We’re into the final stretch, Doctor Who returns with the second half of its seventh season in less than 24 hours! How have you been holding up? Did you enjoy our Doctor Who fan art compilation? What did you think of The Eleven Best Episodes From The Eleventh Doctor, Part 1? Well, we hope you liked them, we did it all for you. We’re even running a contest where you could win a Doctor Who Companion Prize Pack!
The first part of our best episodes list covered Season 5, Matt Smith‘s first season, and what I still consider to be one of the finest seasons of Doctor Who, ever. From here on out the picks for our will be pulled from Seasons 6 and 7A, which I’ll admit are a trickier bunch to choose from. It was only a matter of time before the Moffat Era of Who would begin hitting a few bumps along the way. But that’s not to suggest there aren’t some simply spectacular episodes of Doctor Who yet to come! Hit the jump for more of the Eleventh Doctor’s best episodes. Come along, Ponds!
A Christmas Carol
Doctor Who doesn’t hold back when it comes to their Christmas specials, and their best yet was 2010’s “A Christmas Carol.” It’s a decidedly Whovian twist on the classic Christmas tale, not only re-imagining the story but holding completely true to the message taught to Ebenezer Scrooge all those years ago.
In Doctor Who’s “A Christmas Carol” Scrooge is man named Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon) who owns a machine that can tame the stormy skies of a planet where Amy, Rory, and a crew of 4,002 people are trapped on a spaceship threatening to break apart. Kazran is a mean, insufferable, selfish twat who doesn’t give a damn whether the ship crashes or not. And since Kazran is their only option to save the ship, and the ship’s only got about an hour left, The Doctor, inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, decides to transform Kazran into a better man with his own ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.
It all works rather brilliantly. The Doctor is the ghost of Christmas past, filling Kazran’s head with a lifetime of new, happier memories of every Christmas Eve spent with Abigail. Amy is the ghost of Christmas present, who via hologram shows Kazran the dire circumstances facing those trapped on the ship in the atmosphere. And he himself, the angry, old bugger, is the ghost of Christmas future, for when all else fails The Doctor brings Kazran as a little boy to the present to see what an awful man he grew up to be.
Through The Doctor’s influence, and more so through Abigail’s, Kazran changes into a better, kinder man, eventually deciding to sacrifice what was most precious to him – his last day with Abigail – in order to save the people on the ship. It’s a triumph of a Christmas carol, with a moving performance from Gambon that tugs at your heart and I promise, will make you cry.
And how can you not love fish that swim in fog?
The Doctor’s Wife
With a script from famed author and nerd icon, Neil Gaiman, “The Doctor’s Wife” is my favorite of all the new-Who episodes, and that’s because it explores the oldest and deepest relationship The Doctor has ever had, the one with his TARDIS. Lured to a small bubble universe on the edge of our own, The Doctor, Amy, and Rory are trapped by a sentient asteroid, called House, who’s learned to survive by consuming TARDISes. And he’s looking to snack on the last one in existence, but not before pulling out the TARDIS’ matrix, or soul, and placing it into a host body. Enter Idris, a lost woman who becomes the flesh and blood incarnation of the TARDIS.
If The Doctor were to ever meet his perfect match, it’d be Idris, the TARDIS, or “Sexy” as he calls her. Once personified and able to communicate, Idris and The Doctor get on like a house on fire. In a way, she’s his soul mate, the one companion he’s never lost. Gaiman creates such a rapport between the two you’ll wish The Doctor could talk with the TARDIS like this always, but then this moment, the time they talked, wouldn’t be nearly as special.
And being an episode penned by Gaiman, he injects a good amount of horror to go with the whimsy of a walking, talking TARDIS. Amy and Rory, stuck in the police box now possessed by House, are tortured for his amusement. Companions, almost by definition, have their minds fucked with while traveling with The Doctor, but Amy and Rory in particular seem to suffer a lot of mental and emotional anguish. The tricks played by House are even worse than The Dream Lord’s.
