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The 45 Coolest Moments In Doctor Who's History
By Charlie Jane Anders, 5:02 PM on Mon Nov 24 2008
Doctor Who, the classic British time-travel adventure, marked its 45th anniversary on November 23rd. It's amazing when you realize that, if you count 1996, the Doctor has been on television for 31 out of those 45 years. In all that time, he's vanquished monsters and megalomaniacs, but he's also shattered our preconceptions over and over again. Here's our guide to the 45 Who moments we'll always remember.
Note: this started as a top 10 list and sort of expanded. It may be a little heavy on the new series, which is very good at doing memorable/cool moments. Feel free to suggest your own awesome moments in the comments, of course!
1) The water Dalek from "Dalek Invasion Of Earth."
The Daleks were amazingly cool in their first story, but it was really their second outing that sticks in our minds. From their first appearance, gliding out of the river Thames to show that they've conquered Earth, they literally rule, gliding around London like they own the place. Which they do.
2) The Monoid statue, from "The Ark."
This story has such a neat structure —the first two episodes are about the Doctor's struggle to save a group of human colonists from an outbreak of the common cold. And then he leaves in the TARDIS, only to rejoin the colonists 700 years later. The statue the colonists were building is completed — but it has the head of an alien Monoid instead of a human, because the Monoids have conquered humanity.
3) The Dalek production line, in "Power Of The Daleks."
The Daleks finally learn mass-production, turning out dozens of hate-spitting cyborg monsters in minutes.
4) The Cybermen on the moon, in "The Moonbase"
The Doctor finally kicks them out of the moonbase, but then they march across the Moon's surface with a big-ass cannon, and the Doctor has to outsmart them before it's too late.
5) The Emperor Dalek, in "Evil Of The Daleks."
The Doctor finally comes face-to-eyestalk with the leader of his greatest enemies, and he's a huge monster Dalek, full of malevolence.
6) The Cybermen burst out of their tombs, in "Tomb Of The Cybermen."
The Cybermen are in deep freeze, until a logician (as if) turns up the heat, unleashing the Cyber-army.
7) The TARDIS blows up, in "The Mind Robber."
The Doctor is trapped in a null zone outside reality, and his time machine is suddenly vulnerable. It explodes into pieces, with the control console drifting through the void with a comotose Doctor laying on top of it.
8) People falling dead on the street, in "Doctor Who And The Silurians."
Instead of just telling us about the Silurians' evil scheme, the episode actually shows us, with the plague felling tons of random extras on the London streets, in a haunting and weird sequence.
9) The Master finally goes Satanist, in "The Daemons."
The Doctor's arch-rival the Master had a bunch of great moments in his early stories, but for my money the best was when he put on the big red cloak and started chanting his love for Satan. Update: Maybe I should have chosen the bit in "Claws Of Axos" where he drops off a bridge onto a moving lorry, and hypnotizes the driver, instead. Hmm.
10) The Doctor's fear speech, in "Planet Of The Daleks."
Imprisoned deep underground in the Dalek base, the Doctor schools a cowardly resistance fighter on the nature of courage: it's being afraid, and doing what you have to do anyway. And then he turns a taperecorder into an anti-Dalek weapon. Awesome.
11) The Queen Spider makes the Doctor march, in "Planet Of The Spiders."
Jon Pertwee's Doctor never loses control, so seeing him march around in circles at the whim of the evil giant spider is actually pretty scary shit.
12) The Doctor's cool speech, in "The Ark In Space."
Tom Baker takes over as the Doctor, and instantly the gravitas is cranked up to 11. He gives a beautiful speech about the "indomitable" nature of humanity, and our ability to survive almost anything, while we go out and conquer the stars.
13) Davros debates the Doctor, in "Genesis Of The Daleks."
Face to face with the creator of the Daleks, the Doctor engages him in a debate over whether scientific progress is worth genocide. Davros' answer? Hell yes.
