Top 5 Favorite Doctors in “Doctor Who”

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     “Doctor Who” is a show whose strength lies in it’s ability to reinvent itself as the Doctor is an alien who can regenerate into a new form on each “death.” Each of these deaths brings with us an era and arc to the show. Making this list is one that I’ll probably have to re-do in the future as this is a show that hypothetically could go on forever, for as long as there are stories to tell with each new regeneration. This list is also incomplete as though I have watched many episodes from the Classic Era I have not seen everything and for the first two Doctors so much was lost over time so their stories remain incomplete. I’ve also not included books or audio-dramas and am only including my experience of the Doctors from the show. I don’t hate any version of the Doctor as each of them does bring something unique to their performance and explores an aspect of who this Time Lord is. I want you to know context of this list going in for that reason though you will find that I have favorite Doctors in both the Classic and Modern era and would not be surprised if the list changes in the future, especially since the 13th Doctor’s story does remain incomplete as well. This list is obviously my opinion but it is a glimpse in what appeals to me in the stories of this fascinating character of the Doctor. So without further ado, here are my Top 5 Favorite Doctors of “Doctor Who.” I’ll list episodes that highlight why I love them too.

Warning this does contain SPOILERS

5) The 9th Doctor / The Ninth Doctor

The 9th Doctor gives us the best complete Doctor story in the Davies era of “Doctor Who.” This is a Doctor reeling from all the lives he’s ended during the Time War and is haunted by survivors guilt and PTSD. His arc involves him learning to trust again through his relationship with Rose as well as facing his demons from the Time War when he confronts the Dalek Emperor and refuses to kill them again. He shows that he stands for life when at the beginning of the show he is far more willing to kill. We also get to see his pure joy when he is finally able to save lives during World War 2 and he is the Doctor who introduces us to the wonderful Jack Harkness. It is really his facing a single Dalek in “Dalek” that changes him the most and that is through Rose’s compassion that makes him the man who refuses to kill in his final episode. Christopher Eccleston gives us so much depth with this Doctor and I’m grateful we got this season with him. He truly was fantastic.

Episodes I’d recommend: “The End of the World,” “Dalek,” The Empty Child,” and “The Doctor Dances.”

4) The 4th Doctor / The Fourth Doctor

One thing I love about Doctors is how alien they are and the 4th Doctor is easily the most alien out of all my favorites. Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor is the only one to have a Time Lord companion in Romana and is comfortable being away from people. I think this is a reaction to the 3rd Doctor’s attachment to humans as often when the Doctor gets too attached his next incarnation will detach and could leave people abruptly and never show up again.  This is Tom Baker’s Doctor who could do an entire episode without a companion but also had many companions over his long run, with the most popular being Sarah Jane Smith. I enjoyed the Sherlock nature of this Doctor as he was crafty and often had to make the decisions alone as in the end he is the one who could have ended the Dalek threat before it began. His choice like the 9th Doctor illustrates his compassion though. At the end the day the Doctor is the one who saves lives and that is what drives the 4th Doctor the most beyond unraveling plots and the discovery of new things. It was tough to choose between him and the next Doctor on this list but in the end the next Doctor had more episodes I enjoyed and it was the limitations placed on the next Doctor that put him higher. The 4th Doctor had full reign from the Time Lords where the next one did not.

Episodes I’d recommend: “Terror of the Zygons,” “Genesis of the Daleks,” “Revenge of the Cybermen,” “The Deadly Assassin” and “The Brain of Morbius.”

3) The 3rd Doctor / The Third Doctor

Next we have one of our more human Doctors. Jon Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor is a Doctor exiled to Earth so the majority of his adventures are him without his TARDIS. This was as strength as limitations came to define just how excellent this Doctor is. This was a Doctor who had to count on UNIT and people and because of it revealed the flaws of humanity. This Doctor also traveled and dressed in style. When I think about the Doctor and his drive for peace 3rd is one of the first who comes to mind as he attempts to broker a peace between the Silurians and humans but UNIT destroys the Silurians anyway. He also felt strongly unlike the 4th Doctor as when his companion Jo leaves his sadness is what defines that leaving as he quietly exits the room. This is the Doctor who introduces us to Brigadier and Sarah Jane Smith who would be part of this show after his regeneration. This is also the Doctor who gave us the original Master and from that, there constant playing off each other and complicated relationship.

Episodes I’d recommend: “Spearhead from Space,” “Doctor Who and the Silurians,” and “The Dæmons.”

