Every Episode of Doctor Who Series 7 (2012 & 2013) Ranked (Part 2)

If they could split the whole series into two parts, why can’t I split this article into two parts? Anyway, welcome back to my review of Doctor Who Series 7! After looking through the worst of what this series had to offer (mostly Clara), we now get to have a healthy dose of positivity as I just cover the best.

If you haven’t read part 1, then I suggest you check it out here. Now, let’s get on with the review!

9 – Asylum of the Daleks

This is an episode that people often point to when insulting Moffat’s representation of the Daleks, and I can’t say I entirely disagree. Having the Daleks call on The Doctor to solve a problem because they’re too scared to do it themselves seems incredibly counter-productive. That said, I think the justification given for it would’ve made some level of sense…had the “mad” Daleks actually been represented in a way that made them seem any different to regular Daleks. That was my biggest issue with this episode, a lot of time was put into telling us that these were “insane” Daleks that are so much worse than regular ones, but when the time came to show us that, they didn’t seem very different to anything we’ve already seen. Oswin being the lone exception, which is a great jumping-off point to talk about that.

Personally, I think this was a brilliant idea. Given that Jenna Coleman had already been announced as the new companion at the time this episode first aired, it was a genius idea to get a buzz going surrounding her character. The episode sticks to its guns as well, it plays off of what the audience already knows and makes us believe that she actually might join the TARDIS team in that episode right up until it’s ready to reveal the twist. Unlike a companion such as Astrid, who we knew was never going to stick around for more than one episode, the way the story surrounding Oswin is told leans all the way into what we’ve come to expect from the show.

Everything else surrounding the episode is quite enjoyable too. While I’m not a fan of the Pond’s divorce, it technically happened in a web series, not this episode, so I’m going to let it go. Plus, their reunion here actually makes for some sweet moments, including one of my favourite subtle moments ever in the show. That being when Amy tells The Doctor “You can’t fix this like you fix your bowtie”, then later on in the episode when The Doctor fixes Amy & Rory’s relationship, there’s a brief shot of him fixing his bowtie. That’s some Edgar Wright level stuff right there.

It does lean into the humour a bit heavily, but unlike in other comedic episodes this series, most of the jokes are actually funny, so it works to this episode’s benefit, rather than its downfall. The line “Don’t be fair to the Daleks when they’re firing me at a planet” always gets a chuckle out of me and I love that Rory – who has never encountered the Daleks before – thinks the ball things in their lower-half are eggs, that’s prime Rory right there.

The only major issue I have with the episode is that the plot is quite weak. The goal of the episode is pretty vaguely defined and most of the time is spent just standing around discussing other plot-threads that aren’t related to the task at hand. There also isn’t much of a sense of danger throughout, I know they’re surrounded by Daleks the whole time, but every encounter is dealt with so quickly, that it may as well have not even happened. The final twist of Oswin wiping The Doctor from the Dalek’s database would be an interesting one if it was ever actually used for anything noteworthy. Instead, it gets reversed quickly after barely being mentioned it may as well have just bin an out-right retcon.

Asylum of the Daleks doesn’t really do much in terms of treating The Doctor’s greatest villains like any real threat. Still, the majority of the other factors in the episode hit the mark to create something that I had a decent amount of fun with and is quite rewatchable.

8 – Cold War

When bringing a monster from the classic series of Doctor Who back, it’s always hard to tell whether it will actually be a worthwhile endeavour. While looking back on old Doctor Who episodes and seeing the abysmal costumes & special effects is fun from a modern perspective. It’s when those same effects appear in a modern episode, surrounded by all the high(ish) quality looking stuff, it can fall a bit flat. The Ice Warriors are one that suffers from that problem, I think. Their costumes are incredibly clunky and clearly made out of a very cheap plastic that seems to have patterns carved into it with about the same quality as you’d expect from a mid-range action figure.

So, when faced with bringing them into a modern setting, the team at Doctor Who had to figure out a way around it and I think they did a surprisingly decent job. The team working on the episode seemed to be very careful with any shot that involved the suit of armour, making sure that it didn’t show too much detail at once, to avoid that cheap look. IN addition to this, the relatively dark lighting of the setting allowed for plenty of opportunities to obscure specific details when necessary, to ensure that the new Ice Warrior looks more imposing than dumb.

They also worked to include new aspects of the monster’s lore. Something which doesn’t always work, but went ok in this example. Once the Ice Warrior leaves his armour, the whole tone of the episode shifts to one of a creeping panic, and I think it really nails the feeling of tension amongst it all. The entire episode up until this point, The Doctor has been talking at length about how honour-based the Ice Warriors are. Meaning that when he describes the desperation of the Warrior leaving their armour, it has a lot more weight than if it hadn’t been brought up until then like so many other episodes do with twists like this.

The process and eventual resolution of the episode is very well-executed and tense too. The Doctor finds himself in yet another situation of being surrounded by people who want to fight, but he has to find a way to convince them otherwise. It’s these moments of diving into another being’s nature and finding the best way to convince them of his own perspective that is when The Doctor is arguably at their best. This episode sees Smith’s performance abandon many of the more goofy-traits he’s adopted and focus on being serious.

It’s not a perfect episode though, hence why it’s not higher up on the list. A lot of the reasoning behind the Ice Warrior’s actions aren’t entirely clear to me, especially towards the end where he suddenly does a 180 and decides not to blow up the world. The episode was slowly building towards that point, but I feel like it only got about halfway there before jumping forward a bunch of steps to the end. Also, Clara is once again quite the non-factor. She has a tense scene where she’s forced to come face-to-face with the alien, but it doesn’t really do much for her character. It’s a scene that does wonders for the tension of the overall episode, but when it comes to giving Clara a landmark experience in her adventures with The Doctor, it doesn’t really hit that point.

Ultimately, Cold War is a good episode, but not an especially memorable one. It did a fair job of bringing back the Ice Warriors and was scattered with several cool or exciting scenes. Just for whatever reason, it failed to make any kind of lasting impact on me.

