5) The Curse of the Black Spot
Not overly atrocious so much as just "meh", like Stephen Thompson wrote "The Pirate Episode" on a piece of paper, fed it into the script-o-tron and called it a day. The Doctor, Rory and Amy land on a pirate ship. There's a siren. Stuff happens. A pre-Downton Hugh Bonneville has a beard. This could have been more interesting had there been an attempt to place the action in more of a historical context, like the First Doctor story, "The Smugglers." Instead, we just get Karen Gillan swinging around in a tri-corner hat, which is admittedly enough for some people. I don't need Doctor Who to be a Ken Burns documentary or anything, but it would be nice if we could have a historic episode that didn't feel so bland.
4) Night Terrors
Amy and Rory actually begin this clunker vocally disappointed that they aren't doing "planets or history" instead, and I guess it's comforting that I was on the same page. It's yawn city from there, in a boring story that's suspiciously similar to the much-hated "Fear Her" from season 2 (which was already suspiciously similar to the season 9 X-Files episode "Scary Monsters"). A giant eyeball, a bunch of stock creepy dolls and an unfunny scene where the Doctor channels Bugs Bunny and argues with himself don't help much. I would have taken pretty much any planet or history story over this tedious junk. One thing I mightily hope the show outgrows is its reliance on supposedly "creepy" rhymes, which have been driven into the ground and back up again.
3) The Wedding of River Song
There were things to like, I guess, about this kooky cross-temporal romp, mainly the vision of a pterodactyl-infested London ruled by Caesar Churchill in a garbled timeline. But "eyepatch lady" Madame Kovarian was criminally undeveloped, and even though Moffat did at least try to tie things together, kind of, with "Time of the Doctor," the whole Lake Silencio thing still feels frustrating and random to me. I think MaryAnn Johanson, a great media critic and one of the best Doctor Who bloggers out there, put it best (albeit about a different episode): "It's not so much timey-whimey as it is bullshit-woolshit." In some cases, I could let this slide if the ideas justified the bullshit, but here, it just made the entirety of Series 6 feel like a great big waste of time. We shouldn't have to wait for two years for an episode to make (marginally more) sense.
2) The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe
Here's a blasphemous thought: do we really need a Who Christmas special every year? I mean, when it's centered around regeneration or a new companion or some other important plot point, that's one thing. But I would have probably been OK with nothing as opposed to this total dud from 2012. Matt Smith opens this episode surviving a fall to Earth from outside of the planet's orbit and what follows is essentially a sappy live-action cartoon, with The Doctor saying things like "humany wumany." Ech. When the only thing that makes your episode even barely survivable is a passing mention of Androzani, that's a sure sign the going is rough.
I had to Wiki this special to even recall that it ends with a shoehorned Amy and Rory scene from their Earth life that was the prelude to all the other inconsistencies that would plague these characters later on (the Ponds "always leave a place" for the Doctor? Is he the Space Christmas version of Elijah or something?). And if Moffat is sticking around, can he at least for the love of Rassilon let someone else come up with his episode titles?
1) The Crimson Horror
Although the clip above should be evidence enough, there are two words that sum up the true horror of this episode: Thomas Thomas. He is pain incarnate.
Maybe you watched his scene, in which Strax confronts the street urchin version of a GPS, and you groaned, or even (God help you) chuckled. But no review I've read really captures how awful the completely unnecessary character of "Thomas Thomas" and what he represents truly is.
Study this name and know it well, for it signals what must be one of the most shameful moments of the whole history of Doctor Who, a joke so anachronistic and deplorable and completely fucking asinine that it gets dragged out almost as a dare to you to keep watching the events on screen, mouth agape. It is a blight that makes the entire show worse for giving rise to it and us worse people for tolerating it. To paraphrase Gene Siskel, the rest of the episode could have been the missing footage from "The Ice Warriors" and it still would have sucked.
The first time I watched it, I was at a loss for words. Are the makers of Doctor Who proud of this shit? Did they all clink their glasses and do victory laps in celebration? How could anyone legitimately think this is entertaining or worthy of exposing to kids?
Maybe I'm overreacting. All I know is that the moment this little boy named himself, putting a shit-colored bow on what was already a pretty foul joke, I was practically kicking holes in my computer screen and emitting guttural screams. There were plenty of other things to hate in this botched attempt at a gothic Who story (the fainting man, the Doctor kissing Jenny for no reason, a gratuitous Zack Snyder-esque sexualized fight scene) but Thomas Thomas is the Satanic face of the soulless, heartless commercial entity that the once funky Doctor Who can be. Between this and the lame ending of the otherwise pretty good "Cold War," someone might have to suspend Mark Gatiss' comedy writing privileges, at least for this show. Let's hope that even the worst episodes of Capaldi's era don't involve material this dire.
Previously by Andy Hughes: