment. He's a great and stylish hero, of course, but quite a bit more human-seeming than in the past, despite the double-hearts.

11. The Three Doctors - [12/72 - 1/73]: The mold breaks in the 10th anniversary story. The series tips its hat strongly to nostalgia for the first time and starts a demystification and re-mystification cycle that still hasn't ended: the Time Lords are seen to be fallible while growing their mythology in the process as Omega is revealed. The First and Second Doctors' reappearances draw in fans and some stereotypes too. The UNIT stories justify their gradual phasing out here as the Third Doctor gets his reprieve from the Time Lords and is allowed to return to wandering the universe in his TARDIS.

12. Planet of the Spiders - [5/74 - 6/74]: Jon Pertwee's era ends as his Doctor regenerates into Tom Baker's Doctor. Regeneration as a term and capability of Time Lords is explained and seriously considered for the first time. We also meet another Time Lord, K'anpo, living away from the home planet, Gallifrey, who, for the first time for another of the Doctor's race not still living at home, is not also presented as an antagonist to the Doctor.

13. The Ark in Space - [1/75 - 2/75]: The classic "Gothic Era" begins under Phillip Hinchcliffe as Producer and Robert Holmes as Script Editor. Doctor Who hits its peak in this era of sustaining high production values and adept sci-fi/horror writing with great wit and energy to boot. Though established in the, obviously quite important as well, previous story, Robot, as the new Doctor, Tom Baker arguably begins here to take his characterization of the Doctor into its first full form: a brooding, bohemian, maniacally inventive form -- leading eventually to realms of eccentricity and whimsy unseen before or since in such an accessible lead character on dramatic television. The series also hits its all-time high in ratings upon the original airing of an individual episode during this story.

14. The Deadly Assassin - [10/76 - 11/76]: the first and most important visit to Gallifrey. The Master is revived as a threat. No companion accompanies the Doctor for the first time in a story here. The society of the Time Lords is seen to be somewhat flawed -- decadent, specifically -- implicitly similar to the contemporary conservative old male ruling class of Britain. The series also nets its most serious opposition in the British community yet for depictions of realistic violence on television. Despite the opposition, however, by this story, Doctor Who can be seen to have reached its immortality already as a series that could never just fade away and disappear -- out of sheer popularity and an unstoppable beginning of proliferation of organized fan clubs worldwide.

15. The Invasion of Time - [2/78 - 3/78]: Along with a story showing the Doctor willing to go to some serious strategic extremes to accomplish his goals, the new Graham Williams production team continues to allow Tom's Doctor to begin to go quite a bit further with his witty irreverence, assisted no end by the presence of K9 now, a popular mechanical companion that would see his most vital use yet in this story. The Gallifrey of The Deadly Assassin is deepened and elaborated upon here, but does not quite attain the same kind of production value as that seen in the previous year's vision. This is clearly one of the most desperately self-conscious efforts made by the series ever to keep up-to-date with its genre -- trying so very hard to impress a post-Star-Wars audience with Doctor Who's great story possibilities. This kind of effort would return to the series far more intensively in the eighties, as the series was suddenly not the cutting edge of science fiction it once was...

16. The Ribos Operation - [9/78]: The start of the Key to Time season finds a new companion in a Time Lady, an entirely unchildish Romana, a reinstatement of sorts of K9 as a companion, in for the long haul now apparently, and Tom Baker's dominance as the Doctor continuing to grow beyond anything seen before in the Doctor's portrayal on the series. Romana's being a Gallifreyan instead of a human here makes her only the second companion to be unsympathetic to the audience - and far more sympathetic to the Doctor (especially once she regenerates into her second incarnation as portrayed by Lalla Ward). Her great sympathy with Tom's Doctor combined with the almost unrestrained late Tom Baker Era wit and whimsy would see the show become more outrageously unrealistic and charming than at any other time ever in the series' history.

17. The Leisure Hive - [8/80 - 9/80]: a story that comes off like a bit like a Doctor Who feature film. Change and Decay are in the air in a very palpable way here in the first story of the fantastic last season of Tom Baker's definitive Doctor Who era, the promising first season of John Nathan-Turner's decade-long era as Producer, and the only season of the superb script editor Christopher H. Bidmead. This story's production values are so high and impressive that the very previous season, while superficially the same in formula and regular cast, appears almost to have been from some other series. Tom Baker's eccentricity is reined in a bit and the overall story is thoroughly "de-randomized" from what came before, containing a plot, symbolism and mood that would carry over the season with a new focus on harder science fiction concepts and character continuity. This concentration on story and continuity over the dramatic presence of the Doctor and the companions would last, even, until nearly the end of the Peter Davison Era.

18. Logopolis - [2/81 - 3/81]: The Tom Baker Era comes to an end without the wit and charm Tom's time as the Doctor was known for. Rather, this story shines as a masterpiece of apocalyptic atmosphere and foreboding combined with the wonder of a harder science fiction story pulled off with an exceptionally great deal of intrigue and drama. Such sudden seriousness also ushers in the new era of the Fifth Doctor as played by Peter Davison with a kind of youth and fallibility also to be found in both the new young companions presented here. This is also the first full-blown story featuring Anthony Ainley's portrayal of the Master character of the 1980s.

19. Castrovalva - [1/82]: Continuing precisely from where Logopolis left off, this introduces of the Fifth Doctor and firmly establishes the trio of companions presented in the previous story. A TARDIS crew a bit at odds, the formula for the interaction of the regular characters during this new decade is set to be based on complications rather than compatibility. This trend runs right through Davison's Doctor's era. His Doctor was to even be defined by being uncomfortable with his surrondings, for the most part, most at peace in solitude and with the familiar trappings of a refined old world, such as in Black Orchid. Perhaps the least alien Doctor of all, Davison's vulnerable portrayal would see the Doctor appear in a much younger man's body, but containing vast untold wisdom and depths beyond any suggestion of a limited experience. As his Doctor was then also much gentler in his interactions with others, he would appear to contain maybe only half, or less, of the charisma of Tom Baker's Doctor, leaving Davison and his era's writers, perhaps his entire run to finally emerge from his predecessor's shadow in his last few stories, and finally really wow his audiences at last with a fully realized characterization that didn't seem limp or insubstantial compared to his predecessors.

20. Earthshock - [3/82]: Peter Davison's now well-established Doctor is seen to not only be a bit fallible in comparison to his previous incarnation, but also thoroughly unable to stop his adventures from entering into some fairly horrible violence - in particular, the death of his companion, Adric, here. Adric's sensational death was not the first of a hero's or even a character's considered to be a companion on Doctor Who, but it was certainly the most tragic moment of the series up until this point, pointing the way for dark future departures from the staid, somewhat inoffensive Who formula and traditions in the coming final decade of the series on TV. Script editor Eric Saward's influence was coming hard to bear on the series in this aspect. The amount of deaths and destruction on Doctor Who did not necessarily increase, but, rather, the precision and tone of it did. Effective violence, violence that clearly demonstrates pain, shows that it matters, that it hurts, cannot be easily disregarded. It would eventually be cited as a reason for the series hiatus of 1985/86.

21. The Caves of Androzani - [3/84]: the absolute peak of Doctor Who as an intelligent suspenseful thriller series with great characters and a visionary production -- here, we see the end of the Peter Davison Era as his Doctor is finally portrayed as a vulnerable tragic hero, dying, after a season of building tragic violence, to save only his companion, Peri, who was only in peril by way of his Doctor's own fallibility.

22. The Twin Dilemma - [3/84]: Things had really changed on Doctor Who in those few short weeks before Peter Davison's departure from the show. It had gotten to be a little reminiscent, really, of when the Tom Baker Era was ending previously, as the production team daringly completely remade the hero and companion team altogether extremely fast. Almost disastrously, though, this new Doctor, played marvelously alienly and aggressively by Colin Baker, was absolutely unstable, thoroughly violent in tendencies, and difficult to like -- anti-heroic, even. It didn't help that this was an unfortunately abysmal story outside of the interest of Colin's new characterization of the Doctor. The payoff for this unstable beginning to the Sixth Doctor was to have been an arc that would see him mellow and deal with his environment and turbulent nature. However, this payoff never came in fictional form until the novels of the 1990s, even as it came in nonfiction almost immediately, in the form of an eighteen month absence from television after the following 22nd season.

23. The Trial of a Time Lord - [9/86 - 12/86]: An all-ironic-allegory all-the-time approach was taken by the production team to help Doctor Who return to the air after a season in the dark. The story was a season long - a much shortened season than before... With a desperate-behind-the-scenes story, this one comes off miserable and amazing in places, setting down a genius seed for years to come in the character of the Valeyard, a villain who is really the Doctor himself in a future amalgamation of his dark side. Also significant was the uncertainty that was left as to Peri's departure and Mel's arrival in the Doctor's life. Much, in fact, would be mined from the confusing aftereffects of this story.

24. Time and the Rani - [9/87]: Still charged with the rebuilding of his series, Nathan-Turner cast a new actor, Sylvester McCoy, to play the Seventh Doctor after the BBC fired Colin Baker as a kind of scapegoat for the poor response to the previous season. Within the course of the series arc, this story is practically nothing but cartoonish runaround, as McCoy finds himself in way over his head on a disintegrating series. The regeneration has no obvious cause here and the story tends to defeat its own aims at reestablishing the series by deconstructing and demystifying itself all the way through. Not entirely a wreck, however, we still find a strong adventurous spirit here, and a world full of shockingly vivid fantastical images and music. With a crash the infamously erratic season 24 began...

25. Remembrance of the Daleks - [10/88]: and the new script editor, Andrew Cartmel, saved the day! -- by bringing in new writers, such as Ben Aaronovitch here, and a new perspective on the mystery at the center of Doctor Who. With Paradise Towers, Stephen Wyatt's first story for the series, such freshness wasn't seen in Doctor Who since the very early days of the Nathan-Turner leadership. It had no ties to anything seen before in the series and was a thoroughly sophistocated original vision with interesting social commentary to boot. By now, at the start of the next season, number 25!, we had a show starring a rather more controlled, more thoughtful McCoy, featuring a hugely clever script that combined recent freshness with the continuity of old. This involved a reenvisioning of the 7th Doctor, altering him slightly into a darker, readier Doctor, boldly striking the opposite to the previous several years' of victimhood and irresponsibility. Also changed was the old model of the chummy companion/Doctor relationship with the Doctor firmly dominant over all. The companion now would be another protagonist herself, that could care, develop, and grow equally alongside the Doctor. Ace.

26. Ghost Light - [10/89]: This was another legendary period of Doctor Who in full swing -- making high plotting, rich characterization for Ace and the Doctor, and dense symbolic complexities with magnificent production values to feed a ravenous worldwide cult of very literate, very witty fans even as the series continued to nosedive in British national ratings. This, Marc Platt's first, a near-masterpiece, was the sign that, despite this being the last Doctor Who TV story to be produced until 1996, fandom was going to survive and take care of its series just fine. Marc Platt was, like Ben Aaronovitch, a fan writer who wanted to write for the series because he'd grown up loving it. This series would thrive on as a labor of love for fans far more than as a business franchise for the BBC from now on.

27. The novelization of Remembrance of the Daleks - [6/90]: Aaronovitch's book of his strong first story turned out to be more important than his first TV story itself to the series. This is, in spirit, the first New Adventure for Doctor Who. Published after the final TV season, this book was the first of a record-breaking series of books to make far more out of Doctor Who in book-form than just a TV story novelized. Ben's book not only elaborated on his TV story and made for a sweet little read for any passing fan, it plumbed new greater depths for the Doctor, the Daleks, and the Time Lords than had ever been seen before in a Doctor Who book. The novelizations at this time, edited by Peter Darvill-Evans, were all written with similar efforts to expand upon and worthily add to the TV stories they were based on. Of course, once the TV series was clearly over, the success of these novelizations would lead Darvill-Evans and Virgin Publishing to commission some real novels based on where Aaronovitch, Platt, Cartmel, and others had been taking the series on television, the NAs. "Full-length science fiction novels; stories too broad and too deep for the small screen. Produced with the approval of BBC Television, the New Adventures take the TARDIS into previously unexplored realms of space and time."

28. Timewyrm: Revelation - [12/91]: Paul Cornell blasted the novels wide open here. His first book of four extraordinary landmark NAs in the early part of the nineties set in motion a kind of freeing from all barriers left in the fan group imaginations as to how to tell a Doctor Who story. The limitations of television were not just in budget and time constraints; they were in the cameras themselves, as this story could only be satisfactorily visualized in the minds of the readers themselves. The three books that immediately followed this, the Cat's Cradle series, led the Doctor and Ace into realms that were unified in theme, substance and complexity of mythology, but not of plot. This was just about the most impressively thoughtful and challenging period of united Doctor Who books ever. Unpopular though they were, they proved they could do so much more with a story than what was ever previously seen in Who. Quickly following were books such as Transit, The Pit, Birthright, and Conundrum which would push the boundaries ever further, again, even at the risk of some audience alienation.

29. Love and War - [10/92]: The so-called Future History Cycle begins here, editor Darvill-Evans' rather valiant attempt to create a reuseable history for later novels. This is also the first departure of a companion in the novels -- Ace does return, but she returns different, affected by the events of the 26th Century... Paul Cornell also introduces the first companion to originate in the novels here -- Professor Bernice Summerfield -- or, just Benny -- who, in time, turns out to be almost as popular a character amongst fans as the Doctor himself -- as a kind of human female version of Indiana Jones in the 26th Century... sorta. The Time's Champion label is given to McCoy's Doctor for the first time, amid some more of Cornell's poetic visionary writing. This time we get a dream sequence suggesting that the 7th Doctor's spirit brought an early demise to the 6th Doctor, a sort of Time Lord suicide of persona, a notion that justified the new Doctor to his actions, sensing that his methods were questionable ones that no other Doctor would use. This sprouted much more NA mythology and furthered the deepening of the 7th Doctor's Era, while continuing to alienate various fans desiring what became known as "traditional" Doctor Who. This being stories essentially resembling something like what the TV series offered, instead of "radical" Who which involved changing some basic expectations of the audience familiar with the series. Regardless of this fairly nebulous controversy, this was a radical book amongst several at its time that served to really make a even greater epic out an established epic of a series.

30. Lucifer Rising - [5/93]: the end of the Future History Cycle saw the introduction of two of Doctor Who's most influential novelists, Andy Lane and Jim Mortimore, and the first positive example of what's gone on to be known as "fanwank." This is a term claimed to be coined by author Crain Hinton, later the self-proclaimed "Fanwank God" (it says so on his T-shirt, I've seen it), meaning fan-friendly fiction containing gratuitous amounts of references to past continuity. Not that this book is brought down by its attempt to connect itself to the established past of the series, but that it used those references to build from, and to create a vast space opera with grand sweeping images and tied-in connections to the larger universe. One may call this cheating, but as the climax of its own cycle of books about a future history, it was a greatly innovative novel in its own right as well as a terribly important moment in the development of the NAs' own continuous universe.

31. Decalog (Playback) - [4/94]: the first time Virgin printed original Who short fiction instead of novels. This collection was also the first time other Doctors from the series' past were used in original fiction put into a mass market book. The great success of this book allowed for the serious expansion of new Who fiction in a short amount of time in the mid nineties. Despite the originality of what had come since the NAs began, this meant that there would soon be a lot of insertion into past storylines of new fiction. The notion of new Who fiction from here on becomes one based in memory as well as continuing a present series.

32. Goth Opera - [7/94]: the first Missing Adventure of the Virgin line of novels. This second series of books would continue, monthly, alongside the NAs -- and, later, the EDAs - up until the present day -- though latterly published by BBC Books instead of Virgin. Though these novels would go on to fill holes in continuity from the past, they would often serve to challenge the past as well as recreate it. Good for both nostalgia and for exciting, still original adventures. The possibility even existed to alter and further examine the character of the Doctor and his companions in many ways, sometimes challengingly and sometimes not...

33. Time of Your Life - [3/95]: and nowhere was more ripe for further character development in the whole of the running Doctor Who saga than the period between the end of The Ultimate Foe, at the end of the 6th Doctor's trial, and Time and the Rani. This was the first of many very successful post-Trial stories featuring the 6th Doctor but made after his TV regeneration. While much of this process was about lightening him and seeing him mellow, particularly later on in his Big Finish audios, this book served to continue several of the themes and real world parallels of the Trial, especially that of the possibility that he would one day become the Valeyard. It's a very dark book that carries the weight of the discontinued 6th Doctor's unresolved angst on into a new period of adventures. This period of the series' past has flourished like none other since.

34. Human Nature - [4/95]: More than any other Doctor Who novel, this one epitomized the value of the series in book-form, allowing the Doctor to try out being human for a while. Never had the examination of him as a hero been made so personal and so poetic in a story before. Never again would the books exist as a possibly dubious alternative to televised Doctor Who for anyone who had read this. Noting that this story is not as timeless as one might think, based as it is in the politics of its era, as the NAs and the 7th Doctor's era on the whole were very much so anti-capitalist and anti-war, we still get the turning point of the NAs here. The series turns toward basing itself ever more deeply in its own continuity with a united epic as a goal, despite any author's differing politics showing up from novel to novel.

