I’m sorry. Two Doctor Who posts in one month? I basically got my fewest hits ever on a post (and no comments) the last time I posted about Doctor Who. So clearly, no one really cares.
But I do. And I’m kind of obsessed right now. After the first five episodes of season seven (which was probably the greatest five-episode stretch in the history of the new version of the show), and after re-watching many season 1-5 episodes on Netflix, I just can’t stop thinking about this fucking show. And so I decided to do a list of my five favorite episodes, except then I upped it to six, because I couldn’t decide which of the six to do away with. So here we go, in descending order.
Also, major spoilers.
6. The Eleventh Hour (Season Five, Episode One). This one introduced us to Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, and in my case, by the time little Amelia Pond fed him fish fingers and custard, I was asking myself “David Tennant? Who’s that?” The actual plot of this episode is fine, no complaints, but nothing spectacular. But it’s so great because you get a sense right away of who Eleven is, and what kind of rapport he’ll have with Amy. This was the first episode of the Steven Moffat era, and he definitely started things off right.
5. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (Season Four, Episodes Eight and Nine) This two-parter found the Doctor (Ten) and Donna on a planet called The Library, and confused why it’s deserted. Scary shit happens in the shadows, and we meet the wonderful Professor River Song who knows the Doctor well, though he doesn’t know her. These episodes have a lot going for them, including a question of alternate realities (what really exists and what doesn’t), River Song’s presence, and a good scare factor – when I see shadows, to this day, I think of the Vashta Nerada.
4. The Waters of Mars (Television Special, 2009). I can’t quite figure out when in the Who-niverse this was supposed to take place. It aired between seasons four and five if I recall, but it featured David Tennant. The Doctor is traveling alone and finds himself on Mars in 2059 at the first human colony ever created on the red planet. The Doctor realizes when he appeared there – the day that the entire crew mysteriously dies. This is a fixed point in time, so the Doctor tries to leave, knowing he’s leaving the crew to their deaths. But something in him snaps and he decides he is able to change time, so he manages to save three of them, without thinking of the consequences. What makes this episode so spectacular is just how angry The Doctor was. There’s a fair amount of talk in the series about how the Doctor needs to travel with a human companion to help keep his Time Lordiness in check. But this was the first episode where we actually get to see him lose his humanity. The Doctor got kind of scary there, yelling and really believing, that time should bend to his will.
3. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (Season One, Episodes Nine and Ten) Another two-parter, this time with the Ninth Doctor. This episode finds Rose and The Doctor traveling to London during The Blitz in WWII, where they meet up with suave con man, Jack Harkness (A time agent), Nancy, the supposed older sister to a gas-mask wearing boy looking for his Mummy, and Doctor Constantine who is trying to care for patients who all seem to have gas masks fused to their faces. This episode stands out for introducing us to Jack Harkness (who would be given his own spinoff, Torchwood, after his performance here). This was near the end of the first season, and it really was the first episode that felt to me like this show could be damn good, rather than just a silly diversion. Once I’d watched this, I realized what all the fuss was about.
2. The Angels Take Manhattan (Season Seven, Episode Five). This is the most recent episode, which just aired last week. And it was un-fucking-believable, in its awesomeness. I’m a huge Eleven/Amy/Rory fangirl (obviously the best Doctor/companion combo ever), and this one – Amy and Rory’s last – brought forth everything I love about that combo in their last ride together. The fact that the Doctor is just as much their companion as they are his, that there’s been an unspoken terseness between them ever since River Song’s identity was revealed, and that they care so deeply about each other. All beautiful things. Also, weeping angels – those scary fuckers.
1. Blink (Season Three, Episode Ten). Season Three was kind of dull. By far my least favorite season. But, the one very bright spot was this episode. This episode is the one I tell people to watch first, if they are thinking about watching Doctor Who. I just can’t say enough good things about Blink. Some episodes of Doctor Who are great, but could be a little scarier, or funnier, or have better dialogue, or a more interesting plot. This episode has everything going for it. The time-travel paradoxes we love so much, sharp witty dialogue, insanely scary monsters (those weeping angels – their first appearance!), and best of all – an incredible performance by Carey Mulligan, who carried the episode on her shoulders. Seriously, even if you aren’t interested in watching Doctor Who, do check out this episode. It works great as a stand-alone – no prior knowledge of Doctor Who is necessary!
What say you? Anything you totally disagree with on my list? Others you think I should have considered?
* Yes, I am aware that I have no Old Who episodes listed. Listen – there are a ton of old episodes. The thing ran from the sixties through the late eighties! And I did try to watch some of the Tom Baker era on Netflix. My problem is that the sound was really tinny and I had trouble hearing anything. Also, really tinny sounds are headache-inducing. It’s basically why I can’t watch the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special at Christmas time. The sound gives me a headache. Sorry for being a bad Who-fan.