Friends of mine on Facebook were talking about a Doctor Who rewatch night they had to celebrate 10 years since the first episode of the new series was screened back in 2005. They voted among themselves to decide which episode featuring each of the four actors to play the Doctor they would watch, and came up with this list:
- For Doctor #9 they picked “End of the World”, in which the Doctor and Rose travel to the future to watch from the safety of a satellite as the earth dies.
- For Doctor #10 they picked “Blink”, in which the Doctor and Martha meet/escape from the Weeping Angels by recording a bunch of DVD easter eggs and using them to matchmake a young woman and a videostore nerd.
- For Doctor #11 they picked “The Eleventh Hour”, in which the newly-regenerated Doctor meets Amy Pond twice (once as an 11-year-old and once as a twenty something), then chases off an escaped alien prisoner and the alien race that imprisoned it.
- For Doctor #12 they picked “Mummy on the Orient Express”, in which the Doctor and Clara get caught up in a retro-1920s whodunnit on a train in space involving an ancient space-mummy curse.
All fine episodes, eminently watchable. Which I plan to do myself very soon. But it got me thinking about what my own 10-years-of-Having-Doctor-Who-on-Telly-Again one-ep-per-Doctor watchback list would be, and I came up with this (spoilers obv):
Doctor #9: Father’s Day
This is just a good consequences-of-time-travel story and a nice look at family relationships too, fatherhood in particular, which I’m a sucker for as a dad. It also does that thing where someone who isn’t the Doctor has to rise to the challenge and save the day. I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of Doctor Who – the idea that spending time with the Doctor helps you to become a better, braver, stronger and more actualised version of yourself. It’s one thing to watch an effectively immortal alien with a time machine save the universe, but it’s another thing entirely to watch mere mortals try to follow his example and succeed.
(Why not “End of the World”? Yes, Jabe and the Tears of a Time Lord are excellent, but the whole scene where Rose is trapped in a room where the blinds are coming down, with the deadly sunlight only shining on the part of the wall that sits directly in front of the section of the window not covered by the blind instead of filling the room may give us a nice classic deathtrap setup, but it’s too egregious a hollywood-science moment to be forgiven.)
Doctor #10: Turn Left
This is another good example of the mere mortals of Doctor Who saving the universe even though they’re terrified and convinced that they aren’t up to the challenge. Donna Noble is my favourite companion in any version of the show or its spinoffs by far, so my favourite Ten episode was always going to have her in it. It’s also got that tasty scary cracked-mirror-universe “what if everything went wrong?” flavour to it that you don’t often get in Doctor Who, which makes it a bit special.
(Why not “Blink”? Because the shine came off David Tennant for me so badly thanks to the ham-fisted way his tenure as the Doctor ended that it also came off retrospectively and now it’s hard to look at him without remembering all those dodgy lines delivered so shoutily. Also the Weeping Angels got so crap in their later appearances, so badly undermining their excellent core concept that their first appearance is also retroactively tainted. Also “Blink” is too obvious a choice to my mind and also also: Donna is fucking amazing in this episode so shut up.)
Doctor #11: The Girl Who Waited
Even though this episode double-guesses itself and decides that we can’t have two Amy Ponds running around out there after all (which would have been fantastic), up until its last-minute wimping out this is a great episode that does brilliant things with the parallel-universe-you trope. And again, it’s about the amazing, powerful and brave things that people do when the Doctor isn’t around. All of the emotional beats are really good too, even the bit where the Doctor lies to Amy and Rory (and Amy) because it’s the only way to get them to do what he wants them to.
(Why not “The Eleventh hour”? Partly because of amy’s stupid fanservice policewoman kissagram costume, but mostly because of the disappointment that came from realising that the Doctor actually wasn’t going to get an eleven-year-old companion. Which would have been fucking awesome.)
Doctor #12: The Caretaker
I’m a total sucker for the tension of high-concept scifi tropes in mundane settings, so killer robots in high schools really works for me. I also like the early part of this episode that montages snippets of around half a dozen adventures that Clara and the Doctor have, intercutting them with dates with the exceedingly hot Danny Pink, who is hot (by which I mean hotness in a physical and personality sense, which is hotness squared, not doubled, just in case you were wondering). Plus the bit where the Doctor casually shows Clara’s young mouthy student Courtney the inside of TARDIS just to shut her up is a lot of fun.
(Why not “Mummy on the Orient Express”? It was close, but “The Caretaker” was the first Capaldi episode that I genuinely liked, which was a relief after watching so many disappointing episodes. Sure, “Mummy” is good, but it also has less of the whole Danny Pink hotness, which is never a good thing.)
Anyway, there you go, internet. Another list involving opinions about Doctor Who. You’re welcome.