In anticipation to the series 6 finale of Doctor Who this Saturday, I thought I’d do a post on my top 5 episodes since the show came back in 2005. Like a lot of people, I never saw Classic Who & honestly, as much as I like the show, I don’t really think I’ll ever feel the need to go back & watch those old episodes, with the low production values & cardstock companions who only function as damsels-in-distress. But since Russell T. Davies brought the series back, the characters have been admirably fleshed out & the season arcs have always been interesting, if not always successfully executed.
I should specify that this is my personal favorite top 5 episodes, not necessarily the 5 very best episodes, although my choices are all pretty popular episodes. I also changed my mind on a few of them, just to not always pick the Steven Moffat timey-wimey choice, although I am obviously a huge sucker for those stories. Here are my picks:
5) The Girl Who Waited
Interesting, it’s one of two “Doctor-light” episodes in my choices. Not that I don’t love The Doctor, but this episode in particular is the best Rory & Amy story thus far & one of the best companion stories period of the new series. It’s a terrific standalone adventure, but it is also explores one of series 6’s most interesting aspects, the idea of a married couple in the TARDIS. What’s most wonderful about is, there are plenty of examples of how much Rory loves Amy, but this is one of the few stories that really shows how much Amy loves Rory. Rory is what separates Amy from Rose, why she’ll eventually be able to walk away from the Doctor for good.
4) The Doctor Dances
The second half of Moffat’s first two-parter that introduced one of his most famous creations, John Barrowman’s dashing, tragic Captain Jack Harkness, this episode features one of the Doctor’s greatest goosebump-raising, cheer-inducing speeches. “Everybody lives!” To me, it remains the high point of Christopher Eccleston’s short run as the Ninth Doctor.
3) The Eleventh Hour
Matt Smith’s first full adventure as the Eleventh Doctor was full of joy & wonder & magic, & to me, it got Doctor Who back to what it is when it’s at its best, in stark contrast to the cloudiness around it for Ten’s last few stories. And while Eleven’s run certainly has its ultra-dark moments, Matt Smith is such an energetic, compelling presence, the Doctor seems a little less weighed down by his past. “The Eleventh Hour” also introduces Amy Pond in one of the most creative & tragic companion backstories ever. What I remember most about it is its fantastical fairy tale imagery: Amelia Pond in her red jacket, the Doctor landing in her garden & the TARDIS in its bluest blue, ever.
2) The Doctor’s Wife
Neil Gaiman does Doctor Who, I mean, what can you say? What an amazing episode. I will admit, when I first saw “The Doctor’s Wife” in the episode titles, I was momentarily fooled into thinking this might be a River Song story, but the real story is so much better than that. The TARDIS personified is an inspired creation (“Did you wish really, really hard?”) & the best part of the episode might be that final scene, with the Doctor running around the console gleefully. “It’s always going to be you & her, isn’t it? Long after the rest of us have gone.”
I almost don’t want to put this as number 1 because it is both a Doctor-light & companion-light episode—Ten & Martha make the briefest of appearances—and my actual appreciation of the show has everything to do with the fundamental relationship between The Doctor & his companions. But “Blink” is a masterpiece, the original Moffat timey-wimey story. Because at the end of the day, it’s a show about time travel & nobody writes time travel like Moffat (I also think of “The Big Bang” as a great example of this, but “Blink” has the stronger narrative). “Blink” is also just a remarkable piece of storytelling, featuring possibly the scariest Who monsters ever, beautiful photography (those gorgeous, terrifying stone statues in the rain) & a one-off companion who feels as three-dimensional as anyone else in this universe. If it didn’t feature so little of the Doctor, I would call it the perfect Doctor Who story, if only for the brilliance of this scene:
So those are my picks, would love to hear yours in the comments. Doctor Who’s Series 6 finale, “The Wedding of River Song” airs on BBC America tomorrow, October 1 at 9pm ET.
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