Brandon's Corner: How to Watch Doctor Who Without Wanting to Gouge Your Eyes Out

DoctorWhoIdiotsLanternRoseNoFace-600x300Let me start off by saying that I understand that there are a lot of you out there who love this show. Whovians actually may just be the most devoted fan base in the entire world. Everyone to there own taste. That being said, as a reviewer I call it how I see it. Doctor Who might single handedly be the the most frustrating TV show I have ever watched. Don't get me wrong. There are some fan-freakin'-tastic episodes in the series. There is also however some of the worst episodes I have seen on TV ever (EVER!!!). You need not look any further than episodes along the line of Aliens in London, World War Three, The Long Game, New Earth, Rise of the Cybermen, Age of Steel, The Idiot's Lantern, Love and Monsters, or Fear Her for me to prove my point; and those are all just in the first two reboot seasons! The production value, writing, acting, and pacing can be at time some of the worst of the absolute worst. It can be so self-impressed and idiotically overindulgent of its own inside jokes, which when it come down to it, aren't all that funny.  I've just got to be honest when I say that Doctor Who can be a bloated, faux-intellectual piece of scuzz that is wanking off to its self. I'm not here to rant though about Doctor Who's weaker parts. The reason I am writing this article is, for whatever reason, I am currently obsessed with the show. Yes, Doctor Who at times can be fantastic! At moments it rivals Star Trek for ingenuity in philosophically intruiging sci-fi. Its emotional core can also be so uplifting, free spirited, as well as being thoughtfully heartbreaking. That is to say, I definitely think the show is worth watching. I have to put a caveat though. There is many "right" and "wrong" ways to watch Doctor Who. What I am going to try and do is lay out a way of watching this show without wanting to blow your brains out. First lets start with some other ways to begin the show.

nt_15_Doctor-Who-interiorWay One - The Suicide Binge Watch

What It Is: Start at the very beginning and watch all 50 years of the show including all specials and like thereof.

Pros: You can very intimately understand Doctor Who like no other, and get all references that ever happen. You'll also have bragging rights and can further develop your overzealous geekiness. Also, odds are if you've done this or are doing it (wink, wink), you're British; which automatically means you sound 451% smarter than everyone else. It's just science.

Cons: The show is dated and there is way too many episodes to watch without going insane. While they may have been revolutionary for their time, most of the earlier episodes have no pacing, little to no humor, cheesy acting, with poor supporting characters, and not much believability. Yes, while it can be stated that most of actors who played the previous Doctors were pretty brilliant, most everything surrounding them just wasn't. Not to mention, if you do this, you won't have a life.

 

doctors-9-10-11-12Way Two - NuWho

What It Is: Begin at the 2005 'reboot' of doctor with the Ninth Doctor played by Christopher Eccleston and watch all the way through eight seasons to the Twelfth Doctor.

Pros: You'll have bragging rights of watching all of NuWho without the impossible task of going through 50 years of the Doctor. You'll join the elite group of supernerds who are possibly the most devoted fan base in the world. Many of these happen to be very attractive, intelligent femme geeks, so you'll naturally have something to talk to these lovely ladies about. That's always a plus.  In terms of story, you'll also get your fair share of character development for your doctors and companions and will understand all the new meta/self referential B.S. that eventually comes.

Cons: This is what I originally set out to do before coming to a grinding halt. I almost quit during the first season because of a cluster of horrible episodes, before the show found its groove at the end of the first season, and beginning of the second with some terrific episodes. Then the show devolved back to its weaker parts as this unbearable wave of horrifically bad episodes showered down upon me. Not wanting to totally give up, I then watched all of the the new Twelfth Doctor's eighth season. My conclusion? Well, like I said in the first paragraph - as good as Doctor Who can get, it can also just downright be poor, idiotically lackluster television that isn't nearly as funny or smart as it making itself out to be.

p00s6h1rWay Three - Just the Highest Rated and Most Beloved Episodes

What This Is: This is pretty self explanatory. Of course you can't just go off of one person to ask what is the best of the best. That is why I have a specific formula for finding the best episodes by giving them point ranking upon multiple favorite episode lists I have found. If you want the exact methodology, I will have it at the bottom of the article as well as all the episodes needed.

