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For the first time on this website I will not be discussing my favourite video games or complaining about the Ratchet and Clank 2016 reboot. Instead I’m going to be discussing my favourite 57 year long sci-fi show Doctor Who. More specifically, I will be looking into my favourite episodes from each series of the rebooted show and why I believe they stand out amongst the rest.
Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched through the entirety of Doctor Who (2005-current), this article will contain some spoilers about key plot points and character arcs.
Series 1: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
“Are you my mummy?” isn’t a phrase that would scare most children, but if you grew up watching Doctor Who in the mid noughties then it would be positively terrifying! This two-part episode written by Steven Moffat sees the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler travel to the London blitz in World War 2 after they lock on to an alien device headed for London.
The episode has everything going for it; the intense story, the introduction of fan-favourite Captain Jack Harkness, the dynamic between Rose and The Doctor and, of course, gas mask zombies. There is something for everyone and in the end the episode is actually incredibly heart-warming.
Series 2: The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit
This is most likely an unexpected pick considering there are episodes such as ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’, ‘The Rise of the Cybermen’ and ‘Doomsday’ in this series. However, for me this Ood filled two-parter takes the cake. We see the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler stuck on a mining facility in space with no TARDIS and what appears to be The Devil (yes, quite literally the big bad from many different religious beliefs). Oh, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are also within the pull of a black hole.
The episodes are exceptionally good by Doctor Who standards, but I must admit I loved how they played around with the idea that The Devil was a real being from before even The Doctor or Galifrey existed. Doctor Who has played around with god-like beings before but never this bluntly and it really worked.
Series 3: Blink
I didn’t think the return of The Master could be overshadowed by much, but then Steven Moffat threw us one of the best Doctor Who episodes of all time and the weirdest part is The Doctor is barely in it!
We find ourselves following Sally Sparrow as she investigates a mysterious old house which is very dilapidated — aside from four angel statues. The weird thing is they seem to move around a lot… especially when you’re not looking.
Series 4: The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End
As much as I have loved every Doctor that came after, I have to admit David Tennant as The Tenth Doctor was something very special. This made it ridiculously hard to hear when they announced he would be leaving in 2009 and that series 4 would be his final full series.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, as Russell T Davies went out of his way to write one of the best stories in Doctor Who and one of the largest team ups in Doctor Who history. The return of Rose had been teased throughout the whole of series 4, but no one was prepared for the return of Captain Jack, Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, Mickey Smith, and Jackie Tyler. Not only all of that but we also saw the Daleks in their most dangerous form and the return of their ruthless creator Davros. This two-parter was truly a marvel to behold.
Series 5: Vincent and The Doctor
This episode is enough to make anyone cry. ‘Vincent and The Doctor’ shows Matt Smith at his absolute best as the Eleventh Doctor. Doctor Who is largely a show about an alien and their friends saving the day, but this episode was so much more.
It subtly showed the struggles of bad mental health through Vincent Van Gogh, but also the beauty that can come from seeing the world in your own unique way. This episode has in fact made me cry, and I’m not ashamed of that.
Series 6: The God Complex
This episode could have been the best for its idea alone. An eerie hotel where your room holds your deepest, darkest fear; it’s such a perfect Doctor Who setting. I can’t say it was executed to perfection, however I love the stakes of this episode and how everything works.
It’s a very smart episode, but also has a lot of emotional pay off by the end. Series 6 was definitely my least favorite in overall episode quality, but ‘The God Complex’ does help bring that quality back up a notch.
Series 7: The Angels Take Manhattan
This episode may not have been as scary as the first time we experienced the Weeping Angels back in ‘Blink’. However, they were still mightily terrifying, especially since they had essentially made a human farm to feed off of, and, naturally, Rory had to walk right into it.
This wasn’t the perfect send off for Amy and Rory in my opinion. However, it had everyone that deserved to be there, and the episode overall worked well. My only gripe is this: how in the hell is the Statue of Liberty a Weeping Angel? And more importantly, how did no one see the thing walking over to the building where the angels were farming humans?