35. The NA Shakedown - [12/95]: the creative underground of Who fandom meets the mass media market. Beginning with Wartime in 1987, fan-produced spin-off material emerged as an alternative to relying on BBC-sanctioned enterprises for new Doctor Who. Especially following Bill Baggs' Summoned by Shadows and the Stranger Series, featuring Colin Baker as the Doctor-like "Stranger" in 1992, Doctor-less and Dalek-less drama was produced regularly throughout the nineties in a desperate effort to plug the hole the lack of a TV series left. Even as the internet was uniting much of fandom, the less-connected of us, likely the vast majority, didn't have a clue about that until the novels pulled off this crossover. It was Terrance Dicks' novelization and massive expansion on the script for a Sontarans-oriented video he wrote of the same name that did made it. But it was the influence of the fans that brought our old hero to it, impacting the series' new canon as an absolute, all barriers broken between the followers and the series continued creation. Even the telemovie to come in a few months' time was to be almost solely in existence due to the efforts of longtime fans who now had power enough to accomplish their goal of a new series' production.

36. Doctor Who: The Telemovie (Enemy Within) - [5/96]: the airing of the first new, serious television Who in some six-plus years - Fox's telemovie starring Paul McGann as the new Eighth Doctor. Great! A renaissance! "It's about time!" A new series!, maybe... but no. As the NAs made great strides towards making the best of all possible explorations in what makes great Who, the rest of the world sure wasn't catching on and the telemovie sure didn't catch a necessary buzz to get critics, fans, and all the Star-Wars-and-Trek-lovin' other-fans to pay attention to it. However, we now had a seriously different light cast on the series: an Eighth Doctor who kisses and claims to be half-human living in a TARDIS with a very different indoors aesthetic... with a dead Master who could turn into a goupy snake-thing...

37. Lungbarrow - [3/97]: the Great Licensing Schism. In a desperate bid to tie the arc of the Virgin NAs novels line up and bring the series from one Doctor's era's legacies to another Doctor's era's legacies, the line swallowed some of its ambitions and allowed Marc Platt to see his vision through and build a bridge in one book between all the Virgin books and the radically different telemovie. This all happened because Virgin Publishing was no longer allowed to print Doctor Who material as the BBC and its BBC Books division wanted to do it itself -- without being allowed to use the fictional universe established by Virgin's MAs and NAs, and vice versa at Virgin. (Ha!) Except, the lawyers and moneymakers didn't seem to take in the fact that the same people are going to read the new books as read the old books, regardless of who is publishing... So we got so overprolific on our Who and Who-related books that we made only the most fanatic of Doctor Who fanatics able to read all of the new stuff every month and keep up. Competition wasn't really much of a factor, either, as Virgin was doing its best ever business (and quality, too, actually) on the NAs right when it lost the license. BBC Past Doctor Adventures and Eighth Doctor Adventures replaced Virgin NAs and MAs and Virgin kept on with a new line of NAs starring their greatest remaining asset, the one, the only, the glorious Professor Bernice Summerfield and a Virgin universe all its own after 61 NAs and 33 MAs. It was almost as though we didn't know when we were well-off back when we had only one NA a month in '93. Now, and even to a greater extent later on, there were two or three new books every month and much more besides. One might just have been able to claim that we fans were overwhelming ourselves with new Who all the time anyway -- without the rest of the world even having a clue about it. But the BBC would soon appreciate a public always interested in more Doctor Who...

38. The Eight Doctors - [7/97]: the first original novel of the new Eighth Doctor Adventures series and a major fan nightmare. A bit like the era this novel engendered, it was a very entertaining utter mess. It was needlessly righteous, empowered to take on the immediately recent telemovie and fix a lot of old continuity, willing to change past characterizations to affect new dramatic situations, cute but ridiculously awkward in companion creation, simplistic with its depiction of Time Lords, and almost-but-not-quite profound enough to really mean anything except as the first novel of a series. Mainly representing a lack of firm leadership in the early editing of the EDAs, it was the reason for bad press upon the BBC's restart following on from Virgin's great success. However, it did offer some lovely light reading, familiar characters and situations, a nice premise, and some horrifyingly acute foreshadowing... or shall we call it prophesy? The book featured an amnesiac Doctor and his world that didn't quite fit with Virgin NA continuity (!), and still thrashed its way through some fantastically sacred territory in the long-constructed Who mythos. It's desperately important as a flashing, nearly subliminal signpost describing what's ahead, in fact creating it while being it. Or it's just fun and a great first example of how hard it was to create a new series from so little in the TV movie.

39. Alien Bodies - [11/97]: a revolution! Not quite the most astonishing blasting of stagnant plotting scum out of the Doctor Who pond of all time, but certainly right up there with the most effective refreshers of Hulke, Orman, Holmes, Wyatt, Cornell, Aaronovitch, and Cartmel -- Lawrence Miles sets in motion a kind of cool anti-continuity wave here, washing glorious new notions off of old ideas and into the great seas of fandom's public domain. In the forever-altered world of any fan who had read Alien Bodies, the great importance of getting the series continuity down just right suddenly became a bit of a laugh -- the essential paradoxes, the other universes out there - it all suddenly looked too big to be so petty about. Every Miles book after Alien Bodies would be a major milestone... um... landmark... in the continuum of Who-dom. His next books, Dead Romance and Interference, Books One and Two, along with the third BBC Books short Who fiction collection, Short Trips and Side Steps, all continued and heightened the interest of this cool trend of examining and undoing the strict adherence of new Who fiction to an established continuity. During this time, Doctor Who seemed so huge, being, in a sense, continually plotted based on the overabundance of continuity. It was a postmodern course, that would be loosened and undone a bit at the end of 2000 (see #44.)

40. Republica - [5/98]: the first unofficial Doctor Who related original audio. As with the popular videos fans were professionally producing before, there was now to be a tranfer to a new non-visual medium with Doctor-less stories featuring Doctor Who spin-off-ery and familiar actors. Though Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred returned to create "Ace and the Professor," they were very much still doing Doctor Who here. BBV's line continues to produce these audios today, but with less and less focus on actually using the Doctor... See #43. BBV would go on to introduce perhaps the greatest, most beloved author of Who audios, Rob Shearman, ironically pseudonymed as "Jeremy Leadbetter," with their brilliant audio Punchline.

41. The Scarlet Empress - [9/98]: fantasy and magical realism, long present in Doctor Who's repertoire of genres at this point, make a grand gesture of dominance here. Paul Magrs, once namechecked in Love and War as a guy who likes to deconstruct everything, deconstructs everything... or, well, the "magic" of Doctor Who anyway. Introducing recurring character Iris Wildthyme, a comic Time Lord cracked mirror version of the Doctor, this book claims the real presence of magic, undiluted with sci-fi justifications. That it succeeds as still being enjoyable Doctor Who is partially a marvel of the Doctor Who formula's resiliance, with this book would go on to be the great anvil that broke the camel's back when it comes to rules in Who. "Anything can happen here."

42. The Infinity Doctors - [11/98]: Bam! A pure mythology. Not the epitome of anything, this book was a 35th anniversary celebration, but also the first full-blown alternative Doctor Who story. Entirely based on established myth, but extracting the useful bits and ignoring the things that make a story precisely put in one point before or after the present of its publication, this timeless story tells of a Doctor very much like the 8th as he would have been had he returned to Gallifrey after his many adventures. As Lungbarrow looked to Gallifrey in the past, this looked to its all-powerful alternative present, as if the Doctor was as influential as a Time Lord as we might have imagined, simply without the renegade status. Based greatly in the romantic images and details offered in the TV movie, this book gives the Doctor a wife, omnipotence, and then takes them away again, putting him once more on a journey amongst the stars. Oft claimed as a prime novel to be turned into a Doctor Who feature film, this book is as full of continuity as can be, and also completely outside of it (except as a sequel of sorts to Cold Fusion.) Alternative Doctor Who stories would abound shortly...

43. The Sirens of Time - [7/99]: Big Finish begins the BBC-sanctioned new Doctor Who audios with a pair of discs starring the 5th, 6th, and 7th Doctor actors all actually playing their Doctors -- no pseudonyms, nothin' hidin' at all... besides their aging faces. The story wasn't up to much, but this was real actors doing real drama for a (small) mass market again! The best 6th Doctor dramatic production ever turned out to be a little audio show produced 14 years after Colin Baker was fired, called The Holy Terror. Daleks and great 90s and 00s writers would find their niche here. Even Benny, the great and novel novels companion, so long a silent charmer of great human voice and actions, was finally a live companion to be heard quipping and crying out for nice tea times without horrible scary monsters alongside Ace and the 7th Doctor on a Big Finish audio, The Shadow of the Scourge. As played by Lisa Bowerman, she gets her own line of audios here as well as more books. Big Finish would go on to seriously expand its range, producing multiple Who spin-offs and, indeed, several more landmark Who stories such as Spare Parts, the masterpiece Cybermen origins story; The Marian Conspiracy, the introduction of the first audio companion, the indomitable history professor Evelyn Smythe; and even a series of annual year-end romps featuring pantomime-like self-mockery and lots of singing. Continuing the proud tradition of the Past Doctor Adventure novels, Big Finish also developed their heroes a bit on occasion, as seen with the nearly romantic 5th Doctor in Loups-Garoux and the mellower 6th Doctor in just about every audio featuring him taking place after his trial.

44. The Ancestor Cell - [8/00]: The great reset button of all Who-dom is missed and the anti-reset button is pressed instead. The Milesian Revolution of Alien Bodies onwards, involving Faction Paradox, the great Future War of the Time Lords, bottle universes, etc., is neatly sidestepped and allowed to just blossom on its own nearby... Stephen Cole and Peter Anghelides wrote a vigorous finale here that's more important to the EDAs than can reasonably be expected based on their tone in the final chapters of the novel (it should have been several books, this one) -- but suddenly, everything is different... again. The Justin Richards Era of editing begins and our fresh new 8th Doctor can't remember who he is because he doesn't really exist. Neat? The following year's books were tremendously good, though... and our hero's past is really only hidden to him... From The Burning on, he's moodier, darker, more unpredictable, and amnesiac.

45. Storm Warning - [1/01]: The audios by Big Finish hit a new level of interest -- they bring Paul McGann himself onboard to give real voice to the Eighth Doctor. Compared to what was available for the 7th Doctor in the NAs, it'd been quite a miracle for so many books to have been written based on a one-hour performance in the TV movie -- even if only a few EDAs up to this point were truly great. Now we had a much healthier vision... um... idea of the Eighth Doctor without having to resort to reading every damn EDA. The audios rival the novels in important to the current state of Doctor Who appreciation. One might even claim that, at this point they have divided fandom. From many fans' perspectives, the 8th Doctor of the audios is irreconcilable with the hero of the BBC novels. The matter of canon is even a fairly moot point here, as this era of Doctor Who has often intentionally specifically diverged... from itself... telling innummerable stories of alternate universes and alternate continuities. Some of the best audios of which are under the title: Doctor Who Unbound, beginning in 2003.

46. Death Comes to Time - [01]: the first webcast. This story was the beginning of animated Doctor Who of sorts, not nearly as elaborate as that would become later, but effective nonetheless as audio. The fact that it was presented online, and that this was a great success with site hits, was most notable, paving the way for future webcasts. The popularity fact for this production, as it was a BBC dramatic production particularly, brought significant attention to Doctor Who, a major stepping stone to the new series in 2005. Also of significance was that this was intentioned as a new beginning for Doctor Who, featuring the end of old continuity and the beginning of a new age, despite having the 7th Doctor and Ace as its heroes at the outset. No sequels have followed, but it remains a very dramatic production with some controversy.

47. The Adventuress of Henrietta Street - [11/01]: Here was the new revolution, baby. Structure and content-wise, it was just about as daring a book as any we'd seen since the early nineties. The amnesiac Doctor plot and attendant continuity begun as a result of the events in The Ancestor Cell get kicked into a wild new darkness. An opposing time traveller named Sabbath is introduced for the first time here, and the Doctor is thoroughly reexamined once again, christened, vaguely, now, as an elemental, in opposition to the universe, a Champion for Earth now.

48. Rose - [3/05]: Christopher Eccleston begins playing the new Ninth Doctor in Russell T. Davies new series. It's popular and well-supported in the press and at the BBC right from the very first glimmerings of actual production nearly a year and a half before. It's the first really new and vitally important development in Doctor Who in ages, and it's also easily the biggest Who event since it was last on television. Imagine that! It's the third highest rated show that week on the BBC, following Coronation Street and Eastenders episodes. And it's nearly universally well received, despite having some very familiar and rather goofy monsters... It could never have happened if it weren't for the continual popularity of Doctor Who DVDs, CDs, books, videos, and other merchandise over the last 15 years. Yea, fans!

49. The Gallifrey Chronicles - [6/05]: the last EDA. The Eighth Doctor arc of the novels resolves... hopefully. Along with Big Finish's The Next Life in the audios, this ends the immediacy of the Eighth Doctor. Happening upon command from the BBC, intentionally making the Ninth Doctor the main focus for old and new fans, this could still be a very good thing for the massive fan-centered franchise, forcing some unity and essentiality to the whole again.

50. The Parting of the Ways - [6/05]: end of the first new season, end of... The show must go on...


Top 11 Books of the BBC Line by Terrance Keenan 3/12/01

Where my tastes run in BBC books and authors is probably different than most people as I have a weird trad-leaning take, but with an appreciation of big rad ideas -- when done right. Anyhoo, without further ado.....

Last of the Gadarene -- This is the Uber Trad novel. It has all of the Pertwee Elements rolled up inot a fabulous Nostalgia Ball. Fun stuff, reminiscent of the Target novelisations.

Players -- Uncle Terrance Dicks still shows that he can still spin a yard. The Doctor meets Winston Churchill-- such an obvious idea I'm surprised it wasn't done before this. When Terrance Dicks is on, he's up there with the best of DW authors.

Beltempest -- You have to admire the chutzpah of an author playing with big ideas. The prose is gorgeous and Jim Mortimore's take on the Doc and Sam, although off in the normal sense, is perfect for the concepts he's playing with.

Demontage -- Say What?...... Well, this is Justin Richard's tribute to the legendary Robert Holmes, and once you see that, it becomes something quite special. Besides, Fitz steals the show time and again.

Psi-ence Fiction -- The home run we all knew and hoped that Chris Boucher could hit. Nobody writes Leela better than her creator, and he finally nails the Fourth Doc. Toss in a very interesting plot and you have a great book that improves with age.

Tomb of Valdemar -- For all the Metatext hijinks Simon Messingham plays around with in this book, underneath there is a great 4th Doc / Romana tale that sings. This is something special.

The Turing Test -- Paul Leonard stretches his literary wings and writes of a mysterious figure known as the Doctor through Turing, Greene and Heller, and how events during WWII caused unforseen effects. Powerful, yet simple. Outstanding.

Alien Bodies -- Lawrence Miles finally get a hold of all his big ideas around a crackling plot. When Rad is done this well, it's no longer rad. It's just great Doctor Who.

The Banquo Legacy -- Justin Richards and Andy Lane team up to write the best book of the Comassion arc, hands down. Location, concept and character come together. Makes you wish that the arc ended here and not with The Ancestor Cell. Exquisite.

Festival of Death -- The Best PDA, full stop. A wonderful story abut cause and effect, with perfect characterization of the regulars. This book captures season 17 in all it's silly, goofy, fun glory. Read it again and again.

Father Time -- The Best 8DA, full stop. This is DW "reconstructed." The taking of familiar ideas and giving them fun twists. Lance Parkin takes the fanwanky idea of having the Doctor settle down and become a parent and turn it into something much more. Wow!

And here are some of the low end of the scale:

Unnatural History -- The most obvious and glaring example of how only Lawrence Miles should play around with Lawrence Miles concepts.

Verdigris -- I agree with Mike Morris that this is the most spiteful Book in DW. Absolute self-indulgent rubbish.

The Blue Angel -- at least I hated Verdigris. I didn't care at the end. Apathy is far worse than hatred.

Seeing I -- Proof that Kate Orman is the most overrated hack in DW. A god awful plot, tons of pointless character deconstruction and yet another variation of using torture to show character. Bleeaarrugh!!!!!!

The Shadows of Avalon -- Except for the character of the Brig and the Doc (in some scenes) this is a ghastly, overrated fiasco. And Paul Cornell is supposed to be best thing in DW fiction? I think not.


Ten Notable Cliffhangers by Mike Morris 5/12/01

Not the best cliffhangers. I thought about doing a list of the best Doctor Who cliffhangers, but realised it would only contain entries from Warriors' Gate, Kinda and Caves. So instead, here's a list of fine examples from the various genres of cliffhanger, thus evaluating the many Doctor Who cliffhanger typologies.

