My original title? "Top 10 10th Doctor 'Doctor Who' Episodes." But that was just silly.
I haven't been watching "Doctor Who" for very long, and when I did start watching, I began with the second season of the new series. I'd seen David Tennant in this sketch
with Catherine Tate
, and I thought he was pretty funny. So when I finished watching the newest season of "Arrested Development
," I looked at Netflix, saw "Doctor Who" and thought, "Why not? Everybody seems to like this show. I'll start with David Tennant."
I'm glad I did. I know I'll go back and watch Eccleston's season once I finish with Smith's, but David Tennant will probably always be my favorite Doctor. (Turns out he's your favorite too
.) And since I'm the kind of person who enjoys taking something he loves
and analyzing the heck
out of it, (preferably in list format), I thought I'd share with you all my Top 10 "Doctor Who" episodes featuring David Tennant. Enjoy!
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Many of the episodes on this list are part (usually the second) of two-parters, and "Evolution of the Daleks" is no exception. It comes after "Daleks in Manhattan," and I'd say the biggest reason I liked it was because it offered the possibility of redemption to the Daleks while characterizing the Doctor's willingness to help even the worst beings in the universe. Dalek Sek, leader of the Cult of Skaro
, wants to merge Dalek DNA with human DNA, a notion his followers eventually find they cannot abide. But for a brief moment, it looks like the Daleks might be left to go their way in peace. The humans whose bodies they'd use are already brain-dead, and the Doctor finds himself on the Dalek's side for once.
Of course, the other three cultists overthrow their one-time leader for deliberately messing with the glory of Dalek "purity," but still, I had hope there for a minute. I wasn't super interested in the rest of the two-parter's plot: the pig man's relationship with the show girl and the residents of Hoovertown, but the notion of the Daleks becoming a peaceful race really piqued my interest.
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This episode, plus the very end of "Army of Ghosts" where the Void Ship opens up, was the first time I'd ever seen Daleks, and having heard about them as iconic "Doctor Who" villains, I was excited to see them for the first time. Mix in a confrontation between the angry pepper shakers and the Cybermen, another of Doctor's most famous nemeses, and I knew I was in for a treat, especially with this exchange:
: Daleks, be warned. You have declared war upon the Cybermen.
: This is not war
. This is pest control!
: We have five million Cybermen. How many are you?
: You would destroy the Cybermen with four
: We would destroy the Cybermen with one
Dalek! You are superior in only one respect.
: What is that?
: You are better at dying.
The sheer arrogance
of the Daleks was magnificent in its starkness. Sure, they look pretty silly, but what human weapons are to the Cybermen, Cybermen weapons are to the Daleks. I could see four of them taking on the whole world without breaking a sweat. (Do Daleks sweat? I'm not sure...)
This episode also featured the return of Mickey, which was nice. I thought we wouldn't be seeing him after he decided to stay behind in the mirror world at the end of "The Age of Steel
," but he crossed over to help out, which was nice. Unfortunately, he and Rose both are capable of opening the Genesis Ark since they've traveled through time, and since the Genesis Ark is packed full to the brim with Daleks, that's not great.
"Doomsday" makes it on my Top 10 list for a whole host of reasons, not just the Dalek-Cyberman showdown and the Mickey-Rose reunion. It also features the arrogance of Torchwood ("I did my duty for Queen and Country!
"), the reunion of Rose's parents, and the closing of the time rift, separating Rose and the Doctor. I knew that as a Whovian that would happen at some point, just like I knew that I'd eventually lose my
Doctor. I'd get a new one, sure, and I'd get a new Companion, but there's nothing like your first one, right?
So the final scene between the Doctor and Rose where he's speaking to her with the power of a supernova, and he almost says (what has to be) "I love you," and he gets cut off
, just broke my heart... And then Catherine Tate shows up in a wedding dress and is VERY UNHAPPY, and I was smiling again.
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Hello! I'm the Doctor.[/caption]
As I've said before, I started watching "Doctor Who" rather recently, and my very first episode of the show was "The Christmas Invasion." For much of the episode, the Doctor is resting after a particularly strenuous regeneration, so I wasn't sure how many more episodes I was going to watch. But then Rose really needs the Doctor, the doors of the TARDIS open, and there he is.
