Okay, so I’ve gone through each series of New Who and stated my FAVOURITE episodes, so it seems appropriate to do the opposite. I know I set out to produce the first set of articles in order to cheer myself up, thus putting a glimmer of light on my favourite television programme after it so carelessly kicked me several times in the bollocks, left me shivering in a ditch for three years, before politely returning, offering me some chocolates, before violently kicking me in the bollocks again (this time wearing steel toe-cap boots).
If anything, me listing my LEAST FAVOURITE episodes of New Who is just me having a bit of fun. Besides, even our most beloved franchises can’t go forever without having an accident (potentially keeling over and dying on us), and Doctor Who took a pretty hard hit recently and we have to wait a year to see if it can survive the procedure.
Anyway, here’s my ranted list of episodes from New Who I don’t particularly like. And remember, this is MY personal list and you have the freedom to produce yours in the comment section down blow, to which I await eagerly in order to begin a fun little discussion.
DISCLAIMER: I won’t be picking any episodes from Series 3 as I feel there isn’t a BAD episode. Sure, “42” is my LEAST favourite episode but that’s simply because the run of episodes that year was incredibly strong throughout and “42” just happens to be the episode I like the least. So it’s not BAD because of the traditional sense and therefore doesn’t qualify for this list.
Series 1 : “The Long Game”
Series 1 definitely sits quite highly on my list of FAVOURITE New Who series but it isn’t without its few duds. “The Long Game” is one of them. Although it has to be regarded more highly within the greater context, and its impact on the finale, but as a stand-alone episode it really doesn’t offer much.
The location feels like a generic science-fiction set without much thought gone into it, the narrative itself lacks a lot of depth (despite desperately trying to prove itself worthy), and it feels the need to throw in a sub-plot that essentially makes Rose Tyler look more awesome. One of the greatest shames about this entire episode is the complete waste of Simon Pegg‘s talents. Sure, The Editor is a neat little villain but he isn’t anything special and he’s essentially working for a CGI blob on the ceiling, that can die if it gets overheated (pathetic!)
Then there’s Adam Mitchell. Now, I know he gets a bad rep but I generally find this is down to the bad writing that made him appear so UNLIKABLE. His short time on the TARDIS was deliberately written to make him the WORST companion to ever appear on the show and it lacks any real commitment other than to showcase Rose as the staple of “how the companion SHOULD look.” And (to me at least) it’s a fucking weak reasoning and just spoils a potential companion.
Plus the reasoning behind his motivation is completely absent and his character becomes extremely weak and boring to watch, making an already existing “slit your wrists” bore-fest even more depressing to sit through. It’s just fucking boring and makes any of my Series 1 marathons hit a massive nose-dive in interest. Thank God this episode is followed by “Father’s Day” in order to wake myself back up with something decent.
Series 2 : “Love & Monsters”
Oh dear… This is without a doubt a shamble and has no right to even exist. Heck, out of respect for Doctor Who this piece of shit MUST be flung straight into the fucking bin and forgotten about.
I suppose I can go on for hours and defend the very concept of this episode, and how it holds huge potential, and even generated a plotline that was very sophisticated and held many intriguing dilemmas, particularly when it came to the widening area of danger The Doctor inflicts on those he comes into contact with. But we’re not looking at the episode’s context and rather its execution, making “Love & Monsters” one of the WORST Doctor Who experiences I’ve had to sit through.
“The Long Game” may have been extremely dull, making “Love & Monsters” an easier sit-through, but its massive problem lies with “why does it exist?” It has little, to no, point and literally by the end me and my mum sat there in disbelief and said, “Was that it?” You wait patiently as the narrative builds-up to something and nothing FUCKING happens. It’s just one long drown out parody that never fucking stops, and it just gets worse and worse, becoming more laughable and cheesy by the second.
The biggest crime of this episode is how it manages to tarnish Doctor Who‘s reputation through its clumsy storytelling, its bizarre creative decisions, and the poor execution which makes “Love & Monsters” look even more tacky, like it was purposely trying to be a low-key fan-fiction that lacked any real soul or commitment. Even The Tenth Doctor and Rose are mostly absent and when they are involved it’s just plain ridiculous and painful to sit through.
I think that best describes this episode: painful. It just makes my ears bleed, my eyes melt away, and my mind explode as I can no longer comprehend what is in front of it. Russell T Davies, you had a lot of potential with this idea and you miraculously fucked it up. But, at the very least, looking back on it makes me feel it’s rather harmless. At least it doesn’t fuck around with Doctor Who‘s cannon and force in selfish agendas. So in that respect you can easily forget about this and move on like nothing fucking happened.
Series 4 : “Turn Left”
I’m probably going to get a lot of HATE for this one, but FUCK-IT! It’s not that this is a particularly bad episode but it’s certainly quite pointless and doesn’t really do anything (at least for me anyway). In my eyes this was just another episode dedicated to the ANNOYING trend of New Who, i.e. shine that fucking spotlight on the show-runner’s darling creations, the companions.
Now, Donna Noble goes backwards and forwards for me in terms of likability. When she proves herself useful she really shines in the moment, but when she’s annoying I’d rather The Doctor kicked her arse out the TARDIS door into the nearest Black Hole. “Turn Left” was a strange turn for her character (and not the GOOD kind), to which she is made to be the MOST important person onscreen, having created a parallel universe because she wasn’t there to save The Tenth Doctor during the events of “The Runaway Bride”.
I really hate it (with a passion) when companions are made WAY TOO important for no good reasoning. T Davies well and truly fucked-up Series 4s fantastic streak of quality episodes because of this narrative, and things only became worse when he had a MASSIVE wank in order to congratulate himself for the finale, to which lacks any real original thought and is just a pointless spectacle for the sake of a shitty cross-over event of his major ideas during his era.
