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 You might love a particular companion in one episode, and, in the next, they've been replaced by people you have no context for.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 second season saw The Doctor exiled to Earth by The Time Lords, and then regenerating into his smiliest face and longest scarf yet. This season will follow his adventures as he is allowed to return to space and meddle in time.
Season 3: Jellybabies In Space
Serial 1: The Brain Of Morbius
We begin this season with a Frankenstein's monster stories, and a lovely group of ladies called The Sisterhood Of Karn. This first serial has it all, alien bugs, a hook-handed assistant, wrecked spacecraft, an elixir of immortality. This season is going to be bonkers fun.
Serial 2: The Hand Of Fear
It's not even in these short seasons that we get to say goodbye to a companion. So let's wave sayonara to Sarah Jane, as she departs of her own free will to return to the glamorous life of investigative journalism. But first, they are menaced by a HAND!!!! Is it the absent hand from the hook-limbed assistant in the previous episode? Was this season written by George Lucas? It's mystery.
Serial 3: The Deadly Assassin
Oh great, it's those fucken TIme Lord assholes again. Morbius was grumbling about them in the first episode. What Do They Want? OH NO. Someone just killed one of those high-collared assholes, maybe The Doctor's new companion will---wait a minute, THERE IS NO COMPANION!!!! Who will help The Doctor get out of this mess? It looks like he's all on his o---is that The goddamned Master, again? Fuck.
Serial 4: The Ribos Operation
This is, technically, the first episode of the sixteenth season of Doctor Who (see how much I've cut for you, Be Grateful!). The entire season was an extended take on The Keys Of Marius, and it was pretty good. We're not going to include all of it, because it would take up a lot of space, but if you like the first episode, you can always adventure out on your own and follow the story. In the nowwhile, we have a new companion, and she's a Time Lor--Lady--Lord? Gender is also wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey.
Serial 5: Destiny Of The Daleks
This is, technically, the first episode of the seventeenth season. Holy shit, right? And that companion we met last time? The Time L---something? She's regenerating! Meet her again for the first time! And...Daleks? It seems there is another race that is setting out to do what The Doctor hasn't been able to do...wipe out The Daleks. Will The Doctor and Davros end up in a buddy comedy trying to save the adorable little Garbage Cans Of Death? No. No they won't.
Serial 6: City Of Death
Interstellar art thieves have targeted The Mona Lisa. And they're not just interstellar, they're Time Travelers! At least they're not Time Lords, though, right? This episode was cowritten by Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy guy, the Dirk Gently guy, the funny fucker who wrote great sci-fi. So this is a more fun than usual episode. Enjoy it!
Serial 7: The Leisure Hive
This is the first episode where a companion Bites The Big Mortal Thing. But not, like, forever. No, it's not the Time Lo--La--Lo...it's not even a humanoid, and it's a companion you've mostly been protected from, so it's not going to be as therapeutic for you as it was for fans at the time, but the episode starts with a BOOM! And then, the vacationing Doctor and Romana (The Time L---Person) stumble into a Recreation Generator, which has a Very Unfortunate Side Effect for The Doctor.
Serial 8: Full Circle
It's time for Romana to go back to Gallifrey. Surely this means more hijinks with those High Collared Asshole Time Lords. Wait, this is The Wrong Planet, morons. This planet has way too many children on it. Kids are So Annoying. I'm so glad that all of The Doctor's companions have been grown ups since Screechy Susan and Vicki disappeared in season one. Maybe the Doctor will actually get a male companion who is age appropriate to his----DOCTOR, ONE OF THOSE LITTLE SHITS HAS STOWED AWAY ON YOUR TARDIS. GET HIM OUT!!! GET HIM---Damn it.
Serial 9: State Of Decay
Stupid child companion. Stupid robotic dog companion that somehow got rebuilt since the explosion. Stupid Romana, still being stupid on the stupid TARDIS. (Narrator leaves to kick rocks) This episode centers on a planet with medieval culture that seems out of place, and a group of bat gu---IS THIS A VAMPIRE EPISODE? (Narrator gnashes teeth. Kicks boulders.)
Serial 10: Warrior's Gate
I have to come clean. I've been hiding something from you. Remember how I told you I didn't include the season long story arc in season 16 because it was TOO LONG. Well, these last serials are actually a trilogy called The E-Space Trilogy. It's a void between worlds kind of thing, spacey-wacey, sciency-wiency. And it serves to get Romana and the stupid dog Off The Goddamed TARDIS. But this kid appears to be sticking around. And...holy shit, we made it through an entire season without The Doctor regenerating. Pretttttty coooooool.