I run down my Top 10 Favourite Episodes of Doctor Who.
It seems that a lot of things are getting their anniversaries this year. Superman has had his 75th, The X-Men’s 50th is coming up soon, but the one that I’m perhaps most excited for is the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary, hitting in November, featuring David Tennant, Billie Piper, Matt Smith, Jenna Louise Coleman and John Hurt. After the big reveal of The Name of the Doctor, all faith is restored in Moffat after a subpar Season 7 – so, with the 50th on the horizon, I decided to revisit 2005 and beyond episodes of Doctor Who and present a rundown of my Top 10, in a similar way to what my Top 10 Ongoing Comic Series was written earlier this month. I’m counting two part episodes as one for the sake that they tell one storyline over the space of two episodes. An honourable mention goes to The Girl Who Waited, and The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances two part episode from Seasons 6 and 1 respectively. Of course, there are spoilers.
10 – HUMAN NATURE / FAMILY OF BLOOD
WHY? Paul Cornell, the man behind this two parter, is an incredibly talented writer. He’s written Demon Knights and Stormwatch for DC’s New 52, and is currently writing a Wolverine series for Marvel. However, it’s important to note that he’s written several awesome episodes of Doctor Who (including Father’s Day), and is a person who I’d love to see return to write a story under the Moffat era. This story bleeds awesomeness, examining what a human Doctor would be like, the awesome historical setting and the great use of the scarecrows as monsters, with the Family of Blood being ever more sinister. There are several spectacular scenes from these two episodes and both are very consistent indeed, showing that when you can do a two-part episode well, it has a strong contender to be a classic.
9 – THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET / THE SATAN PIT
WHY? Series 2 was a largely forgettable series, playing host to two of the worst episodes of the New Series, Fear Her and Love and Monsters, but in my opinion – it also produced an absolutely awesome two-part episode, that saw our first introduction to the Ood, the Beast – and provided a thrilling look at some great sci-fi/horror. This is probably one of the scariest two parters of Doctor Who, and boasted a fantastic ending to boot. I really think that these two episodes are underrated, and really awesome.
8 – BAD WOLF / THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
WHY? Christopher Eccleston is my favourite Doctor. He’s the man responsible for getting me into Doctor Who, and has produced some fantastic acting for the series even if his run only lasted one season. People who claim that Eccleston was too “angry” to play the Doctor always get on my nerves – I thought that he acted wonderfully, as well as people who don’t like him because of the circumstances of the way he left. However, I’m not judging him on that. His episodes are superb – and I enjoyed pretty much all of Season 1, The End of the World aside, and along Season 5 it is probably my favourite Season of Doctor Who. And what a better send-off for Ecclesston than Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways, arguably one of the last few episodes that featured actually scary Daleks that actually required sacrifice in order to defeat them. Okay, maybe The Army of Ghosts / Doomsday is a contender for that as well, but still… for me, Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways is a fantastic two-part. Utterly enjoyable. I love the whole spin on TV shows as well – Big Brother and The Weakest Link in Bad Wolf being particularly awesome. And oh, that speech by the Doctor in Bad Wolf. That is epic.
7 – THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT / DAY OF THE MOON
WHY? The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon was a fantastic start to Season 6. The Doctor was seemingly killed off in the pre-credits title sequence, and from there – we have a bombastic, fast-paced epic journey across America as the Silence make their first on-stage appearance. Seriously, there was several creepy scenes in this two-part series, and for me, The Silence are up there with the likes of the Weeping Angels (Pre-Angels Take Manhattan) and the Daleks (Pre-Daleks in Manhattan), as the best monsters in the show for me. I loved the fast-paced episode, the great cliffhanger – and the ending scene featuring the Moon Landings and the rescue of Amy was superb.
