I was going to do a top ten of my favourite episodes of all time, but I thought I’d pick a standout story for each Doctor. I’ve chosen them mostly because they are fantastic and compliment each individual Doctor but some are key to the show’s history.
1. An Unearthly Child
Not a classic action packed adventure by any means but still an enjoyable story that if you like Doctor Who you have to watch. William Hartnell’s Doctor is quite conservative but still as mysterious as he is today. It sets the show up to run for a further fifty three years and although the episode is nothing spectacular, it did what it needed to do. If you want to learn about the foundations of Doctor Who then this is the story you need to watch.
2. War Games
Still perhaps not a classic but it’s definitely more entertaining than “An Unearthly Child”. We learn even more about the Doctor’s roots in this episode and it’s the first we see of the Time Lords. Patrick Troughton’s last story as the second Doctor still encapsulated everything I love about this incarnation. He was frantic and silly but still brave and the textbook Doctor.
3. Terror of the Autons
Jon Pertwee’s era introduced us to lots of things that we take for granted now. One of those things was the Master, who appeared for the first time in this story. It’s an intense adventure where the Master utilises the Autons as he goes head to head with the Doctor. Roger Delgado and Jon Pertwee were a brilliant double act and in this story they are at their finest.
4. Genesis of the Daleks
One of the greatest stories of all time, Tom Baker’s Doctor faces the dilemmas of all dilemmas. Should he wipe out the Daleks and go against everything he believes in by committing genocide, or should he allow the Daleks to continue, knowing what they eventually become. Some of the scenes between the Doctor and Davros are iconic and as Dalek stories go, this is probably the best ever.
Adric’s departure is one of the saddest companion exits in the show’s history and the fact that he dies makes it all the more emotional and impactful. This is a fast paced vintage Doctor Who story where the Doctor takes on the Cybermen. Everything good about the show is in this episode and the Adric’s eventual death rounds off one of the best stories of Peter Davison’s era.
6. Attack of the Cybermen
This story isn’t particularly brilliant if you compare it to others throughout the show’s history. However it is one of the best of Colin Baker’s era and the one that probably portrays the sixth Doctor in the best light. It’s fascinating to see the TARDIS take different forms as the Doctor attempts to fix the chameleon circuit and the story itself is also enjoyable as the Cybermen penetrate London under ground.
7. Rememberance of the Daleks
If you want to see chemistry between a Doctor and his companion then look no further than this story,. The seventh Doctor and Ace were a fun and engaging pair who bravely took on the Daleks in a way that’s not really been seen before. Ace went as far as giving a Dalek a whack with a baseball bat in what was a gripping yet fun filled story where Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor eventually overcame Davros in the hunt for the Hand of Omega.
8. The Night of the Doctor
I could’ve picked the TV Movie, but I think the Night of the Doctor is more vital to the show’s continuity. This minisode highlights what a wonderfully brave Doctor Paul McGann’s incarnation was. He willingly gave up his life to try and save someone he’d just met. Then he could’ve chosen to regenerate into anybody and run away from the Time War, but he bravely chose to change into a warrior to try and help. It’s a must watch eight minute snippet that sums up why we love the Doctor.
Christopher Eccleston’s finest performance as the Doctor came here as the Daleks, or a Dalek was reintroduced to the show. It displays the hurt and anger the Doctor was feeling after the Time War and the hate he shows the Dalek highlights what the War had done to the Doctor. It’s one of the first times Rose helps the Doctor look to his compassionate side as he began to heal from the internal bruises he’d suffered.
10. The Waters of Mars
It’s amazing a stand alone episode could have such an impact and it’s my favourite episode of the modern era. As the Doctor realised that because his people were gone, he could play with time as he pleased, we really saw the dark side of the Time Lord and it was brilliant. To see the crippling effects of meddling with theme was intriguing yet emotional and really relayed the context of what the Doctor does when he travels so well. Not only that, te story itself never gives you a moment to breath and has one of scariest monsters in recent times.
11. Vincent and the Doctor
This story is a must watch, not because it’s action packed, intense or scary, but because it shows you what a kind man the Doctor is and it teaches you about the sad life of Vincent Van Gogh. The end scene where the Doctor takes Van Gogh into the future to see his work on show is so beautiful and shows how touching time travel can be. Van Gogh was the perfect character to show his future legacy as he was such a troubled individual and that’s why the end was so fitting.
12. Heaven Sent
If you want intense then you want this episode, one of the greatest performances by an actor in the show. Peter Capaldi stars virtually solo for the full forty five minutes and delivers such an impactful and stunning performance. There’s trouble at every turn, it’s a new and unique concept and it’s really hard to fault this episode. It’s a shame it was followed by “Hell Bent” because this episode really is a masterpiece.