The Blue Box Blog

Emma Lou's adventures in Doctor Who fandom

Top Ten: My Favourite Doctor Who Stories (Part 2)

Posted by emmahyam on November 7, 2011

Welcome to my second installment of my top ten Doctor Who stories, this time focusing on the post 2005 episodes, once again I’m not shying away from SPOILERS here so proceed at your own risk. I’d love to know what your favourite stories are so please leave a comment below! Lets begin with…

10) School Reunion

School Reunion could have easily fallen into the trap of “Very Special Episode” bringing back as it did the wonderful and sadly missed Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, luckily for us the episode neatly side steps the schmaltz in favour of a good, strong story. The acting talent is on good form, Anthony Head’s Mr. Finch making for a great baddie, Noel Clarke’s Mickey Smith making a solid return and upgrades Mickey from being mostly useless in the viewers mind and Lis Sladen moves back into Sarah Jane’s skin as if she’d never been off our screens, don’t forget that this success of this episode lead directly to the creation of The Sarah Jane Adventures. I’ve found that this is a story that benefits immensely from repeated viewing, on the first pass its a great, traditional Who story but on the rewatch the subtle themes of pain and loss that weave through the episode come to the foreground, making this installment stand out.

9) Partners in Crime

My second favourite season opener since the shows return Partners in Crime is a wonderful romp from beginning to end, moving effortlessly from brilliantly funny to poignant. This episode also does a great job of redefining the character of Donna Noble in only 20 minutes, utterly erasing the screechy, annoying Donna we first met in “The Runaway Bride”. This episode makes a great use of Catherine Tate’s comedic talent, especially in the scene where the Doctor and Donna, separated by a room but able to see each other through a window mime their adventures so far at each other. I also love that the script keeps our two protagonists separated for most of the episode  so when they finally bump into each other you feel like punching the air with delight.

8 ) Amy’s Choice

I love surreal, labyrinthine plots and this episode delivers that in spades, also I love the exploration of the relationships between The Doctor, Amy and Rory. If nothing else this is the episode that proves beyond doubt that Amy really does love Rory after 6 episodes of mixed signals. We also get a  good long look at The Doctor’s always just below the surface dark side. I really hope we get another encounter with The Dream Lord who is wonderfully brought to life by Toby Jones.

7) The Time of Angels

After their stunning debut the Weeping Angels needed an appropriately awesome return and The Time of Angels delivers in spades, it also gives us the return of the lovely River Song who makes the entrance to end all entrances. What I really enjoy about this story is that it takes an brilliant Who monster and actually makes them even more scary! It shows us the full, horrifying power of one of the most ruthless and unstoppable baddies the Doctor has every encountered with Amy’s predicament becoming genuinely disturbing, the part where she rubs her eye and a bunch of dust falls out makes me shudder every time.

6) The Girl in the Fireplace

For me, this is the episode that got Steven Moffat the job as Doctor Who supremo, an amazing, melancholy love story with such a clever plot the episode actually suffers from being constrained to 45 minutes, this could have been a movie. Sophia Myles is excellent as Madame de Pompadour and her chemistry with David Tennant is very apparent. Even though it constitutes a continuity error as Moffat hadn’t read the script for “School Reunion” I also like the less acrimonious relationship between Mickey and Rose as most episodes with them in made me wonder why they were ever a couple to begin with. The script really sings in this episode and I love the final reveal of the name of the space ship our heroes are on, as all the pieces fall neatly into place.

5) The Unicorn and the Wasp

If you look up “romp” in the dictionary I think you’ll find a screen shot from this episode, this one is just great fun from beginning to end and uses one of the great Who traditions of taking real events (the mystery of Agatha Christie’s 10 day disappearance)  and revealing that the good Doctor had more than little involvement. This one is not just funny, its also clever, putting in loads of references for Christie buffs and once you realise that our heroes are stuck in the middle of an Agatha Christie mystery thats happening for real its great fun to play along and see if you can figure it out before The Doctor.

