Doctor Who : episode guide

[The Daleks]

[Dalek 2005]
The Doctor’s generations

(134 episodes)

[William Hartnell]
1st Doctor : William Hartnell

Rating: 1
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

Season 1

[Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, William Russell as Ian Chesterton]

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

(119 episodes)

[Patrick Troughton]
2nd Doctor : Patrick Troughton

Rating: 1
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

Season 4 ctd

Season 5

Season 6

(128 episodes)

[Jon Pertwee]
3rd Doctor : Jon Pertwee

Rating: 2
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

Season 7

Season 8

Season 9

I was never very clear on exactly why Earth suffered an alien invasion, megalomaniacal genius or dehibernating intelligent dinosaur attack every four to six weeks in the 70s, but not before or since. Perhaps UNIT has merged with the Men in Black.

— Niall McAuley, rec.arts.sf.written, May 2001

Season 10

[Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, suffering mind control in "Planet of the Spiders"]

Season 11

(172+6 episodes)

[Tom Baker]
4th Doctor : Tom Baker

Rating: 3
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

Season 12

Season 13

[Sarah Jane exits in "The Hand of Fear"]

Season 14

Season 15

Rating: 4
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

Season 16

Season 17

Season 18

(72+1 episodes)

[Peter Davdison]
5th Doctor : Peter Davdison

Rating: 4
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

Season 19

Season 20

[four of the five]

20th Anniversary Special

Season 21

(31 episodes)

[Colin Baker]
6th Doctor : Colin Baker

Rating: 5
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

Season 21 ctd

Season 22

Season 23

(42 episodes)

[Sylvester McCoy]
7th Doctor : Sylvester McCoy

Rating: 3
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

With the introduction of Ace and decent scripts, the later McCoy episodes were even beginning to be worth watching again (in particular, Remembrance of the Daleks, Silver Nemesis and Battlefield) just as the *!#$* BBC quietly dropped the series!

Season 24

Season 25

Season 26


First Interregnum

With regard to the recent letters about a change of sex for Doctor Who, with Beryl Reid in the starring role … Imagine the scene: Beryl appears as the Doctor, accompanied by her young male fellow traveller. Enter a third performer, a male actor in his early 40s; Michael Elphick, perhaps.
Elphick stares at Reid, open-mouthed. Finally he speaks: ‘Grandfather?’
Reid gazes back at him, her face warming into a smile of vague recognition. ‘Good heavens! Is it really you… Susan?’
As the fifth Doctor would have said, I think not!

– David Muir, Kirkell, Orkney
Radio Times Letters, February 1990


[Paul McGann]
8th Doctor : Paul McGann

Rating: 3
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]


[Rowan Atkinson]
Second Interregnum

(13 episodes)

[Christopher Eccleston]
9th Doctor : Christopher Eccleston

Rating: 2
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

New Season 1

  1. 26 March 2005 • Rose
  2. 2 April 2005 • The End of the World
  3. 9 April 2005 • The Unquiet Dead
  4. 16 April 2005 • Aliens in London , part I
  5. 23 April 2005 • World War Three , part II
  6. [Billie Piper as Rose Tyler as Bad Wolf] 30 April 2005 • Dalek
  7. 7 May 2005 • The Long Game
  8. 14 May 2005 • Father’s Day
  9. 21 May 2005 • The Empty Child , part I
  10. 28 May 2005 • The Doctor Dances , part II
  11. 4 June 2005 • Boom Town
  12. 11 June 2005 • Bad Wolf , part I
  13. 18 June 2005 • The Parting of the Ways , part II
[Dalek 2005]

Season review: He’s Back. And it’s About Time

[new Doctor Who logo]

A marvellous return after so many years away! Doctor Who has been updated for the 21st Century, with more jokes, faster glitzier action, and bling daleks, yet it remains true to the spirit of the show, and brings out the moral ambiguity surrounding the Doctor and his actions very well. There were moans early on in the run about the single-episode stories, and lack of cliff-hangers, but it gradually became clear that the entire season is one long intertwined story, as events in earlier episodes have consequences in later ones.

