Tag Archives: Specter Who

Specter Who 6: A Retrospective


It’s time to revitalize Specter Who and start numbering this bad boy. The most recent Capaldi season is over and I have decided to start pushing forward with some content and looking at what it is we all love… in a new way.

We all have our favorites: stories, Doctors, companions, episodes… but when I looked at the number of stories for each Doctor, I discovered something I hadn’t realized before. I don’t want to spoil the column, so let’s move to the first part.

William Hartnell was the Doctor from 1963-1966 and has 134 episodes to his run. When I say it like that, you think “damn, that was a lot of episodes.” What I realized was that those 134 episodes are actually only 29 stories (serials, as the BBC calls it). Hartnell’s era was almost non-stop filming, which is a credit to how bad ass production was back then, and he’s set a foundation for the future with only 29 stories.

Patrick Troughton was the Doctor from 1966-1969, taking over for Hartnell after only 8 episodes in Hartnell’s 4th “year.” Troughton only has 127 episodes (nearly filming as often as Hartnell), but that is only 21 stories. Less than Hartnell in every way (years, stories, and episodes). Troughton’s era was the last to have the hefty filming schedule, so things do a bit of changing at this point.

Jon Pertwee was the Doctor from 1970-1974. There was no direct “regeneration” scene filmed with the two of them because when Troughton left, they weren’t sure who was replacing him. Pertwee had 5 seasons and 128 episodes. That equates to 24 stories. He outlasted both of his predecessors as far as years go but didn’t eclipse the episodes nor the stories of Hartnell.

Tom Baker was the Doctor from 1974-1981, setting the stage (in most fans’ minds) for the pinnacle of Doctor Who (classic era) greatness. While I enjoyed the Tom Baker stuff, he’s not my favorite. Baker had 144 episodes (setting the record), as well as 41 stories (also record setting). The reason most people favor Tom Baker is that he’s got the largest body of work to look at… and he is genuinely entertaining in the role.

Peter Davison was the Doctor from 1982-1984, having the only other “shared season” as the outgoing Doctor with Hartnell’s earlier run. Davison ran for almost 3 full years and had 68 episodes (the smallest run yet), which was only 21 stories. This is my first Doctor and I’d happened to start pretty early in his run, so this is the era I remember best.

Colin Baker was the Doctor from 1984-1986, having the shortest run to date with only 31 episodes (the format of these changed from 30 minutes to 45 minutes each), equating to only 14 episodes. There was turmoil at the BBC during this time and Baker was sacked, so he may have lasted longer but never got the opportunity on screen.

Sylvester McCoy was the Doctor from 1987-1989, having 3 seasons and 42 episodes, but that’s only 12 stories. McCoy also has the dubious distinction of being the longest reigning Doctor (despite only having the 12 stories, he didn’t regenerate until 1996) at 9 years. The only mark I have against McCoy’s run is the hokey looking graphics they were using during that era, making it seem like every other late 80s, early 90s TV show that looks odd when watching them now.

Paul McGann was the Doctor for 1996’s telemovie “Doctor Who,” also known as the Enemy Within. His only appearance in a full-length story was this one episode, leaving him as a “take him or leave him” Doctor for many fans. Some could claim that he’s the longest reigning Doctor, he also has about 9 years, but he didn’t regenerate on screen until just before the 50th Anniversary. The added distinction of not really having “a run” and not truly considered one of the Doctors by some fans leaves the “few months” McCoy has on him in length firmly placed.

Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor for a single season in 2005. We switch from “episodes and stories” being separated to them being combined into (most of the time) single episodes at 1 hour a piece. Eccleston has 13 episodes under him, and since there were technically a couple of “two parter” episodes, the stories can technically be dropped down to only 10 stories.

David Tennant was the Doctor from 2006-2010, having 3 years (and a 4th “specials” year) and 41 episodes. That makes 33 stories (which is actually impressive because of the filming format). Tennant was voted by fans as the best Doctor, knocking Tom Baker out of that spot.

Matt Smith was the Doctor from 2010-2013, having the same 3 years and a “specials” 4th year. Smith had 41 episodes and 36 stories, but was the reigning Doctor for the 50th Anniversary episode. As far as “New Who” goes, there are a lot of Matt Smith fans out there and though I didn’t find him completely appealing (as far as his characterization), there are bright points in his run that I enjoy.

Peter Capaldi is the Doctor (from 2014-present) and so far has had 2 full seasons, with 24 episodes making up his 17 stories. Rumors swirl that his third season might be his final season and he’s the most “connected to the original series” (i.e. the Hartnell through McCoy years) than any of the other modern Doctors. His era can’t really be evaluated, yet, but without having an end so far, I’d like to say that I’m enjoying his run.

Some may point at my list above and ask about the “War Doctor,” John Hurt. Hurt’s only on screen appearance was in “The Day of the Doctor,” the 50th Anniversary special. He’s the missing link between McGann and Eccleston, which is another reason McGann loses on the “9 year reign” to McCoy. Hurt would be an interesting Doctor to see for a few episodes, but his “fleshing out” will come with what I’m about to touch on next.

Each of the Doctor’s above has at least one “adventure in audio” from Big Finish. The actors who are still alive to play their parts (Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, and David Tennant) are all producing further adventures of their Doctor. John Hurt is also having some dramas produced, giving some depth to his character and giving a little background into what went on during the Time War. Steven Moffat, the current “show runner” for Doctor Who, canonized the Big Finish audio dramas when Paul McGann regenerated in a mini-episode “The Night of the Doctor” by reciting thanks for all his audio drama companions. While this is nice to include in the catalogue of stories, the Big Finish audios aren’t included in my list here because they aren’t the video productions that Doctor Who was founded upon.

The stats for Big Finish are too numerous and scattered for me to calculate. There are extenuating circumstances to these, too, as some of them are simply read in the third person, some are “short trips” (short stories told in the third person), specials for one reason or another, and multi-Doctor stories that don’t neatly fit into a time line. The audio dramas are good (the ones with a full cast), and there is merit to the third person reads, but as far as Doctor Who goes I’m more interested in the TV version.

As far as multi-Doctor stories go, I also wanted to touch on the fact that these are rare occurrences. The Three Doctors (Hartnell, Troughton, and Pertwee) for the 10th Anniversary, the Five Doctors (Richard Hurndall as Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, an appearance by Tom Baker’s Doctor, and Davison) for the 20th Anniversary, The Two Doctors (Troughton and Colin Baker) for no particular reason, and the Day of the Doctor (John Hurt as the War Doctor, Tennant, and Smith… with glimpses of Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Tom Baker, Davison, Colin Baker, McCoy, McGann, and Eccleston) for the 50th Anniversary. That’s only four times and only one of those didn’t coincide with an anniversary of some kind.

So, when you look at what I have above, seeing that there aren’t as many “stories” as you thought there were puts some perspective on things. Some Doctors are famous for extremely short runs, some are famous for longer ones, but in all, no one has been the Doctor (actively playing the role) so long that we have been unable to get past their characterization as the Doctor. I suppose we’ll see if things keep moving along as is or if something changes the status quo enough to really get someone energized to do something big.

Specter Who – The Capaldi Review


Let me start off by giving you the order in which I would rate the Peter Capaldi episodes for Doctor Who. They are, from worst to best: Robot of Sherwood, Deep Breath, Into the Dalek, In the Forest of the Night, the Caretaker, Kill the Moon, Death in Heaven, Listen, Flatline, Dark Water, Time Heist, Last Christmas, and Mummy on the Orient Express. Yes, this is how I’d rate all of the Capaldi episodes to date and yes, I liked Mummy the best.

I wanted to review the Capaldi first season because I think it’s important to note how I look at Doctor Who as a whole. I am an “old school” Whovian but I do enjoy some of the new stuff. Let me just go over things and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Everything before Tom Baker was interesting but I could live without it. Tom Baker through Colin Baker is the era I was introduced to, so I am definitely loving that stuff the most. McCoy is a rough watch, in my opinion, but there are some redeemable episodes.

Eccelston was a nice refresher on the whole of Who. I could have loved him more if he’d stuck around a little longer but he was a good Doctor for what we got. Tennant was one of the best Doctors in history. Smith wasn’t anywhere near an enjoyable Doctor to me, but I understand that some loved him. He wasn’t even as good as McCoy, that should give you an idea where I stand with what has come before.

Capaldi was a great big boost from the Smith era. However, Capaldi has needed a little bit of help and as far as companions go, I have NOT been a fan of Coleman. She wasn’t so bad with Smith but she’s been nothing but terrible with Capaldi and I’d replace her as quickly as I possibly could.

The Capaldi episodes haven’t been “run here, then run there, then… oh yeah, here’s the story.” We’ve had a much closer look at the old style Doctor Who storytelling. That is to say that I’ve enjoyed the pacing of this year’s stories. I miss the Weeping Angels and I long for a decent Cyberman story but I did enjoy the Christmas special and Time Heist was a goodie, too. All in all, I enjoyed the experience but we need to get away from talking more about the companion because the show is called DOCTOR Who, not COMPANION Who. If I want a show about the companion, I’ll watch literally anything else. I want them to shift to telling stories that are about the Doctor in interesting ways and I’m hoping Series 9 will be more about the Doctor and less about the companion.

