Archive for the ‘ten things’ Category

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a Ten Things, and it’s been a very weird week, for lots of reasons, so here’s a Ten Things.

And again, same caveat as always: I’m not sayin these are the best ever musicals. They’re not even necessarily my favourote ever musicals all the time, just ten that immediately sprang to mind when starting this post. They’re just ten musicals I enjoy seeing on stage, and watching and rewatching

Oh, and I can guarantee you’ll disagree. There are a couple of musicals you’ll ask yourselves ‘how the hell could he not include this one, or that one?’

Answer’s simple: either I don’t enjoy it, or I didn’t think of it.

But, for example, no West Side Story. That’s not in the list because I don’t like the musical. Nor’s Grease, though I quite like it. But I’ve seen it so many times, yeah, quite happy not to see it again for a very long time. And no Iesus Christ, Superstar, even though I like the musical a lot. I was in the show at school, and yes I was that bad. But it just didnt make the cut

Oh, and as always, no particular order.

And there’s one at the end you’d be astonished if it wasn’t there… thing is, I’ve never considered it a ‘musical’ as such. But I couldn’t leave it out. Apart from anything else, Mitch Benn would never forgive me.

OK, time to start.

Fiddler On The Roof
OK, a small lie to start with. This was obviously always going to be first. It’s the first one I think of whenever I think of a musical I enjoy. Lord knows how many times I’ve seen this on stage or watched the movie. And there’s an additional reason why it’s special to me.

When Laura and I were married, on a Sunday, we didn’t actually fly off on honeymoon until the Tuesday, so on the Monday, we took our parents to see Fiddler On The Roof at the London Palladium. Topol was Tevye, and it was fun, and funny, and wonderful, as you’d expect, but after the show, I’d arranged for our parents to meet him. And I’ve never seen my mum or Laura’s so completely star struck. So, yeah.

But apart from that, it’s a fantastic musical strong story, great acting in the movie, wonderfully catchy songs, and yeah, the subject material may be a bit rough at times, but yeah, love the show and I’ve rarely seen a bad version of it.

(The stories the musical was based on also reminds me of the only time my father ever warned me off a book. ‘You’re too young’, he warned me when I, as a teenager, wanted to read it. I ignored him and read some English translations since the originals were written in Yiddish. I couldn’t understand why everyone enjoyed them. Where was the fun? The cleverness. The sly observations of everyday life? A few decades later I reread them and then I understood. I had been too young, too immature, to appreciate the writings. Now, I enjoyed them, now I had a bit of life experience.)


I’m sure there’s someone British over the age of 30 who hasn’t seen this, but I struggle to understand how. For years, it was a staple of the Christmas and Easter tv schedule. And it’s a great muscial; classic tale, amended more than a bit from the original novel. What? You thought Ron Moody’s Fagin was a clever rogue in the book? Boy, have you got a surprise coming. But spot perfect casting, glorious songs, and the enthusiasm of the performances always make this worth a viewing.


Guys and Dolls
Years ago, I finally managed to get ahold of the Damon Runyon tales that the musical is based on. And they’re fantastic. But you have to work at them, to understand the dialects and characters. The stage musical and movie of Guys and Dolls goes out of its way to make the story and the characters more accessible but somehow doesn’t lose the zest, the excitement and the fact that these are not, for the most part, very nice people. But they are people of their time, and the muscial captures that time and place beautifully. And, as with other songs on the list, they’re catchy, smart, with wonderfully clever lyrics. If you can get past Brando’s ‘singing’, the movie’s ok. My personal favourite cast however was the 1980s London cast: Bob Hoskins, Julie Covington, Julia MacKenzie and Ian Charleson as a superb Sky Masterson.

It’s a tale of gamblers in New York in the 1950s, the women they love, and who love them.


Singin’ In The Rain
You know, if I hadn’t watched this really recently, I’m not sure I’d have remembered how much I enjoy this musical. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, accompanied by the wonderful, the sheer delight that is Jean Hagan turn this fault light tale of Hollywood moving from silent movies to talkies into a gem with extraordinary set pieces.

I watched it a few months back with the children of friends of mine who’d never seen it. And then I watched it again a month later just for the pleasure of doing so.

I recommend it without hesitation.

And how Donald O’Connor wasnt given a special one time Oscar for this scene alone is beyond me…


Les Miserables
Yeah, ok, some musicals should definitely stay on the stage because you’re always going to fuck up something when you film them. This is a prime example. I’ve never managed to make it through the movie all the way through. But the stage musical? My heavens it’s wonderful. And sweeps you away for a few hours. The lyrics are great, yeah, but it’s the music that completely grabs you, holds you, hugs you close and envelops you.

It’s glorious. How good an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel it is, I don’t have a clue. Never read the book. But as a piece of theatre? Oh yes. Oh yes indeed.