2) The 10th Doctor / The Tenth Doctor

One of the most common things you hear when you enter the “Doctor Who” fandom is who is your Doctor. Which Doctor introduced you to the show and is the reason you are a fan? For me that is David Tennant’s 10th Doctor. “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” was the story that introduced me to “Doctor Who” and I was hooked after that. What defines this Doctor is his facing of the impossible and compassion for humanity but also his extreme arrogance. Like the 9th Doctor he was defined as “Last of the Time Lords” and that survivors guilt is really what is behind his arrogance and compassion. This is a Doctor who believes he is always right and can be almost villainous as “The Doctor Triumphant” when he is willing to change time because he can. David Tennant brought so much depth and nuance to this role and gives us not only an arrogant Doctor but when who full of loss and vulnerability. He loses his companion Rose who was his friend and love and hurts the companions who come after in his selfishness. He is also running from his mortality and death as when he is forced to regenerate for the first time he stays himself until he is finally forced to move on. This Doctor gave us one of my favorite companions Martha, who he was unfair too as she was his way to get over Rose and also introduced us to Torchwood, Harriet Jones, Donna Noble, Mickey Smith and one of my favorite character, River Song. The 10th Doctor also faced off against the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Davros, Rasselon and the Master for classic enemies and further explored the complicated relationship with the Master. Tennant truly owned this role and I appreciated how defining he is of the Davies era of “Doctor Who.” He was many peoples’ first Doctor and I’m glad he was mine.

Episodes I’d recommend: “Blink,” “Army of Ghosts,” “Doomsday,” “Human Nature,” “Family of Blood,” “Utopia,” “The Sound of Drums,” “Last of the Time Lords,” “Midnight,” and “The Waters of Mars.”

1) The 12th Doctor / The Twelfth Doctor

First place was the most difficult for me to choose as really the top 4 Doctors listed (3, 4, 10 and 12) are extremely close together for me. Each of them has their pros and cons but I really consider the top 4 to really be the perfect examples of the Doctor for myself. So, why did I choose Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor as number 1 if David Tennant’s 10th Doctor was my first Doctor? The reason behind it is because the 12th Doctor has the better story and changes over the course of his time on Moffat’s run. Capaldi’s Doctor has much of the detachment of Baker’s 4th to the point that Clara is the one who he uses to care because initially he cares mostly for puzzles and the big picture of saving the world. He had Nardole and Bill as original companions. This Doctor was the professor and even taught at University and would open many episodes like lectures. For some famous enemies he faced off against there was the Master, Davros, Rasselon, Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and Zygons. To this Doctor humans matter but all life in the galaxy matters so like the 3rd Doctor he is able to shine a light on the selfishness of humans and call it out where he sees it. He is also defined by his time during the Time War and because of this will always seek peace and the saving of others. He does with the Zygons and humans. His arc also goes from him not wanting to connect with his companions to having many and even having Missy (the current incarnation of the Master) as one. For how much he tries not to care he cares the deepest and unlike his past incarnations he isn’t running from what he did during the Time War. He instead uses the lessons from the Time War to save lives wherever he can and seek peace wherever possible. This is the Doctor who is the thinker, the one who can monologue can carry an entire episode on his own with his own inner monologue. No Doctor was able to do that before or has done it since. For these reasons, Capaldi is my favorite Doctor.

Episodes I’d recommend: “Listen,” “Into the Dalek,” “Mummy on the Orient Express,” “Dark Water,” “Death in Heaven,” “Last Christmas,” “The Zygon Invasion,” “The Zygon Inversion,” “Heaven Sent,” “The Husbands of River Song,” “The Empress of Mars,” “World Enough and Time,” and “The Doctor Falls.”

    I’m curious to hear who your favorite are. These were mine and I can’t wait to see what other stories are told in this amazing universe.

Top 5 Favorite Enemy Factions in “Doctor Who”

     It has been a while since I’ve written anything on “Doctor Who” so I decided to explore my favorite enemy factions the Doctor has faced. I’ll be pulling from some enemies who have appeared in both classic and modern who and will not be choosing individual entities like The Master, Davros or The Great Intelligence. My primary focus with this list is focusing on civilizations and exploring their appeal to me. It feels wonderful to write about all of this again as I enjoy both eras of “Doctor Who” and for me one of the greatest draws has always been the alien civilizations that have been created through the years and how sometimes they are used to reflect aspects of humanity or the Doctor in their missions. I have not read any of the “Doctor Who” books or listened to any of the audiodramas and am just pulling from episodes I have seen from both Classic and Modern “Doctor Who.” For popular enemies who did not make this list I’ll give a shout-out to the Sontarans and Cybermen who have unique cultures but at least in the case of Cybermen are often used by other people as minions. The Time Lords also did not make this list as more often than not they act largely as corrupt humans when they are antagonists. So without further ado, here is my list.

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5th) The Weeping Angels

     First up, in 5th place are the Weeping Angels. They first appeared in “Blink,” during the Russel T. Davies era of the show and were created by Stephen Moffat. There initial introduction presented them as the compassionate assassins. The basic deal with the angels is the they transport you back into the past and feed off your potential energy that was left behind. Beyond their need to eat they aren’t that complex and we haven’t seen any hierarchy among them. It is for this reason that they are not higher on the list. They function as a monster faction but are unique monsters as they appear as statues when you look at them. Later episodes like “Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone” played them primarily up as the monsters simply wishing to feed and didn’t even use the time travel aspect, though there was a return to the time travel assassin nature once more in “The Angels Take Manhattan.” If they are to be brought up again I hope we see more complexity in their culture as they continue to be a fascinating threat, even if later episodes after “Blink” did dumb them down immensely. They have faced off against the 10th and 11th Doctor thus far in the show so there are still stories that could be told in future iterations or even Anniversary events where multiple Doctors could be present.