The BBC, in its characteristic infinite wisdom, managed to defuse the shock ending of the last episode in a premature announcement. But at least they have commissioned not only a second, but a third season (plus the obligatory Christmas specials). The full plaudits must go to Russell T. Davies and his team, who have demonstrated a deep love and respect for the format, whilst simultaneously achieving a viable updating. Keep up the good work!

reviewed 19 June 2005

(++ episodes)

[David Tennant]
10th Doctor : David Tennant

Rating: 2
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

New Season 2

  1. 15 April 2006 • New Earth • Cat nun nurses
  2. 22 April 2006 • Tooth and Claw • Queen Victoria and the werewolf
  3. [Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, returning in "School Reunion"] 29 April 2006 • School Reunion • Sarah Jane and K9
  4. 6 May 2006 • The Girl in the Fireplace • Madame de Pompadour
  5. 13 May 2006 • Rise of the Cybermen • Alternate History Cybermen, part I
  6. 20 May 2006 • The Age of Steel • Alternate History Cybermen, part II
  7. 27 May 2006 • The Idiot’s Lantern • Coronation TVs turn evil
  8. 3 June 2006 • The Impossible Planet • Trapped by a black hole ...
  9. 10 June 2006 • The Satan Pit • ... and something nasty down the pit
  10. 17 June 2006 • Love & Monsters • The Abzorbaloff uses a team of Doctor watchers
  11. 24 June 2006 • Fear Her • During the 2012 Olympics, a lonely girl draws her friends away
  12. 1 July 2006 • Army of Ghosts • The Cybermen break through to our dimension
  13. 8 July 2006 • Doomsday • Cybermen vs Daleks

Season review: Regenerated

The good work has been kept up! A new doctor, a new season, but the same quality. Again, the season itself is a long arc, building to a shattering climax, with some excellent, some moving, some funny, and some quirky episodes along the way.

School Reunion deserves special mention, with the return of Sarah Jane handled very well, raising questions never previously addressed (just what does happen to Companions when they are returned to mundania, and how do they feel about it?), and foreshadowing events in the season finale. Then Rise of the Cybermen has the terrifying metal men precision-stomping menacingly around Alternate London, “upgrading” everyone, finally breaking through to our side in Army of Ghosts, in a scene that fits the episode itself, yet with a witty little reference to the very first Tomb of the Cybermen story from 1967. It’s this kind of continuity that raises the new seasons above the previous (dare I say, “original”?) ones.

The new seasons have easily survived a changing Doctor – but will they survive a change in Companion? That remains to be seen – but I have confidence in the vision and integrity of the new directors. Roll on the Christmas Special and season “3”!

reviewed 9 July 2006

[The Runaway Bride]

New Season 3

  1. 31 March 2007 • Smith and Jones • introducing Martha
  2. 7 April 2007 • The Shakespeare Code • Love’s Labours Won
  3. 14 April 2007 • Gridlock • life in the slow lanes
  4. 21 April 2007 • Daleks in Manhattan • the Depression just got even worse ...
  5. 28 April 2007 • Evolution of the Daleks • ... a Dalek-Human hybrid find little favour with either side
  6. 5 May 2007 • The Lazarus Experiment • the Fountain of Youth ... it never helps
  7. [don’t blink!] 19 May 2007 • 42 • falling into the sun in real time
  8. 26 May 2007 • Human Nature • The Doctor hides by becoming human ...
  9. 2 June 2007 • The Family of Blood • ... but the baddies find him anyway
  10. 9 June 2007 • Blink • DVD Easter Eggs save the day from the statues
  11. 16 June 2007 • Utopia • 100 trillion years in the future at the end of the Universe, and Jack’s back
  12. 23 June 2007 • The Sound of Drums • The Master as PM
  13. 30 June 2007 • Last of the Time Lords • Martha saves the world

Season review: Masterful

[Martha, Doctor, Master]

A new companion, a new season – same great stories. It is interesting that a change of Companion has resulted in more press-hysteria than the previous season’s change of Doctor, but it has been managed successfully, with the now-trademark inclusion of the consequences of these events. In last season’s School Reunion we saw how Companions could be devastated by losing the Doctor, now we see the long-term effect on the Doctor of losing a Companion.