6 – THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR
WHY? Season 7 was mostly low-par for me, aside from a few notable episodes – Asylum of the Daleks, The Bells of Saint John and The Name of the Doctor, and to a certain extent Nightmare in Silver – it was mostly underwhelming. However, then came The Name of the Doctor, and that’s when Steven Moffat knocked it out of the park. From a great opening scene, the fresh introduction of the Whisperheads and the chilling line by Jenny – “M’am, I think I’ve been murdered,” as well as the appearance of a post-Library River Song in what looks set to be her final hurrah, everything about this episode was spectacular. Although we don’t actually find out the Name of the Doctor, which is great, it delivers in pretty much every way. Oh, and did I mention John Hurt was there too?
5 – THE ELEVENTH HOUR
WHY? For Matt Smith’s first full outing as the Doctor, he had a lot to live up to. Die-hard fangirls were complaining that when Tennant left, Doctor Who would suck, but – if you ever needed a more convincing episode, then you couldn’t go wrong with The Eleventh Hour. A bombastic action packed episode that paid homage to all the previous Doctors as well as introducing Matt Smith to the audience to the first time. He was on top form here, with some great scenes, as well as containing some fantastic funny moments inside. A new era of Doctor Who began here, and with The Eleventh Hour, fans could not have asked for a better start.
4 – DALEK
WHY? In my review for Cold War, I noted that the attempt of re-introduction of the Ice Warriors seemed a little too like the first re-introduction of the Daleks for me, and Dalek was a far superior episode. That stance has not changed, and Dalek currently remains in my Top 4 whilst I doubt that Cold War would even fit in my Top 20. Christopher Eccleston is at his best here, and the plot itself is superb. The Dalek was creepy, unstoppable even when presented with flights of stairs – and the chilling comment from the Dalek that claimed the Doctor would make a good Dalek has a great lasting impact, not just on the viewer, but on the Doctor himself. Truly – Dalek is an episode to remember.
3 – THE WATERS OF MARS
WHY? Whilst Tennant’s last year of Doctor Who wasn’t the most well received, with some rather average episodes, The Waters of Mars has to go down as the highlight of the lot. David Tennant was great here, the whole idea of water being a menacing threat is great, and the whole ending sequence was superb, the Doctor changed by the events of this episode, and a frightening prospect could have been revealed if he’d not heard the superbly-portrayed character Adelaide Brooke commit suicide. It’s a great horror story, and as per usual – Tennant interjects a certain level of humour, particularly with the “Name, Rank, Intention,” line towards the beginning of the episode made me chuckle when I first watched it. Overall, The Waters of Mars explores just how great Doctor Who can really be, and I really wish that there’d be more episodes that are this good.
2 – BLINK
WHY? It’s the introduction of the Weeping Angels, Sally Sparrow – and a Doctor-less episode that actually succeeds. Sally Sparrow is a great lead and I for one would love to see her return to become the Doctor’s companion one day, or at least appear in future episodes. As it was the first time that the Weeping Angels were introduced – they came across as a lot more scary than their most recent appearance – Angels Take Manhattan, and the fact that the Doctor had actually been stopped (if only for a while) by them just showed how deadly they could be. And it also will make you scared of any statue, Weeping Angel or not, for a good week after your first viewing.
1 – THE DOCTOR’S WIFE
WHY? I could just leave it at the fact that it’s Neil Gaiman, and that would be all the explanation that you would need. But, The Doctor’s Wife is nonetheless epic, Matt Smith is on top form with one of his more memorable badass lines, “Fear Me, I’ve Killed Thousands of Time Lords,” boasts House, the villain of the episode – to which Eleven retorts, “Fear Me, I’ve Killed All of Them.” This episode is sure to go down as a classic – the concept, the great acting, and several memorable sequences – whilst I may not normally like Amy as a companion, I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for her when she kept meeting various different versions of Rory – who were, as it turns out, just tricks presented by House – as he gets older and older within the TARDIS. So, all that said – The Doctor’s Wife was a fantastic episode, and the highlight of Season 6 for me. I never thought that Blink would ever be knocked off the top spot, but The Doctor’s Wife claims that.
So, now with that out of the way – I’m interested to know, what are your Top 10 favourite episodes of Doctor Who’s current series from 2005 onwards?