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4th) The Silence

The Silence are an enemy who has so far only faced the 11th Doctor. Originally created as genetically engineered priests made to take confessions for the Papal Mainframe a faction of them broke off and sought to end the Doctor in order to save the universe. This faction is creepy and a great threat as anyone who interacts with them forgets them when they stop looking at them. These enemies were created by Stephen Moffat and have so far only appeared during his era of modern “Doctor Who.” Unlike the angels who got dumbed down, this faction never reached the height of fear in their first introduction in “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon” but did remain a consistent complex threat. In Series 6 the Kavorian Faction shows up at the beginning and end and each time brings tensions as the heroes mark how when they see with tally on their skin. This is a faction I still see promise in, as they did fight with the Doctor in the terrible final “The Time of the Doctor” so there is more that could be done with them as either friend or foe. The fact that you forget them when you look away still leaves them ripe for story, and who knows how their culture could change over time and how they might find identity outside of the one placed upon them by the Papal Mainframe.

3rd) The Daleks

The Daleks are one of the most common and popular enemies in “Doctor Who.” This is a faction dedicated to the destruction of anyone who isn’t them and are mutants from Skaro created by the mad scientist Davros. The Daleks have been in countless episodes of “Doctor Who” and first appeared facing off against the 1st Doctor and have even faced off against the most recent 13th Doctor too. Over the years the most interesting things that have been done with are Civil Wars for leadership such as the Emperor Dalek, Supreme Dalek and Davros as the many leaders of factions and have even had moments of humanity in the modern era. I highly recommend “Dalek” and “Into the Dalek” as great examples of the Dalek’s potential for exploration beyond their drive to exterminate. The reason they aren’t higher on the list is due to the fact that they we got complex political machinations for power grabs the Daleks never grow beyond their superiority. They have individual episodes of complexity but as a faction are unable to get beyond power grabs and their original design. Still, they are popular and have continued to be used through Classic and Modern “Doctor Who” that I suspect we may get that complexity in the future.

2nd) The Zygons

The Zygons are a group of survivors. First introduced during Tom Baker’s run as the 4th Doctor these aliens first sought to conquer Earth after learning their planet was destroyed. These metamorphic aliens are able to shapeshift and infiltrate societies and their technology is all organic. They failed in their initial invasion and wouldn’t appear again until the 50th Anniversary Special “The Day of the Doctor.” It is in “The Day of the Doctor” where they are attempting to invade again until the Doctors (War, 10 and 11) forces a peace with Earth and they take human form and part of human society. This is until a faction wants to live as Zygons again and we get “The Zygon Invasion” and  the “The Zygon Inversion.” The 12th Doctor once again forces a peace (and gives the best Doctor speech on the horrors of war, Capaldi is one of my favorite Doctors and is amazing) but I’m curious where things are going to go from here. The Zygons are refugees whose culture has been subsumed by humanity and they cannot even be themselves to a degree from all that they see. I hope that is explored further as they are a species without a home and easily one of the craftiest factions the Doctor has faced and the faction that has now forced humanity to face it’s propensity for war twice that we know of. They have such a cool design and it is when their organic technology and diversity of thought is on display that really makes them stand out to me. They almost made my number 1 but didn’t because they are so often presented in the human shifted form and sadly have been forced to live in that form now for most of their time since returning to the show. They were also used as joke in “The Day of the Doctor” which also hurt where I placed them on the list.

1st) The Ice Warriors 

The Ice Warriors like the Zygons is a species of survivors. They were once a huge empire but when we meet them for the first time during the 2nd Doctor, they are introduced as the last of their species as their home planet Mars is now dead. Like the Zygons those thawed out of the ice try to conquer Earth and are stopped. We do not see them again until the modern era and the 11th Doctor’s “Cold War” where we see an ice warrior out of it’s mechanical suit held hostage on a Russian submarine. This species is dangerous in combat and in “Cold War” takes out any threat against it until the Doctor eventually reasons with it and it is rescued by a remaining Ice Warrior ship. We see them once more in “Empress on Mars” where like “Cold War” they are facing off against humans. Their Empress does not trust and it takes a lot of death, before there is finally peace. Unlike the Zygons who are forced to look like humans the Ice Warriors always stay as they are when peace is formed and there is so much more power in that as they are a unique culture. This culture is one built around a hierarchy, honor and an Empress as the leader. I have yet to watch a bad story with them and the episodes they appear in are some of my favorite of “Doctor Who.” I hope to see them in more stories as the complexity of diplomacy and finding peace has been illustrated beautifully with them twice.

That is my list. If you have one of your own I’d love to read them in the comments. This was fun to do as it has been quite some time since I’ve written about “Doctor Who.”

The 12th Doctor – Doctor Who Specials – “Twice Upon a Time” – Reflecting, Critiquing and Honoring the Old to the New to Bring the 13th Doctor

For Steven Moffat’s last outing as showrunner, this is an episode that manages to both honor and critique the show’s past while capturing a great deal about what made Capaldi’s run so enjoyable, even if it was often Moffat’s writing that ruined the early episodes of his run. This is a lot better than the last Christmas Special but not as good as “A Christmas Carol,” which managed to keep the Christmas feel without losing the Doctor Who feel either. This one keeps the Christmas at a minimum and it is truly the episode’s strength. Characters drive story so often in Doctor Who and this episode remembers that.  For my non-spoiler thoughts, I enjoyed it, especially everything with Capaldi.

