You probably noticed a huge, 50-year-spanning hole appear in your streaming services as of February 1. Even if you didn’t notice the tragedy outright at first, your adventures-in-time-and-space-loving heart certainly felt the blow. At the beginning of the month, Doctor Who disappeared from all streaming services; Netflix, Amazon, and even Hulu—with whom the BBC had a pretty comprehensive deal—all lost their rights to stream the popular sci-fi show in their subscription packages. The contracts with all three were allowed to lapse by the Beeb themselves.
The most conceivable reason for this to happen is that long-speculated BBC international iPlayer or subscription service is on the way… but as of this moment there hasn’t been an announcement, or even any indication there’s going to be one. They also could have been pulled in order to replace the classic series stuff with the better quality, cleaned-up versions, without the added-in commercial breaks for the Hulu version. Whatever the reason, folks who stream are completely without the ability to watch the show. It’s a particularly inopportune time for this to happen, too, since the next new series of Doctor Who won’t air until Spring of 2017.
So what are the options? Unfortunately, there aren’t any currently that don’t require some kind of extra payment. There’s certainly the DVD/Blu-ray option. All of the new series episodes are available this way, and the entirety of the classic series (except for the two extant episodes of “The Underwater Menace” which will be out in May) is available on disc. Granted, many of those volumes have fallen out of print and might be pretty hard to come by cheaply.
You can also buy full series of New Who via both iTunes and Amazon instant. However, if you’re looking for the classic series, it’s going to be a bit tougher. Amazon has the odd classic episode or two still available to purchase via their instant service, but it’s not very many. iTunes is much more comprehensive, luckily, both as single-story versions and in bundled packs.
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s on iTunes, starting with the bundle packs and then the individual stories:
There are two different packs per Doctor, one called the “___ Doctor Sampler” and the other called the “Best of [Fill in Actor’s Name].” There are some double-dips, which I’ll indicate where necessary. The Samplers also have a 25-minute documentary about each Doctor from BBC America’s 50th anniversary coverage.
Best of – “An Unearthly Child,” “The Aztecs” (Also available in single), “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”
Sampler – “An Unearthly Child”
Other – The story “The Daleks” is available in a special Daleks bundle along with “Asylum of the Daleks” from new series seven.
Best of – “The Tomb of the Cybermen,” “The Ice Warriors,” “The Krotons” (Also available in single), “Seeds of Death”
Sampler – “The Tomb of the Cybermen,” “The Mind Robber”
Single editions – “The Enemy of the World,” “The Web of Fear”
Best of – “Spearhead from Space,” “The Three Doctors,” “The Green Death,” “Planet of the Spiders” (All also available in single)
Sampler – “Doctor Who and the Silurians”
Single editions – “Terror of the Autons,” “The Claws of Axos,” “The Mutants,” “The Time Monster,” “Carnival of Monsters,” “The Time Warrior”
Best of – “Genesis of the Daleks,” “The Hand of Fear” (Single also), “The Deadly Assassin” (Single also), “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” (Single also)
Sampler – “Robot,” “Logopolis”
Single editions – “The Ark in Space,” “The Sontaran Experiment,” “Pyramids of Mars,” “The Invisible Enemy,” “The Sun Makers,” “Underworld,” “The Ribos Operation,” “The Pirate Planet,” “The Androids of Tara,” “The Power of Kroll,” “The Armageddon Factor,” “Creature from the Pit,” “Nightmare of Eden,” “The Leisure Hive”
Best of – “Castrovalva” (Also available in single) “The Visitation,” “Earthshock,” “The Caves of Androzani” (Also available in single), ”
Sampler – “Earthshock”
Single editions – “Kinda,” “Time-Flight,” “Arc of Infinity,” “Snakedance,” “Warriors of the Deep,” “Frontios,” “Planet of Fire”
Best of – “The Twin Dilemma,” “Vengeance on Varos,” “Timelash”
Sampler – “The Trial of a Time Lord”
Single editions – “Mark of the Rani,” “The Two Doctors”
Best of – “Time and the Rani” (also available in single), “The Happiness Patrol,” “Remembrance of the Daleks,” “Silver Nemesis”
Sampler – “Survival”
Single editions – “Ghost Light”
So, that does actually seem like quite a few, but it’s pretty paltry when you think about how many stories were on Hulu, and compared to how many there are in total. But that’s kind of hard to dive into sight unseen, so I would recommend the following: First Doctor – “Best of” and “Daleks”; Second Doctor – all; Third Doctor – all except “Axos,” “Mutants,” and “Time Monster;” Fourth Doctor – start with the “Best of,” “Sampler,” and “The Ark in Space;” Fifth Doctor – “Best of,” “Kinda,” and “Snakedance;” Sixth Doctor – “Sampler” (the rest are pretty uniformly awful, and even “Trial” is only pretty good); Seventh Doctor – ehhh, I guess get the “Best of” because of “Remembrance,” “Sampler,” and “Ghost Light.”
It does not appear that the 1996 TV movie is available in any digital form currently.
Hopefully that helps. I have to say, it’s not the easiest to find things on iTunes, and nothing is in chronological order (I wrote them in chronological order, but they don’t appear that way). I would suggest using this handy site to help you out.
I’m sure hoping one day Doctor Who returns to streaming, because even though I have all the DVDs, it’s very difficult to recommend things to people if they can’t see it easily, and it’s silly to expect that every fan will be a nutcase like me. And even these few iTunes editions might price people out. If you have any questions about these, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or in the comments below and I’ll hopefully get to steer you in the right direction.
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor, a film and TV critic, and the resident Whovian for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!