And so, the NuWho love fest continues. Here are my gut-feeling favourite episodes from Series 6-10, and be warned there are spoilers for World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls, which is in itself a spoiler for this post…
Series 6 – The Doctor’s Wife
Split into two parts, with threads of River Song’s future/past running through it and culminating in the utterly mind-bending The Wedding of River Song, I get exhausted just thinking back to this series. But the highlights are exceptional, not least this story by Neil Gaiman. As I wrote at the time, if we’re going to meet the soul of the TARDIS, we’d sure better like her – in fact, we fell for her completely, almost as much as the Doctor. Suranne Jones’ Astrid is astonishing, at once fragile and fiercely intelligent, cheeky, insightful and sad.
It’s also worth taking a moment to appreciate the ambition of the run of episodes 8 – 12, which take as their settings, in turn, WW2 Germany, the inside of a child’s dollshouse, an alien planet (and two time streams), a prison masquerading as the hotel from the Shining and a present day department store. Completely bonkers.
Close second: A Good Man Goes to War
Other faves: Let’s Kill Hitler!, Night Terrors
Series 7: Asylum of the Daleks
Another series divided in two, Series 7 gets underway with another of those thoroughly brilliant openers that I seem to love so much. In Asylum of the Daleks we met one of the ‘shards’ of Clara Oswald, which was pretty impressively kept under wraps to say Jenna Coleman’s casting had already been announced. And Souffle Girl was just brilliant – so funny, so much fun, such a match for the Doctor. It was quite an introduction. And, like Series 1’s excellent Dalek, it did something completely new with the Daleks, almost 50 years after they first exterminated.
Close second: Cold War
Other faves: The Angels Take Manhattan, Hide
Series 8: Flatline
Sometimes an episode comes along that makes you think “I’ve never seen anything like this before”, and Flatline falls into that lovely category. The graffiti monsters themselves are stunningly realised, and in Capaldi’s hand poking out of a tiny TARDIS, writer Jamie Mathieson and director Douglas Mackinnon have created a thoroughly bizarre, funny image that will endure. The visuals are matched by Mathieson’s wonderfully gaggy, off-kilter script, and Jenna is great as Clara walks a thrillingly hubristic line.
Close second: Listen
Other faves: Dark Water/Death in Heaven, Robot of Sherwood
Series 9: The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar
I completely love this series – it’s a power pop album packed full of absolute bangers – but nothing brings that big old grin back to my face like these two stellar episodes. Young Davros and the handmines, old Davros and the Doctor facing off, Michelle Gomez being utterly extraordinary… There are loads of surprises, it’s a genuinely brilliant Dalek story, and it completely cements Missy as her own Master – something that’s crucial for the end of series 10. Given Missy is Mary Poppins’ evil twin, it seems appropriate to say that it’s practically perfect in every way.
Close second: Face the Raven
Other faves: Heaven Sent/Hell Bent, The Girl Who Died/The Woman Who Lived
Series 10: World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls
It almost feels like cheating to put this story into the list – with its multi-Master strand it feels more like a special than simply another story in the series, albeit a finale. It has a real Day of the Doctor vibe, and surely there can be no higher compliment. WEaT is brilliant enough on its own, with its insanely creepy reintroduction of the original Cybermen, and beautifully Moffaty use of two timescales. And nope, I didn’t get that Razor was John Simm’s Master until he started talking to Missy. Despite knowing he was in the episode. Despite Simm being one of my favourite actors. Which brings us to The Doctor Falls – a Cyberman epic that still has time for Missy and the Master to dance on a roof, the Doctor to deliver the speech of the series, Nardole to become a hero, and our amazing Bill to head off into the stars. Wonderful.
Close second: The Pilot
Other faves: Oxygen, Thin Ice
Christmas special: The Snowmen
Special special: The Day of the Doctor