My Fair Lady
My heavens, they hit paydirt with this one. Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn are magnificent as the leads, although Marnie Nixon does Hepburn’s singing. And then secondary leads are spectacular as well, particularly Wilfred Hyde-White and especially Stanley Holloway as Eliza’s father.

Have to say though, that I for a long time agrees with those who’ve said they ruined the ending when they filmed it, and should have left it with the same ending the play it’s based on – Pygmalion – used. I’m less sure of that now, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate both endings.

Genuinely could have used any of half a dozen different songs for the video for this one, and in fact did swap in and our three or four before landing on this one for its cleverness and just how it’s shot.


Blood Brothers
Willy Russell’s only musical, and damn it’s a good one. It’s never been made into a movie, as far as I know, which is a pity because with the right cast, it’d be magnificent. But I’ve seen it several times on stage, and maybe I’ve just been lucky but I’ve never seen a bad cast do it.

The idea? Two children separated at birth have very different lives, meet up as school children, then again as teenagers, and as adults. It’s a story of sacrifice, what parents sacrifice for children, the story of the two children, and of the girl who loves them.

Not a laugh a minute – though there are laughs a plenty, and extraordinarily catchy tunes. And you’ll not be able to think of the name Marilyn Monroe or Miss Jones the same way again.


The Rocky Horror [Picture] Show
There aren’t that many musicals where watching the stage show is unquestionably a different experience, a qualitatively different experience, to watching the movie.

Now, yes, ok, I’ll acknowledge that sitting in a theatre for a live performance is always a qualitatively different experience to watching a movie. But that’s not what I mean. Rewatching Rocky Horror as a movie, you know exactly what’s going to happen. Second by second, line by line, beat by beat.

That’s never, as in not ever, the case when you see it live. Oh, the songs will be the same, the lines as well. But there’s something extra, something special about seeing it live.

And yes, there’s audience participation in the movie. There is. Trust me on that one. But even that is prepared. Most, if not all, of the audience knows what’s happening every step of the way, and have prepared for it.

Again, not the case when you’re seeing it live. Because you have no idea what the actors will get the audience to do. And you’ve no real idea what you’ll do, when carried away by the energy, the fun, the sheer joy in the room.

But the movie’s pretty great anyway. You should watch that. But go see Rocky Horror live if you ever get the opportunity.


OK, we’re up to eight.

Two more.

One that you’ve probably never heard of but is one of my all time favourite musicals.

The other, if you’ve not heard of it, you don’t know me.


A Slice of Saturday Night
Yeah, this is the one you’ve probably never heard of. I discovered it almost by accident about thirty years ago and I absolutely love it.

Set in the 1960s, at a dance club, the cast are seven 17 years olds out for a Saturday night, and the club owner. That’s it.

What’s it about? Best way to sum it up is: it’s about falling in love on Saturday night… every Saturday night.

Almost all the songs are homages to classic 1960s hits; close enough so you know the song they’re homaging, far away enough from the original that the songs work in and of themselves.

It’s glorious. Clever lyrics, wonderful tunes, and with the right cast, it’s an evening of sheer joy.

Yeah, with the right cast.

A long time ago, while in a discussion about ‘end of life’, I was asked if I’d ever seen anyone die. My reply was “Yes, Dennis Waterman in A Slice of Saturday Night”. It wasn’t only his fault. The show needs to be in a small theatre. It’s an intimate piece. Seeing it with 800 others, the show lost its charm, and its cleverness.

But yes, if you ever get the chance to see A Slice Of Saturday Night in a small-ish theatre, go and have fun.

Been unable to find a decent video from the show, but here’s a song from the London cast that I saw… on Saturday chat….


OK, the one that Mitch would never forgive me if I left off, and I wouldnt recognise me had I done so.

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds
Oh, come on, not a surprise surely…?

It’s a musical that needs no introduction, so it’s not getting one. Just enjoy.


Oh, ok, then…

See you for the usual tomorrow.

Yes, yes, ok, I should have known.

When I wrote last week’s post, I commenced with:

I swear, when I did the post last week, I had every intention of making it a one-off.

I really should have know better.

Not the first post that turned into a three or four parter, or even the first post that ran away with me; I’m sure it won’t be the last.

But after writing a few ‘Ten Things’ posts, I wrote a few on Doctor Who, about each incarnation/regeneration, and my sometimes tenuous relationship with the show.

So, two weeks ago, I listed ten Doctor Who stories I’ll quite happily watch, and rewatch. And then, later, rewatch. And of course, of course, I got to nine, realised I could list a dozen more… and did another ten last week. But still ran out of slots.

So, here, finally, are another ten.

Yes, yes, ‘past budgie’ is a fucking idiot.

So, here are ten more. Again, no real rules, other than that they’re in chronological order for the most part.

