Some are classics, some are dogs, some are wildly different. But when it comes down to it, which season shines through as Doctor Who’s Best. Season. Ever?


So there haven’t been 32 seasons… to make this crazy game work, 3 seasons get a free pass to round 2. Here’s what was chosen and why:

SEASON 16This season was a wonderful idea for Doctor Who. Yes, there is still basically the same structure as in other seasons of differing stories, but they are all tied together under one ‘arc’ that has varying impacts on the stories involved. It added a nice extra layer to the stories (the Doctor had to do more than just ‘win’ the story, he had to get the next puzzle piece), as well as providing an important ethical moment in the last third of The Armageddon Factor which revealed a nice humanistic touch in dealing with Astra’s life. JE

SEASON 20 – Season 20 is often maligned for not bringing anything new to the table – most of its stories are sequels in one way or another and the season relies on the return of several villains – the Black Guardian, Omega, the Daleks, the Mara. The stories are fine, and some of them have some great moments, but to a good number of reviewers the season is seen as being somewhat less than the sum of those parts, and just too self-indulgent by far. It would be a tough call for any season to bear that sort of reputation, so I thought it needed a leg up. PA

SEASON 25 – It may not quite have delivered on its anniversary season promise, but Season 25 shouldn’t be hampered, just because it contains Silver Nemesis! Leaving that little nugget of joy aside, in terms of diversity, you can’t really beat it. Greatest Show is still in my mind a hugely underrated gem, and Happiness Patrol for all its faults was suitably bonkers. As an example of improvement on the season before it, Season 25 deserves a free run. The ride ahead may not be so smooth though… JP


SEASON 4 VS SEASON 7Even though Season 4 had the first regeneration (and, let’s face it, it did save the series) and the first appearance of a future staple monster in the Cybermen… there’s still no stylistic change like Season 7, the first Doctor Who of colour!

SEASON 6 VS SEASON 19 – Season 19 is another ‘new feel’ Season – while Troughton’s last year has missing bits, we’ve seen enough to know that it was a case of ‘more of the same’. JN-T is really stretching and enjoying the responsibility of Producer for this season, and it shows with some brave attempts at filling up the TARDIS with companions again (even if Tegan, Nyssa and Adric are no Jamie and Zoe) and – let’s not forget, even killing one to keep the viewers engaged. Close call, but Season 19 scrapes through

SEASON 1 VS SEASON 21 – No contest here – Season 21 is going down, and that’s before even considering the classic stories of Season 1. Season 1 brings to the series a host of Firsts and creates the boilerplate from which very little has deviated since. This fact alone puts a season twenty years down the line on the back foot (Season 21 offers… ultraviolence?). There’s more to be learned about the Doctor in Season 21, to be sure – but before his debut we knew nothing at all. And it was educational. Plus, we all know there’s only one reason to watch Planet of Fire…

SEASON 15 VS SEASON 17The Vardans! The Nimon! The Fendahl! The Jagaroth! To be honest, most of these stories are pretty average. Season 15 has the scariest story ever – ‘Image of the Fendahl’, but you’re going to have more fun with Season 17. And if you’re looking for fun, then this is the all-time limit. Just the right peak – any more (Shada?) and it would have been a disaster. Season 17.

SEASON 12 VS SEASON 26 – Tough choice – Tom’s debut has some big guns, and the best Ever Story Voted By Fans (Genesis) is among them. Sylvester’s swan-song isn’t too bad either – and it has the air of the ‘classic series’ in its last days weighing in its favour. It did tend to try and be far too clever by half. That said, Season 12 does seem to suffer slightly for Pertwee hangover. What to do – what to do? For style and gamely trying something new while the ratings condemn – Season 26 wins this one, with a troubled road ahead.

SEASON 9 VS SERIES 1 (ECCLESTON)Good lord – mismatch alert! Season 9 features some of the most dire story telling possible (please, anything rather than another viewing of Day of the Daleks!). Eccleston has this on casting, writing and pure edge-of-your-seatedness. ‘Father’s Day’ made us cry. So did ‘The Time Monster’, but for quite different reasons.

SEASON 11 VS SEASON 24 – Some people love Season 24 – love it to bits. We don’t know anyone who says they love Pertwee’s last season, even if it has a great regeneration, Linx and Sarah Jane. No, if we’re in the mood for something undemanding and enjoyable, we’re not likely to choose the one with the Giant Spiders. Hark at our folly, it’s Season 24!

SEASON 18 VS SERIES 2 (TENNANT) – This is tricky – both feature radio telescope masts – how unfair! On individual stories Season 2 of Tennant may have the numbers but as a cohesive whole, taking into consideration developing themes and stylistic flourishes… it’s Season 18. The return of the Master, E-Space, a new title sequence and toned-down Tom inching towards his doom. And we were supposed to cheer the return of Cassandra?

SEASON 3 VS SEASON 14 – Ugh! No contest – it’s the Tom stories again. There’s more wit to be had in ‘Talons’ than the earlier stories (although ‘The Gunfighters’ is still wonderfully silly), and under Holmes again, the stories are stronger, more exotic, and they have the best lead actor the series could have had.

SEASON 5 VS TV MOVIE – Unfair, unfair. The much-imitated ‘Monster Season’ versus the TV Movie that wasn’t smart enough to include a monster at all? Poor Scouse Doctor – he doesn’t stand a chance.

SEASON 2 VS SEASON 10 – A little bit of Hartnell, or a lot? But getting down to brass tacks, the stories in Season 10 are rubbish, aren’t they? Who thought Carnival of Monsters was a good idea? And Frontier in Space is about eight episodes too long. Season 2 Is even more scattered and in places (Web Planet, Rescue) quite barmy. We’re giving it to William for ‘range’.

SEASON 13 VS SEASON 22 – Surely this is one of the cruelest face-offs – the Hinchcliffe/Holmes ‘Gothic’ season against the ‘throw anything on the wall and see if it sticks’ of Season 22. That’s probably being unfair to the later season, which did largely have a new crew of writers and a TARDIS crew just getting started. But come on… surely this isn’t an easy win for Season 13? Have you seen The Brain of Morbius? Does anyone remember The Android Invasion? Compare with the chance to see two Doctors together, or… okay, the Dalek and Cybermen stories weren’t great, but just look at Timelash. No-one will be forgetting that any time soon, unlike Terror of the Zygons. When it comes down to it though, in terms of strength of stories and fan longevity, Season 13 is by no means unlucky.

SEASON 8 VS SEASON 23 – The Season of the Master compared to the Season of the Valeyard. Roger Delgado is in fine form in Season 8 (slightly let down by The Daemons), but Michael Jayston knows how to menace up the screen. When it comes down to it though, the earlier Pertwee effort wins out through strength of writing (The Mind of Evil) and a clear agenda. The wheels would fall off soon enough after Season 8, but by ‘Trial’ they’d already been replaced three or four times, and ‘brought back from the workshop’ again (to stretch the metaphor). Season 23 looks more spare parts than original. There’s a sound performance here, but after a year in the garage the engine is still knocking.

3 Responses to “”

  1. Peter A Says:

    Only one reason to like ‘Planet of Fire’? You’re so discerning!

    I could never pick a favourite of the two…

  2. Paul Scoones Says:

    There is more than one reason, but that rather depends on your preference – I’ve spoken to people who appreciate Planet of Fire but not for Nicola Bryant in a skimpy bikini, but rather Mark Strickson in his briefs, so it seems Planet of Fire truly does have something for everyone!

  3. Peter A Says:

    Et tu, Paul? >:)

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