Ahead of beginning the process of ranking and reviewing each episode, I thought it would be good to establish exactly what criteria I have used when judging each story, in anticipation of what will hopefully be good-natured discussion about why a certain story has been ranked so high/low in my list!
In the first instance – it was very hard! I was shocked to see certain episodes outside of my top 50 that I recall enjoying thoroughly when I watched the DVD. This simply reflects the fact that some episodes are exceptionally good (or woefully dire …), but for the most part Doctor Who produced a consistently good standard of enjoyment.
That meant that I began by categorising each story into a number of distinct categories – roughly speaking these are:
1. Absolute Favourites
2. Stories I strongly enjoy
3. Good stories
4. Less-memorable stories
5. Stories I did not enjoy
6. Awful stories
As you can imagine, categories 1 and 6 were perhaps the easiest! What was quite interesting was pulling each story into the middle categories. By and large, not many episodes fell into category 5, although some were definitely on the border between 4 and 5. The tricky thing is that a lot of category 4 stories are good enjoyable stories – they just weren’t as enjoyable as the ones above them! Similarly, category 3 stories are often very strong – I just happened to enjoy category 2 stories more!
So then the important question – what criteria did I judge the stories on? First and foremost, I set a very high regard on how much I personally enjoyed the story. The Deadly Assassin is often pilloried by Doctor Who fans (not least for the tautology of an episode title) – but it appears very high up my list for no other reason than I enjoy it! Beyond that however, I do consider a number of variables that impacted my enjoyment – principally these would be:
- Whether the episode had a strong storyline
- The quality of the characters and drama
- Use of humour
- The strength of the Doctor and his companion/s
- The length of the episode
- The quality of the production (costumes, sets, effects etc)
While personal enjoyment is the main factor, the factors set out here obviously had some bearing on my overall impressions, and I will refer to those as I rate each episode. I’m looking forward to hearing the impressions of others as I go through the episodes!