A few years ago, I was asked to come up with a Doctor Who In 50 Episodes List on Facebook. For people who wanted to get really into the series without getting Super Really Into The Series. With over fifty years worth of episodes, the prospect of becoming a fan of Doctor Who can be completely daunting.
I've compiled this list of episodes that I like, so it's very subjective. I have tried to make it so that there is a rough arc to the seasons. I don't give a fuck about episodes that are historically important, this is a guide intended to make you Like The Series, not be an Expert On The Series.
Here are the basics you should know: The show is about an alien time traveler. He takes companions, almost always humans, with him as he explores time and space. The companions change frequently, and in this guide, you sometimes get no closure. You might love a particular companion in one episode, and, in the next, they've been replaced by people you have no context for. Also, when The Doctor gets very ill, his appearance changes. By which, I mean, he is portrayed by an entirely different actor. This is a cool concept, but it can be jarring at first. It will happen Thirteen Times over the course of these eleven seasons.
The first season involved The Doctor basically kidnapping a couple of humans, traveling through space with them, eventually dropping them off home, and then "rescuing" other people who traveled with him. After an encounter with The Cybermen, he became very ill and regenerated into a somewhat friendlier personality. We begin this season with the same actor playing The Doctor, and the same companions from the final episode of last season.
This will change.
Season 2: Superluminal
(Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, William Hartnell, Tom Baker)
Episode 1: War Games Part 10
Much like last season, we start with a single short episode, as opposed to a serial. War Games was a ten episode epic about a battle for supremacy on alien planet where they have abducted Earthlings to, essentially, act as war reenactors from various periods of Earth history. It takes ForEVer. But in the tenth episode, we meet The Doctor's race, The Time Lords. And what a bunch of pretentious assholes they turn out to be. No wonder The Doctor doesn't hang out with them. After he calls on them for help, they not only send his companions back to where they came from, they force him to regenerate, and exile him to Earth. What a fester of shitbags.
Serial 2: Spearhead From Space
Imagine waking up with a new face, on a planet you know but aren't from, and all you want to do is fucken sleep it off, and some military jackwits who knew your old face drag you to their hospital. By the time you feel better there's some sort of invasion thing happening involving fucken mannequins. Hold on, this is ALSO the plot of the damned reboot from 2005 but with extra bonus military. The Autons are such a ridiculous enemy, we surely won't ever see them again.
Serial 3: Terror Of The Autons
For fuck's sake. Autons again? And who the hell is The Master? Another damned Time Lord? An evil Time Lord? I mean, they all sort of suck, so what makes this guy eviler than the rest of them? Oh shit, is this guy also trapped on Earth now? Is this the point where the soundtrack would go Dun-dun-DUNNNNNNN?
Serial 4: Colony In Space
So The Doctor is the most competent Time Lords, and he has been banished to Earth, where he managed to trap another Time Lord. Ok. But now bad shit is going down somewhere and The Time Lords have no choice but to call up Earth and be like "Ohhhhh, hey Doctor, how is Earth? Yea? Wow, that totally sucks. Look, you're Still Grounded but mommy and daddy need you to go and fix this mining disaster that we just can't wrap our heads around. Ok? When you're done, you're going to have to go back to your room, but for now, enjoy the night of freedom. And....try not to die. LOVE YOU." And, of course, The fucken Master is going to show up in this shitshow, too. Time Lords are THE WORST.
Serial 5: The Time Monster
You know, you say he's exiled on Earth you Time Lord Assholes, but you do keep needing him to run errands for you, and Every Fucken Time, The goddamned Master shows up to try and foil him. How may times does The Master just hypnotise his way into shenanigans, only to have The Doctor foil them at the last minute, but allow him to escape. Well, this time it'll be totally differ---no, same thing again, huh? Ok.
Serial 6: The Three Doctors
Another damned Time Lord errand? Only this time, instead of The Master, it's some other Criminal Time Lord named Omega? This sounds like every other episode but with a slightly different villain. Only this one's in a mask instead of a goatee. What makes him so special? Oh Shit. You need not only the current Doctor, but the two previous versions of The Doctor to take him down. How the fuck is crotchety old due going to be helpful in this scenario? You know what, I'll just sit back and see how this works itself out.
Serial 7: Planet Of The Spiders
We haven't been paying a lot of attention to the companions in this season. There's The Brigadier, some military people, and there have been a couple of scientists helping out (attractive female scientists of course, this was the 1970s). Well now there's a journalist named Sarah Jane who will be around Quite A Bit More Frequently than most companions. Well, the pesky journalist, one of the pesky military types, and a rock sent by one of those pretty scientists lead The Doctor to a spider problem. A very complex spider problem, and Oh Shit, it's time to regenerate again.
Serial 8: Ark In Space
Yo. This show must involve actual time travelers because this new Doctor with his Huge-Ass Scarf is clearly starring in the movie Alien here. Only this came out Before Alien. Mind. Fucked. Only instead of those nightmare-inducing Xenomorphs it's...green bubble wrap? But it does eventually turn you into a giant insect. Fun!
Serial 9: Genesis Of The Daleks
The genocidal trash cans are back! Sort of. Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimeyness means we're back at the time The Daleks came into being. Man, their creator is cuh-ray-zee. But since we're back a the origin point for the race, surely The Doctor will just kill their creator before they come into being and we'll never have to see them again. That's obviously what's going to happen. Right?
Serial 10: Terror Of The Zygons
It's the Loch Ness fucken monster! And weird rubber chameleon aliens. They are Not Fucking Around. Let's wrap this season up with some good old fashion monster fighting and mistaken identity. And let's put aside UNIT (the military outfit that showed up seven times this season!) away for awhile.
Ruminations on television, movies, and serialized novel series with an emphasis on creating a continuity or discussing the relationship between franchises.