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Into the Doctor

Earlier this year, Doctor Who Magazine had a ranking of all twelve Doctor Whos. Unsurprisingly, 6th Doctor Colin Baker came in last. I've met Colin Baker, some thirty years ago when he and then-producer John Nathan-Turner came to Champaign for a Doctor Who convention, and I can say that he's a very warm, pleasant man. His Doctor, however, sucks. Hammy, shouty, dressed like a clown, the character just doesn't work.

Alas, Colin Baker is only human, and felt wounded at his Doctor being ranked last, taking it somewhat personally. I feel for the man on a certain level, but can't say that I disagree with the rankings. In fact, seeing as how Doctor Who is my favorite television show of all-time (mostly due to the 1963-1989 run), I thought it only proper that I provide my own, definitive rankings. Fair warning: What you are about to read is truth.

Here we go:

1. The Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee

Growing up watching Doctor Who as a kid in the 1980s, there was always a certain level of safety that I sought from the character. Mostly, he was there to take me on adventures to far away planets, future worlds and Earth of the past, but I also wanted to feel safe with the character. Perhaps no other Doctor embodied that sense of safety more than Jon Pertwee. He could be a touch rude at times, but also soft and caring. He (or at least his stunt man) also knew some darn good Venusian aikido.

Favorite story: The Curse of Peladon

2. The Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker

The longest-serving, and arguably most popular Doctor (rivaled only by David Tennant), Tom Baker was basically playing Tom Baker-as-the-Doctor, but that's okay. Tom comes across as a pretty awesome, exuberant fellow. He makes any story (even the not-so-good ones) enjoyable.

Favorite story: Horror of Fang Rock

3. The First Doctor, William Hartnell

Shamefully over-looked and underrated in today's flashy world of color TV, the original, black-and-white adventures of Doctor Who still remain as good (or better) than they were some fifty years ago. Strong companions, good storytelling, and the glue holding it all together - William Hartnell.

Favorite story: The Keys of Marinus

4. The Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi

This was a tough one, as most of the 12th Doctor's stories have been dreck. Still, rising above it all is Peter Capaldi, inhabiting the role like a hand in glove, making me continue to watch the program through his sheer, mesmerizing presence and charm.

Favorite story: Mummy On the Orient Express

5. The Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison

I really underappreciated the 5th Doctor for quite some time. We're talking decades. A case can be made that he's a fairly bland incarnation of the world's favorite Time Lord but, what I used to see as blandness, I now see as a nuanced take on the role. Coming on the heels of Tom Baker's bravado performance, Davison really had to play it down a bit. Sure, some of his stories were (to put it nicely) weak, but as a young actor, he really inhabited the role with aplomb.

Favorite story: Earthshock

6. The Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton

So many of Troughton's stories are lost, it's difficult to make a solid judgment about his era (though many fans still do). Based upon what I've seen, he ranks as a good (not great) Doctor Who. Certainly one of the classic originals. I enjoyed it when he turned-up in The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors stories!

Favorite story: The Mind Robber

7. The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith

Ah, Matt Smith. His Doctor had so much potential, but that was mostly wasted in series 6 and 7 by the scripts and production efforts. Still, the man himself is as good as he can be in the role. He's also the first actor to play the Doctor who I felt an attraction toward. Handsome, with a lovely voice, Smith is the second-best of the revived show's leads.

Favorite story: The Lodger

8. The Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy

Say what you will about his era (and a lot -- good and bad -- can be said), but McCoy definitely gave an alien quality to his Doctor, and it felt like you were watching an eccentric, quirky character when he was on-screen. His stories were very much hit and miss, and his companions weren't great, but the actor did his best.

Favorite story: Dragonfire

9. The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant

I know he's super popular with modern Doctor Who fans, but he mostly annoyed me. The sneakers, the gelled hair, the cocky demeanor, his wuvvy-duvvy with Rose... it was just too much. Still, he had a good run, with lots of memorable episodes.

Favorite story: Blink

10. The Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston

I dunno. On the one hand, I prefer him to Tennant's cocky, spastic Doctor. On the other hand, I felt like Eccleston never truly convinced me that he was an alien from another world. A bad-ass northerner who'd just as soon nut you as say hello? Yes. But a Time Lord?  Eh.

Favorite story: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

11. The Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann

Just so-so in his one-off 1996 TV movie, once we saw him again in the 2013 web-minisode, it became obvious what we'd missed in the long run. McGann is a solid actor, and I wish we'd seen more of him in the role.

Favorite story: The Night of the Doctor

12. The War Doctor, John Hurt

Seen only during the fiftieth anniversary year, Hurt's incarnation was likely a stand-in for the non-returning Christopher Eccleston. Still, the glimpse of this secret Doctor was enough to make him intriguing. Hurt owned any scene he was in, and I wish we'd have gotten more of this Doctor.

Favorite story: The Day of the Doctor

13. The Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker

Sorry, Colin.

Favorite story: The Two Doctors

And, that's that. Another list of truth!


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