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The Best Doctor Who Episodes for Newbies.

Hey there folks, been a long while since I've written one of these, I got burned out after the mammoth that was my villains blog and since then I've had trouble coming up with ideas to write about, so I thought hey, why not write about my favorite TV show of all time and cram my obsession down everyone's throats.
The history
So for starters I should probably explain to hermits just what Doctor Who is about anyway.
Doctor Who is a show about a time traveling alien who calls himself the Doctor, he travels around in a machine named the TARDIS that's bigger on the inside and is shaped like a 1960's police box due to it's camouflage system getting broken. The show has him traveling around saving planets, meeting famous historical people, fighting monsters and kidnapping people to keep as his companions. 
One of the biggest draws of the show is it's ever changing cast and writers, in 1966 First Doctor William Hartnell was forced to leave the show due to health problems, the show-runners came up with the ingenious idea of regeneration, whenever the Doctor is mortally injured or his body wears out due to old age, his body will automatically fix itself along with a new face and personality while still retaining the memories of his past self.  
This constant change every few years along with it's time/space travel allowing for a variety of stories has given the show a long lifespan, it's always changing yet is always familiar. 
it's unique not just due to it's premise but also I think due to how it stands out in modern television, a lot of the more popular shows nowadays such as the Walking Dead and GoT tend to have a very cynical and dark outlook, basic message being the world is shit get used to it. 
While I love these shows as much as the next guy, something I adore about Doctor Who is that despite how dark it gets(and it can get very much so), there's always hope and at the very least a bittersweet ending waiting, the morals of the Doctor himself being highly based compassion and saving people whenever he finds it possible.
That all being said he is far from a pacifist, he will usually only reserve violence as a last resort but can be extremely brutal and unforgiving when his hand is forced, which due to the universe being composed of 90% asshole is somewhat often.
The show has a canon however due to it's long history, long since past events are rarely revisited, this has the benefit of allowing a new viewer to jump into the show at basically any point without having to watch 50 years of content from the beginning, a feat which only an insane madman would try.
For this blog I only really wanted to cover the new series which started in 2005, it's not a reboot but a considerable amount of time has happened since the end of the previous run.
I'll go over what I consider to be the best episodes for newbies to the show, while it's true that the show can be jumped on at basically any season, there are some episodes of the show best watched with a bit of background knowledge or that are  part of long running plot arcs which are obviously gonna be improved if you watch the story in order, plus while most of the show is very well written, due to it's nature some episodes can vary in quality, one episode might be the best piece of tv drama you've ever seen but the next one could feature..this thing...
I'm sorry.. i'm so so sorry
This is why I'm avoiding the classic series in this blog because I haven't seen enough of it to really say what's the best episodes for newbies.
The Ninth Doctor(Christopher Ecclestone 2005)
When the series returned, the new show-runner Russell t Davies wanted a hook to bring people back in, he came up with the time war which took place between the classic and new series.
The war was for the sake of the entire universe and was primarily between the Doctor's people the time lords and the Daleks, due to the scale of the war the Doctor was forced to abandon his morals and fight, the experience leaving him with severe PTSD, for this they went with a more darker Doctor picking Christopher Ecclestone for the role.
When we first meet the 9th Doctor the war has just barely past for him, he's newly regenerated and is struggling to try and put the war behind him. Due to his experience his Doctor is a lot more serious, sarcastic and cynical, however they do find time to add in some fun comedy as well and while not the best comedic actor, Ecclestone still does a fairly good job in these scenes.
Due to disagreements between him and the BBC he left the show after only one season, the shortest time anyone has played the role and he's been very adamant about never returning to the series in specials or audio series, however short his tenure, he was a fantastic Doctor and might've even been one of my favorites if we'd had more time with him.
Rose was the first episode of the revived series and being brutally honest it hasn't aged well, the effects are pretty silly and the CGI really shows it's age.
However what Rose does do is an amazing job of introducing the series and the Doctor to newcomers while also hinting at the PTSD the Doctors suffering.
While flawed it is enjoyable and a great introduction to the show so definitely not one to skip on a first watch through the series.
For those who don't know what the Daleks are they are the longest running villain in the series first appearing in the second serial of the series way back at the shows beginning, a species of pepper pot looking machine's and an allegory for the Nazi's. their only goal is to kill everything and anything that isn't them.
So how did they bring back such an important creature? with one, one single Dalek and they do so gloriously.
The Doctor lands in an underground bunker in 2012 owned by a man named Henry Van Statton, a man of such douchebaggery as to make Trump look like a saint, he collects alien weaponry and tech but has a single living creature locked in the bottom of the bunker, the Dalek.