And again, same caveat as before: I’m not sayin these are the best ever episodes. They’re not even my favourite episodes/stories, necessarily. They’re just another ten stories I’ll quite happily watch, and rewatch. And then, later, rewatch again.

But, since the past two weeks’ posts finished with Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, most of those below are going to be from Peter Capaldi’s and Jodie Whittaker’s runs…

OK, time to start.

Deep BreathThe Twelfth Doctor
I wasn’t that impressed with this episode when I first watched it. I’m not sure why. I mean, ok, it was the new Doctor and there’s always – as I’ve said before – that tough thing that a writer and director has to do: introduce the new fella, have some fun, show how he’s different but ultimately the same character.

So why, if I only thought it was ok… have I watched it and rewatched it quite so often? Because it’s a lot better than I gave it credit for the first time I watched it is the obvious answer. Capaldi’s having a blast, setting up the new setup, and there’s so much thrown into the mix, that I’m surprised they fit it in. The Paternoster Gang are always fun to have around, and Clara’s mystification at the new fella is well played as well. And there’s a mystery, and there’s a mystery woman, and a call back to a previous story, to a couple of stories in fact, and you’re not quite sure how cold a bastard this new Doctor actually is.

The final-ish scene is clever, mawkish, and… original. I think that’s it; no one had done it before, the whole ‘the Doctor knows it’s going to freak out his companion, even if she’s met past selves, so does something about it’ thing.

It continues the run of the very good first episodes for the new Doctor, and that’s always welcome.


Mummy On The Orient Express – The Twelfth Doctor
By now the new dynamic has been set; this Doctor is about learning and teaching. His hunger to learn, about new things, about stuff that’s going on, is apparent, his arrogance to show others what he knows is even more so. So when he comes across a mystery that he needs to solve, that becomes the most important thing, and he’s almost careless about the effects on others. Not quite careless, but almost so. He’s more concerned with being right than anything else. And isn’t after the fame and glory bit.

(It was about this time that I once again wondered which incarnations each of the Doctors regarded with the most contempt. I really don’t think this Doctor looks fondly upon The Tenth Doctor, for example, or the Fifth, but the Seventh? Oh, he’d have some words for him….)

Frank Skinner is great as a guest star and the story holds together on repeated viewings. The mystery is far more important than the eventual solution, but the whole thing is fun.


Dark Water/Death In Heaven – The Twelfth Doctor
A spot perfect two-parter. This is when everything came together for Capaldi’s first season, exactly as and when it should: the season finale.

The return of a classic villain, the return of another classic villain that had been hinted at for ages, a very good clifhanger (well, two, really), the return of UNIT, of Osgood, and the pacing is just about perfect. Never a boring moment, some genuinely scary bits, and very clever misdirects throughout. Oh, and Chris Addison.

A couple of bits that don’t make sense, a couple of plot holes, but I’ve watched this two-parter time and again, and I’ll no doubt watch it again in the near future, just for fun.

And, nicely for once, both parts are essential. You couldn’t cover the first part in a ten minute catchup. That doesn’t always apply.


The Woman Who LivedThe Twelfth Doctor
The second part of a kind of two-parter, and unlike the story immediately above, while I’ve watched the The Woman Who Lived more than a few times, I don’t think I’ve rewatched the first part at all. Masie Williams was kind of ok in the first part but she shines as Me here. She’s the kind of person that the Doctor forgot existed, someone who is so long lived that she’s forgotten most of what happened to her in earlier days.

A clever concept, played well. (If you can barely remember what happened in the past, why on earth should be feel any loyalty to old comrades or even friends; they only die in the end, after all… )

Capaldi and Williams are obviously enjoying playing against each other and while the plot isn’t the strongest, the acting alone takes this onto the list.

And this scene says so, so much,


ExtremisThe Twelfth Doctor
I wasn’t sure about this episode when I first watched it; I’m not sure why. Because it’s fantastic. I can only assume I was having a rough day or something, and wasn’t paying attention. I mean, there clues throughout when you look for them, but cleverly done, so that you write them off as ‘well, it’s Doctor Who‘. And when the pennies start to drop, the reveals start to come, even when you know they’re coming, they’re still just enough of a surprise to give you a start.

I’m unconvinced by the final seconds of the story, but that’s a tiny quibble. I love the characterisations, the dialogue, and the sheer ‘what the hell is going on?’ of this story. It rewards rewatching.


Twice Upon A TimeThe First And Twelfth Doctors
Damn, this was clever. There’s almost nothing wrong with this final episode of Capaldi’s run. David Bradley is just about perfect, playing the First Doctor (which is pure chutzpah on the part of the casting director, for a reason I’ll expand on in a moment). Not so sure about the plot itself, but as a ‘farewell’ to the Twelfth Doctor, it’s spot on. You get Bill back, you get Nardoll back, you get to see the 1960s Doctor really, really out of place, while utterly mystified at the latest version of… himself. Mark Gatiis is wonderful, but they telegraph the ‘twist’.

