2nd Doctor – Patrick Troughton (1966-1968)

Patrick Troughton

Patrick Troughton (1966-1968)

Patrick Troughton was the first actor to take over the role of the Doctor from a previous actor and make it his own. If he had failed to win over already established audiences with his performance, or to convince them that he really was the Doctor, the show would never have made it.

Fortunately, Patrick Troughton was more than up to the challenge. He quickly made the role his own with his almost child like innocence. As has often been the way of Doctor Who, he took the character in a completely different direction. Instead of the elderly statesman, we now have the bungling Uncle figure, with a bit of a glint in his eye, who despite his seeming silliness, was always up to any and all challenges.

Patrick Troughton’s Doctor frequently outwitted his enemies by surprising them at how capable he actually was behind his bumbling exterior.  He really paved the way for opening up the interpretation of what this character was and had the potential to be, and certainly went a long way towards solidifying the future of the show. It is unfortunate that many of his story arcs are partially or completely missing, but with the glimpses of the few that remain we can see how truly brilliant he was.

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Best Companions: Zoe Heriot / Ben Jackson

Zoe Heriot

Zoe Heriot

Ben Jackson

Ben Jackson

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Honorable Mention: Jamie McCrimmon / Polly Wright

Jamie McCrimmon

Jamie McCrimmon

Polly Wright

Polly Wright

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Worst Companion: Victoria Waterfield

Victoria Waterfield

Victoria Waterfield

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BEST EPISODES (STORY ARCS):

Tomb of the Cybermen

Tomb of the Cybermen

NUMBER #1

The Tomb of the Cybermen (#37)

Why it’s the best: One of the few surviving complete arcs of the Patrick Troughton era, is also without question the best. The Tomb of the Cybermen reintroduces the Cybermen to the Doctor and has some of the creepiest imagery of the series’ long run. As I will mention frequently throughout this blog, my favorite stories are always the horror stories. They rate the highest for me, and this is easily one of the best. It is really a testament to the costume and set designers of that time that they created some of the most haunting images of the show. The story follows Jamie, Victoria, and the Doctor as they enter an archaeological site along with a group of explorers to see what mysteries lie hidden in the tomb. There are booby traps and tricks that any modern fan of Indiana Jones would even appreciate. It’s a fun and funny journey that shows the Cybermen at their scariest.

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Power of the Daleks

Power of the Daleks

NUMBER #2

The Power of the Daleks (#30)

Why it’s the best: The first story to feature the second Doctor, featuring his regeneration, has him waking up confused in the TARDIS with Polly and Ben – who are even more confused. This is sadly one of the lost story arcs of the second Doctor with only clips and the audio track surviving, but those things reveal that this was a truly exceptional story to introduce this new Doctor. The arc focuses on the discovery of a Dalek ship with a seemingly nonfunctional Dalek inside. However, the Dalek is rejuvenated and claims to be the servant of those which resuscitated it. {This theme was brought back again in the Doctor Who story arc Victory of the Daleks (#205) for those who love continuity in storylines}. The Doctor is faced with the difficulty of convincing the entire base – and even Ben and Polly, who have not yet encountered the Daleks – of the danger that they face. What makes this arc so amazing is its revelation of the way the Daleks are made, an extremely frightening reflection of modern industrialization at its finest.

(While the arc is missing, it has been reconstructed with the original audio and animation, and will soon be available on video.)

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The War Games

The War Games

NUMBER #3

The War Games (#50)

Why it’s the best: From the first story of the second Doctor we move to his final story.  The War Games has Jamie, Zoe, and the Doctor arriving in a military war zone that has more to it than meets the eye. The longest surviving arc to exist in entirety for the second Doctor (10 episodes) is really quite epic in story scope, and is one of the first to reveal a bit more about the Doctor and about his people the Time Lords. Indeed, this is the first story to feature the Time Lords in any significant way. It was also the last time Zoe and Jamie were featured as regular companions (although Jamie does reappear in much later seasons for a few adventures), and it gives them an emotional send off as well. Finally, it is in this arc that the second Doctor has his last moments and regenerates into the third Doctor. For all these reasons this story is an exceptional ending for the second Doctor. This one is a must see for fans of the series, new or old.

