At long last, we get the Worst of the Second Doctor list. Though my favorite, the Second Doctor does have his share of stinkers. Here we examine the worst of his worst.
Hello there! Welcome back to WBW Tops. This time we’re looking into the worst of the worst from the Second Doctor’s era. Unlike in The Hartnell Era, where we have definite worsts, I had to do a bit of digging for these picks. It took forever to put this list together because I really like Troughton. But even I know Doctor Who isn’t perfect. So, let’s get on with it.
5. THE UNDERWATER MENACE (1967, Four Episodes)
The Underwater Menace comes in at #5 because it’s basically filler. Jamie is tacked on here, having to take lines from Ben just to fit in, and the plot is pretty improbable. Draining the ocean into the core to destroy the Earth? You must be joking! The other major reason this serial appears on this list is because of it’s 2015 DVD release. If you’ve seen the recons for episodes 1 and 4 on it, you’ll understand. The only reason this serial is so high on the list is because it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. The fish people look really cool and Professor Zaroff is quite enjoyable and entertaining. But the rest is just a bit plain and the writers aren’t really set yet on who the Second Doctor is gonna be. Is he silly? Is he serious? We don’t know yet. And that uncertainty just doesn’t do it for me.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Underwater Menace!]
4. THE WHEEL IN SPACE (1968, Six Episodes)
The Second Doctor was the Doctor who encountered the Cybermen the most, and I think this is probably the least effective plot of the Cybermen. I mean in the description of the episode for the WBW Podcast episode on it (C043) it was called “The most convoluted Cyberman plot to date”. This serial raises a ton of questions. For example, why did that servo robot in part one try to kill the Doctor and Jamie? Why are Cybermen hatching from eggs? What’s the deal with the Wheel’s crew being so unprofessional? The saving grace of this serial is Zoe. Zoe is charming and definitely a nice addition to the TARDIS crew. Also, the factoring-in of Evil of the Daleks into the continuity is brilliant. But, it’s still the worst of the Cybermen stories from Troughton’s era when compared to the likes of The Moonbase, Tomb of the Cybermen and The Invasion.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Wheel In Space!]
3. THE DOMINATORS (1968, Five Episodes)
Now we’re getting into the stories I don’t like. The previous two I can stand, but these next few are pretty bad. The Dominators is here at #3 because at least some effort was put into this. The Quarks are well designed even though they were never even close to being as iconic as the Daleks (Maybe their masters, the Dominators can be icons of failure?). The model work is commendable. But the Dulcians (aka the Dullards) are just boring at times and the Dominators themselves are just bickering like a married couple the whole of the five part run-time. If this serial had its sixth episode, I’d bet this serial would be at #2 for sure because it was basically rewritten to have all the padding cut out. In fact, it was so heavily rewritten that the sixth episode allotted for The Dominators had to be given over to the next serial which made that serial infinitely better. So as it stands, The Dominators will sit at #3.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Dominators!]
2. THE KROTONS (1968/1969, Four Episodes)
In the review I did for this story, I cited Frazer Hines, who called it a “horrible story” with monsters like “cardboard cut-outs”. David Maloney remembered it as a disaster. How could something with Robert Holmes’ name on it be bad? Well, I suppose it might help to explain just a little. The Krotons was the backup script for another story that fell through (The Prison in Space, I’ll talk about it in a future article). Though rewritten to fit Doctor Who, this was a stand-alone thing that should’ve been just that. The icing on the cake of terribleness is that Robert Holmes, my favorite Classic Series writer, wrote this! Come now, I know you can do better. But did his next story hold up?
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Krotons!]
1. THE SPACE PIRATES (1969, Six Episodes)
Robert Holmes second script for the show had potential. Pirates in Space! How do you screw that up so badly? By making it incredibly boring and just sucking out all the fun from it. But the biggest reason this serial appears at the #1 spot is because it’s so forgettable. Pat Troughton, the director and even Robert Holmes himself remembered nothing about this serial when asked. With serials like The Dominators and The Krotons, you actually remember the villains. Heck, the producers even tried to get the Quarks in a position to replace the Daleks! Space Pirates has none of that. It’s not memorable in any way, shape or form and it doesn’t help that only episode 2 exists in the archives.
[Check out the Who Back When review of The Space Pirates!]
And that’s my list. You agree? You disagree? Tell me why in the comments bar. Perhaps next time I’ll do a list of good Troughton stories to wash the bad taste of the Krotons out of my mouth.