The 5 Best (and 5 Worst) David Tennant Doctor Who Episodes

By Rob Bricken in Daily Lists, TV
Monday, October 5, 2009 at 7:55 am
The Worst:

5) The Next Doctor

Who wrote it? Russell T. Davies.
What is it about? The Doctor travels to 1851 London at Christmastime and encounters a man who seems to be a future version of himself. Eventually, a gigantic Cyberman begins stomping on the city. This isn't nearly as cool as it sounds. There's some lovey dovey family stuff thrown in there too. Yawnsville.
Why is it so bad? Maybe it's because David Morrissey's Doctor isn't a very involving character (nor is the hammy lady who teams up with the Cybermen for no good reason) but everything about this episode feels like paint-by-numbers Doctor Who. Even Tennant's usual exuberance rings false. Perhaps he thought having people in bear costumes running around with Cybermen masks on was stupid too. The clip featured above highlights the CyberKing's destructive jaunt through merry old Londontown. Usually, giant robots smashing things equals 100% awesome. But it doesn't here and that makes me question everything I believe in. Thanks a heap, Doctor Who.

4) The Fires of Pompeii

Who wrote it? James Moran.
What is it about? The Doctor and Donna arrive in Pompeii just as Mount Vesuvius is about to erupt. Antics ensue. Donna tells it like it T-I-S and the Doctor uncharacteristically buckles like a belt to make her happy. Boo!
Why is it so bad? In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier there was originally going to be a rock creature that Kirk fought. The idea was nixed for budgetary reasons but it still sounds neat, right? Enter the Pyroville, magma-infused monsters who use witches to convert people to join their stone legions. They're really great...and they also deserve to be in a better episode. Like "The Shakespeare Code" before it, this adventure manages to make a fascinating period in history dull. It also was met with ire from fans who refused to believe that the Doctor would willingly interfere with established events and save a family fated to die at the insistence of a companion. Others just wanted to see Donna turned into a rock herself. Not the worst idea, come to think of it...

3) Fear Her

Who wrote it? Matthew Graham.
What is it about? Arriving in London for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, the Doctor and Rose discover that a girl is imprisoning people in her drawings. That's basically it.
Why is it so bad? The first (and so far only) Doctor Who installment written by Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes co-creator Matthew Graham, "Fear Her" is a disappointing effort that tries to capture the moody atmospherics of a Twilight Zone episode. Too bad that murderous scribbles are more funny than frightening. To see how entertaining this could have been by adding some crude sound effects, be sure to watch the clip above.

2) Partners in Crime

Who wrote it? Russell T. Davies.
What is it about? While investigating a suspicious pharmaceutical company that has created a miracle diet drug, the Doctor reunites with Donna Noble.
Why is it so bad? Too much "aren't we clever?" humor (see the above clip) not enough interesting storytelling. There's also no decent reason to bring Donna back aboard the Tardis other than the fact that she is portrayed by popular British TV star Catherine Tate. The Adipose sure were cute though! Ugh. Fuck this episode.

1) The Last of the Timelords

Who wrote it? Russell T. Davies.
What is it about? With the Doctor incapacitated by The Master, Martha Jones must somehow stop the evil Timelord from destroying the Earth and rescue her loved ones--all of whom are really annoying.
Why is it so bad? Outside of the Star Wars prequels, I can't think of a contemporary sci-fi property that has as much contempt for its audience as this episode. Aged and caged by The Master, an appallingly bad CGI version of the Doctor is rendered useless while Martha travels the world--instructed to "spread the word so that everyone would know about the Doctor." So ultimately, Earth is saved thanks to a one-woman street team. Martha's word of mouth campaign and some ill-defined telepathic mumbo jumbo allow the now Christ-like Doctor to regain his strength. Quicker than you can say "contrivance," the Master is killed by his wife, his ravaging on Earth is undone and only those who were aboard UNIT's Valiant ship are the only ones who retain any memory of his horrific actions. Convenient. For a guy who spent a good chunk of time telling people how sorry he was, the least the Doctor could do would be to apologize for this joyless episode.
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