Here on the West Coast we’re getting prepared for some severe rain storms this weekend, beginning Thursday, and seeing how we’re nerds, we’ve decided to call this weather system (which is actually pretty common) “Stormageddon.” And, guess what–since we’re real bonafide nerds, we started thinking about the Doctor Who episode “Closing Time” from whence that reference came and about all the other hilarious episodes of Who there are. And hey, since you’re already inside because of some kind of inclement weather, why not marathon some hilarious Time Lord action to get you through? After you’ve gone to get supplies, of course. Here are five of our favorites, in chronological order of course. I mean, TIME Lord.
The Romans – 1965
When it began, Doctor Who wasn’t sure what kind of show it was, but one thing it definitely was NOT was a comedy. That changed with the 12th story, “The Romans,” which plopped the Doctor and his three companions into Ancient Rome, under Emperor Nero, that insane lech, and becomes a full-on farce. The Doctor and Vicki continually almost run into Ian and Barbara who have been sold into slavery (funny, huh?!) and are having their own story simultaneously. This story even features the first comedy death in Doctor Who, when Nero’s food taster is poisoned, and everybody just kind of laughs it off and goes about their business. (There were other funny First Doctor stories after this, like “The Myth Makers” and “The Gunfighters.”
City of Death – 1979
When Douglas Adams is your script editor, you’re bound to have some humor involved. The best, and arguably ONLY good, story from Season 17 is the four-part time travel romp set and shot in modern day Paris in which the Fourth Doctor and Romana, along with a bullish private investigator named Duggan, have to stop an alien aristocrat from selling multiple copies of the Mona Lisa, all of which were actually painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Naturally, the plot is nice and convoluted and full of interesting sci-fi themes, but the dialogue and performances are just hilarious and Pythonesque, given that Adams is the only non-Python ever to write a sketch for the troupe. Baker’s in prime form in this one.
Love & Monsters – 2006
While the new series was much more outwardly comedic than its classic predecessor, it took until nearly the end of the second series to do a full-on comedy, and the Doctor’s actually barely in it. The first in what were dubbed “Doctor-Lite” episodes, giving lead actors David Tennant and Billie Piper time to go film other episodes or just have a breather, this episode is partially dumb and partially delightful, following a man’s vlog-based memories of encountering the Doctor and then joining a group of other people whose lives have been affected by him. It’s light, it’s fluffy, it features a woman who gets turned into a piece of concrete and then a weird oral sex joke gets made, it’s Doctor Who without the Doctor. Enjoy a very unfunny clip!
The Lodger/Closing Time – 2010-2011
I think these two basically count as one story, and anyway, it’s better to watch them in tandem. These represent the two times Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor hung out on Earth and teamed up with the easily-exasperated Craig Owens, played by the future late night host James Corden. There are probably no more delightful episodes to watch than these two; Smith and Corden have really snappy and sparky chemistry, owing to Smith’s goofy alien nature and Corden being exasperated quite thoroughly. Both of these episodes were written by Gareth Roberts, who usually does comedies, and I think they’re his best work to date. So very funny, these. I think “The Lodger” is a little funnier, but you also can’t beat the Doctor working in a department store. You’ll enjoy it so much, it won’t matter that Love Conquers All is how both wrap up. (Stormageddon gets his name from “Closing Time”)
Robot of Sherwood – 2014
A lot of people didn’t like this episode, and I don’t even care. While it didn’t fit into Series Eight at all, being much more in keeping with early Tennant or occasional Smith, I thought Mark Gatiss’ script for the first Peter Capaldi series was just hysterical. Why? Mainly because Capaldi’s pissed off from about minute one of the proceedings, and because his repartee with Robin Hood is banter of the highest order. When the pair of them have a clever-off in the Sheriff of Nottingham’s dungeon, all I can do is laugh at how utterly ridiculous both of them are being and how hard Clara has to roll her eyes. So hard, they probably did a full 360-degree spin. And is anything funnier than the Doctor, in full Scottish-accented glory, yelling “Because I’m already FREEEEEEEEE!!!” before zapping a robot? I submit, no.
So hey, even if you’re not in the middle of a big huge rain, snow, sleet, or other storm for which we’re told the US Postal Service won’t stop delivering, why not hunker down and enjoy some jolly Time Lord action? There are certainly worse things to do on a December weekend.