October 1, 2012

Let's play rank the Doctors

There is a question every fan of Doctor Who has to answer.  Who's your favorite Doctor?  It's also something of a pastime among Whovians to rank all of the different Doctors in favorite order.  My two favorites are always the same, but the others fluctuate depending on when you ask me.  The idea to blog about this came about because I had this ranking conversation with a friend of mine last week.  There have been eleven actors to play the role.  Here we go:

1. & 2. (tie)  Tom Baker (4th Doctor) and Patrick Troughton (2nd Doctor)

Tom Baker
Patrick Troughton
It's hard for me to decide which one of these Doctors I like better.  Many American Whovians say Tom Baker is their favorite, and I think a part of that is because he's the one we grew up with.  Tom Baker's episodes were most often on PBS when Doctor Who was airing over here when we were younger.  He is also the longest tenured Doctor.  Tom Baker is a brilliant Doctor, though.  He is funny.  He had excellent companions to play off of, like Romana II.  When I think of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who, many of them are from the Tom Baker era: "Genesis of the Daleks," "City of Death," "Destiny of the Daleks," "Pyramids of Mars," "The Deadly Assassin."

Sometimes I think it's not a tie and that I like Patrick Troughton better.  Troughton plays a zany Doctor.  At times it seems like the 2nd Doctor really doesn't know what he's doing.  I love his portrayal of the Doctor.  There is something endearing about him.  He also has great companions, such as Jamie and Zoe.  The tragedy of Patrick Troughton's Doctor is that so few episodes survive.  The BBC used to wipe their tapes and reuse them, so most of the 2nd Doctor's stories and many of the 1st Doctor's are lost.  This kills me.  I need more 2nd Doctor episodes!

3.  Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor)

Pertwee, with a Sea Devil lurking behind
Jon Pertwee's episodes also aired a lot when I was watching Doctor Who on PBS as a kid.  The 3rd Doctor was confined to Earth by the Time Lords for most of his episodes, so Pertwee's Doctor has a strong association with UNIT.  This is the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, headed by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.  (UNIT stands for something else in new Who, but it's still around.)  Simply put, UNIT is awesome, and so is the Brigadier.  The Brigadier is a stuffy military type.  The Doctor is a pacifist, and he's grumpy because he's stuck on Earth.  This makes for an interesting friendship.  The Pertwee era has one of my absolute favorite episodes, "The Three Doctors."  The Doctors are all arrogant know-it-alls, so when they get together, it's fantastic.

4.  Peter Davison (5th Doctor)

I like the 5th Doctor.  A lot of fans don't.  The Davison era suffers from two things- he was bogged down by some of the worst companions the series has ever seen, and he followed a wildly popular Doctor.  There is a gentleness to his Doctor, and he lacks the overt condescension of the other Doctors.  I think he's friendly in a way the others aren't, too.  My favorite Doctor Who episode of all time, "The Five Doctors," takes place during the 5th Doctor's run.  I like multiple-Doctor episodes, and this one has FIVE of them, plus Gallifrey, which is always fun.

5.  Matt Smith (11th Doctor)

The first Doctor of new Who to make the list is Matt Smith.  I think he's a great Doctor.  He reminds me very much of Patrick Troughton's 2nd Doctor.  He's funny and crazy and sometimes out of control.  His relationship with Amy and Rory, their friendship, is similar to that of Tom Baker's 4th Doctor and Romana II.  There's an equality there.  There's genuine feeling.  Matt Smith is the current Doctor, so only Steven Moffat, the showrunner, knows what's in store for him in the future.

6.  David Tennant (10th Doctor)

David Tennant was an outstanding Doctor.  Six seems too low on the list.  Yet here he is.  He started off with the dreaded Rose as a companion, but after the show got rid of her, he really grew into his own.  Tennant is the reason new Who is as popular as it is.  The 10th Doctor is friendly and enthusiastic.  He is also the only Doctor I've ever thought was attractive, which is just weird.  The Doctor isn't supposed to be cute.  Oh, but David Tennant is so cute.  And those glasses...Enough of that.  He had some great companions in Martha and Donna.  Some of my favorite episodes of new Who are 10th Doctor episodes: "The Girl in the Fireplace," "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead," "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords," "The Waters of Mars."

7.  Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor)

McCoy has the stigma of being the actor who presided over the end of the regular airing of Doctor Who on television.  I like the 7th Doctor enough.  He is manic and nutty.  I didn't like any of his companions, really.  Sylvester McCoy is an entertaining guy.  He has joked in interviews that the BBC brought him in because at that point in his career he was three-season McCoy.  The BBC wanted to kill off Doctor Who, and no show he had been on had ever lasted more than three seasons.  And so Doctor Who ended.

8.  William Hartnell (1st Doctor)

Here's the Doctor who started it all, almost fifty years ago.  I like the 1st Doctor.  He's your bad-tempered grandfather.  He's crabby and annoyed.  He's good fun.

9.  Paul McGann (8th Doctor)

It's hard to know where to put McGann.  His only appearance on television was that awful Fox tv movie.  The 8th Doctor has had new life in audio dramas, and he is very popular now.  I've only heard one of those, and McGann was good.  I'd like to see a multiple-Doctor 50th anniversary story next year with McGann in it.

10.  Christopher Eccleston (9th Doctor)

Eccleston is okay.  I don't find him particularly likeable, and he was stuck with Rose, who I can't stand.  I did like the episode "Dalek" a lot.

11.  Colin Baker (6th Doctor)

I don't really like the 6th Doctor.  It has been years since I've seen a Colin Baker episode.  One day I will give him another chance.

That's it for the list!  The rundown all in one place:
1. & 2. (tie)  Tom Baker (4th) and Patrick Troughton (2nd)
3.  Jon Pertwee (3rd)
4.  Peter Davison (5th)
5.  Matt Smith (11th)
6.  David Tennant (10th)
7.  Sylvester McCoy (7th)
8.  William Hartnell (1st)
9.  Paul McGann (8th)
10.  Christopher Eccleston (9th)
11.  Colin Baker (6th)


  1. Hello, for me it's:
    1. David Tennant(10th)
    2. Sylvester McCoy(7th)
    3. Patrick Troughton(2nd)
    4. Peter Davison(5th)
    5. Christopher Eccleston(9th)
    6. William Hartnell(1st)
    7. Matt Smith(11th)
    8. Paul McGann(8th)
    9. Jon Pertwee(3rd)
    10. Tom Baker(4th)
    11. Colin Baker(6th)

    1. I like that you have Patrick Troughton so high on the list! Not many people do. It's interesting that you rank Tom Baker so low. He is usually a fan favorite.

  2. Now that we have Peter Capaldi, how would you rank him?

    1. That's a tough question! I love Peter Capaldi. In his last season, with Bill and Nardole, I feel like he really came into his own. He'd definitely be in the top five. I might put him at number three or four. What's your ranking of the Doctors?

      I've been thinking I have to redo the list at some point. It's six years old, and since I wrote it I've started listening to Big Finish audios. I have a whole new appreciation for Colin Baker! He's completely different in the audios.


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