Saturday, 5 January 2013

Try a bit of the Classics...(2)

Following on from my previous post where I recommended stories from the first three Doctors, this second part is much more difficult - mainly because I've had to whittle down the Tom Baker stories to only 3.  So, let's go straight into it.

1.  Genesis of the Daleks - Tom Baker

Another story that should be on every list.  It's a 6 parter - so the tension has time to build -and this features the first appearance of Davros, played with spine-chilling malevolence by the great Michael Wisher.  It truly is one of the greats - and it's only the fourth Tom Baker story yet he's already nailed his version of the Doctor.  Treat yourself to this one - the fourth Doctor, Sarah-Jane, Harry Sullivan, Davros and the Daleks - what's not to love?

2. Pyramids of Mars - Tom Baker

Another "classic" - what do you get when you combine Egyptian Mythology and Doctor Who?  You get Pyramids of Mars.  The villain of the piece - Sutekh - has already gone down in Who lore as one of the all time greats despite only being in one story...and in all honesty, he doesn't get a whole lot of screen time.  He really doesn't need it though as his shadow falls across every episode.  Featuring one of the best Doctor/companion combos - the fourth Doctor and Sarah-Jane - this is one hell of a story:

3. Talons of Weng-Chiang - Tom Baker

Another epic 6 parter, this has the fourth Doctor dressed as Sherlock Holmes and Leela and her Janus thorns - together with the fantastic double act of Henry Gordon Jago and Professor Litefoot.  You can see why Jago and Litefoot have their own Big Finish audio series because they have to be two of the best supporting characters in the history of the show.  Ignore the Giant Rat...look for the various Sherlock Holmes connections, sit back and enjoy one of the best Doctor Who stories ever:

4. Planet of Fire - Peter Davison

I know when it comes to Peter Davison episodes that most people will probably pick "Caves of Androzani" but I'm going a slightly different route.  As I said previously, these are episodes I love - and "Planet of Fire" has always had a special place in my heart.  One of the best Anthony Ainley "Master" stories, this was mostly filmed on Lanzarote so visually it looks fantastic. It's Turlough's goodbye story and Peri's introduction - not to mention Peter Davison's penultimate story.  This features an epic guest star in Peter Wyngarde and, whilst you may not agree with his character, Timanov's actions, you can't help but have a healthy dose of respect for him.

5. Vengeance on Varos - Colin Baker

This was a controversial story - food for the critics who were complaining that the show had become too violent, this story shows a society that is entertained on television by torture and public executions.  The whole society is seemingly dependent on television so much so that when the Governor makes a new policy, the population votes yes or no via television on whether to accept it.  If the answer is no...the Governor himself is strapped down and given what seems to be a violent electric shock.  Life expectancy for Governors is not very high.  It's a very scary glimpse into the future:

6. Curse of Fenric - Sylvester McCoy

Another terrific little story - and proof, if any were needed, that the show didn't entirely lose it's touch in the later years.  Gothic horror mixed with adventure - and a very dark Seventh Doctor who is certainly not above using his companion in sometimes appalling ways.  Destroying Ace's faith in him was the crux of the finale and it's almost painful to watch.  And you think the Moff is the only one doing Timey Wimey arcs?  Not so - in this one Ace manages to create her own future by saving a baby...a baby who will grow up to be the mother she hates.  Worth watching this one more than once actually:

So, there you have it - 11 Classic Who story recommendations.  There were others I would like to have included such as "Robots of Death" but I feel these selections will give a good taste of the joys of Classic Who.