My Favourite New Who Episodes [Part 2]

Continuing on from my PREVIOUS ARTICLE, I will be counting down my FAVOURITE NEW WHO EPISODES. But, as I stated in PART 1, I won’t be doing a usual TOP WHATEVER article and instead will be listing my FAVOURITE stories from each respective series.

Once again, I wish to remind you that this is MY PERSONAL LIST and YOU are entitled to your OWN personal list, to which I would love to read within the comment section below.

Are we good? Good! Let’s conclude the journey…

Series 6 [2011]: “A Good Man Goes to War”

DW-6x07-A-Good-Man-Goes-to-War

For the longest time this was nearly considered my FAVOURITE episode (of all times!) simply because I considered it a masterpiece. Sure, as finale’s go, it wasn’t anything too explosive and a lot of the time it’s just build-up, but every scene remains intriguing, keeping me completely immersed within the actions of the various characters, as well as witnessing one of The Doctor’s darkest moments.

Following on from the jaw-dropping “WHAT THE FUCK?!” cliff-hanger at the end of “The Almost People” (to which Amy Pond is revealed to be held captive by the sinister Madame Kovarian whilst a Ganger has been substituting her for the entirety of the series) we see The Eleventh Doctor’s desperate attempt to rescue his friend, and it’s quickly made apparent that you don’t mess with The Doctor’s shit unless you want the Wrath of God raining down on your parade.

It’s one of those rare moments where you question the authority of The Doctor and how far he’s come since he originally left Gallifrey. Considering he used to be an uncaring, and quite selfish, old man, he’s now turned into this being of pure power, to which even his name strikes fear into the hearts of his enemy. The fact that he can go around and create an army through collected debts is something that really fascinates me, showcasing a Doctor we’d never really seen before.

Perhaps it’s because he’s desperate, or angry, but it just goes to show what kind of man he can become if he’s pushed too far. Never mind The Time Lord Victorious, this Doctor is willing to build an army into order to storm an entire enemy facility, and the worst part was that he deliberately proved how powerful he was by winning the battle without even needing to lift a finger. Within mere seconds he takes control and surrounds the place, further humiliating The Church by making their leader, Colonel Manton, to announce his surrender in the guise of “Colonel Runaway”.

You really felt that The Eleventh Doctor was angry, made worse by his ancientness and the establishment of why he has RULES in the first place, i.e. to stop him becoming pure destruction across time and space. It’s no wonder he tried his best to forget about The War Doctor and what he was capable of doing without the restriction of his code.

It was also interesting to see how Madame Kovarian constantly wished to push The Eleventh Doctor, as if to prove a point as to how dangerous he was and how her scheme to turn Amy and Rory Williams’ child, Melody Pond, into a weapon to destroy him was completely justified. She felt she was doing the universe a favour, thus acting as the REAL hero. But of course the true brilliance of this mid-season finale was the fact that the enemy wins (sort of) by pulling the rug from underneath The Eleventh Doctor not ONCE, but TWICE!

I really feel sorry for Amy and Rory as their child is snatched from their grasp and you can’t help but wonder if this is entirely The Doctor’s fault. As River Song states, he’s made his enemies incredibly desperate because of how powerful he’s made himself, constantly wondering the universe as the destructive warrior who can make an entire army surrender to him by the mere mention of his name.

And then there was the mind-blowing revelation that River was in fact Amy and Rory’s child from the future. Just when you thought “A Good Man Goes to War” couldn’t get any better…

Series 7 [2012-2013]: “The Rings of Akhaten” & “The Name of the Doctor”

dw-rings-akhaten-bbca-promo-8

Sorry guys but I’m going to have to cheat again! Despite what the majority of the fandom thinks I actually REALLY like Series 7 (to which it’s ranked rather high on my list of FAVOURITE New Who series). I probably shouldn’t, but for some reason I just really loved the whole BLOCK-BUSTER OF THE WEEK approach and how ambitious the stories became. Sure, a lot of them were rushed but quite frankly I DON’T CARE because the series produced some EXTRAORDINARY specimens, to which I couldn’t just pick ONE.

First on my list is “The Rings of Akhaten”. This is certainly an underrated gem in my books and has so much to deliver. Maybe I’m just biased because I adore Murray Gold‘s score (it’s FUCKING amazing!) and of course the key scenes throughout, particularly The Eleventh Doctor’s speech. I guess the episode doesn’t hold a lot of GREAT substance but I definitely love its charm and the fact that the production team went out of their way to produce an authentic alien world for Clara Oswald to travel to on her first journey within the TARDIS.