7 – Journey to the Center of the TARDIS

The TARDIS has always been an interesting and mysterious subject in Doctor Who, and I like that. Much like The Doctor’s real name, I don’t think we should ever know too much about the TARDIS. Partly because if you establish too many rules, then a lot of things in the show will stop making sense, but also because it should be a device beyond our understanding. This is a machine that can exist at every point in space and time simultaneously, there shouldn’t be any possible explanation for how it works that a human could understand.

So, with that said, you’d think that I’d dislike this episode for shedding away some of that mystery right? Well, actually no.

The thing is, as much as this is an episode where we literally explore the TARDIS, we don’t actually learn anything new about it that hadn’t already been referenced in previous episodes. There had been several jokes about the library and the swimming pool running through the past couple of series, and although we’ve never seen things like the Eye of Harmony before, we’ve known they exist. Instead, this episode more serves to get a better idea of the character of the TARDIS.

I know that was done last season too in The Doctor’s Wife, but with that, it was deliberately given a human personality, when that isn’t realistic. The TARDIS that we fly with every episode isn’t a human and given that there has been some sort of conflict between Clara and the TARDIS brewing in this series, I think it’s important to understand a bit about how it feels. We get a decent chunk of that here, as it does things like getting rid of doors to prevent people from stealing its stuff, or merely looping the corridors when people threaten to blow the walls down. Even something as simple as a “snarl” to scare people off of its damaged engine room fills this machine with a greater sense of character and life than it ever had before.

As for the plot, it’s not overly compelling. The whole idea that the TARDIS would have its defences lowered just because it’s in a mode that makes it easier for humans to fly seems like a bizarre design choice. Then again, if that’s what’s needed to make the episode happen, then alright, I’ll bite. The secondary characters aren’t overly appealing. One has your classic ‘jerk for the sake of a jerk’ attitude that I couldn’t care less for, regardless of what dramatic redemption arc the episode tries to throw at him towards the end. The other two secondary characters are just plot devices for the main secondary character’s story, and as such, they don’t get anything noteworthy to them.

I’m also not a big fan of the solution to the episode. The “it actually never happened because time travel” solution isn’t a clever or interesting one at the best of times, but this episode is determined to have it both ways. It wants to have the original timeline aborted, so everyone involved forgets the events of the episode. However, it also wants all of the character development it did to have still happened. This means we get a scene where the two brothers have apparently reforged their relationship…except the events that caused them to do that never happened. It’s not a situation where you can be selective about what your characters do and don’t remember, either all of it happened, or none of it did.

Like most episodes in this series, it’s flawed, but I still found a decent amount of stuff to enjoy about it.

6 – The Power of Three

Ok, first thing’s first, let’s all agree that the episode should’ve been called “Cubed”. Yes, I know the whole point is “the power of three” referring to The Doctor, Amy and Rory, but I think it would’ve been better as a nice little twist at the end, instead of being blasted right out in front of you from the start.

If there was ever an episode that was crying out for two parts it was this one because I think it absolutely could’ve done with a bunch of extra time, even an additional 10-15 minutes would’ve helped boost this episode to the top spots on this list. Instead, it had several points that felt very rushed.

First thing’s first, the mystery in this episode is absolutely brilliant. As we’ve seen with Chibnall’s writing since taking over had head-writer, he knows how to set up a good mystery, and that is on full display here. The idea that millions of these cubes could just appear out of nowhere and no-one on Earth would’ve seen the moment they did so is a bit unbelievable, but I’m willing to roll with it. Immediately, the episode gives us this tangible thing that we know is going to somehow be vital to the episode, except we have absolutely no idea how or even what that is.

Watching the TARDIS team try to solve the mystery opens the door for so many different possibilities, and the episode does a good job of playing on all of them. First of all, there’s The Doctor trying to live a normal life. This whole sequence was a bit silly, but I think it was a good idea to break up the relatively slow pace of the episode with a nice bit of fast-paced humour. I found it quite amusing to see The Doctor doing tonnes of household chores, including doing a mathematically impossible number of kick-ups, in just an hour. After his abysmal outing in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, this is where Brian finally gets a chance to shine as a character. He’s got this complete and total dedication to his task of watching the cubes that I can’t help but root for him as he adorably takes it SUPER seriously; documenting the complete lack of anything the cubes are doing, on the hour, every hour.

The episode also does an excellent job of transitioning in and out of the comedy, injecting a few serious scenes of the cubes doing stuff in between the comedic moments, before transitioning out of it entirely as we head into the scenes at UNIT. I loved the sequence were the cubes suddenly started doing just about any random thing you can think of, it only served to add to the mystery surrounding them, and it led to some pretty funny moments in there too.

The other big point this episode touches on is the impact on the Ponds’ lives that travelling with The Doctor has on them. This is a big part of why I think this episode needed more time because it was squashed in between all of the cube stuff that it very rarely had any time to breathe and ended up feeling quite forced since this was the final episode before the Ponds’ departure.

Speaking of rushed, once the cubes open, the episode falls apart a little bit. There are some genuinely exciting scenes, like The Doctor having one of his hearts fail and also the way the team go to the hospital to discover where Brian had been taken. Then, they get onto the spaceship and confront the Shakri, and the whole thing falls apart. There’s a conversation where absolutely everything gets explained, then The Doctor quite literally just waves his magic wand (sonic screwdriver), and everything’s fine. There’s not even anything in the way to try and stop him from doing so, the ship just has an AI that gets deactivated, and that’s it, suddenly everything’s fine again.

If this episode were a two-parter, I would’ve had part one end with the opening of the cubes and then spend all of part two attempting to take down the threat that they posed. Having The Doctor just waltz into the thing and immediately solve it without having to overcome any kind of obstacle was extraordinarily disappointing and left me feels deflated at the end of what had been a really good episode up until that point. (Also, making it two parts meant you could’ve called part one “Cubed” and part two “The Power of Three” and I wouldn’t have had to have that ramble at the start of this piece.)

