It’s time to ruffle some Whovian feathers!
I’ve been a Doctor Who fan for as long as I can remember, and I’ve watched the show enough times to form some spicy opinions of my own – some episodes are overrated by the fandom, whilst others need way more love.
To make things fair, I’ll try to spread the episodes out across every era of the show (it wouldn’t be very fun calling every Tennant episode underrated and every Whittaker episode overrated, after all).
Before we begin, you can check out some of my related blog posts below:
10 (OVERRATED) – The Doctor’s Wife (S6E4)
“The Doctor’s Wife” is a good episode. Great, even. But I don’t think it’s the top 10 smash hit that some fans make it out to be.
Neil Gaiman’s writing is top notch, and the personification of the TARDIS is a joy to witness, but the general plot doesn’t have the same high stakes or mind-bending developments as my favourite episodes.
10 (UNDERRATED) – The Curse of the Black Spot (S6E3)
Is “The Curse of the Black Spot” a great episode? Not at all. Is it tons of fun? Absolutely.
The cast are having the time of their lives, and that rubs off onto the viewer. Also, the whole swashbuckling plotline is handled pretty well on the whole.
9 – Journey’s End (S4E13)
Same as with “The Doctor’s Wife”, I really like “Journey’s End”. It’s easily one of the best finales, and the all-star cast makes it work … but I think “Stolen Earth” does most of the heavy lifting.
The Tennant fake-out regeneration felt a bit cheap, some plot developments end up being red herrings, and Donna ends up saving the day / wrapping up the conflict far too easily. This is a fantastic episode with some high-stakes finale stuff, but it’s not perfect.
9 – Thin Ice (S10E3)
As pure historicals go, “Thin Ice” is easily one of the most underrated.
The Doctor and Bill’s relationship starts to really find its footing in this episode, and the set design is fantastic. Also, the Doctor punches a racist in the face. ‘Nuff said.
8 – Flesh and Stone (S5E5)
The whole “Time of Angels” / “Flesh and Stone” story is fairly good on the whole, but the second part is where it starts to lose me.
Seeing the Weeping Angels move is a big no-no, and I guess the plotline just doesn’t wrap up in the way I’d want it to. Not bad, but a huge step down from “Blink”.
8 – The Haunting of Villa Diodati (S12E8)
Season 12 was mostly the same set of disappointing episodes as the previous season, but then “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” emerged as a diamond in the rough.
For the first time in the Chibnall era, it actually felt like the Doctor and her friends were real human beings interacting with the historical setting in a normal way. Add on top of that a great cyberman design and you get a solid episode.
7 – Asylum of the Daleks (S7E1)
I have a Whovian friend who swears that this is the best episode of Season 7, and the greatest Dalek story of all. He’s wrong on both counts.
The classic foes and the badass title are the only real selling points of “Asylum of the Daleks”, as the rest of it is just Pond marriage drama and a tease of the future companion. The Clara twist is decent, but it doesn’t save the rest of the episode from tedium.
7 – Boom Town (S1E11)
I wish more Doctor Who seasons did this – “Boom Town” is a follow-up to the Slitheen two-parter, and it only came a few episodes later.
It was fascinating to see how one of the surviving monsters was doing after the events of “World War Three”, and the Doctor’s conversations with her were never dull. Hardly anything to write home about, but not the snooze-fest some people claim it to be.
6 – The End of Time: Part 1 (S4 Specials)
I love “The End of Time”. It’s a great story full of intense stakes, and my favourite Doctor gets one of the most emotional send-offs of any character I’ve ever seen.
That being said, all of the good stuff happens in Part Two. The first part is a little aimless and rushed, and the Master stuff doesn’t really work when you stop to think about it.
6 – The Husbands of River Song (S9 Xmas)
After I first watched “The Husbands of River Song” when it aired, I thought it was a stupid, childish Christmas adventure and nothing more. Nowadays, I consider it one of the strongest festive specials.
The dynamic between Twelve and River is to die for, and their final scene together on Derilium is both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.
5 – Fugitive of the Judoon (S12E5)
At the time of its release, people were calling “Fugitive of the Judoon” the most ambitious Who episode in years. Hell, even I was one of those people!
It’s an episode that suffers in hindsight, as a lot of the shock factor from the crazy reveals falls flat once you know how it resolves.
5 – Gridlock (S3E3)
A Doctor Who story set in a traffic jam sounds about as dull as watching paint dry, but somehow Davies makes it worthwhile.
The side characters are some of the most fun in Who history, and the final scene with the Face of Boe carries a lot more weight in hindsight. This is also the first Nu Who episode to really delve into the Doctor’s backstory!
4 – Let’s Kill Hitler (S6E8)
I’ve seen some Whovians give “Let’s Kill Hitler” praise recently as being an underrated romp from Season 6. Those people are wrong.
While it certainly has its charm in places, the central plot and timey-whimey-ness of River’s story is just too much to handle.
4 – The Unicorn and the Wasp (S4E7)
Season 4 is filled to the brim with phenomenal episodes, so I’m not surprised people tend to forget about this mid-season story.
“The Unicorn and the Wasp” is Who at its most unabashedly fun, and you can tell the writers and cast are having the time of their lives making this whodunnit. The scene with the Doctor getting poisoned and needing a makeshift cure may just be the funniest scene in the whole show.
3 – The Rings of Akhaten (S7E8)
I’m not going to pretend that the final speech isn’t awesome, but that’s all that “The Rings of Akhaten” has going for it.
The plot is ridiculously paper-thin, and everything before Eleven’s speech feels like filler. The good music saved the episode from the top spots on this list.
3 – Flatline (S8E9)
An ingenious premise for a Doctor-lite episode, “Flatline” gives Twelve and Clara some much needed moments in the spotlight.
The dialogue is snappy, the villains are a great one-off foe, and the Doctor’s speech at the end never fails to give me goosebumps.
2 – The Name of the Doctor (S7E13)
“The Name of the Doctor” is another episode that has seen a recent resurgence in the fandom, but I think that’s because people look back on it with rose-tinted glasses.
The John Hurt reveal at the end is pretty cool, but the episode leading up to that point is a total mess. Matt Smith acts his heart out, but even he can’t salvage such a wishy-washy story.
2 – A Town Called Mercy (S7E3)
This is the fourth Episode 3 on my list – I had no idea the third episodes were the most underrated ones!
“A Town Called Mercy” is criminally slept-on, as everything about it is fantastic. Not only are the budget and set design some of the highest we’ve ever seen, the performances and action are superb.
1 – Rosa (S11E3)
“Rosa” deservedly won many awards for highlighting historical injustices and bringing conversations about racism and discrimination to the forefront, but as a Doctor Who episode I feel that it’s lacking.
Krasko the space racist is one of the most nothing villains the show has ever aired, and all of his scenes and schemes bog the story down. If they had come up with a better antagonist, or if they had dropped the “monster of the week” completely just for this episode, it could have been good.
1 – Amy’s Choice (S5E7)
Season 5, much like Season 4, has a really underrated Episode 7 for much the same reason – the episodes surrounding “Amy’s Choice” are so good that people forget how masterful it is.
Toby Jones’s Dreamlord is easily one of the best one-off villains, and the swapping back and forth between scenarios is handled brilliantly. It’s full of tension, comedy, intrigue, and it ends on a pitch-perfect twist.
Aaaand that’s my list! If you enjoyed that (and didn’t froth at the mouth from the terrible takes!) you can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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One thought on “Top 10 Underrated (& Overrated) Doctor Who Episodes”
You have such correct opinions! I think I’ll go rewatch Amy’s Choice now…