“Twice Upon a Time” was directed by Rachel Talalay and written by Steven Moffat.

The story involves the 12th Doctor stumbling upon his 1st incarnation as both of them debate whether they should regenerate as a mysterious threat known as Harmony forces them to confront, what it means to be the Doctor.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Sense of History – This is an episode that kicks off with the 1st Doctor’s final episode as a flashback and fills in the blank by having the 1st Doctor resist regeneration as well, which leads him running into 12 and a World War 1 captain pulled out of time, and revisiting Rusty, the good Dalek (From Capaldi’s “Into the Dalek,”) who hates Daleks and the Doctor and helps the Doctor learn who Harmony is. The sense of history is never lost as well as eventually the Captain is returned to the day he was pulled from by Harmony, the alien threat in this episode. The Captain is also significant in regards to history in relation to the Doctor, which I will go into later.

 Harmony – Harmony is a program created by future humans who record copies of people at their point of death in order to create copies of them that can exist forever. This is how the Doctor gets to adventure with Bill once more and say good-bye to Nardole. Nardole and Bill both died at their time of meeting the Doctor and there is power in that as he is dying too. I’m glad Moffat did this, even though there is a moment that cheapens the finality of death a little bit.

World War 1 and the Christmas Resolution – The Captain, who we learn is a Lethbridge-Stewart and we see how he and the Doctor are connected as the First Doctor promises to keep an eye on his family, leading to that family’s relationship with the Doctors through history. Capaldi also saves him as he leaves him a few hours ahead of his death, and in turn they experience the Christmas Truce during World War 1, which also gives more power to the Doctor being The Doctor of War as his whole goal is to save people and make miracles when so much of the universe is things not working and people not being saved. It was a great way to make it a Christmas Special without the kitch nature that inhabited so many other Moffat Christmas Specials.

Twelve’s Good-bye – Twelve ends accepting that the universe would be a much worse place without him, and before saying good-bye makes himself promise to remember what it means to be the Doctor. It is a powerful moment and easily one of the best regeneration in the series thus far.

Thirteen’s Introduction – The Doctor needs to stop regenerating in the TARDIS. When 12 becomes 13 the TARDIS is wrecked and throws out Whittaker’s Doctor before disappearing and exploding as she falls. Before she has a beautiful moment where she sees her face, and says “Brilliant,” and after that it all goes to crap. Can’t wait to see how she survives and gets the TARDIS back. Chibnall has a lot of setup to go off of to make a great series and I can’t wait to see 13 in action.

Okay: Clara – Harmony gives the Doctor back his memories of Clara and she gets on his case for forgetting him. I wanted to hate this, but I couldn’t…I just wish Donna could get her memories back too. I may not have been a fan of Clara as a companion, but she was in some solid episodes and she had a great good-byes that were ruined, but that is not her fault, that is Moffat’s fault.

The Cons: The First Doctor Versus the Era He Lived In – David Bradley is great as the First Doctor, my only issue is they play up the sexism from the era he was in when the First Doctor wasn’t like that, as far as the episodes I remember. I could be completely wrong and I’m glad Capaldi and Bill show how wrong the sexist mindset that was so prevalent in that era was, but it could have been done with the Captain Lethbridge-Stewart. I could be wrong as well, it has been a while since I watched the First Doctor but I don’t remember him ever acting that way in the episodes I watched (from treating all women as domestic helpers, assuming men as always right, etc.). I liked what Moffat was trying to do, I dislike his execution. His execution failed and just made the episode awkward as well as taking away from real exploration of lore from the First Series of Doctor Who, and who the Doctor’s First Incarnation was.

I’m going to miss Capaldi. He is my favorite of all the new Doctors as his arc felt complete. He goes from not caring about humanity, to finding reasons to care once more, to the experiencing of loss and from that not wanting to regenerate so the pain can just stop as he feels hopeless in changing things as there are always more threats…to choosing to the be the Doctor once more and letting go of his ego so he can regenerate into someone new. 11 never changed, 10 just go more marose, 9 had a very short arc of working through his PTSD from the Time War…but Capaldi got the full arc. I may write more about his era and the Moffat era as a whole later, but for now…if you like Capaldi or are excited for Jodie Whittaker, give this episode a chance. She has a great introduction sent off from a fantastic good-bye.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10

 

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 12 – “The Doctor Falls” – When Change Leads to Pain

Moffat and Finale’s are a mixed bag. Moffat is a writer who is afraid to kill off characters and take risks with story. So much of what he’s done with the “Doctor Who” lore is to reset the status quo. I’m not sure how far into the series you are so I won’t go into detail, but a lot of powerful decisions that Davies made in storytelling Moffat cancels out, as well as his inability to let go of characters and an insistence they must keep coming back (he’s been better about this with Capaldi’s stories in regards to this lately though). “The Doctor Falls” thankfully does not have this problem. Before I get into spoilers in the review, this is a story with consequences and since Moffat knows he’s leaving he manages to give some wonderful sendoffs to quite a few amazing characters.

