Doctor Who: The Gunfighters (Story #25)

doctor who the gunfighters story 25 dvd cover william hartnell
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun to see the Doctor & his companions in the Old West

Bad story, obnoxious song

doctor who the gunfighters story 25 wyatt earp john alderson william hartnell

No, I’m Wyatt Earp…ignore my accent

A trip to the Old West to fix the tooth of the Doctor (William Hartnell) lands Dodo (Jackie Lane), Steven Taylor (Peter Purves), and the Doctor in the middle of American history. The Doctor is mistaken for Doc Holliday (Anthony Jacobs), and the confusion helps lead to a big showdown at the O.K. Corral. With his strict “no guns” policy, will the Doctor have what he needs to make it in the Old West?

Doctor Who:  The Gunfighters is part of the third season of Doctor Who.  It aired in four episodes from April 30, 1966 to April 21, 1966.  It was the last series to have individual episode titles.  Episode 1 was “A Holiday for the Doctor”, episode 2 “Don’t Shoot the Pianist”, episode 3 “Johnny Ringo”, and episode 4 “The O.K. Corral”.  Following Doctor Who:  The Celestial Toymaker, Doctor Who:  The Gunfighters has been collected in The William Hartnell Years as Story #25.

doctro who the gunfighters story 25 doc holliday anthony jacobs

The Doctor meets the Doc…Doc Holliday!

I admire this Doctor Who episode for trying something completely different. I always think it is interesting when the Doctor voyages to America and this is no exception. I don’t have much of a perception what British people think of Westerns (a genre that is entirely not of their land or making), but both Dodo and seem genuinely excited to be there. In a time when U.S. television was loaded with shows like The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza, it is cool to see a different take on it.

That being said, this episode is awful. It is frequently ranked as one of the least favorite episodes of the early series. It is very dull and the thing that could have made it interesting just makes it obnoxious. The story has a ballad of the Old West sung over it to kind of tell the story of the trip. The ballad is sung so often that it becomes horribly obnoxious. If I heard “Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon” once, I heard it a thousand times.

doctor who the gunfighters story 25 ok corral dodo jackie lane

If you try to stop me, I’ll make you take Dodo back on the TARDIS!!!

It was nice to see the Doctor in a different setting than space and the shoot had a rather generic “Old West” look but that is still better than most of the Doctor Who space sets. The O.K. Corral stuff was a nice try, but the dullness of the episode trumps it…plus, the cowboys and gunslingers with British accents just don’t quite work.

Doctor Who:  The Gunfighters was an unfortunate attempt at a potentially interesting story.  I wish that it had been a good episode, but now I wish that it was one of the “lost episodes” where a better episode could have survived.  Doctor Who: The Gunfighters was followed by Doctor Who:  The Savages.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Celestial Toymaker (Story #24) Missing

Doctor Who:  The Ark (Story #23)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Savages (Story #26) Missing

Doctor Who:  The War Machines (Story #27)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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