The now to be expected arc running covertly through the season was again expertly done, with earlier slight references to Mr Saxon turning out to be heralding the return of the Master. (Interesting the way the portrayal of evil has changed: from hypnotic eyes and goatee beards, to singing pop songs!)

Some great episodes. The Shakespeare Code had some great one-liners, as Martha settles into her new role. I particularly liked Blink , with its clever use of the Doctor having a conversation across the years via DVD Easter Eggs (and speaking the same words in two different conversations!), and its use of classic horror tropes to get you scared of garden statues. 42 , whilst action-packed, suffers that irritating cliche: in 42 minutes we’ll fall into the sun, but if we get rescued in 41 minutes 59 seconds there will be no discernible problems at all. Although there is some screaming and running about, Martha is an effective Companion with a more important role than most: in the Human Nature/Family of Blood two-parter she’s in charge of the situation while the Doctor hides as a human ( "God, you’re rubbish as a human!" ), and in the season finale she has to walk right round the world to save it from the Master.

Roll on season "4".

reviewed 30 June 2007

[Doctor, Astrid]

New Season 4

  1. 5 April 2008 • Parners in Crime • Donna Noble returns; the fat just walks away
  2. 12 April 2008 • The Fires of Pompeii • to warn, or not to warn?
  3. 19 April 2008 • Planet of the Ood • the secret behind the servile Ood
  4. 26 April 2008 • The Sontaran Strategem • Dr Martha Jones of UNIT calls for help against the Sontarans...
  5. 3 May 2008 • The Poison Sky • ... and the Sontarans (just) lose
  6. [Death in the Clouds, wasp cover] 10 May 2008 • The Doctor’s Daughter • turns out to be a soldier
  7. 17 May 2008 • The Unicorn and the Wasp • Agatha Christie investigates an alien monster
  8. 31 May 2008 • Silence in the Library • the Library has no people, but plenty of shadows...
  9. 7 June 2008 • River’s Run • ... how to save the Saved, now including Donna?
  10. 14 June 2008 • Midnight • The Doctor goes on a tour bus: what could possibly go wrong?
  11. 21 June 2008 • Turn Left • what if Donna had never met the Doctor?
  12. 28 June 2008 • The Stolen Earth • the Daleks steal 27 planets...
  13. 5 July 2008 • Journey’s End • ... the gang’s all here
[Donna and the Doctor]

Season review: a Companion isn’t just for Christmas

Yet another new companion, as Catherine Tate returns as Donna Noble from The Runaway Bride Christmas Special, and she has made the doomsayers eat their words. She has shone as an actress, and provided added depth as a "grown up" Companion, willing and able to stand up to the Doctor over some of his dodgier moral attitudes, and most definitely isn’t all gooily in love with him.

There aren’t really any bad episodes this season, and there are some real corkers. Each new season continues to add further complexity, depth and layers, as the actions, people, and consequences of earlier episodes come back to have more and more significance. The three episode climax is just marvellous, showing us the consequences of no Doctor, bringing in all the history (eg, when Davros meets Sarah Jane again, recalling their first meeting in Genesis of the Daleks in 1975!), and with a doubly tragic ending for the Doctor that fully brings home the tragedy of being an immortal living in a world of ephemeral beings. Superb.

There’s to be a one year hiatus, broken only by a few special episodes, before the next full season. Definitely worth waiting for.

[One fact that is boggling me. Elisabeth Sladen, who I well remember in her Sarah Jane original incarnation, is now over 60. 60 used to be old . People don’t age like they used to. (Or is this just me experiencing the other side of the "policemen looking younger" coin?)]

reviewed 5 July 2008

[Doctor, Who?]