5 – The Rings of Akhaten

Giving a companion their first outing in the TARDIS can often be quite a daunting task because there are a few ways that you could go with it. You could make it character-based, like The Fires of Pompeii or The Beast Below. That allows us to get a much better sense of this new character than in the series opener. You could make it absolutely nothing like The Shakespear Code. Or finally, you could roll out all of the costumes you happened to have in the studio, build a weirdly convoluted set and blast us with everything weird and wonderful about Doctor Who. The Rings of Akhaten does the last one.

Much like The End of the World from, Series 1 (I’m pretty sure it even reuses a couple of those costumes), this episode is entirely focused on seeing the broader universe from Clara’s Earthly perspective. It’s one of those episodes that I’ll recommend to people who want a good idea of what the show is all about because it really has a bit of everything. There’s humour, there are aliens, there’s character, and there’s even an epic speech. The only real problem is that shoving all this stuff in means that some elements don’t play out quite as good as they could’ve. Although that’s not a massive issue in this episode.

One of the concepts I wish got played up a bit more is the idea of an economy based on sentimental value. I know it features pretty heavily when taking down the monster, but how would an economy based on that actually work day-to-day? Surely if you’re continually having to pay for goods and giving up sentimental items, you’ll pretty quickly run out of things you’re sentimental about. Even the people who take the items aren’t gaining anything. They can’t use those items to pay for stuff because to them, it has no sentimental value. Right? I don’t know, it’s a nice idea and fits thematically with the episode, but it also feels dumb. So take your pick, I guess.

I liked the way the episode used The Doctor investigating Clara’s life as a way to give us some context that we’ll need later on in the episode. In hindsight, it feels a little forced, but I still think it works. Speaking of, we may as well discuss the climax of the episode, because it’s a bit weirdly paced.

First thing’s first, The Doctor’s speech is fantastic. One of the all-time great speeches in Doctor Who without a shadow of a doubt. It’s brought down a peg only by the fact that it somehow doesn’t win the day. Seriously, how was it NOT the resolution to the episode? Everything about it from the music, to the pacing to the words themselves, said it should absolutely be what saves the day. Yet somehow it doesn’t. This isn’t the only time Doctor Who uses this twist, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This was one of the times where it didn’t. I understand that this allowed Clara to get her heroic moment, but it felt so unnecessary and totally sucked the air out of the episode. Not to mention, Clara is going to get PLENTY (I’d go as far as to say too many) hero moments during her time in the TARDIS. However, as a standalone scene, it is a very well-written moment and is one of the few times during her time on the show where I actually thought Clara felt like a person.

The pacing of the finale aside, this was a solid episode. It gave me hope for Clara’s direction as a character (more on how that turned out next time), and it told a solid, self-contained story. Plus the speech.

4 – A Town Called Mercy

HOW did it take this long for Doctor Who to do a western? It would’ve been one of the first ideas on my list. Sci-fi and Western are two genres that just feel so perfect together, and this episode is proof of that.

A trope that I’ve noticed a lot of throughout Moffat’s reign is there will be some sort of narration or story that we’re told at the beginning of the episode. It’s designed to sound like the story is describing The Doctor, only for it to turn out that they were actually describing the main villain of the episode. It’s a bit of a weird trope, but the way it keeps coming up makes me feel like Moffat’s trying to make a point about something…or he’s just not all that great at establishing villains and needs the audience to be told what a badass they are, rather than just showing us…you take your pick.

One of the big things I love about this episode is how light on action it is. I know that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but stay with me. For one thing, Doctor Who is a show that’s always thrived on its conversations rather than it’s fight scenes. Secondly, it plays perfectly into how westerns work. If you watch most of the classic westerns, they’re a lot of people standing around and discussing the plot. There’s the occasional shoot-out to break things up (which we also get here), but the driving force of things is the interactions of the characters. It leads to scenarios where, when guns are finally drawn, there’s so much more weight to the scene because of everything that went into it. There’s a reason Mexican Standoffs are a staple of the genre, minutes of slow build for a quick and satisfying payoff.

This episode does the exact same thing. We get a small chase sequence in the middle, and the climax has a mix of the two, but what carries the episode is the main characters talking and trying to understand one another. This isn’t just to solve the mystery either, we get some proper understanding of the characters involved here. We feel that anger that The Doctor feels when he realised Jex has lied because we’d spent such a huge chunk of the episode investing in the lies he presented us. These conversations peak and trough in intensity, giving us charged scenes where The Doctor puts Jex on blast for lying, all the way down to a prolonged and tense scene on the boundary, as The Doctor decides whether or not to throw Jex out.

The resolution to the episode plays well off of these established characters too. Someone who’s done horrible things like we’re told Jex has can never truly be redeemed, but I certainly felt sympathetic for him when he made the sacrifice play. I also liked the Gunslinger becoming a person to protect the town once The Doctor leaves, although I think it would’ve hit home a bit better if we had a deeper understanding of his mentality.

To put it simply, I thought this one was a lot of fun. It blended the classic moments of westerns with Doctor Who’s identity well. It played a slower pace that absolutely worked gave us substantial investment in the key characters. This investment meant that they could carry the episode, allowing characters like Amy and Rory (who are usually the protagonists) to take a back seat to the action for a change.

3 – The Time of The Doctor

I’ll harp on about this until the day I die, but this episode should’ve been called ‘The Twelfth Night’ to have some nice symmetry between this and The Eleventh Hour.

I’m aware that this an episode regarded mainly by the fanbase as not being all that great, but I’m going to, yet again, be a contrarian and say I really like it. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but to be fair, there are only two episodes of Doctor Who that I would say are perfect.

Right out of the gate, this is a funny episode. I don’t care what you say, Matt Smith suddenly and unexpectedly pulling his hair off to Clara’s horror will always get a laugh out of me, and nothing you say will change that. The bit with the telepathic clothes is a bit weird, the joke runs out of steam pretty quick, but it’s still a silly concept that I can get behind. I also think we get the opportunity to see all sides of Smith’s Doctor in this episode. I’ve spoken before about how I never liked how cartoonish of a character he became. There is a bit of that scattered in here, what dominates the episode is the more calm, collected and just straight-up badass version of Smith’s Doctor we saw early on in his run.