4) Eleventh Hour

My favourite series opener, its a brilliant introduction to our new cast of characters and a rip-roaring adventure, I love that hurls you straight in the deep end as The Doctor tries to deal with a turbulent regeneration and the imminent destruction of the Earth. Matt Smith comes out of the blocks sprinting in his performance as The Doctor, wiping away all worries that he wouldn’t be able to fill the shoes of the previous TARDIS occupant. I really enjoyed Moffat doing something different with the companions as well fully exploiting the time travel element of the show in a way that no one else really has. Groundbreaking and awesome.

3) The Doctor’s Wife

The jewel in the crown of series 6, touching, funny, devastating and ultimately triumphant this is a truly beautiful story focusing on the  real love story in Doctor Who, between The Doctor and the TARDIS. Plaudits must go to Suranne Jones, asked to personify a machine which exists in all time and space and is thousands of years old she pulls it off with aplomb. For us old hands though the sheer amount of call backs to the classic years, which all feel completely natural, is wonderful. Its also a story which has endless potential for expansion, I wonder if we’ve really seen the last of House and I really hope that one day we get to meet The Corsair, who sounds like a great foil for the Doctor.

2) Turn Left

One of my very favourite types of story in any genre is Alternative History and this one of the best examples ever done in genre TV, on  the face of it this episode is “Sliding Doors” done Who style but as the nightmare begins to unfold we realise that this is so much more and the profound effect that The Doctor has on the lives he touches. Catherine Tate’s second attempt at playing the “unenlightened” Donna is much more successful this time around and RTD’s writing of this alternate Donna is incredible. The dystopian Britain that we end up in is brilliantly realised and when the government starts the internment of foreign nationals it becomes utterly terrifying. I really enjoyed the reveal that the “time beetle” is part of the Trickster’s Horde in a lovely reference to The Sarah Jane Adventures and the Bad Wolf revelation is shocking and exciting, even years later.

1) Blink

What can I say about this episode that hasn’t been said before? Incredible acting, great characters, touching and funny dialogue, a brilliantly clever idea  and the single most terrifying monster ever conceived of in Doctor Who history, not only one of the greatest Doctor Who episodes ever made but one of the greatest examples of genre TV in the last 10 years. Simply amazing.

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2 Responses to “Top Ten: My Favourite Doctor Who Stories (Part 2)”

  1. GAB said

    Wonderful post. Since I’ve not seen anything from previous decades, I haven’t been able to read along to previous posts with a lot of “Yes! Yes! or No” mental responses. I’m glad I got to “yes” along with this one. Funny thing, many of your choices have the quality of being referential to them, but I’d endorse all of these episodes with very little knowledge of the past moments to which they refer.

    “Partners in Crime” is the only one that I don’t remember as fondly. It didn’t click for me.
    I’d agree that “The Girl in the Fireplace” was well designed for a 90-minute film and it wouldn’t have felt like “filler” at all.

    I still have “Blink” on my DVR from when I recorded it months ago. It’s not going anywhere. I’m keeping my eyes on that file … 😉

  2. I have stated repeatedly that the first half of “Eleventh Hour” is PERFECT television. The whole episode is brilliant, in my opinion, but I guess I’m such a softie for kids that young Amelia very much stole my heart. In my case, I had somehow managed (not consciously, mind you) managed to avoid watching any of the “New Who” until I saw this episode, and it was a brilliant re-introduction, long past my youthful days of watching Tom Baker episodes on American public television. For this reason, I personally consider Matt Smith to be MY doctor, as it was he (and I guess, Steven Moffat) who made me fall in love with Doctor Who all over again. I do like Eccleston and Tennant (up ’til recently, Barty Crouch Jr. to me), and I’ve become a big fan of Catherine Tate. I hope Matt Smith hangs around for a few more years, even beyond the 50th Anniversary season, which he’s stated he’ll stick around for.

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