(No spoilers in this post, but there probably will be some in the comments.)
With the fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who coming up in a few days, I figured now was a good time to write a list of my favorite episodes from the show. Hopefully The Day of the Doctor will surpass everything on this list, but just in case it doesn’t, I’m setting my expectations low. For those who don’t know anything about Doctor Who, click here for a quick summary.
Another thing: I will not include the episode Blink in this list, simply because I find the episode to be slightly overrated and the idea behind the weeping angels was stolen from Stephen King. Also, every single top ten episode list for Doctor Who has Blink at the top, and I want to separate myself from the rest of the pack.
Oh, and two-parters count as one episode.
Did anyone else find this to be an extremely underrated episode? It was a ghost story turned sci-fi story turned love story, and I think it was handled well. Not to mention, this episode had one of the few moments in series 7b when Clara and the Doctor had a genuine, heart-to heart conversation. My problem with Clara is that apart from her first two episodes, she barely had any room to develop as a character. We don’t know much about her except she’s sassy, good with kids, and likes to make soufflés. Here, she finally says something (besides, “It’s smaller on the outside,”) which separates her from all the other companions.
9) The Doctor’s Wife:
I’m going to be honest. I was a tiny bit disappointed with this episode when I first watched it. It was a great episode, sure, but I had been told repeatedly beforehand that it was the best episode of series six. When I finished it I found myself thinking, “That was it?” (The same thing happened to me with Blink, by the way.) It was a great episode—good enough to make it on the top ten list—but it was in no way the best episode of the entire show. Not even the best of series six, if I dare say so.
Why does this make the list? First off, Neil Gaiman wrote it, which is always a plus, and secondly, the Tardis is manifested into a human body, which might just be the greatest premise for a Doctor Who episode since The Mind Robber. There’s also so many references to past Doctor Who episodes that the whole episode just feels like a love letter to the show, and I’m okay with that.
8) Human Nature/Family of Blood:
There’s several reasons why this episode stands above all the rest. Jeremy Baines, the possessed student, had the creepiest smile ever, John Smith was a lovable idiot, and I think this is the first episode where Martha truly got to shine as a companion. I mean, how could you not like Martha in this episode? She was terrific.
But let’s talk about that ending. Holy shit that ending was dark. Darker than the night sky when there’s no moon out and some guy just threw a blanket over your head. I think this might be the darkest thing Tennant’s Doctor’s ever done. And there were plenty of other emotional scenes as well, and the weird smart kid got a satisfying ending.
Why doesn’t Paul Cornell write more episodes?
7) The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit:
Man, Doctor Who sure likes to use the word “Impossible” to describe things. This was one of the few DW episodes to legitimately scare me. In addition to that, there was: 1) The first appearance of the Ood, 2) The Devil himself makes an appearance, 3) Rose is at her very best in this episode. I didn’t want to punch her at all. And 4) the soundtrack was nice.
6) The Empty Child/The Doctor Dance
This was the episode that got me to fully commit to Doctor Who. Up till then, the first series didn’t amaze me. I liked the Charles Dickens episode, Dalek was decent, and Father’s Day was a heart-breaker, but everything else was average, and the slitheen episodes were below that.
This episode introduced the well-loved Jack Harkness, a con-man from the fifty-first century who flirts with just about everything that moves. There’s also the scariest monsters yet, plus the ninth Doctor is at his most likable, and you can’t forget Nancy, who’s a lot like Mary Poppins, according to my mom.
Oh, and that ending is just… *tears*
5) A Christmas Carol:
This episode was inspired by Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, as you could already tell, except it features a flying shark and a time traveling alien.
I love the way this episode’s puts its own twists on the original story, especially the ghost of Christmas future part. Sure, it ignores all the previously set rules of time travel, but Doctor Who was never really good at continuity. This episode was the perfect combination of wit, emotion, and good, frolicky fun. What’s not to love?
4) Vincent and the Doctor:
Best ending ever? Perhaps, especially since they played the absolute perfect song for the scene, and whoever played Vincent Van Gogh (pronounced “Gohf,” as I learned) deserves an award or two.
But hey, let’s talk about the rest of the episode. This was the first episode after a certain thing happened to Rory, and I like how you could definitely see the change in Amy. If you were to just start watching this episode with no knowledge of what came before, you could probably tell there was something missing with her, and not just for the obvious reasons.
Holy tense atmosphere, Batman!
What I like about this episode is that it’s just a bunch of people trapped in a single room with no visible monster shown, yet it’s still terrifying. It’s not the type of scary that keeps you up at night; it’s the type that keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout the entire episode.
2) The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
First off, let’s look at this episode from a cinematic standpoint. The special effects were the best they’ve ever been, the soundtrack was amazing, and the whole time I felt like I was watching a movie. A clever, high-budget movie with aliens.
Then there’s the Silents, (or Silence?) who were great forgettable villains. I’m surprised no one else had come up with them yet. They looked a little like Slenderman.
The best part about this episode was that even with its lightning fast pace, it still managed to find time to develop the characters. River Song has a heart-felt monologue that not only shows how tragic her story is, but also shows insight on Rory’s feelings of jealousy towards Amy and the Doctor (which also resolved by the end of the episode). Then there’s Canton, who’s the greatest one-off companion the show has had so far.
The story resolved in a way that was so clever, part of my mind exploded, which I guess explains why I can no longer figure out how to tie my shoes. it’s also a bit disturbing if you think about it, but I wouldn’t hold it against the Doctor; he’s probably forgotten about it anyway.
1) Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
What I like about this and the episode above is that they both improve the other. In The Impossible Astronaut, River says, “The day is coming when I’ll look into that man’s eyes, my Doctor, and he won’t have the faintest idea who I am. And I think it’s going to kill me.” And then in this episode when the Doctor tells her he doesn’t know who she is, you could see how sad that makes her.
This is one of those science fiction stories that confuses the hell out of you in the beginning but slowly starts to make more sense as it goes on. Also, I should mention the chilling soundtrack, not just River’s Last Run but whatever music was playing in the playground scene that kind of sounded like a bee.
Anyway, terrific episode. It brought a heart-shaped tear to my eye.
Honorable Mentions: Asylum of the Daleks, The Water of Mars, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, The Girl in the Fireplace, The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex, The Snowmen, The Crimson Horror, Father’s Day, and Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways.
Agree? Disagree? Kind of agree but not really? Comment below with your favorite episodes.