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I know I’m really, REALLY late to the party on this, but I’ve been binge watching Doctor Who for the last several months and I can now definitely state who is THE BEST DOCTOR.

Maybe.

I’m relieved that I could help solve this pressing matter.

I purposely (and desperately) tried to not have a favorite until I had watched every episode I could get my hands on, starting with the very first episode with the first Doctor. I made my way from the First Doctor in black and white to the Twelfth Doctor in my own time and space. (Sorry, not sorry, for that reference.)

Disclosure and Fair Warning:  

If you’re not a Doctor Who fan, you probably won’t want to read this at all. I’m not going to explain the premise of Doctor Who, since that will make this even longer (no need to thank me), so if you don’t watch the show this might just as well read as a 50-year old BBC television show that, “Rock, paper, lettuce. Jump cardinal popcorn smack, goober jerk chicken drop, and mug gorp. Soup!”

If you are a Doctor Who fan… you probably won’t make it to the end either. This will most likely be the longest post I’ve ever write. My mind began rehashing all the Whovian goodness I have witnessed and this is what gushed forth. It’s unedited, rambling good fun. For me at least. 

[ BTW:  It’s probably wrong to capitalize the Doctor numbers, but it feels right so I’m going with it. ]

TARDISes

The Doctors

Here’s a picture of the Doctors in order, left to right, top to bottom. The list of the actors names are below for those who don’t watch the show. That’s a lie. It’s mostly for those who watch because we love the Doctors lined up; seeing all the Doctors listed in one place is always cool to us. Like bow ties. 

From top to bottom, left to right.
The Doctors left to right, top to bottom.  Because it was easier to use this pic.

The Doctors (actor names)

  • First Doctor – William Hartnell
  • Second Doctor – Patrick Troughton
  • Third Doctor – John Pertwee
  • Fourth Doctor – Tom Baker
  • Fifth Doctor – Peter Davison
  • Sixth Doctor – Colin Baker
  • Seventh Doctor – Sylvestor McCoy
  • Eighth Doctor – Paul McGann
  • The War Doctor –  John Hurt
  • Ninth Doctor –  Christopher Eccleston
  • Tenth Doctor – David Tennant
  • Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith
  • Twelfth Doctor – Peter Capaldi

My apologies for not putting the names next to each  of the faces. I was too lazy.

My Opinions (in Doctor order)

First Doctor

I oddly enjoyed William Hartnell‘s grumpy grandfather routine and his bouts with history. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it again anyway, that without him we wouldn’t have the rest. This First Doctor had great companions from the start in the form of two (slightly kidnapped) teachers and his granddaughter. If I were to watch the first season after I had been introduced to the other doctors I probably wouldn’t have the same appreciation. Then again, maybe he makes even MORE sense because of that.

Second Doctor

The Second Doctor and his recorder-flute-whatever thing was a welcome change. PatrickTroughton truly embodied what was to come. He also had some actual aliens and monsters to contend with. Whoo hoo! (From the episodes I was able to find, the First Doctor stayed soley in human history.) He made us believe in regeneration and his silliness was wonderfully refreshing. It was gold, in fact… and sometimes a little much. I must admit that I couldn’t get into his version as much as I wanted to, but I think it was because it aired a little before my time. If I had seen the show when it originally aired, the Second Doctor may have been a bigger contender for my favorite.

Third Doctor

The Third Doctor was smooth, especially after the jumpy Second Doctor. (Also, he had the first bow ties, so that’s cool.) I felt calmer just watching him stride across the screen all velvety – literally – in that velvet jacket. And that lovely, soothing deep voice! I really enjoyed his know-it-all-straight-forwardness. The story lines were mostly earthbound, since the Doctor was forced to be with humans for a time as a punishment from his fellow Time Lords, but it worked for him. It also allowed introduction of the Doctor working for the planet’s U.N.I.T. task force (think a militant M.I.B. and totally not as cool) as well as the reason for his earthbound companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning). This companion relationship is one of my favorites. This Doctor was a lot less timey-wimey (sorry, again, not really) but I didn’t mind it. An underground mine full of green, gooey, alien sludge and giant flying bugs were pretty cool, especially for the time. John Pertwee‘s portrayal was a Doctor I could get attached to. His departure was the first time that I had to force myself to move on. (As you can see by the length of this paragraph.) Thank goodness for what came next.