Pros: This may be the best way to watch the show.  By going through these favorites you can understand what Whovians love without draining precious hours of your life by watching everything.

Cons: While the show is relatively nonlinear, there is still important arcs you need to know about. All of departures, deaths, and arrivals don't make much sense if they are not within the highest rated episodes.

 

doctor-who-regenerationWay Four - Best of Timey Wimey With Hellos and Goodbyes

What This Is: To make all of the story arcs to make sense we have the arrival and departure episodes of all the main companions as well as their Doctors to go along with the highest rated episodes.

Pros: Honestly, this might be the best way to watch the show. I've gone through it once before this way, and I currently am going through this process again with my youngest brother to introduce him to the lore. Instead of slogging through all the episodes, you can binge watch these episodes relatively quickly and enjoy all of main references without the excess baggage.

Cons: There is not many negatives here, though you kind of have to be Whovian to truly appreciate some of the episode that make these lists. Plus a good portion of the arrival and departure stories of the companions in the David Tennant era just aren't all that great.

doctor-who-the-eleventh-hour-08Way Five - The Way of the Moffat

What This Is: Steven Moffat is the mind behind some of the greatest NuWho episodes ever. The whole reason I wanted to write this article is because of  him. At the beginning of the fifth season, he became the showrunner for Doctor Who and has been the showrunner since. While his storyarcs have left a little to be desired recently, his early pieces of art are just simply brilliant. This method would involve watching his best episodes first - which I'll list at the bottom of the article - before beginning at the fifth season and watching the best episodes from then on.

Pros: It is my fervent belief that this is the best place to start for those who aren't completely into the idea of Who culture, but are thinking of giving the show a shot. Steven Moffat whether intentionally or nor not created a world for new fans to come in to appreciate Doctor Who without having to feel weighed down by its dense history and mythology. Most of the fifth season just appears to be catering to more than just its core fanbase, as there is the depth, action, humor, and thoughtful dialogue that applies to everyone. More than that though, the episodes here in terms of writing, acting, production design, special effects, and overall tone are just above and beyond superior to its other NuWho counterparts.

Cons: Watching just the prior highest rated stories of Moffat before starting on the best episodes to come after the fifth season (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances; The Girl in the Fireplace; Blink; Silence in the Library/Forrest of Dead) could prove to be a little too disjunctive for some. The Doctors or companions are different for each of the stories, and there is not much connectivity between these episodes. Though, that being said, I believe it is a wholly more satisfying experience to keep them in there, than to throw them out. They are simply fantastic episodes which set up the tone, character development for the show. Furthermore, they have introduction of arguably the greatest villains for NuWho – The Weeping Angels - plus one of the most interesting characters to come out of it as well, River Song. So yeah, keep those episodes in.

capaldi-clara-hug-listenFinal Conclusion: The anywhere anywhen premise of Doctor Who can be so much fun and brilliant. Watching Doctor Who at its best is along the lines of a euphoric nerdgasm wrapped in a scrumdiddlyumptious idea with a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey on top. However - and a huge however at that - it also can just be so bloody awful, which makes watching horrendous episodes all the more frustrating after seeing great story arcs. I could complain more, but that's not what I'm here for. I'm here to get just one of you interested in giving Doctor Who a shot.  As I have laboriously stated, there is many ways to watch the show including not having a life, to being blind to story arcs, to watching it the 'best way'. So, without further adieu, Allons-y!

 

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnPUF8an-XE

 

 

Methodology for Finding Best Episodes: Take ten highest top ten lists searched on the web for each incarnation of the Doctor and score episodes based off of position on lists – ten points for number one spot and one point for a number ten spot – and when you compile all the points together you get your top episodes. I only included five episodes for the ninth and twelfth doctor as both at this moment only have one season. Best episodes are listed below.

