Over the past seven or eight months, I have watched every episode of all seven seasons of the current Doctor Who series. Of course, I had already seen almost all of them, but there were a few that I hadn’t seen and quite a few that I had forgotten and some that hadn’t made sense before because they required some backstory that came from an episode I hadn’t seen. But now that I have seen them all in order, I am qualified to state my opinion about which episodes and seasons are cooler than others. My conclusion is that seasons three and seven are the best. Here is a list of twelve episodes that I particularly like. It isn’t necessarily my top twelve favorites, because I made sure to include at least one from each season. In the case of two-part stories, I counted them as if they were a single episode.

OneThe Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (Season 1)

With the ninth Doctor and Rose

This story takes place in WWII London and features one of the most disturbing Doctor Who monsters of all time: a not-really-human child with a gas mask for a face who wanders the streets asking for his mother and who can telepathically control telephones and inanimate objects. Over the course of the two episodes, The Doctor and Rose piece together the story behind this phenomena, and, of course, discover that it poses a threat to human life as we know it.

TwoThe Girl in the Fireplace (Season 2)

With the tenth Doctor, Rose, and Mickey

The TARDIS lands on a seemingly deserted spaceship that contains numerous gateways to 18th century France. These gateways all lead to various events in the life of Madame De Pompadour, a real person who was an actual historical figure. The Doctor and his companions must save her and all humankind from alien invasion. In the meantime, The Doctor and Madame De Pompadour fall in love with each other. I don’t normally like it when the Doctor falls in love with a one-episode-only character, (especially because the Doctor in the original series was less emotional and less romantically inclined) but in this particular episode, it works.

ThreeThe Shakespeare Code (Season 3)

With the tenth Doctor and Martha

The Doctor and Martha travel to Elizabethan England to see a Shakespearean play that’s brand new. Little do they know that Shakespeare is being essentially possessed by extraterrestrial witches who are using his words to give themselves the power to come and take over the Earth. You see, where they come from, the spoken word has such power that language is basically magic. Since I have a degree in English, I am officially compelled to like this concept.

FourBlink (Season 3)

With the tenth Doctor and Martha

Unlike every other Doctor Who episode, this one gives very little screen time to either the Doctor or his companion, and instead features a cast of one-time characters. The main protagonist is Sally Sparrow, an inherently likable character who is exploring an abandoned house when she finds a message under the wallpaper that is addressed specifically to her. The next day, she returns with her friend Kathy. Kathy gets zapped back in time by a stone angel. This begins a chain of events in which Sally follows instructions left for her by the various people who have been the victims of the stone angels, including Kathy, a policeman named Billy Shipton, and, of course, the Doctor and Martha. The cool bit is when Sally talks to a recording of the Doctor, which has been preserved as an Easter egg on certain DVDs. The Doctor informs Sally that the angel statues, officially called weeping angels, are a life form that feed off of people’s time energy; they survive by zapping people back in time. But they can only move when no one is looking. So when you’re with one, you have to look at it. You can’t even blink; blink and you’re dead. This is actually my number one favorite episode, partly because the weeping angels are just such an awesome idea, and partly because there are so many great quotable lines.

FiveSilence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (Season 4)

With the tenth Doctor and Donna

In this two-episode story, the Doctor and Donna travel to a library that takes up an entire world. Oddly enough, there is no one else there. Even more oddly, this library is contained within the mind of a little girl, which we know from occasional short scenes that show her talking to a man named Doctor Moon, who is evidentially a child psychiatrist. Another group of visitors show up at the library, including River Song, an archeologist who is an important reoccurring character in subsequent seasons. One by one, the group is attacked and killed by the vashta nerada, which is basically a living shadow. Technically, the vashta nerada is a microscopic swarming creature, and the swarms only look like shadows. The Doctor says that they live on almost every planet, including Earth, but are relatively harmless in low concentrations. However, in this library, there are lots of them, and they are capable of consuming people. We are given to understand that this is the reason for the library’s emptiness. Notice that I didn’t actually say that the people all died. But it would be a spoiler if I explained any further.

SixThe Next Doctor (Season 4)

With the tenth Doctor

The Doctor is visiting Victorian London at Christmastime when he meets another man who calls himself the Doctor, says he has a TARDIS and a sonic screwdriver, and takes it upon himself (with the help of a companion named Rosita) to save the world from alien invasion. He is evidently a future regeneration of the Doctor, but he doesn’t recognize the tenth Doctor as his past self. Nevertheless, the two join forces to fight a Cyberman invasion. I will not reveal the actual identity of ‘the next Doctor’ or why he calls himself the Doctor, but it makes for a very interesting plotline.