This episode is one of my favorites, focusing on the power of a single Dalek allows them to really focus on the killing power and efficiency of the creature showing it tearing through everything and every body  Statton throws at it.
The drama and the writing in the episode is fantastic, this is one of Ecclestone's finest performances as 9, his long years of fighting the daleks and their involvement in the time war have left a toll on him and he really nails the complete hatred he has for them.
The Daleks later on suffer from the ninja and Xenomorph problem, they are brought back basically every season and the more Daleks on screen the less scary they tend to be, but for this episode and their next entry they truly are a scary creature.
The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
The first two parter of the list, this is the first episode written by Steven Moffat who would later become showrunner in season 5 after Davies left the show.
The Doctor and Rose chase a crash landing timeship which lands during the blitz of WW2, Rose meets an RAF captain named Jack while the Doctor chases a mysterious small child with a gaskmask.
This is a really great two parter, it uses the creepyness of gaskmask to full effect and while it's a fairly dark episode it does have some decent humor, like Rose the cgi is aged but it's still actually quite effective due to how it's used.
The episode also introduces Captain Jack Harkness  who is a reoccurring character during season 1-4(and goddamn he should've kept reappearing), a lot of this episode is about the mystery so there's not much else I can really say about it without spoiling it, but it's considered a modern who classic so it's a must see.
Boom Town
Boom town is an underrated gem of an episode, it's technically a sequel to an earlier two parter this season named Aliens of London/world war 3 but that episode was terrible and featured farting aliens.
For a recap of the previous episode an alien crime family called the Slitheen disguised themselves as parliament officials in an attempt to lead the world to destruction and sell the scrap to the highest bidder. The Doctor kills them by blowing up parliament, however one survives and plans her revenge.
Fast forward to Boom town, the Doctor, Rose and Jack who joined the crew after the previous episode land in Cardiff to refuel the TARDIS with invisible rift energy which the area is filled with.
Once there they notice the familiar face of Margaret Blaine in the papers who the surviving Slitheen had been disguising herself as, why she hadn't changed her face again is a bit of a mystery to me, huzzah plot convenience!. 
They find her, stop her plans to destroy the earth and capture her all in about 15 minutes!.
This is what makes the episode so interesting, the main threat of the episode is subdued quickly however with the TARDIS refueling, they can't get her back to her planet and put her on trial.
They are instead stuck with the women they are sentencing to death for an entire night.
I think the real highlight of this episode is the meal scene,  Margaret asks to go to a restaurant she likes to frequent for her last meal, we get some great comedy from both 9 and her here as she tries to figure out ways to kill him or escape, but there's also some brilliant drama here as well with her pleading for her life and the Doctor having to try and figure out whats a bluff and what's truth.
The Tenth Doctor(David Tennant 2006-2009)
 10 is probably the most human like Doctor, while most incarnations feel very alien 10 is very down to earth though still quite eccentric. 
He's also one of the more romantic doctors basically snogging every character that comes within a 10 meter radius of him. He's also a lot more upbeat and cheerful, casually throwing jokes around a lot more then 9 did.
His overall portrayal is a little...inconsistent though, a problem I have with 10 is that he appears to be a major hypocrite in some aspects of his morals and mindset, he is also one of the most egotistical and melodramatic of the Doctors(and trust me that's saying something), which probably accounts for some of his hypocrisy, these traits are sometimes done right and made as interesting character flaws but they sometimes miss the mark into just making him obnoxious.
 All complaints aside though, he's still a great Doctor having some of my favorite episodes under his belt, when 10 is done right he is done very right.
Partners in Crime
The Doctor lands on earth 2008 and investigates a shady health company unaware that an old friend Donna Noble(Catherine Tate) is also investigating the company. the company claims to have created a revolutionary diet pill however users of the pill have been disappearing.
I'm jumping ahead a lot for this, this episode was in season 4 however after the last two I wanted to put a really lighthearted one on here and I think PiC really does a great job of showing off Tate and Tennant's comedy chops.
Now let me just say, this episode is stupid, it's really silly however it's fully aware of it and not taking itself seriously at all, and if you can keep that mindset with it I think it's a hell of a lot of fun.
The Girl in the Fireplace
The Doctor Rose and Mickey (who had recently joined) end up on a derelict ship in the 51st century, however things get weird when they find portals leading to 18th century France all pointed at various points in the life of Madame De Pompadour(or Reinette for short). 