New Season 4a: The Specials

  1. 11 April 2009 • Planet of the Dead – a bus in the desert
  2. 15 November 2009 • Waters of Mars – the beginning of the end
  3. 25 December 2009 • The End of Time part I – the Master race
  4. 1 January 2010 • The End of Time part II – knock four times

Season review: a Special season

[Wilf, Doctor, Master]

We don’t get a proper season this year, only a handful of specials (although, truth to tell, we haven’t had a proper season, one that lasts for more than 13-odd episodes, for over two decades now, but that’s typical for UK TV series). However, these specials add up to a grand finale regeneration of the 10th Doctor.

The 2008 Christmas special is just a tease. It was already known beforehand that David Tennant was being replaced, so, is this it? No. But it is fun figuring out what is going on.

The four main specials leading to the regeneration start with a "Summer Holiday" romp (ameliorated with swarms of killer bugs) that ends with a prophecy of the Doctor’s death: "he will knock four times". Then things steadily get darker, as the companionless Doctor seems to crack under the strain of isolation and knowing of his impending death.

As well as a farewell to David Tennant, the season is a farewell to Russell T Davies, and he wraps up the last episode with a big pink bow, as the Doctor gets his final "reward": to say goodbye to everyone from the last five years before he dies, or rather regenerates. It is a powerful journey getting there.

Here’s looking forward to the new season, with new Doctor Matt Smith, new companion Karen Gillan, and new master scriptwriter Steven Moffat.

reviewed 1 January 2010

(++ episodes)

[Matt Smith]
11th Doctor : Matt Smith

New Season 5

  1. 3 April 2010 • The Eleventh Hour • 20 minutes to save the Earth
  2. 10 April 2010 • The Beast Below • where are Spaceship UK’s engines?
  3. 17 April 2010 • Victory of the Daleks • khaki Daleks in WWII London okay; Smartie Daleks in space, not okay
  4. 24 April 2010 • The Time of Angels (part I) • River Song and Weeping Angels: don’t blink! ...
  5. 1 May 2010 • Flesh and Stone (part II) • ... the Angels get in Amy’s head: don’t look!
  6. 8 May 2010 • Vampires in Venice • Rory joins the team
  7. 15 May 2010 • Amy’s Choice • the Doctor, or Rory?
  8. 22 May 2010 • The Hungry Earth (part I) • the Silurians return ...
  9. 29 May 2010 • Cold Blood (part II) • ... a chance for peaceful co-existance?
  10. 5 June 2010 • Vincent and the Doctor • Starry Night, with monsters – "Is this how time normally passes? Really slowly? In the right order?"
  11. 12 June 2010 • The Lodger • no escape from football!
  12. 19 June 2010 • The Pandorica Opens (part I) • the universe ends ...
  13. 26 June 2010 • The Big Bang (part II) • ... "I suppose this means you and I never get born at all. Twice in my case."

Season review: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

[new Doctor Who tardis logo]

New logo, new Doctor. It took me about 10 seconds to forget David Tennant. Matt Smith is the Doctor.

Karen Gillan as Amy Pond is a great Companion, not just there as a foil, but often advancing the plot in her own right, particularly at the end of the season. Rory starts off appearing to be mere comic relief, but develops into a much more significant role.

It’s not perfect. I have definitely not come to terms with the new dalek design. Now, it’s not because I don’t like change – I loved the new "bling" daleks, and the khaki "Dad’s Army" daleks were just weird. But these bigger, cheerfully coloured ones don’t have the same solid menacing feel – they seem more like merchandising opportunities. However, Steven Moffet is so good with messing with our minds that I fully expect to have to eat my words at some point when canary yellow becomes the new sinister.

But apart from that very minor quibble, this season is a real blast. Old friends and older enemies return, in surprising circumstances. There are massive changes of scale and pace, from universe-wide destruction to domestic scenes, from terror and trauma to comedy, without this feeling bitty. There are links into previous seasons, and non-obvious links within this season (the crack is made so obvious that it helps hide some of the other links – I never guessed the significance of the Doctor’s words to Amy in the forest of episode 5!)