This list may not be entertaining, but I like to think it's educational...

  1. The Sea Devils Episode Three. Notable for the first real use of the "camera zoom" technique, used sparingly during the Tom Baker years, burgeoning in popularity during the Davison era and reaching its zenith during Colin Baker's reign, when the stock cliffhanger was a big zoom while the Doctor said "Peri!" and looked anguished. Its use in The Sea Devils is great, not least because Jon Pertwee's nostrils are so big I think I can see his brains in this shot.
  2. City of Death Part Two. "You. What are you doing here?" Julian Glover's eyes do an amazing bulging thing in this cliffhanger, just before he says "Doctor". This cliffhanger uses the ploy of confusing the audience, rather than just frightening them. It worked, too; the first time I saw this story I just couldn't stop wondering why the Doctor was looking at the ceiling and talking to Leonardo Da Vinci in an obviously empty room.
  3. An Unearthly Child Episode One. The TARDIS takes off, accompanied by a series of vaguely erotic images while William Hartnell looks a bit worried. The very first cliffhanger, which conveyed the danger of time travel by showing that travel in the TARDIS rendered you unconscious for the duration of the journey. Good news for those who get carsick, then. But just how big is that caveman? This is an early example of the "What's that monster-thing?" cliffhanger.
  4. The Caves of Androzani Part Three. A great cliffhanger, culminating in a double camera zoom and a cry of "I'm not gonna let you stop me now!". As such, it's a fine example of the "Doctor makes a dramatic speech" cliffhanger, also cropping up in Fang Rock Part Three. Sadly, its dramatic impact is rather limited by a curious similarity to an earlier, preceding cliffhanger, namely...
  5. The Underwater Menace Episode Three. You know the one: Nussing in ze vorld, etc. The worst cliffhanger in the world ever, and therefore one of the best. It fits into the "Mad villain goes on a rant" type, utilised in Resurrection of the Daleks Part Three, and any story with the Master in it. Of all cliffhanger typologies, this one's the second-worst; the worst being well-illustrated by...
  6. The Mark of the Rani Part One. The re-edited cliffhanger. Which is, quite simply, the most annoying cliffhanger type in the universe. Its cheating, isn't it? A nice example in Genesis of the Daleks Part Two, as well.
  7. Ghost Light Part Two. A fine example of two cliffhanger quirks. There's the "what are we going to see in the next episode?" cliffhanger, also used to good effect in Kinda Part Two. And it's a fine example of the "cut to close-up" technique, which superseded the camera zoom during the McCoy era to a staggering degree; not one episode could end without a close-up of McCoy's ugly mug (oddly, if the cliffhanger featured Ace, she just got a plain old camera zoom. Wonder why?). The "cut-to-close-up" was used well in Remembrance and Fenric, and badly in The Happiness Patrol.
  8. Full Circle Part One. The stock "it's a monster!" cliffhanger, used at the end of most opening episodes, which nearly always gives me a kick of satisfaction. This (rather natty) one is done in slow-motion (slo-mo in Doctor Who! That was Season 18 for you, the flashy buggers), and doesn't attempt any cop-out tactics like having the monster in question menace the Doctor. So it's obviously brilliant.
  9. Earthshock Part One. A variation on the above: the "oh, it's a monster I've seen before!" cliffhanger. These frequently pop up in Dalek and Cybermen episodes, and are usually somewhat spoiled by the huge amount of pre-publicity concerning said monsters so that people will bother watching in the first place. The title sometimes gives it away, too. For example, it was hard to be surprised by that cliffhanger in The Sontaran Experiment.
  10. Dragonfire Part One. The "post-modern" cliffhanger, which makes a witty reference to the nature of the Doctor Who cliffhanger as a concept, neatly summing the nature of the cliffhanger; that the story's logic is subservient to a dangerous climax, and it's perfectly acceptable for the Doctor to abandon coherent thought just to put himself in trouble. Clever, isn't it? Also known as the "completely smug and shit" cliffhanger, and isn't used that frequently. Good job too.


Top Ten signs Doctor Who was dying a slow death in the mid/late 80's by Dean Belanger 15/1/02

10) Female companions constanly in high heels (swamps, forests, rocky terrain...doesn't matter).

9) Colin Baker choking his companion.

8) The Rani in a red wig.

7) Sylester McCoy in a blonde wig.

6) One word...MEL !

5) The incomprehensible Trial of a Time Lord

4) Cheap looking Sontarans in The Two Doctors. (Even for Dr. Who those masks were bad.)

3) Trying to pass off a 40-ish Jamie as a 20-ish Jamie.

2) I can barely understand a word Davros yells in any of his last 3 stories.

1) "Carrot juice, Carrot juice, Carrot juice !!!!!!"


Required Reading! by Joe Ford 6/2/02

My top Ten 'don't listen to those who hate them' EDA's to be read now!

10.) EarthWorld
This demands to be read just for the introduction of Anji Kapoor, the most ordinarily extrodinary companion we have seen. In short I love her, it's her astute observations that make this such an enjoyable read (how ridiculous the TARDIS looks!). Only two books in and you know the Doctor, Fitz and Anji team is a winner of which we haven't seen since Doc 4, Sarah and Harry. The fact that it's a well observed comedy, something the series desperately needed, is another bonus. Jacqueline Rayner throws as many bizzare landscapes, characters and situations at the reader which come as a refreshing reward after the 'caught on earth arc'. And of course the whole Fitz vs Elvis contest reminds us why we love him so much after his much missed absence.

9.) Kursaal/The Janus Conjunction
A joint place here, they don't deserve individual placings in the top ten but both are early winners in the range. Anghelides and Baxendale know their Doctor Who and don't let their stories get cluttered by continuity or complexity. Both are pleasantly simple, feature a strong role for both the Doctor and Sam and both have a satisfying conclusion. They aren't absolute masterpieces but in the end they are both enjoyable, fun reads.

8.) The Burning
I love Justin Richards' writing style. He fills his books with such vivid descriptions of the surroundings, the characters and most importantly the horrifying deaths. This shows his prose at it's peak and here begins his reign of the EDA's editorship. And thank god! It's a wonderful story full of memorable moments such as the Doctor's sudden appearance, his callous attitude towards the characters deaths and many horrific moments involving a horrifying foe, fire. The book's villan is a wondeful foe, in turns sadistic and sympathetic and the secondary characters are wonderfully created too. The beginning of the best run of a Doctor Who book range.

7.) Mad Dogs and Englishmen
Just three scenes turn this into an utter classic. 1) The Doctor, Fitz and Anji stripped naked and put in a cage with several squeaky toys as pets for the 'dog people'. 2) The TARDIS landing somewhat horrifically on top of the esteemed insect Professor Jag. 3) Fitz's utter horror as his team in sixties Las Vegas pile into a red London bus that flies…there are just too many hysterical moments in this tale of mad and bad pink poodles. The Doctor, Fitz and Anji get split up casually and show their particular strengths and their irreconcilably different plotlines come together to make a hugely satisfying ending. Paul Magrs is clearly a complete nutter and he takes us for a journey through the madness of the universe and leaves a warm fuzzy feeling in our tummys when we get out the other side.

6.) Eater of Wasps
Wow, after startling us with the possibilties of fresh 'rad' Doctor Who, Justin Richards treats us to marvellous 'trad' adventure curtesy of the much underated Trevor Baxendale. It's all disgusting stuff with the gloriously thorough description of a man turning into a wasp and several gross out wasp attacks but it's all so well paced and exciting. Characters are pretty one-note but they drive the plot perfectly and it all reachs a tense, against the clock climax. This shows the more violent Doctor created through the 'earth arc' is fully evident and against expectations, he is a much more dashing figure and his breathless combat on top of a train is a perfect demonstration of his talents.

5.) The Banquo Legacy
Not only a top notch murder mystery but also a fantastic experiment in first person narrative. Hopkinson and Stratford are compelling figures and breathe further life into a story that already has enough great twists and turns to keep you gripped. It's great to see the same situations from two personal standpoints, especially when Hopkinson and Stratford talk to each other. Not one character is quite what they seem and although the books starts slowly it soon grabs you by the neck, spilling out their secrets in the rich text. The last third of the book is a unputdownable mix of atmospheric horror and shocking revelations.

4.) Seeing I
A superlative climax to the disapointing Sam is Missing arc. Who would have thought Orman and Blum could breathe so much life into this generic character? Her guilt for leaving the Doctor helpless and injured is palpable and the 'life' she tries to build is similarly realistic. I utterly adored the chapter that takes the book forward a year through Sam's life, creating a relationship, revelling in it, getting bored with it and leaving it for someone else…it is simply a breathtaking chapter and one of the best pieces in any Who fiction. And lets not forget the Doctor's nightmare in the prison where everybody is nice…it's devasting to watch him lose control as he finds there is nobody to fight. His admission that his time there was "Three years of nothing!" is heart wrenching.

3.) The Year of Intelligent Tigers
Hitchemus is gloriously realised in print, an alien world that I would love to visit and the perfect setting for a brilliant morality tale of the Doctor just trying to get two warring factions to talk to each other! Orman has such a grasp on her characters she has the ability to shock us in a way that no other author can. Her Doctor/Anji scenes simply crackle with tension and the tigers are beautifully brought life as a tragic, yet viscous race. Fitz gets a magical moment with his improvised orcestra and the Doctor here is a fascinating figure…a vibrant, heroic lunatic who takes a step on the wild side. It's all wound up with an unforgettable and shocking ending.

2.) Father Time
The pinnacle of the 'Earth Arc', taking the wonderful premise of the Doctor having a daughter whose life is in danger and milking it for all the tension, emotion and excitement it can. I knew it was a winner after the first two chapters, the vivid snow bound location, the subtle character work between the Doctor, Miranda and Debbie. Lance Parkin's prose is simply beautiful and he fills the book with so many magical moments…the transformer attack, the gorgeous descriptions of the tower and it's occupants bursting into rose petals, Miranda punching her cheating boyfriend. It's the Miranda/Doctor scenes that affect the most, her teenage angst is superbly portrayed and instantly recognisable to anyone who has felt like an outsider. I never thought I would find the Doctor ruthlessley kicking the shit out somone justifiable but the Doctor's reaction to a death near the story's close proved me wrong.

1.) The Adventuress of Henrietta Street
The most audicous, rewarding and breathtaking work of Who fiction ever. There are just too many things to say, the evocative ambiguous prose, the shocking twists, the fantasic characters, the excellent re-appearance of an old character, the Doctor's marriage, the scariest monsters Who has ever mustered, the violence, the sex, the bredth of emotion. But most of all the ground breaking act of the removal of the Doctor's second heart, an act that proves how brave, how invested in shaking up the format, how utterly brilliant the EDA's have become. Oh, and Sabbath and Scarlette, the two best characters we have ever met.

Just outside… The Scarlet Empress, City of the Dead, Inteference, Alien Bodies.

And the worst:
10.) The Taint
9.) Autumn Mist
8.) The Slow Empire
7.) Endgame
6.) The Space Age
5.) Longest Day
4.) Beltempest
3.) The Eight Doctors
2.) Placebo Effect
1.) Escape Velocity - YUCK!


Top 10 Monsters by David Barnes 11/2/02

Lets face it: Dr Who became popular through its monsters. If there were no Daleks then it probably wouldn't have got past its 15th episode. So these are my favourite monsters:

10. Autons (Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons). I really like the mannequins in particular from Spearhead from Space. I think the Autons are really creepy and I love the noise they make when they shoot someone.

9: Androgums (The Two Doctors). I like the idea of galactic chefs. Shockeye is brilliant; he has the funniest lines of any Dr Who villain. He is suitably vulgar (eating a rat) and he even makes fun of the Sontarons!

8: Gundan Robots (Warriors Gate). I know that they didn't feature heavily in the story but I love the voice. Even better is Tom Baker's line "STOP THAT GUNDAN!"

7: Rutans (Horror of Fang Rock): I know they look silly (a green blob with spaghetti) but, again, the voice is brilliant, in particular the death scream. Rutans seem to be one of the few monsters who kill through electricity.

6: Terileptils (The Visitation). The costumes are superb. The scorched face of the leader is very gruesome! Humanoid lizards appear quite a lot in Dr Who (Silurians, Sea Devils, Chelonions) but these are the best ones. Their best scene is when the Doctor argues with the leader other the latter's morals near the end of part 3 ("It's not an argument! IT'S A STATEMENT!").

5: Zarbi (The only decent thing about The Web Planet): Come on! Giant ants! Got to be good! Their best bit is when one runs into a camera in part 3.

4: Alpha Centauri (Curse and Monster of Peladon): I know the costume has been connected with male genatalia but Alpha Centauri gets almost all the good lines in both stories ("Thank you Eckersley but you are still a traitor!") The idea of hiring a woman to do the voice was a good move and the creature's cowardice is hilarious.

3: Cybermen (Many stories): I like the fact that the appearance and voices kept changing, the best voice being in The Moonbase and Tomb of the Cybermen and the best costumes being in Revenge of the Cybermen. The idea behind them, if not as original as it is made out to be, is very good. Their only let down is the vunerability to gold, which is very silly; gold suffocates Cybermen, who supposedly don't breathe!

2: Daleks: These metal meanies were what got Dr Who it's place in televison history. The shape of them is good and their voices are excellanet. I think they were at their best in The Daleks MasterPlan. After Evil of the Daleks I think that they didn't get a fair deal in their stories, especially when Davros arrived, only salvaging their greatness in Remembrance of the Daleks.

1: Ice Warriors/ Martians (The Ice Warriors, Seeds of Death, Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon): My favourite monsters. Another reptilian race but without the silly costumes (except for those ones with bloated heads). The voices (another hissing voice) are marvellous. I like the fact that they try to be noble at all times. Alan Bennion as Slaar, Izlyr and Azaxyer is great, Azaxyer being one of the best Dr Who villains.

Monsters who didn't quite make the list: Silurians, Mechanoids, Solonian Mutants, Scaroth of the Jagoroth and the giant maggots.


My top ten audio adventures by Joe Ford 23/2/02

I read an article recently saying Doctor Who is dead, despite the books and audios just because there weren't any new tv episodes to cherish…after my top ten book series I want to recommend these audio stories as well. Have a listen, they are better written and directed than most of the stories of their tv eras anyway!

10) Storm Warning.

Paul McGann blazed into the limelight with this wonderfully exciting story that certainly deserves the title adventure. After only an hour and a half on TV we finally get to see what McGann is made of and he is quite superb. From his monologue at the beginning to his rant about the web of time at the end he lives up to the promise of this breathlessly romantic Doctor. India Fisher too, who impressed me in Winter for the Adept, proves a fine companion with the balls of Ace, the sarcastic streak of Tegan and the OTT-ness of Mel but somehow roles these into something far more enjoyable than any of these. A storm lashed airship, dangerous time travelling carnivores, stiff upper lipped British characters, and a fabulously 'alien' alien make up a highly enjoyable adventure.

9) Colditz

A criminally underated story, it's another Steve Lyons story that concerns history and time-travel but he uses them so well who's complaining? The seventh Doctor and Ace are a surprising failure in the Big Finish audios, proving their partnership has been milked to death with the books but they make a good pair here, not because of their characters but because of the great material they are given. Sophie Aldred in particular seems to relish her Nazi-hating dialogue and McCoy gets some terrific speeches concerning time travel. Considering how slow some of the audios are (Red Dawn, Winter for the Adept) I would have thought people might apprichiate the exciting nature of this story, especially the breath catcthing end of episode three and the final confrontation with Kurtz, easily the most thrilling set piece yet. And despite everyone else, I quite like the music too!

8) Shadow of the Scourge.

Just for the fabulous Lisa Bowerman who brings to life Bernice Summerfield with such gusto it provokes further gob smacking performances from Aldred and McCoy! They make a great team and the dialogue they get is some of the wittiest ever. Hurrah for Paul Cornell for giving us a truly creepy monster race and for following the NA pattern of putting the characters through emotional hell, I felt quite smypathetic towards Pembroke, Annie, etc. Yes it revels in its 'aren't the NA's great' atmosphere and comes across as a little smug but you can't deny it's a slice of top quality Who, satisfying, well acted and different. For that fact alone it is worth great merit.

7) Phantasmagoria.

Davison's first is still his best thanks to a fab script curtesy of the wonderful Mark Gatiss. It's the characters that make this so much fun, the verbose Jasper Jeepe, the marvellous villan Valentine, the fey Quincy Flowers, gatiss brushes them all with an entrtaining stroke. It's wonderfully atmospheric with some great sound effects that plant you straight in the action. It's one of those stories you wish to god could have been made for TV. There are some good twists and Valentine really is a good villain.

6) Project Twilight.