I hope that we can get a little closer to Doctor Who of the past. I don’t mind the difference in storytelling from old to new but if the new Whovians are going to have any appreciation for what has come before. I would also really like Moffat to step down and let someone else take over the show running.

Who cares.

Specter Who – Listen

This is going to be another short one, I didn’t have the time I thought I was going to in order to write this.  In short, this is a four out of five because I thought it could have been better but was way better than what has come before it.  Capaldi continues to be better than Smith and I’m sure I’m nearly alone on that one because my wife hates him.  She says he’s too grumpy… that’s what reminds me of Colin Baker, who happens to be my favorite.  Let’s get some better stories, Moffat, because that one would have been great if there were some sort of monster rather than just giving us a glimpse of what we got at the end.

Specter Who – Robot of Sherwood

I’m going to be a little light this week on the review, mainly because I was a little more than disappointed in the show.  Things could have been a lot better and I didn’t like the humor.  I’m still enjoying Capaldi more than Smith and I give this one three out of five.

Specter Who – Into the Dalek

We return for the second episode of the newest Doctor, Peter Capaldi, as we venture inside a Dalek… despite the concept not being fantastic, I think that the episode as a whole was worth writing about… yeah, I just teased that so I can get to the rest of the review.

SpecterWho300Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman return in the second episode of series 8, Into the Dalek, which contains one thing that I do not like very much: Daleks.

How can I be a Doctor Who fan and not be a Dalek fan?  Well, I don’t loathe them, but if you asked me which recurring enemy the Doctor should be taking on I’d say the Cybermen.  But I don’t get a vote, apparently, so Daleks it is.

We are “honey, I shrunk the Doctor” down so he can go inside a Dalek and figure out why the “good” Dalek was bad.  Then he repairs the damage?  What, exactly, did you think would happen?  I think we’re beyond the shock value of the Daleks being anything but extermination machines and I don’t really think seeing inside the Dalek did all that much more to enhance my perception of them.

We DID see Missy again, whom people online are calling the Gatekeeper… and the Master.  I don’t think that she’s the Master but I am interested to see why she keeps popping back up.

Overall, I like Capaldi as the Doctor so much that I don’t even remember who the guy before him was.  That’s a good thing.  I give this one four out of five but that’s on Capaldi’s performance and I hope that the Daleks don’t pop up again this season.

Do weeee ooooo!

Specter Who – Deep Breath

Doctor Who has returned with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor in Deep Breath.

My first rule with Doctor Who is never to judge a new Doctor by their regeneration episode.  In fact, I can’t think of a new Doctor whose regeneration episode/story I’ve really liked.  The “kooky adjustment to the new body” episode is never really all that great, in my opinion.  Why do they keep doing that, then, right?  Anyway…

SpecterWho300All of the build up, all of the speculation, it finally culminates in the episode actually showing up.  I’d like to say that since this is a regeneration episode, my expectations were far lower than they would be for any other episode.  Overall, though, for a regeneration episode, I’d like to say this is one of the better ones.

The action was slower paced, there was more concentration on character development, and there was some connection to the previous incarnations than just the companion that was there FOR the regeneration.  The baddy in this one wasn’t so overwhelming as to need a deep explanation and was just difficult enough to deal with in order to give the audience a reason to be interested in the action.  I was a little confused by the end of the episode, the “promised land” segment, but I’ll find out later if that has anything to do with anything.

I give the episode a three out of five.

Now for some background.

There has been so much focus on why the Doctor looks like “someone from before.”  Why is there so much focus on that?  Why is this the first time we’ve been so worried about the Doctor looking like someone else the same actor has played in the past?  What am I talking about?

And you call yourself a Doctor Who fan.

Colin Baker played a character named Maxil in an episode of Doctor Who starring his predecessor, Peter Davison.  Several stories later the Doctor looks like him and we have no obsessing over why the Doctor looks like someone that appeared in a story before.  Yet, here we are, obsessing over why the Doctor looks like someone from several seasons before.


Modern fans obsess, I get that.  Why not obsess over things that matter, though?  There is so much more that can be worried about than why the Doctor’s face is the same as another character’s, why the TARDIS explosion wasn’t satisfactorily answered (in some eyes), or why other things happen.

Anyway, there’s the rating.  Three out of five.  I do like Capaldi better than Smith already, though.