Even dressed in stripey pajamas and a blue bathrobe, he's amazing! Here we were, scared of the Sycorax, afraid for the whole planet and Rose and company in particular, and then this awesome guy just strolls onto the scene, makes a joke about "The Lion King," calls the Sycorax's blood control bluff and challenges their leader to a sword duel.
He promptly kicks butt, and when the guy he fought tries to charge him from behind, takes him down with a toss of a satsuma. "No second chances," he says, not even turning around to watch the alien plummet to his death. "That's the kind of guy I am." And I was impressed. Hilarious, confident, able to grow back limbs on occasion, this
was a protagonist I could root for.
Then the Doctor frightens the ship away, and Harriet Jones (Prime Minister) tells Torchwood to blast it out of the sky. This does not please the Doctor. I felt like Ms. Jones makes a good point when she tells the Doctor that Earth has to be able to defend itself, and that blowing up that invading (albeit, retreating
) ship was justified, but still, the scene where he takes her down was still pretty awesome.
The Doctor: Don't challenge me, Harriet Jones. 'Cause I'm a completely new man. I could bring down your Government with a single word.
Harriet Jones: You're the most remarkable man I've ever met. But I don't think you're quite capable of that.
The Doctor: No, you're right. Not a single word.
The Doctor: Just six.
Harriet Jones: I don't think so.
The Doctor: Six words.
Harriet Jones: Stop it!
The Doctor: Six.
[approaches Alex, her assistant, and whispers in his ear]
The Doctor: Don't you think she looks tired?
Sure, Torchwood goes on to do some terrible things (see the Battle of Canary Wharf AKA inviting the Cybermen and the Daleks to the party) while Harriet willingly sacrifices her own life when the Daleks were ready to blow up the universe, but that scene was still amazing, and one of the reasons "The Christmas Invasion" makes it on my Top 10 list.
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The Doctor, the Doctor's Daughter and Donna.[/caption]
This episode follows "The Poison Sky," and takes place on a world locked in everlasting combat, a war that goes back for "generations." In the beginning of the episode, the Doctor's DNA gets put into a cloning machine and Jenny, his daughter, comes out. At first the Doctor's resistant to thinking of the woman that way (despite Martha and Donna pointing it out every few minutes), but he eventually comes to show her a grudging acceptance, which grows into legitimate affection.
As far as the two-parter's plot is concerned, I dig it. The two sides of the conflict, the humans and Hath, are fighting over a semi-mythical Source. They don't know where it is or what it does, but rumor has it that once one side gets hold of it, the fight will be over. Eventually, Donna figures out that the whole facility is a colonizing ship, and that the strange numbers they've been seeing everywhere are dates. The whole war, one spanning "generations," has been going on for a single week.
The cloning machines have degraded the colonists' memories.
The Source is actually a terraforming device, and the Doctor activates it, turning the planet habitable. But Cobb, leader of the human forces, can't face the knowledge that the whole war stemmed from a misunderstanding and shoots at the Doctor. Jenny takes the bullet for him, and then dies. Enraged, the Doctor picks up the pistol and presses it to Cobb's head. Then he says something that perfectly illustrates the Doctor to me:
[box_light]I never would... have you got that? I. Never. Would. When you start this new world... this world of human and Hath... remember that! Make the foundation of this society a man who never would![/box_light]
He's practically shaking with anger as he speaks. Cobb just murdered his daughter, the only other Time Lord (sort of) in existence, and still the Doctor doesn't shoot him. Eventually he leaves the planet with Donna and Martha, but all isn't lost. As her friends lay her to rest, Jenny begins to glow, and ta-da! She regenerates! I don't know if we or the Doctor will ever see her again, but the mere fact that she's out there makes me happy.
