Doctor Who: The Comprehensive Guide to Things I Like, Fourth 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).
Just a couple thing before I jump in to it:

  • I broke these down in to Doctors because comparisons between the eras are nearly impossible
  • There’s a link to every other entry at the bottom if you missed any of them
  • These are not reviews or even summaries, they’re just some stray thoughts about what I liked about the episodes usually
  • These episodes are listed in order of airing, not in order of ranking
  • Also :

4th Doctor, played by Tom Baker 1971-1984

4th is my least favorite Doctor. This is probably in part because during his era is when they first attempted to do story arcs which, aside from soap operas, were a novelty for TV at that time since VCRs weren’t a normal household gadget yet meaning you have to tune in every week or you’ll miss things! I didn’t feel they were largely successful with the types of stories they did in those arcs either. I also wasn’t a big fan of K-9 or Romana II. The Key of Time season especially, to me, is much weaker in terms of episode quality than any other season which is a huge blow for enjoying 4th Doctor as a whole. I also am the only human alive who thinks the Douglas Adams’ episodes were kind of just as bad as the rest of the bad episodes. I incorrectly guessed which ones were his when we were watching them because I assumed they would be episodes I liked but City of Death is actually one of my least favorites whereas The Pirate Planet is somewhere in the middle.

I still find 4th a little creepy in the teeth area and the hair area and when he smiles it mostly looks like a Edvard Munch painting to me though I know people find it oddly endearing. I feel like he’s a very sassy, very appropriately middle aged crisis Doctor though and he has some very great moments when he discovers his heart. With most of the budget of Old Who and an overwhelming amount of gusto it is easy to see how 4th weasels his way in to people’s hearts. He also has some of the most independent ladies as companions even though he mostly seems not to want them around. He had some great adventures so here we go…

Genesis of the Daleks

Running Time: 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 5 out 5
Companions: Harry Sullivan and Sarah Jane Smith
Thoughts: Considering I don’t like the Daleks, I was totally in to this episode. This is a 6 part episode so it’s a little drawn out but it was overall pretty strong despite that. This is one of the few episodes from Old Who that really deals with time travel as well. This episode is heavily about the Doctor deciding if he should change the future to eliminate the Daleks. It shows a really caring side of the Doctor as he struggles with both the idea of destroying the Daleks, and the realization that he’s put Sarah and Harry in horrible danger. In nearly all of episodes of Doctor Who, the companions are in danger but in this one the Doctor actually seems to fear and regret that, which is something I love. This episode combines a lot things you love in to one great flavor: Time Lords being total jerks, Sarah Jane being a badass, the Doctor having regrets and feeling torn about actually important things, and the meta idea of creator vs. creation in some of the best written Davros dialogue this series has managed to pump out.

The Android Invasion

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 4.5 out 5
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith
Thoughts: This is a super fun episode. I personally love when the Doctor plays a double of himself (this is pretty common, almost every Doctor has had this problem actually!) and this is a not just a body double/trading place episode but a romp of fun the whole way through. Some of my favorite parts of the episode were the great practical effects when they were pulling off the android faces and the point in the episode where they tied the Doctor to an obelisk in town. Some extra notables include Sarah Jane uses the sonic screwdriver and this episode is missing the Brig because he wasn’t available for filming. We do see Harry and Benton though, a runner up prize if you will. The entire plot that aliens are trying to carry out is bonkers but because of the comedic tone it didn’t bother me.

The Deadly Assassin

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 4 out 5
Companions: none!
Thoughts: I love Gallifrey. I love how terrible and awful all of the Time Lords are. I love how the Doctor is not actually a good person but he is slightly better than every other Time Lord which makes him kind of a good person by comparison alone. Time Lords are cowards at heart and that leads them to be immoral all over the place including when creating rules about never interfering unless it protects their society. This episode is a great murder mystery style plot that includes torture porn, the Matrix, and a rare glimpse of Time Lord history. The Doctor vs. Master fight at the end is really ridiculous but when all is said and done, after all the carnage has happened, the Doctor just gets in the TARDIS and flies away from his own people. This sort of solidifies my view of the Doctor as a person who just isn’t that concerned with others.

The Robots of Death

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 5 out 5
Companions: Leela
Thoughts: I recently watched this one again with some friends, that’s how much I like it. They all agreed that this was just a fantastic episode. This is another murder mystery style episode because I love a good murder mystery. This one obviously has robots but even better it has HATS. Every hats. The costume department went absolutely wild for this episode and every person on the ship has a different silly hat and ridiculous robe combination. The robots are just monotone enough to be scary and believable, the Doctor also suffocates in what looks like peanuts, and Leela kicks ass and takes names. The story for this one is so strong and the entire vibe reminds me very much of The Satan Pit (10th Doctor). There is also a particular moment where the Doctor and Leela are being held by what appears to be silver hole-filled ribbon. Special thanks to the special effects team…

The Sun Makers

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 4 out 5
Companions: Leela and K-9
Thoughts: This episode starts with the Doctor preventing someone from committing suicide (10 points to Ravenclaw) over taxes. It’s a satire-ish episode with a lot of illusions to modern society like treating workers humanely and a wagging finger to people who think workers are too dumb to know the system is rigged. Also people live in the sewer and K-9 baffles everyone everywhere he goes. As strongly politic as  this episode was bent I really enjoyed it and I thought the Doctor was able to out-clever everyone else a little less adeptly than in other episodes. Also the blocked out sun/lying to people/overworking people/overcharging taxes until everyone is enslaved in a legacy of back breaking labor reminds me of Brazil (movie). Always a good thing!

The Leisure Hive

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 4.5 out 5
Companions: Romana II and K-9
Thoughts: This is one of the stranger episodes I think. A lot of episodes begin with the Doctor saying something like “we’ll go somewhere nice where no one will kill us” and then they promptly go to the wrong place and get shot at. This is a total twist you will never see coming – they go to right place and everything is awful anyway. The Leisure Hive is a planet that’s uninhabitable on the surface but on it is a resort owned by people with a bunch of brussel sprouts on their head. It is led by a badass matriarch and they are making a machine they can manipulate matter which – surprise again – actually just ends up killing people and aging the Doctor. Aside from the machine problems, there is a building tension between two different companies on the planet as an allegory for war. This is one of the most brutal episodes and has one of the best and most fulfilling conclusions of any 4th Doctor episode. For that, I totally recommend it.

The Keeper of Traken

Running Time: 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating: 4 out 5
Companions: Adric
Thoughts: This is one of those episodes where you have to suspend your belief because the special effects leave a lot to be desired. I think in a way this story reminds me of a fairy tale or a fable since it mainly revolves around a woman who is talking to a statue that does turn out to be an actual person. Traken is supposed to be a land of peace and harmony and it is until the Doctor comes and those are my favorite sorts of stories. This episode has the Master back from a long time absence as well and he is able to continue on with his regenerations AND steal peoples faces. I can’t pinpoint what made this episode much better than a lot of others actually, I just really enjoy the aspect of a woman falling in love with the idea of falling in love I guess. Also I like Nyssa.

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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