But yeah, the fun comes from two Doctors who should never have met… meeting.


Demons Of The PunjabThe Thiteenth Doctor
No, I’m not going to have the first episode of Jodie Whittaker’s run; it’s a great introduction for the new Doctor, eventually. But I really wasn’t interested until she showed up.

And this is the only bit I quite like rewatching.

So, no, this was the first episode of Whittaker’s run I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish and have rewatched a couple of times. I love the idea of somoene finding something in their parents’ or grandparents’ lives they just want to know more about and, hey, their friend has a time machine, so why not?

(There’s certainly been things I’d have wanted to discover.)

And everyone’s just about perfect in this story; the plot works brilliantly, the ‘villain’ isn’t, quite. No-one’s uncomplicated, no=one’s entirely good or bad. And from the best of motives, things can go a bit screwed up.

And the plot wraps up nicely, though not without consequences.


It Takes You AwayThe Thiteenth Doctor
With most of the stories I’ve listed here and in the previous posts, I know why I like rewatching so much. Sometimes, however, I’m entirely puzzled. Such in the case with this one. The acting is great, but no more than in lots of other stories. The plot is great but the ending is a bit meh. And the resolution isn’t exactly satisfying.

But maybe that’s why I enjoy it, because sometimes it’s nice not to have everything wrapped up in a neat bow.

Whatever the reason, I keep rewatching this just for the pleasure of rewatching it.

And yeah, it’s a bit weird. Which is never a bad thing.


OK, that’s eight. I’ve got two spaces left and I knew the moment this went to three parts what the final two were going to be.

I almost included the Peter Cushing movies but I’d said everything I wanted to say about them in the Doctor Who post I wrote a while back.

So, two very different stories for the final two:

An Adventure In Space And Time The First Doctor, kind of
Yeah, if you didn’t see this coming, I don’t blame you, though I did kinda hint it above. This is one of the finest Doctor Who stories around, for obvious reasons. It’s drenched in love for the who, and of all the various ‘this is how the show you love came to the screen’, it’s one of the finest examples.

The actors and producers are people, not legends. They’re not perfect, they’re not villains or heroes. They’re people working at their jobs to the very best of their abilities. They’re imperfect and that makes the story of what happened even better.

Get hold of this if you haven’t seen it; it’s a story that’s wonderful in tyhe telling and as with the others, rewards the rewatch so bloody much.

And though it’s very much set alone, and done as a one-off, one day… one day, I’d very much like to see a multi-episode history of Doctor Who…


One more:

And again, if you think you know me, and haven’t seen this one coming, you really don’t know me.

No details, no reasons. Just the video.


See you for the usual tomorrow.

I swear, when I did the post last week, I had every intention of making it a one-off.

There wasn’t going to be a second post on the subject; of course not. OK, sure, I knew today would be a “Ten Things” post… because I like the format and, with 75 posts to write, it’s useful to have a series of regular ‘ok, it’s Tuesday? It’s fiction. It’s Friday? It’s ‘Ten Things’,” type posts, to structure the run.

But, no, last week’s was supposed to be just one, and then today I’d find a different subject. I dunno: Ten legends about British politics that aren’t true, or Ten cop procedural I like. Ten other things, anyway.

After all, I’ve made a habit of these, the past few months.

And I did write a series of Doctor Who posts, about each incarnation/regeneration, and my sometimes tenuous relationship with the show.

So, last week it only seemed sensible to combine them, and list ten Doctor Who stories I’ll quite happily watch, and rewatch. And then, later, rewatch.

And of course, of course, I got to nine, realised I could list a dozen more… so promised another ten this week. Past budgie is a fucking idiot.

Anyway here are another ten. Again, no real rules, other than that they’re in chronological order for the most part.

And again, same caveat as last week: I’m not sayin these are the best ever episodes. They’re not even my ten favourite episodes/stories, necessarily. They’re just ten stories I’ll quite happily watch, and rewatch. And then, later, rewatch again.

OK, time to start.

Day of the DaleksThe Third Doctor
I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the first time I encountered the Daleks, but it’s the one that scared me; between the Daleks and the Ogrons, oh, eight year old me was very scared indeed. Classic “behind the sofa’ watching.

(And, upon checking, I see that this was the first Daleks story for five years, so I suspect the first time I saw the Daleks would have been in the Peter Cushing movie. Huh.)

The story is pretty standard: time travelling soldiers come back to kill someone to prevent a bad timeline taking place; wasn’t that original even fifty years ago (oh gods, it was broadcast almost fifty years ago), but it’s done with style and panache, and the only thing that’s kind of odd is… I’m not sure why the Daleks are included. They really weren’t necessary. There’s nothing about the story that requires their inclusion, and if there once was, it was cut in the edit. But while they’re there, while they’re on screen, they’re fun. And they set up the ‘The Doctor is [always] an enemy of the Daleks’ quite nicely for a new generation of fans like yours truly.