We saw a return of the weird Dalek conversion thing that we got in Assylum, which wasn’t great, but apart from that, I enjoyed the return of all the villains. I know many of them had become pretty overused by this point, but this is a regeneration episode, I don’t mind an extended trip down memory lane. The thread between Clara and The Doctor is a bit weird, and the fact that he keeps sending her away feels more like an excuse for us to follow The Doctor through 900 years of his life without actually having to live it out. I’m not suggesting we should’ve actually followed The Doctor for all that time, of course, I just think it could’ve been achieved a lot nicer through a method other than The Doctor constantly breaking Clara’s heart.

Then there’s the element of The Doctor’s regeneration itself. I think it was quite nicely done. Firstly, the fact that they actually addressed the things that they could’ve easily ignored (namely the War Doctor and Tennant regenerating twice) is appreciated, and the way they got The Doctor new lives was quite graceful and made sense. Even if Chibnall did later cause it to make no sense whatsoever, but that’s not the fault of this episode. The scene in which it happened was slightly over the top and rather manic, but MAN I loved it. I know it was cheesy and kind of dumb, but the way it’s built up to with the music and the growing intensity of The Doctor’s speech makes it work for me.

The one criticism I’ve seen levelled at this episode which I absolutely do not understand is that his regeneration speech was too long-winded and self-aggrandising. I don’t understand this for two reasons, one is that Tennant’s regeneration sequence went on for WAY longer and everyone loves that. Two is that it’s an awesome speech. Yes, some of the things he said didn’t quite make sense in the context of the show, but overall Moffat just knows how to write a good speech and how to make it feel amazing visually. The build-up of the music is just perfect, the line “I will always remember when The Doctor was me” works so well for Smith’s sentimental character and Amy giving us one last goodbye to top it all off was just plain beautiful. Then once it was over, the regeneration happened quick as a flash and we’re on to new adventures. I love it.

2 – The Angels Take Manhattan

I watched this episode when it first aired in 2012, and part of my soul is still crying about the ending.

This was far from the best outing the Weeping Angels have ever seen, and I think a lot of the aura surrounding them had disappeared by this point, but I still found them to be compelling villains. What carried this episode was the mystery surrounding what’s going on in New York and the character drama between the protagonists, so all was needed was a monster who could stand around and be threatening; not talk. The angels fit perfectly into that role.

Speaking of the mystery, it’s played in quite an interesting way. The thing is, from the very first scene, we know the angels are behind everything (the title of the episode gives it away). This meant that instead of the ‘who’ the mystery aspect of the episode focuses entirely on the ‘how’. It’s a trick that doesn’t always work, but this episode manages it. There were a few moments where the characters were working out stuff the audience had already been told, and I did want them to just ‘get on with it’ at a couple of points, but they were few and far between.

The character drama varies in how much it hits its mark. On one side of things, you have the melodrama between The Doctor and River, which doesn’t work at all. The Doctor isn’t a character that lends himself to relationship drama, and any attempt at it comes off as dull. The justification given as to why everyone’s suddenly annoyed at The Doctor makes no sense to me at all, and it’s totally forgotten about 5 minutes later, so what was the point in having it?

Speaking of things that don’t land. The concept of ‘time can’t be rewritten once you’ve read about it’, which just doesn’t make any sense to me. I know it was only introduced so that the grave at the end would carry much more weight (which it absolutely did), but what aspect of a future event being read about make it destined to always happen? We’ve seen plenty of pieces of writing being changed to align with the new future in this show. If this was a brand new show that hadn’t already had its laws fleshed out over and over again, then maybe it would work, but this is an aspect that goes against just about everything previous writers (including Moffat himself) have created.

Alas…now we must get to the heartbreak that makes this episode so amazing. Amy and Rory’s exit from the show. Amy & Rory had been The Doctor’s main companions for two and a half by this point, not to mention the only companions The Eleventh Doctor had ever had until then. I loved them both as characters, so they deserved the best of exits, and that’s precisely what they got. The best part is, they even got to dangle the fake-out in front of us before snatching it away.

The leap off of the roof was an excellent scene. We snapped from the fast pace of the chase around the hotel to this quiet and cold scene, where Rory has to make the choice to throw himself to his inevitable doom. Then Amy comes and joins him. It’s all done in such a way that it feels so unbelievably tense, it plays it up like something is about to come along and magically save them, but it doesn’t. They sacrifice themselves to stop the paradox, which gives them one final moment heroism before everything turns out to be ok, and they survive.

Then it happens for real.

Could I bitch about how it doesn’t make any sense that the angel survive? I could, but I don’t care, because everything else about this scene was perfect. Rory’s disappearance happens so suddenly that you don’t have any time to process it before Amy is faced with doing the same. Usually, I’d say that was a bad thing, but it’s exactly what this scene needed to ramp the emotions from zero to a hundred in seconds. Then, Amy makes her final choice. The choice between continuing to travel with The Doctor or living a life with Rory. What makes it so great is that the scene doesn’t try to push that aspect of it too hard, it gives its audience the credit to realise that for themselves. That’s something I wish Moffat did a lot more often in his writing instead of explaining everything all the time.

The sense of raw tragedy at that moment when Amy looks away from the angel and says goodbye is so overwhelming. Everything from the look on The Doctor’s face, to River’s acceptance that it’s for the best, to the fact that it genuinely wasn’t The Doctor’s fault that it happened this way. The episode isn’t done tugging on your heartstrings though, it still has one more ace up its sleeve in the last page of the book The Doctor was reading at the beginning of the episode. Up until this point, I was a bit teary but was keeping it together, but the scene where The Doctor runs back through the pack to retrieve the last page of the book was the moment that opened the flood gates, and I cried for that whole scene.

It’s without a doubt the best companion exit that the show has ever done, and that aspect alone dragged it up about 3 places on this list to the number 2 slot. I know it has areas that need touching up, but any piece of fiction that can bring that level of emotion out of me deserves all the praise in the world.

1 – The Day of The Doctor

It’s the most feel-good episode of Doctor Who ever and was an absolutely fantastic celebration for the show’s 50th anniversary. I’m going to break this down one thing at a time because there’s SO MUCH in here.