It felt very Classic Who, allowing for a rare moment where The Doctor actually takes his companion somewhere TRULY alien. This is combined neatly with the alien culture, and because of this it just feels special to me. I hate New Who for its repetitive usage of modern-day Earth, or human colony’s, it doesn’t do enough actual travelling within the reaches of space.

Plus, as I mentioned before, The Eleventh Doctor’s speech (accompanied with Gold’s beautiful score) is without a doubt a massive highlight, and should go on record as one of the BEST MOMENTS in the show’s entire 53 year-long history.

It truly defines The Eleventh Doctor’s character, his ancientness, his love and passion for the universe, his wiliness to sacrifice everything, as well as his inner sadness to everything that has come and gone, and the terrible things he has witnessed across his eternal journey, but despite his tears he remains strong and stands tall. Honestly, this moment reminds me why I love Matt Smith so much and how his performance re-established what it means to play The Doctor.

doctor-who-series-7b

My other PICK from Series 7 is none-other than “The Name of the Doctor”. What a brilliant finale. Sure, like with “A Good Man Goes to War”, it isn’t a conventional finale but DAMN was it amazing. It SOLD me from the pre-title sequence through the ingenious decision to travel back to Gallifrey to see The First Doctor stealing the TARDIS (it was cleverly done and I have to admire the team for trying their hardest to celebrate the show’s 50th ANNIVERSARY).

This was followed by Clara journeying through The Doctor’s time-stream and seeing all the Classic Doctor’s undergoing their adventures. What a brilliant way to set-up an episode! The rest of the narrative is just a roller-coaster ride of emotion as The Eleventh Doctor is forced to travel to Trenzalore (the very place he’s been warned to stay away from throughout his era) in order to save his friends.

Sure, it does seem a bit strange that Steven Moffat chose to have Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Commander Strax be the ones he’d risk his life for, but once you look past this annoying bit of detail the rest of the story falls perfectly into place. Also, I never fully agreed with the fact that The Great Intelligence wished to enter The Doctor’s tomb and destroy his entire existence. The Master should’ve been the obvious choice, particularly in how PERSONAL his motives would’ve been, considering he knows The Doctor more than MOST.

But, Richard E. Grant is JUST so brilliant as the villain and so I have to just look past my disappointment and enjoy what we got (which was STILL terrific). I loved all the emotional impact this episode has to offer, from The Eleventh Doctor realising he has to go to Trenzalore, to River being a ghost in the background, to Jenny nearly dying, to Clara having to sacrifice herself to save The Doctor, to the most powerful moment of the entire narrative, i.e. The Eleventh Doctor finally forcing himself to say goodbye to River (it always makes me cry because Smith and Alex Kingston‘s performance feels incredibly personal and genuine).

I love the atmosphere, I love the performances throughout, the narrative is incredibly engaging and clever, the directing was perfectly crafted by Saul Metzstein, the call-backs make my inner fan-boy squeal with excitement, and Gold once again showcases why he’s such a talented composer. What can I say? “The Name of the Doctor” always plucks my heart-strings, and that conclusion is JUST fantastic. In fact, it’s so GOOD that I’m going to place it below so you can all re-watch it’s glory…

50th Anniversary Specials [2013]: “The Time of the Doctor”

Doctor Who The Time of the Doctor

Now, I know a lot of you right now are screaming at me, “Why the FUCK haven’t you picked “The Day of the Doctor”?” To which I (nervously) reply, “I don’t fully like it…” In my eyes it isn’t the PERFECT 50th Anniversary Special everybody raves about, and quite frankly, I find “The Time of the Doctor” an all-round better experience to sit through. Plus, it’s such an emotional journey.

I really didn’t want Smith to go. I was literally in a state of shock and denial when my partner told me he was leaving. What made this announcement more upsetting was the fact we would only have him for TWO further stories (and that’s it!) And there was the worry that 1 hour wasn’t enough to tick all the boxes that needed to be ticked. I will admit that “The Time of the Doctor” does seem a little rushed in places and the Silence Will Fall arc is abruptly tucked away in time for Boxing Day.

Having said that the Christmas Special does at least try and for the most part I’m okay with how things wrapped up. I loved how tragic The Eleventh Doctor’s demise was. His curiosity brought him back to Trenzalore, this time having to face the full-force of the impending prophecy. He’s quickly locked into a stalemate that he cannot escape from, to which risks him losing the one and only way back to Gallifrey (ironically through a Time Crack, the very elements that plagued him all the way back in Series 5).

