I recently found on the website Doctor Who TV its recent vote (and subsequent poll results) of all the new episodes of Doctor Who (aka New Who since 2005), in which fans voted for their favourite episode 1 and so on, to create a dream series. This caused me to start thinking about what my list would look like (and as you know by now, I like lists!), so I thought I’d choose my own dream 13 episode series of new Doctor Who (plus a Special for each showrunner). In the same format as Doctor Who TV, I’ve also chosen my “nightmare series” too, but that’ll be a separate post.
I found the results rather interesting (for a start I only have six out of 15 in common with Doctor Who TV’s poll). I’ll start with the disclaimer that I loved the 10th Doctor played by David Tennant. I watched the series on its return because I’d enjoyed Paul McGann’s movie and really admired Chris Eccleston, but I kept watching because I loved David’s portrayal of this bonkers mad man in a box. Therefore, where it’s been a tough call between two episodes, it’s inevitable that if one is a number 10 and the other isn’t, most of the time 10 will prevail (although, not always). It’s therefore interesting to see the spread of episodes. I found making my choice quite tough for certain slots and fairly easy for others, for example, I imagine most people would choose the same episode for episode three. The toughest for me was by far episode 10 – Vincent and the Doctor vs. Blink vs. Midnight vs. The Doctor Dances. That’s tough as all four would likely make my list of favourite episodes.
So, without further delay, here are my choices for my personal dream series of new Doctor Who. All photos are courtesy of the BBC. Please feel free to comment in the comments below!
Episode 1 – Partners In Crime (series 4, 10th Doctor)
This was quite a tough choice and was between three episodes for me. In the end it had to be the series 4 opener. Yes the story is on the bonkers side, but it saw the return of Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and I love the silliness of it. Doctor Who is so much fun in this episode and both David and Catherine are wonderful in it. The mime scene in particular is just priceless! Notable mentions must go to Matt’s debut The Eleventh Hour (my second choice), which is a great story and showcased how wonderful Matt would be in the role (and remains one of his best) and also Asylum of the Daleks, in which we unexpectedly met Clara (secret well kept!) and her tragic story was quite powerful.
Episode 2 – Tooth & Claw (series 2, 10th Doctor)
I’ve always enjoyed this episode and tend to come back to it every so often. David and Billie have such a great, fun relationship and that really shows through their chemistry in this werewolf story. We see the beginnings of Torchwood and watch with amusement as Rose desperately tries to get Queen Victoria to say she is not amused! David Tennant often says this was the episode during filming when he felt he had got to grips with his Doctor and I think it shows (plus, yes he does look very hot throughout!). Notable mention for series one’s The End of the World, which almost nabbed the spot for the last few moments between the Doctor and Rose.
Episode 3 – School Reunion (series 2, 10th Doctor)
Compiling this list highlighted to me how weak episode three tends to be, but I think School Reunion would always be tough to beat. Anthony Head is a great villain and the scene between him and the 10th Doctor by the pool showed the darker side of this new Doctor. More importantly it brought back Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. Her first meeting with David’s Doctor is so beautifully done and David and Lis are fantastic throughout. It seems even more poignant now that Elisabeth Sladen is no longer with us.
Episode 4 – The Girl In The Fireplace (series 2, 10th Doctor)
Completing a strong trio of episodes for me from series two is The Girl in the Fireplace. This remains for me one of Steven Moffat’s finest writing achievements (and it amazes me to think of some of the weaker material he has come up with since, but that’s another debate!). With its intricate plot, moving between the past, present and future, we see the poignant story of Madame De Pompadour and her connection to the Doctor is lovely. David and Sophia Myles have fantastic chemistry throughout and the end always brings a tear to me eye. Murray Gold’s music is also a highlight of the episode. Notable mention to The Doctor’s Wife from series six, in which Matt’s Doctor gets to have an adventure with the TARDIS!
Episode 5 – The Angels Take Manhattan (series 7, 11th Doctor)
Another relatively weak selection for this episode but this farewell to Amy and Rory is fantastic. The Weeping Angels return and are back to being menacing again after their appearance in series 5, where the breaking necks plotline seemed disappointing to me after how scary they were in Blink. There are also some beautiful moments here – the Doctor reading to Amy on the rock in Central Park, Amy and Rory jumping together (for which Murray Gold writes one of my favourite pieces of music), the creepy introduction of the Cherubs and then the tragic moment Amy leaves the Doctor. I wasn’t a huge fan of Amy (and always thought Rory was a far more interesting character), but for me, what made this end so emotional was that it had nothing to do with the Doctor – Amy chose to be with her soulmate Rory and that was beautiful.
Episode 6 – Dalek (series 1, 9th Doctor)
One of my favourites from Chris’s only series is the reintroduction of the Daleks. Since the show returned it was what everyone was waiting for and Dalek is brilliant in that it brings them back – but only one. Through this one creature we see how ruthless they can be but also, at the same time, we are made to feel sorry for it too! The moment the Doctor realises what is in the cell with him is superbly acted by Chris and the moment the Dalek elevates up the stairs is a lovely nod to its past limitations. Billie Piper is also fantastic here, demonstrating just how important Rose already is to the Doctor and the series.