But it’s the Ogrons that I truly remember as terrifying me; strong, brutal, thick as pigshit. Which meant they couldn’t be bargained with, couldn’t be persuaded. Yeah they scared me. And a proper sf time travel story, complete with complexities.

The Ark In Space – The Fourth Doctor

The first story after Tom Baker’s regeneration tale (Robot), and the companions and the viewers are still figuring out what to make of this new incarnation of The Doctor.

And of course it’s another Harry Sullivan episode; there’s something that was just much more… fun… about the Fourth Doctor’s early run, when Harry was there, blundering around and basically being an idiot from the best of motives.

But again, the story’s a cracking one, there’s more than one genuinely cool sf idea being played with, almost thrown around i fact, and the baddie, the baddie, what can I say about the baddie that… shouldn’t be said if I have any respect for Doctor Who. Yeah, it suffers from 1970s-itis. Let’s just say it’s far scarier when you don’t actually see it, or see just a bit of it, or even see just a bit of transformation.

But even though this is arguably the first part of a four part season long mega-story (comprising this story, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis Of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen) it stands up well on its own, and there are some glorious backs and forths of dialogue. And the story goes out of its way to distinguish Baker’s Doctor from Pertwee’s. The scene attached, in which The Doctor… motivates Sarah is a case in point.

The End of The World – The Ninth Doctor
Ok, straight to the NuWho now. (Yes, yes, I know, your favourite Doctor is Peter Davison’s or Sylvester McCoy, or maybe even Colin Baker’s run is your thing. Cool. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it would be a bit difficult for me to have stories from any of their runs in this, to claim that I’d happily rewatch this story or that story… for the simple reason that I’ve seen only some of Davison’s run, a couple of episodes of Baker’s and almost none of McCoy’s.)

So, yes, straight to the Ninth Doctor, and – cleverly – RTD continued the ‘this is dangerous, this is weird, this is stuff you didn’t expect, and oh, did I mention it’s dangerous? I did? Good, because that’s important. Also? It’s worth it…’ attitude. We learn more about this Doctor, where he comes from, and more about how his devil may care attitude is just that… an attitude. He’s a deeply damaged character, and there’s the first hint that Rose not realising that is going to cost her… hugely.

And then of course, there’s a deliciously evil baddie whodunnit, a classic-style Who sacrifice, and a denouement of the mystery that shows us, shows the audience for the first time, what a bastard the coldly angry Doctor can be… which is something most of the audience had probably forgotten, what with all the clowning.

Ecclestone knocks it out of the park in this episode, and the final moments are a mixturere of mawkishness and essential lesson learning, for both the Doctor and Rose,

The story’s clever, the acting delightful, and the silliness just about perfect.

The Doctor Dances – The Ninth Doctor
I’m sure there’s a reason there’s a part one to this story, to which this is the second part. But I’m buggered if I know what it was. A Stephen Moffatt tale that’s creepy and nasty and just a little bit very, very dangerous, but about 30 minutes too long at 90 minutes. Of course, this is the story that introduces Cap’n Jack Harness to the Who universe, but he’s quite a different character here than how he developed, both in later episodes and later though Torchwood. (I’m still wondering whatever happened to those two years of his life, the memories of which he ‘lost’, by the way.)

But I dunno; there’s very little to me that marks out the first part (‘The Empty Child‘) as a particularly important episode. You can gather pretty much everything you need from the “previously…’ before the second part’s opening titles, especially since the opening seconds dispose of the cliffhanger.

But it’s the interplay between Harkness and the Doctor, the final resolution – oh, you clever bastard, Moffatt – and the growing maturity of Rose, hugely developed since the opening episodes, that mark this out. Oh, and a special nod to Richard Wilson who steals the screen every time he appears and yet somehow never quite appears enough.

And it has one of the finest ‘bigger on the inside’ moments in Who history.

The Girl In The Fireplace – The Tenth Doctor
Oh yes. Not sure how this one got missed last week. Sophia Myles is incredibly good in the episode, and again it’s proper sf, with a nasty twist. And a clever, nasty, beautiful ending.

Oh, and a horse. I should probably mention the horse. Unfortunately, the ‘mystery’ is so bloody obvious you kind of have to pretend it’s not there, as you do the ‘oh, this Doctor’s impulsiveness can really fuck things up for others unless you’re very, very lucky’.

After a couple of episodes when the Doctor was the undoubted hero, he really isn’t in this episode. He’s foolish and silly and entirely unaware of just how much danger he exposes his companions to. And it’s beautifully portrayed as if his annoyance is justified, while letting the audience know it’s really not.

