Doctor Who: The Comprehensive Guide to Things I Like, First Doctor Edition

This is a short overview / series for Doctor Who episodes that are my favorite from each doctor after finishing all of the TV show Doctor Who (Old and New).

I have watched the entirety of Doctor Who. From start to finish. That’s (as of writing) 839 serials of Doctor Who and for people who just want to watch a few of what I think are the best episodes, I’ve made these handy lists.

I know there are lists where people rank every single episode or a top 10 list out of the over 800(!) episodes I just don’t see any logic in doing it those ways. TV has truly evolved over time and therefore it’s really not fair to compare a 2nd doctor episode with a 9th doctor episode. Most of the 2nd Doctor episodes are lost, they’re in black and white, and the shows budget was much lower. Instead I’ve decided to simply pick a few episodes from each Doctor. These aren’t top 10 lists, they’re not even 10 episodes long, they’re just my favorite episodes from each era. I did attempt to rate them (as meaningless as that is) but the main focus was to pick episodes I liked and that highlighted what I liked about the Doctor at that time or the overall era the story was made in. We’re going to just go in order through the series for ease so look forward to 11 more installments in the future!

Episodes are list in order from date of airing, NOT in order of rating.

With all that said:

1st Doctor, played by William Hartnell 1963-1966

The first, the original as one might say. I think First Doctor has a special place in most peoples hearts because he was the first and without Hartnell there would be no Doctor Who at all. The territory of this caliber of sci fi TV show was certainly uncharted and judging by the first few episodes it’s probably better that the show veered off course from educational to entertainment pretty early. The show was often strange and bizzare but sometimes they were really good. First (as a character) starts off fairly gruff and not happy to be along on his travels stuck with his granddaughter and her teachers. So much so that he may have tried to strand them a few times but by the end of his tenure he had buttered right up.

First Doctor is pretty coy and likes to play the fool to catch people off guard. He’s absolutely full of sass and takes every chance he gets to rile up the people around him as if he lives off their misery like a delicious wine. He may look like a doddering old man when he’s wandering around but he surprisingly springs in to action when needed and does almost as much running as every other version of the Doctor.

What I like the most about First though is that for all the years he claims to have under his belt and even though he is in possession of a time machine, and possibly part of some strange unknown to humans – he is very naive. He seems to just be on the outside of understanding humans or Daleks or etiquette or even sadness and grief. He basically strands his own granddaughter without looking back, he jettisons a woman in to space, he runs away from an accidental marriage and he destroys entire species because they dared to cross him. I suppose at the time they were trying to make him a bit alien but it sets up for overarching story that eventually needed to be laid out. In this context we can set these up as reckless acts of youth.

The Aztecs

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Susan Foreman, Barbara Wright, Ian Chesterton
Thoughts: If I could, I would give this episode a top spot in my heart. There are many many things to love about this episode. It’s how you do a historical episode interestingly. It actually makes the fact that 11 is mad at River for rewriting history more compelling. It has Barbara being a badass goddess who is worshiped by mistake but manages to be a good leader anyway. Barbara struggles with reconciling her knowledge of the future, her modern morals, and the world of the past – and in the end she can change no one, least of all herself.

The Space Museum

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Barbara Wright, Ian Chesterton, Vicki
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this episode. It’s really fun and fast and interesting. Team TARDIS land in a museum where they find replicas of themselves. They’re unable to be seen by any of the people in the museum but they witness a crazy warden of the museum who is plotting to become a great dictator.  This is one of the more interesting premises for during First Doctor’s run. Vicki kind of goes all out leading a full scale revolution in the museum ( you can say what you want about the 60’s but the women of Doctor Who are on average way more kick ass than the modern ones). A lot of people die at the end and it really solidifies my confusion when people seem to think the Doctor is a pacifist.

The Time Meddler

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Vicki and Steven Taylor
Thoughts: There are Vikings. There’s an evil monk who is alluded to be a Time Lord (funny enough there’s no word for Time Lord right now). There is a lot of sneaking around and tom foolery but also the Doctor pretends to sort of dislike Vicki and Steven but then wistfully remembers Barbara at the end of the episode even though he pretended to not like her when she was around. It’s quite endearing. If we try and think about what this episode might have meant if there were Time Lords – it’s that there is either another rogue Time Lord OR that Time Lords have sent the monk back in time to do terrible things. Hm.

Galaxy 4

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each (Episodes 1, 2, and 4 missing)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Vicki and Steven Taylor
Thoughts: I wish we had the full footage from this serial because it’s such a good one. The Drahvin and Rill are both stuck on an exploding planet. The Drahvin are trying to steal the Rill ship to leave and the Rill are trying to charge up their power to leave. The Doctor is impressed with the Rill and ends up helping them and even though he seemed to be sympathetic to the Drahvin at first, once they almost kill Steven he just sort of leaves them to die. How’s that for a hero?

The Ark

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Steve Taylor and Dodo Chaplet
Thoughts: This is a rare episode that uses time travel as an actual part of the plot and not just the set up (on a show where you can time travel you would think that would come up more). Originally visiting The Ark at a time where the Monoids work for humans, Dodo accidentally gives everyone a cold and the Doctor fixes it. Then they accidentally re-visit the Ark hundreds of years later and wouldn’t know? Monoid now have the humans working for them instead. The Monoids plan to kill all humans when they reach a planet so Team TARDIS helps plan a revolt and it “ends” with a third species offering that everyone live in harmony. My guess is that eventually that went south too but the TARDIS takes off and never returns to this place or this time.

The Tenth Planet

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each (Episode 4 missing)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Polly and Ben Jackson
Thoughts: Such a great serial to go out on! This is the first episode for the Cybermen and if you weren’t expecting to be horrified because you’ve seen the modern Cybermen then you are wrong. These old school Cybermen are basically men in giant rubber suits with tubing everywhere and a small hole cut for a mouth that doesn’t move. They talk like rubbing two typewriters together in a bath of water might sound and they are honestly really disturbing in a lot of ways. They don’t feel remorse or emotions or anything and they sort of shove all of that in Polly’s smug little face. Their plan is a little weird and their backstory get a little retconned after this but this story is really interesting and fun and of course, it’s the last episode for First Doctor so it’s a must-see for all fans. Even if the best part is missing :/

Here’s an index for the other entries:
1st Doctor
2nd Doctor
3rd Doctor
4th Doctor
5th Doctor
6th Doctor
7th Doctor
8th Doctor
9th Doctor
10th Doctor
11th Doctor
12th Doctor

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