“The Doctor Falls” was directed by Rachel Talaley and written by Steven Moffat.

The story picks up where we left off, with Bill turned into a Cybermen and the Masters torturing the Doctor. The tables are turned though when the Cybermen attack as the Doctor revealed he expanded the definition of humanity to mean Time Lords as well forcing all of them to team up as they make their final stand on a village higher up in the ship.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: Base Under Siege – The base under siege is a major “Doctor Who” story trope that is handed really well here, as we have a small group of people who the Masters, Nardole, CyberBill and the Doctor must work with as they work out a plan to save themselves or save the villagers. It’s powerful as most of the villagers are children and the Cybermen have been attacking them for years. It is a losing battle without sacrifice leading characters to make choices that will define them. In the end Nardole leads the survivors further up the ship and is left as their guardian as he, once a con man has now become a good man from the Doctor.

The Masters – Simm’s Master has no empathy and is still the same insane man from the Tennant era while Missy feels guilt and cares for the Doctor. This leads to her killing her past self to regenerate into her current self but not before she is shot by Simm’s Master as the Master’s self-destructive nature leads to the Time Lord’s destruction. It is a tragic and powerful scene and in it the Master is redeemed as Missy’s final act was to do away with her bad past and embrace the goals of the Doctor, and in doing so it ends her life. It is a great ending for the Master as a character and Michelle Gomez, who has owned this role gives so much life and emotion to those final scenes with Simm’s Master and the Doctor.

Bill’s Good-bye – Bill is in the final fight and helps the Doctor get back to the TARDIS with the help of the Pilot who returns. It is at that point she becomes the water entity too and dies…as the Doctor established the Pilot is it’s unknown entity and now Bill is a part of it. It is sad and tragic and beautiful as some part of Bill will carry on traveling even though she is dead in both body (turned into a cyberman) and now self since she joined the entity.

The Doctor and Change – Through this episode we see the Doctor ready to die and in a way wanting to I think. He lost his best friend the Master (both when he thinks she’s leaving with her past self and for real when see their death), he can guess that Bill is dead given she isn’t on the TARDIS and stayed to fight with him and all his past pain, from losing River and losing himself as he changes each time. This leads to his last acts before the TARDIS takes him to his first incarnation…him resisting regeneration. He just wants to die and for the pain to end. He’s tired of loss and if he’s going to go he wants to go as himself. I can see why and it is done so much better than when Tennant’s Doctor implied the same with the long good-bye. Can’t wait to see the Christmas Special explore this more.

The Cons: Genesis of the Cybermen? – So where the Cybermen created here? Simm’s Master calls the Cybermen he made the Genesis of the Cybermen but we never see them leave the ship and the Mondas look and connection is never made fully clear. I liked them as a threat but why all this setup if it doesn’t lead anywhere?

This was an episode I highly recommend. It is a favorite and easily some of the best of Moffat’s writing in this series. I’m going to miss Capaldi so much but I’m glad Nardole, Bill and the Master got some amazing good-byes and I hope Capaldi’s Doctor get’s the same. This was a season where Moffat finally learned that it is okay to let go. Clara doesn’t have to keep on dying and being brought back and becoming an immortal fixture who ceases to be a character…it is okay so good-bye and storywise it lends power to sacrifice and loss. This was a two-parter that did that so well and showed just how great of a writer Moffat can be.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10

For the Two Parts: 9.5 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 11 – “World Enough and Time” – The Failure of the Good

    Steven Moffat as a showrunner as usually always been great at Penultimate episodes during his run in regards to two-parters. “Heaven Sent” was a brilliant exploration of the 12th Doctor’s psychology, self and drive and “Dark Water” gave us a great reveal of what the Heaven was during that season as well as the identity of Missy. His Finale’s on the other hand are more of a mixed bag but I’ll get into that when we review the finale for this season. This is an episode, like the others above that gives us that same level of threat, character development and reveals leading to one of my favorite Doctor Who stories.

“World Enough and Time” was directed by Rachel Talaley and written by Steven Moffat.

The story involves the Doctor, Bill, Nardole and Missy answering a distress call of a giant ship that is trapped above a black hole. The Doctor has Missy lead the mission, hoping that she can prove she is good but things soon get out of hand when a mistake from a civilian they are trying to help leads to unintended consequences and a darker plot at hand.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Doctor, the Master and Bill – There is a scene early on where Bill is expressing how she doesn’t trust Missy and the Doctor recounts his memories of the Master being his best friend at the Academy. It is wonderful as we see how close Bill and the Doctor are (the fact that he is sharing his past with the Master) as well as his trusting in the good in people, even with all he knows. It is powerful and I loved how this was explored and kicks off the episode.

