Monday, November 24, 2014

A Post-Afterword: So You'd Like to Popcorn Classic Who...

Whenever I tell people I've seen all of Classic Who, the first question that I always get from interested parties (after they express envy or whatever) is confession that they don't know where to start. Conventional wisdom with the Classic Series is to watch what sounds interesting. Or start with the Hinchcliffe/Holmes era because those are the best stories. Or start with the 7th Doctor/Ace stuff because it's the most modern. Or you could be bold and start from the beginning (which a friend of mine is doing without having seen any of the new stuff. I'm still pulling for him).

My gut reaction is to give those curious an order that would popcorn through the whole damn thing.

Now I have one I feel comfortable sharing.

Warning: What follows is my insane thought process for all of this. If you're just here for the list, keep scrolling. You can't miss it.

When I started my own personal quest to watch all of Doctor Who popcorning was the only way I was interested in experiencing the show. Jump from one Doctor to another. Do it all out of sequence. The Doctor doesn't follow a linear timeline So why should I?

Originally, the plan was to evenly spread them out. Do a 1st Doctor, then a 2nd Doctor, then a 3rd Doctor, etc until you get to the 7th Doctor. And then repeat. Quickly I figured out that that would mean running out of 7th and 6th Doctor stories very, very quickly and then you'd be stuck with a ton of 4th Doctor stories, which, is not bad if you like the 4th Doctor, but leaves a distinct lack of variety.

And I'm all about variety.

(Hell, that initial list was the first draft of the final blog order and included Inferno within the first four months and look how THAT worked out in the end.)

So I went in and restructured. The initial version of the blog was not interested in stories that didn't exist and weren't out on DVD. Which made the order interesting. It made me take my time with the 2nd Doctor (because only like five were out at the time) more appealing because there were so few of them. There were also like... 100 DVDs out at that point. I decided to delay the gratification on "Caves of Androzani". It was the story I wanted the most, made sense to give it the special hundredth slot. That would take me through two years of the blog. And then I could post whenever new DVDs came out and talk about them here.

Then I watched "Caves".

And decided that wouldn't do.

Because what could you DO after "Caves of Androzani"? What is the point of continuing? It is easily one of the greatest Doctor Who episodes of all time. It is still my uncontested favourite.

So I looked at what I still had left to cover and completely changed everything for the next year, added the sixty stories I'd not planned to cover, extended the blog by an additional year, and did a ton of masking tape and glue to figure out how to re-assemble something that had already been locked for a year (and to reference the blog again, I kept the order locked up through "Castrovalva", so everything post-"Castrovalva" through "Caves" is the best order I could manage considering I'd not seen large swaths of it yet. "Talons of Weng-Chiang" (which was immediately pre-"Caves") took the "Caves" slot. Stories I'd avoided became must-see/discuss. It became a huge mess.

Around this time I got an offer from Scott Carelli to co-host "The Doctor's Companion". He was looking to cover the Classic series but needed an order and a guide. I happily stepped in and offered to come up with a new order in which to view with the stipulation that it would include the 9th and 10th Doctor as well (because he hadn't covered those).

Basically it was all I did at work the next day. Turns out, splitting the Classic series with the 9th and 10th Doctor makes the list easier to breakup. There's as much 10th Doctor as there is 4th. And it's easy to intersperse the few Dalek or Master or Cybermen stories in there because there aren't that many.

Unfortunately, there was still a large contingent of Doctor Who I simply hadn't seen yet. And one small reason (of the several many) I stopped doing the show was because I had hit almost the halfway point in the trek, saw that there was about a year of stories I wasn't terribly excited about, and couldn't get excited enough to partake in a year of middling after being exceedingly burnt out on the show I had once loved.

I should also mention, that doing all of the Doctor Who I did between 2010 and 2013 essentially burnt me out of the show I had seriously so loved. I'd watched all of Doctor Who more or less two and a half times in the span of four years. Hell. I basically stayed away from the show from "Time of The Doctor' through "Deep Breath" because of how much time I needed away. And I think my time away is one of the many reasons I loved Series 8 as much as I did (nevermind the fact that it was, in fact, one of the best seasons of Doctor Who that's ever been produced). 

But I've always gotten the question about the order. "Where do I start?" "How do I watch?"

When I did the list for the podcast, I started the popcorn with a slightly modified version of the popcorn start I did for the blog. That's always been locked down. And then the next couple were always variable if not consistent (leftovers from the podcast order). I would even tell people to just do the order we did on the podcast. But "The Doctor's Companion" is still another few years away from completion and still includes the crutch of the New Series. No. My conscience needed to do a full Classic list that was pure Classic that I could be proud of.

Wow. I sound like an egomaniac. And look at me type. It's like I am. Ew.

Regardless. I've tried making this list many times. One friend even asked me to patch together what he hadn't seen into a list that didn't include any of my top ten stories or the bonified Classics he knew about and watched up front. I was pleased with the final result, but it had way too many gaps because of what he'd already seen.

I've never been satisfied. Stretches of bad stories and doldrums. Too much bunching of certain elements (Master stories in large clumps; saving Robert Holmes or David Whitaker stories for the end because sometimes I delay gratifications too much). Too much of the great stuff up front so the middle is soggy. Always with pen and paper. Always dissatisfied.

Recently I buckled down, bought a shitton of post-its. Made it work. And I made it something I'm obnoxiously proud of. One that has a good balance of stories, Doctors, elements. One that matches movements or echoes patterns followed by the Classic Series, that continues with trends that I liked about the initial blog (follow a regeneration story with a post-regeneration story that is not the subsequent post-regeneration story), that takes lessons from the podcast order (all of Davison in order because if you're gonna do ONE Doctor in order (and it's also convenient for mathy reasons)), one that includes Shada, that doesn't break up Key to Time or Trial of a Time Lord, that popcorns bouncily, and that features not only a victory lap, but also gives you an even spread of the spectacular stories and rewards you for hitting major milestones...