Cleverly written and acted. Very nicely done.

Smith & Jones – Tenth Doctor
Martha’s first story, which is fun, and a bit scary, had a great monster/baddie, a completely silly ‘getting rid of radiation’ scene. And Roy Marsden. Lovely.

I really like this story; cleverly and correctly shows Martha as a completely different character to Rose, sets up the relationship between the Doctor and Martha in two clever scenes, and ends with not only a nice call-back to the first scene of the show (which answered a long standing disagreement: what’s the fastest way to convince someone you can travel in time?) but a ‘you get one trip as a thank you’ setup that everyone knows ain’t gonna last.

Clever plotting, hugely enjoyable overacting throughout and you really really do sympathise with Martha for ohso many reasons by the end.

Blink – Tenth Doctor
When the show does a Doctor-light episode, it often doesn’t work that well. Except this story and the next one I’m listing, when it absolutely does work, and works beautifully. This isn’t a story about The Doctor, not really. This is abut what happens when your world collides with a world you have no idea existed, and you still come out stronger the other end.

It’s Carey Mulligan’s episode and she deserved every plaudit she got from it. The story’s clever, the baddies – the Weeping Angels – are terrifying, the plotting is immaculate and the resolution very clever. Moffatt adapted his own story from a Doctor Who annual and did it beautifully. The pacing is perfect; there’s something ‘new’ every five minutes; the threat and the suspense don’t let up for a moment.

For a story that barely features The Doctor or Martha, it’s one of the best Who stories ever.

Turn Left – Tenth Doctor
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for ‘What If…?’ stories. For obvious reasons, Doctor Who doesn’t do many of them specifically in that genre. Well, let’s face it, the whole show is pretty much a ‘What If…?’ story. But this takes it further.

Basically, it’s Donna Noble’s life had she never met the Doctor… and the Earth’s story had the Doctor died before he met Donna… and how everything turns to shit.

Oh, and Rose Tyler’s back, but this is a Rose the viewer’s aren’t sure they know or trust. (That’s horribly cleverly done)

And just as you think the story’s over, just as there’s a ‘ok, you can relax now’, the cliffhanger hits you in about 60 seconds of ‘oh shit’.

Very nicely done, indeed.

The Name of The Doctor – The Eleventh Doctor
This shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does. Honestly, it shouldn’t. I mean, it’s clever, it brings together characters that shouldn’t be together. It melds comedy and tragedy, nastiness and silliness, history and continuity (in a show where some continuity is always optional). It shouldn’t work.

And yet it does. It works perfectly. And – as far as the show was concerned at that point – it also brings an end to the River Song saga. (I’ve avoided River Song so far for a deliberate reason, but more of that in a future entry.)

But it’s the first story in Clara’s tenure with the Eleventh Doctor where I actually cared what happened to her. I never liked her that much as a character. The occasional story, sure, but she seemed far better as an occasional focus rather than having so much of the season rest on her.

But here? Yes, here her character works beautifully.

Oh, and yes, the whole final ten minutes is very, very good tv. You’re not sure what’s happening, when it’s happening, how it works… you’re just very pleased it does.

And the final thirty seconds with that reveal. Yeah. That just topped off the ‘what the fuck?’ And made everyone watching desperate for the The Day of the Doctor that was coming that November.

Oh bugger. We’re back at nine again.

I only have one more to choose.

OK, one more set next week, solely from Deep Breath onwards, ok?

HideThe Eleventh Doctor
The basic plot is ok. The resolution’s ok. The dialogue’s ok. the ‘baddie’? Ok.

The acting? Off the charts. Seriously, everyone in this story, Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman, sure, but Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine are the starts of this episode. And they show it with every gesture, every glance, every word. I don’t think I’ve seen either of them quite as perfect as they are in this episode, in this story, to the point that it’s a genuine pleasure to to watch them on the screen individually and together.

There are three or four genuinely clever set pieces and the ‘fake’ ending is better than the actual one. But yes, it’s the acting that blows the one off the charts.

OK, one more set next week.

And the usual tomorrow.

OK, on the past few monhs, I’ve written about stuff I like re-reading or rewatching, about individual episodes of tv shows, individual comic book issues, and pilots, and two on old movies ,then one on old-ish movies, and a couple about podcasts.

And I wrote a series of Doctor Who posts, about each incarnation/regeneration, and my sometimes tenuous relationship with the show.

So, time – sorry! – to combine them. 

Now, there are loads of ways I could do this; one story from each of the first ten Doctors, say. Or ten stories from NuWho; there are certainly enough of the latter.

And if I do most of them from the ‘classic’, the pre-1987 run, it’s kind of unfair on the first, second, sixth, seventh etc., since I didn’t watch most of their episodes, or hardly any in the Seventh Doctor’s run, to be fair.

