I could not let the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who go by without writing a blog post about the greatest science fiction show of all time. I grew up watching the original series and I remember watching Partrick Troughton, who was the second doctor. I had nightmares about an episode where that Doctor was investigating a dark room full of giant toadstools. My mother must have forced me to eat mushrooms that day.
I watched the original series right to its end. When I was staying in a residential college (Menzies College) at Latrobe University a group of us used to gather together to watch it.
My favourite episodes usually involved the Daleks. Two of the more memorable stories were Death to the Daleks, where Jon Pertwee had to navigate a deadly maze to destroy an energy sapping beacon, and Genesis of the Daleks, where Tom Baker battled Davros, the evil creator of the Daleks.
My enthusiasm for the show survived the wishy-washy Peter Davison years. I even watched the Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy years, enjoying the weirdness of episodes like The Happiness Patrol, set on a planet where unhappiness was very much frowned upon. Anyone listening to jazz risked being execution in a tube flooded with marshmallow.
When Doctor Who returned I tuned in out of a sense of duty. And I was blown away. I loved the way the show had grown up, and took itself more seriously. There was less whimsy, more suspenseful drama. The plots were more complex and so was the doctor. The special effects had become really special and the Daleks could go up stairs.
My Doctor Who Favourites.
Favourite companions – You can’t go past the curious Sarah Jane Smith in the old series. Even though she had a nasty habit of tripping over at the wrong time, she was so cute that any 15 year-old male would dream of saving her. In the new series, Rose beats all those who followed. Intelligent with an emotional strength, Rose supported the doctor, unlike later companions who tried to take over the storyline.
Favourite villians – The Daleks. Those soulless cyborgs never failed to exterminate any of my other thoughts as I became engrossed in their efforts to take over the universe. The Dalek episodes have always been special, right up to last season’s best episode, Asylum of the Daleks.
Creepiest episodes – The Satan Pit, where David Tennant and Rose are trapped in a spacecraft above a planet containing the grave of Satan. And The Empty Child, where a soulless child with a gas mask moulded into his face searches for his mother.
Favourite doctor – Tom Baker, with Jon Pertwee a close second, in the original shows. Baker’s fun was the perfect counter to Pertwee’s seriousness. Christopher Eccleston for the new series: if he said run, I would be sprinting. He played it straight and added a gravity to the doctor that turned the show into something that adults could watch without thinking they should be watching a show for adults.
I am looking forward to watching Doctor Who for many more years, especially now Matt Smith is being retired. I hope a new doctor will prompt a return to the more suspenseful writing of the first four years of the rebooted show.