The Eleventh Doctor is forced to fend off his greatest enemies as they try to lay waste to Trenzalore in order to prevent the return of the Time Lords. And time slowly withers away The Eleventh Doctor’s energy and youthfulness, transforming him into an old man (which honestly made me cry upon seeing him resemble William Hartnell).

It was a cruel final narrative for him to face, trapped on Trenzalore for thousands of years with no means of escape without abandoning all hope, but nor could he just simply answer The First Question in order to bring his people back. Either option would lead to war plaguing The Eleventh Doctor, causing too much collateral damage. But Clara manages to save him once more by pleading to The Time Lords through the Crack, and in The Eleventh Doctor’s hour of need he is granted a new set of regenerations.

This moment is beautifully crafted and gives Smith one last explosive speech to show off why he was AMAZING in the role. “If you want my life, THEN… COME… AND… GET IT!!” Never did I think we would see regeneration energy be used to destroy a Dalek fleet. But despite the triumphant moment things quickly became depressing as we had to say goodbye to Smith, and I was already in tears by this point, and things only got worse when Moffat trolled me through reverting The Eleventh Doctor’s age back to normal.

This final scene delivers the greatest farewell speeches in Doctor Who‘s 53 year-long history, to which both displays The Eleventh Doctor’s sadness over having to leave but at the same time he faces it with courage, reassuring himself by announcing he would always remember the days HE was The Doctor.

Series 8 [2014]: “Last Christmas”

Doctor Who Last Christmas

I know, this is me cheating AGAIN, but like “A Christmas Carol” in PART 1 I couldn’t leave this Christmas Special off my list. Series 8 was certainly a roller-coaster ride for me in terms of the shift in tone and direction from the Matt Smith era, but then things took a suicidal dive towards the end upon recasting The Master as a woman. Fuck you Moffat! Thus this started the Moffat procedure of INCONSISTENCY, where of which he would write an EXCEPTIONAL episode only to be followed-up with a massive TURD that has no business being broadcasted, let alone conceived as an idea.

At least “Last Christmas” granted me a quality story to wash the bad taste out of my mouth, presenting me with a Christmas tale unlike any other. It was extremely dark, feeling more in-line with Alien rather than the usual Christmas-orientated spectacle that Doctor Who is usually known for. And to give Moffat credit he is pretty good at being ballsy (particularly when it ACTUALLY pays-off) and by delivering this chilling tale where both the characters and we (the audience) are constantly guessing what is REALITY we get (probably) the best Christmas Special ever.

What’s brilliant is the amount of times the same rug is pulled from under us and it doesn’t actually get OLD. Each time it remains as shocking as the first time (which is definitely impressive), adding constantly to the tension of the Dream Crabs sucking the brains from The Twelfth Doctor and co. whilst they are helplessly sleeping. Despite the snowy appearance the atmosphere of the story is entirely creepy, and claustrophobic, reaffirming the classic Horror look of Cult science-fiction films.

I really enjoy The Twelfth Doctor’s grumpiness and his childish desire to supress the Christmas spirit, plus his usual harsh-self and straight-to-point attitude is balanced out well with this narrative. And Clara’s return was welcomed (despite not being entirely necessary) and I like how the dreams affect her greatly through her still wishing Danny Pink was alive (after sacrificing himself at the end of “Death in Heaven”) as well as craving for further adventures with The Doctor after they left each other on rather depressing terms, i.e. they lied to one another in an attempt to make the other happy (which greatly backfired).

Honestly though, it would’ve been a WHOLE LOT better had Jenna Coleman left as originally intended (but that’s just my opinion). Still though, the Christmas Special‘s meaning isn’t entirely lost and shows that every Christmas could be your last and you should cherish it with those you love most, mirroring the fact that The Twelfth Doctor could’ve left it too long before returning for Clara, thus being forced to see her having aged and living alone (despite having done some great things without him by her side).

And of course the inclusion of Nick Frost as Santa Claus really added much needed humour to the narrative, as well as incorporating another mystical element that truly put The Twelfth Doctor in his place.

Series 9 [2015]: “Heaven Sent”

Doctor Who Heaven Sent

This is one of the rare occasions (like with “The Deadly Assassin”) where the production team decided to mess around with the traditional set-up. “Heaven Sent” only featured Peter Capaldi throughout the entire episode, thus generating concerns that ONE actor couldn’t carry a 55 minute episode on their own. Obviously, Capaldi shined throughout and really got to show-off his acting capabilities (to which at that point he was overshadowed either by Coleman or inconsistent scripts).