Brrrrr! Scary! The last episode is really scary! Colin Baker's gloriously theatrical voice proves perfect for the audios and it's no surprise that stories like this have made him the favourite of them all. His relationship with Evelyn Smythe at this point is so entertaining wish they could spend the whole story together! There are some great characters here, brought to life with real drama by the actors. Cassie is very well done and Amelia and Reggie make a truly sinister pair. It's really graphic but that’s no bad thing and there are too many stand out moments to mention (Evelyn and her amazing handbag! Exploding corpses! Cassies brutal transformation!).

5) Stones of Venice.

From the blood soaked alleys of Bermondsey to the romantic waters of Venice. This is like therapy after so many violent stories, a seductive fantsasy of secret cults, broken promises, sinking cities and most of all love. McGann and Fisher are well in their stride now (after the disapointing Sword of Orion) and deliver highly engaging performances. Stalwart Michael Sheard is on board to add some gravitas to the story as the doomed Duke Orsino but he is only one of several memorable characters. It's told at such a sedate pace with some lovely poetic dialogue and gorgeous incidental music you can't help but be swept away by it all.

4) The Marian Conspiracy.

What an achivement! A simple yet compelling purely historical that educates and entertains to the fullest limit! Also the introduction of the excellent Evelyn Smythe who proves more then a match for Colin Baker's Doctor in some hysterically funny scenes! Colin Baker is just a treat, this is the softer, more compelling side to his character that we saw briefly in Trial of a Time Lord. His scenes with Mary and Sarah are not only perfectly written but superbly performed too. Not a lot happens really but Jac Rayner provides a glorious historical romp, never losing sight of her main goal (to make Evelyn as cool as possible!). Love the last TARDIS scene.

3) The One Doctor.

The most quotable Who dialogue ever. Fact! This is just so silly, so funny, so bizarre it wraps you up in a big bundle of love for the programme and reminds you why it's so great. Colin, Bonnie, Biggins and Buckfield work so well together (the clashing of the egos!) it's a shame they are split up in the end. The parodies (The Weakest Link, DIY shows) are especially funny because I can't stand those shows! Mel gets the funniest moment in Doctor Who ever with her Bush family Christmas speech and it's all wound up perfectly with the brilliant final snog! Confused? Go and listen to it and laugh yourself silly!

2) The Fires of Vulcan.

Who would have thought it? Bubbly Bonnie's second postion in the top three! This highlights Mel at her best, confident, assured, clever and not a scream in sight. Ms Langford is quite superb so kudos to all who wanted to improve on that slice of Who history. Simply put, this is a masterpiece. Pompeii makes a fascinating location and the central mystery of what will happen to the TARDIS keeps you hooked throughout! What's that I hear you say? History and Time Travel? It must be Steve Lyons! What a great writer he is, coaxing a performance out of McCoy that is breathtaking. The cliffhangers are great and it has a terrific movie-worthy score. The historical characters, very interesting. The constant rumbling of the volcano, very disturbing. The final episode, very exciting.

1) The Holy Terror.

Still up there at number one. Will they ever top this? I doubt it! Flawless is the one word to describe it. The only piece of Who to bring a tear to my eye but not before making me laugh myself silly, scare myself rotten and boogle my brain at the cleverness of it all. Colin Baker is the Doctor. Just go and listen to him! Frobisher is a risk that pays of in spades, he drives the compelling story in unexpected ways. I haven't forgottern any of the characters and I've only heard it twice, Beringeria and Peppin are just brilliant and Eugene provides a wonderful tragic figure. It raises some great topics, stereotypes, religion, politics and weaves them into a script that manages to surprise and thrill. And it's all wrapped up in a haunting Russell stone score. Quite simply sublime.

AND THE WORST… 5) Red Dawn
4) Land of the Dead
3) Minuet in Hell
2) Loups-Garoux
1) The Mutant Phase…bluegh!


Top Ten reasons Doctor Who is the best sci-fi show on the box by Joe Ford 12/3/02

10) The Music.
What? I hear you say! Doctor Who wasn't a show that used effects to pull in its audience but the music had the ability to conjour up alien worlds and historical realism much more impressively than the BBC budget. As far back as The Aztecs through The Web of Fear past Inferno and finishing with Terror of the Zygons, The Leisure Hive, Mindwarp and Survival…the show was often punctuated with stunning musical scores. Okay every now and again Malcolm Clarke would turn up (The Sea Devils) and Dudley Simpson would seriously misjudge a story but more often than not the music was ace.

9) The Monsters.
I add them merely to point out how consistent Who baddies are. The Daleks are terrifying Nazi bred nasties who shoot and scream, The Cybermen want to take away your humanity, The Sontarans want to fight their war…you see? Compare to what Star Trek does to all their baddies, even the impressive at first Borg (let's humanise our monsters, that'll make them more scary!). The designs were never exactly perfect (except maybe The Destroyer and Zygons) but the ideas were brilliant (Tractators, Silurians, Krynoid). I would take a Doctor Who monster over any Kazon (Pah!), Shadows (eugh!) or Narn (eeeek!) any day!

8) Robert Holmes.
The most consistently excellent writer on any show ever. His scripts were always enjoyable, punctuated with wonderful dialogue, colourful characters and genuine tension and excitement. He wrote the cream of the crop of WhoTalons of Weng-Chiang, Caves of Androzani, The Ultimate Foe pt1, Carnival of Monsters and many more. Even the Buffy writer Joss Whedon slipped up enough times to push him out of comparison, aside from The Power of Kroll (I like The Space Pirates!) Holmes could do no wrong.

7) The Books.
What a book range! What other show has carved a niche as well as Doctor Who creating a whole universe of excitement, memorable worlds and engaging characters. The Virgin range was great, gritty and dramatic and never short of surprises. The McGann books didn't start of as well but as soon as Justin Richards took over as editor there was a consistent run of sublime stories…surpassing any run in the TV series. Check out The Adventuress of Henrietta Street and Damaged Goods for examples of how they built on the series and braved new territories unsuitable for the show.

6) Philip Hinchcliffe.
The best producer on the show. Period. He knew what to deliver, strong well made stories with a good horror content and a likable Doctor/companion team (something forgottern in later years). In his three years he only cocked up once a year, an impressive feat (Revenge of the Cybermen, Android Invaison, Hand of Fear) and even these had some strong points. Robots of Death, Seeds of Doom, Genesis of the Daleks…these are the things a great show is made of!

5) Companions.
Yes those trusty fellows who popped up for a while to add the Doctor on his adventures. Believe or not it is the fact that they didn't stay too long that made them so good, the show always had fresh blood, new dynamics. Only those who were truly great stayed on for a good while (Jamie, Sarah, Ace) and only one should have been chopped sooner (Tegan!). People always whinge that the series would be better without those 'dippy companions' but most of the women on the show were quite strong characters and at least they provided something nice to look at. Even Bonnie wasn't that bad…sorry.

4) Villians.
I'm talking about the likes of Sutekh, Morbius, Sharaz Jek…truly memorable bad guys that stick in your head long after the story is over. It is often said the best part of a story is it's well written and performed main bad guy. Go and watch Dragonfire, The Invasion and The Mind of Evil and this is certainly true. The ones everyone remembers…Davros and The Master are especially good.

3) Diversity.
Doctor Who can be about anything. Look it's a western! Now it's a horror. Now it's a comedy about the Romans! Gosh it can even be straight drama! One of the enduring appeals of the show is that every four weeks or so we are switching genres and entering a whole new story with new chracters. Not that I am knocking arc plots (we have the Davros arc, The Master arc, blah blah) but how can a show get dull when it's always different. Most radical examples are Black Orchid/Earthshock and Rememberance of the Daleks/Happiness Patrol to name a few.

2) Cliffhangers.
Star Trek fans gush when they get a half decent cliffhanger (ooh, Picard is a Borg!) but we who fans get a fresh cliffhanger every half hour! Cliffhangers are integral to the shows success, it what keeps people watching to find out how the hell they are going to get out of this one. Terror of the Zygons part one, The Deadly Assassin part three, The War Games part nine, The Daleks part one, Trial of a Time Lord part nine and Ghost Light part two are good examples but there are hundreds more!

1) The Doctor.
The greatest SF hero ever! He is a child at heart (like all of us) but he really cares about the fate of others. He can be sweet, vastly intelligent, moody, romantic, unpredictable, alien, violent, gentle….and any other word you choose to pick out of a hat! Has there ever been a character with so much to offer, each actor brought so much to the role (Hartnell was authority incarnate, Troughton was such fun, Pertwee was likable, Baker 1 was unpredictable and clever, Davison was pleasant and friendly, Baker 2 was the most alien of all, McCoy manipulated but played up comedy too and McGann worked magic with his little screen time) making him charasmatic, egotistical and just damn wonderful. Best Doctor moment ever: The Aztecs, as he makes the cocoa and realises he's engaged to Cameca…and that’s in season one! No other sci/fi character has become half as interesting as The Doctor.

So there you have it…ten reasons to watch your favourite show. Oh and by the way I do like Star Trek (DS9 rules!) and Buffy but I just feel they don't have these defining factors that make them as good.


The Ultimate 6 Story Dr Who Season by Mike Shaw 25/3/02

The Daleks
The one that secured Dr Who's future and popularity and set the format for the rest of the series. The Dr lands on a strange alien planet, wandres about a bit, gets attacked, befriends his aggressors and then faces the real threat, a terrifying monster. Class.

Tomb of the Cybermen
No 'greatest hits' could disclude the second best monsters, and this is not only the best Cyberman story but also one of the best visualised adventures in the history of Who. And I couldn't spot the wires!

Terror of the Autons
In story terms not as good as Spearhead from Space, but given the fact that it does include the fully formed UNIT, Jo Grant, The Master and the Autons, you'd have to be pretty cynical about CSO not to rate this tale.

Pyramids of Mars It may not be a very original opinion, but if you ask me, it doesn't get any better than Tom Baker's Doctor in Season 13 and Pyramids of Mars was the best story of that season. In fact it was the best story ever.

The Talons of Weng Chiang
Quite simply the second best story in the the entire run. Dr Who lends itself well to the world of Victoriana and Holmesesque situations, and other than the rat, the whole thing looks fantastic.

The Caves of Androzani
I nearly chose The Visitation, but plumped for Caves... because it's a genuinely scary, 'behind the sofa' tale, which is just how Dr Who should be. It also contains a regeneration and includes two Doctors. The underrated Peter Davison and the unfortunate Colin Baker. There's something nice about ending the season with the regeneration into the Sixth Doctor. A blank canvas as opposed to the horrors that were to come!


Top Ten companion leaving scenes by Joe Ford 29/3/02

An odd list, granted but after re-watching The Hand of Fear recently I realised just how good some of the leaving scenes were, especially compared to the rubbishy stories they are attachted to. Sometimes it takes a companion to leave to remind you how good they were. Here are some of the best...

10) Mel.
Are you insane, I hear you cry! Seriously, Dragonfire might not be a flawless example of what Dr Who can do but this touching moment actually rounds of a disappointing story (and season) in some style. After a year of manic humour it is great to see McCoy melanchonic speech about time... his friend is leaving him and the Doctor finally realises just how many people have left him in a moment of quiet reflection. Mel, a character who rarely worked on screen actually gets the highest award in this top ten since she is the only one who leaves just because she WANTS to (nothing to do with a lover/disease to cure, etc). What a shame they couldn't have worked as well all year.

9) Jamie and Zoe.
This really upsets me! Not only because Troughton, Padbury and Hines had such gorgeous chemistry but because they erase their memories so after spending all this time with these characters they don't even remember their whacky adventures (but we do which adds an extra layer of poignancy!). The memory wipe leave me a little cold but it's played perfectly (like much of The War Games episode ten) but I can only applaud the production team for having the bravery to make such a radical move.

8) Tegan.
Coming at the tail end of a gratuitously violent show this coda was not only a nice post modern touch but also necessary. Tegan, repulsed by the death and destruction around her, says their adventures have stopped being fun and walks out on him. It's so wonderfully unexpected and abrupt it leaves you reeling. Tegan seemed to spend her entire era bitching about something but this time she has a point. Davison often worked best against Fielding (but that's not saying much) and their performances are spot on here. His delivery of the line "You think I wanted it this way?" is perfect.

7) Romana II.
Ahh the gorgeous Lalla Ward. If she had gotten a five minute "Oh Tom I can't bear to leave you!" scene I would have been furious. Instead her quirky, unexpected decision to remain in E-Space is the perfect ending for a quirky, unpredictable character. Shame she took K.9. he should have blasted Adric before he went.

6) Nyssa.
Dear little Nyssa. Did any companion lose as much as Nyssa? Her father, planet, people, monkey faced friend (Adric), her skirt... cor the list goes on. I love Nyssa, she had real edge considering she was a nave scientist. Another Davison companion goes out on high (yet again in an atrocious story!) and her defiant descision to stay was a brave one and very in character. Sarah Sutton is understandably upset and so are we as the tears stream down her cheeks... boo hoo!

5) Peri.
What a bold uncompromising move. Another death hits the top ten! JNT was a bit of sadist really, wasn't he? Shockingly good considering most of Mindwarp is shockingly bad... this is dramatic Who at it's most powerful best. Wonderfully paced so we know exactly what's coming before her death arrives... the music, the direction, the performances all work a charm. And Colin Baker's delivery of "You killed Peri..." still haunts me today. Of course it was all ruined at the end of Trial of a Time Lord but I delude myself to this day and pretend it never happened.

4) Adric.
Although I, like most people on this Earth, wanted to see Matthew Waterhouse burn for ruining a potentially interesting character and embarassing us for his entire run, nobody can deny he had one hell of a shocking exit, worthy of the greats. Earthshock is a good story and it all builds up that gob smacking exit. I think it is a testiment to the imagination of Eric Saward that he can link the dinosaurs extinction, a time travelling ship, a cyberman invasion and Adric's death but that is why it is so high on this list. We know the dinosaurs are extinct, we know the ship cannot be stopped and we know Adric trying to stop it is futile... the tension that is milked from this and subesquent reactions from Tegan and Nyssa are breath-taking. The close up on Adric seconds before his death is very dramatic.

3) Victoria.
I have such affection for Victoris and can sympathise totally with her descision at the close of Fury from the Deep. This is perhaps one of a few times that a departure is weaved into the story with Victoria's growing unrest at the dangers they face quite palpable before the climax. This one of those times that we can see the actors affected by what's happening and Troughton and Hines are clearly as upset as we are to see our most famous screamer depart.

2) Sarah Jane.
My favourite companion! What a stunner! No The Hand of Fear is far from perfect but the ending is utterly perfect in every way. The dialogue is brilliant and Lis Sladen throws herself in with as much gusto as ever. The "I'm leaving and nothing will stop me" is thrown on it's head in the most spectacularly tragic way. "Until we meet again Sarah Jane" sums it all up really, he knows how much he'll miss her and will pop back and see her later. This made me weep more than my last split with my partner!

1) Jo Grant.
Never beaten, Katy Manning's exit from the show was clearly hugely affecting for the entire production team and actors and never has such a transition been so promenent and obvious. The fact Jo leaves The Doctor for what she says is a younger version makes it even more poignant. Her love and care for the Time Lord is so clear and their last chat is so understated, like they are both holding back the tears. Jon Pertwee's plea to take her round the universe never fails to get me blubbing and his driving off into the sunlight alone is my definitive image of his Doctor (for once a tragic figure instead of an action hero). Quite wonderful.


Top Ten Peter Davison stories by Joe Ford 10/4/02

Peter Davison, still my least favourite Doctor of all (inc Peter Cushing) and yet there are some stories in his (I think) less than stellar years that are worth a watch or two…

10.) The Five Doctors.
Included only to make up the ten stories…sorry I only actually like nine Peter Davison stories! This is a big mess but Davison as actually given a fair bit to do and surprisingly comes up trumps in the final scenes with the four Doctors together. Tegan is as irritatingly whingey as ever and Susan and Sarah are made out to be a lot more pathetic than they actually are. However for all out entertainment value you can't go far wrong with every companion, villain, etc popping up and I still think the Cybermen massacre is one of the best produced action set pieces the show ever managed. Flawed nonsense: 6/10

Top moment: The Cyberman who throws up…yukky!
Top dialogue: Peter Davison's best ever line…"Sorry must dash!"

9.) The Visitation.
Such sumptuous location work you cannot fail to get something from this deliciously visual tale. The Terileptils work a treat especially their leaders final demise which is up chuckingly gross! I love Doctor Who stories that incorporate historical events and this is no exception. Clever and entertaining, all the companions get something to do and Nyssa is just the best when she takes on the android. Michael Robbins provides one of the most memorable characters of the era, I only wish we could have met him again: 8/10

Top moment: Any bit that doesn't contain Adric…sorry monkey face.
Top dialogue: "Today I met Death in a cellar but I've never been more terrified when I was under the man with the scythe."