Despite the fact that the universal mega-disaster is resolved (and how do you top destruction of the entire universe throughout its entire history?), the reason for the disaster happening in the first place is still a mystery. So roll on next season!

reviewed 26 June 2010

[The Doctor and the Sky Shark]

New Season 6

Michael Grade (RT, 26 February) says of Doctor Who in 1985: "It was a crock of garbage. Now it’s very good because it has a proper budget."
A pity the then controller of BBC1 wasn’t smart enough to give it more money, really.

— Neil Stewart, Glasgow
Radio Times Letters, 5-11 March 2011

  1. 23 April 2011 • The Impossible Astronaut (part I) • There’s nobody there...
  2. 30 April 2011 • Day of the Moon (part II) • ... tricking the Silence
  3. 7 May 2011 • The Curse of the Black Spot • Yo, ho, ho, said the emergency medical hologram
  4. 14 May 2011 • The Doctor’s Wife • ... is probably not who you were thinking
  5. 21 May 2011 • The Rebel Flesh (part I) • your plastic pal...
  6. 28 May 2011 • The Almost People (part II) • ... who’s not fun to be with
  7. 4 June 2011 • A Good Man Goes to War • the real Amy’s baby is kidnapped
  8. 27 Aug 2011 • Let’s Kill Hitler • the genesis of Melody Pond
  9. 3 Sept 2011 • Night Terrors • a spooky doll’s house
  10. 10 Sept 2011 • The Girl Who Waited • Amy waits for rescue .... and waits ... and waits
  11. 17 Sept 2011 • The God Complex • running through hotel corridors
  12. 24 Sept 2011 • Closing Time • Craig goes shopping
  13. 1 Oct 2011 • The Wedding of River Song • in which all becomes "clear"

Season review: Rule number one – The Doctor lies

What a corker!

A long arc which started with the Doctor being killed, and ends with the Doctor being killed in the very same scene (being a time travel show helps a lot for things like this). In between we learn quite a lot about the characters, especially River Song.

There are some cracking episodes. The highlight must be The Girl Who Waited – with two Amys, one 36 years older than the other. Fantastic acting from Karen Gillan, and a real heartwrenching script. Other highlights include Let’s Kill Hitler (which has very little Hitler in it, considering) and The Wedding of River Song. Rory has transformed from bumbling clown to plausible action hero very believably (since he’s had to go through several hells to get there: "We’re dead, aren’t we? The lift fell and we’re dead. We’re dead. Again."). Non-arc episodes like The Curse of the Black Spot and Closing Time help keep the tone whiplashing around terror, comedy, pathos, and more terror, in a great way.

This season included a mid-year hiatus, accompanied by a massive mid-season revelation and cliffhanger.

And the final revelation of "the question hidden in plain sight" is sheer genius – I never saw it coming, and yet is is just so obvious!

reviewed 1 Oct 2011

[The Angel Liberty]

New Season 7

  1. 1 September 2012 • Asylum of the Daleks • The planet where the Daleks exile the Daleks they are afraid of...
  2. 8 September 2012 • Dinosaurs on a Spaceship • Dinosaurs ... on a Spaceship!
  3. 15 September 2012 • A Town Called Mercy • The Doctor in a Stetson
  4. 22 September 2012 • The Power of Three • The Doctor goes domestic, studying alien black cubes
  5. 29 September 2012 • The Angels Take Manhattan • Amy and Rory make a choice

Then there is a mid season hiatus…

Another hiatus…

  1. 30 March 2013 • The Bells of Saint John • The new companion, for real, gets uploaded; it looks like she might die...
  2. 6 April 2013 • The Rings of Akhaten • A young girl is about to be sacrified; Clara wants to save her
  3. 13 April 2013 • Cold War • Ice Warriors on a Soviet submarine
  4. 20 April 2013 • Hide • A psychic and a haunted house
  5. 27 April 2013 • Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS • great episode, until the horrible reset ending
  6. 4 May 2013 • The Crimson Horror • Vastra, Jenny and Strax in Victorian Yorkshire
  7. 11 May 2013 • Nightmare in Silver • Clara’s babysitting charges, Cybermen, and two dei ex machina
  8. 18 May 2013 • The Name of the Doctor • The Impossible Girl explained

Season review: goodbye Ponds, hello Impossible Girl

A mixed bag, with some amazing episodes, and some clunkers.