Fourth Doctor

Tom Baker was like a tidal wave after the rather stoic Third Doctor. I have to say that the Fourth Doctor was just… so many adjectives! Charismatic! Charming! FUN! He had a 12-foot scarf, people! And a floppy hat that was even more fantastical with his curly fro. He was the first to introduce the Daleks and a larger fascination with jelly babies. And K-9!  Who doesn’t love a robotic dog? Companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen) is among the most popular and for good reason. She was wonderful, bright, a bit snappy, and their ying-yang was brilliant. The Fourth Doctor brought a kind, humorous, wide-eyed adventurer to the role. There were a few lemon episodes, including the very first episode (other than him deciding on a new wardrobe,which was good fun), but you know it’s going to be a good doctor when he can carry even the worst plot, especially his first episode, and still win you over. Of all the “older” season doctors, I can recall the episodes with the Fourth Doctor over and over and never be disappointed, no matter the plot or script. His regeneration was wonderful with “The Watcher” foreshadowing along the way, but it hit me pretty hard. Very hard. 

Doctor WHAT-IS-THIS-JACKET?
Doctor WHAT-is-this-getup?
A little side ditty about the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Doctors: 

Sigh. I might as well go ahead and say that none of these doctors became my favorite, since that’s probably a given. (What was with the early eighties outfits? Were there no parachute pants available?)

In fact, I almost gave up my quest and jumped straight to the “Nu-Who” reboot and the Eighth Doctor, but I hung in there…

Fifth Doctor

The Fifth Doctor. I can’t even… describe him. He was so bland. And blond. That’s about it. I thought it was because I had become too attached to the Fourth Doctor, which was partially true, but it was more than that. I don’t know what went wrong here. Was it the writing? The direction they gave Doctor? I don’t think it was the actor, Peter Davison. He was a rather charming Doctor, despite some of the dialogue he was forced to say. I was mostly indifferent and for the first time got a little excited that there was going to be a regeneration. It was a pretty good one too. The Doctor gives all of the poison anecdote (sort of a poison anecdote, just go with that) to his latest companion to save her, leaving none for him. He teases whether he might regenerate, remembers his past in a daze, then awakens with curly hair and the line “You were expecting someone else?” Pretty good start. It gave me hope.

Sixth Doctor

I thought I was going to like the Sixth Doctor and his sarcasm. I didn’t. AT ALL. If you’re going to be surly, self-absorbed, and egocentric you need to have some endearing qualities like quirkiness or charm – or a smile. His techno-color coat was as exhausting as he was and most of the episodes were cringe-worthy. It made me miss the Fifth Doctor. I don’t think it’s Colin Baker‘s fault. I think he would have been a wonderful Doctor with different direction and writing. I remember thinking that this poor actor was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If he only had a T.A.R.D.I.S. to go forward or back in the show’s timeline, he would be better off! Unfortunately, I actually get a little angry when I see a picture of this Doctor now. I don’t think I could bring myself to watch any of those episodes again.

Seventh Doctor

Now, the Seventh Doctor had some eerily dark tendencies and some quirkiness with a touch of Sherlock Holmes that was fairly appealing. Plus a hat. I love hats. I think Sylvestor McCoy or the writing took some time to find their way, however, and after coming off the previous two Doctors, I was pretty worn out. I anticipated him too much. He was silly in a twisted way and became even darker as the episodes passed. Overall, I grew to like him though, even if he was a little more sinister. I felt he had just got his groove going and then he was gone! Many thought the Seventh Doctor’s death and regeneration was underwhelming. I thought it was fitting of his quirky persona. You see him get shot exiting the T.A.R.D.I.S and later dying in a hospital due improper care (having two hearts is tricky.) The gang-banger kid that shot him and the doctor who ultimately killed him hung around with his regenerated self for a while – a very short while – with the new Doctor…

Eighth Doctor

Let me start by saying that Paul McGann is one awesome individual. He shined bright above some pretty confusing and generally lame story line including amnesia as the Eighth Doctor. It’s difficult to pinpoint anything else since his time was so short. All I can say is that the enjoyment of the episodes for me was all actor. I wish that this Doctor and his fancy-pants Wild Bill Hickock long coat getup and matching wild hair would’ve stayed for while. I don’t think we even know why or how he regenerated. In the real world (the one we live in with ratings and such), the show went away and didn’t come back for several years until the the reboot. Fabulous, he could have been.

