Following close on the heels of my list of 7 Great First Doctor Stories, I now present to you 4 Great Second Doctor stories! Why only four, you ask?
Well, it’s like this. Back in the day, when video tape was expensive and the BBC didn’t have a lot of storage space, they went through and got rid of the master copies of almost every First and Second Doctor story. This was stopped in 1978, but the damage was done. Over the years, missing episodes have been found, but a lot are still gone.
This means that I didn’t have a great deal to choose from for Second Doctor stories, as there are only seven of his that meet my eligibility requirements of being stories I have seen and intact in one form or another. Three of them, “The Krotons”, “The Dominators” and “The Mind Robber, weren’t that great, so that leaves us with four (though “The Mind Robber” is so overflowing with 1960s weirdness I almost put it on here). On the plus side, these four that remain do totally kick ass and hold up well against stories from any other era.
4. The Tomb of the Cybermen (Story 037, 1967)
The First Doctor faced off against the Daleks approximately eleventy-billion times. For the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton), the enemy of choice was the Cybermen. They were introduced in the final First Doctor episode and were responsible for him regenerating.
This is the first complete Cybermen story and it’s fascinating to see now. Not only do they return, but we also get Cybermats. We also really get a sense of them as proto-Borg, since they want to “assimilate” everyone. “We will make you like us,” intones the Cyberleader at one point. It’s also vaguely amazing how well the story holds up, and the scene of the Cybermen coming out of their tomb remains creepy and effective even today.
We’re lucky to have this story. It’s one that was missing completely until around 1991, when the entirety of the story was recovered. That’s a good thing, because not only is it the only fully-existing story with Victoria (Deborah Watling), it’s also an exceptionally entertaining one.