First up, John Hurt, what a performance. While I can’t deny I’ll always be a little bit sad Ecclestone didn’t come back to play this part, I certainly can’t complain about the man they got to take his place. The idea that The Doctor would’ve had a whole extra life during the Time War that he’s kept hidden all these years makes so much sense, I love it. What makes it even better is the characterisation of this Doctor, John Hurt’s look and voice is the perfect fit for a battle-hardened but war-weary old man who is just desperate for a way to end the violence. The scenes where Hurt’s Doctor is discussing what he’s going to do with The Moment feel so weighty and tragic in their own way, it was a masterful performance.

Speaking of The Moment, it was a brilliantly written aspect of the episode. It doesn’t get much explaining, and that’s precisely how it should be, it gives it this aura of being beyond our understanding. We just accept the fact that it can break the time lock of the Time War and show The Doctor his future selves because why wouldn’t it be able to do that? It poses these questions to the audience to make us rethink this event that we’ve already justified in our minds countless times. We’ve always taken The Doctor’s destruction of Gallifrey for granted, believing it was justified because that’s what The Doctor believes. The Moment is there as this unbiased source asking those hard questions. Even something as simple as “how many children are there on Gallifrey?” is enough to turn the whole situation on its head.

Then there’s the fun stuff. Smith and Tennant were an acting duo seemingly made for each other. Their portrayals of The Doctor had a lot of similarities, but this was a scene that did everything it could to show us their key differences with brilliantly comedic results. The jokes they throw at each other are ever so slightly different enough so that they don’t just feel like the exact same person, which encapsulates just about everything great about The Doctor as a character. Even when Hurt’s Doctor shows up, his style of comedy meshes with the other’s to significant effect. The whole scene in the forest is easily one of the funniest, most enjoyable scenes in the show’s history.

Around about the halfway mark of the episode is when things start to get epic. The Doctors’ entrance into the black archive is over-the-top in just the right way. Maybe I’d shout it down under other circumstances, but this is the 50th anniversary, it’s an all-out celebration of the show and – by extension – The Doctor himself, so I say let him have a cheesy, yet epic entrance. The scene following this, where Tennant and Smith sort out the squabble between the humans and the Zygons always gets me pumped with how heroic it makes The Doctor appear.

What’s extra genius about it is how it serves the much greater purpose of getting Hurt’s Doctor to understand the amazing person he’ll become once he’s ended the Time War. It even presents the counter-argument to the ‘but he’ll kill all the children’ argument. Even in the face of Clara directly telling Hurt’s Doctor that he’ll regret it every day for the rest of his life and he’d do anything to change it, Hurt’s Doctor just very calmly says “how many lives has his regret saved?” It makes you imagine a universe where The Doctor never went through that trauma of losing everything he’d ever cared for and didn’t use that motivation to become the incredible hero we just saw avert a war with ease.

THEN we get the ultimate hero moment for The Doctor. It’s big, bombastic and an absolute blast to watch as The Doctor plainly explains how he’s going to end the Time War and save Gallifrey. Without witness and without reward, he calls quite literally all of his experience and knowledge in the form of all his previous selves (and one future-self). He rights the biggest wrong he’s ever committed. It removes the horrible cloud of slaughter that has followed The Doctor through the whole of modern series and presents him as the purest good in all of the universe.

This episode is such a joy to watch over and over. It’s got laughs, it’s got emotion, and it’s got an incredible pay off to long-standing storylines. Even Tom Baker showed up and put on a fantastic performance. I honestly can’t think of a better way they could’ve celebrated the 50th anniversary of what I believe to be the greatest television programme ever produced.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read through all of that. Please let me know what you thought of these episodes, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here this time next week, as I’ll be covering NXT Takeover: In Your House!

Every Episode of Doctor Who Series 7 (2012 & 2013) Ranked (Part 1)

With Series 6 being a bit weird with a big gap in the series happening half-way through. The team at the BBC decided they were going to take that one step further with Series 7 and have parts one and two of the series feel wildly different from each other. So much so that you could easily mistake the first half of Series 7 for Series 6.

Still, Series 7 was largely a series of goodbyes. As we first said goodbye to the Ponds and eventually said goodbye to Matt Smith as The Doctor. We got a whopping three Christmas episodes spread across three years and even saw the gigantic 50th Anniversary episode (featuring modern Doctor Who’s first full-length multi-Doctor story).

You’d think that with all this crazy stuff going on, it would easily rank among one of the best series of the show in history, right? Well…not quite. It had its highlights (which we’ll get into), but for me, there was a lot to dislike and a surprising amount of just plain mediocre stuff to endure. So let’s stop generalizing and break it down episode by episode, starting with…

17 – Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

I knew this was going to be last. Before I even started rewatching this series I knew this one was going to hit the bottom and it currently holds the title as my second least favourite episode of Doctor Who ever (we’ll get to my absolute least favourite next time…it’s probably the one you’re thinking of).

So first things first, there is WAY too much going on with the characters. While I enjoyed his later appearance in the series, Rory’s dad, Brain, is absolutely rubbish in this episode. He’s framed as nothing more than a bumbling idiot who’s quite handy with a toolbox and while there are a couple of funny moments, it’s mostly just jokes that don’t land at his expense. This includes the single worst joke in Doctor Who history, where he’s asked if he’s got anything in his pockets and Brain responds “just my balls” and…I just don’t know what to say about that. Doctor Who is no stranger to the odd sexual joke (“Get a girlfriend, Jeff” is still one of my favourite one-liners in the show’s history) but what makes them funny is that they’re subtle little jabs on the uptight BBC One; and somehow, the “I mean these golf balls” fake-out just makes it worse. If you’re gonna go for the joke, at least have the balls (pun very much intended) to stick with it.

Getting back into the actual plot, it has no idea what it wants to be. The whole concepts of there being a spaceship full of dinosaurs should be enough to carry the mystery, but apparently, we needed to add a whole bunch of unnecessary layers to it. So the Indian Space Agency ask The Doctor to investigate it to see if it’s hostile as they’re planning on shooting it down if it is. So The Doctor goes there, investigates the place, discovers that not hostile is it non-hostile, but it’s carrying extremely precious cargo in the form of ACTUAL LIVING DINOSAURS and the ISA…decide to shoot it down anyway? With everything still on board? What? It makes absolutely no sense and the whole idea of needing a time limit to pressure the heroes is entirely unnecessary when you consider the actual scheme of the villain.