Fun fact: The actress who plays Jenny, Georgia Moffett
, is the real life Fifth Doctor's daughter and David Tennant's wife. So that makes her the Doctor's Daughter in an episode called "The Doctor's Daughter" as well as being the Doctor's daughter in real life, as well as the Doctor's wife... Man,
time travel is messed up
. (Kudos to the first person who sends us that Facebook picture on our page
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I love Brannigan's accent.[/caption]
"Gridlock" is the second episode of "Doctor Who" to take us to New New York, the first being the Doctor's adventure there with Rose Tyler in "New Earth
." "Gridlock" takes place a number of years after "New Earth" and in a different, much less affluent part of the city. Down in the depths lies the Motorway, and the audience learns that the Fast Lane is more dangerous than anyone would have you believe. So when the Doctor takes Martha Jones to New New York, guess where she gets taken?
As you'd expect, the Doctor goes after her, and while he's trying to figure out where's she's gone, we learn something interesting about the Motorway. It's a road, sure, but one of flying cars. The couple that kidnapped Martha only did so because it takes three people to a car in order to get on the Fast Lane, and they promise to let her go once they get to their destination, ten miles away. Martha's not too put out by that, until she learns that it will take them six years to get there. (In the Fast
Lane, no less.)
"Gridlock," you see, is an aptly-named episode, as New Earth's Motorway is so clogged with flying cars that vehicles are lucky to travel a few feet in a week. The Doctor finds this out for himself as he's searching for Martha, but he has to do so from the interior of a flying car--the constant traffic has created smog like you wouldn't believe.
It turns out that smog has been hiding some crab-like monsters at the bottom of the Motorway, and their enormous claws are the reason for the Fast Lane's danger. The Doctor finally learns that New New York's overcity was devastated by a plague, and only a sacrifice by the Face of Boe
allowed those people in the Motorway to stay safe. My original thought, when I found out that the Motorway doesn't go anywhere and that the "reports" they were getting came to them by computer program, was that the overcity designed it that way as a pressure relief valve for the lower classes. Keep them safely contained in the Motorway so they can't get in our business, sort of thing, until they die down there. But the Motorway's lack of progress as a safety mechanism is a nifty idea too.
That concept, plus the Face of Boe's revelation to the Doctor that "You are not alone
," bring "Gridlock" to number six on my list. (And Brannigan's accent. Love that.)
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Clockwork robots = delightful.[/caption]
The Doctor, Mickey and Rose find themselves on a spaceship in the future, but one that's devoid of any crew. Then they discover an 18th-century French fireplace. Not a replica or a reconstruction. An actual fireplace from 18th-century France. What the heck's going on with that? The Doctor goes to investigate and discovers it's a portal to 18th-century France. (Who would have guessed?) Specifically, to the bedroom of a young girl. Also in the bedroom: a clockwork android with a knife arm. The Doctor fends off the android, but he's still in the dark as to its purpose or that of the fireplace portal.
Meanwhile, Rose and Mickey are doing some investigations of their own, and they learn that the ship has been damaged and needs repairs. In order to furnish those repairs, it disassembled its crew, but it still needs one thing... It turns out that one thing is the mind of Madame de Pompadour. Since Madame isn't exactly excited about the prospect of giving up her brain, it's up to the Doctor to save her.
A few of the things I liked about this episode include its visual style (the clockwork androids were gorgeous, and I'm a fan of 18th-century French architecture), and the way time flows differently for de Pompadour and the Doctor. The very first time he sees her as a child through the fireplace, a few minutes pass for him as he figures out how to get through to her, but on the other side, months have passed. This difference in time speed plays a big role in the episode's sad ending.
The Doctor looks into de Pompadour's mind in order to figure out what the androids want from her, but opening a door into someone else's mind leaves it open in your own. So de Pompadour becomes the first human being to really know the mind of the Doctor*, and that instantly creates a connection between them. In fact, the Doctor invites her to travel with him in the TARDIS, but when he finally figures out a way to get to her again, he learns she's just died.
"The Girl in the Fireplace" really humanized the Doctor for me, since before this I hadn't really seen his capacity for love before. It also sets up a pre-echo of the Doctor's trouble with only being "five minutes" and coming much later into the life of someone he cares for. *cough cough Amy Pond cough*
* Note: I started watching "Doctor Who" with Tennant and I'm not finished with the Smith episodes. I am by no means a Whovian scholar and I make no claims to be one.
