With the new series of Doctor Who airing tomorrow – YAY! – I’d thought I’d list what I think are the best and worst episodes.
I can’t make a list of favourites without including the episode that brought Doctor Who back with a bang. Fresh from the Time War, Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor is riddled with grief and survivor’s guilt, and he wants nothing to do with us silly little humans – but then he meets Rose, who wants more out of life and also matches him in stubborn. The rest, as they say, is history.
The return of Sarah Jane Smith. I love the blend of old and new in this episode, and the poignant look at what happens to the Doctor’s companions afterwards. Even more so since Elisabeth Sladen’s passing – I dare anyone to get through “Goodbye – my Sarah Jane!” without shedding a tear.
Vincent and the Doctor
This episode tackles mental illness like no program had done before. It’s a raw look at the effects of bipolar disorder but also shows how it’s just one aspect of a person’s life. Or, as the Doctor said “Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” How true that is.
The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar
Oh Missy, you’re so fine! I have always loved the Master, and the female regeneration was just divine. I love the hints of previous versions, and the utter chaos of the current – she swings from good to bad and back again, and you have no idea of what she’s going to do next. With or without a pointy stick.
World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls
Gosh, these episodes. They start out light, with Missy on a mission to prove she can be good, but it’s a mission that goes south very quickly and before anyone can blink the Doctor is facing an impossible situation. One that none of them is going to get out of.
Sleep No More
What truly annoys me about this one is that the premise was fabulous, but the execution was terrible. Fare from Mark Gatiss, who doesn’t write as well as he thinks he does, it’s clear he had the ending but very little else. Nothing makes sense and the cliffhanger feels hollow and confusing. I avoided it in my recent rewatch.
The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords
The Master is, for me, a man very much of his own mind, so to have that autonomy stolen by the Time Lords… Just no. I loathe the sound of drums storyline with an absolute passion and find shrivelled!Doctor utterly ridiculous. There’s also a touch of Saviour Christ about the Doctor’s regeneration that I find uncomfortable.
Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks
Hybrid Dalek humans. What even? And I still have no idea what the pig people were about. These episodes are just a mess.
Voyage of the Damned
Mix an alternative Titanic with The Poseidon Adventure in spaaace and you end up with… whatever the Voyage of the Damned is. It’s not completely awful, but again Davis had to have the Doctor as a Christ-like figure which brought a fair amount of criticism. We get it, Russell; you fancy David. Calm down boy.