As previously mentioned, Doctor Who has been around for more than 50 years now. This means that, even considering all the Classic Who episodes that have been lost forever, you could still spend a good chunk of your lifespan in front of the TV before you reached the end of the Doctor’s adventures.
So basically, Doctor Who is a Netflix-lover’s dream and a busy adult’s nightmare.
According to this infographic, it would take approximately 372 hours to watch every episode. Who has that kind of time? Well, apart from the show’s target audience, I guess, but anyway…adults, even we avid binge-watchers, will have to find ways to break that up into smaller increments. There are many possible Doctor Who marathons that can be completed within a day, or over a few days for the really busy. Here are a few of my personal favourites. (Caveat: I’m a New Who fan–not that I have anything against the classic series, but I just haven’t gotten around to watching most of it yet. So these will all be New Who marathons, I’m afraid.)
1) The Newbie Marathon
If you’re new to the show, I recommend you start at the beginning of the reboot, and watch as much of the first season as you possibly can. Yes, the episode “Rose” is pretty cheesy, but it’s still a good introduction to both the series as a whole and the all-too-short-lived Ninth Doctor. Plus, since Nine only lasted a season, it’s possible to get through his entire era in one day if you’ve got nothing else going on. If you’re so used to big-budget effects that you simply can’t handle plastic Mickey, “The Eleventh Hour” is a good starting place, too. But Series Five is far less marathon-friendly. If you start there, make sure to go back and watch Series One through Four at some point. Do NOT skip Nine.
2) Christmas Marathon
Every season of New Who so far has had a Christmas episode. They’re usually an hour long and feature festive monsters and/or settings for the Doctor to explore. With the holiday season approaching, now might be a good time to start getting into the Who version of the Christmas spirit–which means lots of mayhem, destruction and colorful lights.
Here are the Christmas episodes, in order:
“The Christmas Invasion” – The Tenth Doctor’s epic introduction, which involves a homicidal Christmas tree, Lion King quotes, and a sword fight on top of a spaceship.
“The Runaway Bride” – Robots dressed like Santa are causing trouble in London–again. Introduces the most awesome companion and the most annoying monster of the new series (in my humble opinion).
“Voyage of the Damned” – A luxury spaceship named after the Titanic ends up on a collision course toward Earth on Christmas Eve. Features evil robot angels, and the fantastic Wilfred Mott.
“The Next Doctor” – Ten spends Christmas in 19th-century London, where he meets a guy who might be his future self.
“A Christmas Carol” – Basically the Dickens story, only set on a planet with flying fish, featuring the Doctor and Amy as all three ghosts, and Dumbledore as Scrooge.
“The Doctor, the Widow, and the War” – A loving tribute to Narnia. Plus some stuff about a sentient forest and a lost World War II pilot.
“The Snowmen” – The Eleventh Doctor has retired to Victorian London and become a bit Grinch-y. A run-in with some carnivorous snowmen and a mysterious girl named Clara convinces him to put on the bowtie again.
“The Time of the Doctor” – This is Eleven’s rather mixed-up and canon-breaking regeneration story. Ranks among my least favourite episodes, but – *sigh* – it takes place in a town called Christmas.
I also go back and forth as to whether “The End of Time” counts as a Christmas episode. It doesn’t have any of the nods to holiday traditions that the other ones have, being mostly concerned with Ten’s regeneration, but it does take place around December 25. Either way, it’s a pretty awesome two-parter. And by “awesome,” I of course mean heart-breaking and tragic.
3) The River Song Marathon (spoilers here, can’t help it)
River Song, the Doctor’s occasional companion/wife/assassin, has the most confusing story arc in the series, except perhaps for the Doctor himself. She dies in her very first episode, and then the Doctor keeps meeting her “in the wrong order” up until at least Series Seven. So it can be helpful, especially now that it seems her story *might* be over, to go back and watch her episodes in the order that they happened to her. But if you do this marathon, be prepared to cry–a lot–when you get to “Forest of the Dead.”