This leads me nicely into talking about the villain. Who isn’t exactly a bad villain, but he’s extremely bland. It’s just an old dude who wants to sell stolen stuff on the black market, which is pretty much the most basic of evil plots you can come up with. Originally he wants to sell the dinosaurs, but upon discovering Queen Nefertiti of Egypt is on board (because The Doctor brought her and some random hunter along for absolutely no reason) he decides he’d rather sell her. Which again, makes NO SENSE because who in the entire universe would actually believe she’s the real deal? How would you even begin to prove that to a potential buyer? Dinosaurs are an easy sell because come on, who wouldn’t buy a real dinosaur if they could? But you just pull up some random woman dressed in period-appropriate clothes and claim she’s the real deal? No-one’s going to believe that.

Then we have the most stupidly cliched and telegraphed resolution ever where this ship just so happens to need to people from the same family in order to pilot it. Well, would you fancy our luck?! Rory brought his dad along! What a fantastic bonding experience! It’s so unbelievably dumb and like something directly out of a Cbeebies show that’s trying to teach children about teamwork. Speaking of childish, there’s also these two robots voiced by Mitchell & Webb. I love that duo in their other shows, but here, they’re used for the most basic kid-friendly humour imaginable that wasn’t even remotely funny.

This whole episode is a mess from start to finish. With a whole bunch of threats for the sake of threats, a plot that relies entirely on coincidences and some of the worst jokes and character moments that I’ve ever seen the show perform. What a travesty. At least it’s only up from here…

16 – Nightmare in Silver

…not that far up though.

With this episode, I’m honestly convinced Moffat had some sort of vendetta against the Cybermen and set out to make them look like the most boring and worthless villains possible in the hopes he could rid them from the show forever.

First thing’s first. Angie & Arty. They’re crap characters. They’re little more than bratty, entitled kids who never undergo any process of change and simply exist in the episode to get captured and give The Doctor and Clara some sort of stakes in the fight. The whole opening set-piece with theme park was quite lifeless. It didn’t serve any purpose to the plot and certainly didn’t give us any sense of character in the kids, not to mention, the moment you see the “dead” cyberman, all tension is gone from that section of the episode because it’s obvious what’s going to happen.

The secondary characters throughout the episode are generally awful too. Warwick Davis’ character has a couple nice moments, the one where he’s telling Clara about the war was pretty nice but other than that there’s nothing interesting that any of the other characters have to offer the story. They’re just some tropes with names attached, names I don’t even vaguely remember despite the fact most of them had speaking roles.

As I referenced in the opening paragraph of this entry, what really messed this episode up was that it just totally screwed with the Cybermen. By which I mean, they literally just become The Borg. They went from removing people’s brains and putting it in an emotionless metal suit, to placing implants that alter the brain instead; which is pretty Borg-like. Also, now they can upgrade themselves on the fly in order to adapt to the weaponry they’re being attacked with; another pretty Borg-like feature. One of the biggest problems with the Cybermen is that they’re just a bit bland and making them damn-near identical in nature to a different, vastly superior sci-fi villain does not help in the slightest.

The resolution is dumb as well. With Davis’ character just being like “oh yeah, I can just teleport us all out of here safely and kill all the Cybermen” which makes the entire plot up until that point completely meaningless.

The whole episode is just a series of bad creative decisions that lead to what is quite simply a bad episode. It wasn’t catastrophically bad like Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, but it wasn’t much better.

15 – The Name of The Doctor

This episode felt a bit like it was a victim of circumstance. It was the finale of Series 7 but at the same time, its hands were tied in terms of what outstanding plot threads it could wrap up. So much of the mystery surrounding the events of Series 7 were all in anticipation to the 50th-anniversary and regeneration episodes later that year so very little of major consequence actually happened. We got the reveal of the “Impossible Girl” arc, but that’s about it. As such this felt more like a mid-series finale, akin to A Good Man Goes To War; except not as good.

My biggest problem with this episode is that you could watch the first five minutes, skip over most of the episode and watch the last 10-15 minutes and have pretty much the exact same experience. The middle of the episode is stuffed with so much filler that I’ve almost stopped paying attention by the time it gets to the point where anything even remotely consequential happens. I liked seeing the devastation of the battlefield on Trenzalore (even though the regeneration episode showed it wasn’t actually what happens) but it doesn’t go much further than that. There’s no tension to the scenes where The Whispermen are chasing The Doctor and Clara because what are they going to do? Take them to the place they were already going.

Then there’s the timeline stuff. Which, mechanically, is fine. I’m on board with the concept of a being like The Doctor having that in his tomb instead of a body and I like the concept of someone going through this time stream in order to rewrite The Doctor’s life. Then Clara jumps in it and everything goes to shit. First thing’s first, how does Clara being around stop the Great Intelligence from doing what he wanted to do? The Great Intelligence now has what is essentially omnipotence over The Doctor’s whole life and how in any way does Clara scattering herself across that timeline stop him? Especially when the episode itself states that The Doctor is very rarely even aware of her presence, so it’s not like she’s warning him about what’s going on.

What gets me the most is that this is HUGELY wasted potential. This could’ve played out as one of the most exciting stories ever as Clara has to battle The Great Intelligence literally across The Doctor’s whole life. It would’ve been such an incredible feat for them to insert major scenes throughout past Doctor Who adventures as Clara has to actually work out a way to stop The Great Intelligence, with lots of different versions of The Doctor helping her out along the way. Instead what happens is…basically nothing, it seems simply the act of Clara entering The Doctor’s timestream completely wipes The Great Intelligence from existence, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and IT’S NEVER EXPLAINED.

Also, despite being told several times over that Clara entering The Doctor’s time stream would mean she’d die, she’s actually fine. This is also never explained. I know The Doctor goes in to save her (which just raises further questions) but I thought the whole point was that entering the time stream scattered her very being across The Doctor’s whole life, how can she just be in a slightly smokey room waiting to be saved?

