Doctor Who: Time Away from Earth (Modern Era)

Doctor Who is a series about a wanderer in time and space who travels using a machine capable of going to anyplace and anytime in the universe. But it is also series which was produced by human beings on earth in the present day (whenever that was at the time).

(Daily Doctor Who #324)

Thus, there have been a whole lot of Doctor Who TV serials that have taken place on earth…most of them, in fact. It got me wondering…whats the longest run of stories that did not bring the audience back to earth?

We looked at the Classic Era yesterday. Now, we move on to the modern, revived series. Here are all the stories (I think) which don’t take place in whole or part on modern day earth (and for clarification, we are going to count stories which are clearly meant to be on near-modern day earth, like the when the Doctor brought Rose home a year late, as being on modern day earth)…

Ninth Doctor

The Unquiet Dead, Dalek (a tricky one…this story takes place in 2012, which was only 7 years in the future from real life at the time, but was clearly meant to be a short time in the future. On well, we’re going to count it here), Father’s Day, The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, Bad Wolf

Tenth Doctor

New Earth, Tooth and Claw, The Girl in the Fireplace, Rise of the Cybermen, The Age of Steel (another tricky one–these two Cybermen stories take place on a modern day parallel earth; I’m also going to count them as not being on modern day earth), The Idiot Lantern, The Impossible Planet, The Satan Pit, Fear Her (another 2012 set story), The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks, Human Nature, The Family of Blood, The Fires of Pompeii, Planet of the Ood, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead, Midnight, The Next Doctor, The Waters of Mars

Eleventh Doctor

The Beast Below, Victory of the Daleks, The Time of Angels, Amy’s Choice, The Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, A Christmas Carol, The Curse of the Black Spot, The Doctor’s Wife, The Rebel Flesh, The Almost People, A Good Man Goes to War, The Girl Who Waited, A Town Called Mercy, The Angels Take Manhattan, Cold War, Hide, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Twelfth Doctor

Robot of Sherwood, Under the Lake, Before the Flood, The Girl Who Died (arguable, I suppose, because of the scene at the end where time passes rapidly for Ashidlr…did she get to modern day earth?), The Woman Who Lived, Sleep No More, Heaven Sent, (not including Smile here, even though all of its modern day earth scenes take place on the TARDIS), The Doctor Falls, Twice Upon a Time

Thirteenth Doctor

The Ghost Monument, Rosa, The Tsuranga Conundrum, Kerblam!, The Witchfinders, The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos, Orphan 55, Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror, The Haunting of Villa Diodati, Asension of the Cybermen

So looking over that, I can see that the longest consecutive run of stories which don’t take the viewer to modern day earth comes in the Tenth Doctor era with David Tennant…

The Girl in the Fireplace

Rise of the Cybermen

The Age of Steel

The Idiot’s Lantern

The Impossible Planet

The Satan Pit

So that’s five stories over six episodes before the Doctor came back to earth for…sigh…Love and Monsters.

Of course, this only works if we accept Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel. They take place on modern day earth, but a parallel earth. I think can count that as being on the same level as being on earth in another time. But if we don’t allow for that, then we’d go instead to a five episode run from The Curse of the Black Spot to A Good Man Goes to War in series six.

But what about if we only look at stories which take place on earth at all? This cuts our list of stories as such:

Tenth Doctor

New Earth, The Impossible Planet, The Satan Pit, Planet of the Ood, Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead (tricky since there are many scenes which appear to be earth but turn out to be an illusion created by the Library computer), Midnight

Eleventh Doctor

The Beast Below, The Time of Angels, Amy’s Choice (another tricky one–much of the story appears to take place on earth but it turns out to be a dream), A Christmas Carol, The Doctor’s Wife, The Rebel Flesh, A Good Man Goes to War, The Girl Who Waited, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Twelfth Doctor

Under the Lake, Before the Flood, Sleep No More, Heaven Sent, The Doctor Falls

Thirteenth Doctor

The Ghost Monument, The Tsuranga Conundrum, Kerblam!, The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos, Asension of the Cybermen (part of this story seems to be set on earth but is revealed in the following episode as being a virtual construction of the Gallifreyan Matrix).

There is nothing impressive to find here–just a run of three episodes, including a two-parter, again starring David Tennant…

Silence in the Library

Forest of the Dead

Midnight

And that’s it…modern Doctor Who‘s longest continuous break from earth. Maybe it’s time the series got out a bit more, eh?

2 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Time Away from Earth (Modern Era)

  1. The much better location setting footage for the modern era Doctor Who, for both Earth stories and stories set on other planets, has beautifully revitalized this sci-fi legacy’s universal appeal.

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