The first half of the season we still had Amy and Rory, up until their traumatic departure in the excellent The Angels Take Manhattan. All good stuff. Then a mid-year hiatus, with new companion Clara introduced in the Christmas special. Or maybe not.

Then the second half of the season. Clara settled in quickly, but there were some scrappy scripts. The Rings of Akhaten was a bit dull and pointless, and Cold War was tedious. Things started to get better, then Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, which was promising some interesting plot arc, had an appalling "reset" at the end. The Crimson Horror demonstrates why Vastra, Jenny and Strax really should have their own series. Nightmare in Silver had an early literal deus ex machina that was amusing, and a final one that was teeth-grindingly awful (why not do that sooner, before people died?). Yet all the weaknesses were made up for by the pure fangasm of a season finale, explaining Clara (including her incarnations in Asylum of the Daleks and The Snowmen), and knitting everything together.

reviewed 18 May 2013

[Three Doctors]

New Season 7 specials

[50th anniversary logo]

(++ episodes)

[Peter Capaldi]
12th Doctor : Peter Capaldi

New Season 8

  1. 23 August 2014 • Deep Breath • a T.Rex in Victorian London, along with Vastra, Jenny, and Strax
  2. 30 August 2014 • Into the Dalek • Impossible Voyage
  3. 6 September 2014 • Robot of Sherwood • but surely Robin Hood is fictional?
  4. 13 September 2014 • Listen • why fear the creature under the bed?
  5. 20 September 2014 • Time Heist • robbing the unrobbable bank, but why?
  6. 27 September 2014 • The Caretaker • John Smith, caretaker, doesn’t like soldiers
  7. 4 October 2014 • Kill the Moon • oh dear, so many unnecessary mistakes
  8. 11 October 2014 • Mummy on the Orient Express • 66 seconds to say goodbye to Clara
  9. 18 October 2014 • Flatline • 2D invaders make the Tardis a lot smaller on the outside
  10. 25 October 2014 • In the Forest of the Night • suddenly, trees! thousands of them
  11. 1 November 2014 • Dark Water • Clara demands the Doctor save Danny Pink
  12. 8 November 2014 • Death in Heaven • the Doctor battles the Master and Cybermen

Season review: I kissed the Master, and I liked it

We are back to the days when the Doctor was a grownup, not one of the lads. Peter Capaldi is an older, grimmer, angrier Doctor, and a better actor, adding depth to the character, and pulling better performances from Jenna Coleman (Clara), too.

There were a few clunkers of episodes this season, and it was a pity it started with one. Despite the ever-welcome presence of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax (when are they getting their own series?), Deep Breath was just trying too hard. And the less said about Kill the Moon, the better.

The little arc teasers running through the season culminated in a two part finale, with its grandiose, but rather sick, premise. Since I found Danny Pink rather uncharismatic, I couldn’t get that upset by his part in the finale, only with its shattering conclusion (see what happens when you aren’t honest with each other?).

