The Doctor Who Skip List
A few weeks ago Bayana wrote about some of the essential episodes to watch if you’re new to Doctor Who. This got me thinking about the episodes you would skip on your subsequent rewatch of the show. My favorite aspect of Doctor Who is how good it holds up among rewatches and the different ways you can rewatch the show; you can watch in order, you can watch in order from River Song’s POV, you can watch your favorite villains or monsters, you can watch in order of funniest or favorite episodes. Regardless though, you’re going to rewatch. As the series moves along it is almost impossible to not want to look back at how the Doctor got to where he is now. However, there are some episodes that just don’t deserve a rewatch. In fact, the deeper you journey into the fandom you’ll start to see that there are some episodes even the biggest Whovians like to pretend never existed at all. This post is for those Whovians. If you’re new to the Doctor you don’t get to skip. Watch them all and watch them in order. If we had to deal with these episodes, so do you! If you’re a seasoned fan embarking on a rewatch here are my suggestions of the episodes that are not worthy of your time. Here is my Doctor Who Skip List.
1. “Love and Monsters” - Series 2, Episode 10
If you have ever seen this episode then its inclusion at the top of this list is pretty self-explanatory. “Love and Monsters” was the first New Who episode to not prominently feature the Doctor. However, unlike “Blink,” another episode without much of the Doctor, this episode is pretty terrible on all fronts. The story is lacking and the monster is a big let down. Although, the monster was created by a 9 year old who won in a children’s competition to design a Doctor Who monster so it’s hard to blame the writers for that particular choice. Well, maybe we can blame them for having the contest in the first place? What we can definitely blame the writers for however is ending the episode with the most tasteless and unfunny of blowjob jokes. This episode is told through the video diary of Elton Pope, a fan of the Doctor who ends up having a chance encounter with him. He subsequently forms a group with others who have had run-ins with The Doctor. One day a stranger, Victor Kennedy, interrupts the meeting telling the group they have lost focus and taking over. Elton is supposed to get close to Rose’s mother Jackie but does a terrible job and is kicked out of Jackie’s apartment after she finds a picture of Rose in his possession. Members of the group stop coming to meetings and Victor explains that they’ve left the group and moved on with their lives. After one meeting Elton and Ursula, another member of the group who flirts with Elton, discover that Victor is an Abzorbaloff (as in he absorbs beings into his body making them apart of himself. Remember the children’s contest). Victor has the faces of the missing group members sticking out from his stomach (CGI did it’s best but could not do enough). Victor absorbs Ursula, however, Elton is able to get away in one of the cheesiest chase scenes ever filmed ever. During the chase the TARDIS appears so that Rose can tell Elton off for bothering her mother. Elton manages to break the monsters cane, which is actually a field generator that kept Victor in control of his body. With the cane broken Victor dissolves into the earth along with all of the people he’s absorbed. The Doctor was able to keep Ursula’s alive as a face in a paving stone. Elton then tells us that he and Ursula have an unconventional relationship and even a love life (get it guys, he sticks his penis in a stone, ha ha, no.)
2. “Fear Her” - Series 2, Episode 11
It is almost laughable to think back to this episode (this entire season really) and to see how far Doctor Who has come. This was the episode following “Love & Monsters” and while it is equally terrible, the reason it does not claim the top spot is because there are some cute moments between The Doctor and Rose. "Fear Her" is set in London 2012, the day of the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics (which were actually held in London). The story centers around a little girl, Chloe, who desperately wants someone to play with. Unfortunately, the kids on her block are afraid of her. The kids on her block are also disappearing under strange circumstances; inevitably The Doctor and Rose decide to investigate. We find out that Chloe is the reason behind the disappearances, as everyone she draws seems to disappear. Chloe has been possessed by an alien and once she figures out that the Doctor has figured out a way to save her, she traps him and his TARDIS in one of her drawings. Then the story starts to really get ridiculous. Chloe draws the entire crowd at the Olympic stadium and is getting ready to make the entire world disappear (For why, Chloe? Where would you live Chloe? How many crayons do you even own Chloe?) Rose finds the alien’s pod and throws it toward the Olympic torch - a symbol of hope, courage and love (and steroids?) setting all the people in Chloe’s drawing free. Even if we ignore that Chloe is a dark-skinned Black girl in a white neighborhood, ignore that she has an abusive father, ignore that she is angry and “scares” even her light-skinned mother, throwing the alien’s pod at the Olympic torch is what saves everyone? Really? Really? Nah.
3. “42” - Series 3, Episode 7
The Doctor and Martha find themselves on a ship hurtling toward a nearby star with only 42 minutes until impact. In addition to dealing with imminent death, the writers decided to up the ante by having something possessing the crew of the ship and it turns out that the crew has been illegally mining the star for fuel. The Star they’re hurtling toward is “alive” and trying to recover it’s stolen energy. In order to do that, it possesses certain members of the crew who are “burning” and sabotaging the ship so that everyone will burn with them. The Star is similar to another one in a later episode of Doctor Who which barely missed this list, “The Rings of Akhaten” in which they’re fighting against a feeling planet. While I’m not against the idea of a feeling planet, I don’t believe that the writers have been able to capture this story in any meaningful way. “42” is especially bad at this with the plot moving so quickly that it’s hard to care about this crew in any meaningful way and the most interesting part of the episode is Martha’s conversations with her mother while she thinks she is about to die - though the crux of that story is explored in later episodes.
