Every Whovian has a handful of stories they simply never get tired of. Generally we’ll all name Blink of and The Doctor’s Wife in our top ten all-time favourites, but there’s always that one…the one that we like that nobody else does. That one where admitting we love it causes us to get judged profusely.
As I learned the hard way, I generally tend to love the ‘obscure’ stories – so for me it’s a bit more than just one. Don’t get me wrong, Love and Monsters and Aliens of London/World War Three still make me cringe, but if you list your top five least-favorites I’ll probably love one of them.
So here’s eleven of my new-Who favourites that I’m not ashamed to admit I absolutely love. Have fun judging me.
by Russell T Davies
Generally, anyone who likes New Earth they tends to be a Doctor/Rose shipper – but as someone who doesn’t really like Rose that much I still love this episode. Granted, it is a bit weird and some of it didn’t really make sense (those people look pretty healthy considering they have every disease in the world) but I still find it entertaining and a completely appropriate series opener with a New New Doctor. The over-the-top evil-ness of our favorite trampoline, the evil cat nuns and the Doctor’s samba make this episode worth the frankly boring setting and bizarre aliens, making it a great story for long plane trips or an afternoon viewing with friends.
Smith and Jones
by Russell T Davies
Yes, I’m not going to deny that I love Smith and Jones; it’s one of those stories that has just enough good elements to make you forgive the poor ones and really love it in the end. Once again it’s a classic RTD series opener, with a fairly simple, action-packed storyline with plenty of corridor chases to allow us to adjust to the Doctor to being back on our screens. I don’t even really get why people don’t like this one, I thought the Judoon are a great alien and find the idea of the enemy being a little old lady entertaining. The climax of the story is gripping, the Doctor has some great gags, and Martha Jones really has the chance to shine.
The Doctor’s Daughter
by Stephen Greenhorn
In my experience, every episode has it’s fans. There are people who fight madly for Love and Monsters, and others who’d be willing to spend hours convincing you Gridlock is the best episode of anything ever. But I have only ever come across one person (the author of this article) who loves The Doctor’s Daughter as much as I do.
Yes, you read correctly. I love this episode. In fact, it’s my third favourite episode of new Who. Believe it or not it was my favourite until The Doctor’s Wife came along.
Yes, the aliens are crap. Yes, the basis of the plot is weak. Yes, the story could have been told better. But there’s just something about this story I will never get over. It’s like, the second the Doctor listens to the beat of Jenny’s hearts all of that just melts away. The script has a nice structure, but apart from that I can’t even explain why I love this episode, I just do. It’s a really weird sensation.
And if you really do hate this episode, you can at least be thankful that it allows to say “the Doctor’s daughter played the Doctor’s daughter in The Doctor’s Daughter and then had the Doctor’s daughter”.
Unicorn and the Wasp
by Gareth Roberts
To be fair, there are a lot of people that enjoy The Unicorn and the Wasp, in particular the Donna fans (hang on, everyone’s a Donna fan!). But there are also a lot of people that hate this story because it’s apparently “weird”. Hello, did you forget what show you’re watching? Here there’s no such thing as weird!
Okay, yes, I see where you’re coming from. But nonetheless, this story is great! It’s a true and proper Doctor Whodunnit, not seen since Black Orchid with Peter Davison’s Doctor. The script has a really nice structure, and the mystery itself is extremely well thought out. And come on, a murder mystery with Agatha Christie, a game of charades with Donna Noble and a giant shape-changing wasp – what more could you want?
The Next Doctor
by Russell T Davies
I almost didn’t put The Next Doctor on this list. The script is badly structured, the supporting characters feel two-dimensional, and the whole concept was forcibly timed to capitalise on David Tennant announcing his departure (hence why it’s one of the higher rating Christmas specials).
But I just love the story of Jackson Lake, and I think the dynamic between him and the Doctor is great. No, this episode is not my favourite Christmas special (for the record that goes to The Snowmen) nor would I rank it particularly highly. But I do believe it’s underrated, hence why I decided to include it here.
