It’s likely that the new series of Doctor Who will start of Saturday 26th March. That gives you six weekends between now and then. Here’s a way to spend five of them. Watch one of the following stories (main picks are all available on DVD) each weekend to get yourself in the mood for the new series.
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
The second Dalek story and featuring one of the most iconic moments of all – the Dalek emerging from beneath the surface of the river Thames. London would see many alien invasions over the next two decades but this was the first and most striking – the Daleks had already conquered and subdued the earth before the story began. The brainwashed Robomen and scruffy resistance fighters made the parallel between the tin pot dicatators and the Nazis clearer than it would be in any story until “Genesis of the Daleks”.
Alternative William Hartnell pick – “An Uneathly Child”, forget the cavemen stuff in parts two to four, just watch the opening episode.
The Tomb of the Cybermen
This story gave Peter Davison nightmares as a kid and the scene of the Cybermen silently awakening and emerging from their ‘tombs’ is another prime iconic moment. By this time the “base under seige” format had been done to many times but the extra twists used her and sheer quality of the whole production raise it above all the others.
And ask yourself – how much does the Doctor know what’s happening in advance and consequently how much is he manipulating events? It’s a theory more often applied to the seventh Doctor rather than the second, but…
Alternative Patrick Troughton pick – “The Mind Robber”.
Alternative Jon Pertwee pick – “Spearhead from Space”.
The Ark in Space
Featuring one of the most embarrassing monsters in a long line of embarrassing monsters (it’s bubble wrap painted green!) this may seem like an odd choice. But it highlights all the nobility, compassion and courage in the human race – all the qualities that inspire the Doctor to love and protect Earth and its inhabitants so much.
Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It’s only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine and plague. They’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They’re indomitable.
Alternative Tom Baker pick – “City of Death”.
The Caves of Androzani
The fifth Doctor was the gentlest and most compassionate (and as one fan put it – the only one you’d feel safe taking round to your mum’s for tea) and here he gives his life to save the life of a single human – compare with the fourth Doctor who died to save the whole universe.
Alternative Peter Davison pick – “Kinda”.
Alternative Colin Baker pick – “Timelash”, the new series will always look good in comparison no matter what.
Remembrance of the Daleks
Encapsulating everything that was wrong with 1980s Doctor Who (more then anything an over-reliance on continuity) and everything that was starting to come right in the last two years (epic storytelling, a more alien Doctor) this tends to be either your favourite Dalek story or your least favourite.
Alternative Sylvester McCoy pick – “Damaged Goods”, a novel by new series supremo Russel T Davies that places SciFi horror side by side with the horror of life on a council estate in Thatcher’s Britain.
Alternative Paul McGann pick – “Alien Bodies”, I can’t say why it’s brilliant without spoiling a dozen things. This book kick-started the new mythology that has driven the novel line for the past few years, the series will almost certainly ignore that mythology but read it anyway ‘cos it’s great.
And what should you do with the remaining weekend? Watch some more of course!