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The Abominable Snowmen

The Abominable Snowmen

NUMBER #4

The Abominable Snowmen (#38)

Why it’s the best: The premise for this arc, seems to be one of the more ridiculous ideas in the long history of the show, and yet it is executed brilliantly. Yetis in the Himalayas are attacking people. The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria arrive in the Himalayas in an unknown time (although it seems to be a few decades before contemporary times) and find their way to a monastery that is under attack by the Yetis. This story arc is a personal favorite of mine because of the fabulous introduction of the villain The Great Intelligence and the fun use of the Yetis, which were brought back a few stories later in The Web of Fear (#41) due to their popularity.  This story actually forms the first part of a two part story that is continued in that later arc.  {Fans of the new Who series will note that The Great Intelligence from this story returns in The Snowmen (#231) and other stories from season seven of the new series.} The Great Intelligence is one of the more fascinating and frightening villains in the series. This is another one that is incomplete, with only one full episode and a few clips remaining.

(A reconstruction of this arc is available using audio and production stills for the missing episodes here, and the one surviving episode is available on the Patrick Troughton Lost in Time DVD set.)

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The Macra Terror

The Macra Terror

NUMBER #5

The Macra Terror (#34)

Why it’s the best: The Macra Terror seems like it is the most absurd story premise in the history of the series, and that is really saying something. Giant crab like monsters have enslaved humanity on a colony in the future? It seems utterly ridiculous, and very B movie, and yet it completely works because the dystopian world in this is absolutely disturbing. As I have said before, and will probably be saying many times again on this blog, dystopian stories rank very high for me, and this seemingly perfect future world is another really fun one. Also the images of the Macra are utterly hilarious and that makes the whole thing all the more entertaining.

{Fans of new Who will note that the Macra were brought back in Gridlock (#181), although without the intelligence they show here. This is another of the completely missing story arcs, but again a reconstruction is available here. }

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The Invasion

The Invasion

NUMBER #6

The Invasion (#46)

Why it’s the best: The Invasion is set in contemporary London, and is to the second Doctor what The Dalek Invasion of Earth (#10) is to the first Doctor. The second Doctor’s greatest foe is the Cybermen, and in this story, the Cybermen are invading earth.  It is  long and intricate in scope, and features a terrific guest star appearance from Kevin Stoney {who had previously appeared on the series during the first Doctor’s story The Daleks Master Plan (#21)}, but what really makes the episode memorable is the images of the Cybermen taking over London, and what happens when they are given human emotions.  A bit more relaxed in its storytelling than earlier Doctor Who stories it feature the return of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart – now as the Brigadier and head of UNIT – and Zoe Heriot at the top of her game, which makes this another great surviving arc of the second Doctor.

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Enemy of the World

Enemy of the World

NUMBER #7

The Enemy of the World (#40)

Why it’s the best: This is one of the few stories to be set on earth in the 21st century and featuring no monster of the week. What makes this story great is the dual performance of Patrick Troughton as both the Doctor and a megalomaniac dictator named Salamander.  Due to his similar appearance to this dictator, the Doctor is asked to attempt to impersonate him. The story is mostly focused on spying and the mystery of Salamander’s power source, but it is a great dual performance from Troughton and a very funny arc with lots of unexpected plot twists.

(This was another arc that was believed to have been almost completely lost, but the missing episodes were recently found. The story is now complete and available on DVD.)

