My top ten Doctor Who episodes
In the wake of Matt Smith’s debut yesterday as the Eleventh Doctor, I’m going to indulge my inner (and outer) geek with a couple of Who-themed posts. First up: my 10 favourite episodes from the whole series both old and new. Have I got it all wrong? Leave a comment!
10: Parting of the Ways (Ninth Doctor, 2005)
Christopher Eccleston’s swan song as the Doctor, series 1 of the newly-revamped Doctor Who ended on a high, with the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack battling the Daleks in their latest bid to destroy Earth. Daleks in the new series have been pulled off very well indeed, with the redesigned armour remaining true enough to the original series to please new and old fans alike. At the time I thought it a great shame to see Eccleston go after just one series, but nobody could tell just how good Tennant would be.
9: The Face of Evil (Fourth Doctor, 1977)
A Tom Baker episode, The Face of Evil saw the TARDIS arrive in a hostile jungle amidst a war between two tribes, the Sevateem and the Tesh. But something else is afoot, as the Doctor is recognised as The Evil One by the natives, and is rescued by the renegade Leela. Played by Louise Jameson, this episode saw the start of her stint as the Doctor’s companion. Feisty and barbaric, Leela was in sharp contrast to the often-helpless friends the Doctor had had to date. Another great line in this episode – “Drop your weapons or I’ll kill him with this deadly jelly baby!”
8: Tooth and Claw (Tenth Doctor, 2006)
I really enjoyed the energy of this 2006 David Tennant episode, in which the Doctor takes on the Werewolf (actually a lupine-wavelength haemovariform), to protect Queen Victoria. A wonderfully eccentric performance from Tennant, which included licking a wall, and culminated in the creation of the Torchwood institute to counter the threat of extra-terrestrials like the Doctor.
7: Terror of the Zygons (Fourth Doctor, 1975)
A personal favourite because this was the first of the classic Doctor Who series I saw, this Tom Baker, Elizabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney episode pitted the Doctor against recurring foes the Zygons. Determined to take over the Earth, the Zygons plot to take over the World by unleashing the Skarasen (the Loch Ness Monster) against the delegates of a World Energy Conference. The costumes of the Zygons were truly epic, and totally captured my imagination.
6: Spearhead from Space (Third Doctor, 1970)
Introducing Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, and Liz Shaw as his companion, this story saw the beginning of a series of UNIT & The Doctor episodes. At the beginning the newly-regenerated doctor steals clothes from a hospital (as was repeated in Matt Smith’s debut and the 1996 movie in homage to the Third Doctor), and immediately establishes presence as a more mischievous and combative incarnation than his predecessors. Excellent plastic-mannequin villains the Autons take on the Doctor, with the dastardly Nestene Conciousness behind them.
5: Blink (Tenth Doctor, 2007)
Blink is an excellent episode largely because the scary villains were essentially inanimate objects. The deadly Weeping Angel statues are pitted against Sally Sparrow, a young photographer whom the Doctor is helping from 1969. This episode featured an excellent explanation of time as “a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff”. The story is in fact what is known as an ontological paradox – skip over to Wikipedia for an explanation. Spoiler alert, highlight to read: it seems the Weeping Angels will return this year in an Eleventh Doctor episode! I’m not sure this is a good thing, they were very effective as a one-off.
4: Inferno (Third Doctor, 1970)
Jon Pertwee’s third doctor is trying to repair the TARDIS after his exile to Earth by the Time Lords. Meanwhile UNIT are watching over the Inferno project, a top-secret attempt to release a new source of energy by drilling into the Earth’s core. This episode also featured Liz Shaw and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart as the Doctor’s allies, and was the first to explore parallel universes. An example of marvellous 1970’s special effects can also be seen as a “toxic liquid” leaks from Dave Benson-Phillips gunge tank the drilling pipes.
3: Last of the Time Lords (Tenth Doctor, 2007)
This is one of my favourite episodes as it featured John Simm as the Master, another recurring series villain. Simm portrayed the Master with a chaotic energy in this 3-parter in which he takes over the UK Government and subsequently the World with the aid of his toclafane pals. Also featuring Torchwood star Captain Jack and the Jones family, this was a very fun end to the 3rd new series.
2: Doomsday (Tenth Doctor, 2006)
Daleks vs. Cybermen in the setting of Torchwood 1, this episode saw the (first) end of Rose Tyler as the Doctor’s companion, and had some classic lines along with a great performance from David Tennant, before his Doctor became troubled and lost. One of my favourite lines from the new series, “This is not war, this is pest control”, comes from Dalek Sec.
1: Genesis of the Daleks (Fourth Doctor, 1975)
Another classic episode from Tom Baker’s reign as the eccentric traveller, Genesis has it all: jelly babies, (apparently) dimensionally transcendental coat pockets, and the introduction of Davros, the Doctor’s arch nemesis. The Doctor and his companions Harry and Sarah-Jane Smith are sent on a mission by the Time Lords to prevent the creation of the Daleks, and save the Universe from domination. The Doctor must decide whether he is capable of genocide..