Saturday, 23 August 2014

Top 5: Doctor Who Villains

The BBC's flagship show, Doctor Who, returns this weekend to much fanfare and fuss. And whilst the show is essentially about a man in a blue box that travels through time and space, it has arguably endured time (it's now in its 51st year) thanks to its iconic, terrifying and sometimes silly enemies.

From the Slitheen to the Silurians and the Sontarans, all sorts of weird and wonderful baddies have terrorised the Doctor and his friends over the years. To celebrate the return of Doctor Who, I wanted to run through my favourite foes from the show. (Note: mainly New Who, my knowledge of the classic series is poor at best).

Honourable mentions: The Zygons, The Family of Blood, The Beast, The Sycorax, The Autons, The Dream Lord and The Silurians. 

5th - The Cybermen 

Best episodes: Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel (S2, E5 & 6), The Pandorica Opens (S5, E12)

Ahh, the Cybermen. Basically just the Doctor Who equivalent of men in robot suits that zap people...

Arguably the second most iconic Doctor Who villain (after the Daleks), the Cybermen crop up time and again to noisily stomp around 'upgrading' whoever they can get their hands on into more Cybermen and occasionally 'delete' anyone who gets in their way.

However, this simplistic premise conceals the fact that they've been in some really great stories since the 2005 reinvention of Doctor Who. Being reintroduced in 2006's 'Rise of the Cybermen', their regular appearances throughout the duration of the Eleventh Doctor were always a hoot - especially Handles. Technically not a villain, but still - we love you Handles. You will be missed.

After starting out as seriously poor cosplay of that robot chick from Metropolis, the Cybermen have also undergone some redesigns over the years - from the iconic 'Revenge of the Cybermen' look to the more recent, Apple design from 'Nightmare in Silver'.

4th - The Silence

Best episodes: The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon (S6, E1 & 2), The Time of the Doctor (2013 Christmas Special)

I'd kind of forgotten about these guys...

Even though The Silence are the most recent addition to this 'hall of fame', they are no less iconic owing to their chilling series of appearances since debuting in 'The Impossible Astronaut' in 2011.

Head writer Steven Moffat is a big fan of psychological villains that prey on simple, childish fears. Ever feel like something is watching you, but you turn around and it isn't there? Did you ever get the feeling that something was hiding under your bed? That's the Silence. Once you look away, you forget they ever existed. If you see them again, you remember. But look away, and they were never there.

Creepy ass stuff for a family TV show. And that's just the premise - look at their faces! It's like Slenderman overdosed on meth. After that scene set in the creepy asylum in 'The Day of the Moon', I don't think I slept for weeks!

3rd - The Master

Best episodes: Utopia (S3, E11), The End of Time Parts 1 and 2 (2009 Christmas Special)

James Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes, The Master is one of the most enduring (and recurring) villains the Doctor has faced in both the classic and revitalised series. Originally debuting back in 1971, the Master has continually cropped up time and again to thwart the Doctor wherever he may be. Like the Doctor, the Master is a renegade Time Lord, but unlike the Doctor, he would rather rule it than save it. Ying and yang, if you will. Also, like the Doctor, the Master has the ability to regenerate when mortally wounded, making him especially formidable.

Most recently, the Master was played by John Simm in 2010's 'The End of Time Parts 1 and 2', an actor who went fully batshit and embraced a previously unseen maniacal and Joker-esque gleefulness from the Master. We haven't seen him for a few years, but I wouldn't bet against a return in the new series...

2nd - The Weeping Angels

Best episodes: Blink (S3, E9), The Time of the Doctor (2013 Christmas Special)

The Weeping Angels started out as a one-off villain - 2009's 'Blink' was an episode that was pretty much devoid of the Doctor himself, instead focusing on Carey Mulligan's perky journalist character, Sally Sparrow. However, the real star of this now classic episode were the villains, who in a mere 45-minutes of breathless TV immortalised themselves in Doctor Who history.

They are also testament to the fact that all an iconic villain needs is a clever premise. Taking the form of statues, the Weeping Angels are cursed - they may only move when no-one is looking. So long as you keep your eyes fixed on them, you're safe. But, the move really fast. All it takes is for you to blink or turn your head for one second, and they've got you. With a touch of the finger, they zap you back in time, feed off the temporal energy and move on to the next victim. Meanwhile, you're left to live out the rest of your life in the past.

Further appearances in Series 5 (The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone) and Series 7 (Angels in Manhattan) haven't dimmed their initial impact, and in just a few short years, they've become one of the most iconic images from Doctor Who. Chilling stuff indeed.

And remember, whatever you do - don't blink.

1st - The Daleks 

Best episodes: Dalek (S1, E5), The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang (S5, E12 & 13) and The Day of the Doctor (50th Special)

To the untrained eye, these colourful pepper pots could be something wacky from a kids Saturday morning cartoon. To a Whovian, they're the most hated, despicable, unrelenting death force in the entire universe.

Let's be honest here - was it really going to be anyone else? Think Doctor Who, and you think the Daleks.  Everything about them, from their radioactive home planet Skaro, creator Davros to the elite Cult of Skaro, is timeless, thrilling science-fiction.

After being birthed in the very early days of classic Doctor Who, the Daleks have recurred over and over, plaguing everyone from Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor in 'Genesis of the Daleks' to 'killing' the Tenth in 'The Stolen Earth' and starting the Time War in last year's 'Day of the Doctor'.

Credit where credit is due - they sure are persistent bastards. They just keep coming back again and again. They're even pencilled in for the second episode of Peter Capaldi's first series with 'Into the Dalek'...

From their croaky battle-cry of "Exterminate!" to their steady but menacing trundle (and sometimes float), they have left an indelible mark on the show, British culture and popular culture in general. Take away the Daleks, and you lose something very special and iconic from Doctor Who. Now, if only they would stop invading Earth every couple of years...

Who're are your favourite Doctor Who villains? Which are you hoping crop up in Series 8? Let me know in the comments section below!

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