14) The Doctor goes inside the Matrix in "The Deadly Assassin."
Finally back on his own home planet, the Doctor goes inside the cybernetic Matrix (long before Keanu did) and confronts a virtual-reality dreamworld full of scary clowns, deadly big-game hunters and monster trains.
15) The Doctor screams at the Captain, in "The Pirate Planet."
The Doctor finally discovers the secret behind the hollow planet Xanax: The pirate captain in charge is keeping all the shrunken remains of planets in a trophy case, a brilliant achievement — but monstrous. For once, the Doctor totally loses his cool and yells at the Captain, "What's it all for? What could possibly be worth all this?"
16) John Cleese appraises the TARDIS, in "City Of Death."
The Monty Python comedian sees the Doctor's time machine and thinks it's a random work of modern art — which may not be that far off, really.
17) The table turns cob-webby, in "Warrior's Gate".
The Doctor is exploring the nightmarish world between our universe and the E-space universe, and he finds himself in the past, where he discovers an empire of furry slavers that used to roam the timelines, until they were enslaved in turn. Just as the Doctor is about to be slaughtered by killer robots in the past, he's shunted into the cob-webby present — where he's still about to be slaughtered, this time by human slavers.
18) The cricketball stunt, in "Four To Doomsday."
People are still debating whether this would work. The Doctor is adrift in space, and his TARDIS is several yards away. So he throws a cricket ball at a nearby spaceship and catches it on the rebound... propelling himself to the TARDIS.
19) Holding off the Cybermen, in "Earthshock."
The Cybermen are trying to break into the control room of a space freighter, and the Doctor and his poor doomed friend Adric come up with an ingenious way of keeping them out — using the ship's matter/anti-matter containment system to solidify the door the Cybermen have just cut through. Too bad they forgot about the back entrance.
20) Teleporting out of the Dead Zone, in "The Five Doctors."
I love this bit. Surrounded by Cybermen, the Doctor rolls the dice and grabs the teleport device from his enemy the Master. Luckily, it beams him to the Time Lord Citadel in the nick of time, and not into a black hole.
21) The big speech, in "Caves Of Androzani."
He's dying of Spectrox poisoning, he's in a ship about to crash, and men with guns are about to shoot him. But he's not going to let you stop him now.
22) The improvised teleportation control, in "The Twin Dilemma."
Colin Baker has a few great moments as the Doctor, amidst some not-very-good. In his debut story, he's trapped with his companion Peri inside a base that's about to explode, and the teleportation system has been sabotaged. So he rigs a new system, using his wristwatch to compensate for the broken timing mechanism. And then the watch stops — so he just wings it, rubbing his lapel cat for luck. He's cute and winsome for once, so it really works.
23) Hunted by Androgums, in "The Two Doctors."
The Doctor's injured and pushed to his limit, with a bloodthirsty alien foodie on his tail wanting to eat him. He improvises a trap using a butterfly collector's cyanide tins, and manages to kill his attacker. Then he makes a very Colin Baker quip: "Your just desserts." Still, one of his few great edge-of-your-seat moments.
24) The sugar speech, in "Remembrance Of The Daleks."
The first moment where we see that Sylvester McCoy's Doctor could be more than just a bumbling clown. He gives a lovely speech about tampering with time, and the responsibility he feels as he plays his huge chess game across time with the Daleks, all using sugar as a metaphor.
25) The weird zoo song, in "Ghost Light."
Victorian gentleman Josiah is turning people into monkeys, so his niece celebrates by singing "That's The Way To The Zoo" while wearing a dinner jacket. Spooky and bizarre.
26) The mystery of the runes, in "Curse Of Fenric."
There are two great moments — the first, when the Doctor realizes the 900-year-old runes weren't there this morning. And the second, when Ace figures out they're a computer program. (And the Doctor realizes Ace is a bit too clever for her own good.)
27) That final speech, in "Survival."
