And so, I’m going to continue with a post I have planned on writing for a while. By now, it’s no secret I have eclectic tastes. The title of my blog itself is Eclectic Corner! So you’ve probably noticed I’m a bunch of things: news junkie, activist, and critic. I am also a lover of sci-fi and fantasy – as such, it shouldn’t be too surprising that I am a major fan of “Doctor Who.”
(Below: the short introduction to the series including in season 6.)
Until then, though, I only have the newer episodes to go off of. And to the credit of the writers, they have done a very good job with this show in recent years. “Doctor Who” as a show is almost 50 years old (the character of the Doctor himself is thousands of years old by now); it has been viewed by many of my friends who watched the classic series as well, so I can confirm: despite the challenge of continuing a story that was built off of that many years of material (with only a few breaks in the show’s airing), the new writing team has subtly blended classic and new very well. As a result, while hints are often dropped in the show related to events in classic episodes, the series itself is easily accessible to viewers starting to watch the show from 2005 on.
Thanks to the new writing team(s), “Doctor Who” has become a major success in its relaunch – which wasn’t quite a relauch, since it continued the story of the show, but, well, I digress; the history of “Doctor Who” is just as long and tedious as the history of the Doctor himself can be. But the history of the show is not why I’m here.
Today, to help me pass the time until the new Christmas special episode comes out next week, I want to list my top five favorite episodes. Now, important things to note: this was actually tricky to do, because I watched all of this new series within a four-week period just a few months ago. Episodes blurred together very quickly as a result! However, a few quick searches and reviews of the storylines later, I found I did remember plenty of episodes – and decided to go with that as my standard for narrowing down my list and choosing an episode. Memorable is always a good thing! Secondly, I will briefly explain why I love these episodes; however, I will not do much to describe the episodes, as doing so is often very spoilerific to the storyline of the show overall. Additionally, I AM counting two-parters as one episode on this list. How can I not? They’re part of the same story, and to separate them would be like asking me to pick which of my hypothetical twin daughters I love more. I couldn’t do it!
So, on that note, my top five episodes:
Not quite making the cut for this list, this episode was a wonderful addition to the story going on at the time. I can’t discuss it in much detail, because, well, “Spoilers!” (Sorry. Inside joke among us Whovians.) What I can say is that this episode had everything fans could have asked for: epic explosions, hilarious lines, tears of joy and anguish occurring within moments of each other – and, of course, the revelation of just who in the world a character who mysteriously knew secrets about the Doctor actually was. Still, despite some brilliant acting in this episode, it didn’t quite make the list; the episode immediately following it didn’t do much to help its rating, either.
Love. Love. Love. “The Doctor’s Wife” was penned by Neil Gaiman. Really, do I need any other reasons to love it? Well, here they are: we get to see more of the TARDIS, a rare treat on this show; the scenes aboard the hijacked TARDIS are genuinely disturbing as a malicious force plays cat-and-mouse with the Doctor’s companions; and all the while, the Doctor and his TARDIS, which is stuck in a makeshift human form, are struggling to build a new time machine to catch up the one in space.
So much win, all around, I can’t even begin to explain.
These episodes presented a wonderful conclusion to the story arcs in the 4th season of “Doctor Who.” The writers were definitely on top of their game: they pulled their punches when they needed to, revealed some sweet surprises to hook viewers in even more than they already were, and, most importantly, finally fans of the show learned what had happened to many of their favorite characters since we last saw them – and showed where they were going next in their lives. In other words: this two-parter did a fantastic job wrapping up storylines that had been developing since season one, including a romantic relationship fans had been dying to see some closure for. And the final scenes can still bring a tear to my eye. It’s doing something right, that’s for sure.
“Blink” is a pretty well-recognized episode. Unlike other episodes on this list, talking about it wouldn't spoil the story in the overall show; it’s a stand-alone episode made specifically to allow for extra filming time for the main cast of the show. But it’s also a brilliant and popular stand-alone episode. The Doctor is stuck in the 1960s, without the ability to access his time machine; it’s up to a girl in the present to help him get that machine back. Somehow, they must find a way to communicate over the decades of time between them. Now, if only she could shake the feeling that she’s being watched and followed…
Definitely watch this episode, everyone, as it needs no knowledge of the show itself to be enjoyed. It's one of the best examples of how complicated and wonky time travel can get. Also: don’t blink.
This was it, guys. This was the point I knew I would love “Doctor Who." While I immensely enjoyed the first few episodes in the first season of the relaunch, this is the episode that convinced me, yeah. This is a good show. “The Empty Child” and it’s follow-up episode are probably the most creepy episodes in the series, at least for me. I truly find these episodes downright frightening at moments. But maybe that’s my fault for watching them, alone, at 3 AM; now they'll haunt me forever, I just know it. For me, the confusion as to why a being that looks like a child (but is said to not be a child) is wandering the streets of London during the London Blitz, and why the other children in the city are terrified of him...between all of those factors, there's definitely quite a tense atmosphere for our poor Doctor to stumble into in this episode. And then, of course, there's the hospital scenes, revealing just how much damage has supposedly been caused by this "child"...they make me shudder, they're so eerie. At the same time, though, after all of the tension, fear, and anguish that push these episodes forward to their climax, we the audience get a moment where the Doctor is really, truly happy. This is a very rare occurrence in the show, and his glee in the moment of the danger's conclusion is intoxicating. All in all? These two eps are well shot, well written, and always make my heart race for all the right reasons.
But a note for you, readers: please, please, please, never buy me a gas mask, and never ever ask me, "Are you my mummy?" EVER.
You know, this was close. It really was. Because, well, I adore my number two choice! But I cannot deny: these episodes are the ones I can watch over and over again, and find something new to appreciate almost every time. In these episodes, the Doctor briefly becomes human to hide from the aliens chasing him. Of course, he falls in love with a woman he meets in his human life, while his companion watches desperately wondering what she can do without blowing her or the Doctor's cover. It’s a cliché plot device, the romance and the Doctor ultimately having to choose between his old or his new life, but what sells me in this episode are two things: the simple yet disturbing nature of the villains looking for the Doctor in these episodes, and David Tennant’s acting. David Tennant, the 10th doctor, is a fan-favorite actor in "Doctor Who" for a reason, and this episode definitely highlights just what a wonderful, polished acting range this man has; it’s actually worth watching the episodes again once you know what happens just to catch how quickly he can jump between scenes and personalities as needed. And, of course, the nod to the young boy who becomes an old veteran in the end is just beautiful. It may not have the happy ending that "The Empty Child" did, but honestly, that sits with me just fine, and adds the right amount of drama and flavor this episode needed to get pushed above "The Empty Child" on my list. All in all, these are the best “Doctor Who” episodes I’ve seen to date. Wonderful writing, fantastic acting, and to top it all off, a perfectly bittersweet ending that fans in this series are all too familiar with.
Agree? Disagree? Tell me what your favorite episodes are in the comments!