8.) Planet of Fire.
I include this for purely visceral reasons, this is one of the most glossy and best directed shows ever. The location work in Lanzarote is amazing and a far cry from the quarries of old. It's worth watching this story for it's breezy first episode alone. Nicola Bryant makes an instant impression as the exuberant Peri and as bad as he was Turlough gets a good, emotional exit. Ainley's Master is so hysterically bad at this point you can't fail to love every scene he's in! The music is good too. Oh and every gets their kit off so it can't be all that bad can it?: 8/10

Top moment: Peri gets stranded on the boat…Peri beats up the Master…Peri talks her way on board the TARDIS…I think I must be the only guy on the planet who doesn't like Peri for her looks but for her character!
Top dialogue: "You will be cremated…alive!" Such classic delivery…could Ainley get anymore OTT?

7.) Earthshock.
It's the one where Adric dies. Enough said: 8/10!....No I'm just kidding…it's a well paced, simple story with some effective chills and dramatic moments. What a shame the Doctor doesn't let Tegan die when the Cyberman goes for her! Nyssa is serverely underused but as violent as ever takes out a few Cybermen! I love her! Davison gets some superb material when confronting the Cyberleader and really has there ever been an ending in Doctor Who that provoked so much emotion (The Green Death perhaps)? Exciting and entertaining, they should have ended the season here.

Top moment: The extremely dramatic Adric close up when he dies…exceptional direction…for a second I almost cared.
Top dialogue: Tegan: "I'm just a mouth on legs." You said it, love.

6.) Castrovalva.
A superb introduction, where did it all go wrong? Fiona Cumming directs this poetic adventure with a perfect touch (I actually think the rare occasions the show was directed by a woman it was absolutely stunning). It was important to establish the Tegan/Nyssa relationship and I don't think any story topped this one, they are wonderful together and it is a shame they weren't used like this in later stories. The location work is terrific and well matched for this type of lyrical story and all the complications when they reach Castrovalva are superbly brought to life. Peter Davison is good and gets a cracking last line: 8/10

Top moment: "We're heading straight into the biggest explosion in history!"…who saw that coming?
Top dialogue: "Whoever I feel like…it's absolutely splendid!"

5.) Snakedance.
Whoa! Who said Davison couldn't act? He bursts into life in this story and after finishing it I was quite overwhelmed! Loads of Nyssa too which is definitely a bonus! The dream at the beginning, the crystal ball shattering and the snake skull replacing Tegan's head are three of the most disturbing Doctor Who moments and full credit to Fiona Cumming for pulling of a studio bound story with such style (note her three stories reach the top ten). Top marks for making Tegan interesting and putting Martin Clunes in that outrageous costume, he never regretted that! I love the complexities of this story and how Chris Bailey gave us another story after his hideously overated pile of horse crap that is Kinda: 9/10

Top moment: The look on Chela's face after the Doctor helps a grumpy Nyssa down a ledge!
Top dialogue: "The fifth face of dellusion is the wearers own, that was probably the idea don't you think?"

4.) Enlightenment.
Another Fiona Cumming directed masterpiece. I have never been more amazed with the effects than with the floating ships in space, it still impresses me today. Add in some superb acting and good hearty music you have a (production wise) triumph. This is still my favourite Tegan story, she seems almost subdued and actually has something to contribute to the story with her 'love' story with Marriner. Striker is quite fascinating as are most of the highly imaginative ideas in this story. Once again Davison does little more than charge up and down corridors but at least they're pretty corridors this time round. And to be honest I can't think of anything more entertaining than Lynda Baron's cackle: 9/10

Top moment: "The sparkle has gone from your mind…" Marriner and Tegan work wonders together.
Top dialogue: "Parasites! That's what Eternals are!"

3.) Caves of Androzani.
Horror of horrors…not at number one!!! Yes this is almost flawless…I can even handle the Dragon in some darker shots. The last epsiode is still one of the best ever, a frantic, breathless race against time climax…The Doctor and Peri are a highly engaging team who light up the screen whenever they appear. Sharaz Jek gets the number one spot for most dynamic, interesting and sympathetic villain and is carried off with great aplomb by Chris Gable. None of the minor characters are wasted, the music is fab, Holmes delivers one hell of a storyline and it introduces my favourite Doctor ever. My only problem is, and it's quite a large one (like Shadow of the Scourge recently) it positively revels in it's 'aren't I great' atmosphere and this is the only reason it doesn't hit number one…the following two stories just aren't quite so smug…9/10

Top moment: Too many to list…but I will go for Stotz shooting Jek followed directly by android Salateen shooting Stotz…such shocking violence but so beautifully done.
Top dialogue: "Now if we could just sit down and talk about this sensibly…" The only time fey Davison's friendly-moralising actually made SENSE!

2.) Black Orchid.
What? I hear you scream! This AFTER Caves of Androzani? Are you a nutter? Well, yes probably but I do know my Doctor Who and this two parter is an absolute gem. It has so much in its favour…the first purely historical since The Highlanders which is easily my favourite Dr Who genre, loads of Sarah Sutton in her twin roles which simply blows away the double Tegans, stellar production values including great location work, a simple yet compelling plot (which is a GODSEND!), outstanding performances, the wonderful ball scenes, the agatha christie style musical score, the TARDIS crew spending an ENTIRE episode doing nothing but relaxing and enjoying themselves (it was so about time they did that!). And the fact that it hides away between The Visitation and Earthshock and pretends that it's just a silly interlude is what makes it so perfect. If only there was more of these type of stories, gentle, pleasant, human examples of Doctor Who at its experimental best: 9.5/10

Top moment: The gripping climax on the roof.
Top dialogue: "Is that dancing?"….I think this is more a comment on Janet Fielding's Charlston than anything else.

1.) Frontios.
Oh come on it's G-R-E-A-T!!! It is a little glimpse of what we would have got had Bidmead script edited the era and it's truly magical. The great man manages to take the fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough (one of my least favourite ensembles) and makes them WORK! I love the story, superlatively imaginative and dark with a compelling human side that the show often forgets. It's wonderfully atmospheric with some gorgeous sets (the hull of the ship is breath-taking) and a brilliant musical score. The dialogue sparkles, every line counts and adds a new dimension to the story. Peter Davison gives a most commanding performance, worthy of the greats, he is a far cry from the wet vet we are used and makes me wonder how great he could have been had Bidmead written all his scripts. The Tractators aren't the best designed monsters ever but the ideas are just so nasty…scenes of characters being sucked under the Earth are terrifying and the driving machine has to be seen. All this and the marvellous Lesley Dunlop, one of my favourite actresses…:9.5/10

Quite impressive but I have to remind these are only diamonds in the rough which includes Four to Doomsday, Time Flight, Arc of Infinity, Terminus, The Kings Demons, Warriors of the Deep, The Awakening, Resurrection…truly the utter dregs of Doctor Who. Hate to be so pessimistic but there it is…at least we can revel in the fact that some of the Davison stuff was decent.


Ten Companions from Bizarro Who by Tim Miner 16/4/02

I've been reading reviews and "top ten" lists on this site for years ... and I find it extremely odd that my first post is something I was daydreaming about while stuck in traffic. Well, here goes ...

How would Who have been different if the good Doctor had invited a few more of his acquaintences along for a ride? This list is arranged in chronological order rather than ranked by coolness. Hmmm ...

  1. The Larvae Gun (The Web Planet)
    What if Vicki wanted a pet to replace her precious "Sandy." The Larvae Gun could have been the organic K-9, blasting away at evildoers with its nose. It certainly might have had an interesting stand-off with the Daleks in The Chase... but then Ian wouldn't have been able to have his protracted sword fight with the infidels in The Crusades.
  2. Sara Kingdom (The Dalek Masterplan)
    My aplogies, but a portion of one episode, no matter how long it was, does not a companion make. The true potential of this character would have been revealed in watching how a cracking good space agent from the future could have handled the streets of Paris in The Massacre or the feeble War Machines. She could have been the original Aeryn Sun ... and just like Aeryn, she could have come back from the dead. How would she have softened? What would she have been like when the fate of the universe wasn't at stake? Opportunity wasted. We could have watched her throttle a Monoid!
  3. Cyril ("Billy") (The Celestial Toymaker)
    Now, we know the dolls in the Toymaker's keeping were once people ... and Cyril certainly proved to be extremely cunning. Perhaps he survived his final game and snuck aboard the TARDIS. He would have been the pre-Turlough, an untrustworthy, cutthroat companion (with a much better reason for continuing to wear a school boy outfit for multiple seasons ... Hey, Vislor, there is a closet, you know. They do have pants that fit. Or, the Doc can drop you at The Gap.). His tumultuous moods would have produced great reactions from the equally irritable and selfish First Doctor.
  4. Kirsty (The Highlanders)
    Okay, I wouldn't choose Kirsty over Jamie in reality, but this could have been interesting. More fiesty than Anne Chaplet from The Massacre (who had been under consideration), but sexier than Polly. Listen to the audio -- what a great voice Hannah Gordon had! Something tells me Miss Kirsty would have had a bit more difficulty embracing the concept of The Moonbase one adventure removed from the Jacobite rebellion, and that would have made an interesting dynamic... a companion who didn't get it right off the bat -- Katrina excluded. Methinks Ben would've hung around a bit longer with this lassie as a shipmate. He and Polly were no Ian and Barbara.
  5. Cully (The Dominators)
    Okay, why did this guy stay behind on Dulcis? He hated his society and longed for adventure... I'm not so sure he'd have let the Doctor out of his sight with a chance to get off that planet. Besides, it would have been quite a thing to see an out-of-shape companion... and he could have traded up his frilly dress for one of the leather/rubber numbers left over from The Enemy of the World and stayed on with UNIT during The Invasion. Given the rigorous physical traning UNIT men seem to have had to go through, Cully would have died just fine.
  6. Miss Kelly (Seeds of Death)
    Now here's someone who could have given the Doctor a run his money. You know she would have gone right to work fixing the chamelion circuit her first day on the TARDIS. A brain and a bad attitude ... move over Zoe. That pony tail alone would have been deadly in a fight. Not so easy to throw back into the web of time after the War Games, either. She may have been allowed to stay on Gallifrey to be recruited by the CIA.
  7. Bill Filer (The Claws of Axos)
    Ah, the Americans finally get a chance to do something other than marvel at "New Yak" city (Morton Dill), sing in Western saloons or blow up the world to save their sons... and we get, Bill Filer, Man of Wood. I'd have liked to see him tag along just long enough to get sucked out an airlock on the way to the bathroom in Colony in Space.
  8. Draconian Prince (Frontier in Space)
    I don't care what you say, this would have been cool. The first REAL alien companion ... and he would have been great. Planet of the Daleks would have been one episode long because he would have stolled in and taken the Daleks on single-handedly. No need to crawl through the ducts and avoid killer slushies. He would have gone down in a blaze of glory, but he wouldn't have been alone ... and we would have been spared us five more episodes of Thal angst. Eat your heart out, Absalom Daak.
  9. D-84 (Robots of Death)
    I read a review where someone suggested this ... and it was brilliant. We could have had witty robotic responses without fear of uneven surfaces. And, when the Doctor was cheating at chess, D-85 could have thrown a hand at him. K-9 was fine, but this would have been interesting, too.
  10. Professor Rumford (The Stones of Blood)
    Evelyn Smythe's twin sister. This would have been fantastic. The Fourth Doc would have been completely irritated with an aged companion and she would have been useful in the extreme... dragging Count Grendel outside by the ear, helping the Shadow repair the runs in his face hose, asking if they could hire a Swampie to do be the TARDIS cabana boy, playing canasta with Mentalis... and stopping every 45 minutes for tea and a lie down. Tom would have been beside himself... and you know that would have been awesome.
  11. Varsh (Full Circle)
    Another recent suggestion from a review. Beautiful idea. He would have come in much handier in just about every situation than calculator boy. Slaying vampires, beating up lazy slavers, driving exploration suits (Jeez, Adric couldn't even drive!), punching plasmatons ... and it's pretty certain he would have lived long enough to appreciate Nyssa taking her kit off. Wrong sibling ... wrong sibling!
  12. Tegan's Dalek Double (Resurrection of the Daleks)
    With her aboard, Tegan could have left and the cracking sexual tension between Turlough and she would have continued on. She could have been there to be a big sis to Peri... and, standing next to Colin in her outfit from The Five Doctors make the coat look even better. SHE COULD HAVE SAVED SEASON 22 AND THE SHOW!... Okay, my medication is wearing off, now. Joke's over. Yuck!

Well ... it's clear I need to get a life. Hope you enjoyed.


My Top Ten Doctor Who Stories That I Like And No-One Else Seems To by Matthew Harris

10 -- Battlefield. Okay, so quite what's going on isn't very clear. But for some reason it still made me wonder what'll happen next.

9 -- The Two Doctors. Hardly RH's best work, but viewed as simply a black comedy it works...just. And part one's not bad. Shame about the Victoria thing. Why didn't he just set it between Fury From The Deep and The Wheel In Space? Well? Why?

8 -- Survival. Flawed (someone, somewhere, has to be able to explain that motorbike crash) but the direction and music save it from oblivion.

7 -- Paradise Towers. Hey, a bit of special-guest-laden surreal fun never hurt anyone.

6 -- Death To The Daleks. Not the show so much, though it was half-decent, but the Dalek tune. Ba-ba..ba-baa, ba-ba...ba..ba...Okay, I need help.

5 -- Terminus. What's wrong with Terminus particularly? Except the "Now it's your turn, only you I'm going to kill" line? If nothing else, Liza Goddard's hair'll keep you entertained.

4 -- Warriors' Gate. Read the novel, then you'll get it.

3 -- Time-Flight. Stupid, but entertaining enough. Sort of.

2 -- The Mysterious Planet. I can't help it, I have a soft spot for Robert Holmes. Besides, Tom Chadbon's in it.

1 -- Er, Warriors From The Deep. Sorry, but I thought it was actually quite nicely written, though it did the Silurians and Sea-Devils almost, but not quite, no justice. With more time to finish it, and a different monster, it could have been considered half-decent. Or maybe I'm babbling like a fool. Whatever. Everyone knows it was Thatcher's fault anyhow.


Top Ten genuinely side-splitting moments! by Joe Ford 3/5/02

There are times in Doctor Who that make you laugh hysterically because of a rude looking monster or a terrible piece of hammy acting but on the flip side there are moments that leave you breathless with laughter for intentional reasons! Here for purely pleasurable reasons is my top ten funny bits, go check them out when you're feeling depressed (oh and The Chase!) and you'll have a chuckle.

10) Shockeye discovers Stike's leg! (The Two Doctors)
A recent re-watching reminded me of how funny this Robert Holmes script is but this moment is truly priceless. John Stratton delivers his dialogue with such a dry wit ("Group Marshal Stike destroyed himself..and his ship…I found this") and then he holds up the one intact Sontaran leg he has dicovered! This made even funnier because it's absolutely gross and after Stike's macho posturing to end up like this is just so….degrading! Very funny.

9) All The Doctor wants to is save the world! (City of Death)
A sparkling script that prompts Tom Baker's greatest performance in the series. This comes right near the end of the story when the evil Scaroth's plan is revealed and all the Doctor wants to do is reach the art gallery to retreive the TARDIS and stop him. But traversing the busy streets of Paris prove difficult so they try to call a taxi! All this desperation leads to Tom Baker exclaiming in frustration "Is no-one intersted in history!"

8) Android Tegan. (Frontios)
Included simply because it uses Tegan in such an ingenious way! Finally somebody notices how one-dimensional and moany she is and decides to rip the piss out of her. What makes me crease up is the look on Tegan's face after the Doc says shes great at word processing. She looks as though she's about to explode! Genius!

7) The Doctor and Romana do not get on! (The Ribos Operation)
A fabulous story with a brill introduction of Romana. Tom Baker and Mary Tamm send sparks flying around the console room with their initial scenes together. Particularly funny are…"I'm only 746" "749" "Well I ought to know my own age!" and especially "Do you know before I met you I was even willing to be impressed!" "Indeed?" (Tom Baker's face in that last one is just priceless!). There are so many funny bits here it’s a shame to pick but also tummy tickling is the "It's either Romana or Fred!" "Alright call me Fred!" "Good! Come along Romana!" scene.

6) They're in love I tell you! (State of Decay)
How perfect are Lalla Ward and Tom Baker? This is their last jaunt together properly so it's only right that it is hugely funny too! Tom Baker's face of sheer terror as he helps Romana down from a pipe is followed by the brilliant exchange…"Doctor What is it? WHAT IS IT?" "You jumped on my toe!"

5) Political machinations (Carnival of Monsters)
Pletrac, Orum and Kalik make up one of the best Robert Holmes set of characters ever. They don't really do ANYTHING but remind us just how stupid bureaucracy is! They all bounce of each other so well especially the talented Michael Wisher who delivers the marvellously deadpan "Bravo" after their Eradicator has no effect on the Miniscope. Also the marvellous speedy dialogue exchanges…"Your thoughts are as clear as your ambitions!" "How dare you!" "Please!"

