Sunday, 31 July 2011

Top 7... 1960s Dr Who stories

Back to familiar ground for this top 7 - though trying to find a 7th we could all agree on proved to be something of a struggle...  we eventually rejected Tomb of the Cybermen and Dalek Invasion of Earth to leave us with

1 The Evil of the Daleks (1967,TC) - the plot at times makes as much sense as a RTD special, but the atmosphere just oozes out, Pat T is at his best and Debbie Watling's in crinoline. Just sublime. Only thing to decide is which is the better quote to her - the dalek's "You will not feed the flying pests" or Jamie's "Quick, Miss Waterfield - up your back passage!"?

2 The Gunfighters (1966,DM) - "He gave me a gun, he extracted my tooth,what more could you ask?" Long considered one of the worst historical Whos ever, with its appalling American accents and cavalier approach to the facts, Gunfighters has more recently been reconsidered and is now widely accepted as a pretty good satire on the TV Western genre of the 50s and 60s. On the other hand, we've always loved it as a screamingly good and utterly intentional comedy.

3 The Mind Robber (1967,TC) - From a first episode written at the last of last minutes with no budget (the previous story had to be cut from 6 episodes to 5 (which was still 5 too many)) by shoving the crew into a featureless white world, to Jamie becoming the first companion to "regenerate" when Hines caught chicken pox and was replaced for a while by his cousin (via the Doctor wrongly reassembling his face in a jigsaw puzzle) this should have been a disaster but proved a triumph - and very much a blueprint for much of MoffatWho in its fairytale setting.

4 The Power of the Daleks (1966, MI) "We are your... servants" Hartnell was gone and Who would never be the same again, as Pat Troughton was now the Doctor - or was he? It seemed unlikely at the time, about as unlikely as the Daleks providing a slave labour force for humans rather than the other way round, but only one of those two things proved to be a devilishly cunning ruse...

5 The Macra Terror (1967, TC) - "Macra do not exist. There is no such thing as Macra!" As a prequel to Gridlock, Macra Terror is unusual in having no cast members in common, but it nonetheless seems to work pretty well as a standalone story..

6 The Romans (1965, MI) - "Suitable only for morons" according to an anonymous member of the BBC's Audience Research panel, but "absolutely flawless" according to the Times TV review, this was Who's first overt attempt at comedy, with the humour mostly played out as an exquisite farce in the manner of (but much better than) the Tennant/Tate interplay in the Series 4 opener.

7 An Unearthly Child (1963, DM) A cliche, perhaps, but still a genuinely superb start to the Series - was a nation still taking in the news of Kennedy' assassination really ready for that unsettling theme tune and titles, with everything that followed? Only time will tell...

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