Mickey and Rose are mostly pushed to the sidelines for this episode having not much to do but get captured which in all honesty is a good thing, the main focus of the episode is on the relationship between the Doctor and Reinette (played brilliantly by Sophia Myles), as he meets her during various stages of her life.
The episode also introduces one of my favorite Dr who villains, the clockwork androids, the clockwork design mixed with robotics is very cool and their ultimate goal is pretty damn creepy.
Oh boy midnight, I'm putting this one on here because it's honestly overlooked by a lot of people, however I think it's not only one of the best horror who episodes but also beats out a lot of pure horror movies.
Midnight has a very simple premise, the Doctor and Donna go to a vacation palace on the planet midnight, a world filled with sparkling diamonds that is completely uninhabitable, the palace itself being dropped down from orbit and protected by special glass.
As part of the trip the Doctor leaves Donna to go on an all day bus tour across midnight to see the sapphire waterfall, 4 hours into the trip the bus breaks down followed by something knocking on the walls of the vehicle and as it is possesses one of the passengers, the Doctor is forced to deal with not only the impossible creature but also the terrified and paranoid passengers. 
Midnight is great  for many reasons, one of which is because it really understands what I think makes truly good horror that being the unknown, the midnight entity is never truly explained even the almost always all knowing Doctor having no clue what to make of it.
The simplicity of the episode also helps it a lot, 99% of the episode is set inside the small bus and was shot in order, couple this with Murray Gold's amazing score for the episode (Link), and you got yourself one hell of a creepy and claustrophobic atmosphere.
Silence in the library/Forest of the Dead
Another two parter written by Moffat and another one of my favorite episodes.
After receiving a message on his psychic paper, the doctor and Donna arrive on a planet sized library containing every book ever written but are surprised to find that it has been deserted for 100 years and a mysterious message telling them to stay out of the shadows. They soon come across a group of archaeologists led by River Song, someone who knows the Doctor but he doesn't know her.
This episode was the last one Moffat did before taking over the show in 2010 and it's essential to his run as it introduces River Song, a reoccurring character who's only just been(presumably) retired now during the season 9 Christmas special.  
One thing I very much appreciate about Moffat's horror writing is that he tends to find one gimmick for his enemies and roll with it, "don't blink" the creepiness of a gaskmask and in this case our fear of the dark with the Vashta Nerada.
Quick note about the 10th Doctor era so that you don't skip content. It doesn't stop after season 4, the show took a small hiatus in 2009 and released a handful of episodes which amounted to about half a season, this includes the 10th Doctors regeneration episode, The End of Time.
The Eleventh Doctor(Matt Smith 2010-2013)
Ah here we are at my favorite doctor!. Smith's casting as the Doctor was an absolute fluke, originally auditioning for the role of Watson in Sherlock, Steven Moffat saw him as more of a Sherlock then a Watson and gave him the chance to play the Doctor instead.
Smith's Doctor is a very different incarnation then the last two, unlike 10 11 is alien to the extreme, he eats fish fingers and custard, has an awkward understanding of  human behavior, he has a childish eccentricity, wears a bow-tie and cannot walk past a fez without sticking it to his head.
Matt's the youngest actor to ever play the Doctor despite that however I feel he plays one of the oldest feeling incarnations as well, despite the way he outwardly acts, the 11th Doctor is on the inside very old and tired, not to mention very ruthless when pushed, like 9 he also seems to have a  small amount of sadism in him, somewhat seeming to enjoy his enemies fear of him.
Smiths acting sells it, being able to jump between ruthlessness and comedic, old and young at a moments notice, he's also great at speeches which while a staple of most of the doctors are something 11 did a lot as seen here. 
start at 0:56
This juxtaposition in his personality is the main thing I adore about 11.
The Eleventh Hour
The first episode starring the 11th doctor. The Tardis crashes into a young girl named Amelia Ponds garden due to 10's explosive regen blowing it to kingdom come. 
After befriending her he is told of an unusual crack in her bedroom wall, a crack in space and time, after returning to the TARDIS to fix it, he returns to find the girl has disappeared and realizes someone or something has escaped through the crack. 
The Eleventh Hour functions similarly to Rose, it's an opening episode for the series that explains the Doctor and concept of the series as a whole.  It's a really fun episode with some great humor and I'd say it's overall of a better quality then Rose was, it'll also give you a good idea of Moffat's writing style as a show-runner which was a radical change from the Davies era.
