A Ranking of New Who Series
Now that Series 9 has finished (and we now have a little over a week until the Christmas Special), I’ve decided to rank the New Who series. This is in part inspired by Robyn’s Doctor Who Skip List, and partly because I just felt like ranking something and realized I hadn’t done Who yet. Either way, here is my ranking of every series of the new Doctor Who. This is in order from worst to best.
David Tennant is my favorite Doctor, and has been pretty much since the Ninth Doctor regenerated into the Tenth. His premiere series, however, was actually terrible. When watching initially, it doesn’t seem so bad. The series starts off fine, and episodes 4-6 are some of my favorites, but then it just goes downhill from there. This what I have now dubbed “the trash run,” a series of episodes that goes from “The Idiot’s Lantern” to “Fear Her.” This series is also home to the Episode That Must Not Be Named (but that I’ll name for the sake of this post): “Love and Monsters.” Robyn has already explained why this episode is the absolute worst in her Skip List, so check that out if you haven’t already. The other issue with the series is Rose. While Rose was the first companion, she is the worst, a conclusion obviously only come to once seeing the other series and other companions. While she seems fine when watching for the first time, this is really only because she is the companion we know. Once we get the likes of Martha and Donna, it’s really difficult to go back to the Rose series. On top of that is the writers creating this love story between the Doctor (a 903 year old) and Rose (who is 19) and we get a really irritating and slightly creepy storyline that doesn’t ever die throughout Tennant’s run as the Tenth Doctor. That, along with the continued disrespect of Mickey Smith, is another reason for why this series is the lowest on my list. As Robyn said in her Skip List post, you can easily just skip this entire series during your rewatch (though “The Girl in the Fireplace” is one of my favorite episodes ever).
Series 8 is the premiere series of the latest Doctor, the Twelfth, played by Peter Capaldi. I really like Capaldi as the Doctor, and I loved his first episode “Deep Breath.” After that, however, the series alternated between good episodes and episodes that were just meh. While I don’t think there were any trash episodes in this series, and it also brought us the brilliance that is Missy, this series was annoying. A major part of it was the Danny Pink storyline. While I like Steven Moffat’s storytelling, one of the many issues with his run as showrunner is that sometimes the overall themes of the series are too heavy-handed. This series, the theme was that of the Doctor being a soldier despite not liking them. This showed up in a bunch of episodes with the Doctor insulting soldiers, most notably Clara’s boyfriend Danny. There was a lot of masculine performance between the two as they fought over Clara, as well as a lot of Danny trying to show Clara who the Doctor really was despite only having interacted with him once before doing so. While this series had a couple of really great episodes that I loved, Clara’s love story with Danny felt rushed and Danny was annoying, and while I didn’t necessarily want him to die, I was glad when he left. This series also spent a lot of time trying to make up from the lack of character development in Clara, and a lot of it was through Danny, which was annoying.
Series 1 was (obviously) what introduced a lot of us young people to Doctor Who, through Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. While his stint as the Doctor was much shorter than the others (he only did one series), he was a great introduction. However, compared to the other series, this one isn’t the best. We have to deal with Rose, other dumb humans, as well as farting aliens (something I still haven’t been able to bring myself to watch again). Certain episodes like “The Unquiet Dead” and “The Empty Child”/“The Doctor Dances” are great episodes, but again, the fact that it’s so low on the list is mostly due to the other series being much better. As first series’ go, though, this one was pretty good.
Series 7 was weird because of how disjointed it felt. The first five episodes don’t really connect into a larger story at all (other than the introduction of Oswin Oswald in Episode 1, who we later find out is an incarnation of the next companion, Clara) and are more of a long farewell to the Eleventh Doctor’s longtime companions Amy and Rory Pond. While Amy and Rory are some of my favorite characters in the story, their farewell episodes were just okay. I think the main reason was because of their disconnectedness to each other and to the series as a whole. Once they were gone and we got to see the Doctor mourning, I think it got better. We see him meet Clara Oswald, and see his interest pique again as she becomes a mystery for him to solve. While there are some really good episodes in this series, such as “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” and “Nightmare in Silver,” Clara remains largely underdeveloped as a character, the fact that she’s “The Impossible Girl” overshadowing who she actually is. While I have never hated Clara, I didn’t really care about her much, though I think that her character has been redeemed (as much as it could be) in Series 8 and 9. This series also has the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” which is still one of my favorites and the episode I came into Doctor Who on, so it’s not all bad. Really, my only issue is how disconnected it is; most of the episodes in this series are pretty good.
Series 3 is good because it not only redeems the second series, but it brings us Martha Jones. Compared to Rose, Martha is a great character because of her independence. She is a character who has a life and goals outside of the Doctor, and so it makes her character and her ability to help more interesting. However, her coming in on the heels of Rose’s departure is difficult because the writers and the Doctor are still mourning Rose and therefore give us a character who is also in love with the Doctor because apparently we weren’t ready for a companion who just had platonic feeling for the Doctor at that point? I’m not sure, but my only issue with Martha was her pining after the Doctor when he clearly didn’t share the same feelings. This series had a couple of bad episodes, but also gave us “The Shakespeare Code” and “Blink,” two of my favorite episodes ever. In the end, we also get Martha leaving the Doctor on her own, choosing not to lust after him without the feeling being reciprocated. She also comes back as a recurring character in the next series, so it was definitely the least-sad departure of a companion in New Who.