Series 8: Listen
I’m sure it’s evident thus far that I love a creepy episode of Doctor Who, and for me that’s the exact reason why ‘Listen’ is the best in Series 8. I didn’t really care for the Danny Pinks distant relative tie-in and, subjectively, the episode as a whole wasn’t amazing. However, the idea of creature that’s core survival skill isn’t hunting or gathering but instead hiding is such a cool and scary concept.
The Silence have evolved to hide so well that the very reason you speak to yourself when in a room alone is because your brain can sense something but can’t comprehend what it is. Peter Capaldi’s acting and monologues as the Twelfth Doctor were also on point, making the atmosphere for this episode that bit spookier.
Series 9: Heaven Sent
‘Heaven Sent’ was the episode where I realised how great of an actor Peter Capaldi actually is. He is completely alone throughout the entirety of this episode. When he talks, he’s only talking to himself or to the monster that is constantly following him (and even then, the monster never replies).
The ‘first second of eternity’ monologue at the end is done to perfection, and was put together incredibly well by the post production team. Of course, the cherry on top was after all these years we finally returned to Galifrey, in all of its post-Time War glory; a planet that until recently was critically underused.
Series 10: World Enough and Time
Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor aged like fine wine; only getting better series after series. This therefore for me is the best episode Peter Capaldi did as the Twelfth Doctor. It’s trippy as hell, featuring a spaceship where at one end time is going slower than the other, so The Doctor’s companion Bill ends up waiting months for The Doctor to save her, when for him it would have only been hours or even minutes.
We realise throughout the episode that the patients in the hospital Bill is staying are actually the original Mondasian Cybermen, as they are being first upgraded. ‘World Enough and Time’ is at its creepiest when Bill comes across one of the half-converted Mondasians who is constantly trying to communicate the words ‘pain’ and ‘kill me’ to anyone who comes near. It’s incredibly dark and the situation is only made that much more dire when it is revealed that John Simms’ Master is behind everything.
Series 11: Rosa
Some people have complained heavily about how politically correct they believe Doctor Who has become since Chris Chibnall took over as lead writer for the show. I must admit I have, at times, found that his political messages that should be more subtle have been way too on the nose. However, I loved this episode centered around the story of Rosa Parks and her defiance against racism in the 1950’s.
I think the main reason I enjoyed this episode is that it didn’t have an alien enemy act as the main villain. I liked it because they made racists and racism as a whole the main villain, and then had a side villain which helped tie everything together to make sense for the show. I didn’t like how they made Graham the white man who Rosa refused to give up her seat to, as he’s the most loveable member of this series’ TARDIS crew, but I can equally appreciate the writing and why they made this decision. Overall, ‘Rosa’ is truly just a great historical episode that really hits home about a fight that is still very much going on to this day.
Series 12: The Haunting of Villa Diodati
Before I start on this episode I just want to say that I absolutely loved Sacha Dhawan as The Master and can not wait to see more of him, however ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’ was written so perfectly and so creepily in the right context that I couldn’t not put it at the top spot for this series. The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and the gang visit Mary Shelley on the night she got the idea for Frankenstein. However, the ghost stories start to become all too real with moving skeleton hands, invisible doorways, and infinitely recycling rooms.
There is a reason behind all this, and that is the prophesised lone Cyberman who has come to get a piece of stolen cyber-technology from the household. The Doctor naturally tries to fight this Cyberman but there’s something different about it. It’s more than just going about its mission. The Cyberman is angry. It’s still too human. This all sets up one of the best and most controversial Doctor Who finales in history but stands so well on its own two feet that it simply had to be placed in the top spot for the most recent series.
There we have it. The best episode from every rebooted Doctor Who series. There are definitely some controversial picks in there, but I stand by everything. If you are interested in other lists I have written, check out my two-man ranking of the Uncharted series or my ranking of the entire Ratchet and Clank series.
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