With the show finally being canceled in 1989, the final episode ends with a nice little tacked-on speech. "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace. We've got work to do. "
28) "That's who I am," In "Rose."
Skipping over the TV movie... when the show finally comes back, new Doctor Christopher Eccleston gets a lovely speech about who he is: if the Earth stops turning and you fall off, into space... that's who he is.
29) The Doctor confronts a Dalek, in "Dalek."
The last Time Lord meets the last Dalek, and flips out.
30) The Doctor regrows the TARDIS, in "Father's Day."
Rose has wrecked the space/time continuum, thanks to her daddy issues, but the Doctor is able to use the TARDIS key to regrow the TARDIS inside the church where everyone is sheltering. Too bad Rose messes things up again.
31) Captain Jack rescues Rose, in "The Empty Child."
She's only in 1942 for a few minutes before she gets lifted up by a barrage balloon and winds up falling out of the sky... but Captain Jack, in his most swashbuckling moment ever, catches her with his spaceship. Awesome.
32) "Everybody lives," in "The Doctor Dances."
The Doctor not only figures out why people are turning into gasmask-clad child-brained zombies, he manages to reverse it and save everybody. He's just so bright and in this episode.
33) Captain Jack's naked showdown, in "Bad Wolf."
34) The Doctor's defiant speech, in "Bad Wolf."
A lovely bit of defiance and brio, as the Doctor tells the Daleks he's going to rescue their hostage — and they're so shocked, they don't even think to execute her.
35) "It. Is. Protected!" in "The Christmas Invasion."
Another lovely defiant Doctor moment. He defeats the Syccorax in single combat, despite losing a hand along the way, and then gives a great speech telling them to tell everybody about the Earth's riches and wonders, and then tell all the nasty alien conquerors, "It. Is. Protected!"
36) K-9 finally shows his bite, in "School Reunion."
As an old-school fan of K-9 the tin dog, it's great to see him finally going ballistic and shooting down tons of killer bat creatures instead of creaking along. And then Giles from Buffy says "Bad dog," and K-9 says "Affirmative," and blows him up. Classic.
37) The mirror stunt, in "The Girl In The Fireplace."
The cavalry arrives — literally, on a horse. Through a mirror from an alien spaceship.
38) The weird ELO cover band, in "Love And Monsters."
Sometimes the Doctor changes people's lives without even knowing it — like this group of loners who come together to play ELO in his honor. Too bad that mean alien guy ruins it.
39) Dalek-Cyberman smackdown, in "Doomsday."
Haven't you always wanted to see the Cybermen fight the Daleks? If the Daleks could fly?
40) The TARDIS car chase, in "The Runaway Bride."
Catherine Tate is being kidnapped by an evil Santa taxi-driving robot, so the Doctor manages to steer the TARDIS along the highway. Just totally insane.
41) The DVD extra conversation, in "Blink."
Sally Sparrow actually manages to have a two-way conversation with the DVD easter egg that the Doctor recorded in 1969, thanks to his handy transcript.
42) The Master's musical number, in "Last Of The Time Lords."
This is possibly the greatest moment in Doctor Who history, and the episode where I finally decided to stop worrying and love the Russell T. Davies era. The Master seranades a hyper-aged Doctor after he's conquered the planet Earth.
43) Bannakaffalatta stops the angels, in "Voyage Of The Damned."
Cyborg pride represent! Don't let anybody tell you you're inferior just because you're part machine. You can bring down angels!
44) The Doctor saves his ambiguous wife, in "Forest Of The Dead."
I had some issues with the way women were treated in this episode, including the "happy ending" River Song gets treated to. But you can't really beat the Doctor jumping down through the entire library, with one bar left on the buffer thingie, to restore his "wife" from a saved backup before she's gone forever. Can you?
45) London finally gets nuked, in "Turn Left."
We finally get to see what things would be like without the Doctor and... not that great, actually. London gets completely pulverized, and you get an awful glimpse of the evil the Doctor is always standing in the way of.