This series is a great one, not only because it gives us Rory as a permanent companion on the TARDIS with Amy and the Doctor, but because it solved the mystery of River Song. While Tennant in my favorite Doctor, Matt Smith (as the Eleventh Doctor) got some of my favorite overall storylines. This one complicates the relationship between River and the Doctor as well as explores the idea of the Doctor as being extremely dangerous to the universe to the point where a child is manufactured into becoming the person to kill him. That, along with some great episodes like “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Let’s Kill Hitler” is what makes me love this series. There’s a lot of timey-wimey stuff that goes on in this series as well, which can be confusing but makes for a good Doctor Who series, because time distortion is obviously the point.
This was the premiere series of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, and while I was really sad about David Tennant’s departure, I thought that this series did really well in making me okay with the change. One of the things I love about Matt Smith’s run is the interconnected nature of all of his series (even Series 7). In this series we find out that the Silence has blown up the TARDIS as a way to stop the Doctor, but ends up creating cracks in all of time and space. The Silence then show up as more prominent antagonists in Series 6 and we even see how they were created in the Series 7 Christmas Special/regeneration episode from Smith to Capaldi. We also get Amy Pond as the new companion, who quickly becomes everyone’s favorite. My only issue with this series was how it was almost completely split from it’s past. Other than the mention of the Daleks stealing Earth back in Series 4, this series and the ones after barely connect to series 1-4, something that I feel the show suffered for. Other than that, this series gave me some of my favorite episodes in “The Time of Angels”/“Flesh and Stone” and “The Lodger.”
Series 4 claimed the top spot on my list until very recently. In this one we get (my favorite) David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and his companion Donna Noble, played by Catherine Tate. Tennant and Tate had the best chemistry of any Doctor-Companion combination, closely followed by Matt Smith as Eleven and Karen Gillan as Amy. This series is really why I love David Tennant so much. While I loved him in his first two series, his chemistry with Donna as well as what I like to call his “5th-year Harry Potter phase” were what made me love this particular series so much. Here, all of his guilt over the Time War and his fear of death/regeneration come to a head and Donna becomes the only thing standing in his way of completely disregarding the rules of the universe. Seeing that angst and recklessness on screen was really entertaining to watch and made for a great story. In addition, the importance of Donna wasn’t understated and it was great to see how much she really mattered throughout the series. This entire series had great episodes; even the episodes I don’t watch often are really good. The only episode I didn’t really care for was “Turn Left,” and that’s really only because I don’t often like episodes with minimal Doctor (“Blink” being the only exception). However, “Turn Left” connects to one of my favorite finales, “The Stolen Earth”/“Journey’s End,” which brings all of the Doctor’s New Who companions together to stop the Daleks. There were a lot of episodes I loved in this series, though “The Unicorn and the Wasp,” and “Silence in the Library”/“Forest of the Dead” are definitely my top ones. The specials after Donna left were just okay to me, but it doesn’t take away from this series being one of my favorites.
Coming off of the back of a not-so exciting eighth series, Series 9 really delivered. The format was really interesting with the presence of 4 two-part episodes and 1 three-parter. “Sleep No More” was only one episode I really didn’t like, which may be a record for least number of bad episodes in a Doctor Who series. Initially, the assumed theme of there being a thin line between friend and enemy was really interesting, but heavy-handed most of the time. However, the real theme, one of the Doctor being increasingly dangerous to the universe because of the Doctor’s growing tendency to shirk the rules of time and space, was much more fun to explore, and it’s culmination in his reaction to Clara’s death felt really consistent with his characterization and throughout the entire series as well as connected to my second-favorite series, Series 4. We also got some great guest spots with the return of Missy and the bringing on of Maisie Williams as Ashildr/Lady Me. I loved how we finally got some connection to earlier series’, namely Series 4 with Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble. We also got more development of Clara post-Danny, and while her attempting to be the Doctor was ill conceived, it made a lot of sense for her character and also fed into her being killed in “Face The Raven.” While I think the writers struggled to write Clara throughout her run, I do think that they gave her a great send-off, one that was much better than the one of the more-beloved characters Amy and Rory. Both her on-screen death, and then the Doctor having to have his mind totally erased of her so that the universe wouldn’t be destroyed were amazing and great nods to David Tennant’s Doctor. Plus, we finally got GALLIFREY and the TIME LORDS. The only thing I didn’t like were the sonic sunglasses, but those were gotten rid of by the end and even they made sense based on the way the Doctor was acting. This series definitely surprised me by being my favorite so far, especially after how annoying Series 8 was, but now that it’s gone off a part of me wants to rewatch right away.