Seeing as the new season of Britain’s No.1 show is returning on Saturday the 19th, I thought I’d count down my Top 10 episodes of Doctor Who (New Who specifically). As I can’t quite choose the order of my Top 10, I’m going to put them in the order in which they first aired. Also, I plan to be a bit sneaky and include official two parters as one, because they’re ONE adventure, I may also include just part 1’s also.
Season 1 is my favourite, Christopher Eccleston is my favourite Doctor. This season has a fantastic feeling, it’s very sharp and witty, the dialogue is incredible and the morals are deep and meaningful.
The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances
Future showrunner Stephen Moffat cut his Who teeth in this fantastic (see what I did there) two parter set in war torn London, as a boy wearing a gas mark stalks people through the shadows under the Blitz. Not only did this story give us Captain Jack Harkness, which in turn spawned Torchwood and one of the shows most interesting and charismatic characters, it gave us New Who’s first genuinely scary episode.
From this point on “Are you mummy?” would send shivers down the spines of children and parents alike, once again putting viewers behind the sofas again. Not only that, but it was interesting to see The Doctor in this era, the music, the style, all made for a great backdrop, especially as its set in one dangerous night. It has great characters, great dialogue “I’m really glad that worked, those would have been terrible last words” and a lovely ending, “Everybody lives” which defines The Doctor entirely.
Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways
New Who’s first great finale, tying together strands from across the series and pulling them together into one hell of a two parter. Starting out with levity as The Doctor and companions end up in game shows, “You’ve got to be kidding me”, then heartbreak, before building to a cliffhanger that has you punching the air. That’s just part 1.
Part 2 is a masterclass. The script from showrunner Russell T Davies has some of my favourite ever Who lines.
“What are you, coward or killer?”
“Coward, any day”
They don’t write em’ like that anymore. The rest of the episode has extraordinary battles, sad deaths, stunning music, exquisite characters and my favourite final line of any character, ever.
“Before I go, I just wanna tell you, you were fantastic, absolutely fantastic. and do you know what. So was I”
Christopher Ecclestons one season as The Doctor was incredible. His Doctor was the perfect mix of humour and darkness, brashness and sensitivity. He was a survivor of a great war, and you can tell. Once he found Rose, the show became a love story, grand and sweeping and epic, yet it was utterly human. It paved the way for the show as it would become. A lot lighter, and damned fun.
As a debut season for David Tennant, it lacked the dramatic, overarching weight of Eccelston or Smith, but it gave us the fun, joyful exuberance that the show needed. Even though it has one of the saddest TV finales in history, it was down to the fact that we cared so much about these characters and loved spending time with them.
The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit
The only Season 2 storyline to appear here. It’s a wonderfully eerie and chilling story set aboard a space station orbiting a black hole, where the devil may just be hiding underneath the ground. It’s genuinely scary as The Doctor and Rose are trapped on the station, and we get a real old pagany devily vibe. The music really encapsulates the feel of the ‘beast’ and hell, Murray Gold continues to excel.
The idea is ingenious, an impossible planet stationary above a black hole, the story is gripping, the atmosphere chilling, the action feels like it has consequence and it has some fabulous metaphors and imagery regarding death and fear. The effects work at the end is particularly brilliant and the characters are well drawn and make you care about them.
With Rose gone, a new companion must step in. Martha Jones, one of many fantastically written female characters, saves the world, and would do anything for The Doctor, who, in the end chooses to leave the Tardis, as her love for The Doctor can’t be reciprocated. It is a hit and miss season, but it does have a superb 3 part final, reintroducing The Master and Captain Jack and saying goodbye to a wonderful companion in Martha.
The idea is brilliant, a never ending traffic jam, in which people live aboard their shuttles and don’t know if they’ll ever get out. It has a great blade runner vibe, with rainy streets, smog and flying cars and depicts the future in brilliant ways such as emotion patches used like drugs.
As The Doctor climbs aboard a shuttle, running into the likes of Ardal O’Hanlon and Lenora Crichlow, he climbs down, jumping from one shuttle to another. It’s just a really great concept episode, with great dialogue and a fitting final journey to New New Earth. In the end, we see the Face of Bo for his final parting message “You are not alone”, which sets up the seasons final episodes in enigmatic fashion. A great episode.
The episode the everyone loves and everyone recommends. A standalone story by Stephen Moffat with barely any Doctor in it, that introduces us to the shows most terrifying and ingenious monsters ever. The Weeping Angels are the sort of creature that, when you come up with that idea, you would rest for about a month patting yourself on the back for it.
The episode is creepy, scary and majestically written with great dialogue and a fantastic lead performance from Carey Mulligan. Simply put, this episode is most famous for the brilliant introduction of Doctor Who’s greatest creation, need I say more. And remember.