“Turn Left” wouldn’t have been SO bad if it concentrated on something interesting instead of wasting my time watching the blandest iteration of Donna desperately trying to make sense of things, whilst Rose Tyler keeps randomly popping up to (essentially) perform the role of The Doctor, and does it quite badly because she hasn’t got a fucking clue.
The annoying part is there’s some great concepts in place within this dark, depressing tale in which WITHOUT The Doctor the Earth is fucked and all his original victories have to be won through the sacrifice of his past companions (YEAH! They kill off Sarah Jane Smith, her teenage son and teenage friends [how morbid can you fucking get?]) But instead of this narrative being interesting it just turns into a 50 minute snooze-fest where I’m desperately waiting for the story to end so I can at least get to something better (despite my dislike of “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End” for its fucking appalling direction).
Plus, “Turn Left” is riddled with SO many plot-holes it’s actually quite hilarious! You can glance over the fact that The Titanic should’ve actually destroyed the Earth instead of JUST London (after-all, that was Max Capricorn’s plan was it not? And you can’t make up any excuses, especially since T Davies wrote “Voyage of the Damned” so there’s no excuse!) But one small detail you CAN’T overlook is the fact that The Pyroviles should be ruling the Earth because The Tenth Doctor wasn’t around to cause Vesuvius to erupt!
Not to mention The Carrionites should’ve taken over the Earth, The Cult of Skaro probably created a new Dalek Empire in 1930s New York, and there’s the implications of The Master never returning, The Ood remaining enslaved, Jenny never being created, and River Song never being born. Like “Love & Monsters”, “Turn Left” had a lot of potential to do something really exciting and interesting but falls flat when it fails to execute its concept, and focuses on the WRONG elements.
The Specials [2008-2010]: “The Next Doctor”
This was another perfect example of using The Cybermen all wrong. What was the sodding point of them being involved in this narrative other than having a stand-out villain that created hype. Now, don’t get me wrong, the story revolving around Jackson Lake and his identity crisis was actually done really well. It was a tragic story of him forcing himself into someone else’s shoes because he couldn’t bare to wear his own anymore after witnessing his wife murdered and his son kidnapped.
Throughout the Christmas Special you are naturally questioning whether or not he really is “the next Doctor” as the title of the episode suggests. But things quickly become questionable as something doesn’t feel right about his truth, added by his broken memory, and his gadgets not adding up. So the revelation happens and it is a neat twist and adds much to Jackon’s character, aided greatly by David Morrissey‘s performance.
Upon remembering who is and getting past his trauma Jackson manages to be a useful character, helping The Tenth Doctor defeat The Cybus-men (I’m sorry, I refuse to call these versions of the iconic creatures official “Cybermen”), and eventually is rewarded with the return of his son. It’s even great how The Tenth Doctor eventually admits that he’d happily accept Jackson as his replacement, adding greatly to his contribution to the narrative and how good his character was.
But sadly the rest of the episode just falls apart and becomes either generic, or plain stupid. The Cybus-men are a crap contribution to the Christmas Special, don’t really do anything worth-while, and their ultimate goal is just fucking ridiculous, and borderline cringe-worthy (a mean, a giant Cyberman trampling across Victorian London – seriously?)
That, and Miss Hartigan’s character just plain annoys me. She’s not interesting, and her ability to take over the Cybus-men upon being converted into The Cyber-King was just utterly pissed me off, ultimately beginning The Cybermen’s decline, and credibility, within the New Series. Overall, Davies had some good ideas here but not enough of them to sustain an hour-long narrative, making “The Next Doctor” a disappointing snooze-fest to sit through.
Series 5 : “The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood”
If “The Next Doctor” was a snooze-fest, then this two-part is a “jump in the bath with a toaster-fest” Seriously, Chris Chibnall doesn’t do himself any favours as being declared “a credible show-runner” when most of his previous contributions to Doctor Who have been either average, mind-numbingly depressing, or were simply unable to complete a narrative coherently.
Sure, his work on both Torchwood and Broadchurch gives him better credibility but then you look at “The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood” and your confidence just plummets. I’m not going to say that the themes of the episodes weren’t interesting but the execution is just so boring. The first half of the episode barely has anything interesting happens, making it feel like a massive filler for better events to come, and then the second half is just mostly characters sat around discussing the themes of the narrative in the most blandest debate possibly imagined.
The whole premise was really generic and just seemed to promote a massive discussion without any real substance or interesting storytelling. Not to mention certain characters were just really aggravating, to the point where it made me want to punch the television screen to silence them. The mother in particular was just so fucking… God I hated her! And her hypercritical excuses to justify her actions (which, essentially, placed the entire world in danger you fucking selfish bitch!) just made me hate her character even more, to which I gave her no sympathy whatsoever.
Essentially, this story is just a complete repeat of “Doctor Who and the Silurians” without any of the charm, engaging characters, and dilemma-fuelled plot-threads. So, basically, a complete waste of time and my patience. And to add more insult to this two-parter, the only reason I remotely remember it is solely because of the Rory scene, which doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the narrative and is (by-and-large) an extension of the ongoing story-arc with The Time Cracks, so yeah, basically the only aspect I liked was a additional one to further the rest of the series and its characters.
- “Boom Town”
- “The Christmas Invasion”
- “New Earth”
- “The Idiot’s Lantern”
- “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”
- “The Lodger”
And that’s it for this PART. Join me for PART 2 where I’ll be continuing to discuss my LEAST FAVOURITE New Who episodes from Series 6 all the way up to the recently released Series 10. Feel free to join me in my countdown (of sorts) by sharing your PERSONAL least favourite episodes and why you HATE them so much!