WBW Tops – Doctor Regeneration Stories Ranked

by Trenton Bless




The Doctor has regenerated fourteen times now. But out of all his TV Regenerations, which are the best of the best and which are not as good?


Welcome back to WBW Tops! Today we’re departing from the Worst of lists for the Doctors and we’ll be looking at the regeneration stories. And we’ll be ranking them. The criteria for this list is that A) it must feature the regeneration itself, B) it needs to be centered around the outgoing Doctor (So, no Time of the Rani, Day of the Doctor or the TV Movie), C) No minisodes (No Night of the Doctor) and D) no non TV resources (this includes “The Last Adventure” from Big Finish). So, with those rules in place, let’s rank these episodes.

 

#9: THE END OF TIME (2009, Ten to Eleven)

I think for any of those who are wondering why I rank this serial dead last, it’s because this set of episodes is just fanwank. For those of you who have seen/heard my mini review of this episode for the podcast, here’s an excerpt from it: “It was cluttered, the jokes weren’t funny, the Doctor was a drama queen at times, the Master and the Time Lords coming back were pointless (hopefully Series 10 will fix the Simm Master [which it did]) and really, why did we need to see the Doctor say goodbye to everyone? It’s so dumb.” My position hasn’t changed whatsoever on it. It’s god awful and it deserves the bottom spot.

Want to know what the Who Back When podcast thought of this episode? Listen to the review!

 

#8: LOGOPOLIS (1981, Four to Five)

Oh dear. The Fourth Doctor is the icon of Doctor Who. However, I think he deserved better. This serial was just so boring. Episodes 1-3 are quite boring and it feels like they have all these scientific ideas and they just wrapped a plot around them. Episode 4 is decent enough but you’d think that after being the face of the show for so long the Fourth Doctor would get a more heroic death than just falling from a high place. The reason it’s not dead last is because of the atmosphere. It’s just so mournful and sad and we have these themes of entropy and such. The atmosphere keeps Logopolis from dead last, but it’s such a shame we have to sit through three episodes of absolute boring stuff before we get to the good bits. Tom, I love you, but you deserved better.

 

#7: TIME OF THE DOCTOR (2013, Eleven to Twelve)

My biggest issue with this episode is that all the problems with Matt Smith’s era are magnified to 11 (pun totally intended). The jokes are not funny, there’s a million things going on and you simply don’t have time to deal with it all. Clara is a flat character still and doesn’t do much apart from sitting in the vortex with the TARDIS for half the episode and crying over her “boyfriend”. Really, why does every companion these days (except for Donna) fall for the younger Doctors? It’s kinda ridiculous! The thing I do like was the last third of the episode where we have the old Eleventh Doctor and Clara together, the Clocktower Scene and the Regeneration Scene. Moffat couldn’t have gotten any more perfect. It’s just that we had a ton of stuff going on and not enough time to fit it all into a 45+ minute plot.

 

#6: TWICE UPON A TIME (2017, Twelve to Thirteen)

Okay, this episode was great. I loved Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and he was so wonderful. But this episode was tainted by one thing. The First Doctor was way too sexist. He was written by someone who wasn’t a fan of his era and really didn’t care to get it right. Though Hartnell was indeed a little racist IRL, the character he portrayed was for the most part very accepting of most people if not all people. Also, we didn’t get much of the “hmm” line. I think it would’ve made this portrayal of the First Doctor a little more accurate. So, though I enjoyed this story thoroughly, the portrayal of the First Doctor was all wrong.

Want to know what the Who Back When podcast thought of this episode? Listen to the review!

 

#5: BAD WOLF/THE PARTING OF THE WAYS (2005, Nine to Ten)

Coming in at #5 is the only story involving the Daleks and regeneration that was done well. It’s the highest ranked of the New Series regenerations because it’s done so well. It has enough time to tell a story, the Doctor is not a drama queen throughout the story and we have the grand return of the Daleks. Though Series 1 had two Dalek stories (Dalek being the other one), this is the better one simply because it’s filled with action, emotional moments and possibly the best final stand for any of the Doctors. He’s not dying, he’s not all sad he’s regenerating. He’s just making a final stand because he knows there might be a chance he’s killed here.

Want to know what the Who Back When podcast thought of this episode? Listen to the review!