The Doctor and Idris work together to vanquish House, but in the end the consciousness of a TARDIS is too much for a frail, organic body like Idris’, and the two must say goodbye. Or, as Idris more poignantly says, “Hello.” The Doctor and the TARDIS, Idris and her thief, they truly make quite the pair. I don’t know how Gaiman will top himself this season because what he’s written here with “The Doctor’s Wife” is a beautiful love letter to the longest lasting relationship in science fiction.
Let’s Kill Hitler
As I chose the episodes for this list I did my best to steer clear of any that delved too deeply into the saga of River Song. What began as an intriguing notion – a woman who’s met The Doctor in his future and knows more about him than even he – has overtime become one, big confusing mess. Now she’s not only the woman who kills The Doctor, but the one who marries him, and turns out to be Amy and Rory’s daughter, Melody. Oh! Who’s also part Time Lord because her parents conceived her while in the time vortex. Funnily enough in the episode, “The Big Bang.”
But even with that mess looming over head, “Let’s Kill Hitler” is a lot of fun. To start with there’s the whole ridiculous premise of going back in time and actually killing Hitler. It almost happens, too, but after the TARDIS crashes in, knocking out the Teselecta, or war criminal hunting robot, Rory locks Hitler away in a cupboard for the rest of the episode, never to be mentioned again. Rory’s kind of a badass in this one, punching out Nazis and stealing motorbikes.
With Hitler out of the way, the fun comes in seeing the first moments of the woman who would become River Song. She’s sassy, dangerous, and more flirty with The Doctor than ever, if you can believe it. There’s an exchange between the two where they keeping trying to one up another and it’s great. River even completes her mission, she kills The Doctor with a poisonous kiss. It’s only when she learns of the woman she is to become does she sacrifice her remaining regenerations to save The Doctor. A clever way indeed to get around the rule from old-Who wherein a Time Lord only has 12 regenerations. Now Doctor Who can go on longer than 13 Doctors no problem.
Much of Season 6 is devoted to unraveling the mess that is River Song, and while it’s a headache, Alex Kingston never disappoints as the buxom, blonde, wild woman. Without her, River Song could have become one of new-Who’s worst additions. Instead, she’s become one of the series’ most memorable and beloved characters, confusing timeline notwithstanding.
The Girl Who Waited
If we’re going to discuss the emotional turmoil and anguish a Companion must endure, you need look no further than “The Girl Who Waited.” Not all of The Doctor’s Companions get back home safe and sound; in fact a return to total normalcy after traveling with The Doctor is a rarity. While visiting the planet Apalapucia Amy is trapped in a quarantine facility where her time stream moves at an accelerated pace compared to The Doctor and Rory’s. Not being able to follow her directly, The Doctor attempts to lock in on her time stream and crash through with the TARDIS. And it works, only, they arrive 36 years later.
The Amy they encounter has lived alone all those years, waiting, but she wasn’t idle. She studied with the clinic’s interface, she made her own sonic screwdriver– sorry, probe, and she created Rory-bot. She also learned to hate The Doctor, and honestly, his actions this episode give her good reason. She’s angry at him for not saving her, as she has every right to be; she’s angry they’d consider erasing her existence if it meant they could save the Amy from their time period. The Doctor screws up big time and the only option he sees to fix things would doom the older, jaded Amy. And to make matters worse, when it comes to making that decision of which Amy deserves saving, he leaves it in Rory’s hand. Rory has to choose which of his wives should be saved after he, and them, had been led on by The Doctor that both could be. The Doctor has a manipulative side to him, and though sometimes necessary, it is no less ugly.