4) The Doctor and Nero in the steamer. (The Romans)
Just thinking about this makes me giggle. Hartnell is such a lovable rogue I think he is so funny every time he loses his temper and this perfectly played scene has his brilliant proclamation "I thought it was marvellous the way you dealt with that stupid fellow!" Also the look on Hartnell's face every time he points the sword at Nero is utterly divine.

3) Attempts into hyperspace. (The Stones of Blood)
It's far more enjoyable if you watch this for laughs instead of chills. Tom Baker is at the height of his lunacy and is accompanied by the equally mad Amelia Rumpford and together they produce some terrifyingly witty scenes. Especially wonderful is the bit where they attempt to jump the Doctor into hyperspace…"Oh and if you hear something run as if something very nasty were coming after you because something very nasty will be coming after you!" I love they way this builds up to something spectacular and then the whole machine blows up with Tom Baker screaming "SWITCH OFF!" and then K.9. puts the blame entirely at the Doctor's doorstep!

2) Doctor/Examiner! (The War Games)
I wanted to put this first but Hartnell just got the edge. Troughton has such a natural flair for comedy that his turn as the bullying, patronising Examiner cannot fail to raise a laugh. "HOW DARE YOU! YOU SEND NO CAR TO MEET US ON OUR ARRANGEMENT AND NOW YOU ADD INSULT TO INJURY BY DOUBTING MY CREDENTIALS! D'YOU KNOW WHO I AM SIR!" Sheer brilliance.

1) The Doctor and Cameca get engaged. (The Aztecs)
Everything about this story is a joy but the hugely amusing subplot with the Doctor accidentally courting Cameca is as funny as it is charming. Without a doubt the funniest moment in Who history is when Cameca deliberately trips over spilling the cocoa beans so the Doctor will make them a cup. The dialogue is so sharp, so perfect…"I shall prepare us a cup!" "You insist upon this?" "Indeed I do…you stay here my dear…I'll be back!" and then later "Happy days my dear" "The happiest of my life dear heart" and "Doctor, you have declared your love for me and I accept with all my heart!" Just take a look at Hartnell's astonished face and don't tell me you can watch it straight faced! Great stuff.

There are many more I know, expecially the laugh a minute Williams era but I wanted to be fair and include from points all over the series…stay tuned for my 'unintentionally funny moments in Who!' I promise you, it'll be a hoot!


Top Ten Cliffhangers by Joe Ford 15/5/02

Ah the cliffhanger, integral to Doctor Who's success and a very handy plot device for the writers in case the story has gotten a little boring so they can slip in a kidnap, an explosion or a wailing companion tied to the train track. This is my list of all time cliffhangers of the stories that I watched in one gulp (sorry, one viewing!) and was completely glued thanks to these stunning moments…

10) Full Circle (Part One).
A truly gob smacking moment considering there is no trace of monsters in the first episode to have the Marshmen rise from the waters was one of those "What on Earth!?" cliffhangers. Especially good because it looks divine, all slow motion-y and mists swimming into view as the monsters claw their way from the surface of the lake. Perfectly scored too.

9) Earthshock (Part Four).
Has there ever been a more downbeat ending to a Doctor Who story? Of course being a fan of the nineties I knew all about Adric's death before it happened but I can only imagine the thrill of being a first broadcast watcher utterly horrified as he plunges to his death. What makes this great is that it is a Davison cliffhanger (watch he had the annoying habit of underplaying!) and the incredible build-up. We assume that the Doctor will save his companion because that's what he does…isn't it? Tegan and Nyssa's reactions are perfect.

8) Trial of a Time Lord (Part Thirteen).
Oh come on! No matter how much you hate TOTL and it's many 'zoom in on Colin's face' cliffhangers this one is one of the best! It's not often a really surreal cliffhanger comes along but this one is just fab. The Doctor is trapped within the mental nightmare the Valeyard has created…he finds himself on a beach (doubling as a waiting room, obviously) and suddenly arms burst from the sand and grab his ankles. Unable to escape he is subsequently dragged beneath the surface with a blood curdling scream…god I love Robert Holmes!

7) Vengeance on Varos (Part One).
Not only superbly dramatic and well acted on all fronts but also shockingly post-modern. As we watch the Doctor struggle in the VR dessert the viewers of Varos are also watching on their screens. The Doctor collapses, unable to take the heat and the Governor orders a close up on his face. Peri, apalled to discover his friend's fate walks in just as the Governor calls for the cliffhanger. "And cut it…now!" Clever, clever stuff.

6) The Daleks (Part One).
A ton of shows/films have done the 'confronted with something nasty' cliffhanger but never with such panache as here. The build up is fantastic, Barbara's scenes trapped in the Dalek's city are without parallel and of course the fabulous Jackie Hill milks it for all the tension she can. The fact that a sink plunger can induce so much fear never ceases to amaze me and that scream will stay with me forever.

5) Rememberance of the Daleks (Part Two).
Sophie Aldred was absolutely right when she said the mother of all cliffhangers was the 'oh my god how on earth is the companion going to get out of this one?'. Following action sequences of real energy to have Ace, the companion who refuses to scream, surrounded by three screaming Daleks was inspired. Finally I got to see a classic cliffhanger on first broadcast and I was devasted when the credits ran! The fact that Ace is fumbling a rocket launcher just makes it that much cooler.

4) Evil of the Daleks (Part Five/Six).
Woah, three Dalek cliffhangers in a row…they really did try and do something special with those metal meanies, didn't they. Another stunning innovation for the Troughton era…the Emperor Dalek was a masterpiece of design and his wonderful booming voice exudes menace like no other.

3) Terror of the Zygons (Part One).
Simply for the stunning first appearance of the Zygons. Douglas Camfield was the best director the show ever had and he built up the episode with glimpses of the monsters. He ratches up the pace when Harry is unexpectadly attacked and leaves us with the lingering image of the grotesque looking creature towering over helpless Sarah Jane…

2) The Invasion (Part Six).
Camfield again and a superb cliffhanger leaving us desperate to see what happens next. We all know that the invasion is coming, meticulously planned at every step and the sudden appearance of the Cybermen punching their way out of the sewers is very exciting. The shots of the metal monsters approaching the camera down the steps of St Pauls are utterly divine and unforgettable.

1) Inferno (Part Six).
Oh wow! Wow! Wow! Such a fantastic story. Never before have things seemed so desperate, our hero lost in a world that's going up in flames is trying to get home. Enemies that have become friends are helping but there is no way the Doctor can save them. Volcanoes are blowing up left, right and centre. People who have been turned into slavering beasts look on in horror as they are fried. The Doctor is just about to escape when a river of lava rolls down to consume his new friends. Gripping, dramatic, upsetting and stomach turning because you KNOW the Brig, Liz, etc are not going to get out of this one...


My ten favorite Who villains by Mike Jenkins 2/6/02

  1. Tobias Vaughn from The Invasion. The wonderful Orson Wells/Alfred Hitchcock/Vincent Price aura he conveys will be forever unforgettable in my mind.
  2. Count Scalioni/Captain Tankready from City of Death. Wonderfully casual with an impertinantly quaint sense of humor. The villain you want to spend your day off with.
  3. Harrison Chase from The Seeds of Doom. Perverted, sadistic, and unervingly comfortable with himself; not to mention an obsession with plants. The hallmarks of all great Doctor Who villains.
  4. Solon from The Brain of Morbius. Yes, certainly not the strongest story but one of the most undeniably entertaining villains!
  5. The Fendahleen from Image of the Fendahl. A personal favorite only.
  6. High priest of the Nimons from The Horns of Nimon. A senile puppet to an unknown all power alienesque regieme. Absolutely fantastic!
  7. The Shadow from The Armageddon Factor. Cliched in an almost romantic way.
  8. Tractators from Frontios. Physical uselessness forces them to seduce unweary protagonists using their mental faculties.
  9. The Captain from The Pirate Planet - Captain Kidd meets Dr. Strangelove
  10. Any and every Sontaran because they're all absolutely wonderful.


A Seemingly Compulsory "Top Ten Cliifhangers" by Matthew Harris 3/6/02

Seeing as how everyone who's ever visited this site and their dog has come up with one of these, I thought I'd better way broadcast my own, for fear of being left out. To whit: my top ten cliffhangers. Well, my ten favourite; I can't put it in any order. As you'll see, I like a party with a scary atmosphere...

Inferno. Classic story, and several classic cliffhangers - Episode 3, "Are you going to come quietly, or do I shoot you here and now?"; the scary, doom-laden Episode 4 ending? Both fab, but the winner must be Episode 6. Forget what it is (stock footage rushes toward some people in a shed), think what it does. It chills. One of the reviews on this site said it must have stayed with the viewers in 1970 for the whole week. I can vouch for this, even though, being born in 1983, I saw this on an omnibus. But it still stayed with me. The cry of despair from Petra. The slow zoom toward the lava. The dark, ominous, frankly terrifying soundtrack, merging after an incredible amount of time with the new-fangled cliffhanger noise. The knowledge that everyone - possibly including the Doctor - is going to die a fiery death. Unforgettable.

The Tomb Of The Cybermen. Episode 2. Tall gangly silver man with speech impediment threatens short stout comedy foreigner. "You belong to us-a. You shall be like us-a." Genuinely scary, and a great example of an "atmosphere" cliffhanger. While we're on the subject, Mike Morris, you weren't supposed to be scared of the dummy at the end of Episode 1, you were just supposed to feel the doomy atmosphere. Kit and Gerry don't take the viewers for fools, you know.

Earthshock. Episode 1. "Destroy them! Destroy them AT ONCE!" Oh my god! They're Cybermen! CYBERMEN! Grimwade gives you no warning, no menacing zoom out, no nothing. Just the Doctor's face in infra-red, then a chord and suddenly the shiny ones are in front of you. I knew that was going to happen and I was still frightened. Mind you, I'm a ponce.

Terminus. Episode 1. Underrated episode, underrated cliffhanger. Forgotten classic really, and once again, an "atmosphere" deal. The horrific despair of the Lazars, the terrified screams of Olvir. "We're on a leper ship! We're all going to diiiie!" It's a jolt, let me tell you. And it's a much better closing line than "Now it's your turn, only you I'm going to kill."

The Face Of Evil. Episode 3. Did you know.....that the child's voice for this genuinely unsettling climax was provided by a chap called Anthony Frieze, who had won a Blue Peter competition to be on Doctor Who? He only has one line, but it's done very well. An electronically enhanced Baker (T) in extreme close up, shouting "Who am I?" in a child's voice. Put like that it doesn't sound so great, but in practice it gave me goosebumps.

The Ark In Space. Part two. The horrificness of Noah's transformation is heightened by the music, which blends in perfectly with the musical sting at the end, and ends up chilling me to my very core. Really. The other two aren't bad either.

Genesis Of The Daleks. Episode 4. "You will tell me! YOU WILL TELL ME!" Michael Wisher's Davros is pure, distilled, concentrated evil. On the rocks. With a twist. And a little parasol. Eesh, he's chilling. And here he's at the peak of his powers. The Doctor is completely at his mercy. The choice he's given buggers him either way. He's just taken steps against a revolution. All is right with the world. By the way, I'd like to take a moment here to redress still another balance: the end of episode two is quite effective. Think about it. You don't know what's coming, you've just seen Sarah Jane fall off a ledge. It scared me, until I got to the denouement. It's half a good cliffhanger.

The Greatest Show In The Galaxy. Episode 1... Only joking. I'm so wacky. To be fair to Wyatt, he'd written a three-parter. The whole first episode was tacked on at the last minute. Hence the non-cliffhanger. Anyway, the one I'm nominating is Episode 3. For nostalgia. As I said, I was born in 1983, which left me very little scope for becoming a fan of the series. But in 1988, after reading some of my godfather's old Target Novels, I decided to have a look. The one I saw was Greatest Show, Episode 3, so I had no idea what was going on. But I remember the ending. The moon. The lady on the ground, turning into a monster for some reason (I hadn't been paying attention). The climactic snarl into the camera. If only they'd left out the shot of Sylv's face it'd have been even better.

Kinda. Episode 1. An undisputed classic story, surely? Well, this bit is. Hindle's "I have the power of life and death over all of you!" is brilliantly delivered, directed and, as a bonus, the soundtrack's great (the music stops just before the scary bit). Disturbing.

Warriors' Gate. Episode 3. A combination of two stylees: menacing atmosphere, and threat for the Doctor, this is also a technical achievement unrivalled in the show's 26-year history. It's a bit good. Too complex to talk about in detail (taking into account the inordinate amount of space given to Inferno), suffice to say it's something no Doctor Who fan can afford not to see.

And that's without even mentioning Caves parts one or three, or any one from City Of Death (I think that's exactly the question I ought to be asking you... Doctor), or Polly James' prolonged Doctooooooorrrrrrrr in The Awakening. But a special award has to go to Dragonfire. You know what I mean. I can explain. THE PASSAGE COMES TO AN END. There's a ledge below the Doctor that he's trying to climb to, but he fails. It's just extraordinarily badly directed. Not smug, not post-modern, just terribly directed. It wouldn't have been especially good if these things had been obvious, of course, but at least it would have made sense. Hmm?


My Top 10 Cliffhangers as I am highly unoriginal by David Barnes 15/6/02

The title says it all. I also haven't got a particular order (can't you see how new all this is?) but nevertheless:

The Invasion Part 5: Demented Cyberman. I just love the last shot with the Cyberman going "YARGHUNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGAYYAYYYYADIJJR!"

The Invasion Part 6: Cybermen invade London. It's just so neat to see aliens taking over famous landmarks. The Cybermen hypno-sound is cool, and the close up of their trainers at the end is so class!

Inferno Part 6: As explained above, wall of lava rolls towards some people in a shed. But it's done with extroadinary brilliantness.

City of Death Part 1: So silly, so spine-tingly.

Leisure Hive Part 1: Because of the Doctor's scream echoing into the theme music.

Warriors Gate Part 1: Yes you heard right. Part 1 not Part 3. Normally beheading cliffhangers are dull but its just really really super decent to actually have the axe swoop down!

Caves of Androzani Part 3: "I'M NOT GOING TO LET YOU STOP ME NOW!!!!" The quick cutting from the Doctors face to the planet, coupled with the ominous spaceship noise, enhanced by Stotz's desperate cry of "Please!" at the end makes this cliffhanger so brilliant.

Trial of a Timelord Part 13: "Goodbye Doctor!" "NOOOOOOO!" Its so creepy to see all those hands come out of the sand.

Paradise Towers Part 1: A genuine "What the Hell?" cliffhanger.

Remembrance of the Daleks Part 2: The Daleks closing in on Ace. I just love the franticness.

Ones that just failed to miss the mark:
Face of Evil Part 3
Pirate Planet Part 3
Survival Part 2
The Daleks Part 1


Top Ten BIG mistakes made by Doctor Who by Joe Ford 16/6/02

It seemed only fair that I should write this list since I recently explained why I loved the show so much. Of course mistakes were made, real big ones too, as no show is ever perfect. Doctor Who (for me) is more perfect than any other but here are those little things that niggle at me, that mar my enjoyment at times. I have chosen to ignore all the nit picky production things (such as dire monster costumes, FX, etc) and concentrate decisions that affected the show itself…

10) The downfall of the Cybermen.

After an audacious start these metal meanies just fail to capture any of the menace they exuded in the monochrome years. The Moonbase, Tomb of the Cybermen and The Invasion show them at their best, ruthless, cunning, hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce out and snap your head off! I think they really looked good in Black and White all shiny and evil and Troughton knew how to make them scary, by simply letting his dread of the creatures dominate his performance. Revenge of the Cybermen should have been great. It was dire (especially being a Hinchcliffe!). They look stupid, lack any kind of fear factor and strutted around all hands on hips with plans of world conquest. How dull. Earthshock was an attempt to bring back some of their behind the sofa appeal and to a degree it does but even in that story there were some appalling direction lapses (Cybermen conversation gestures for christs sakes!). The Five Doctors reduces them to boring foot soilders designed to show us just how scary the death zone is (tut, tut Terrance having them massacred and defeated over a chess board! Why couldn’t you have used Tegan for that?). Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis are just the final nail in their coffin... they are tired, with convoluted yet boring plans, silly diving suit voices and fall down if somebody sneezes on them! Attack is good but the Cybermen just detract so much. A pity. What happened? I dunno, the Daleks were treated to a fabulous renewal of nastiness in the eighties, I guess you can’t have two great bad guys at once. And why has nobody ever written the Genesis version of the Cyber story, when they were first created… an odd lapse considering every piece of Who history seems to have been filled in. Needless to say they aren’t my favourite monster.

9) The return of the Master.

