Here it is! Blogtor’s personal countdown of his 50 favourite Doctor Who television stories, one a week till the big day in November 2013. Now, just to point out, this choice is purely my own. So don’t expect reasoned debate or objectivity. Or even the need to please every fan out there. This is my list, and I stand by it. I will also add that I’ve seen every Doctor Who story released (at least twice), so I feel like I know what I’m talking about. Anyway, enough chittle of the chattle, let’s begin…

 

The Fires of Pompeii
First broadcast 12/4/2008 starring David Tennant 


An almost perfect episode this one – for me. Barely a few stories into their run and Davey & Cathy T demonstrate just how good
they are together – and just how they make for the most delightful and
meaningful of Doctor/Companion relationships. It starts off all laughter
and gags and ends in tears and compassion. But more of the Doctor/Donna
later.

The rest of the cast in The Fires of Pompeii are an absolute treat. Peter Capaldi, so chilling and engaging in Torchwood: Children of Earth, brings his more friendly and familial side to the proceedings.
Caecilius would have made an excellent addition to the TARDIS. His
treatment of his offspring makes for a gigglesome watch and, indeed, the
family are instantly likeable – which makes for their peril during the
denouement so much more palpable.

And just check out the nasty Phil Davis, a formidable
villain; the “seer-off” scene is a particular highlight as the actor
hisses, “There is something on your back!” Chilling. Collectively, the
Sisterhood impress too. It’s got an old skool Who feel to it, evoking The Brain of Morbius,
though the rock monster Pyroviles are something we could only have
dreamt about back in the day. The stone bad-boys are terrifically
realised, making for an impressive beast as they lump about underground.

But a gold star and a see-me-after-class for the hugely pleasing CG work
throughout the tale. From the aforementioned underground rockery (which
was one of the best bits of FX I’ve seen on the show) to the startling
eruption – it’s all flawless and integrated immaculately. Fires
has the feel of a massive blockbuster, and this is complemented by the
dramatic turn and moral questions raised by knowing the future (though,
according to some writers, it can be rewritten *coughs*).

And
this is where the Doctor/Donna relationship comes into its own as
Chiswick’s finest drives the moment, touches our hearts and even changes
the Gallifreyan’s mind. No mean feat! Catherine Tate’s performance is
heartbreaking, one of her most memorable moments for sure. The saving of
the family may be up for moral debate (future timelines and all that)
but aren’t we glad The Doctor did? Watching them cower in the shadow of
death was deeply distressing, making the Time Lord’s U-turn all the more
thankful.

It’s a pity that The Fires of Pompeii was only given the forty-five minute slot as there is so much going on, and so much to enjoy and think about. James Moran’s first and only contribution to telly Doctor Who (at the time of writing) is a self-contained joy that honours history and stretches the possibilities of the series.
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Cameron K McEwan was the first owner and site editor of Blogtor Who since its creation in May 2008 until Dec 2015. A lifelong Doctor Who fan, Cameron has also written two books, The Who’s Who of Doctor Who and Doctor Who: The Big Book of Lists, and directed a film all about Doctor Who fans throughout the years, Who’s Changing - An Adventure In Time With Fans. Cameron also contributes TV and film news and reviews to BBC Radio London, Metro, Digital Spy, New York Observer and Den of Geek. He lives in London with his one trousers.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I couldn't agree more. "The Fires of Pompeii" is an awesome piece of work, and a great story. I just want to add that one of the highlights for me was the location work at the Cinecitta studio in Rome, and how much more epic and authentic it made the whole thing look. I also think the accompanying episode of "Doctor Who Confidential" is one of my all-time favorites, with David Tennant's trip to the real Pompeii and Vesuvius a real treat and an eye-opener.

  2. Saving the family doesn't alter the future it was always meant to happen. They're the ones who invent the word Volcano.

  3. Yes, such a good episode. It reminded me of 'The Masque of Mandragora' and I agree that its a story that would have been worthy or 2 episodes. But 2 episodes may also have ruined it by adding in extra subplots.

  4. No offence, but the whole "Davey T/Tommy B" lark is already becoming fairly tiresome to keep reading – and there's eight months' reading still to go!

  5. "Caecilius would have made an excellent addition to the TARDIS."

    Why, yes, he most certainlywould, Blogtor of last February!

  6. And this is why the Doctor subconsciously chose the face of Caecilius when regenerating into Twelve: to keep him on track, in his own words (in "The Girl Who Died"); to remind him of his long-standing vow as the Doctor… to save people. Donna was Ten's conscience in this episode, and Caecilius' face will always serve as Twelve's.

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