Now I’m sure you’re all wondering how on Earth everyone’s favourite Doctor fits in with Fantasy Week — Geek Month, sure, but fantasy? Surely, you must think me mad. But wait! Most of you die-hard fans know that the newest Doctor’s (9, 10 & 11) are not the only Doctors to have existed. There were 8 more before that!! [gasp!] & with that many Doctor’s there’s nearly an unending supply of episodes ranging from the ultra sci-fi (Daleks!), to the super scary (Weeping Angels!), to the timey-wimey, utterly mad ones! (the Master! Oh, my!) So of course there’s a lovely collection of fantasy themed ones for us to peruse. 😉
Of course, I can think of no one better to peruse the episodes for us than my good friend Cory “Cash Money” Bowers, our groups Doctor Who expert. (Seriously, he’s watched almost every episode, if not all, several times over. I’m surprised he has room left to also be our DM!) Cash Money be taking over today’s post, filling us in on all the gleeful details of his pick for top 5 “Fantasy” themed Doctor Who episodes!
Image from ScienceFiction.com
Countdown to the 50th: 82 Days
Hello to everyone that has been enjoying Geek Month so far, and welcome to the first exciting installment of ‘Who Wednesday’! For the next few weeks I’ll be shedding some insight into the series — within the theme of each week — as we approach the 50th Anniversary.
As Doctor Who premiered in November of 1963, the first season alternated between what were considered Historical and Sci-Fi Stories. Historical stories featured events happening solely on Earth, with no extraterrestrial influence (minus that of the Doctor’s.) The Historicals ended with ‘The Highlanders.’ These stories were altered to include contemporary or near future stories with Historicals and included Sci-Fi elements in all episodes. Since then, only ‘Black Orchid’ has aired as a Historical only episode.
Towards the end of Historical Stories, ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ aired as the first Fantasy story of Doctor Who. Throughout the series, The Doctor has faced several foes in games of skill and logic, most recently the Cyber Controller in ‘Nightmare in Silver,’ but none has been as complex as the Trilogic game and the various competitions that Stephen and Dodo faced in the realm of the Toymakers Creation. Sadly, only one episode survives.
Over the last 50 years, the Doctor has encountered many events and creatures of magical and fantastic origins — from killing the last Great Vampire, to fighting Carrionite witches with Shakespeare — which is why I have included a short list of episodes that fans old and new should enjoy and can recognize among the best of the series that fit the “Fantasy” heading more so than that of “Sci-Fi”.
Some notable actors that have featured in a few stories of this variety are Michael Gough ‘The Celestial Toymaker’, Christopher Benjamin ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ (also ‘Inferno’, and ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’), Deep Roy ‘Talons of Weng-Chiang’, Toby Jones ‘Amy’s Choice’, and Bill Bailey ‘The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe’.
So for now, enjoy these episodes, continue looking forward to the 50th Anniversary, and enjoy all things Fantastical!
–Cory “Cash Money” Bowers
Image copyright BBC
The Celestial Toymaker
Our time travelers arrive in a strange domain presided over by a previous foe of the Doctor, the Celestial Toymaker – an enigmatic, immortal entity who forces them to play a series of games, failure at which will render them his playthings for all eternity. Only one episode of this four part series remains whole. For more details on ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ episode, check out the TardisWiki!
Image copyright BBC ***
State of Decay (E-Space Trilogy)
Still trapped in E-Space, the Doctor’s TARDIS materialises on a medieval planet. The townsfolk on this planet live in fear of the Three Who Rule, who govern from their mighty castle. Investigating, the Fourth Doctor discovers that the Three Who Rule are ancient astronauts who became vampires long ago, and their castle is actually their spaceship. When Romana and Adric are kidnapped, the Doctor must ally himself with a band of renegade peasants to stop the resurrection of one of Gallifrey’s greatest enemies: the King Vampire itself. For further info, view this episode on the TardisWiki!
***As a side note, Tom Baker makes some of the best faces as the 4th Doctor,
& this episode has one of our favourites:
Image copyright BBC
Image copyright BBC ***
The Shakespeare Code
The Doctor brings Martha back in time to England, 1599 for her trip in the TARDIS. After viewing a performance of Shakespeare‘s latest play, it would seem things are quite amiss in town. The lost play is to be performed soon, but what could have made the script itself vanish afterwards? And who is the mysterious girl keeping an eye on the genius writer?
***Another side note: David Tennant also makes the best faces. Here’s proof:
Image copyright BBC
The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe
Putting a spin on the whole “magical wardrobe” element from Narnia, this episode take place on Christmas Eve, 1938. Madge Arwell comes to the aid of an injured “Spaceman Angel”, who promises to repay her kindness – all she has to do is make a wish. Three years later, Madge escapes war-torn London with her two children for a dilapidated house in Dorset. Crippled with grief at the news her husband has been lost over the English Channel, she wishes to give her children the best Christmas ever. The Arwells are greeted by the Doctor, who acts as their madcap caretaker. However, a mysterious Christmas gift from him leads them into a wintry, magical world. Madge must learn how to be braver than she ever thought possible and that wishes can come true. Check out the TardisWiki for further awesomeness!
Images copyright BBC
The fifth & final episode of Season 8 wraps up a series-long succession of episodes involving the Master. In this episode, the Master, posing as a rural vicar, summons a cloven-hoofed demon in a church basement. For the full plot to the episode, check out the TardisWiki.
Well, that wraps up our first week’s “Whovian Wednesday”! Come back next Wednesday for the 2nd installment of our “Whovian Wednesday” series, & continue checking back with us every day to celebrate Geek Month! 😀
If you haven’t checked out the links to our guest posters for the month, check out the side bar, & pick up one of our Geek Month buttons for your site, while you’re at it!
To all of our Doctor fans out there: Who’s your favourite Doctor?
See you tomorrow!
— Elise M. Gross