War Doctor

The War Doctor is the next doctor, chronologically speaking, but we only knew of him by reference unless you saw the War Doctor special whatever-it-was called. We weren’t introduced to him in the series until The Day of the Doctor in the next to the last episode of the Eleventh Doctor, which also included a return of the Tenth Doctor (also a cameo by Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor) with the Ninth Doctor noticeably absent), both via a time… uh… something-or-other. His older, wiser, I’m-tired-of-this-damn-time-war, strong – yet vulnerable – portrayal was undeniably perfect. I will sum up the War Doctor and his brief amount of screen time by saying two words:  John Hurt. You probably wouldn’t need to know more than that, except that the War Doctor blew up all of his people along with the sworn enemy (the Daleks), but it turned out he really didn’t after this episode. Yep, that explains it.

wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey-stuffAnother Useless Aside:  

Like many people, I thought I was going to lose my mind between the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctor transitions. This time frame was SO GOOD. I’m still in withdrawals from binge watching these seasons too close together.

Ninth Doctor

I think it was toward end of the Ninth Doctor‘s time that I truly became a Whovian. The more modern feel of the show helped and so did the Ninth Doctor in the form of Christopher Eccleston, especially after the first few episodes when the writing and story lines took off. His facial expressions reminded me of the Fourth Doctor and I loved him for that. With a crew cut and a leather jacket, the combination was too much to not be on board. He was boyishly charming without being boyish. Impish and brooding and self-tortured, having just come off the War Doctor still thinking he had killed all his people, and he was fantastically portrayed as such. And, yes, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) is introduced as a companion. I enjoyed their relationship under his reign. (Yes, I think the romance with the next Doctor was a bit much, but still, she “saved” him in a way during this ninth incarnation and I liked that relationship. So there.) Her presence was reassuring and helped me get over the regeneration hump allowing me to accept the next Doctor without too much reservation. Not that I would need it.

Tenth Doctor

David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. WOW. He is a fan favorite, to say the least, and why wouldn’t he be. His last line was “I don’t want to go!” before regenerating and I felt the tug like everyone else. Jesus, writers, you’re killin’ us! But, I’m jumping ahead. This Doctor has been accused of being overly emotional, which did make him seem more human than alien, but that was also a large part of why I liked him, just like the Eighth Doctor. I also loved his companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). Fantastic pairing! Another one of my favorites. It doesn’t have to be all romancey-wancey (I’m really sorry that time.) Not to mention other characters like Captain Jack, Rose Tyler and family, a reintroduction to Sarah Jane and even K-9’s triumphant return. (I’m not a Martha or Mickey fan, but they’re lovely in their own ways). Some of the best writing came from these episodes too. Nice arcs with the Daleks, the Face of Boe, The Master… lots of story goodness. And, yes, David Tennant is far deserving of the “pretty boy” title. And I’m not straight. It was hard to say goodbye. I admit that I held off watching the last episode and his regeneration so that I had time to properly prepare. If you think I’m exaggerating, you’re probably not a fan of the show and didn’t read this far anyway. (Where my Whovians at?)

Eleventh Doctor

Obviously, I didn’t want to like Matt Smith at all, dammit, and in his very first appearance the Eleventh Doctor got a hold on me. By the end of the episode when he walked through the hologram with pictures of all the other doctors flashing past and announced to the camera, “I’m the Doctor” I was completely on board. Smitten, really. Although he pretty much had me when we first saw him regenerate and he pulled his bangs down to see if he was a ginger. I haven’t even mentioned fish fingers and custard or his head poking out of a topsy-turvy blue box that just crashed or… David  who? The plot of the episode itself wasn’t award winning, but there were brilliant lines and scenes where he was brilliant. And, again, that’s the ultimate indicator that the actor is going to blow us away. Matt Smith stepped into some big shoes to fill and instantly became The Doctor for me.  It was eerily similar to how I felt when the Fourth Doctor was introduced following my original beloved Third Doctor. I have mixed feelings about the Eleventh Doctor’s companions, however. Amelia (Amy) Pond (Karen Gillan) by herself was pretty good and the combination of Amy and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) together as a couple was even better. Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman)… thank goodness her story line was something I liked. Who am I missing… oh, yeah…. how can we forget about River Song/Melody Pond! LOVED the character and Alex Kingston was wonderful to watch! I’m not a fan of romance and the Doctor as a rule, and have mixed feelings about that story arc, but overall thumbs up. The idea of crossing timelines at different intervals was wonderfully done, but ultimately the whole relationship was so… sad. It was sad, then sweet, then funny, then hokey, then romantic, and ultimately heart breaking. I guess if I paid that much attention it means I liked it. I am more decisive about the last episode and the regeneration-I thought the entire episode was a bit cheesy and lackluster for me, especially since it followed the anniversary special episode that saw the return of David Tenant and included the War Doctor. I miss Matt Smith, his silliness, his humor, and every one of his bow ties. 

