Doctor Who – The William Hartnell Era – The Rankings (or ‘Guess Where the Supposed ‘Worst Story Ever’ Finished?’)

So the Hartnell Years are done and dusted, and I thought it would be a good idea to do some rankings based on the past 3 seasons.

The Stories

28. The Celestial Toymaker– Hindered severely by the missing episodes, this story is just too visual to work as a reconstruction, and so it just not enjoyable in its present form. Episode 4 is good, but it’s not great.

You can look as shocked as you like Toymaker, but your story is still the worst of the Hartnell Era

27. The Edge of Destruction – Nothing more than two episodes of filler, with a plot with more holes than Swiss Cheese. Weird.

26. Galaxy Four – A rather dull story, which I can’t help but think would be better if it existed.

25. Planet of Giants – Nice design, but still…the villain is a middle class businessman whose had a breakdown.

24. Tenth Planet – The Doctor regenerates and the Cybermen turn up. But that isn’t what the story is about, and so one good scene in episode 2 isn’t enough to save it.

23. The Web Planet – An extremely brave effort, but it’s style over substance. If this one was missing it would be further down the list, and yet ironically if it was missing it’d probably be considered a classic.

22. The Savages – It’s just a bit ‘meh’ really. There isn’t much to criticise it or praise it for.

21. The Smugglers – Its fun, but its also a bit thin on the ground in terms of plot. And it really should have been called something else.

20. The Crusade – There’s some terrific acting here from Glover & Marsh, but the compared to other historical stories it doesn’t have as much plot or indeed much for kids to learn about

19. The Reign of Terror – Longer than it needed to be, and more a lesson in history than an exciting adventure.

18. An Unearthly Child – Up here for the first episode only. The following three aren’t much to write home about.

"Seventh? I'll take that!"

17. The Daleks Invasion of Earth – The weakest of the Dalek stories. This one is ‘big budget’ as far as 60s Who goes, but again it’s a case of style over substance. “Let’s have the Daleks in London! Then we’ll think of a plot”

16. The Massacre – I’ll probably be heavily criticised by some for rating the Dr Who equivalent of ‘The Wire’ as low as this. It’s enjoyable, but I simply enjoyed the other stories more. And in fairness, only two other fully ‘missing’ stories are above it.

15. The Myth Makers – Even without any surviving clips of note, and only a handful of pictures, this story is hugely entertaining. A sleeper choice for Story You’d Most Want Returned.

14. The Sensorites – A good story with a rather unique take on alien species in Dr Who. Solid if unspectacular.

13. The Space Museum – I’m surprising myself rating this story as high as 13th, but it has a spectacularly good opening episode, and the other three aren’t as bad as received wisdom suggests.

12. The Rescue – Filler? Yes. But as Bennett says – Watch Out For Koquillian. A nice character driven piece that does a great job of introducing a new character.

11. The Chase – It’s fun. Enjoy it for what it is, and also appreciate the Daleks being portrayed in a slightly different way.

10. Marco Polo – A great story which would unquestionably be higher if it existed.

9. The War Machines – A rather unique story. It’s got the First Doctor in modern day London. It’s a full surviving story with Ben & Polly and it gives Dodo the most insulting exit you could possibly give a companion. It’s underrated.

8. The Time Meddler – A terrific take on the historical, with fine acting from all concerned.

7. The Ark – Wonderfully ‘1960s’ aliens in the Monoids + A Great Twist = A great story

6. The Daleks Master Plan (inc. Mission to the Unknown) – It’s the Epic One. It looks great, it has Kevin Stoney in it and the music/sound effects are iconic.

5. The Aztecs – A quality story about the perils of time travel, all within an interesting historical setting

4. The Romans – Combines two completely contrasting stories in one. A fantastic mix of comedy and drama.

3. The Keys of Marinus – Rapists, Brains in Jars and Yartek – Leader of the Alien Voord. Need I say more?

2. The Gunfighters – The Worst Doctor Who Story of All Time? Absolute bullshit. This story is superb.

1. The Daleks– Yeah ok, it’s the obvious choice, but it is an iconic story that – despite being written for a Saturday Tea Time children’s show that was only scheduled for a 14 week run – turned Doctor Who into the cultural phenomenon that is still on TV to this day.
The Companions

10. Katarina – She was never going to work. Did nothing and was killed off.

9. Sara Kingdom – Although she was better than Katarina, the same reasons apply.

8. Susan– I’m sorry, but Susan just annoyed me. She continually got her companions in trouble by acting like a right selfish and immature cow. Was happily going to let her friends die in at least two stories because she was in the huff, wanted to make a point or had a headache.

He's Number One. And looking at this, he knows it.

7. Dodo – Didn’t annoy me like Susan did. But she really only had one good story (and what a story it was).

6. Ben – The weakest of the first Doctor’s male companions. In fairness to him he’s up against two very solid opponents.

5. Vicki – The problem with Vicki was that she was clearly a good character, but she spent too much time attached to the Doctor’s hip. The Time Meddler was her finest hour.

4. Polly – I like Polly. She’s not as good as Barbara of course, but her role is defined somewhere between the more ‘old and wise’ companion and the screaming young girl.

3. Barbara – It gets difficult to separate the top 3, but Barbara loses out because of the ridiculous behaviour displayed by her in Planet of Giants.

2. Steven – The most underrated companion of them all, Peter Purves had to carry the burden of the show more than any other ‘supporting artist’ in history. A great character.

1. Ian – It couldn’t be anyone else, could it. The best.



3 Responses to Doctor Who – The William Hartnell Era – The Rankings (or ‘Guess Where the Supposed ‘Worst Story Ever’ Finished?’)

  1. says:

    Your right about the Gunfighters its my 3rd best Dr Who. I dont care what people say about the music its great. The American accents were dreadful i must admit but its much better than Time and the Rani which is nearing one of my worst. I dont see whats not to like about it. Dodo at her best, 1st Doctor at his best and Steven at one of his best. Gunfighters is my favourite Hartnell Story. The Romans is close second best of the Hartnell era and my 5th Best Doctor Who story . I like Ian and Barbara in the Romans.

  2. N°6 says:

    The Daleks is an extremely overrated story just because of the fact he’s the first one introducing the Doctor’s best ennemies. Actually, it’s hardly just a good one.

    The first four part were good, but the last three are horrible, mostly useless, and finally disappointing (The lack of rythm and the extremely easy way to end the story ruins these parts).

    They should have done it as a 5 part story with a better ending instead of overlasting it stupidly.

    And the Daleks were way more dreadful in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Daleks’ Master Plan …

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