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The Highlanders

The Highlanders

NUMBER #8

The Highlanders (#31)

Why it’s the best:  I am a huge fan of episodes that feature companion back stories. That being the case, this story deserved a place on this list. The second story arc of the Patrick Troughton era introduced us to Jamie McCrimmon, arguably the second Doctor’s  best companion, and the one that would travel with him the longest. Jamie was with Patrick Troughton from this episode  until he finally left the series, and even returned for a few of the future arcs that would also feature Patrick Troughton.  Here the Doctor, Ben, and Polly end up in 18th century Scotland after the McLaren clan have been nearly defeated by the British and find themselves working alongside the McLaren’s in their attempts to escape from the enemy soldiers.  Jamie’s back story is revealed as a highlander and not really a soldier, but instead a piper. With lots of humor and great performances from both Patrick Troughton and the supporting cast, this is one of the more outstanding historical adventures.

(Another completely lost arc, there is a reconstruction available here. )

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Wheel in Space

Wheel in Space

NUMBER #9

The Wheel in Space (#43)

Why it’s the best: As already mentioned I am a fan of companion entrance and exit stories. I love the back stories of the Doctor’s companions and this is one of the best. This story was set in space sometime in the distant future, and was the first to feature Zoe Heriot, who is both a genius and arguably the only character in the series who is as smart as (or possibly even smarter than) the Doctor himself. Zoe is a breath of fresh air after Victoria, and she and Jamie provide some of the best moments of this story which is mostly set on a wheel-like space station. Their very opposing natures make for a perfect balanced. This arc also features the return of both the Cybermen and the cybermats, and for all those reasons, this one deserves a place on this list.

(Unfortunately another mostly missing story, with only two episodes surviving, you can find those on the Patrick Troughton Lost in Time DVD set, and the other episodes are reconstructed here. )

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Web of Fear

Web of Fear

NUMBER #10

The Web of Fear (#41)

Why it’s the best: There are other exceptional arcs in the Patrick Troughton era that could easily have made their way into this spot, many of them are worthy of being here, but this one edges its way above the others for one very important reason, it brought back actor Nicholas Courtney, and introduced him in the role of Colonel Lehtbridge-Stewart (he had previously been featured on the series with the first Doctor as Bret Vyon). Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart would later become Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and is arguably the Doctor’s greatest companion, and in this first story, he immediately sets himself apart from every other character the Doctor has ever known, by his easy acceptance and ability to manage the situation. Add to this the fact that this story continues the story begun in The Abominable Snowmen (#38), featuring the return of the Yeti, and is the only other time The Great Intelligence is featured in a story until the seventh season of the new series, and this one stands out above the other arcs. Any fans of the Brigadier owe it to themselves to see this arc.

(The Web of Fear was believed to be one of the lost stories, having only one complete episode until the rest of the story except episode three was recently found, as announced by the BBC on October 11, 2013. The missing episodes have now been released and the story is now available on DVD.)

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WORST EPISODE (STORY ARC):

Fury from the Deep (#42)

Why it’s the worst: One of the missing story arcs, this is one that could easily stay lost and no one would really cry over it. There are only two things that are great about this arc, it’s the first time the sonic screwdriver is used in the series, and it finally sees the departure of Victoria. Unfortunately, that departure is not until the end of this story. Fury from the Deep is a mystery which surrounds something that has made its way from the nearby sea into the pipes of a refinery. {A similar story was done on this same idea by the 4th Doctor in The Power of Kroll (#102), although arguably much better.} As this story is lost, it is possible that some of its better moments are hidden in its lost visuals, but the reconstruction of the story shows it to be one of the weakest. There are a few creepy visual moments from surviving clips that involve two supposed maintenance men, but this is small reward for having to suffer through Victoria’s alternating between whining and screaming. She screams so much in this that it is actually used to destroy the monster. Let me repeat that. Her scream LITERALLY destroys monsters, that is how ANNOYING it is. Finally, the story features one of the weakest and most anti-climactic of monsters.  Believe me you can skip it and thank me for not having to suffer through it. You’re welcome.

(If you really think you want to see how bad this arc is, you can watch a reconstruction of it here. You’ve been warned.)

Fury From the Deep

Fury From the Deep

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