All of this to make a Doctor Who experience that you can like and enjoy despite the fact that we might not agree on stories (where I think "The Sensorites" is quite lovely and special if you really look at it and The Celestial Toymaker is pure ruddy bollicks).

It's the list I made. I hope you enjoy. And if you use it, let me know if it works out for you.

  1. The Daleks
  2. The Invasion
  3. The Silurians
  4. Genesis of the Daleks
  5. Castrovalva
  6. Vengeance on Varos
  7. Battlefield
  8. The Movie
  9. The Gunfighters
  10. The Horns of Nimon
  11. The Claws of Axos
  12. The Underwater Menace
  13. The Time Meddler
  14. The Deadly Assassin
  15. The Green Death
  16. Four to Doomsday
  17. The Abominable Snowmen
  18. The Invisible Enemy
  19. The Keys of Marinus
  20. The Curse of Peladon
  21. The Planet of Evil
  22. Delta and the Bannermen
  23. The War Machines
  24. Kinda
  25. The Three Doctors
  26. Meglos
  27. Fury From the Deep
  28. The Mark of the Rani
  29. The Sontaran Experiment
  30. The Mind of Evil
  31. The Crusade
  32. The Visitation
  33. The Key to Time Part 1 - The Ribos Operation
  34. The Key to Time Part 2 - The Pirate Planet
  35. The Key to Time Part 3 - The Stones of Blood
  36. The Key to Time Part 4 - The Androids of Tara
  37. The Key to Time Part 5 - The Power of Kroll
  38. The Key to Time Part 6 - The Armageddon Factor
  39. The Sea Devils
  40. Black Orchid
  41. The Dalek Invasion of Earth
  42. The Happiness Patrol
  43. The Hand of Fear
  44. The Dominators
  45. The Ark
  46. Death to the Daleks
  47. The Pyramids of Mars
  48. Earthshock
  49. The Reign of Terror
  50. The War Games
  51. Robot
  52. Attack of the Cybermen
  53. The Romans
  54. Remembrance of the Daleks
  55. The Image of the Fendahl
  56. Time-Flight
  57. The Time Warrior
  58. The Savages
  59. City of Death
  60. The Wheel in Space
  61. The Aztecs
  62. The Invasion of Time
  63. The Colony in Space
  64. Arc of Infinity
  65. The Macra Terror
  66. The Leisure Hive
  67. The Rescue
  68. Dragonfire
  69. Underworld
  70. Carnival of Monsters
  71. Galaxy 4
  72. Snakedance
  73. The Seeds of Death
  74. The Keeper of Traken
  75. The Myth Makers
  76. Logopolis
  77. Spearhead From Space
  78. The Celestial Toymaker
  79. Survival
  80. Mawdryn Undead
  81. An Unearthly Child
  82. Terror of the Zygons
  83. Tomb of the Cybermen
  84. The Smugglers
  85. The Mutants
  86. The Masque of Mandragora
  87. Silver Nemesis
  88. Terminus
  89. The Creature From the Pit
  90. The Trial of a Time Lord Part 1 - The Mysterious Planet
  91. The Trial of a Time Lord Part 2 - Mindwarp
  92. The Trial of a Time Lord Part 3 - Terror of the Vervoids
  93. The Trial of a Time Lord Part 4 - The Ultimate Foe
  94. The Ambassadors of Death
  95. The Web of Fear
  96. Enlightenment
  97. Nightmare of Eden
  98. The Monster of Peladon
  99. The Planet of Giants
  100. The Talons of Weng-Chiang
  101. The Ice Warriors 
  102. The Planet of the Spiders
  103. The Twin Dilemma
  104. The King's Demons
  105. The Ark in Space
  106. The Space Museum
  107. Paradise Towers
  108. The Chase
  109. The Krotons
  110. The Face of Evil
  111. The Time Monster
  112. The Five Doctors
  113. Shada
  114. The Massacre
  115. The Faceless Ones
  116. Day of the Daleks
  117. The Tenth Planet 
  118. Time and the Rani
  119. The Robots of Death
  120. Warriors of the Deep
  121. The Evil of the Daleks
  122. The Android Invasion 
  123. Ghost Light
  124. The Sensorites
  125. Invasion of the Dinosaurs
  126. Revenge of the Cybermen
  127. Mission to the Unknown
  128. The Awakening
  129. The Daleks' Master Plan
  130. The Space Pirates
  131. Frontier in Space
  132. The Two Doctors
  133. The Planet of the Daleks
  134. The Horror of Fang Rock
  135. The Highlanders
  136. Frontios
  137. Timelash
  138. The Daemons
  139. Full Circle
  140. The Enemy of the World
  141. State of Decay
  142. Marco Polo
  143. Warriors' Gate
  144. Resurrection of the Daleks
  145. Greatest Show in the Galaxy
  146. Destiny of the Daleks
  147. The Moonbase
  148. Terror of the Autons
  149. The Seeds of Doom
  150. The Web Planet
  151. The Sun Makers
  152. Planet of Fire
  153. The Mind Robber
  154. Revelation of the Daleks
  155. Inferno
  156. The Edge of Destruction
  157. The Brain of Morbius
  158. The Curse of Fenric
  159. The Caves of Androzani
  160. The Power of the Daleks


  1. Hey, I'm trying to spread the fact I've managed to compile all of the Doctor Who Adventure games after they had been removed by the BBC. If you want to check them out: (Episodes 1-4) (Gunpowder plot)