Saturday 29 April 2023

DWM 60th Anniversary Poll (2)

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 590 has revealed the second batch of results, covering the tenures of the Third and Fourth Doctors.
All of these stories exist in their entirety, and include ones which often feature highly in the complete polls, produced and script edited by some of the most popular figures in the series' history. I suspect that when a full poll is released later in the year, a lot of what we see here will make up the top 20 overall.
Starting with the Pertwee years, which had a consistent production team behind them, the top three are:

1. Inferno
2. The Green Death
3. Spearhead from Space

Inferno has been top rated Pertwee story in every poll since 1998, so it was only to be expected that it would win out again. Great performances (especially from Pertwee himself) and the gimmick of the villainous alternative universe UNIT characters are what sell this.
The Green Death is the last hurrah! for the UNIT family. It's the one forever to be known as "the one with the maggots", so even the non-fans liked it. Jo's departure is reasonably well handled, and it has enough interest to make it one of the better six-parters (environmental themes, a trip to Metebelis III, lots of location work, the maggot monsters, mad computer).
Spearhead is the only Pertwee not to be produced by Barry Letts, though it does have Terrance Dicks as script editor. It was the Third Doctor's debut and it benefitted greatly from industrial action - being filmed on location instead of being produced in the electronic video studio which Pertwee had little experience of. It's far from original - Nigel Kneale was very much in the huff with it - but as "the one with the shop window dummies", it's another story that resonated beyond fandom. Russell T Davies looked to this to launch the revived series in 2005.

Just outside the top three we had The Daemons at (4), The Three Doctors at (5) and The Time Warrior at (6).
For the Troughton poll, I noted the relative lack of change, with many stories maintaining the same poll position over the years. The lower half of the Pertwee poll mirrors this, with eight of the bottom ten stories all staying in the same position as 2014.
The bottom three are:

22. The Mutants
23. The Monster of Peladon
24. The Time Monster

It seems that recent re-releases on shiny Blu-ray don't necessarily help a story's reputation. Poor old The Time Monster has held bottom place consistently since 1998.
Of Pertwee's three Dalek stories, two of them are in the bottom half of the poll (Planet of the Daleks at no.18, and Death to the Daleks lower down at no.20). Highest rated is Day of the Daleks (11th) which really surprises me. I think it the weakest Dalek story of the colour era.
Comparing 1998 to 2023, the story with the biggest move up the poll is Invasion of the Dinosaurs (20 to 13), and the one with the biggest drop is Frontier in Space (11 down to 17).

The top rated Tom Baker story isn't a Hinchcliffe-Holmes production - but they do make up eight of the top ten stories. The only other non H-H story is Horror of Fang Rock, which has a distinctly Hinchcliffe-Holmes feel. It is at no.8.
The top three are:

1. City of Death
2. Genesis of the Daleks
3. Pyramids of Mars

The other H-H stories of the top ten are The Robots of Death, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Seeds of Doom, Terror of the Zygons, The Ark in Space and The Deadly Assassin.
The lowest rated H-H story is Revenge of the Cybermen at no.31 (though they would argue that they never commissioned this in the first place. The lowest one that is all their own work is The Android Invasion - in 28th place).
Once again we have some consistency over the years.
City of Death has risen slowly up the ranks from 5th, to 4th, to 2nd, to 1st over the four polls. It is a witty and clever Douglas Adams script (mostly), with Tom and Lalla on good form and Paris location work. Julian Glover makes for a wonderful villain.
Genesis held the top slot in 1998, 2009 and 2014, only dropping to 2nd this year. Daleks only feature for about 15 minutes of a story that's 135 minutes long, so it's very much Davros' show.
Pyramids has held third place in three of the last four polls. Another great villain, with an atmospheric mix of Egyptian Mythology and English Gothic.

The bottom three for Tom Baker are:
39. Meglos
40. The Horns of Nimon
41. Underworld

No real surprises there. Underworld has been the worst rated Tom Baker story over all four polls. Nimon has been in 40th place for three of the polls, and Meglos has always floated about the bottom five.
Unlike the Troughton and Pertwee polls this year, the Tom Baker one shows a lot more movement, with only nine of forty one stories retaining their position from 2014.
The biggest winner is Full Circle (18 to 25). Biggest loser is The Masque of Mandragora (15 down to 26).
In terms of production teams, of which Tom Baker had five distinct ones, we've already pointed out the H-H supremacy.
JNT stories range from Logopolis (12th) to the aforementioned Meglos at 39. Most of Season 18 lies in the middle of the poll, however, with only The Leisure Hive languishing in the lower half.
It's the Graham Williams stories which are all over the place - from 1st to 41st places.
Season 16 - the Key to Time - has stories ranging between 13th (The Stones of Blood) to 38th (The Power of Kroll). The marmite Season 17, script edited by Douglas Adams, might get the top spot, but the rest of this season languishes in the bottom dozen.

Voting is already open at the magazine's website for the next batch of episodes - those of the Seventh, Eighth (i.e. the 1996 Movie) and Ninth Doctors. You have until 24th May to give Time and the Rani the one point it deserves...

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