Memory Cheats: A Doctor Who Newbie's Digest

Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 15/02/2013 - 11:03pm in

For quite a while now, I've been wanting to compile a list of essential Doctor Who stories from the series original 1963-1989 run, for the benefit of my friends who are only familiar with the series post-2005 and find that first 26-year trove a little intimidating.

For all those in this unhappy position here is a digest of the unmissable Doctor Who stories that will enable you to bluff your way through the next high-society gathering where ignorance of the Whoniverse is as disastrous as forgetting the second verse of that Venusian lullaby that may one day save your life. You no longer need to have lived through it; with my guidance you shall all become "the Memory Cheats". (You will get that joke as we proceed.)

This isn't a comprehensive list of the good, or even the great stories. It's the minimal set of inflection points that will give the uninitiated some sense of the general flow of this extraordinary programme that was simultaneously utterly unlike anything else on television, yet oddly representative of everything on television in it's time, yet again utterly timeless, yet... Oh, bollocks; just watch these. You'll thank me for it.

  • An Unearthly Child
  • The Tomb of the Cybermen
  • Spearhead from Space
  • Terror of the Autons
  • Carnival of Monsters
  • The Green Death
  • The Time Warrior
  • Planet of the Spiders
  • The Ark in Space
  • Genesis of the Daleks
  • The Seeds of Doom
  • The Masque of Mandragora
  • The Deadly Assassin
  • The Talons of Weng-Chiang
  • City of Death
  • Warriors' Gate
  • Logopolis
  • Castrovalva
  • Kinda
  • The Caves of Androzani
  • Vengeance on Varos
  • Revelation of the Daleks
  • Paradise Towers
  • Ghost Light
  • Survival

Monday, 11 February 2013 - 5:26pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Mon, 11/02/2013 - 5:26pm

"You have arrived at your 30-day allowance of 5 free premium pages"

Oh, okay. Sorry, I thought this was a website. If you are investing time and money into a convoluted mechanism to stop me reading your material, why not just ask me not to read it up front? Or take it offline altogether? Much cheaper that way.


Wow. Defeats cookie deletion as well. They're really pouring money down that bottomless intellectual property protection pit, aren't they? I'm sure there's a browser extension, but I can't be arsed.

Hear that, intellectual property baron? You've won! Instead of a non-paying reader, you have a non-paying non-reader! (I have billions of those as well, come to think of it.) Next step: profit!!!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013 - 9:54pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Tue, 29/01/2013 - 9:54pm

I don't understand why Cory Doctorow "can't stress how exciting a development this is". Google appears to be freely giving up metadata (eg. email headers, IP addresses, etc.) to US government agencies, but drawing the line at content. In an age of guilt by association, it's like ratting someone out to HUAC as a communist, but refusing to specify whether they're Leninist, Trotskyist, or Maoist.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013 - 9:55am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Tue, 29/01/2013 - 9:55am

"Basically, the wind blew and trees fell down."

How did this guy ever get a management job? That's no way to describe an atmospheric-disturbance-related arboreal hazard scenario.

Sunday, 27 January 2013 - 10:42am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 27/01/2013 - 10:42am

Proof that uber-nerds aren't (all) humourless obsessives. Aaron Swartz, as recorded by his Boswell, Quinn Norton:

a: “I’m part of the Jewish cabal that controls the internet.”
q: “I haven’t actually heard anyone say there’s a Jewish conspiracy running the internet.”
a: “Oops.”


a: (On Lasik) “Lasers are supposed to come out of your eyes.”

More here.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013 - 11:13am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 23/01/2013 - 11:13am

Well, this is reasurring. So Coffs is actually quite affordable for people who don't need to work and absentee landlords. It's only the people who live and work here who are disadvantaged by our third-world economy.

I'm so relieved I'm taking the day off from my below-minimum-wage job to join my neighbours in the gutter. We'll crack open a can of petrol and a pack of period pain medication and celebrate the good times!

Thursday, 17 January 2013 - 2:39pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Thu, 17/01/2013 - 2:39pm

What I'd really like to do is start a satirical revue, rather like Peter Cook's Establishment club in the 60's, which did so much to stop the rise of David Frost.

Saturday, 12 January 2013 - 2:46pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 12/01/2013 - 2:46pm

Dangar Falls is under threat of a "facelift". I said:

About time! Have you seen that place? Leaking water everywhere, and literally covered with all manner of trees and bushes. How many tourism industry awards has it won recently? None. It's just a wet hole that engages the simple minds of plebs who have no idea how much of their money it will take to make it natural, interactive, and heritage enough for stakeholders to extract some value.

Let's hope the Advocate can put together another one or two of it's "brains trusts" to get some revitalising defoliation and concreting done, while ruthlessly crushing all intransigent community groups.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013 - 8:56pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 09/01/2013 - 8:56pm

Glenn Greenwald:

[…] the very idea that someone should be disqualified from service in the Obama administration because of involvement in and support for extremist Bush terrorism polices [now] seems quaint and obsolete, given the great continuity between Bush and Obama on these issues. […] Within this change one finds one of the most significant aspects of the Obama presidency: his conversion of what were once highly contentious right-wing policies into harmonious dogma of the DC bipartisan consensus."

If there are any Nazi war criminals still in hiding, chances are Obama will track them down and give them a job.

Saturday, 29 December 2012 - 6:48pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 29/12/2012 - 6:48pm

Francine wrote:

"La Bal Masqué De Française" only sounds French.
"Le bal masqué à la française" is maybe what was meant.

I replied:

You're clearly not in the target market. The people this event is designed to attract are the Coffs elite, who are far too busy and important to be more than moderately literate in English, much less any other language. In any case, all the staff in prestige resorts speak English perfectly well, so why bother? Top-of-the-line luxury isn't for pedantic bookworms like you or I; we lack the suffistication and clarse to appreciate it. Does the Central European liqueur in the cupholder of your Audi have a flower in it? (A freaking flower, for Kerry Packer's sake! How cool is that?) I thought not. I rest my case.