It’s hard to find words to describe this glorious event in which Moffat really outdid himself (which is why I’m utterly FUCKING baffled that he managed to fuck it all up in the very next episode). “Heaven Sent” is a really simple premise, i.e. The Twelfth Doctor is trapped in a strange, isolated castle (which constantly changes) and must find a way to escape. But of course Doctor Who wouldn’t be Doctor Who without a GOOD-OLD monster that creepily stalks The Doctor throughout.

Seriously, The Veil is a terrifying monstrosity and used with absolute simplicity to create one of the most chilling creations in Doctor Who‘s 53 year-long history. What makes this creature scarier is the fact that The Twelfth Doctor is forced to CONFESS before the Veil in order to keep it at bay a little while longer. This entire narrative is a torturous ordeal, designed to force The Twelfth Doctor into submitting his darkest secret (which, sadly, doesn’t go anywhere).

The entire journey feels really depressing, almost haunting in its structure, making it an uniquely different Doctor Who experience (and that’s why it’s so AMAZING). I don’t think we’ll ever get another episode quite like it. And the fact that Capaldi keeps you constantly engaged (not to mention the cruel imagery showcased throughout) is true testimony to his outstanding talent as an actor.

Things get enormously unsettling when The Twelfth Doctor forces himself to relive the same experience over and over again in order to slowly break down a diamond wall in a desperate attempt to reach freedom (made even more saddening by the fact that he has to keep dying a slow painful death repeatedly over the course of thousands of years).

The reveal of Gallifrey at the end sent shivers down my spine because I was worried what the angered Time Lord was going to do in retaliation to his torturous ordeal and the death of Clara (but it depresses me that “Hell Bent” fails to deliver and becomes ONE OF THE WORST EPISODES OF DOCTOR WHO!) However, despite “Heaven Sent” technically being Part 1 of the Series 9 finale (or Part 2 if you include “Face the Raven”) I’m not going to let its utter brilliance be destroyed by “Hell Bent”, thus I cheat once more to get this episode onto my list!

Series 10 [2017]: “Oxygen”

Doctor Who Oxygen

I kind of found it hard to pick a FAVOURITE episode from this year’s run of episodes because they haven’t had much time to settle into my memory compared to my previous picks. That, and well, Series 10 didn’t actually have too many outstanding episodes to call my FAVOURITE. In fact, I was debating whether to completely skip-over this series, similar to how I cheated my way round Series 5 and Series 8.

However, giving it much thought I decided to pick “Oxygen” simply because it left me feeling tense throughout, and it’s conclusion was unexpected and shocking. I liked how Jamie Mathieson created a sinister future which felt very bleak in its structure, especially since the workers were treated like cogs within a larger machine, to which were quickly considered expendable if they stopped functioning at the corporation’s expected capacity.

On top of this you had the grim idea that oxygen (the very element we depend on to SURVIVE) is forcibly taken from us and can only be returned through PAYMENT.┬áThe experience only gets more dire once The Twelfth Doctor gets involved and his greatest weakness is once again exploited, i.e. his morbid curiosity. This places his companions, Bill Potts and Nardole, in mortal danger, to which they have limited oxygen in order to escape the station they’re now trapped on, as well as being chased by the corpses of the dead crew.

Things get even more disturbing after Bill is nearly killed in the grimmest way possible (TWICE!) and The Twelfth Doctor goes FUCKING BLIND! as a direct result of protecting Bill. I think I like “Oxygen” so much because of its weight, and the fact that the story feels to have REAL consequences, and a gritty reality slapped all over it. Sure, it’s not the most explosive episode, nor does it really have a lot of depth.

It’s just filled with neat ideas which I felt were executed accordingly, made even greater by the tension throughout. Also, I really feel sorry for Bill because her adventures with The Twelfth Doctor only seemed to show her the darkest corners, and possibilities, of travelling in time and space as opposed to being ADVENTUROUS and WONDERFUL.

Honourable Mentions:

  • “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”
  • “The God Complex”
  • “A Town Called Mercy”
  • “The Night of the Doctor”
  • “Mummy on the Orient Express”
  • “The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion”
  • “Thin Ice”

And that’s it. That’s all of my FAVOURITE New Who episodes from Series 1 all the way up to the recently released Series 10. This was certainly a fun experience and I really enjoyed being positive towards Doctor Who again and remember why I love this show so, and why it means so much to me.

Sadly, this moment won’t last long as my next COUNTDOWN will be me listing my LEAST FAVOURITE New Who episodes. This should be fun…

Again, feel free to share your thoughts below and start a fun discussion over your FAVOURITE New Who episodes and why you like them so much!

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