If you follow my blog, it’s no secret that I absolutely adore Doctor Who – even at its lowest point, it’s still usually a bit of good fun. Today, however, I’m not going to be talking about those lows (I’ll get to that), but instead the soaring highs. After all, when this show is good it’s really good.
I’ll try and pick my favourite episode from each possible episode (it will make sense if you keep reading) to try and create my best possible Doctor Who season. This one is quite hard to explain ,so it’s probably best if I just get straight to it.
You can check out some of my other Doctor Who lists below:
Episode 1 – The Eleventh Hour
Honourable Mention: Partners in Crime
I honestly don’t think we’ll get a better Doctor introduction (and season introduction) than Season five’s “The Eleventh Hour”. It is one of Moffat’s best written episodes, and it perfectly sets up the Doctor, companion and tone of the show.
I do really like “Partners in Crime” as well, purely for how fun it is. The Tenth Doctor and Donna are my favourite TARDIS duo, and they hit it off straight away. Some other worthy mentions include “Spyfall: Part 1”, “Rose”, “Deep Breath” and “The Impossible Astronaut”.
Episode 2 – The Fires Of Pompeii
Honourable Mention: Tooth and Claw
Episode 2 in a season is usually the first adventure into space and time, and more often than not they go into the past. They serve as an introduction to the companion about what the Doctor can do, and I don’t think any Episode 2 does a better job of this than “The Fires Of Pompeii”. It’s great to see Capaldi as a supporting role, and the moral conundrum is an intense way to end the episode,
The other Episode 2 that I really like is “Tooth and Claw”, which seems silly as it’s just werewolves attacking Queen Victoria, but somehow it just works. Other than that, there aren’t many great episode twos – “The Shakespeare Code” is a nice bit of fun, and “Day of the Moon” / “The Witch’s Familiar” serve as decent endings to two parters, although they don’t live up to their respective first parts.
Episode 3 – School Reunion
Honourable Mention: Planet of the Ood
To be honest, none of the episode 3’s are especially stand-out. There have been some good ones, stories like “Gridlock” and “A Town Called Mercy” come to mind, but I think “School Reunion” is the most fun to watch. It’s one of Tennant’s first outings as the Doctor, but he fit the role like a glove straight from the get go. Credit to Anthony Head’s delightfully evil performance as the Headmaster.
“Planet of the Ood” is also great too, and most stories in season 4 are amazing purely because of the Doctor / Donna dynamic. Not quite as good of an Ood story as the season 2 two-parter, but still a fun time.
Episode 4 – The Girl In The Fireplace
Honourable Mention: The Doctor’s Wife
Following on from Season 2 Episode 3 we have Season 2 Episode 4 – “The Girl In The Fireplace”. Whilst I don’t consider season 2 to be stand-out, it’s episodes like this from the brilliant mind of Moffat that make it an enjoyable watch. The romance is both enchanting and heart-breaking, and the clockwork monsters are genuinely scary.
I really like Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife” in Season 6 as well, as it was fun to see the human embodiment of the TARDIS – one of the Doctor’s oldest friends. Other than that, “The Time of Angels” is a fun story, and “Listen” is pretty good even if very divisive. Even the most recent Episode 4 in Season 12 “Nikola Tesla’s Night Of Terror” was a fun ride in an otherwise awful season of television.
Episode 5 – Flesh and Stone
Honourable Mention: Fugitive of the Judoon
The middle of the season is generally very weak by Doctor Who’s standards, but the second part of the angel two-parter “Flesh and Stone” is a nice conclusion to the story. I’m not too thrilled on how they showed the angels moving, but other than that it was a nice follow up to “Blink”.
There aren’t many other truly great episodes – “Fugitive of the Judoon” is probably the best episode of Season 12 but that’s more for the shock factor rather than good television. “Oxygen” was a nice little episode too, so that deserves a mention.
Episode 6 – Dalek
Honourable Mention: Extremis
Well this one was an obvious first pick. Ecclestone’s first true test as the Doctor came when he reunited with his oldest enemy, and the confrontation that follows is mesmeric. You really get to see what drives this post-war Doctor, and it’s Ecclestone’s brilliant performance that makes “Dalek” what it is.
Other than that – it’s a really poor effort on the whole. “Extremis” is probably the best part of the Monk trilogy, but it’s hardly a stand-out. Also “Demons of the Punjab” is probably the best episode of Season 11, but that’s like picking a favourite turd.
Episode 7 – Amy’s Choice
Honourable Mention: A Good Man Goes To War
I don’t think “Amy’s Choice” gets enough love from Who fans – it’s the second best episode in Season 5 after “Eleventh Hour”, and it has a good shout for being a top 10 episode ever. The twists and turns are fantastic to watch, and it also has some of the funniest moments in the show’s run.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Episode 7’s apart from “A Good Man Goes To War” are pretty woeful. The aforementioned mid-season finale is a good high-stakes story, and the twist at the end means it definitely deserves an honourable mention.
Episode 8 – Silence In The Library
Honourable Mention: Human Nature
Episode 8 is when shit really starts to go down in a season of Who, and we start moving towards the bombastic finales. There are a couple of two-parters that start at Episode 8, and both of them are some of the best Who we’ve ever got – “Human Nature” is absolutely fantastic, but I think “Silence In The Library” does a perfect job of setting up an intriguing Sci-Fi adventure.
There are some other exquisite episodes in this slot, like the underrated “Father’s Day” from Season 1, the first episode of the Ood two-parter in Season 2 “The Impossible Planet”, and “Mummy on the Orient Express” is easily one of Capaldi’s best outings as the Doctor. Even the latest entry “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” had some good moments.
