Welcome to Old who’s top-ten worst episodes countdown. In 26 years of the original series, Who spawned many cult serials, including; The Dalek Invasion Of Earth, Tomb Of The Cybermen, The Three Doctors and Pyramids Of Mars; to name but a small few.
However, for every classic episode and season defining story, there are others which are effective filler episodes and others – which are just head-scratchingly bad.
Whether due to just a poor story or acting, or a good story or concept marred by poor execution. Who has seen it’s fair share of stinkers, in the long original series run. Here’s our top-ten countdown.
10)The Romans – Season 2 – First Doctor
The Romans is the first period in the First Doctor’s run which just doesnt work. After acceptable period pieces, such as Marco Polo and Reign Of Terror, which were historical, educational and interesting; The Romans comes across as a talky bore-fest.
The Doctor and companions decide to hideout at a Roman villa, for a break from adventuring but eventually get drawn into a plot surrounding Emporer Nero.
That makes it sound way more exciting than it actually is. The Romans was so boring, I nodded off mid-episode and had to rewatch it again, just to finish it.
9)Leisure Hive – Season 18 – Fourth Doctor
Extremely bizarre and dated ‘colony under siege’ type affair, which gives Tom Baker a chance at flexing his acting muscle – by playing an old version of the Doctor.
The Doctor and Romana take some time out, at a future Earth leisure colony. Only to uncover a plot to kill everyone.
Crap visuals, poor plotting and badly designed alien costumes make this play more like a poor episode of Star Trek TOS.
This showcases everything wrong with the new JNT era of Who. Poor writing removes K-9 from the story by having him chase a throwball into the sea and blow-up.
The beginning of the end for Tom Baker’s brilliant Fourth incarnation and a sully on his classic turn.
The Leisure Hive🔴⚪⚪⚪⚪
8)The Smugglers – Season 4 – First Doctor
Another period mis-fire from the First Doctor era. The Smugglers captures the period when Hartnell is practically unresponsive and un-interested in the role of the First Doctor.
Not helped by a plodding story, in which nothing of interest happens. Even a Who period piece can have some high stakes.
The Smugglers (missing) 🔵🔵⚪⚪⚪
7) Androids Of Tara – Season 16 – Fourth Doctor
The Androids Of Tara features – as a part of a season-long arc in the ‘Key To Time’ retrieval story.
It’s the weakest episode in the whole season (which itself when reviewed is a bit hit-and-miss anyway!).
Whilst travelling around the cosmos and looking for Key To Time segments, the Doctor and Romana land on planet Tara, which is inhabited by lifelike androids – living in medieval castles.
Aside from the fact, that Romana finds the Key To Time segment almost straight away – in episode 1 and is harrassed by the worst looking man-in-a-bear costume commited to celluloid. Little else happens in Androids Of Tara to justify 4 full episodes.
Androids Of Tara 🔵🔵⚪⚪⚪
6) Underwater Menace – Season 4 – Second Doctor
Doctor Who meets the people of Atlantis, on paper at least; sounds like a corker. In practice – however, we get this.
With stupid costumes and design. No plot is discernable, amongst the bizarre set and costume design.
The Atlantian fish people piroetting about – like ballerinas and synchronised swimmers, just kill it stone-dead.
The Underwater Menace (parts 1 & 4 missing)🔴⚪⚪⚪⚪
5) Terminus – Season 20 – Fifth Doctor
Early suspense and promise eventually gives way to a dull talky episode set aboard a space station.
Some good ideas on paper are horrible executed. Including the Cerberus devildog guarding the metaphorical gates of hell; ‘The Garm’. Which in execution, is a large man in a dog mask.
Should have been called “Terminal” instead.
4) Happiness Patrol – Season 26 – Seventh Doctor
Homicidal, drooling Bertie Bassett/Mr Blobbie on speed (the Kandyman), who kills the prisoners of leader Helen B (by melting them with sweety gunge); tears the integrity and impact out of a story, which was a thinly veiled protest statement on Thatcher’s 80’s Britain.
The Happiness Patrol🔴⚪⚪⚪⚪
3) Mysterious Planet – Season 23 – Sixth Doctor
The last full story written by Who writing supremo Robert Holmes (prior to his death). Sadly fails to live up to his legacy or setup the Trial Of A Timelord – season 23 on fire.
Not helped by a poor turn from Carry-On‘s Joan Sims; horribly miscast as a ‘Bodicea’-type warrior woman.
2) Time Flight – Season 19 – Fifth Doctor
Time Flight can probably be measured, as one of the most anti-climatic season finales – in Who history.
Concorde goes back in time to prehistoric era-type affair. With a ridiculous turn from Anthony Ainley pretending to be a Chinese mystic, in bad rubber make-up and an even less startling reveal as the Master.
Another JNT helmed mis-fire, which undermined the talent of Fifth Doctor; Peter Davison. By continuing the trend for average and un-memorable Fifth Doctor adventures.
Not worthy of a mid-season filler episode, nevermind the climax of season 19. The far superior Earthshock would have made a fare better season 19 finale.
1) Survival – Season 27 – Seventh Doctor
The decision to make Survival – the season 26 finale and the finale to the previous 26 years of Who is one of the worst decisions of the JNT era.
Not worthy to represent or sign-off the legacy of original Doctor Who. Survival plays – as it was written; an experimental episode by an untested writer; Rona Munro.
A pointless and hammy turn by Anthony Ainley (in his last original series appearance) as a cat-possessed Master; fails to raise proceedings and infact detracts from them.
The Doctor and the Master are supported by the cast of the musical; Cats. Or at least – it feels that’s where the inspiration for them, was ‘borrowed’ from.
Weird turns by popular 80’s comedians Hale And Pace – also increase the bizarre tone of Survival, along with the worst looking animatronic black cat ever.
Such a shame after the previous episode Curse of Fenric which would have made a far superior finale and send-off to 26 years of Doctor Who. An absolute disaster.