Creation of the Mondas Cybermen – In this episode we learn the Master created the Mondas Cybermen when he he used a large colony ship trapped near a black hole to make people wish to live even if it was painful since life was hell and infection already. After a mistake Bill is shot and his Proto-Cybermen capture her as he pretends to be the assistant as he pulls the strings of the colonists. In the end he uses Bill’s trust to trap her and change her into the first of the Mondas Cybermen. The episode works really well as all are trapped at the bottom of the ship, infected by radiation for the ship. It is a living hell where all are sick and dying, which is a prime world for the philosophy of Cybermen (strength over feelings and emotion) rules the day.

The Death of the Good and the Master – The theme of the episode is the fight or trust in the good and the better nature in others. This episode has this end in a few ways, Bill becomes a Cyberman trapped in a living Hell, Missy joins forces with the Master and the triggering of the events in the episode happen when an alien shoots Bill when he panics. Fear and despair rule the episode…from the colonists who want to become Cybermen, Missy missing her past ways and having the chance to be that way again and Bill losing her humanity…for the Doctor all that is left is the good he chooses to do because the episode has killed it everywhere else.

This is an episode where there wasn’t much I could find wrong with it besides brief moments of pacing. It begins with a stinger with the Doctor leaking energy on a ice planet before we jump to the past and set up the themes of mortality, death and choice. This is all handled beautifully and I really enjoyed the reveal of Simm’s Master and the fact that he’d been manipulating Bill the entire time in order to get the Doctor and his future self Missy. The setup is beautiful and the Doctor and Nardole are left in a state where anything bad can happen as the Doctor failed to protect Bill and must face the consequences from that.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 9 – “Empress of Mars” – An Amazing Exploration of What it Means to be a Soldier

   The Ice Warriors are one of my favorite aliens in “Doctor Who.” These are a species who are amazing warriors with a code of ethics that makes them complicated. They are driven by honor and I love seeing how that plays out in their interactions with humanity…be it in Classic Doctor Who or “Cold War,” their first time returning in the new series, which was an episode also written by Mark Gatiss. Non-spoiler thoughts, I really enjoyed this episode. Mark Gatiss is great at writing these guys and I can’t wait to see more of them in the future as so far I have yet to see a bad Ice Warrior episode.

The episode was directed by Wayne Yip and written by Mark Gatiss.

The story involves a legion of Victorian British on Mars who are transporter there after they help Friday (an Ice Warrior they discovered and helped heal) who was alone on Earth. All as not as it appears to be as they discover the Tomb of the Ice Empress. Trouble begins to unfold as fear and greed create conflict between humanity and the Ice Warriors.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Characters – The characters are the strongest part of this story as we have Friday who is a warrior who was a prisoner of war in way and made friends with his enemies, you have the Empress caught in the old ways wanting to restore an empire that no longer exists, you have Catchlove who is blinded by pride and personal honor and Godsacre a man who was hung for cowardice who is ready to lay down his life to protect his men and in turn saves them because the Ice Queen sees the honor in his act and makes his men part of her Empire. It is a powerful scene and shows just how complicated conflicts based around honor can become.

First Contact – First Contact is shown in two different ways. The Ice Empress kills one of the soldiers who awakens her as he is still jewels from her tomb and over the course of the series it involves holding back her anger as well as the fear from some of the soldiers who Catchlove is leading given how outmatched they are by the Ice Warriors. We also see peaceful first contact too when the Ice Warrior beacon is awakened at the end  and the alien Alpha Centauri welcomes them to the Universe (setting up the group they will be a part of Classic Doctor Who later in their timeline).

A Conflict of Honor – The driving issue is one of honor and understanding as both Catchlove and the Empress want territory for their respective powers and live for the fight and domination, while the Doctor, Friday and Godsacre have been hurt too much by what honor has done…Friday was last of his people until the Empress was awakened, the Doctor was the last of the Time Lords at one point and Godsacre was so terrified at what he had to do in war that he ran. It is those who have lost and who realize the horror who are willing to submit their honor and in turn find a higher form of honor in the process. Catchlove is killed and it is Godsacre’s submission along with Friday’s protecting of those he can (the Doctor, Bill, the soldiers) that lead peace and a union between the two species. There will always be fights but there is no reason that personal and greater honor can be met rather than it leading to the destruction of all.

The Cons: The Ending Scene – Missy appears at the end after the TARDIS pulls Nardole away and there is this awkward almost sexual scene where the Doctor says she has to go back into the Vault. It is just strange and breaks the tone of the entire episode.

I really liked this episode. It was on par with “Oxygen” from this season but not as good as “Extremis” but I still consider it a favorite episode and hope that Gatiss can write more episodes like this. Like “Cold War” he is in his element when he is writing about conflicts of honor between soldiers and finding resolution and hope amidst fear. This episode is a shining example of the writing he is capable of on this this show and I look forward to more adventures like this in the future.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 8 – “The Lie of the Land” – Great Idea that Chokes a Bit at the End

“The Lie of the Land” is an episode that could have been great. If we’d spent more time with the Monks as occupiers and seen more of what they were doing that was beneficial it could have caused more conflict…or if there had been more setup on how there defeat could occur. Both these issues were not explored as well as they could have been which created a really rushed episode that in the end failed to be great, even if it was enjoyable.