So, no ‘rules’, no only one story per Doctor, no rules other than one: these won’t be the ‘best’ Doctor Who stories, nor necessarily the ten Doctor Who stories that are the best television.

They’re not even my ten favourite episodes/stories. They’re just ten stories I’ll quite happily watch, and rewatch. And then, later, rewatch.

OK, time to start.

The Sea Devils – The Third Doctor
I don’t really remember the episodes with the Silurians. I mean, I probably saw them; as I mentioned in the run of Doctor Who posts, I watched the show from when Pertwee took over.

And while I remember some of Liz Shaw not really that much. (I’d include Inferno in here, but I dunno; something about that story, excellent as it is, doesn’t work for me.)

But The Sea Devils had everything that made Doctor Who watchable back then: UNIT, The Master, Jo Grant being… well, being Jo Grant, and the Doctor getting to show off his anger, his compassion, his knowledge, and his grudging respect for The Master. Oh, and Roger Delgado being as Master-y as he ever was. Everything worked in the story; there was a decent plot, a great script and some nice nods and winks to the viewers.

Oh, and this as well.

The Three Doctors – The first Three Doctors

Lord knows what they were thinking; let’s do a multi-Doctor story. Sure, I mean, there had been crossover stories on tv before, and the US Western Maverick had loads of them. But this was something new; the same character, at different times in his life… and get this: they don’t get on. They don’t actually much like each other. Oh, as an effective tenth anniversary gift for the viewers, it was wonderful.

A better than decent baddie, squabbles between the Doctors, confused companions, Leithbridge-Stewart’s exasperation, and special effects that… yeah, ok, let’s not talk about them. They’re actually almost painful to watch now.

But the script is great, the acting is fun, and Patrick Troughton is obviously having enormous fun being back as The Second Doctor.

What no one knew at the time, of course, was that William Hartnell was so very ill, that this would be his last contribution to Doctor Who, and indeed, it may have been unfair to force him to do the story.

But for a nine year old me… I think it was the best thing I’d ever seen on television. And if for no other reason, it goes on the list.

Genesis Of The Daleks – The Fourth Doctor
There’s a reason why this story appears in the ‘best Doctor Who stories’ lists. I’ve watched it I don’t know how many times, and while, yes, there are plot holes, and yes, some of the dialogue is a bit ropey, the damn thing holds together despite that. No. It does more than ‘holds together’. It works, far better than it had any right to. Now, ok, I’ve a soft spot for Ian Marter’s Harry Sullivan. I always liked him as a character and he’s particularly good in this. But it’s the Doctor and Davros around who this story hangs. And the Daleks. We see the creation of the Daleks.

Sometimes, when a series – whether it’s comics or tv – gives in to temptation and reveals the origin of a character that’s been either shrouded in mystery, or just had multiple explanations, but says this is the definitive origin, it doesn’t work.

The two that spring to mind from comics are Wolverine and Cable; when they’ve tried to give definitive origins, they’ve never quite worked.

But this does. (And it’s not like Doctor Who hasn’t tried with others, like the Cybermen.) But this is how to do it… right.

By making the actual creation less important than the motivations of the creator and giving the Doctor the dilemma below.

I can’t say there’s nothing wrong with the story; there is. I can’t say there’s nothing wrong with individual episodes. There are. Still and all, it’s a favourite of mine, and if you somehow have never seen it, I recommend it without reservation.

Rose – The Ninth Doctor

Yeah, I’m leaping straight to NuWho, now. After sixteen years off the telly (apart from the tv movie which everybody seemed to be slightly embarrassed about for some reason), Doctor Who was back. Decent promos, a pretty good set up, and in fifty minutes, Russell T Davies brought back The Doctor for a new… well, not fair to say a new generation, because there were as many ‘old’ fans watching as newer fans who wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

But sure enough, Saturday 25th March 2005, me and my then nine year old lad were both sitting on the couch, watching the opening credits. Which were very snazzy, I’ll admit. The story is pretty good, the introduction of the other characters was pretty much everything you needed to know about them, and Ecclestone’s Doctor was everything I’d wanted: stripped back to the basics, even with the ‘costume’.

And the story itself was… ok. I mean, again, it introduced the who, what, where, how… efficiently, and the acting is fun. Even Billy Piper’s character grows during the episode. And that final few moments is pure delight.

But yeah, it belongs on the list.

Oh, and it’s got a spot perfect “it’s bigger on the inside” moment that explains stuff, and just how The Doctor is… different.

The Christmas Invasion – The Tenth Doctor

It can be tough to pull off regeneration episodes, the first story with a new Doctor. Apart from anything else, you run the risk of the Doctor doing something and the audience thinking ‘yeah, the other fella would have done that faster/better, and would have dealt with it better’.

The temptation is to make the Doctor’s character completely different, to emphasise the differences… which to be fair most do.

