Yes, that title looks like a typo but a typo it is not. The character of Doctor Who is now in his eleventh incarnation, each played by a different actor. Each incarnation has their fans, and a recent poll ranked the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, as the most popular. Being a recent convert to Whoism, I’ve recently had the pleasure of watching the Tenth Doctor’s seasons and now present for your reading pleasure the ten best stories of his tenure.
NB: Since this list was compiled with a mind towards stories rather than individual episodes, two- and three-part stories over multiple episodes are counted as one entry.
10. The Christmas Invasion
Christopher Eccleston brought a new generation of viewers into the world of the Doctor, so the sudden transition into the new face of the tenth Doctor required needed careful handling. Whilst being attacked by robot Santa and whirling christmas tree attacks don’t exactly make for the best television, but this episode edges it’s way into the list for setting up the new Doctor perfectly. Sword fighting aliens on the wing of a spaceship hovering over London while in his pyjamas? Perfect.
9. Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords
The Doctor has plenty of memorable enemies, and the writers consistently keep them threatening. Few, however, have come across as someone (or thing) capable of taking the Doctor out of the picture. Enter ‘The Master’, another remaining Time Lord driven insane by the scope of the time vortex. By the time The Doctor has caught up to him, The Master has become the British Prime Minister and is ready for the Doctor. Over the cause of a year, while The Doctor in imprisoned, his allies must build a resistance against their new ruler leading to an epic finale.
8. The Fires of Pompeii
The Doctor and his companions find themselves crossing paths with many historical figures and famous occurrences. During an early stint through time with Donna they wind up in Pompeii on ‘volcano day’. A good set-up and interesting characters pay off with a giant lava demon, but what makes it interesting is Donna challenging the Doctor on his policy of non-interference. Also keep an eye out for Karen Gillan, later cast as companion Amy Pond, as a cultist.
7. The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit
The Doctor finds himself on a space station (looking strangely like a repainted Red Dwarf set) being dragged into a black hole with a strange subservient race known as the Ood. An interesting enough story as is – but when the Doctor comes face to face with the Devil himself…brilliant.
6. Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel
The Daleks are the definitive Doctor Who opponent, but a close runner up would be the Cybermen. As haunting as they are threatening, the lines of people being fed into the conversion chambers is a surprisingly creepy sequence. Whilst the writers could’ve rested on their laurels, they also include a surprisingly heavy amount of emotion with the victims of the Cybermen leading to some of the episodes best moments.
5. Human Nature/The Family of Blood
Dropping the viewer straight into the unusual situation, this double episode gives Tennant the opportunity to show more range than he usually does as the madcap Doctor. Having implanted a false personality to protect himself by hiding as a teacher, putting him in a dangerous position when the deadly Family of Blood come hunting him. The disconcerting characters (complete with animated scarecrows) are enough to carry the episode, but the new angle on the Doctor makes it most memorable.
4. Army of Ghosts/Doomsday
When Rose and The Doctor arrive back on Earth during the present day they find the place crawling with spirits who the rest of population have accepted as the norm. When it turns into an invasion by the Cybermen and the Daleks it becomes one of the greatest showdown in the history of the series. Aside from the brilliance of the Daleks and Cybermen sassing each other, it also includes the end of Rose’s journey with the Doctor in a highly effective finale.
3. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
So many brilliant ideas in the one episode. The setting of a deserted, planet sized library, the introduction of key character River Song, the Doctor being given an uncertain future, a deadly enemy and the brilliant image of the skeleton in the spacesuit. A well paced, suspense filled episode worth repeat viewings for the banter between The Doctor and River Song.
2. The Girl in the Fireplace
The Doctor caught up in a romance – a rare thing indeed. Although it goes largely unspoken, this brilliant concept episode sees The Doctor traveling to different points in a woman’s life while unraveling the mystery behind clockwork robot mannequins and an organ driven shop. The relationship between the Doctor and Reinette is the real sell for the episode, and a great performance from Tennant.
No surprises here – ‘Blink’ is widely considered to be the strongest episode of Doctor Who ever. Brilliant writing actually puts The Doctor out of the picture for much of the episode focusing on the new character Sally Sparrow who has to unravel clues left by the Doctor in the past. A fun mystery to see unfold – made all the more thrilling by the inclusion of the Weeping Angels. These now iconic villains are, without a doubt, the scariest creature ever created for the show. Sparrow is also played by Carey Mulligan, who went on to be nominated for an Oscar. Television rarely gets as good as this.
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