Oh dear, oh dear. Delgado was perfect for the Pertwee years, he gave the era a real sense of style, structure and motive…in short he was divine. Following his tragic death and his open ended departure in Frontier in Space I can fully understand why Bob Holmes wrote The Deadly Assasin. And it worked, the Master’s shock re-appearance, his hatred for the Doctor, his political machinations, it ALL clicked. I genuinely feel it should have been left there. Finnito. The Doctor should have finall defeated his nemesis. But no, JNT wanted to lure back hardcore Doctor Who fans so back he came. In the shape of Anthony Ainley. Fact: Ainley had ten stories and the Master worked in two of them, The Keeper of Traken and Survival. Some of his others stories had many good points but were dragged down by the pantomime acted Master. Why does he keep popping up after he was clearly seen to die in the last story (oh I’m indestructible the whole universe knows that! Very droll…). Why are his plans so crap (Time-Flight/The Kings Demons anyone?). Why doesn’t he have a spark with Davison like the Pertwee/Delgado chemistry? Why? Why? Why? The end of episode morph from the character he is pretending to be to the Master is the final insult leading to the wonderful phrase ‘doin’ an Ainley’ when anyone else does it.

8) Losing the awe.

Think back to An Unearthly Child. Or whatever you want to call it. Ian and Barbara walk into the TARDIS and they are utterly terrified that such a thing should exist. It turns their entire lives upside down. They are kidnapped! The TARDIS is a sophisticated, scary piece of equipment. It exists in its own dimension! So why oh why was that forgottern in later years? I would be gob smacked if such an impossibility was shown to me. Most companions from Victoria onwards just walked in with an open mouth and then accepted things. It’s especially annoying when Davison took entire hordes of people inside and used it like a bloody bus (Black Orchid as much I love it is the biggest contender followed closely by The Awakening). Some attempts were made (Tegan, as much as I hate her had the most realistic reaction since Ian and Barbara’s) but if we could all experience such a shock with such complacency the world would be a much better place indeed.

7) De-valuing Nyssa.

I love the Big Finish audios. For the first time since… well ever I feel as though I have a fix of new Doctor Who with cliffhangers, continuing plots and even the old actors who were on telly! Wow! But for all their brilliance I have one major complaint. Nyssa. I loved Nyssa on telly. Sarah Sutton was remarkably talented and had this unconscious habit of stealing any scene she is in even if Tegan was going off at one and Adric was sulking…she could be just standing in the background but she never missed a moment to show how great she was. When Tegan left we got see what she was made of (she steals Arc of Infinity, the ONLY REASON I would watch that again). But for some reason Big Finish remember her as a miserable bitch, a Tegan clone who just bullies the Doctor and sulks. Sutton is still good and tries to tone down the material but Winter for the Adept, Land of the Dead and The Mutant Phase are all disappointing because of this cynical, unlikable Nyssa. Boo hoo. Shame really because Lance Parkin’s Primeval shows how it should be done and Nyssa works a treat. More like that please.

6) Re-scheduling.

A quick one. Removing Doctor Who from it’s Saturday slot was a BAAAD idea! If it was opposite something popular like The A-Team then move it to an earlier/later slot. This whole twice weekly thing merely re-inenforces the soap elements of season nineteen!

5) Peter Davison.

Oh come on did you really think I would leave this out? No sir! He WAS too young for the part, and didn’t have any of the presence the others exude (even McCoy could command the screen!). Subtle nauances? Where, I don’t see them. Maybe the odd smile or a witty quip but where was the zany humour from Tom Baker or the charisma of Jon Pertwee, the alieness of Colin Baker…just what defined the fifth Doctor? He was nice. How ideal for his companions to rip him apart at their leisure. What is especially frustrating is the occasional moments of brilliance Davison offers, Frontios, Androzani, Excelis Dawns… all superb performances. It’s almost as though you can feel how much he hated the continuity heavy season twenty and couldn’t be bothered to ignite it with something memorable. Davison is a good actor but this part just didn’t suit him and tarnishes three years of Who with the brush ‘bland’. Hell if nothing else he is damn sexy so at least there was something nice to look at.

4) Long, long stories.

I believe you can tell the best Doctor Who story in ninety minutes. A lot of my favourites are… Pyramids of Mars, Revelation of the Daleks, Androzani, Day of the Daleks, The Aztecs… the perfect length. The six parters of the Pertwee era are horribly padded (and considering some of the stories are so dire to lengthen them just adds further pain to the experience) and there are some grotesquely drawn out black and white stories (C’mon can you really get through all of The War Games without a yawn…it starts superbly and finishes on an all time high but all that escape/captured/escape/capture…zzzzzz). I’m not saying longer stories can’t work but they need a real backbone and a lot of juice to sustain the interest (Genesis of the Daleks, Talons of Weng-Chiang). A good writer helps. Even Inferno, a classic if ever there were one spends its first two episodes pondering…cut it down to five parts and have the Doctor hit the alternative universe at the end of episode one!

3) Watering down the Pertwee era.

Season seven was pretty wonderful. Let's admit that. The stories were solid, exciting, well written and produced and had a recognizable and yet scary setting. Earth. After the playful SF nature of Troughton's era it was refreshing to finally get some grit. Guns, fights, politics, an arrogant Doctor, science… and what does Barry Letts decide. Well this is just too sophisticated for Doctor Who let's tone it all down. Silly monsters, colourful spaceships, dodgy music, blah, blah, blah…it’s such a pity because Mind of Evil just shows what would have happened if Doctor Who had continued along season seven's lines… gripping drama. I’m not saying that all of the Pertwee stories afterwards are poor, far from it (I love Day of the Daleks, Curse of Peladon, The Green Death, The Time Warrior) but they just don’t have the structure or gravitas of any of the season seven stories. And of course we were treated to the ultimate clunkers… Monster of Peladon, Colony In Space, The Time Monster… that make the Davison era look like art.

2) Sacking Colin Baker.

Let me tell you about season twenty four, five and six. After escaping the Trial the sixth Doctor takes Mel home and promises to meet up with her again. He then goes on to have two solo adventures, a fun excursion with the Rani (Colin and O’Mara butt heads so well!) and the second in the huge building Paradise Towers where he comes up against a psychotic killer trying to kill the residents. Bonnie leaves in Delta and the Bannermen… a jolly romp in fifties Wales. He lands in Pease Pottage for repairs and the silly girl wanders in thinking it’s her father's new tool shed! The Doctor cannot tell her about them already meeting which leads to some hilarious slip ups as he keeps forgetting and complains about her ‘memory like an elephant’. After a fun musical adventure they head for Svartos where they team up with street wise Ace who immediately comes to blows with our boisterous Doctor. Mel is brutally killed at the climax and the Doctor is forced to consider his adventures being too violent to have companions. Ace stows away, much to his chargin. They go on to have three years of exciting adventures, Baker’s portrayal getting several shades darker and more manipulative but bouncing off the great Sophie Aldred so well. Take note of Baker’s shocking confrontation with her in Curse of Fenric and Ghost Light when she realizes how she is being manipulated. Things come to shocking finish when not willing to sacrifice Ace in KILLER, the gripping season tewenty seven climax, to save the Universe she commits suicide saving the day leaving our already unstable Doctor distraught. He regenerates slowly, whimpering to himself in a straight jacket in a padded cell…with the evil of the universe finally too much for him…

Oh come on it would have been great! The McCoy years were great but McCoy himself wasn’t. I think the show would have been taken in even darker directions in seasons twenty four and five had Baker remained. He had already pushed the show in unpredictable directions I think he would have continued to do so becoming many Colin hater's favourite. Am I completely mad? Possibly.

1) Abandoning the purely historicals.

Why? I know I keep saying it. They were popular. Were the audiences in the sixties so fickle they could enjoy the show unless a big monster was roaming the set? The Hartnell historicals are thoughtful, charming, mostly gripping, brave, colourful…in short Doctor Who at it’s very best. Psedo-historicals are good fun but those set entirely within the confines of their historical era had so much depth, such glorious characters and by golly actually taught us something. Black Orchid in season nineteen is one of my favourite eighties stories, a simple historical tale amid the confusing dreck of SF plots. It was the worst mistake to drop these stories as Doctor Who lost a lot of its thoughtful nature and imagination with them.


Top Ten Physical Battles by Jonathan Martin 17/6/02

Just those coming to mind at the moment They're in no particular order. My fondness for season 6 is evident though.


Top Ten Worst Physical Battles by Jonathan Martin 22/6/02

No, I'm afraid Doctor Who doesn't always deliver the goods when it comes to the ol' fisty-cuffs and such, here are some I consider to be the weakest:


Top Ten Worst Doctor Who stories by Joe Ford 25/6/02

I have to say that this was a REALLY hard list to write. I hate bitching off my favourite show... too many people do that already and Doctor Who is just one of those shows that can be absolutely dire but still have magical moments sprinkled about that remind you why you want to give it a big kiss. More often than not a really bad Doctor Who story is so unintentionally hysterical, as if the production team tried to make it as embarassing as possible that it bcomes a priceless favourite (stand up The Chase and Warriors of the Deep). However there are rare times when there are just no more excuses, ninety odd minutes of bland, tasteless, dull SF... here for your benefit (ie, AVOID!) is the worst examples.

10) Timelash.
Even Saint Colin slipped up. I can't explain it, emmersed in the dysfunctiional genius of Season Twenty-Two this shoddy'n'cheap nightmare starts out badly and continues on a downward spiral to the apalling climax. Just how cheap can Who look? I would never join the masses because I think the show achieved wonders of the imagination with its meagre budget but this story just looks rubbish. The muppet Bandrils. The model shots of Karfel that a six year old could draw better. The corridors that have nothing... NOTHING in them! The yellow triangle doorhandle! The Morlox! And don't get me started on the Timelash itself. But what about the betrayl of the imagination... the one idea, continuity obsessed, daft science, slow paced and crappily resolved story! That double twist ending, ooh what a surprise! It pains me to see the wonderful Colin and Nicola wandering around this shite... they try in vain but are fighting a lost cause.
Worst moment: Peri stuck screaming on that pole as that grey turd growls at her. The music, direction, acting, writing...all combine to make me crawl behind the sofa and mutter 'The Two Doctors and Revelation of the Daleks either side" over and over again.
Worst dialogue: "Admit defeat Doctor!" NNNNOOOOOOOO!

9) The Sea Devils.
It's not a patch on The Silurians and it epitomises all the crap elements of the Pertwee era. There are far too many action sequences which, whilst looking good, add nothing to the plot and there are far too many times that the action simply crawls to a halt (Trenchard's sudden change of heart, Jo rescuing the Doctor again and again, the whole diving bell stuff, the swordfight... I could go on!). The direction is just terrible... all that Navy footage substituting drama, the horrid grainy location work... he manages to make Jon Pertwee unsympathetic and Roger Delgado look a fool. Okay maybe I'm going too far, there are some great scenes in this story but I can't watch it! I CAN'T! I CAN'T! I CAN'T! And why? Bloody Malcolm Clarke and his awful music! It's just apalling and tarnishes every scene unwatchable. A collection of bleeps and screeches that I cannot believe was released on a CD. It just goes to show that old saying is true 'People will buy anything'.
Worst moment: The knife throwing cliffhanger. Just bad.
Worst dialogue: Actually the dialogue is quite good but is often drowned out by that terrible music!

8) The Kings Demons.
At two episodes at least it doesn't stay long. Amongst the crap that polluted Season Twenty this a prime example of how low the show could sink in the 80's. First off is Kamelion, JNT who hated K9 and yet trying to capatilise on his success. And failing. A real crap design that didn't work in the studio and had a really bad story to go around it. Next up is Anthony Ainley in that stupid French disguise witha terrible accent and that stupid ginger beard. The fact that they saved the 'shock horror!' appearance of The Master until the cliffhanger just shows how desperate this production is. Then we have the despicable team of Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson who are so horribly unlikable, so bland and do NOTHING to make this an enjoyable experience. The direction is poor. The music is bad. The guest stars are dull. It's just a painful experience at two episodes that feels like ten.
Worst moment: The swordfight. Pathetic.
Worst dialogue: "You insult ze King!" Another in a long line of classic Ainley accents[TM]

7) Four to Doomsday.
Any show that can make the marvellous Nyssa unwatchable sinks in my eyes! Just what is this about? Space hopping frogs? Invading planets? Cultural dance? Blowing the budget on crappy spaceship sets? The team of Doc 5, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric haven't adjusted to working together and it shows. It feels especially jarring since they work fine together in Castrovalva (recorded three stories on but broadcast before this!). Davison just does not know what he's doing... kind'n'gentle, snappy'n'rude, intelligent'n'insightful, bullied'n'beaten down... they all creep up here in his frantic performance and you can see him desperate to cling on to one. It's a virtual blueprint for his performance in the rest of the era. Tegan acts like she is on narcotics, Adric is at his most annoying and Nyssa faints (of all the cheek!). The sets may not be wooden but the actors certainly are and Stratford Jones is the only worthy actor here. All this and the spacewalk sequence which probably cost a bomb but actually looks crap.
Worst moment: Anything with Adric and his betrayal. Yuck.
Worst dialogue: "This is me." Says the android which could be a shocking or touching moment but the line is delivered so flat it renders the idea useless.

6) The Wheel In Space.
The biggest insult is that it caps off season five which is one of my all time favourites. I'm not going to say anything that hasn't been said a hundred times... the cybermen's plan might be clever but it's so slow and complicated it becomes a chore to watch the each step. the first episode should be dramatic and moody (like the recent Embrace the Darkness with a similar, only far better, first episode). Troughton out of action for an episode sabotages things further, so does the terrible accents. It's so long and drawn out and the cybermats just don't do anything for me (soz). The astroid effects are poor and the final episode bland and uninteresting. God bless Wendy Padbury, she's the one beacon of light in this unsalvagable mess.
Worst moment: That guy surrounded by three cybermats... what face acting!
Worst dialogue: "You know our ways you must be destroyed!" Even the voices are crappy.

5) Silver Nemesis.
The story that drove me clinically insane. I spent a Sunday afternoon screaming "STUPID CYBERMEN!" "YOU THICKO CYBER-PRATS!" at their sheer stupidity throughout. Once a formidable foe now reduced to screaming like Mr Blobby if somebody throws a coin at them. A crying shame. Let's not forget De Flores, the worst Doctor Who villan of all time, atrociously acted and with no solid motive. The lacklustre direction which just seems to be a point and shoot approach with no invention or imagination added to help the dire script. Watch for the sweet McCoy/Aldred bits and then fast forward the rest.
Worst moment: Do I have to choose? Okay the Cybermen who walk into the fire after TWO warnings! STUPID CYBERMEN!"
Worst dialogue: "You betray me! Have I taught you nothing!" Even as an act it's poor.

4) Revenge of the Cybermen.
More Cyber-crapness. And it has the wonderful Sarah-Jane in it! And Harry! And Tom Baker! Oh well it can't be that bad then can it? WRONG! Easily the weakest material they were ever given this just falls to part as soon as we see the obvious dummies faking dead bodies on the Ark! Sarah holding the Cybermat is so funny it hurts! The Cybermen gunning down the Vogan army on a planet made of their most feared substance just boggles belief. The similarities to Genesis of the Daleks add salt to the wound. Tom Baker's less than stellar performance just feels wrong. The thought that Robert Holmes scripted the Vogans and they are brought to life by Collins, Stoney and Wisher and they STILL fail to provide ANY interest is just bizarre. At least the caves look nice.
Worst moment: the sparkling Christmas decoration Cyberleader with his foreign accent and hands on hips excercises.
Worst dialogue: "Take the Cybermen from behind" Oo-er missus.

3) The Armageddon Factor.
One big long disaster that just never, ever ends, has K9 chatting up another computer, a cockney Time Lord, gut chokingly funny miniature effects and the audacity to waste the lovely Lalla Ward. That it finishes what was a fantastic Williams season with some ripe classics earlier on just makes me sour inside. That they pulled out the White Gaurdian is The Black Gaurdian in disguise trick just makes me wanna heave. This is not good. It's bad.
Worst moment: Is there a good bit?
Worst dialogue: Ditto.

2) Terminus.
I must just say that despite some hateful Tegan bitchiness epsiode one is an absolute corker. It's dark and spooky and it has a classic cliffhanger. But that alas is why it's so damn high on the list because as soon as episode two starts up it's like we're somewhere else. A place where woodern guest actors rule. Where Gibbs cannot stop twing-twanging his music. Where Davison does sod all. Where Tegan and Turlough are do sod all (hold on... did I say this was bad?). Where Nyssa whimpers and screams and drops her skirt (pretty degrading but hey Turlough got his knickers out next year so it wasn't THAT sexist!). A strange place that has big pantomime dogs wandering about. That loses itself up it's own plot. That doesn't have one sprinkle of good dialogue. A place where Nyssa leaves me forever (boo-hoo... okay perhaps I'm a little biased).
Worst moment: Lisa Goddard. What a haircut.
Worst dialogue: "FRREEEEEEZZZZZZEEEEEEE!"