Planet of the Dead
by Russell T Davies & Gareth Roberts
For the longest time I had absolutely no idea that Planet of the Dead was a generally unpopular episode, and to be perfectly honest I still don’t understand why. It’s the last chance we get to see the Tenth Doctor being truly Doctor-y, and in my opinion he does it brilliantly. The idea of Christina being a “one-off companion” is really taken advantage of, and she has great chemistry with the Doctor – we’re not exactly used to him having an aristocratic rebel for an assistant. The script is nicely paced, the amount of action and dialogue is nicely balanced, and the supporting characters feel deep and relatable – this episode truly is one of my favourites. And come on, you can’t tell me you don’t love Malcolm Taylor just a little bit…
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
by Steven Moffat
I have a special connection with The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone – it’s the first Doctor Who story I actually genuinely ridiculously fell in love with to the point where I watched it over and over in the space of a few days. All of this took place in my first few weeks of Whovian-ism, which means the story is sort of imprinted on my brain. It sounds really strange, but it’s the only story that I know absolutely inside and out – even with episodes that’s I’ve watched three-times as many times I don’t feel that way. I know exactly what scene is coming next, exactly what the characters are going to say, exactly what the next camera shot will be – and it all feels so natural. And yet somehow amongst all of that I still find the plot itself gripping and entertaining, even now.
The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
by Steven Moffat
I have to admit, this story isn’t quite as magical when you know who “the girl” actually is and how the “regeneration” is resolved. But remember/imagine what it was like for us in April 2011 – big hype surrounds Doctor Who’s visit to America, and Steven Moffat is all over the radio teasing that in The Impossible Astronaut “a main character will die in the first ten minutes”. Is it Amy? Rory? The guy who was spotted during filming? Maybe even River, even though we’d already seen her die?
None of the above. It was, in fact, the Doctor.
So we’re busy recovering from that bombshell when another blindsides us at the end of Day of the Moon. The girl can regenerate?! I’m sorry, WHAT?! So the last of the time lords is not the last after all and dead anyway. Talk about a Moffat-style season opener.
I was so mesmerised by this story that I watched it four times within the week of it airing. Honestly, how can you not love the excitement of it?! And it left us all debating and theorising like never before – that was enough excitement in itself!
The Power of Three
by Chris Chibnall
Once again, the Power of Three almost didn’t make this list. This story really should have been a two-parter – the climax and sonic-screwdriver resolution were so awkwardly and disappointingly rushed you can’t help but feel cheated when the episode ends. But the first 30 minutes are gold, a proper tribute to the Eleventh Doctor’s first and “true” companions. We’re so used to the TARDIS crashing in, solving the problem in a day and leaving again, the idea of an alien invasion taking a whole year and the Doctor being forced to try and take the “slow path” is nice and refreshing. The structure of the story is awful, but I really like what Chris Chibnall was trying to do here.
The Rings of Akhaten
by Neil Cross
“I had the ultimate writer’s nightmare! Doctor Who Magazine hated it. The Sun hated it. But good reviews were really good. I had so many letters and emails and Facebook messages from kids…the episode had affected them massively. I had one girl telling me it had changed her mind about suicide…so the people who did love Rings loved it more than anything else I’d ever written.”
— Neil Cross, Doctor Who Magazine #464
To be totally honest, I’m still not sure how I feel about The Rings of Akhaten. Sometimes I watch it and completely love it, other times I don’t really think it’s that special at all. But Neil Cross is completely right – some people find the singing boring, Merry’s character annoying and the alien marketplace too strange, and others have made entire tribute pages to this story.
But it’s here because it’s the story that made me fall in love with Clara. She’s really the first new series companion I feel I can truly and properly relate to, and I love her relationship with the Doctor. I feel that this story is very much the “Whouffle genesis” in the same way that New Earth is the “Doctor/Rose genesis”.
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
by Steve Thompson
Yep, you read that correctly too. Let me express my love for this story in other words – on the 23rd of November 2013, I had time to watch one episode with my fish fingers and custard breakfast before I had to go to work, and I picked Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.
Before this story was first broadcast I had in my head a list of things that I wanted to happen. I generally always have this list, and generally most of the things on it don’t happen. But this time every single one came true and that means that in my opinion, this episode was perfect. Yes, the supporting characters are annoyingly two-dimensional. Yes, there’s no roundels in the TARDIS. Yes, Clara frustratingly forgot all the perfection at the end (you have no idea how happy I was when she ended up remembering it). But like The Doctor’s Wife, The Doctor’s Daughter and The Day of the Doctor everything went exactly the way I wanted it to (Whouffle, mostly), and that instantly shoots it right up to top of the list.
So, what’s your obscure favourite? Don’t try and pretend you don’t have one, we all do.