“Don’t blink. Blink and you’re dead. They are fast. Faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Good Luck.”
I can’t think of a more exciting episode that this. It starts with the great return of Captain Jack, hopping over from Torchwood, clinging to the Tardis, and takes us to the end of the universe where all remaining life exists, who are readying to head on one final hopeful journey. Then we find out that Professor YANA is The Master, who promptly regenerates from Derek Jacobi into John Smith and steals the Tardis, leaving The Doctor and his friends trapped at the end of everything. Blimey.
Not only is it the surprising beginning of a great two part finale involving The Master taking over the world, but it also has a great atmosphere, exciting action, warm humour and The Doctor and Jack catching up, which as a fan, really excites me. Jacobi is fantastic, John Simm, in his one small scene is instantly brilliant, and we end on an almighty cliffhanger. Great stuff.
I always divide Season 4 into two halves. The first 7 episodes, I think range from bad to rubbish. Yet, the remaining 6 episodes are a continuous run of superb episode after superb episode. 5 home runs followed by one that’s still great, but a bit less so. Donna Noble is the show’s greatest surprise companion, incredibly loveable, funny and the perfect foil for Tennant’s Doctor.
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
Another genius idea from Moffat. An entire planet that’s a library, filled with deadly shadows that will rip the flesh from your bones. An eerie beginning, a riveting central mystery. great characters (Poor Mrs Evangelista) and the introduction of River Song. It’s funny, exciting and exceedingly well executed.
There’s also great emotion, from both The Doctor and Donna, which ups the stakes and makes it memorable. I just want to go to that planet of books, where whole continents are for biography’s. Ingenious. The first two episodes in Season 4’s solid gold run. The next of which is…
Written by Russell T Davies, this episodes has no Donna, but The Doctor with a bunch of strangers in a shuttle on a tour of a diamond planet.
“Ahh, taking a big space truck with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight? What could possibly go wrong?”
This is the shows ‘bottle episode’, combining tense atmosphere, genius script, a never seen villain, incredible performances and real fear. The episode shows what happens when The Doctor can’t talk his way out of everything, when the passengers turn on him it’s genuinely unnerving as we see him failing to save himself, the fear is real. Not because of what’s knocking on the outside, when nothing can survive out there, but the fact that The Doctor is not in control. When he says “Because I’m clever” you’re not charmed, you’re scared.
The concentration it must have took to repeat all those lines in sync is incredible. The whole thing is brilliant.
The moment in which we see the Titanic crash into London and create a mushroom cloud in the distance, gives me utter chills every time. The alternate universe storyline is one of the shows finest ever hours and the greatest performance Catherine Tate gave as Donna, who appears in all of this episode, with barely any of Tennant.
In my opinion, these two episodes are the show’s pinnacle, solid gold classics. This one is genius, utter genius. Written with flair, imagination and bravery, seeing all of The Doctor’s past adventures unfold differently, watching humanity dissolve, its almost like a post apocalyptic tale. Which it mirrors in its darker scenes. There is nothing about this that didn’t just hit the spot for me. From the music which echoes the changes in this new universe, to the characters and the set up for the finale. It’s all good, all the time.
Boy can Catherine Tate act.
The Stolen Earth
5 of my favourites in a row. This episode really struck a chord with me, again. The moment in which we hear the Daleks and we see Sarah Jane shaking and Jack says that there’s nothing he can do, it give me chills just watching it. It’s a true epic episode, bringing together all of New Who’s companions in one glorious maelstrom of entertainment. As a fan, this was like Doctor Who crack.
Whilst the concluding part 2 didn’t follow up this episode with something equally as great, it was only ever going to be disappointing. The stolen Earth also has the show’s greatest cliffhanger, The Doctor suddenly faces unexpected regeneration, when we had no idea, just after he and Rose had been reunited dammit. This was bloomin’ good TV, event telly and I loved every second of it.
Special mention to Season 5.
It is my second favourite season of Who. Matt Smith is a superb Doctor and the whole series has a wonderful fairytale vibe. Amy Pond is amazing and there are some great episodes.
Time of Angels/Flash an Stone
Brilliantly written. Scary. Exciting. Great imagination.
The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
A fantastic finale. End of the universe. Great surprises and reveals. Characters. Speeches. Loved it.
Sorry that there’s none from any later seasons, but for me the show started going down hill a bit, particularly hard in Season 7. Even with great moments, excellent performances, cinematography and humour, it was never as good for me as when I was growing up.
Special shout out to Murray Gold, the man who, no matter what, is consistently fantastic. His soundtracks for each season are varied and incredible, ranging from beautiful to exciting. Here’s one of my favourite pieces of his.
Anyway, if you’ve got this far, thanks. Let me know if you liked it, give me a like or leave a comment, it would be much appreciated. 🙂