AS we are nearing the end of another series of Doctor Who – the last one for a while – I thought it only right to look back.
Since it returned in 2005, RTD’s reinvention of the Doctor has been – by and large – absolutely fantastic.
Wonderful acting, clever and inventive writing and a minute attention to detail have combined to produce some truly memorable moments – but which were the best?
Using a highly scientific method (looking at a list and choosing my favourites) I have come up with my top five Doctor Who episodes since its return.
And it was tough – I had to put many of them in the ‘merely brilliant’ category, instead of the outstandingly fantastically wonderful gold box.
And let me say now – to stop any disappointment later – that Love & Monsters, the Christmas specials and Daleks in Manhattan are not on the list.
Yes, my standards were that high.
I know that opinion was split on this one, with many people saying it wasn’t a Doctor Who episode, more like the X Files.
That is why I loved it though, because RTD stripped everything away from the Doctor, which was an incredibly brave thing to do.
Faced with claustrophobia, paranoia and the dark side of human nature, all the Doctor’s bravado, cockiness, and verve – his genius – got him nowhere except on a one way ticket out of the airlock, as the unnamed entity took him over. David Tennant was fantastic in this, but all the guest cast shone.
Despite all the terrifying moments that had come before, this is also the only episode to give my son nightmares.
4. Tooth & Claw
This episode was like a grown up version of Scooby Doo – being chased by a werewolf around a giant mansion!
All we needed was for the werewolf to chase the Doctor and Rose into a room and find they had transformed it into a barber’s shop, and that they tried to give him a shave, or the doctor being surprised by the werewolf as he made a giant sandwich.
The moment in the library where the doctor says ‘Arm yourself!’ referring to the book reveals so much about his character.
It also – for better or worse (better I think, now that Owen’s dead) – gave birth to Torchwood.
3. Silence In The Library / Forest of the Dead.
Where to begin – this two parter was the gift that kept on giving – a multi-layered masterpiece from the Grand Moff.
River Song, clicking fingers, stuttering on the teleport, spoilers, look me up, Hey! who turned out the lights. And then there was the Vashta Nerada – the production team’s dream – a monster that costs nothing to produce.
Everything about it was pitch perfect.
2. Human Nature / The Family Of Blood
For a long time, this two-parter was going to be number one. I loved it when I first watched it, and every time I have watched it since. It has some of the most wonderful ‘quiet’ moments since the series began, as Mr Smith struggles to come to terms with his destiny.
Paul Cornell’s script is beautifully balanced, including the doctor who’s not the doctor, Martha battling to cope and some ruthless villains.
The idea of the chameleon arch is beautifully realised, and David Tennant is great as the bumbling Mr Smith. I loved the diary and the battle scene where he can’t bring himself to fire a gun.
Just as good though is Jessica Hynes as Nurse Redfern.
I’m a big fan of Spaced, but her comedic work there never hinted at the level of poise and sadness she portrays here.
The moment where she asks the Doctor if anyone would have died if he had not chosen to come to the school ‘on a whim’ – and he can’t answer – is poetry. Mr Cornell, Mr Tennant and Mrs Hynes – take a bow.
1. Fear Her
Just kidding – that was rubbish.
No surprise really – this is one of the greatest pieces of television I have ever seen, in any genre. And I didn’t see it for so long – I was away for the original broadcast and didn’t have Sky+ then, so had to put up with my friends constantly saying ‘you must see this!’
The idea of statues that only move when you’re not looking is genius – my son still won’t blink when we go into at galleries!
‘You’re not looking at the angel!’ Neither are you!’ made me jump out of my seat.
For a Doctor-lite episode, the main characters were top notch. Finlay Robertson was very funny as Larry, and then there was Sally Sparrow.
Ah, Sally – how we loved thee! Carey Mulligan was everything a companion should be – without being a companion – and I know five blokes in my office alone who would marry her tomorrow.
Will the Moff bring her back in the future? We can only hope.
So there you have it – the top five according to me. I am sure most of you are already saying ‘but what about …’ and I don’t claim to be the leading authority on this (just one of them!)
And all of these may be blown out of the water when Journey’s End is broadcast.
If you disagree, let me know – all comments gratefully received!