Twelfth Doctor

I’m not reviewing the Twelfth Doctor or adding him in my ranking list. I haven’t gotten through an entire season yet and I understand that’s how long it takes to get on board with Peter Capaldi‘s portrayal. EXACTLY. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

TARDISes

RESULTS (Finally!)

So, here are my top choices.

(I’ll rank all the Doctors at the end.)

Yes, you may drum roll if you like.

Favorite Doctors:  

Fourth, Eleventh, Tenth… in that order. At least I think. Sometimes the younger guys can’t beat the Doctor that came with a 12-foot scarf and a wide grin, regardless of how good looking they were. Other times, I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same after the Tenth and especially the Eleventh Doctor.  Maybe I need more time to determine Gold/Silver/Bronze, but these are DEFINITELY THE TOP THREE DOCTORS.

Honorable Favorite Doctor Mention (Tie):  The Third Doctor and Ninth Doctor. I think the reason I must mention Mr. Velvet is because it is indeed true that “you never forget your first doctor” with the caveat that “in a time period you’re familiar with”, as much as I tried not to. The Ninth Doctor simply holds a special place for me… I don’t know if I can pinpoint why.

Best Episodes/Writing: 

Tenth Doctor  because the story arcs were fantastic and the cast of companions (Jack is the Face of Boe – whaaat?), bad guys, and characters (Weeping Angels anyone?) in general were so diverse and wonderful. Some of this started at the end of the Ninth Doctor ‘s last season, including the “Bad Wolf” arc and who can forget “Are you my mummy (mommy)?”.

Fourth Doctor time period is a close second because we were introduced to so many things that could arc OR that could stand alone – and the characters just kept coming: Daleks, The Master, a Time Lord companion named Rowanna, Sarah Jane, K-9, jelly babies. Not to mention the humor, adventure, a sense of wonder, and some awesome one-time aliens and alien races.

Best Companions: 

Jo March with the Third Doctor was delightful. Their relationship avoided falling into a father/daughter trap, a romantic entanglement, or a snarky something that didn’t work. They were friends and colleagues and couldn’t have been more different. Kudos.

Sarah Jane Smith with the Fourth Doctor. I loved their give and take. A genuine affection and friendship with MAYBE some casual flirting here and there. A sensible woman with a mad man. It worked on so many levels.

Donna Noble with the Tenth Doctor. Again, friendship works, especially with a strong female who can hold her own. Donna’s first episode was rocky, but her return was triumphant. Tragic that they made her not remember the Doctor or any of her time with him – also, brilliant.

Honorable Best Companions Mentions: Both the Ninth and Tenth Doctors had Captain Jack Harkness (you little devil you!); River Song (a strong, smart, independent, sexy woman is always the right choice) was with the Eleventh Doctor (her death episode was with the Tenth Doctor); and yes, I’ll add K-9, because he was some kind hero.

Favorite Doctor Ranking (no surprises here) from first to last:

  • Fourth Doctor – Tom Baker
  • Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith
  • Tenth Doctor – David Tennant
  • Third Doctor – John Pertwee
  • Ninth Doctor –  Christopher Eccleston
  • The War Doctor –  John Hurt
  • Eighth Doctor – Paul McGann
  • Second Doctor – Patrick Troughton
  • Seventh Doctor – Sylvestor McCoy
  • First Doctor – William Hartnell
  • Fifth Doctor – Peter Davison
  • Sixth Doctor – Colin Baker
  • Twelfth Doctor – Peter Capaldi (jury is still deliberating this Doctor)

If you actually made it anywhere near the end of this, even by scrolling, I should offer you something in return, but I don’t really have anything. I’m exhausted.

If you’re a fan and have not exhausted yourself by this point, let everyone know your favorite doctor or other thoughts about Doctor Who in the comments.

Cheers! (That’s British and so it’s appropriatfor this post.)