The episode was directed by Wayne Yip and written by Toby Whithouse.

The premise involves the Monks now control the world and everyone believes they have always controlled it. The Doctor is putting out propaganda videos that the Monks see as subversive and Bill is searching for the Doctor as she holds onto her sanity through her only connection left, the one to the memory of her Mother.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Premise – The idea of the Monks ruling through mind control is actually pretty neat as it makes those who rebel not knowing who to trust (which the episode does do some stuff with). I liked Monk occupied Earth as it felt fearful and threatening and well off…and that was a good draw.

The Occupation – The occupation is full of Monk propaganda as they insert themselves throughout all human history and advancement. Those more prone to follow authority are also the greatest threat as the Monks themselves are usually the ones who never kill, it is their human followers. This adds a level of threat we haven’t really had in a Doctor Who invasion as often times it is the alien threat, rather than us as the threat.

The Monks – From their subversive occupation to mind controlling the human population through the power of a single act of consent…the Monks are truly an amazing threat and I’d like to see them in the future. They were a good invention and I got the idea from this episode that what they desire most is power and control and having that through the galaxy.

Missy – Missy comes up to help the Doctor and Bill and lets the Doctor know that the only way to stop the occupation for good is to kill the one who caused it, aka Bill. How she says it is without malice, just a fact and she blames the Doctor’s sentimentally for causing problems in the long run…though to contrast this she is recounting sorrow as she remembers the names and faces of all she has killed. The Master is growing and changing.

Bill and the Doctor – Bill and the Doctor are the leaders of the rebellion as we see each of them have gone about fighting in different ways. Bill by holding onto the truth and the Doctor by slowly recruiting and deprogramming others. I love their dynamic as both feel they can’t trust one another and first and through reveals find trust again. I wanted more with these two in the episode.

The Cons: Defeating the Monks – The Monks are defeated by Bill remembering her mother and using it break the propaganda Monk at the center of the Pyramid, which is the headquarters of the Monks. The Doctor takes responsibility for it claiming to have left Bill pictures of her Mother…we never see him actually do this. This peeved me off as it stole from Bill’s moment and we never saw the Doctor do it. This is what kept the episode from being great.

“The Monks Trilogy,” was mixed. The first episode is one of the best episodes of “Doctor Who,” while the second is one of the most annoying and disappointing. This one is mostly good but also has some of the problems of the second episode, which makes this Trilogy hard to recommend. Overall I enjoyed the Trilogy but you don’t need to watch the second one. The first and third are strong enough episodes on their own that you’ll at least get decent stories that reveal an intriguing enemy that I hope we see again in the future.

Final Score: 8 / 10 Solidly good.

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 7 – “The Pyramid at the End of the World” – An Interesting Idea Trapped in a Mess

   “The Pyramid at the End of the World” is a mess. It is a good idea trapped in a train-wreck and to  no ones surprise, one of the writers is Steven Moffat as after the great setup of the last episode it had to fall pretty hard. Suffice to say, it will be good to have a new showrunner if we get more episodes like this than the promise of this season will go away, and we will once again and “Doctor Who” will get “Sherlocked,” and end for Capaldi on a bad note. Hopefully this doesn’t happen.

The episode was directed by Daniel Nattheim and written by Steven Moffat and Peter Harness.

The episode kicks off with the Monks invasion as a Pyramid appears in a DMZ where three world powers are (China, Russia and the U.S.A.). It is up to the Doctor and his companions to solve the mystery before the world ends or humanity consents to rule by the Monks.

The Pros: The Monks – The Monks are one of the most compelling parts of this episode. They are mysterious and powerful and their need for their victims to consent to their rule is powerful and messed up. They are almost vampiric and so much more could have been done with this idea in the episode.

The War Zone – The War Zone with the 3 Major Powers (Russia, China and the U.S.A.) in a standoff with the Monks in the middle with the Doctor now President of the World is really interesting. The sad thing is the Generals have no development and exist only as ideas.

The Cons: The Lab – The Lab has a strange romance between two people doing experiments. Something goes wrong and before you know it this is where the end of the world will happen. I hated this, the acting here is strange and it isn’t ever clear what is happening. The whole place was contrived for the Doctor to be in danger so Bill would make a deal with the Monks and consent to their rule so the Doctor will get his sight back and won’t die. Suffice to say, it is pretty bad.

The Writing and Structure – The structure jumps all over the place, it isn’t really ever clear where we are on the timeline and every. The writing is a lot of contrivances to get Bill to consent and surrender Earth to the Monks (since you can only successfully consent if you love another in order for the Monks to rule). It really is a trainwreck.

Much like “The Silence” and the exploding TARDIS with the crack in time…the Monks are another great idea that doesn’t payoff in regards to their invasion. Nothing that happens this episode is tied into the last one and the conquest is so hackneyed. There is a good idea in there as the Monks doing conquest through consent is messed up, twisted and interesting…but I couldn’t describe the Doctor, Bill or Nardole in this episode to you. They are all plot devices and in the end this good idea is a mess and a failure of an episode.