4. "The Idiot's Lantern" - Series 2, Episode 7
The 7th episode of the second season sees The Doctor and Rose in 1953 London for the Queen’s coronation. Rose notices that there are more TV antennas than there should be at this time, and they learn that this is because Mr. Magpie is selling sets for an extremely low price at the pressure of The Wire, an alien who is stuck in electrical form and is consuming the minds of TV watchers in the hopes of forming a body. Besides the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone knock-off storyline this episode fails in any way to entertain or bring suspense. The episode spends far too much time congratulating The Doctor on his cleverness and his scooter. Rose confronts The Wire alone without the Doctor and puts herself in unnecessary danger. While the episode doesn’t reach the level of terrible that houses “Love and Monsters” or “Fear Her”, it’s completely forgettable and in a series with so many strong episodes it’s definitely skip worthy.
5. "Aliens of London"/"World War Three" - Series 1, Episodes 4 & 5
Any episode that prominently features farting as a recurring gag and humanoid pigs is doomed from the start. While the actual antagonist, the family Slitheen, is redeemed later in the series it’s pretty amazing that the series was able to withstand this storyline so early in the reboot. Had this been an American show, I doubt the show would have been given the chance to redeem itself, which it does, obviously. The major plot revolves around a very public crash of a spaceship into the Thames. Rose has returned to Earth after a few adventures with the Doctor and instead of being gone for 12 hours he mistakenly returns her 12 months later to a very worried mother, Jackie, and very bitter boyfriend Mickey who was the prime suspect in her disappearance. They also return to a London with a missing Prime Minister. While Rose is being welcomed home by friends and family, The Doctor tries to sneak out to investigate the crash and the alien found in the wreckage. Rose is right behind him, not wanting to miss out on the adventure. The Doctor realizes that the alien and the crash were faked. Meanwhile in Downing Street, cabinet and military members gather to discuss the crash, however, it is revealed that the acting Prime Minister and the General are farting and laughing aliens in human skin (the farting is from the gas exchange and compression into the skin of humans they’ve killed, hilarious). These episodes are noteworthy for the fact that it is the first cliffhanger/multi-part story of New Who. It also introduces Harriet Jones who becomes a beloved character and….well no, that’s it.
Ok I’m going to do a quick rundown of the other 5 episodes on this list. It’s quite painful to relive these episodes in real time. While these next five storylines are not as terrible as the first five, I would still skip them during your next rewatch of the series.
6. "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" – Series 2, Episodes 8 & 9
Ship is being pulled into a Black hole, crew is possessed. They're being possessed by The Beast which is an ancient being trapped in the center of a planet orbiting a black hole. Basically, he’s the Devil. Skip it.
7. "The Curse of the Black Spot" – Series 6, Episode 3
Though this features the Eleventh Doctor (MY Doctor) Amy, Rory and The Doctor end up on a pirate ship and the episode is more enamored with the setting than the plot, skip it.
8. "The Next Doctor" – Series 4 Christmas Special
A human has accidentally absorbed the Doctor’s memories and thinks he is the Doctor. He has his own memories and fights off Cyber-dogs while the Cybermen create a Cyber-King to tower over London like Godzilla, skip it.
9. "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks" – Series 3, Episodes 4 & 5
It’s the 1930s in NYC and we’re supposed to believe Americans are living in integrated shantytowns with a wise (magical) negro left in charge? Also, humans with pig faces and half human/half Dalek hybrids, skip it.
10. "Robot of Sherwood" – Series 8, Episode 3
This is another episode that is much more in love with its setting than the plot. The Doctor takes Clara to Sherwood Forest to prove Robin Hood is fictional. So obviously they run into Robin Hood and he and the Doctor bicker while also going up against the Sheriff of Nottingham. There are some cute and funny moments but mostly the episode is utterly forgettable, skip it.
Wow, series 2 is utter trash. It’s a good thing that it ends strongly and that Donna and Martha come back to redeem the Tenth Doctor. During any rewatch I greatly suggest skipping all of the second series in favor of moving on.
To leave you on a high note, here are five episodes of Doctor Who that you should not only NOT skip, but that you should watch on repeat:
- "Blink" - Series 3, Episode 10
- "The Eleventh Hour" - Series 5, Episode 1
- "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" - Series 4, Episodes 8 & 9
- "The Lodger" - Series 5, Episode 11
- "A Good Man Goes to War" - Series 6, Episode 7
Enjoy and take comfort in the fact that after nine seasons the skip list is relatively short. :)