Favourite New Who Episodes by Doctor (because why not right?)

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.

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6 comments on “Favourite New Who Episodes by Doctor (because why not right?)
  1. outlandinstitute says:

    As one of the people involved in the voting mentioned above, we used a “top three” system which may have meant occasionally people’s second choices tended to come out on top of more polarising selections. Except Blink, which won by a landslide.

    I definitely had The Girl Who Waited in my top three! One of the interesting things watching the four in a row is to see that the show – which I had been worried was a little homogenous compared to any ten years span of the first run – has distinct phases, and means there has now been something for everyone (speaking as someone who ADORED the Capaldi season and didn’t really get much out of Nine and Ten’s run).

    In conclusion, you should probably give money to this Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/labcoatman/night-terrace-season-two

    BAM! Didn’t see that coming, did you Adam?

    • Adam Ford says:

      I was initially embarrassed by my OCD tendencies when I asked you for the rankings of your vote, but got over it pretty quickly and also was pleased to see The Girl Who Waited at #2 for Doctor Eleven.

      Re: non-homogeneity, I however have just rewatched “Father’s Day” and “Turn Left” and both feature the time-space continuum being saved by someone jumping in front of a car. So there’s that.

      And I may not have seen the kickstarter plug coming, but I have given money to it already. So there’s that as well.

  2. Heath Graham says:

    Good selections from you and from the Splendid Chaps. Nice to be reminded there was some great stuff in there, I got bogged down by the bad to the point that I’ve still not watched all of the latest season.

  3. Sally Evans says:

    Glad to see some love for The Girl Who Waited. I’m not sure if it’s my favourite of the Smith episodes, but it’s up there. (I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite from the Capaldis, because they’ve all been more or less equally underwhelming for me, but then again, in retrospect, so were a lot of the Eccleston eps and he remains my nearly-favourite Doctor.) Also, I love that this is skewed so heavily towards stories that focus on the companions.

    • Adam Ford says:

      What IS your fave Smith? I was thinking about some others I quite like, including “Hide”, which again does something interesting with time travel by having the TARDIS move ONLY in time and not in space, and “The Doctor’s Wife”, but that may have more to do with my crush on Suranne Jones (though I was very pleased to see a new love interest being played by someone not in their twenties, too).

      • Sally Evans says:

        How did I miss replying to this?! My favourite Smith episodes are a tie between two sets of double episodes, so, like, there’s four favourites. I love Hungry Earth/Cold Blood and I love The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People, and I’ll actually admit to a fondness for A good Man Goes To War. The whole River Song arc actually doesn’t frustrate me as much on a retrospective viewing and I appreciate her character more. And also, yes, The Doctor’s Wife is wonderful on a lot of levels, it’s probably #5 on the list (or #2, depending on the numbering protocol you use).

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About Adam

I'm a dad and the author of the poetry collections The Third Fruit is a Bird and Not Quite the Man for the Job, the novel Man Bites Dog and the short story collection Heroes and Civilians.
contact: adamatsya@gmail.com
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