Rob Buckley is a cruel fellow.
He's put up a meme challenge on his blog, "The Medium Is Not Enough" (for the main blog: link to the left), to name three favorite 'Doctor Who' stories, no matter the medium. So this would include not only the TV series and TV movie, but the two theatrical films, the comic books, the audio adventures, the novelizations, and (look away, Lee Goldberg!) fanfic.
The cruelty comes in the limitation to only three. I immediately came up with ten. Don't lists have a time-honored tradition of having ten entries? You're only just getting started with three!
Ah well, it's the "Sophie's Choice" of 'Doctor Who' episodes......
And in whittling down the list to three, I think I ended up making political choices, voting with my head more than with my heart (although they all can be found in whatever I have as a substitute for a heart).
Oh! And they don't have to be in any particular order, so that saves me from making yet another choice.
Okay, so here goes.
"The Five Doctors" - A chance to see the first five incarnations of the Doctor in one story. (A bit of a cheat, as Richard Hurndall stands in for the late William Hartnell, and Tom Baker's involvement was via a clip from "City Of Death" - not sure on that, actually [This just in: Medium Rob has informed me that the clip is from the unaired "Shada", still on my list of must-sees.] - and then he was frozen in a stasis bubble.)
But we also get a great collection of Companions to accompany each Doctor in a story that actually makes sense. So many times in other TV shows, such stunt casting causes the plot to be sacrificed in order to accommodate the characters and actors. (And there's a nice sampling of classic villains and monsters from the series as well.)
Best of all in this storyline was the use of Jamie MacKrimmon and Zoe Herriot in a manner which held fast to their history in the show. Had this been an episode of 'Enterprise', the continuity of the franchise would have been tossed out the window in order to make it work.
So this was a political choice, allowing me the chance to pick plenty of Doctors and their Companions whom I didn't want to leave out.
"The War Games" - Even though so many of his stories are now lost to the short-sighted, penny-pinching ways of the BBC back in the day, Patrick Troughton is still my favorite of the Doctors. There's just something about his sense of play and his off-beat yet familiar look. It's something which endeared me to the Hobbits of Tolkien as well. Alien yet homey, I guess. (Toobworld needs some live-action Hobbits. 's not fair that the Tooniverse, the Cineverse, and the Radio Universe should have some, but not the TV Universe!)
"The War Games" may not be the best representation of Troughton's Doctor, but at ten episodes, you certainly get your money's worth. Plus it brings us to Gallifrey, and then concludes, sadly but satisfyingly, the storylines for Jamie, Zoe, and the Second Doctor.
"The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" - Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper as the Doctor and Rose take a back seat to everything I enjoyed about this two-part episode. And that list begins with Captain Jack Harkness, who exploded the conventions of a space travelling hero laid down by the staid and stodgy crew of the Enterprise under Picard's leadership. (I suppose the argument could be made that 'Farscape' and 'Firefly', maybe even 'Babylon 5' did it first, but nobody went that extra mile like Jack does. nudge nudge wink wink!)
And it has a cracker of a story that really deserves the title of "behind the sofa viewing". While there were aliens involved, it was nice to have them be so different and without the ho-hum single-mindedness about taking over the Earth. (Although eventually they would have, without meaning to.)
Author Steven Moffatt also did a great job at capturing the feel of the time period. And when you remember that the series began as a novel way of looking at various points in Earth's history more than just being a parade of alien monsters, it makes for a great representative of both traditions in "Who" story-telling.
So those would be my three choices.
The other seven? Thanks for asking!
"The Girl In The Fireplace"
"The Talons of Weng Chiang"
"City of Death"
"The Unquiet Dead"
"Dimensions In Time"
(How could I, a caretaker for the TV Universe, not enjoy this crossover between 'Doctor Who' and 'EastEnders'? Not to mention all of the Doctors up to the Seventh and many of their Companions? And because I believe the current series of 'Doctor Who' takes place in an alternate dimension, there is no Zonk involved just because 'EastEnders' is seen as a TV show in "Army Of Ghosts".)
And last but not least.....
'The Simpsons' - "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming"
(The Doctor made several appearances on 'The Simpsons' which gives him a presence as an actual character in the Tooniverse. Can't beat that with a stick.)