Second Doctor appreciation

1) TV

As with the First Doctor, I am choosing the longest single story as my favourite from this era. It's not everyone's favourite – my poll from a couple of years back opted for The Mind Robber, and the dynamic rankings site and the Mighty 200 both went for Evil of the Daleks. The latter isn't even my favourite Second Doctor Dalek story (see below) but I do find it a tough choice between The Mind Robber and The War Games. In the end, the last black and white story gets me with its spooky music, the carefully disguised circular plotting, the revelation of what the Doctor's background really is, the unearthly and sinister Time Lords (who would never be this good again), and most of all that moment at the end of Episode 4 when the War Chief and the Doctor recognise each other. (Incidentally it is also the only Malcolm Hulke story which does not feature reptiles.)

The DVD has loads of good extra features as well.

2) Books

As I noted yesterday, as well as appreciating Who books for their plot, characterisation, and general polish of writing, I also tend to rate them for fannish squeefulness. David A. McIntee's The Dark Path scores on all points, with the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria encountering another Time Lord called Koschei and his companion. Koschei's identity will be apparent from the cover picture. McIntee catches the elusive Troughton characterisation very well, and the story is one of ambiguous villains.

2a) Novelisations

As noted above, I have the unfashionable view that The Power of the Daleks is the better of the two Troughton Dalek stories – not only an interesting tale in its own right, with one of the better base-under-siege scenarios, but also of course the first time we had a new Doctor in the established show. John Peel, given more space than novelisers usually got, made the most of it, tying the story into wider Who and Dalek mythology. I have some nostalgia for the very early Troughton novelisations, but this one, coming almost at the end of the published sequence, still seems to me to score best.

3) Audio

One has to be a wee bit polite about this, but Deborah Watling's voice has changed quite considerably since she played Victoria Waterfield. But The Great Space Elevator, one of the early Companion Chronicles from Big Finish, allows her to relax back into the role with a brilliant script by the usually reliable Jonathan Morris, which pays reverent but affectionate homage to all of the Season Five monster stories. Victoria is some way from being my favourite companion, but this is great.

4) Dishonourable mention

Episode 3 of The Underwater Menace is the first surviving Troughton episode from the Great Burnination, and I would happily swap it for any of the previous 12. This is the episode that includes the cringeworthy Dance Of The Fish People and the villain's closing line, "Nuzzink in ze vurld can stop me now!" It's a low point in a generally terrible story. At least The Dominators is just dull, and The Space Pirates is just silly; The Underwater Menace is simply dire.

PS – does anyone object to my posting in this format? If there are people who would much prefer I used cut tags I will do so.

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