Then the finale lost its nerve, with that little advert for the Christmas special.

reviewed 8 November 2014

[Father Christmas and the Doctor]

New Season 9

  1. 19 September 2015 • The Magician’s Apprentice • A dying Davros asks to see the Doctor; Clara and Missy are exterminated…
  2. 26 September 2015 • The Witch’s Familiar • …Davros tricks the Doctor; the Doctor tricks Davros
  3. 3 October 2015 • Under the Lake • the Doctor and Clara fight ghosts underwater…
  4. 10 October 2015 • Before the Flood • …the Doctor goes back in time to stop the ghostly invasion
  5. 17 October 2015 • The Girl Who Died • The Doctor and Clara stop an alien Viking invasion; Ashildr dies…
  6. 24 October 2015 • The Woman Who Lived • …Highwayman Ashildr and the Doctor foil an alien invasion
  7. 31 October 2015 • The Zygon Invasion • The Zygons are in revolt; Osgood returns; Clara is assimilated…
  8. 7 November 2015 • The Zygon Inversion • …Zygon Clara interrogates captured Clara, and encounters the Osgood Box
  9. 14 November 2015 • Sleep No More • Mr Sandman, send me a nightmare
  10. 21 November 2015 • Face the Raven • A trap is set for the Doctor, but Clara falls into it…
  11. 28 November 2015 • Heaven Sent • …the Doctor goes to the future the long way round…
  12. 5 December 2015 • Hell Bent • …and destroys the Universe for Clara

Season review: goodbye, Impossible Girl

This was another excellent season. The inclusion of many two-part stories, and the agonising three part finale, added a lot of depth to the events.

We knew beforehand that this was Clara’s final season (there are few true surprises any more), but the question was, when and how would she leave? And, of course, the writers played with this, with Clara apparently getting exterminated, and Zygonised, and… When the end came, it was heart-rending, and although there was a small cop-out, it wasn’t a complete cop-out.

It is clear that Clara really is the Doctor’s moral compass, particularly given what transpires in the season finale. What will he do without her?

Best of all, the finale acknowledged that what the Doctor did to Donna Noble to “save” her was simply wrong.

reviewed 5 December 2015

[The Doctor and River Song]

New Season 10

I include the 2015 Christmas special in the 10 season, as there was no Doctor Who in 2016 except for:
  1. 15 April 2017 • The Pilot • The Doctor and Nardole are hiding out at St Luke's University in Bristol; the Doctor decides to tutor Bill Potts.
  2. 22 April 2017 • Smile • The Doctor takes Bill to the 1814 frost fair on the Thames; there's something monstrous lurking beneath the ice.
  3. 29 April 2017 • Thin Ice • The Doctor takes Bill to a gleaming future city, full of smiling robots and skulls.
  4. 6 May 2017 • Knock Knock • Bill and some student friends are looking for a place to live; an old house is remarkably cheap, but the creaking wood and the forbidden tower should have clued them in. [More like an X-files episode!]
  5. 13 May 2017 • Oxygen • The Doctor and Bill answer a distress call at a space mining station; can the Doctor save Bill from the spacesuits, and at what cost?
  6. 20 May 2017 • Extremis • The Pope drops in to ask the Doctor for help reading a haunted book, but the Doctor can't read very well at the moment.
  7. 27 May 2017 • The Pyramid at the End of the World • The UN Secretary General drops in to ask the Doctor for help about the strange appearance of a pyramid; it naturally presages an alien invasion…
  8. 3 Jun 2017 • The Lie of the Land • … the alien Monks have taken over, helped by the Doctor, and only Bill can save the world. With just a hint of Missy.
  9. 10 Jun 2017 • Empress of Mars • A troop of Victorian soldiers on Mars meet Ice Warriors; the Doctor needs to intervene
  10. 17 Jun 2017 • The Eaters of Light • What really happened to the Ninth Legion in Scotland.
  11. 24 Jun 2017 • World Enough and Time • The Doctor, Bill and Nardole are trapped on a large spaceship near a black hole; when Bill is captured, she knows to wait for the Doctor, but why is it taking him so long to arrive?
  12. 1 July 2017 • The Doctor Falls • The Cybermen ascendant; the Master v Missy; Bill transformed; the Doctor refusing to regenerate.

Season review: hello Bill, goodbye

This was yet another excellent season. The underlying arc of the mysterious contents of the vault, and the agonising two part finale, made this a great season.

