Monday, 25 February 2013

Doctor Who at 50: The Best Monsters

As we now find ourselves in Doctor Who's 50th birthday bash of a year, I'm dedicating at least one post a month to celebrate the show (yes, as if I didn't do that already). This month I'm picking my favourite monsters - however, there's some rules. So that it's not full of the usual suspects (your Daleks and your Cybermen, for example) I'm only picking monsters who have appeared against just one Doctor.

First Doctor: Zarbi

Yes, they do look like men in ant costumes but the Zarbi - and their fellows, the Menoptera (butterfly-people) - feature in one of the First Doctor's most inventive serials. In their sole appearance, the Zarbi are actually docile creatures but have long lingered in children of the 1960s' minds as terrifying creations.

Second Doctor: Quarks

The greatest monsters of the Second Doctor's era are, of course, the Cybermen and then closely followed by the Ice Warriors but as they don't here count I've plunked for the diminutive but dangerous Quarks. Although they are only subservient robots for a bigger evil, the (if I'm honest, fairly boring) Dominators, their distinctive design makes them a very memorable adversary.

Third Doctor: Axons

A common feature of many Third Doctor stories was that they involved the Master teaming up with an alien race after the Earth (before being unfailingly defeated by the Doctor). Probably one of the most well-known of these are the at-times Golden and humanoid and yet at other times tentacled and monstrous Axons. Part of a single being Axos, the Axons tricked humanity into thinking they were benevolent by bearing a valuable gift, Axonite, which in actuality was draining the planet of its energy.

Fourth Doctor: Zygons

Sporting one of the most striking designs ever for a Doctor Who monster, the Zygons, despite being ferociously popular amongst fans, have only appeared in one Fourth Doctor story. In the serial, from their spaceship hidden within Loch Ness, the Zygons planned to use their shape-shifting technology to impersonate important human personnel to, you've guessed it, take over the world. Their distinctive style plus the fact they appear in a creepy, atmospheric story have made the Zygons one of the most cited monsters in 'Doctor Who Aliens who should return' lists. Who knows, maybe this could be their year..

Fifth Doctor: Mara

A very different kind of monster now. The Mara was a creature that existed in the dark recesses of the mind and fed on the madness and anguish of its host. Through the poor individual it latched on to, the Mara tried to gain physical form (in the shape of a snake). In the two occasions the Fifth Doctor encountered it, it infected his companion Tegan. The Mara is a stand-out monster in all of Doctor Who's history but especially the 80s when most Who aliens tended to be green and slimy.

Sixth Doctor: Sil

Like Sil, actually. A thoroughly nasty slug-like creature, Sil is a ruthless businessman who makes his money from various cruel and immoral schemes that include enslaving races, causing endless suffering and all those things villains do. A cowardly, sly worm of a monster who takes great glee from his evil, Sil is an enjoyable creation who falls somewhere between disgusting and comic; similar to the show's own tone at the time.

Seventh Doctor: Haemovores

Basically vampires, the Haemovores are the future form of the human race from a horribly polluted future Earth. As with most vampiric creatures, the Haemovores drunk blood, were repelled by faith and were killed with a stake through the heart but also lived in the sea, causing their skin to become wrinkled and suckered. A chilling, well-executed monster in one of Doctor Seven's finest episodes, the Haemovores should be up with Who's scariest monsters.

Unfortunately the Eighth Doctor only adversary was the Master who most definitely does not fit the bill here. Apologies, Eight. Moving on...

Ninth Doctor: Gasmask Zombies

In Steven Moffat's first script for Doctor Who he created one of the show's most effective creatures. We all know how this goes; if you're touched by the creepy boy in the gasmask looking for his mummy you become just like him. As the Cybermen show, there's something inherently creepy about monsters that make you like them and with their blank faces and unnerving catchphrase, the gasmask zombies are one of the creepiest.

 Tenth Doctor: The Family of Blood

When the Doctor turns himself human and resides as a school teacher in 1913, he is pursued by a family of disembodied aliens who are after a Time Lord-sized meal. Led by the twitching, eerie Son of Mine (very well played by Harry Lloyd), the Family are simple yet glorious villains who, as if they aren't enough, are ably supported by their living scarecrow soldiers.

Eleventh Doctor: Silence

I certainly like the scary ones, don't I? Bulbous-headed, 'The Scream'-inspired, Slenderman-alike Silence are the most memorable of the monsters to come out of Matt Smith's series as the Doctor. And, like their fellow Moffat-created counterparts, the Weeping Angels, I doubt we've seen the last of them.

And while, we're here I thought I'd pick my favourite Torchwood-original and Sarah Jane Adventures original aliens.

Torchwood: The 456

Although the first two series of Torchwood gave us several interesting aliens, Children of Earth's Earth-shattering aliens, known only as the 456, top the list. Aliens who threaten to invade or destroy the Earth are ten a penny in science fiction but not many want to kidnap the world's population of children to use them as drugs, as the highly original 456 do. The fact we see very little of them, apart from a few claws, adds to their effectiveness. And also because it's due to them that fan-beloved character Ianto Jones bought an untimely end.

The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Trickster

A faceless creature whose sole purpose is to create havoc with a strong dislike for Sarah Jane, the Trickster is a gloriously over-the-top villain who works perfectly in the Sarah Jane Adventure's colourful version of Doctor Who world. He's even so good he's been mentioned in both Torchwood and the parent show itself.


  1. I came for the Zygons, stayed for the post - Nice one Chalbo!

    1. How did you know there would be Zygons? Bit full of yourself, aren't you? ;)


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