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What's that? "That which holds the image of an angel becomes itself an angel"? Well cra--*neck snap*[/caption]
"Blink" is one of those rare episodes of "Doctor Who" that hardly features the eponymous hero. Primarily focusing on Sally Sparrow, "Blink" introduces the Weeping Angels, one of my favorite "Doctor Who" monsters. What appear to be statues when you're looking at them, Weeping Angels are actually monsters that can touch you and instantly send you back in time. However many years of life you would have had going into the future provide energy to the Angel, even though you'll live out your life in the past, which gets a bit mind-screwy.
The first time it happens, Sally and her friend are investigating this old house where Sally found some strange messages underneath the wallpaper earlier ("Duck!
" *crash*) When the front doorbell rings, Sally goes to answer it, only to find a letter addressed to her from years and years ago. The man who delivers it claims to be her friend's grandson--the same friend who's currently upstairs and is younger than the man talking to Sally.
Sally's friend isn't the only person to be touched by the Angels, nor is she the last. Sally has to avoid their grasp while puzzling out this whole situation, hampered by the fact that the Doctor, who'd be great at helping out, is currently stuck in the 1969. Here's where knowledge of time travel gets involved.
Sally's friend's brother works at a video store, and he has some DVDs whose Easter Eggs include a strange man speaking aloud. (Three guesses as to who the strange man is.) Once Sally starts speaking to the DVD
, she gets some answers, and the audience gets even more when we learn that the video store guy has been writing down Sally's answers to the Doctor in his notes. So at the end of the episode, when Sally spies the Doctor, but before he's been stranded in the past, she gives him the notes.
(I told you it was a bit of a head-scruncher.) Still, statues that can only move when you're not looking at them, time travel-as-assassination, the Doctor's method of freezing the Weeping Angels and trying to figure out how to communicate with someone forty years away from you in time make for a very entertaining episode.
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This would be weird, but also awesome.[/caption]
Okay, this one is a bit cheaty since I love "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead," but I couldn't see including one without the other. The episodes bring us to the biggest library in the history of everywhere and always, instantly endearing itself to me, and we have the first appearance of River Song
. The more and more "Doctor Who" I watch, the more I enjoy River Song. And you can't forget the Vashta Nerada--the shadows that hunt the flesh, or "The reason why every civilization of sapient beings has an ingrained fear of the dark." And don't forget the little girl with the TV up there.
First off, library planet. It has its own teleporter system, the core is an enormous computer and the planet's moon's only purpose is to keep that computer running. Awesome. Sure, the faces grafted onto plinths
is pretty disturbing, but that's the library of the future for you. As far as River Song goes, I love her relationship with the Doctor. This is the last time she'll ever see him, but it's the first time he's met her. We hear over and over that the Doctor is a time traveler, but I think this episode does a wonderful job of showing what that means when you deal with other time travelers.
As for the Vashta Nerada, it makes for an excellent villain/antagonist. When the Doctor, a man/being who's faced off against gods and demons and lived to tell the tale, tells you to run away from something
, run away
. The Vashta Nerada taps into that ingrained fear of the dark that everyone has in some capacity and says "You are right to be afraid." The knowledge that walking through what appears to be an innocent patch of shadow can instantly skeletonize a person would scare me too. The fact that it can interact with people's brain-computer things and speak through them strikes me as a bit weird, but the notion didn't detract from my liking of the episodes enough to bump it down a peg.
(SPOILER ALERT) I couldn't figure out at first--and I wasn't supposed to--how the little girl and the psychiatrist tied into this episode, but that intrigued me. When we finally discover that she's running the computer program for the whole library (and that Donna's life inside the computer is a digital dream) that made me like this two-parter a bit more. We have the Doctor's wife, hungry shadows, a library planet AND something like the Matrix that messes with your memory. What's not
to like about these episodes?