Ninth Doctor's Best Episodes:

Rose S1, E1

Dalek S1, E6

Father's Day S1, E8

Empty Child/The Doctor Dances S1, E9-10

Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways S1 E12-13

 

Tenth Doctor's Best Episodes:

School Reunion S2, E3

The Girl in the Fireplace S2, E4

Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit S2, E8-9

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday S2, E12-13

Gridlock S3, E3

Human Nature/The Family of Blood S3, E8-9

Blink S3, E10

Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead S4, E8-9

Midnight S4, E10

Turn Left/The Stolen Earth/Journey's End S4, E11-13

 

Eleventh Doctor's Best Episodes:

The Eleventh Hour S5, 1

The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone S5/E4-5

Amy's Choice S5, E7

Vincent and the Doctor S5, E10

The Lodger S5, E11

Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang S5, E12-13

The Doctor's Wife S6, E 4

A Good Man Goes to War/Let's Kill Hitler S6, E7-8

The Girl Who Waited S6, E10

The Angels Take Manhatten S7, E5

Name of the Doctor/Day of the Doctor/Time of the Doctor S7, E13-15

 

Twelfth Doctor's Best Episodes:

Into The Dalek S8, E2

Listen S8, E4

Mummy on the Orient Express S8, E8

Flatline S8, E9

Dark Water/Death in Heaven S8, E11-12

 

Best of Timey Wimey With Hellos and Goodbyes

Rose S1, E1

Dalek S1, E6

Father's Day S1, E8

Empty Child/The Doctor Dances S1, E9-10

Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways S1 E12-13

Christmas Invasion S2, E0

School Reunion S2, E3

The Girl in the Fireplace S2, E4

Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit S2, E8-9

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday S2, E12-13

Smith and Jones S3, E1

Gridlock S3, E3

Human Nature/The Family of Blood S3, E8-9

Blink S3, E10

Utopia/The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords S3, E11-13

Partners in Crime S4, E1

Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead S4, E8-9

Midnight S4, E10

Turn Left/The Stolen Earth/Journey's End S4, E11-13

End of Time Part 1/End of Time Part 2 S4, E17-18

The Eleventh Hour S5, 1

The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone S5/E4-5

The Vampires of Venice S5, E6

Amy's Choice S5, E7

The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood S5, E8-9

Vincent and the Doctor S5, E10

The Lodger S5, E11

Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang S5, E12-13

The Doctor's Wife S6, E4

A Good Man Goes to War/Let's Kill Hitler S6, E7-8

The Girl Who Waited S6, E10

The Angels Take Manhatten S7, E5

The Snowmen S7, E6

The Bells of Saint John S7, E7

Name of the Doctor S7, E13

Day of the Doctor S7, E14

Time of the Doctor S7, E5

Deep Breath S8, E1

Into The Dalek S8, E2

Listen S8, E4

Kill The Moon S8, E7

Mummy on the Orient Express S8, E8

Flatline S8, E9

Dark Water/Death in Heaven S8, E11-12

Last Christmas S8, E13

 

The Way of the Moffat:

Empty Child/The Doctor Dances S1, E9-10

The Girl in the Fireplace S2, E4

Blink S3, E10

Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead S4, E8-9

The Eleventh Hour S5, 1

The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone S5/E4-5

The Vampires of Venice S5, E6

Amy's Choice S5, E7

The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood S5, E8-9

Vincent and the Doctor S5, E10

The Lodger S5, E11

Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang S5, E12-13

The Doctor's Wife S6, E4

A Good Man Goes to War/Let's Kill Hitler S6, E7-8

The Girl Who Waited S6, E10

The Angels Take Manhatten S7, E5

The Snowmen S7, E6

The Bells of Saint John S7, E7

Name of the Doctor S7, E13

Day of the Doctor S7, E14

Time of the Doctor S7, E15

Deep Breath S8, E1

Into The Dalek S8, E2

Listen S8, E4

Mummy on the Orient Express S8, E8

Flatline S8, E9

Dark Water/Death in Heaven S8, E11-12

Last Christmas S8, E13