Amy is often portrayed as a capable woman, but where they take her in “The Girl Who Waited” goes beyond being merely capable. She’s a survivor, too stubborn to give up. When The Doctor betrays her she faces her death with honesty, she’s frightened, and with bravery; she won’t let Rory open the TARDIS doors and put the other Amy’s future with him in jeopardy. This episode’s a dark one, one without a happy ending, and it brings to light there are bigger risks than dying when traveling with The Doctor.
The God Complex
An often overlooked episode, “The God Complex” is creepy and quite revelatory for The Doctor. Anyone who’s ever seen The Shining knows how creepy a hotel can be, and the one The Doctor, Amy, and Rory arrive at is full of nightmares. And I’m not only referring to its 80s decor. In each room resides someone’s worst fear; everything from clowns to Weeping Angels. And that room of chuckling dummies? Freaks me out just thinking about them! Preying on those trapped there is giant minotaur, or alien, or alien minotaur. It doesn’t really matter, it could have been a goldfish for all it really matters, but the twist on a minotaur in a labyrinth myth is a nice touch.
This is another episode without a genuine happy ending. Almost everyone dies, even the minotaur come the end, and though Amy and Rory make it out alive “The God Complex” signals a change in their relationship with The Doctor. While in the hotel The Doctor is forced to face his fear, that he can’t save everyone. He realizes it’s faith not fear the minotaur has been feeding on, and nothing is stronger than Amy’s faith in him. To save them he must destroy her faith, and in a very sad scene admits to her how afraid he really is, he doesn’t know everything, that he’s no savior. It’s a good moment of humility for The Doctor, and you can almost hear his hearts breaking when he call her Amy Williams.
It isn’t the end for The Ponds and The Doctor, but they’ll no longer travel together like they used to. He gifts them a house, a car, a life separate of him. This is him saving them. “What’s the alternative,” he tells Amy, “me standing over your grave?” Ouch. Knowing how things pan out in the future makes this goodbye of theirs only more painful.
Asylum of the Daleks
I love a good Dalek story, and “Asylum of the Daleks” is a Dalek story unlike any other. In this one it isn’t up to The Doctor to defeat the Daleks, but rather save them. They seek out The Doctor’s help in destroying their own asylum, a home for crazy Daleks, because there’s no one else better at destroying Daleks. And these aren’t just any Daleks, it’s every Dalek. If you take the time you can spot a Dalek from almost every era of Who; heaven for any fan of those maniacal pepper pots.
At this point, the beginning of Season 7, the Amy and Rory storyline becomes stagnant, so much so the writers have them arguing and on the verge of divorce in order to liven things up. It all comes off a little out of character for The Ponds as we’ve seen nothing but fervent love between the two until now. In comes Oswin, the Souffle girl. She’s like a breath of fresh air overpowering the bickering Ponds. The Doctor immediately falls for her, as do we, and she’s the spark that makes “Asylum of the Daleks” so appealing. I, as I’m sure many of you, thought I was going mad when Jenna-Louise Coleman showed up. We already knew she’d be the new Companion once The Ponds left, but never in a million years did I expect her to appear so soon. We’re still waiting to see if Moffat’s “Impossible Girl” storyline pays off, but there’s no doubt Clara Oswin Oswald will make a fine Companion for The Doctor.
The tragic realization Oswin was a Dalek all along is fantastic, and oh so sad. What a tough, strong-willed woman she was to resist their full-conversion, never believing she’d become a Dalek but remaining true to her human self. Before blowing up the planet, Oswin manages to erase The Doctor from the Daleks’ collective memory and we’re left with a Dalek race who has no clue who The Doctor is. It may be a little over the top, but the final scenes of the Parliament of Daleks all screeching, “DOCTOR WHO?” gives me chills. As does Oswin’s little glance and smirk to the camera when she tells the Doctor, and us, to remember her.
There you have it, our Best Eleven Episodes From the Eleventh Doctor. What did ya think? I’m sure some of your favorites weren’t included so please feel free to add ’em in the comments. And don’t forget, Doctor Who returns tonight on BBC America!