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"Hello, I'm John Smith."[/caption]
All right, I know, I've deviated yet again from the "10 Episodes" format I set up in my title, but I couldn't help it with these two. "Human Nature" and "Family of Blood" tell the story of the Doctor as a human man in the year before World War I Britain. He's a teacher called John Smith at a school for boys while Martha Jones, his companion, masquerades as a maid at the school. The reason behind the Doctor's giving up his memories is to escape the Family of Blood, a group of aliens that want to steal his life force. The Doctor figures that they won't be able to find him as a human, so he hides his own identity from them (and himself).
This episode had a lot of great acting in it, from the human beings that get possessed by the Family of Blood (especially Son of Mine--he was creepy/cool), to the young boy who finds the Doctor's pocket watch/memory receptacle, to the woman who falls in love with "John Smith," to David Tennant himself. The scene where Martha has broken the news to him and the boy gives him the watch just plucked my heart strings. Almost crying, he says to Joan Redfern, the woman he loves,
[box_light]"I'm John Smith, that's all I want to be, John Smith. With his life... and his job... and his love. Why can't I be John Smith? Isn't he a good man? Why can't I stay?" [/box_light]
Of course I didn't know it at the time, but this almost preemptively echoes the 10th Doctor's last words before his regeneration into Matt Smith: "I don't want to go
." Plus, this episode also featured the 10th Doctor's capacity for cold fury
. When the Doctor gets his memories back and he confronts/overcomes the Family of Blood, he has his revenge on them. Son of Mine explains:
[box_light]He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing... the fury of the Time Lord... and then we discovered why. Why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons, why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind...[/box_light]
He goes on to describe the Doctor's punishments for each member of his family, himself included, and says, "We wanted to live forever. So the Doctor made sure we did." That gave me the shivers.
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You know "Twelve Angry Men"? Think of this as "Nine Humans and one Time Lord in a Shuttle Thing."[/caption]
And we've reached my number one episode of the 10th Doctor's adventures, "Midnight." Set on a diamond planet that suffers from "extonic" radiation, i.e. "murder-light," this episode focuses more on the Doctor than the relationship between him and his companion. In this case that companion is Donna, who decides to relax at the spa while the Doctor takes a shuttle to a waterfall made of sapphires. On the shuttle with him are a family (husband, wife and teenage son), a quiet woman called Sky, a professor who's taken the shuttle to the waterfall a bunch of times and is an "expert" on the planet, along with his assistant, the shuttle's hostess and the two pilots, plus the Doctor, of course.
The ride out to the waterfall is quite a long one, and with some fiddling from the sonic screwdriver, the Doctor gets everyone (or almost everyone) on the shuttle talking to one another. But then there's a strange thump
from outside the shuttle, as though something or someone out there is trying to get in. The professor tries to calm everyone down, reminding us that the sun's extonic radiation would kill any form of life out there, but the thumping continues. Not only that, but when someone thumps back to it, the sound gets mimicked. Clearly something
is out there.
I loved this episode because of all the ones I've seen, of the various monsters and traps and scary situations our heroes have gotten themselves into, I've never felt more uneasy than I did while watching "Midnight." And what makes it even better is that I wasn't afraid of some special effect or stalking beastie, but of humans. Regular ol' human beings, albeit ones that are frightened and paranoid. Whatever creepy entity that possesses Sky and makes her repeat after/speak simultaneously with/preemptively speak for other people scared the heck out of me, and all it took was some good dialogue from the writers, and some great acting from the cast.
"Midnight" was terrifying and magnificent in a way that no other 10th Doctor episode came close.
So there you have them, my top 10 "Doctor Who" episode featuring David Tennant. I had a bit of trouble composing this list as there are lots of great episode out there. I didn't touch on the Master at all, for instance, and I thought he was an awesome
villain. The final episode of Tennant's tenure as the Doctor was great too, but I only had 10 spots (even if I cheated a little).
I'd love to hear about your favorite episodes, though, and if you think I should have organized the ones I did choose differently, be sure to tell me in the comments below, or on Twitter @GeekSmashCom
-By Colin O'Boyle