The only saving grace this episode has, in my opinion, is the reveal of John Hurt at the end. The back and forth Hurt & Smith have just before the cliffhanger sends chills down my spine and while I would’ve preferred to see Ecclestone, this was still excellent.

Unfortunately, that is it in terms of the things I liked about this episode. It’s an absolute mess that only answers one of the many questions this series posed to the audience and even that answer wasn’t satisfactory. It’s full of ridiculous inconsistencies (inconsistencies which only go greater thanks to various reveals in future series) and leaves me in know what satisfied with the time I invested in watching the series. While I do like the setup for the 50th-anniversary episode at the end, it’s not saving this thing.

14 – The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe

After absolutely knocking it out of the park with his first Christmas special, Moffat decided that one was enough and promptly shat the bad with this one. Another parody was never going to be a brilliant idea (especially as in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the whole point is that it’s NEVER Christmas) and I definitely don’t think this one landed anywhere near as well as A Christmas Carol did the previous year.

In my Series 6 rankings, I touched a bit on The Eleventh Doctor slowly becoming more and more goofy and childish as his tenure went on and I think this episode might be the very peak of that. The scene where The Doctor is showing the family around the house and going through all of the crazy fun modifications he’s made to the place starts off as a nice bit of fun but quickly goes off the rails crossing over into “a bit much” territory, the peak of which was inarguably The Doctor launching himself at the hammocks and missing, before popping up to comedically proclaim “this hammock seems to have developed a fault”. As I’ve said many times, I’m a fan of comedy in Doctor Who, I think it’s what elevates some of the best episodes of the show to legendary status but this whole scene may as well been written for a sitcom. I could edit in a laugh track to happen at the end of the hammock scene and it wouldn’t seem out of place in the slightest; it was just a step to far in terms of departing from the tone of the show and really threw me off.

Once we get into the actual drama of the plot, it feels a bit…meh? It takes the most basic elements of the source material and throws them at the wall in a manner that doesn’t really work. The kid goes off into the forest alone, so the others attempt to find him, only to realise that, they’re all in danger. Once again, the threat of the episode doesn’t exactly feel like a huge deal and I’m not sure how melting something with acid turns it into fuel, but fine, whatever. Also, you’re seriously telling me that at no point during the process of getting them into the ship and tying them up, there was no opportunity for any of these three, well-built miners to overpower Madge and take away her relatively primitive weapon? Oh and then she’s just suddenly able to pilot the giant mech…until it’s comedically useful for her to mess it up and fall over; cue laugh track once again.

The ending is sweet, but it doesn’t feel earned. They played on the idea of Madge hiding her husband’s death from their children a little, but it doesn’t exactly feel like she went through any kind of character progression because of it. Even when the kids do find out about his death, it doesn’t have any consequences because about a minute later, it turns out that he’s actually still alive, so it doesn’t even matter that she lied about it.

I can only be so harsh on this episode since it is a Christmas episode and those tend to be a bit more simplistic plot-wise. That said, I still think it’s among the worst of the bunch.

13 – The Crimson Horror

Honestly, that’s such a brilliant title and I wish it was used on a better episode.

This episode has a couple of concepts that I like, but I don’t think any of them are really used to their full potential. For example, I like the idea of the first half of the story being told from a different set of characters – in this case, The Paternoster Gang – who are slowly discovering the mystery before running into The Doctor’s adventure half-way through. It’s a much more interesting way of revealing a mystery, allowing you to have a way to not quite tell the audience everything right at the beginning because The Doctor can show up at the mid-point and fill in the gaps.

As it stands, I also quite like The Paternoster Gang. Strax can sometimes stray too far into silly, but there were still a decent amount of jokes he mad here that gave me a good giggle. Vastra & Jenny are quite good and Vastra, in particular, is a competent breath of fresh air, as most of Moffat’s secondary characters end up being quite dumb; that said, I think they do stretch the whole lesbian things between the two of them a bit thin. There’s only so many suggestive jokes you can make before it gets grating.

This is yet another scenario in which the villains’ main motivations are a little bit misty and unclear to me. I understand it on the level of her being someone who only wants what she deems as “perfect” people in this new society, but very little attention was paid to how she classifies that, outside of obvious faults like her blind daughter. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the actual plan either. A society that people sign up for but then are never seen again is an extremely overplayed trope in all of fiction, sci-fi especially and there was nothing all that special about the one in this episode to justify using the trope. It might not seem like a big deal, but for me, as soon as I got the concept of it being a society where people go missing, I knew a rough outline of what was going to happen throughout the rest of the episode.

The climax is fine, but nothing particularly special. It’s your classic “villain has a last-ditch attempt that almost succeeds until it turns out the good guys had already stopped it.” sequence and, once again, there was nothing noteworthy about this incarnation of it. We even got the guilt-free killing of the villain as she falls to her death after trying to attack someone.

The whole thing just feels like a “nothing special” episode. The only thing that actually makes the episode feel like Doctor Who is the characters, but even they aren’t all that strong. Clara has very little role to play outside of being a damsel in distress for the first half. She’s instead undercut by the Paternoster gang, who dominate pretty much all of the screentime the good guys have. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think things could’ve been balanced a bit better to give every character a bit more of a feature role, especially considering what a large role they’d all play in the series finale.

12 – The Snowmen

This episode feels like it was written with the wrong mentality. Instead of coming up with a plot and then working the plot-threads for the coming series into it, it felt like this episode was written with the sole purpose of introducing both Clara & The Great Intelligence and then they tried to build a plot around it. It didn’t work.

One of the biggest problems with this episode is The Doctor. While Moffat would later create an absolute masterpiece centred around The Doctor’s grief over losing Clara, in this episode, where The Doctor grieves losing The Ponds, it misses the mark. Instead of having The Doctor contemplate everything about himself, he just sits up in the TARDIS and sulks about it. I understand that side of grief that can potentially make someone just want to shut out the world, but the manner in which it’s done here doesn’t seem authentic, especially when The Doctor snaps in and out of it whenever the plot demands.

