In case time has passed you by, today is Father’s Day, and it’s a perfect time to sit down with your Dad and enjoy Doctor Who.
But then, there’s never a bad time to rewatch Doctor Who.
So which stories are perfectly suited to the occasion? We’ve a few suggestions. You’ll need to dig out some DVDs for a few ideas, but otherwise, remember that the 2005- present series is available through iPlayer.
1. The Sensorites
We don’t really learn much about the Doctor’s family, but when we first met him, it was via his Granddaughter, Susan.
It’s not unfair to say Susan was mostly seen – or heard – screaming her way through adventures. But with the lovely dynamic between William Hartnell and Carole Ann Ford, there remains a wonderful warmth between them.
Rarely is this more evident than in The Sensorites. Sure, it’s pace is a tad slower than many serials, but the titular bad guys are brilliantly creepy, and actually, they’re not all bad guys either. This is a well realised, layered culture, and at the heart of it all is the importance of relationships and trust. It’s well worth re-evaluating (particularly the marvel that is its opening episode), especially to see the great rapport between this TARDIS team.
2. The War Games
All Dads love a war movie, right? Well, this isn’t The Dam Busters, but it does star Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor, so you might argue it’s even better…
The Doctor, Jamie (Frazer Hines), and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) find themselves in the middle of World War I – except things aren’t adding up. Soon, they realise that all this is a fabrication; a sick experiment mixing the worst atrocities of mankind into a large-scale catastrophe.
It’s 10 episodes long, so you might have to spread it out across the week. Nonetheless, it’s addictive watching, and proves to be a surprisingly emotional serial as events spiral out of the Doctor’s control.
3. Father’s Day
Talking of emotional endings, this Ninth Doctor story sees Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) make a mistake. Quite a substantial one, in fact – one that puts the whole universe in danger.
What’s the importance of family? This 2005 story puts that question under the microscope, as the Doctor’s companion does what she’s never supposed to do: she changes time. Why? She does it all for her father.
Put aside the apocalypse, and the bird-like Reapers. The focus of this story is really what parents and children will do for one another. It’s genuinely heart-breaking, and, scored beautifully by Murray Gold, remains one of the best stories from Series One (which, as we all know, is an exceptional run of episodes).
4. Night Terrors
This is an often-overlooked serial from Series 6, starring Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, with Karen Gillan as Amy Pond and Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams.
As with Father’s Day, Night Terrors examines the strong connections between kids and their Dads: yes, you can go through hard times, and yes, you can hurt each other, even inadvertently. But at the end of the day, you’re there for each other. Dads will fight monsters for their children, and all kids want is a big ol’ hug.
Special mention here to Daniel Mays as Alex and the young Jamie Oram, who give the story a great deal of heart.
5. The Day of the Doctor
Why is the 50th anniversary special on this list? Quite simply because we can’t forget what Father’s Day should be – a celebration!
You know the story by now. Three Doctors team up to fight Zygons and stop the Time War. It’s a timey-wimey (sorry) narrative that swiftly darts between the different incarnations, but it’s a surprisingly straightforward idea in which two plot strands come together perfectly.
It deals with war and suffering and morality, but cut to its core and you’ll find there’s a party going on. 50 years of Doctor Who and everyone’s invited. You can’t beat that, right?
This article is, of course, dedicated to my Dad. I grew up in the 1990s and so was devoid of Doctor Who. But Dad was a fan, so, when I was a kid, I found the Target novelisation of The War Games for him. I didn’t really know what it was – I just knew he’d like it. Years later, I discovered that he was right (although I’d never tell him such a thing to his face, naturally): that Doctor Who is fantastic. We still have the Target book.
Happy Father’s Day.