SevenThe Vampires of Venice (Season 5)

With the eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory

When the Doctor realizes that Amy has a crush on him even though she’s engaged, he decides to take her and her fiance on a romantic vacation to Venice. Little does he know that the three of them will end up having to save the Earth from invasion by an alien vampire who is converting Venetian girls into vampires after luring them to her home by pretending that she operates a very exclusive and prestigious school. To be honest, I think that the main thing I like about this episode is that it reminds me of State of Decay, my favorite classic Doctor Who episode, in which the fourth Doctor and the second Romana find themselves on a planet ruled by three vampires.

EightThe Curse of the Black Spot (Season 6)

With the eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory

This episode takes place on a pirate ship. That is really all you need to know to understand why it’s cool. The monster in this episode is a siren, and I like the way they portray her, and I also like the twist ending, which I’m not going to give away. Actually, this isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but none of my favorites come from season six, so I decided to put this one on the list anyway. It was either The Curse of the Black Spot or Night Terrors, which greatly disturbed me the first time I saw it because it was uncannily similar to a bad dream that I had had months earlier.

NineAsylum of the Daleks (Season 7)

With the eleventh Doctor, Amy, Rory, and Oswin

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory have all split ways, but the daleks capture the three of them and send them together on a mission to disable a force field that will enable the daleks to destroy the planet that they use as an asylum, hence the title of the episode. Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, there is a crashed cruiseliner with one survivor, Oswin, who has spent the year making souffles and hacking into the daleks’ technology. At least that’s what we’re told throughout most of the episode. But I’m not going to give spoilers for this one, either.

tenA Town Called Mercy (Season 7)

With the eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory

The Doctor and his companions wander into Mercy, an isolated town in the Old West, which is harboring an extraterrestrial doctor by the name of Jex. (Incidentally, it’s so cute the way the BBC thinks that all Americans have the same accent. Usually, it’s an exaggerated Texas accent, but in this case, there is a narrator who has an exaggerated Southern accent.)  On his home planet, Jex was a war criminal who turned people into cyborgs. One of those cyborgs, the gunslinger, has followed Jex to Earth and wanders the general vicinity of Mercy, waiting for an opportunity to bring Jex to justice. The people of Mercy are questioning their decision to protect Jex because they themselves are in danger. The safety of the town and the question of Jex’s fate become the Doctor’s responsibility. Cool cinematographic effects and awesome background music ensue.

elevenThe Angels Take Manhattan (Season 7)

With the eleventh Doctor, Amy, Rory, and River Song

The cool bit about this episode is that River Song attracts the Doctor’s attention by writing a book in 1938 New York, which he reads in 2012 and originally thinks is a fictional work. When the narrator/protagonist/author meets Rory, who has been zapped back in time while going to get coffee for Amy and the Doctor, the Doctor suddenly realizes that he is reading a novel about the adventure that he is about to undertake. The title of the episode is an apt description of the threat that the Doctor and his companions must face: the weeping angels are in the process of taking over the Manhattan of 1938. Warning: this episode has a sad ending. Very, very sad. I mean, it’s pretty much the saddest Doctor Who moment of all time.

twelveThe Day of the Doctor (50th anniversary special after season 7)

With the eleventh Doctor, the tenth Doctor, the eighth-and-a-half Doctor, Queen Elizabeth I, and Clara aka Oswin

The Doctor is summoned by UNIT, a military organization that has had ties with the Doctor since the 1968 season, featuring the second Doctor. UNIT has a message to give him from Elizabeth I, who was his wife back when he was the tenth Doctor. (This has frequently been hinted at and alluded to, but until this episode, we never actually got the whole story.) In the course of this episode, the Doctor is reunited with two of his past selves: the tenth Doctor and the eighth-and-a-half Doctor who doesn’t actually go by the name “The Doctor” because he is fighting in the time war that is to destroy both the timelords and the daleks. In fact, it is he who activates the weapon that ends the war by wiping out both sides. Or at least, so we have been given to assume for the past seven seasons. This episode reveals the events that occurred between the older Doctor Who series and the new Doctor Who series, which have been described vaguely, inadequately, and incompletely up to this point. This episode had a cool plot and did a good job of typing up old loose ends in a satisfying way, which is more than I can say for the rather disappointing Christmas special that came out a month later. Also, this episode had a lot of nostalgic value, not only because it brought back the tenth Doctor and the actress who played Rose, but also because it managed to tie into the classic series. And, (mild spoiler) at the very end, Tom Baker himself makes a brief appearance. For anyone who doesn’t know, Tom Baker played the fourth Doctor from 1974 to 1981, and he was the most famous (and my personal favorite) of the Doctor’s first eight incarnations.

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