What is the worst of the worst from the Hartnell Era? In this first edition of WBW Tops, we’ll find out together how bad the First Doctor era can get!
Hello! Welcome along to my first Top List for WhoBackWhen.com in this series I like to call WBW Tops! Today we’re gonna start off with the worst of the worst from the Hartnell Era. Now, there are a few duds throughout the First Doctor’s era, but what are the worst of the worst? Well, let’s begin!
#5 THE CHASE (1965, Six Episodes)
I’m gonna start off with the Dalek story many cite as the worst of the Sixties Dalek stories. I can see why as it’s basically just The Keys of Marinus but with Daleks chasing the TARDIS crew. I mean we bounce around from New York where Peter Purves does an awful southern accent to a haunted house in an amusement park with Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula. We also see a Dalek fall off the side of the Mary Celeste. Also, the Mechanoids were able to battle and nearly defeat the Daleks? What was that about being the Masters of Earth the year before? I mean, really. The only reason that this serial appears so high on the list is because it’s not god awful. I think it’s okay, but still bad and silly enough to appear here.
[Listen to the Who Back When review of The Chase!]
#4 THE CELESTIAL TOYMAKER (1966, Four Episodes)
Now, I hate picking on stories that aren’t complete in the archives, but I think this story needs to be addressed. Some people say it’s good, but is it really? I mean Ponken went out of his way to verbally lash this story. I think it’s awful because the villain is extremely overpowered and it’s incredibly Doctor lite, with the Doctor being invisible and unable to speak for most of the story leaving Dodo and Steven to the dangers of the Toymaker’s games. Also, there was a slight racist moment in there as well. I get it’s a 60’s show, but racism is racism. I did like Michael Gough as the Toymaker as I thought he was brilliant. If you want a good version of this plot, I’d pick up Big Finish’s “The Queen of Time”. It’s infinitely better than this piece of trash. Also it features the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe so it’s already 10x better. Sorry, getting a little off topic there. Moving on…
[Listen to the Who Back When review of The Celestial Toymaker!]
#3 THE EDGE OF DESTRUCTION (1964, Two Episodes)
So, basically this is the story: the TARDIS stops, everyone is a dick to each other for an hour or so then we find out that a switch got stuck and was the cause of the problem the whole time! Everyone is a bit out of character here to me. The Doctor is more of a dick than he was before, Susan is trying to kill Ian with scissors and we’re basically in the TARDIS the whole time, giving this story a bit of a claustrophobic feel. It’s just so strange and I don’t know why this little diversion needed to exist. I get the budget called for a diversion, but really what else can you do? You follow up the story that raked in the viewers with this? Really?
[Listen to the Who Back When review of The Edge of Destruction (aka Descrution)!]
#2 THE GUNFIGHTERS (1966, Four Episodes)
Doctor who has never been good with westerns at all. This was their first attempt, but it was a pretty bad attempt. I get that when you’re doing a pure historical you need to have some liberties to bend the story a little, but this gets it all wrong. With stories like Marco Polo or The Aztecs, the Doctor wasn’t too involved in any huge historical events, so the crew wasn’t tasked to recreate anything. But when you have to recreate the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, then you should probably do your research a little. I’d hardly call this episode a pure historical at all. It’s also a bit silly at times as well. Steven being forced to sing in the saloon was okay but he’s having to sing the same song that we hear throughout the story (The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon). This story is basically a joke. A bloody joke.
[Listen to the Who Back When review of The Gunfighters!]
#1 THE WEB PLANET (1965, Six Episodes)
Could it be anything else? Really, could it be? Where to begin with this story? Well, let’s start with the rule of thumb for Hartnell stories. If episode one is amazing, then the story is probably gonna be awful. Unearthly Child is a prime example of this. Episode one is great with the mystery of Susan and where she comes from. But the rest of the story with Cavemen is just pants. Same applies here. But when you have screeching aliens and a story that just won’t end it makes it worse! I mean, shut up already! The previous story, The Romans, was not great but to have it followed up by this piece of trash is just God awful. And somehow this serial got nearly 13 Million Viewers each week. Compared to Day of the Doctor, that episode got 10 Million Viewers on November 23rd, 2013’s broadcast. How is that even possible? Though Day of the Doctor is overrated as heck, it’s infinitely better than this load of tripe! I implore you, if you haven’t yet listened to C013 (Wow, 13? Unlucky.) of the Podcast, just do it. It’s definitely better than watching the story itself. But that’s not the best part. Oh, the best part is that when this DVD went out of print here in America, people really wanted it for some reason. Last time I saw a copy on eBay it went for $500! Who’s gonna pay $500 for a sack of garbage?
[Listen to the Who Back When review of The Web Planet!]
DISHONORABLE MENTION: THE SPACE MUSEUM (1965, Four Episodes)
I had to resist putting this serial on this list simply because it’s not god awful. Sure, it’s not good, but it’s definitely not deserving all the shite that gets thrown at it. I think it’s one of those stories that’s so bad it’s good. I actually enjoyed this story. It’s just really interesting with it’s ideas, so I don’t understand why some people absolutely hate this one. It definitely deserves a little more love than it gets.
[Listen to the Who Back When review of The Space Museum!]
Okay, I’m gonna stop now before I go on a long tangent and rage for an hour like I did after Hell Bent. I’ll talk about that at some point in this, but not now. Thank you for reading and next time we’ll be delving into the worst of the Troughton Era. This is gonna be fun! But at the same time I have to pick out five stories from the Second Doctor’s Era I didn’t like… This might be harder than I thought. Oh well, see you soon!