Bill is an excellent companion, not giving the Doctor an inch, and bringing a fresh perspective to the role of companion. Nardole grows over the season from an apparent buffoon to a crucial part of the team. And the Missy sub-plot plays out to a completely unexpected conclusion.

The final few seconds of the last episode, where The Doctor turns up, are a great set-up for the next Christmas special.

reviewed 1 July 2017

(++ episodes)

[Jodie Whittaker]
13th Doctor : Jodie Whittaker

New Season 11

  1. 7 October 2018 • The Woman Who Fell to Earth • how the latest regeneration of the Doctor met her new companions in Sheffield
  2. 14 October 2018 • The Ghost Monument • the new companions help two pilots racing to the Ghost Monument
  3. 21 October 2018 • Rosa • making sure Rosa Parks gets on the right bus
  4. 28 October 2018 • Arachnids in the UK • all's not right in a big Sheffield hotel
  5. 18 November 2018 • Kerblam! • The Doctor receives a distress call from an automated warehouse
  6. 25 November 2018 • The Witchfinders • The Doctor and companions get mixed up with witches and King James I
  7. 2 December 2018 • It Takes You Away • a blind girl in Norway can see the mirrors in her house lead to another world
  8. 9 December 2018 • The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos • how to stop aliens turning the Earth into a marble

Season review: New Doctor, new gender

The hype surrounding the first female Doctor put this season under quite a hostile microscope. Despite the pressure, Jodie Whittaker is very much the Doctor: funny, clever, passionate, brave, wise, curious, compassionate, and definitely In Charge.

I was initially concerned that the inclusion of an older male companion, Graham, would be used by some writers to have a man in charge "really". But I shouldn't have worried: Graham just naturally treats the Doctor as the boss, with no hint of resentment or wounded male pride. And by the time we get to The Witchfinders, in sexist 1612 England, Graham has to pretend to be the one in charge, and is palpably embarrassed about this.

In one sense, this season goes back to the roots of the original concept: interweaving alien with historical episodes. The historical episodes are done well; surprisingly, some of the alien episodes are a bit incoherent. However, the writers are clearly enjoying the large palette of companions, allowing side plots galore.

To cement the idea we are now in A Different World, the end of year special was on New Year's Day, not on Christmas Day. And to cement the idea we are still in The Same Old World Actually, we got a Dalek story! But that is the only episode for 2019; we have to wait until 2020 for new season 12.

reviewed 1 January 2019

[The Doctor and a Judoon]

New Season 12

  1. 1 January 2020 • Spyfall, Part I • MI6 contact the Doctor for help
  2. 5 January 2020 • Spyfall, Part II • The Doctor and Ada Lovelace tackle the Master in WWII
  3. 12 January 2020 • Orphan 55 • Tranquility Spa is overrun by Dregs
  4. 19 January 2020 • Nicola Tesla's Night of Terror • The alien Skithra want Tesla to fix their spaceship
  5. 26 January 2020 • Fugitive of the Judoon • The Doctor meets a different Doctor, fleeing the Judoon
  6. 2 February 2020 • Praxeus • An alien plague likes microplastics
  7. 9 February 2020 • Can You Hear Me? • The Companions have nightmares; are these cries for help?
  8. 16 February 2020 • The Haunting of Villa Diodati • A Cyberman becomes the inspiration for Mary Shelley's novel
  9. 23 February 2020 • Ascension of the Cybermen • The Doctor and team go to the far future to fight the Cybermen
  10. 1 March 2020 • The Timeless Children • The Master reveals a shocking truth about the Doctor

Season review: What? What?!

Having established the new Doctor in the previous season, this season pulls out all the stops, with deeper, darker storylines (and some environmental preaching).

I really like the way the companions are treated in this season: they are not just there to be rescued, or to have things explained. The Doctor sends them off on little side projects: it’s a real team effort. And by the end of the season, the Doctor realises this has put them in real danger. The last two episodes are a constant breathless roller coaster, adding new perils while also explaining loose ends from earlier episodes, with no clear way out. And the ending is just, well, what?


reviewed 1 March 2020