Welcome back, it’s been a while since our first Countdown to 50 articles where we took a look back to 2005’s Rose. Here is the conduced version of each article, I don’t have time to write a full review of each – the top 10 will get their own posts though in the last 10 days leading up to the 50th Anniversary on November 23rd – exciting stuff!
Number 49: An Unearthly Child
Where Doctor Who all began – a story riddled with ideas of escape and fear of the unknown, its a fitting beginning to a story with some much unfamiliarity and so much adventure. Brilliant performances from William Hartnell who laid the foundations for all that was to come. As a whole, the ambition and scale of the story is extremely well realised. Doctor Who was off to a flyer.
FACT: In the 2009 DWM Mighty 200 poll, An Unearthly Child came in at Number TBA. The first episode was also recorded twice, once as a pilot story and there are differences between the two.
Number 48: Carnival of Monsters
A somewhat qwerky story from the mid-Pertwee era telling a tale of suppression and humanity, questioning the way we treat animals through the Drashigs and the way we treat people of a lower social status in the Two Inter Minorians.
FACT: The chicken noises in the opening episode were in fact made by Katy Manning as the actual chickens refused to cluck. This episode came in at number 62 in the Might 200 Poll.
Number 47: Utopia/Sound of the Drums/Last of the Time Lords
The epic tale of the Master’s return to Doctor Who in the 21st Century. Really, this three part story is about the Doctor coming to terms with the fact that the only other Gallifreyan in existence is his sworn enemy. The stand-out performances though comes from Freema Agyeman, Martha, who holds together the final episodes with a moving portrayal.
FACT: This episode finished at number 27 in the 2009 DWM Mighty 200 Poll.
Number 46: Revelation of the Daleks
The best of the sixth Doctor’s reign, with a moody atmosphere and a terrifying concept, Revelation is all about death and survival. The juxtapositioning of motifs creates an intriguing story – the half-human, half-see-through Daleks speaking of the fears of eternal life supported by Cyborb technology – the death of Jobel a representation of love and personal interest, fitting that his wig should fall off, his dignity no longer a priority in death – and the final lingering, loving stare shared between Vogel and Kara. Its a dark tale, and there is a real funeral tone to it, but still a wonderful tale.
FACT: This story had a working title of The End of the Road. In 2009 the DWM Mighty 200 had this story placed 46th.
Number 45: The Aztecs
The Aztects shows us the acting capabilities of some of the lead cast, beginning with a brilliant performance from Jacque Hill as Barbara. Hartnell also shines, the scenes between the two with the now famous “you can’t change history, not one line!” exchange are a joy to watch. Early Doctor Who’s best heretical story.
FACT: The Might 200 has The Aztecs placed 57th.
Number 44: The Ambassadors of Death
This story tackles issues of space exploration like none had quite done before, with a very Russell T Davies style, news reporters and undercover agents style script. The story is also surprisingly violent, deaths on screen hitting double figures early on. The silent mutants which are the Ambassadors are a scary sight and prove to be one of my favourite adversaries from the Pertwee era. The director of the story is wonderful as well, with a very atmospheric
FACT: Finished at position 90 in the Mighty 200 in 2009.
Number 43: Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
A Moffat gem from the Tennant era, a prelude to the whole of the Matt Smith era with its dark colour, horror and thriller themes as well as the introduction of the intriguing River Song. Perhaps Moffat’s weakest pre-2010 episode, but still a really enjoyable trope.
FACT: Steven Moffat was originally going to call the second part ‘A River Song Ending’ for reasons of a humorous acronym. Luckily for us, FotD doesn’t sound nearly as smutty. This episode finished at 24th in the Mighty 200.
Number 42: The Mind Robber
For me, this is one of the best examples of second Doctor stories. Despite this though, there’s oohing quite like it in the history of Doctor Who. Its qwerky and whimsical – but also quite dark in places. Theres motifs of power and evil rooted throughout. The performances of the leads really make this story, Patrick Troughton’s Doctor is reaching the height of his reign and Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury round-off a brilliant TARDIS team.
FACT: During the filming for this episode Frazer Hines contracted Chicken Pox – but the show had to go on, so Hines was recast through a clever face-changing plot device. A such, Jamie – as played by Hines and Hamish Wilson becomes only the second companion of the classic era to be played by more than one actor (the other being Romana). This story is ranked 60th in the Might 200.
Number 41: The Seeds of Death
The best of the Ice Warrior stories from the classic era, with a clear evil intent and a devilish plan to overthrow earth. Seeds gives us another wonderful story for the TARDIS-trio of the late 60s. The Ice Warriors are the stars though – menacing and threatening – no wonder Gatiss brought them back this year.
FACT: Seeds was 111th in DWM’s Mighty 200.
Number 40: The Mind of Evil
A slightly left-feild story from the early Pertwee era. Has really intriguing moments of action for the UNIT crew and a political drama feel unfamiliar to Doctor Who before the 70’s. Roger Delgado’s master seems to be finding his place well in the series and gives another brilliant performance in this episode.
FACT: The Mighty 200 has Mind ranked 92nd.
NEXT TIME: We revisit numbers 41-30 including Daleks, Cybermen, celebration and the Moon…
Do you agree with our top 50 episodes? As they’re revealed let us know in the comments, via email or on twitter – @quantumlockeddw .