In the fourth instalment of WBW Tops, we examine and rank each of the post-regeneration stories
Welcome back to the fourth edition of WBW Tops! Today we’ll be taking a look at — and ranking — the Post Doctor Regeneration episodes. My only condition for an episode to qualify is that it has to be the episode after the previous Doctor regenerated. So, for the purpose of this list, An Unearthly Child and Rose will be left off the list. I’ll also be excluding the currently unaired/unnamed Series 11 premiere for obvious reasons. So, with those parameters set, let’s begin!
Oh dear. Where to begin with this story? After the masterpiece that was The Caves of Androzani we were due a bad one. And boy do we have a doozy. Not only is this story the worst post-regeneration story of all time, but many have called it the worst Doctor Who story ever! You can’t get any worse than that! Bad child actors, unimaginative slug monsters, a plot that makes no sense and the Doctor being a bit of a jerk for most of the runtime just brings this story down hard. And to end your season on a story like this? I can see why the show was off the air for 18 months following Season 22. I’m not saying this story single-handedly helped get the show cancelled in 1989, but it probably played a role in doing so.
Time and the Rani felt like it was really rushed. On top of Colin Baker not getting a proper send off, he wasn’t even asked in to film the regeneration! It was McCoy in a wig! Speaking of McCoy, the newly regenerated Doctor is just your generic loopy post-regeneration Doctor. Also, this unrefined version of the iconic Seventh Doctor outfit looks just bad. And the Rani’s plan is just ridiculous! I mean, making a giant brain powered by the finest minds in the Universe? You must be joking. Other than a few good-looking effects and maybe the new title sequence, this story is a watch-once-to-say-you-have type of story.
Not a very strong start for the Tenth Doctor, considering he was passed out for most of the episode. So, not only are we getting a Doctor-lite episode, but we really don’t get to know the new Doctor until the start of Series 2 the following year! Add on all the silly Christmas gags like the killer Christmas trees and the Santa-bots, you really have a story that just exists to fill a timeslot on Christmas Day. I did like the Sycorax, though. They were kinda cool for one-off villains.
[Listen to the Who Back When review of The Christmas Invasion!]
It’s back to the 80’s again. I think this is The Christmas Invasion done right. You need the Doctor to rest, but keep him involved for most of the runtime? This is how you do it. Mind you, all this complicated stuff about Block Transfer Computations and such is a bit of a bore. Also, add that the story being similar to Season 18 with a plot wrapped around a scientific concept and you really have a bit of a bore. I will say that Anthony Ainley is brilliant as the Master here. His appearance in this serial is better than his appearance later on in Season 19. Oh, we’ll get to that! Not here, but I’ll get to it, I swear!
This story’s biggest issue is that it’s fairly average for a series filled to the brim with gems of stories. You have your average giant robot, your average villains in these science Nazi chaps, a surprisingly average surprise twist and a bit of an average appearance from UNIT here. Tom Baker has yet to slip fully into the role, although he’s still magnificent. So really, this story is just so average! Which isn’t a bad thing at all. It just doesn’t stand out, that’s all.
Okay, now we’re getting to the good stuff. The Eleventh Hour is more or less the best way to introduce a Doctor like Matt Smith. This episode isn’t marked by any problems the Matt Smith era normally had. The jokes were able to hit home (mostly), Matt was the right amount of silly and serious, and that TARDIS is awesome! Heck, even the girl who plays Young Amelia Pond is great in the role! Doctor Who has had some bad child actors in the past, but she was fantastic!
[Listen to the Who Back When review of The Eleventh Hour!]
I feel the TV Movie is underrated. Though it failed to kickstart a new Doctor Who series in 1996, it gave us the wonderful Eighth Doctor played by Paul McGann and a proper send-off for the Seventh Doctor. That TARDIS is stunning to look at, we’ve got a perfect companion in Grace Holloway, the Master was just crazy (which I enjoyed), and overall it was a great, fun Doctor Who story. The only downside it that it wasn’t really Classic Doctor Who. It was basically what the New Series would become. However, this is more “Americanized” than the 2005 reboot.
Peter Capaldi’s debut episode was the first Doctor Who story I watched in cinemas. Just seeing the TARDIS fly out at you during the title sequence was amazing! We aren’t sure who this Doctor is yet. However, something tells me that this episode had bits written for Matt because of all the post-regeneration silliness. It just felt like it was rewritten after Matt said he was doing Series 8 and then he wasn’t. That doesn’t make it bad, though. It feels right, I suppose.
When Pertwee came along, we had a Doctor in exile, UNIT and an alien invasion. This story’s main job is to slip people into this new format for the show as well as introduce the new Doctor and the new main cast. I’m glad this episode is not longer than four parts because compared to the three seven-part stories present throughout Season Seven, this story needed to be quick and easy. I also love how the Third Doctor era has this sort of Bond 007 type feel. The action, secret organizations and all that make this story wonderful!
[Listen to the Who Back When review of Spearhead from Space!]
Power of the Daleks probably had the toughest job out of all the post-regeneration stories because it was the first of its kind. It had to be the best because it needed to be. In 1966 William Hartnell was Doctor Who. He carried the show for three full seasons and by the start of Season Four he was persuaded to call it quits because of his health. At the start, they had no idea how changing the Doctor would affect the show. By the end of Power of the Daleks, we had accepted that this new guy was the Doctor. That’s what this serial had to do. Convince the audience that this guy with a fondness for hats and his recorder was the same guy they had come to know and love over the past three years. That’s why Power of the Daleks is the best.
[Listen to the Who Back When review of Power of the Daleks!]
Got any ideas for future lists? Shoot them my way and your idea might be a future WBW Tops instalment!
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