Episode 7 – The Unicorn & The Wasp (series 4, 10th Doctor)
This is another favourite of mine. It’s just so funny and Catherine and David are superb, particularly in the hilarious poisoning kitchen scene! All the Agatha Christie titles are fun to spot and Fenella Woolgar is great as the famous author.
Episode 8 & 9 – Human Nature / The Family of Blood (series 3, 10th Doctor)
It makes sense to combine these episodes as they make up one of the best (and my personal favourite) story of new Doctor Who. The Doctor is gone and Martha takes control as John Smith falls in love with Joan and the Family of Blood search for the Doctor. Harry Lloyd is brilliant as the creepy “Son of Mine” and Thomas Sangster is wonderful as Timothy Latimer, the boy with slightly other worldly talents. However it is the relationship between John and Joan that sets this apart for me. It’s such a different style of episode, but works beautifully and Jessica Hynes and David Tennant are superb. The poignant end is incredibly moving to watch as they see the life they’ll never have, followed by Joan’s rejection of the Doctor and the fact Joan is referenced so significantly in The End of Time shows just how special this character was. Notable mentions for Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, which is another superb story. It’s an exciting, creepy story and introduces River Song (who, for me, was never better or more interesting than she was here), Father’s Day (Billie is heartbreaking in this episode) and The Empty Child (no one will ever forget – “Are You My Mummy?”)!
Episode 10 – Vincent and the Doctor (series 5, 11th Doctor)
Admit it, you thought I’d pick a Tennant one didn’t you?! This was by far the hardest decision of the entire list! In the end I had to choose Richard Curtis’s story about Vincent Van Gogh from Matt’s first year. It handles the subject of depression so delicately and Tony Curran’s performance as Vincent is superb. The episode also enabled Karen Gillen to add some much needed depth to Amy Pond and the moment when Vincent visits the museum and is moved to tears is incredibly powerful (I’m not ashamed to admit I cried!). The last few minutes between the Doctor and Amy are also lovely as well, bringing them closer together. I never tire of this episode. Notable mentions have to go to Blink (still the best Weeping Angels episode), Midnight (such a dark, disturbing episode, in which David Tennant is excellent) and The Doctor Dances!
Episode 11 – Turn Left (series 4, 10th Doctor)
This story perfectly sets up the epic finale of series four, but it is a powerful episode in its own right. We see what the world would have been like if Donna had made different choices and as a result had never met the Doctor. It was lovely to have Billie Piper back, but this episode belongs to Catherine Tate, who is stunning throughout and truly proved what a superb choice she had been for Donna Noble. Notable mentions for Boom Town, as I love the 9th Doctor having dinner with Margaret Slitheen and Utopia (Sir Derek Jacobi is fantastic)!
Episode 12 – The Stolen Earth (series 4, 10th Doctor)
I thoroughly enjoyed The Stolen Earth (and the moment the Doctor first sees Rose again is one of my favourite moments in new Doctor Who). It has epic scale, all your favourite characters and a brilliant cliffhanger ending! Notable mention to Bad Wolf (I loved the 9th Doctor’s “I’m coming to get you” to Rose)
Episode 13 – Doomsday (series 2, 10th Doctor)
The finale has to be Doomsday for me. The face-off between the Cybemen and the Daleks is wonderful (especially the bitchy conversation they have!) and the Tyler family is reunited. However, let’s face it, this episode earns it place here because of two scenes – the Wall and the Beach! The Doctor and Rose standing on either side of the wall, separated forever and then saying a heartbreaking goodbye at Bad Wolf Bay are iconic moments of new Doctor Who. Emotional, superbly acted by David and Billie and with gorgeous music from Murray Gold, this episode always moves me and was a beautiful end to Billie’s time on the series. Notable mention for series four’s Journey’s End (in which we sadly say goodbye to Donna and Bernard Cribbins chokes me up) and Chris’s swansong The Parting of the Ways.
As there have been a number of specials since Doctor Who returned in 2005, it seemed only fair to pick one for each showrunner, as Doctor Who TV did.
Russell T Davies Special – The Waters of Mars
This is one of the best episodes of new Doctor Who. The story is tense and unnerving, the acting is excellent, especially Lindsay Duncan and David Tennant is stunning as the darker Doctor. Watching him switch from walking away from fate to suddenly becoming so angry that he’ll stop at nothing to change it was fantastic to watch. Notable mentions to The Runaway Bride (I loved the Doctor and Donna from the start) and David Tennant’s first outing, The Christmas Invasion.
Steven Moffat Special – The Day of the Doctor
I haven’t enjoyed most of Matt Smith’s festive outings (with the exception of The Snowmen, which is very good). Therefore there is a clear winner for Steven Moffat’s Special and that’s the 50th Anniversary episode! It had a lot to live up to in order to satisfy everyone and Steven managed to bring us an episode that was fun, action-packed, comedic and also emotional. John Hurt was a wonderful counterpoint to the 10th and 11th Doctor and the scenes between the three of them are incredibly entertaining. The final few moments, when after meeting Tom Baker, the 11th Doctor talks about dreaming of going home, as we see all 12 Doctors on a cloud below Gallifrey was a perfect image to celebrate the history of the show and begin the future!
So that’s my list. I’ll post the flip side (the nightmare list) soon. Feel free to let me know your choices! For those interested, the link to Doctor Who TV’s poll results is here: http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/series-1-7-face-off-results-everything-else-episodes-1-8-62654.htm