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Top 10 Sci-Fi Shows: Number 1 - Doctor Who

Category: Doctor Who, Opinion, Science Fiction, Television
published December 19th, 2005

Well it took a little longer than I intended (as most things seem to), but we've finally arrived at my number 1 sci-fi show of all time. Could there really be any doubt? It is of course Doctor Who. Its a show that definitely fits on the sci-fi end of the science fiction spectrum. It's really every bit as much fantasy as SF, but that just adds to its appeal as far as I'm concerned.

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction tv show of all time. The original series ran from 1963 all the way through to 1989 and the new series has already claimed a 3 year run (though its only just getting ready to broadcast year 2). Thats a grand total of 709 episodes over 42 years (if Wikipedia is correct). Makes Stargate SG-1's 10 year run look a little feeble doesn't it?

Doctor Who is also the show that got me into science fiction (and fantasy for that matter). I grew up watching Tom Baker as the Doctor and stayed hooked right up till the cancellation. The flexibility of the format is remarkable. Characters, locations and even Doctor's change. The nature of the stories change (historical, gothic-horror,sci-fi, etc.) and yet somehow the show remains quintessentially Doctor Who. On several occasions it has looked as though the concept has finally reached its end. But in each case all it took was a fresh direction and the Doctor continued his adventures re-invigorated.

Personal highlights from the original run include:

  • The Aztecs
  • Tomb of the Cybermen
  • Spearhead From Space
  • Genesis of the Daleks
  • The Talons of Weng Chiang
  • Logopolis
  • The Caves of Androzani
  • Ghostlight
  • The Curse of Fenric

The sheer variety in the stories that I've just listed shows the range that Doctor Who is capable of reaching. I find in writing this that I'm struggling to really describe the fondness in which I hold this show. Doctor Who (for me at least) is special. It stands above all other tv science fiction. Unlike much science fiction which tends towards the dry, Doctor Who has a warmth to it even amidst the most horrific of story lines. There's an energy and uniqueness that I have really never seen rivaled in any other show.

While Doctor Who remains comparatively obscure in the US and easily dwarfed by the Star Trek monolith, that is not the case in the rest of the world, and I'm pretty sure you could make a case for Doctor Who being the most watched science fiction show of all time too.

Top 10 Sci-Fi Shows

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Eoghann Irving is amongst other things the creator and Editor of Solar Flare. He has a life long interest in all forms of science fiction and fantasy and a pressing need to share this interest with anyone who will listen. Find out more at his his website eoghann.com.

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4 Comments ... Have Your Say!


December 20th, 2005 -

No disagreements here! I think a lot of the warmth comes from the fact that Doctor Who is deliberately aimed at the family audience and, with only a few exceptions, has resolutely remained so; doubly so with the 2005 season. Star Trek TOS started out like this, but then focused more heavily on a male teenage/young adult market and lost its family following.

Much as the harder sci-fi geeks amongst us may dislike the mainstream nods of the new Doctor Who series, they make the show accessible. For example, the Doctor trying to watch TV news of an alien invasion, whilst his companion’s nieces and nephews bounce around the family living room, changing the channel to cartoons. It is these touches which give the show its warmth, and ground the show in a wider audience before whisking them off to a hard sci-fi plot.

Another point worth remembering is that, for most of the run, the people of the Doctor’s time/spaceship are not millitary and owe no hierarchical rank to the Doctor. There is no “crew”, there are only “companions”. The companions have a completely free canvas to do whatever their background suggests; they are not constrained by rank, their morals are not dictated by orders or directives. They don’t feel compelled to sacrifice themselves in the line of duty; any sacrifices they make are humanitarian decisions of their own free will. They are just ordinary people who are given extraordinary choices, which makes them relate much better to a civillian audience.

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2) no imageRichard Novak (Profile)

December 20th, 2005 -

Can’t argue, can’t add to whats been said. Even your episode choices are great; a neat sampling of the show’s variety.

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3) no imagedsergel (Profile)

December 21st, 2005 -

I would have to add “Inferno” and “The Deadly Assassin” to the list. “Inferno” was probably the darkest episode of the Pertwee era where an entire parallell Earth is destroyed adn “The Deadly Assassin” is the first episode to take place solely on Gallifrey, and it introduces us the the fact that the Doctor holds high office there and isn’t “JUST” an outcast. Also, it brings back his greatest nemesis, the Master.

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December 23rd, 2005 -

That’s a respectable choice. You can’t go wrong with Dr. Who.

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