Final Score: 4 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 4 – “Knock Knock” – Boring Side Characters in a Better Story

  “Knock Knock” is the worst episode this season thus far. We are given a whole bunch of side characters who give nothing to the film, a horror story that doesn’t really go anywhere and the Doctor as the biggest jerk he’s been thus far in Series 10. Before I go more in depth on these points, this episode isn’t worth your time and is skippable.

   The episode was directed by Bill Anderson and written by Mike Bartlett.

   The story involves Bill looking for a new place to live with a bunch of flatmates. When they meet the mysterious Landlord they sign the contract to live in an old castleesque house. All is not as it appears to be though as her flatmates begin disappearing and the Doctor arrives to help solve the mystery.

SPOILERS

The Pros: The Reveal – The reveal is that the Landlord is keeping his mom alive with the bugs who feed off the energy of people and help sustain her life. She is a part of the house and is wood. After she finds out the cost of her life she ends the life of herself and her son causing the house to collapse. This basic plot was interesting but it only felt real at the end…

The Landlord – The Landlord is creepy and David Suchet gives a lot of character to the role. He’s welcoming and threatening and he is easily the most compelling character in the episode. It’s a shame more wasn’t done with him.

Okay: The Doctor and Bill – The Doctor and Bill fight all the time. Bill is embarrassed of the Doctor since she wants to become friends with her flatmates and the Doctor isn’t listening to Bill because he wants adventure and to protect her. Neither was a pro this episode. The drama felt like drama for it’s own sake and not story.

The Cons: The Flatmates – I couldn’t tell you what any of them like. They aren’t really characters just plot contrivance and when all of them get taken by the house I found it hard to care. They distracted from the main story and there was no reason that we are given outside of Bill to care about any of them.

The Writing – The writing is cliche and atrocious. The Doctor tries to act all cool, Bill acts jealous and the kids don’t really function as characters just ideas of characters…so the tension is gone in the entire piece in what could have been a great horror episode.

   This is the worst episode of the series so far and I must emphasize again that it is skippable. You’ll get more time with the Doctor and the Vault later or just watch the Vault scenes on youtube. The story is a slog and even great characters like Bill and the Doctor cease to be interesting…The reveal and the Landlord are not reason enough to see this episode.

Final Score: 4  / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 3 – “Thin Ice” – Bland Villain and Monster Bring Down Good Character Moments

   “Thin Ice” is the first mediocre episode this series. This is an episode that has great character moments with Bill and the Doctor but the support characters, villain and the creature are so boring and unfleshed out that it brings down the entire peace. It isn’t a bad episode, as the characters stuff was strong enough to keep me engaged, but it isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination.

    The episode was directed by Bill Anderson and written by Sarah Dollard.

   The story involves the TARDIS transporting the Doctor and Bill to the Thames Frost Fair of 1814. It is here they must unravel the mystery of the creature underneath the Thames as Bill is confronted with a choice that will define her and humanity.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros; The Doctor and Bill’s Relationship – This is an episode where Bill debates with the Doctor his role. She asks if he’s killed and it takes him a long time to say that only when it is one of the last options available…and in it we see the Doctor as a soldier and veteran, while for Bill this is all so new to her as she is faced with these choices for the first time and better understands the danger in the adventure.

The Doctor – The Doctor is great in this in how he expresses that he does what he does to help and safeguard life because he is called to it…by his companion, the TARDIS, or the people they are helping. I saw it as partially him pushing responsibility off himself, but it also helped illustrate how he’s been learning. So much of 10’s trauma was because he got involved and didn’t listen. I think 12 has learned from the past in that way…now lets just see if the writers will keep it consistent.

Bill – Bill is faced with the darkness in humanity in this one…from there hanging out with pickpocketing children, to a racist landowner who is controlling the monster for money. In the end she does what she can to save as many people as possible and trick the villain…and from here we see how the Doctor and the TARDIS make the companions more like them.

Humanity’s Choice – Save the creature and risk human lives…or keep things the way they are and live the guilt of enslaving another being. This was the core dilemma at the end of the episode that turns Bill more into the Doctor as she chooses the second choice and larger moral implications that come with it. All life matters…be it alien or human.

The Cons: The Villain – The villain is a racist landowner exploiting the creature for resources as it has been in his family for generations. He is so bland and uninteresting and easily one of the worst villains to come out of Doctor Who. There was no motivation beyond greed.

The Supporting Cast – There are a bunch of child actors and none of them can act. This usually isn’t smart to do in any film medium and Doctor Who isn’t known for it’s great writing…and young actors usually don’t have the charisma to carry a scene the way an older more experienced actor could have…to make up for the pitfalls in the writing and dialogue.

The Monster – The monster is a giant fish that sounds like a a whale that we never get to fully see. It eats people, so we know it is dangerous…and apparently it’s a native to Earth, but that is all we know. It is there to be rescued and that is it.

   This is a film that is only worth your time if you are a major fan of the show and a completionist. There are way too many 2 Dimensional characters in this episode and even the core concept of the companion being the stand in for humanity could have been explored a lot better. There are some great dialogue and character moments between Bill and the Doctor, but this is a time where that wasn’t enough to bring the episode to good or great.

Final Score: 7 / 10