 

#4: THE TENTH PLANET (1966, One to Two)

This is the original regeneration story, but it doesn’t make the top 3 simply because it doesn’t center around the regeneration. I mean, we get hints, but we don’t see anything happen until the very end of Episode 4. Still, for what it is, Tenth Planet is a great story and it introduces my favorite villains. The Cybermen are at their most creepy here. Hartnell, though absent for episode 3, gives it his all in his final regular performance on the show.

Want to know what the Who Back When podcast thought of this episode? Listen to the review!

 

#3: PLANET OF THE SPIDERS (1974, Three to Four)

Jon Pertwee’s Swansong appears next on my list. The reason it gets the bronze medal on this list is because I think it’s a bit long. I mean, it’s the best of Pertwee. We have pretty much everything you’d expect. We’ve got UNIT, Jo (to an extent) and in a way the Master. But this story’s weakness is the padding. The chase in episode 2 is filler. I liked the chase, but it’s filler all the same. It’s obvious the writers didn’t have enough to fill six episodes. But, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives here.

 

#2: THE WAR GAMES (1969, Two to Three)

I know I just chewed Planet of the Spiders out for being too long, but at least with The War Games we go from place to place with several settings. We start in the First World War, then travel to Roman times and then we move to the American Civil War and then we go back and forth from the base of the Aliens (or the Warlords, if you like) to even the (at the time) unnamed homeworld of the Doctor. With a colorful batch of characters from throughout history, the chilling War Lord and even another Time Lord in the War Chief. Speaking of the Time Lords, I have called this the best appearance of the Time Lords on the show. They had power here. In subsequent appearances they were either stuffy politicians or cowering in a corner waiting for the Doctor to save the day. It only gets the runner up spot because it’s not the best serial. No, that title goes to…

Want to know what the Who Back When podcast thought of this episode? Listen to the review!

 

#1: THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI (1984, Five to Six)

Where to begin with this serial? It definitely breaks away from the usual mold for Doctor Who at the time, which was TARDIS lands, Doctor helps where he can and then says goodbye. This story is basically TARDIS lands, wrong place wrong time, and we need to escape before we all get killed. Add the Doctor and Peri getting poisoned, Sharaz Jek, Morgus and suspenseful cliffhangers in episodes 1 and 3 and you’ve got a recipe for the best regeneration story if not the greatest Doctor Who story of all time. It’s dark, chilling and every male character (the Doctor included) is dead by the end! Not many stories end in total death, even when we are regenerating. I also put this at #1 because this is Peter Davison and Robert Holmes at their finest. This is possibly Robert Holmes’ best episode period and definitely Peter Davison’s best performance as the Fifth Doctor. Hands down, it’s the best.

 

And that’s my list. Did you agree? What would your rankings be? Let me know below!

This article was written by

Trenton Bless

I’m a student and writer who has been submitting mini reviews for WhoBackWhen since C033 (The Moonbase). I’m also engaged in activities on YouTube so check me out there! (https://www.youtube.com/user/wrestlemania489)

High-5 Trenton Bless on Twitter and say hi from us: @trentonbless

This article was written by

Trenton Bless

I’m a student and writer who has been submitting mini reviews for WhoBackWhen since C033 (The Moonbase). I’m also engaged in activities on YouTube so check me out there! (https://www.youtube.com/user/wrestlemania489)

High-5 Trenton Bless on Twitter and say hi from us: @trentonbless

Comments

2 Responses to “WBW Tops – Doctor Regeneration Stories Ranked”

  1. Peter Zunitch

    Hey Trenton. Excellent list! For the most part I agree with it as well, which makes it all the better. I’m curious of your thoughts on where night of the doctor, Day of the Doctor and (dare I call it a regeneration episode?) Time and the Rani fit in. And then of course there’s the Rowan Atkinson story. Might your answer to this be, “they don’t really qualify”? :) That’s fair too.

    Reply
    • Trenton B.

      I would say they don’t really qualify. However, I might not rank Time and the Rani too terribly high (It might have been second to last if included), Night of the Doctor would rank pretty high but Day of the Doctor might just get lost in the shuffle of the New Who stories that didn’t get into the top five. But fret not, for eventually I’ll have a list where most of these episodes are included. Maybe.

      Reply

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