While we’re on the topic, can we just talk about how unbelievably contrived it is that Clara just so happens to have a problem with a pond, so she can say “Pond” to The Doctor and snap him out of his sulking? I genuinely laughed when I heard it, there wasn’t even a hint of subtly or finesse to it. Why would Clara even chose “pond” as the word? I get that it’s happening in a pond, but I feel like the ghost made of ice would be a more pressing part of the problem and you’d rather choose one of those as your single word.

When it comes to the villains…it’s fine. It’s a Christmas episode, so there’s got to be something Christmassy in the plot and if that has to be evil snowmen then whatever. The Great Intelligence is kind of interesting until The Doctor just obliterates it with very little trouble. The way The Doctor tricks Simeon into erasing his own memory is clever, but I didn’t feel nearly invested enough to care.

Ultimately, this episode did what it had intended to do and set up both mysteries about Clara & The Great Intelligence, but it wasn’t done in the most interesting of ways and, as I’ve already explained, it wasn’t resolved in all that great of a way either.

11 – Hide

This is a solid 30-minute episode that unfortunately had to be stretched to 45.

Clara continues her role here of being more of a plot device than a person and as a result has little-to-no impact on the plot, a theme that would carry through most of her episodes in this series. The Doctor, on the other hand, does a really good job of owning the stage throughout this enitre thing. I wouldn’t put his attitude in this episode anywhere up with any of the best Eleventh Doctor stories, but thanks to Clara’s lack of personality, the weight of this episode falls on his shoulders and he does an admirable job carrying things. The secondary characters are ok, but they’ve got pretty basic personalities, so they struggle to hold my attention when it’s just them on screen.

As for the ghost story/horror aspect of the episode, it’s ok, but nothing special. I enjoyed the twist of the “ghost” being a time traveller that’s stuck somewhere and I especially enjoyed seeing The Doctor going through the entire history of Earth just to confirm his theory. It was a creative use of time travel, which is something Doctor Who doesn’t do as often as you’d think it would.

Unfortunately, the episode ran into what I’m going to call the “Iron Man 3” problem. Which is where half the episode is spent building up a big monster that’s set to be the villain of the piece, only for that to turn out to be a fake-out. At this point, we’re introduced to the real villain, but they’re nowhere near as compelling or interesting because the first half of the episode was dedicated to establishing something else. The monsters in Hide are pretty throwaway if you ask me and I didn’t think they worked as a threat to The Doctor.

The episode tries to use a lot of horror movie techniques when it comes to the creatures, but often uses them in the wrong ways, or later squanders the whole thing. For example, when we’re first introduced to the concept of them, we get the perfect “less is more” build-up and if they’d stuck to their guns with that, the whole thing could’ve been quite exciting. What was done instead, was that the episode revealed them clear as day and chase The Doctor. The thing is, The Doctor actually gets away and deals with the creatures quite easily, so instead of spending the rest of the episode on the edge of my seat waiting to see The Doctor have to face them again, I don’t feel any tension because the aura of mystery and fear that was surrounding them is gone.

Looking back to the plot, I think the episode should’ve ideally wrapped up right about when The Doctor saves the trapped time traveller and manages to escape the creatures himself. It felt like a natural stopping point for the episode, all of the main character beats were wrapped up and when The Doctor realised that he had to go back to help the creatures, it seemed entire like the episode was trying to fill for time. It’s a neat twist, but not one that was built-up enough to feel earned. The only real hints we got about this twist were things that you wouldn’t be able to know were hints until you knew the solution, which isn’t how clever foreshadowing is done.

Although the episode did lose steam very quickly in its latter half, I thought the first half was quite the entertaining episode and just enough was done in this one to drag it up a few places in my estimations.

10 – The Bells of Saint John

This is an odd episode because it leans quite heavily on its characters (specifically Clara), but it doesn’t quite land the right feel for them just yet.

Going into this episode we were fresh off of meeting a version of Clara from Victorian London and watching her die. In theory, this is a cool idea and I like the fact that The Doctor is able to run into another version of her, the problem comes in when the show starts to act like they’re the same person and all the characterisation we got from Victorian Clara still stands (minus the period-relevant dialect). I understand that, mechanically, they are the exact same person but they’ve led different lives with a different set of memories, so when we’re introduced to modern-day Clara she feels like a very different person and it makes it jarring when the show pretends they’re the same.

While we’re talking about The Impossible Girl thread, the whole mystery surrounding Clara’s origin is one of the biggest factors as to why I’m not a fan of Clara in this series. My opinion of her shifts during her time with Capaldi, but her time with Smith is a horrible introduction for her. As a direct consequence of everything to do with her centring around The Impossible Girl thread, she gets absolutely no room to develop any kind of personality and, as I’ve touched on in previous entries, she doesn’t really do anything in this series unless it’s directly related to that mystery. While she would later develop some form of a personality, the entirety of her time in Series 7, she more closely resembles a plot device than a person.

Speaking of plot, when the episode isn’t leaning into the character stuff, I think there’s a pretty fun plot here with a lot of exciting moments. It’s nothing spectacular, but I thought there was a lot of excitement to be had in the scenes where The Doctor is trying to prevent Clara from being uploaded, or when he’s racing up The Shard to confront the villain (as goofy as it was). If the episode wasn’t also tasked with introducing modern-day Clara, then I think a bit more could’ve been done with the concept though. “Evil Wi-fi” is an idea that you can do a hell of a lot with (as many other sci-fi stories have proved over the years) and this one doesn’t do anything particularly special to make it stand out from the rest.

I’ve got my problems with this one, for sure, but a lot of them are more to do with what they set up for later in the series, rather than what actually happened here. In addition to that, I still have a good time with the action scenes, even if they aren’t anything particularly noteworthy in the long run, so I’m happy to stick this one in the middle and give it a pass.

And that’s all for Part 1! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this list, make sure you follow me here and on Twitter @10ryawoo so you’re updated when Part 2 drops in a few weeks. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these episodes and make sure you come back this time next week, where I’ll be covering WWE’s Money in the Bank!