But this story is smarter, somehow. For most of the episode, the Doctor is… recovering, unwell. And when he does reappear, it’s pretty much perfect. A fully working Doctor, knowing what he’s doing, but entirely unsure of who and what he is yet. The plot’s fairly standard, the acting is great from everyone concerned, and the dialogue is genuinely ‘different’.

And Tennant pulls it off in spades. Great baddies, superb coda to the tale when he really shows he’s a different man.

A couple of patented RTD wince-inducing moments, to be sure, but it”s great, and a story that I can – and have – rewatched any number of times.

And it started a tradition of pretty good ‘Doctor picks a new outfit’ scenes in the new run. All of them have been pretty good in the run, I’ll be honest.

School Reunion – Tenth Doctor

Another tenth Doctor episode, and one of my favourite in the entire Tenth Doctor’s tenure.

From the moment Doctor Who was brought back, the fans were begging for… overt and specific references to the earlier run. There were hints, and yes of course there were the classic baddies; Rose above had the Nestene Consciousness, after all. But what everyone wanted was some reference to the old companions.

(One of my favourite moments in the ensuing The Sarah Jane Adventures was, at the end of an episode, Sarah Jane tells the kids what happened to some of the other companions of the Doctor.)

And of all the companions to bring back, Sarah Jane Smith. And the episode is pretty much perfect. Anthony Head as a spectacularly evil baddie, the return (briefly) of K-9, the pleasure and pain of The Doctor meeting Sarah Jane again. The sparks between her and Rose. And a reminder to viewers once again that travelling with the Doctor has costs, sometimes huge ones.

A smart script, great acting and fun dialogue. Yeah, I like this story.

And Sarah’s reaction to seeing the TARDIS? Oh yes.

Utopia – Tenth Doctor

The new run of Who has in the main concentrated on single 50 minute stories, with a season arc. Sometimes that’s worked better than others, sometimes it hasn’t worked at all. And occasionally, there are two parters. Or, on one occasion, a three parter.

I’m not the hugest fan of The Sound of Drums, nor of The Last Of The Time Lords, the second and third parts of the The Master Returns three parter.

But the first part… oh, that one I like. I mean I shouldn’t. It’s mostly setup for the remainder of the story but I do like it a lot. The return of Jack Harkness to the show, and the relationship with the Tenth Doctor that develops, Martha wholly out of her depth for most of the episode, the nice sf concept of ‘ humanity at the end of the universe’ and, of course, Derek Jacobi as Professor Yana. I mean, ok, it’s RTD, so yes of course YANA means something and teh penny drops just before it’s revealed, which is good writing.

But it’s the basic plot and the acting that set this episode apart. Everyone acts their socks off, and their actions and reactions make perfect sense in the circumstances. Mistakes are made by characters and it makes perfect sense that they”d make them. There’s not a moment wasted in the episode and the pacing is just about perfect.

And the moment when Derek Jacobi turns from lovable old buffer into… oh yes.

Eleventh Hour – Eleventh Doctor

Yes, another regeneration episode. Very definitely.

Because it’s great. It’s clever, it’s fun; Amy and Rory are character you instantly want to know more about, and the solution to the problem is clever. And the final two bits of the episode are similarly clever, and fun.

Nothing more to say, except I defy anyone to watch this and not start counting.

The Day of The Doctor – Tenth, Eleventh and War Doctors

Pure fun, from start to finish. Genuinely. There’s nothing wrong with this special. Everything just… works. It shouldn’t. I mean, it really shouldn’t. But it does.

And that final guest star.

I think I might watch it again tonight.

Oh hell. That’s nine already.

I only have one more to choose.



Oh, wait. It’s not impossible. Not at all.

I can do another one next week, can’t I?

OK, one more today.

Ten more next week.

I’ll end with.…

The Doctor’s WifeThe Eleventh Doctor

Yes, ok, I’m slightly biased here. Full disclosure. I mean, anyone reading this is likely to know, aren’t they. I mean, I remember this story, and think so fondly of it… because of a personal connection.

I mean, it was broadcast the night of the very final hypotheticals panel. So I came out of that, having enjoyed the final panel, the culmination of twelve years’ work., enjoying the nice words everyone was saying about it, and me, and… then I got to watch this fun episode.

Oh, and yes, Neil’s a friend. There’s that as well, I suppose.

But yeah, I do enjoy this episode a lot. Fun acting, great dialogue, and a cracking baddie. And we get to meet the TARDIS, and say hello to the TARDIS. And, have to say goodbye to the TARDIS. While Amy and Rory and put in real danger.

And it’s funny. And silly. And clever, and just a bit scary. Just scary enough.

Oh, and there are so many nods to old school Who fans.

Yeah, I think I might rewatch this as well.

Some more next week.

And the usual tomorrow.