Doctor Who: Season 4 Stories Ranked and Reviewed

In my eyes, this is easily the best season of the show we’ve ever had. Tennant is on form as my favourite Doctor, Donna is my favourite companion, and even the worst episodes have some fun moments. How would I rank this fine selection of episodes?

Check out some of my other Doctor Who lists below:

10 – The Doctor’s Daughter

Rating: C

Definitely the worst episode of the season, this easily one of the most boring stories in Tennant’s run. At least Tennant found his future spouse (Georgia Moffett, who played the titular role), so he probably loves this episode to bits.

9 – The Unicorn and the Wasp

Rating: B-

A big jump up in quality and excitement, this murder mystery is heaps of fun from start to finish.

The scene where the Doctor gets poisoned and has to do charades to instruct the others on the cure is easily one of the funniest moments in the show’s history, and the camp, nonsensical tone makes this a great standalone episode if you want to just jump into a random story.

8 – The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky

Rating: B-

The story that reunited The Doctor with Martha (if only temporarily) and made the Sontarans menacing (before they were just comic relief).

I only wish the story had done a bit more, but there are still plenty of great moments e.g. Donna forgetting she has at least 3 fingers, and Tennant wearing the gas mask saying “Are you my mummy?”.

7 – Partners in Crime

Rating: B

This story doesn’t take itself seriously at all – and that’s definitely for the best. The monster of the week is a ball of fat for goodness sake, this could have easily been terrible but Russell pulls it off effortlessly and opens the season with a bang.

6 – Planet of the Ood

Rating: B

You can tell the show is getting an increasingly higher budget when it’s set in a remote snowy region with a CGI action scene (looking back, the metal claw chasing Tennant doesn’t look that great but oh well).

The transformation scene where that guy turns into the Ood rivals “The Empty Child” for most disgusting transformation scene in Doctor Who history.

5 – The Fires of Pompeii

Rating: A-

There are actually two future Who starts in this great historical piece – Capaldi is the obvious one, but a surprise Karen Gillan makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance as a worshipper (with lots of make-up on, so I’m not surprised if you missed her).

The moral conundrum of the Doctor deciding whether to intervene with the destruction to come is one of the most emotional and poignant scenes the show has ever done, and the show manages to link Capaldi’s appearance in a later Season 9 episode so props for that.

4 – Turn Left

Rating: A-

A Doctor-lite episode done perfectly, the question of “what would happen if the Doctor wasn’t around?” is answered flawlessly here.

The cameo appearance of Rose sets up the finale nicely as well, and Catherine Tate holds her own as Donna in this gem of a story.

3 – The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End

Rating: A

The biggest crossover until Infinity War, they couldn’t have had a better story to end the best season of the show.

Everyone plays their roles to perfection, and Davros provides the ultimate villain to accompany the terror of a Dalek takeover of the universe. I’m not a fan of how they click a load of buttons to destroy all the Daleks, but the rest of the story is easily good enough to earn an A grade.

2 – Midnight

Rating: A

One of the best bottle episodes in TV history, this is probably the creepiest episode of Who ever.

Having no companion to help is an inspired choice, and for once the Doctor is put in a situation where the crowd turns on him – an unsettling experience that makes for uncomfortable but scintillating viewing.

The monster in this might be the best one-off villain in the show’s history, and the fact we never truly understand what it is or what it’s true form even looks like is the scariest part.

1 – Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead

Rating: A+

That’s a grand total of 3 A+ and an A for Moffat – he truly is one of the best writers the show has ever had.

This is the kind of high-concept sci-fi the show should aspire for:

  • It’s a two parter, so it’s more fleshed out than some other episodes
  • The companion is put into an extremely uncomfortable and morally complex situation without the Doctor’s help
  • The Vashta-Nerada are an incredible one-off monster that plays into our basic fear of the dark
  • Tennant delivers a fantastic performance, especially when (SPOILERS!) River has to sacrifice herself
  • River Song! What a fantastic character idea, someone who keeps meeting the Doctor out of order, and is a concept that only Steven Moffat could think of and execute so perfectly

I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons why this is an amazing sci-fi story, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this is A+ material and well-deserving of the top spot in this list.

Season Rating: A+

Unbelievable season of television. Let’s see the stats that confirm this as the all-time best:

  • 5 As (50%)
  • 4 Bs (40%)
  • 1 C (10%)

Every episode is at least passable, and half of them would probably make it into my top 20 episodes ever.

That’s not quite the end of Russell T Davies and Tennant’s era – we still have the 2009 specials to rank and review. Until then, check out some of my other lists below:

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