River’s life in order:
“A Good Man Goes to War” – birth (and later adulthood, but let’s not get too confusing)
“The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon” – early childhood, first regeneration
“Let’s Kill Hitler” – second regeneration, education
“The Wedding of River Song” – marriage
“The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” – early imprisonment (later imprisonment shown in “Astronaut” and “A Good Man”)
“The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone” – release from prison
“The Angels Take Manhattan” – life as a detective
“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” – life as an archaeology professor, death
“The Name of the Doctor” – afterlife
YouTube also has a pair of shorts, called “First Night” and “Last Night” that take place more or less right after River’s marriage and right before her death, respectively.
4) Monster Marathons
Some monsters appear only once on Doctor Who. Others just keep coming back, year after year, no matter how many times the Doctor destroys them. Everyone has a favourite monster, but the recurring ones tend to evolve (often literally) over time. If you want to track how various New Who monsters have changed over the series, why not watch ALL of their episodes in a row? Muahahah!
“Dalek” – Introduces the show’s most iconic monster–by making us feel sorry for it. It’s actually a pretty brilliant episode.
“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways” – So many Daleks! So much monotone screaming! And such an epic finish. “I am the Bad Wolf.”
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday” – Remembered mostly for containing the show’s biggest tearjerker, but it also has a great sass showdown between Daleks and Cybermen.
“Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks” – This is one of those episodes we don’t discuss. But it is a Dalek episode.
“The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End” – Features the Daleks’ creator, Davros. He’s out to destroy ALL the universes.
“Victory of the Daleks” – New, improved Daleks–now in primary colours!
“The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” – They show up, along with lots of other recurring monsters.
“Asylum of the Daleks” – As if normal Daleks weren’t bad enough, now we have crazy Daleks, Dalek puppets, and Daleks that think they’re human.
“The Day of the Doctor” – It takes place partly during the Time War, so of course the Time Lords’ biggest enemies show up.
“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel” – A new race of Cybermen is created in a parallel universe, by none other than Barty Crouch!
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday” – They invade Earth, which leads to the sass war mentioned above.
“The Next Doctor” – Steampunk Cybermen!
“The Pandorica Opens” – They show up along with the Daleks and everyone else. This time, even their severed limbs want to “upgrade” people…
“Closing Time” – Cybermen threaten Craig and the adorable Stormageddon in a department store.
“Nightmare in Silver” – New, improved Cybermen try to upgrade the Doctor, which doesn’t go very well for anyone.
“The Time of the Doctor” – For some reason, the Doctor has a pet Cyberman head named Handles. It’s kind of cute.
“The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit” – These brand new aliens are introduced as friendly, yet creepy-looking and suspiciously prone to mind control. Then they get possessed by the devil. It’s terrifying.
“Planet of the Ood” – They’re good in this one, but still creepy. Sure, the humans were horrible to them, but they have pretty, um, creative ways of getting revenge.
“The End of Time, Parts 1 and 2” – Not really monsters in this story so much as prophets of doom.
“The Doctor’s Wife” – A single Ood gets possessed by House and goes after Amy.
“Blink” – The scariest new monsters in Doctor Who are introduced in an absolutely beautiful way.
“The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone” – …Aaaand then Moffat had to take away everything that made them scary (their silence and stillness on-camera, their unique way of killing). The security recording scene was still tense, though.
“The God Complex” – They appear as a minor character’s worst nightmare.
“The Angels Take Manhattan” – Brings a little of the creepy back, what with the baby Angels and smiling Angels. Not to mention the Statue of Liberty…
There are more, obviously, but those are the most frequently recurring monsters that I find somewhat scary.
Anyway, if you’re looking for something to binge-watch on Netflix this weekend, try one of these lists! It’s Doctor Who, so you really can’t go wrong.