1) Arc of Infinty.
The mother of all clunkers. I'm not even going to reel out all the usual reasons why (writing, direction, acting, music, FX, blah, blah) because they are all so astronomically bland and tedious I would never, ever stop. Instead I would suggest you go and read The Infinity Doctors and then watch this. Don't try and compare them, it would be an insult to the book. But just marvel in how it should, could have been done and then weep for hours over the sheer awfulness of this Davison adventure.
Worst moment: Colin's socks which out act everybody.
Worst dialogue: The script.

Just outside: Colony In Space, The Space Museum, The Three Doctors, Underworld, Time-flight.


A Completely Self-Indulgent list of my 5 Favorite Reviewers on this Site by Terrence Keenan 26/6/02

Since discovering the DWRG abut a year and a half ago, and becoming a regular contributor meself, I thought it was time to have some fun and give tribute to five reviewers whose commentary I will read first, above others (In no particular order):

Dominic Cerola -- He's the defender of the Virgin Books, the one man who will find the good in any novel. He always has insight and depth for his reviews, and manages continually to look at the bigger picture for the book -- how it ties into the DW universe. Check out his review of The Shadows of Avalon as a basis of his style, also books in the alternative history cycle.

Robert Smith? -- No, this is not a suck up to the big kahuna who is running the DWRG. First, I enjoy his reviews because he is unpredicitable as to what he likes and what he'll dislike. He'll tear a book apart if he thinks it merits it, and will celebrate things he enjoys, even if it means finding the flaws and shredding them. Two of his to check out: his views on Robot, and his comments on Dead Romance.

Mike Morris -- Out of all the regular contributors, I find myself agreeing with him more often than not. He's very passionate about his reviews; if he likes something, you'll know; if not, don the asbestos gloves. Mike shapes each of his reviews around a theme and ties it all together by the conclusion. Check out his opinions on Verdigris, Horror of Fang Rock & The Adventuress of Henrietta Street.

Rob Matthews -- He gets the nod because he felt so passionate about a throwaway line in one of my reviews to dash off an article and exclaim angrily that I was wrong. I don't always agree with him, but he does make his points well. Take a gander at his review on Tom Baker/The Fourth Doctor, and his rant about the Rad V Trad fallacy, which is the aforemention rant.

Finn Clark -- If pressed to name only one favorite reviewer, it would have to be Finn Clark. And it's simple, he cracks me up and makes me think all at the same time. He's a walking contradiction -- loathes fanwank, but will review a series of books based on his own continuity theories -- and, like Robert, is unpredictable as to what he likes and dislikes. He's also not afraid to go against conventional wisdom. And most of all, he trashes a book like no other. Classic Finn reviews include -- Tomb of Valdemar, Divided Loyalties & The Ancestor Cell.


Ten Doctor Who books for a newcomer by Rob Matthews 28/6/02

Just a couple of short years ago I was a complete newcomer to Who fiction, with nothing but an extensive web-based fan review site to guide me through the mire. The first full-length Who novel I bought was Heart of TARDIS, which received mixed reviews at best, but which at the time was a heartening revelation - leaps and bounds ahead of the TV series in terms of invention and humour, and actually written for adults!

(this is something I still have trouble explaining to friends)

So now, indulge me as I paint myself as some kind of svengali-like mastermind guiding an acolyte into the world of Who fiction. God knows I'm no Finn Clark (whose bookshelves must be creaking under the strain), but if I were to introduce an unsuspecting sucker to the novels, here, in no particular order, is where I'd start-

Alien Bodies
Not Lawrence Miles' best work (Interference takes that plaudit), but damn damn damn good and without a doubt one of my favourite Who stories in any media. Because it's from early in the EDA line you don't really need any prior knowledge, there's not a lot of continuity references. It's very much like The Deadly Assassin in its inventive and thorough rethinking of the Time Lords - just a whole slew of fresh ideas and mindbending updates of old ones (the TARDISes, the Krotons, UNIT/UNISYC etc), all shaped into a satisfying narrative with a finale that's one of the most breathtaking and memorable passages in all Who fiction. I don't know why I didn't rave about this more when I first reviewed it, in fact. Plus it'll make you want to read the follow-on in the even more spectacular Interference, which leads you in the general direction of The Ancestor Cell and beyond.

Love and War
Like Alien Bodies, it's just full of brilliant new ideas that further what we saw in the TV series. It gets the Seventh Doctor and Ace spot on, and novel companion Bernice Summerfield hits the ground running (or should that be hits the bottle running) in her first appearance. There's an expanded version of TV lore hovering in the background (the Draconian/Human war), there's a big hint at why the Sixth Doctor had such a brief innings, and there's a classic horror monster that is an absolute bloody bastard. And the final twist ... oooh, like a knife through the heart. This book represents the NAs in miniature.

Sanctuary
Not a hugely popular book apparently - it doesn't mentioned much on this site, anyway - but it's a solid story in the purely historical mode, and one which features the super-duper Doctor/Benny team. The historical stories went by the wayside in the TV series, but - sadly - human beings can make the worst monsters of all. Alternatively, there's The Witch Hunters.

The Scarlet Empress
Paul Magrs' first Doctor Who book, and as good a jumping-off point for his unique view of Who as any. His Who books have been becoming steadily more clipped and quickfire in their approach, and to be honest this is probably the one that his heart was in the most. A lush, magical affair from a writer who clearly loves words like 'raffish' and 'verdigrised'. His brilliance and enthusiasm excuse his bitchiness and didacticism.

The Empire of Glass
Just a really fun sci-fi/historical romp that evokes the feel of the Hartnell years while remaining in the expanded Doctor Who universe of the TV series' latter seasons and the Virgin books. There's lots of silly (that's good silly) gameplaying with historical characters like Marlowe and Shakespeare. An example of how fun this book is - the Doctor ends up playing the physician in the first performance of Macbeth in an attempt to force Will Shakespeare to swallow an amnesia pill. One to read on summer evenings.

The Infinity Doctors
A sort of 'Elseworlds' Doctor Who story, weaving together most of the Gallifrey stuff from the TV series into a big-budget standalone feature film of a book. Unconnected (or is it?!) to any ongoing continuity in the book series, but picking and mixing from the BBC and the Virgin range, it's a better Gallifrey book for a newcomer than Lungbarrow, if not ultimately as good, or as as deliciously written. If nothing else, though, it's a lot less expensive...

Damaged Goods
The most successful attempt I've seen to transplant Doctor Who to the real world. You know, of council estates and drug addiction and crippling emotional problems. Sadly, because of the increasing quality of the BBC books, fans are frequently deriding the 'soap opera' of the New Adventures and taking a very 2D view of them, as if to praise one they have to slag off the other. They're wrong to do so, and here's a book that shows why. It's not perfect, but it's utterly absorbing. I adore that passage about the smell of faraway worlds on the Doctor's jacket.

The Also People
Wonderful from beginning to end. Character, setting, story, those fairytale bookends... It reflects the concerns of the NA series as a whole and - though not her debut - serves as a great introduction to Roz Forrester.

Eye of Heaven
A breathless novel about the wildness of nature, with a scattered, pissed-into-the-wind narrative structure that conforms totally to the author's themes. It features the Fourth Doctor and Leela and, as with the best missing or past adventures, it fulfills the potential that was squandered onscreen.

Heart of Tardis
Hey, it worked for me. I've gone off Dave Stone a bit having read a couple of his other novels, but this one - featuring the Second and Fourth Doctors - is great, dark fun. I love the black, furious humour that Stone puts into Tom Baker's mouth. And Romana is a scream - if only the wonderful Mary Tamm had been given scripts like this.

- and in addition, the only Eighth Doctor/Benny story The Dying Days, which always sells for whopping sums, is being published online on the BBC's Doctor Who website. Bit of a pain that the printer-friendly version has 'Page 45' , 'page 46' etc every couple of paragraphs but still, better to get it in that format than pay a billion pounds to some greedy bugger on ebay...


Ten Illuminating Statements by Mike Morris 10/7/02

  1. "The Quest is the Quest." The Minyans say this a lot in Underworld. Tautology is also tautology, and silly catchphrases that fell out of dodgy 50's B-movies are... well, you get the picture. This is a classic example of how science fiction aliens frequently restate their basic, driving beliefs in casual conversation every thirty seconds, in much the same way that... well, nobody on earth does. Laugh? You betcha.
  2. "I am the Master and you will obey me!" C'mon, all together now... a brief digging among BBC documents has revealed that careful consideration was put into this monumental catchphrase, and it just edged out "I am the Master and I don't have any real reason for doing this," "I am the Master and you're not going to believe how I take over the planet this week," and "Hello Jo, nice to see you again."
  3. "Die, you fool, die!" So says the nurse in The Pirate Planet, somewhat ruining the dramatic effect by a: hamming it up and b: clapping her hands together like a badly-coordinated two year old. Obligingly, the captain died, and the Doctor was able to invert the gravity well into a hyperspatial forceshield and drop the shrunken planets into the hollow centre of Zanak by modifying something or other. Doesn't work in real life, you know.
  4. "Resistance is futile now!" The Master really puts the mockers on himself sometimes. If, in The Deadly Assassin, he'd have said, "Resistance is, most probably, more or less futile, touch wood," things might have been different. Oh well.
  5. "You have the mouth of a prattling jackanapes..." Sharaz Jek gets florid on us. Can't you get an ointment for that? "Jackanapes" is one of those words that I have only ever heard in Doctor Who, and I don't know what it means except that all they ever do is cause trouble. I don't want to know either. It's probably a type of yoghurt or something.
  6. "What are they?" "Cybermen." C'mon, you know you love it! These moments actually crystallise the characters of the three 1980's Doctors. Davison whispers it gently and looks scared. McCoy growls it menacingly, although he doesn't actually do anything. Colin Baker gurns, and says "A Cyberman" instead, thus mucking everything up. Although it wasn't his fault, it was the script. Still, it's the best bit in all the later cybermen stories and I only wish they'd thought of it earlier.
  7. "Exterminate!" Daleks say this a lot. A lot a lot. Even more than they say, "Daleks conquer and destroy!" In fact they say it so much they have come to believe that the word itself is lethal, and frequently try to destroy the Doctor by repeating it for ten minutes or so. Oh, they'll learn.
  8. "I'm half-human. On my mother's side." Actually, no-one ever said that. Ever. Ever ever. Similarly, no-one ever said "A Happy Christmas to all of you at home," or "Dr Who is required, bring him here," or "The Trial of a Time Lord. Part One." Go on, believe it. You see how much easier life has suddenly become?
  9. "Rabbits!" One of the things that makes me like Tegan so much is this semi-swear word of hers, because I do something similar by frequently exclaiming "ball cocks!" when something goes wrong. It's not as cool as when Tom Baker tells a Dalek to "spack off," or quite as well-developed as the NA's coining and devleopment of the word "cruk," but it has a special place in my heart. And if "fiddlesticks" can be an expletive, then I'm all for "rabbits".
  10. "Oh Doctor, I will miss you!" Tegan says this at the end of Resurrection of the Daleks. I say it every time I watch Survival. It's the statement that sums up the cold, Doctorless world we live in today. Will we ever see a new dawn? Well, I guess the Quest is the Quest...


My Ten Favourite Doctor Who Languages by Mike Morris 12/7/02

Time Lord Gift. Yeah, right. Explain this lot then, Louis Marks.

  1. Delphon. Pertwee 'speaks' a bit of this in Spearhead From Space. The single most implausible concept I have ever heard. Races that communicate with their eyebrows? Did Douglas Adams do a bit of script-editing for Season Seven or something? And if they communicate with their eyebrows, then how do they call their planet "Delphon"?
  2. French. Practically never spoken in City of Death. City of mutes more like. Parisians don't in fact speak French, in fact they don't speak at all. But they watch English news and they understand English. Obviously.
  3. Radio Impulses. Spoken in The Ambassadors of Death. Hmm, I wonder if they get a good reception for Test Match Special?
  4. Tibetan. The Doctor speaks this in Planet of the Spiders, but miraculously doesn't in The Creature From The Pit, though. And that Time Lord Gift deserted him again, like the fickle thing it is. When the Doctor leapt down the pit of his own accord, it's a bit puzzling that he tried to climb out of it again, but, then not very much on Chloris made sense did it?
  5. Ancient High Gallifreyan. Ooh, someone's getting all Lord of the Rings on us. If my memory serves me right this pops up on The Black Scrolls of Rassilon, which are quickly burned by President Borusa. Well, sort of. He sets them alight and then puts them in a closed box, which makes one wonder how he became President of the High Council if he thinks things can burn without oxygen.
  6. Ancient Norse That's Actually A Logic Diagram For A Computer To Set Loose The Dark Evil To Reign Eternally. Rubbish, you say? Go on, I dare you to say the word "Ingiga" five times in front of a mirror. Well? Who's the tough man now?
  7. Aborigine. Which Tegan speaks in Four To Doomsday. Because, you know, most Australians speak all 30,000 year-old aboriginal dialects. As the Doctor didn't have any Greeks or Chinese people handy, though, it was damn lucky Bigon and Lin Futu spoke English.
  8. Pigbin Josh-ish. I don't think anyone speaks this.
  9. Welsh. Caeswch yn gyntaf daernas diw and all that. Not even a bloody Time Lord can master this in Delta and the Bannermen, largely because it's really just incomprehensible gibberish that Welsh people make up on the spot when they think there might be tourists around. Would have been nice if Ray had been a companion, though, particularly as she could've just made Fenric conjugate all the irregular verbs and saved us all that chess-set palaver. Rydw'in, rwyt ti, mae e, mae hi... and I still think "The Shadow Dimensions" is a fancy name for Holyhead.
  10. English. What the makers of countless SF programmes have failed to acknowledge, with all their Time Lord Gifts, Telepathic Circuits and Universal Translators, is that we will happily believe that all people everywhere speak English. Renaissance Italy. Sarn. Skaro. You name it. If it's good enough for Han Solo, it's good enough for Russian soldiers.

    So from now on, everything in English...


The Top However-Many-I-Manage-To-Come-Up-With Who-Related Websites, Except This One Of Course by Matthew Harris 18/7/02

Ah, the internet. The perfect outlet for slavering fandom of... well, just about everything. If you haven't already, I order you to check every one of these sites out. You know, if you want to.

www.drwhoguide.com: Canada's own contribution to Doctor Who fandom. It is, of course, Dominique Boies' Dr Who Reference Guide. A work of grace and beauty. Near-as-dammit every single Doctor Who... anything is referenced and synopsis-ed, from the NAs, to the Telos novellas, to the Benny Books, to the actual television series in question. So comprehensive it'll make your eyes water. Oh, and everybody say "boo" to Yahoo! Geocities for their shoddy treatment of this site.

www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~ecl6nb/OnTarget: That's when I wish I spoke HTML. Anyway, that load of nonsensical gibberish leads to Tim Neal's Target fansite. Not only is it luxuriously designed, it's also massively useful. In a trivial sort of way. Every Target book mined for information (including - gasp - some non-Who ones). All the covers, all the illustrations, trivia, Japanese editions - JAPANESE EDITIONS - all this, plus the chance to read some quotes by Gary Russell before he became a well-known hate figure, and was reviewing Doctor Who himself. Don't laugh, he was once like you...

www.cuttingsarchive.org.uk: Does what it says on the tin. Except it doesn't have Doctor Who written on the tin. But anyway, it's great, if even more astonishingly comprehensive that Ms\Mr Boies. Most interesting are the cuttings from the letters page of Middle England's TV Bible, the Radio Times. Especially from the mid-eighties. But then, that's only to be expected.

www.physics.mun.ca/~sps/drwho.html: And again with the gibberish. Now, if Shannon Patrick Sullivan teamed up with Tim Neal, this'd be perfect. As it is, it's... well, it's ugly, truth be told. But it's got a world of interiors. Main feature presentation: detailed analysis of the production of every single Doctor Who story, even Dimensions In Time. How he (I assume he's a he, but you never can tell) managed this, I don't know. Pay attention to the bits on Season 23. Having realised what (apparently) went on behind the scenes, you'll be a lot more forgiving toward the Trial. I mean, you'll still hate it, but at least you'll know why.

www.homepages.which.net/~howe/: The homepage of archivist, writer and all round Doctor Who Uber-Fan and good egg David Howe. Specifially, a portal toward several other Who Sites proprieted by Mr Howe, which saves people like me a lot of time. Howe himself comes across as being a thoroughly likeable man, although oddly he lists Death To The Daleks as an enduring all-time classic. I suppose it takes all sorts.

www.gallifreyone.com: Outpost Gallifrey. Do I really need to elaborate? If you've got a modem and an interest in Doctor Who and have not been here, then you can hardly call yourself a fan.

www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho: It's official. It's also fab and great. What else needs to be said?

dwas.drwho.org: Completing the trilogy of Officaldom (Outpost Gallifrey is definitive enough to be considered official) here's the homepage for Deewas. If you don't know what DWAS stands for, ask someone else. Or click on the link. Yeah, click on the link. Much easier. In the long run.

Well, that's nine. That's not too bad. And if we count this one after all (it is great, you know), that makes ten. So my job's done, then. Hurrah.


More Top Tens