Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
A few years ago, I was asked to come up with a Doctor Who In 50 Episodes List on Facebook. For people who wanted to get really into the series without getting Super Really Into The Series. With over fifty years worth of episodes, the prospect of becoming a fan of Doctor Who can be completely daunting.
I've compiled this list of episodes that I like, so it's very subjective. I have tried to make it so that there is a rough arc to the seasons. I don't give a fuck about episodes that are historically important, this is a guide intended to make you Like The Series, not be an Expert On The Series.
Here are the basics you should know: The show is about an alien time traveler. He takes companions, almost always humans, with him as he explores time and space. The companions change frequently, and in this guide, you sometimes get no closure. You might love a particular companion in one episode, and, in the next, they've been replaced by people you have no context for. Also, when The Doctor gets very ill, his appearance changes. By which, I mean, he is portrayed by an entirely different actor. This is a cool concept, but it can be jarring at first. It will happen Fourteen Times over the course of these twelve seasons.
Last season gave us Jack Harkness's Torchwood, the journey of Martha Jones, and a batty new companion named Donna. In this season, EVERYTHING gets thrown together into a massive universe ending catastrophe. And then, when everything's all fixed, throws us into Another massive universe ending catastrophe. This is a heavy season but very emotionally satisfying.
Season 8: The Big Bang
(David Tennant, Matt Smith)
Serial 1: Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead
(10, Donna, River, Vashta Nerada)
The Doctor and Donna are trapped in a library where the shadows are filled with space piranha. But they're rescued by someone from The Doctor's past and future. Unfortunately, he has no idea who she is.
Episode 2: Turn Left
(10, Donna, Rose, Wilfred, Sylvia, Trickster)
While The Doctor peruses a flea market, Donna is forced to relive her life as if she had never met The Doctor, thus dooming the world several times over. But one of The Doctor's former companions swoops in to help save the day. For now.
Serial 3: The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
(10, Donna, Rose, Sara Jane, Mickey, Jack, Martha, Gwen, Ianto, K-9, Jackie,Wilfred, Sylvia, Harriet, Luke, Francine, Davros, Daleks)
So much happens in this episode. The Daleks from Doomsday. Davros. Every companion from the modern series, and some from the classic series. Even the woodwork comes out of the woodwork to help The Doctor when the Daleks steal Earth and a variety of other planets in their attempt to kill everything Not Dalek. At the end, all of the companions are dispersed. Now, we've seen companions evicted from the TARDIS, killed by Cybermen, abandoned in alternate dimensions, and returned to the entirely wrong part of England, but this episode gets my vote for most heartbreaking removal of a companion ever.
Serial 4: The Wedding Of Sarah Jane
(10, Sara Jane, Luke, K-9, Clyde, Trickster)
The Trickster, who was somehow involved in Turn Left, has devised a plot to trap Sarah Jane Smith out of time. Luckily, The Doctor shows up, and he and Sarah Jane's army of children set out to rescue her.
Serial 5: The Waters Of Mars
Lonely Doctor is usually a scary Doctor. But when he shows up at a Fixed Point In Time, he sticks around to see an important historical moment that he's not allowed to change. This is the last time we'll see 10 this season. I originally had his farewell episode "The End Of Time" on this list, but upon further watching it's pretty terrible. There are some great Goodbye Moments at the every end of the episode, but I think I'd rather graft them on at the beginning of the next episode than make someone sit through the confusing and disappointing final moments of 10.
Episode 6: The Eleventh Hour
(11, Amy, Rory, Prisoner Zero, Atraxi)
The new face of The Doctor is the youngest yet, and he encounters a young girl with cracks in her wall that do not sit well with him. How is he going to fix this?
Episode 7: The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood
(11, Amy, Rory, Silurians)
The Doctor and his new companions' vacation in Rio turns into a mining hill disaster when a drill reaches further beneath the Earth's surface than anything has ever gone before, and ends up disturbing a classic Doctor Who species. Also, that pesky crack in the wall appears to be ... following them.
Episode 8: Vincent & The Doctor
(11, Amy, Vincent, Krafayis)
The Doctor and Cracks In The Wall Girl (now a woman) go back and visit a depressed Vincent Van Gogh. There are some alien shenanigans, for sure, but this episode is about being human, and trying to help the mentally ill. It's excellent.
Episode 9: The Lodger
(11, Amy, Craig, Silence)
Separated from Cracks In The Wall Girl, The Doctor moves in with the Carpool Karaoke Guy (no, really), and completely ruins James Corden's life by trying to be a decent human being and a good friend. Also, aliens kill a bunch of people.
Serial 10: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
(11, Amy, Rory, River, Vincent, Daleks, Cybermen, Judoon, Cybermen , Sontarans)
Soooo...about those cracks in the wall. It turns out. Maaaaaaybe. Possibly they're The Doctor's fault. And a whole mess of alien villains (The Cybermen, The Daleks, The Sontarans, and The Judoon to name a few) have to stop The Doctor before he destroys all of time. Oh, and that lady from the library is back to help him out. She's way more of a badass than he is, sweety.
Holiday Special: The Impossible Astronaut
(11, Amy, Rory, River, The Silence)
Along with The Weeping Angels and River Song, The Silence are one of the coolest things Steven Moffat introduced to The Doctor Who Universe. He built a whole season around them. Unfortunately, the season is mostly terrible and unsatisfying. But their first appearance is creepy, and worth a look. Plus, this episode sets up some interesting problems for Amy and Rory going forward.