The BBC recently launched a service giving people a chance to download and keep most of their backlog. It seems a decent service but I’ve not used it properly yet so I’ll keep out of that debate.
What I’m here to complain about today is one of their ‘Editorial Collections’ put together on the site. This one calls itself ‘The Beginners Guide to Doctor Who’. It seems a good idea, something to give fans with little knowledge of Doctor Who (New and Classic) a good overview of the show? Let’s explain where they went wrong:
Do you notice anything wrong with this image? We’ve got Capaldi up front – fair enough he’s the current Doctor – and Smith and Tennant given full body shots in the background because let’s be honest they’re the most popular ones. Notice who’s missing? PAUL MCGANN! The Eighth Smegging Doctor isn’t on there! John Hurt’s War Doctor is given a slot under Eccleston but why isn’t Paul Mcgann given a picture?!
Let’s now look at the episodes available in the collection:
Tomb of the Cybermen, Spearhead from Space, Genesis of the Daleks, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Earthshock, Rose, Blink, The Day of the Doctor and Mummy on the Orient Express.
Starting off with what they’ve got right: All of these episodes regularly rank very high in the fan polls, with Day Of The Doctor winning the most recent and Genesis holding the top spot for years before it. They would all go into my big bumper list of episodes to convert fans.
And now for the problems. Where the hell are William Hartnell, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul Mcgann? Hartnell is the man who started it all, he IS Doctor Who! The original you might say! Without him the rest would not exist! Not even An Unearthly Child (one of the greatest 25 minutes of storytelling ever) makes the cut. You’d think any person wanting to find out about Doctor Who would want to watch the first ever episode? Not according to the BBC Store. Other Hartnell classics such as The Aztecs, The Romans, The War Machines, The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Tenth Planet make the list! Baker, C and McCoy don’t have the most comfortable time with fan polls, which is a shame, they have some fine stories and ignoring them all together is nonsense. I would have thought at least the multi-Doctor story The Two Doctors might have survived the purge. McCoy’s contribution to the list could have included Remembrance of The Daleks, Battlefield, Ghost Light or Survival! I’m doubtful as to whether Paul McGann’s 1996 TV Movie is owned by the BBC so I can let them off for not including that, but Moffat recently gave us 8’s regeneration in 2013’s The Night Of The Doctor. That could have easily made the list!
Straying into Modern Who, I feel they should have been left out of this list. They’re easily found on DVDs and streaming services (i.e. Netflix) and more easily found than Classic Who. Rose is always a good place to start and more attuned to modern tastes than Spearhead, but that being the only Eccleston story is mightily disappointing. As for Tennant he gets Blink, a story with the whole focus on Carey Mullligan. Tennant appears for the briefest of brief glances in Blink, and although it is a good story (overrated massively but still good) it’s not his best. Matt Smith is budged aside for the 50th Anniversary special, which would confuse the hell out of people who don’t know Doctor Who. I still adore Day of The Doctor but people need to know about Doctor Who to watch it (especially if YOU’VE LEFT OUT PAUL MCGANN!) Peter Capaldi’s choice I agree with. This list was probably put together before Series 9 and Mummy On The Orient Express was the best of Series 8.
And now for my choices to give a true Beginners Guide to Doctor Who (to be fair I’ll choose one from each Doctor:
- An Unearthly Child
- The Tomb of The Cybermen
- The Dæmons
- City of Death
- The Five Doctors
- The Two Doctors
- Remembrance of The Daleks
- TV Movie/Night Of The Doctor barring copyright woes
- Smith and Jones
- Vincent and The Doctor
- Under The Lake/Before The Flood.
Simple choices, people can go into those episode with very little knowledge of Doctor Who and love *nearly* every minute.