Episode 9 – The Family of Blood
Honourable Mention: The Empty Child
There’s a good case for “The Human Nature” / “The Family of Blood” being Tennant’s best Doctor Who episodes, and it definitely contains his best performance as the Time Lord. I thought about including the second part of the Vashta Nerada story “Forest of the Dead”, but I don’t think it’s as strong as the first part whereas “Family of Blood” improves on the foundations set in the first half of its story.
Once again the Ood two-parter conclusion “The Satan Pit” and the underrated “Flatline” deserve some honourable mentions, but the incredibly creepy “The Empty Child” had a good case for knocking “The Family of Blood” off its perch. Those gas mask zombie things are the stuff of nightmares for every 00’s kid, and I’ll always remember that horrifying transformation scene.
Episode 10 – Blink
Honourable Mention: Midnight
There are some really excellent Episode 10’s, but of course “Blink” was going to take the cake. Most people consider it to be the peak of Who storytelling, and while I would prefer a more Doctor-central episode it definitely hits all of the right notes. The Weeping Angels are almost certainly the best new monsters conceived during the Modern Series’ run.
An episode that came very close to beating out “Blink” was an incredible low-budget / filler episode “Midnight”, which proves that a good script with a good cast can make for some amazing television, even without all of the special effects.
The second part of the gas mask zombie story “The Doctor Dances” is a very worthy conclusion to a phenomenal story, “The Girl Who Waited” is worth a shout-out, and “Vincent and the Doctor” came out of absolutely nowhere to become one of the best historical episodes in the show’s run.
Episode 11 – Heaven Sent
Honourable Mention: Turn Left
David Tennant does an excellent job in the Scarecrow two-parter, but “Heaven Sent” has to be the greatest single performance in a Doctor Who episode. Capaldi dominates the screen and can carry the entire episode by himself. Add to that a creepy Veil and one of the best analogies of grief I’ve ever seen and you get one of the greatest television episodes ever broadcast.
There are actually a lot of contenders for second place here, but I think “Turn Left” from Season 4 is a fantastic Doctor-lite episode (it’s never going to be up on the lofty heights of “Blink” but it’s close). Donna is my favourite companion, so there were no complaints from me when she was the focal point of the story.
Other than that, “Boom Town” is a nice gem in Season 1, “Utopia” is utter madness, “The Lodger” is a bit silly but I kinda dig it (but it’s sequel “Closing Time” I’m not too fond of), “Dark Water” was a great opener to the Season 8 finale (even if the actual finale “Death in Heaven” was a bit underwhelming), and finally “World Enough and Time” was a Season 10 episode that came out of nowhere to become one of the 12th Doctor’s best.
Episode 12 – Stolen Earth
Honourable Mention: The Pandorica Opens
Episode 12’s are all about the finales, whether it’s the opening part or the actual finale from Seasons 8-10 (Whittaker’s finales don’t make it past episode 10, thank goodness). I think I have to give it to the Season 4 finale opener “Stolen Earth” – it was the Infinity War crossover of its day. Let’s not forget the regeneration cliffhanger that literally shook the UK to its core.
It’s quite hard picking an honourable mention, but I really like how Moffat sets up “The Pandorica Opens” as a bombastic finale. Other than that, “Bad Wolf” is a nice Season 1 episode, “Army of Ghosts” is fantastic, “The Sound of Drums” is great but you can tell the three-parter is waning a bit, “Nightmare in Silver” is another Neil Gaiman gem, and surprisingly “The Doctor Falls” was a good Moffat finale for once.
Episode 13 – Journey’s End
Honourable Mention: The Parting of the Ways
I didn’t want to give the same two-parter 2 slots in my list, but the Season 4 finale is just too damn good. Everything that is set up has a worthwhile and satisfying conclusion, and the companion exit is one of the most emotional. I’m not a huge fan of how Donna saves the day so quickly, but I can overlook that when the rest of the finale is so exceptional.
Surprisingly there aren’t actually that many truly good Episode 13’s left (after Season 7 the seasons were cut to 12 episodes), but “The Parting of the Ways” was the other contender for best Episode 13 for me. Ecclestone’s regeneration kicked off the modern series in the perfect way, and a Dalek story is always a plus.
“Doomsday” is another great finale, and “The Big Bang” was fine albeit not as good as “The Pandorica Opens”, and other than that the rest of the finales are a bit pants (Who doesn’t have a great track record with finales).
Special – The Waters of Mars
Honourable Mention: The Day of the Doctor
You thought that was it? Well, then you’re not a true Who fan – everyone loves the specials, especially the Christmas specials. Right?
I actually wouldn’t pick any Christmas special as the best or second best (shocker), because “The Waters of Mars” is the best 2009 special and my favourite episode of Who ever. Tennant’s Time Lord Victorious is my favourite moment of the show, and the Flood are absolutely bloody terrifying.
The other special that deserves a mention is the 50th Anniversary “The Day of The Doctor”. I have no idea how Moffat managed to pull it off, but he created one of the most fun episodes of the show. Smith and Tennant are my favourite Doctors, so it was a match made in heaven (and John Hurt brought a gravitas to the role that the Who fandom will be ever grateful for).
That leaves some of the Christmas specials, and while a lot of them are naff at least all of the Davies ones are pretty good (“The Christmas Invasion”, “The Runaway Bride”, “Voyage of the Damned”). Even Moffat had a good one to begin with when he made “A Christmas Carol”. Other than that, both of the Christmas regeneration stories “The Time of the Doctor” and “Twice Upon a Time” are flawed but fitting send-offs to fantastic Doctors.
Aaaaaaaand that’s my list. If Whittaker fans are upset by the lack of her stories, don’t worry – I’ll have a Worst Possible Season for you soon. Until then, check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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