The Doctors Wife
This ones a treat to watch, it approaches the relationship between the Doctor and the TARDIS(which is somewhat sentient) in a way that hasn't really been seen before, whats more it's written by the incredible Neil Gaiman so you know you're in for a good time(even though he made one of the worst episodes of Smith's run later on but I'm gonna try forget that exists).
While traveling in the TARDIS, the Doctor picks up a distress signal of time lord origin from outside the universe, after answering the call the TARDIS somehow ceases to function and he finds himself on a sentient planet populated by several people straight out of a Tim Burton flick including Idris (Suranne Jones) a woman holding the essence of the TARDIS inside of her.
One thing that stands out to me in this episode is the art direction, I wasn't joking about the Tim Burton characters, everything from them to the junkyard planet itself has very much a Burton like feel to it and it helps it stand out as an episode. 
The real meat of the episode though is as said, the relationship between the Doctor and the TARDIS, normally unable to speak to each-other they are finally put into a situation where they can communicate and Jones plays this part really well, being a creature made of time itself Idris comes off so weird as to make the Doctor look like the face of sensibility and sanity in comparison. 
Vincent and the Doctor
A big part of the classic doctors were episodes with him meeting famous people from the past, something which while  the new series has dabbled in, has sadly died off in recent seasons, the last real example being Vincent and the Doctor.
The Doctor and his companion Amy are taking some time off adventuring to see the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh in a museum, however in his church of Auvers painting, they see a sinister looking creature painted into one of the church windows, and leave to the TARDIS to investigate.
For those who don't know much about Van Gogh(you uncultured swine!!) he was a tortured artist who lived in the mid 1900's, he suffered from severe mental issues and at the time his work was never seen as anything important, later he  tragically took his own life and it'd be many more years until his art got the world changing reputation it always deserved.
This is one of my favorite episodes, Tony Curran plays Vincent and does so brilliantly, being able to jump between various mental states perfectly also forming some great bantering with Amy and the Doctor, it helps that he's a dead ringer for Van Gogh in looks as well. The episode acts as both a beautiful love letter to Van Gogh and also as a small exploration of his psyche,  while the episode features an alien it's used sparingly and ties into Van Gogh's story well as he's the only person who can see the creature, the ending of this episode is beautiful it makes me tear up each time I watch it.
A Christmas Carol 
The return of the series brought on a lot of changes to the format of the show, a big one of these being the inclusion of yearly Christmas specials. 
The quality of these episodes has varied a lot over the years, some of them have been fun romps, the last 3 doctor's(including 12's departure soon) have all regenerated at a Christmas special(making Christmas the most depressing time of the year for whovians) and then others such as Voyage of the damned have been..whatever this is?..
I think A Christmas Carol really stands out as one of if not the best Christmas episode though.
The Doctor's companions Amy and Rory are on an intergalactic cruise ship celebrating their honeymoon, however the ship begins to crash into the atmosphere of an unamed planet, the only person who can save them is a scrooge like man named Kazran Sardick(Michael Gambon), a man who can control the clouds around his planet and could let the ship land safely with the flick of a button, however he simply does not care at all and the Doctor has only a few hours to persuade him to save the ship.
Something I love about this episode is how self aware it is, early on the Doctor realizes the similarities between the novella and his current situation, creating a plan that mimics the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future except with time travel, rather then showing him his past he literally goes back to his past in order to try and make him into a better man when he's older.
Gambon does a great job of playing Sardik, he edges the line between being threatening and cheesy with his evilness, being just the right balance for this kind of story, he also plays the emotional scenes fantastically as well.
Overall it's a really fun episode with some great emotional moments as well, I find myself revisiting this one a lot so I definitely recommend it.
A Town Called Mercy
I don't speak about it much on dtoid but I am a major fan of spaghetti westerns, several of them ranking among my favorite movies of all time, so when season 7 decided to do a western episode I was immediately intrigued.
The Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves in a small wild west town, however the town is under attack by a cyborg who refuses to let anyone in or out until they hand over the towns doctor, an alien named Kahler Jex who while he has done many good things for the community has a shady past.
This episode doesn't just take it's setting from westerns but also it's tone as well, the episode is filled with the same kind of gray morality we see from a lot of western movies and it's hard to really blame the actions of anyone in the episode, the Doctor himself is mentally slipping a bit due to traveling with Amy & Rory less and less who have been acting as his moral compass for years and the complicated moralities of the cyborg and Jex don't help things.
I will admit when I first watched the episode I thought it was just pretty good, however on subsequent re-watches I've found myself enjoying it more and more to the point where I now  think it might be one of 11's best episodes.
The Twelth Doctor (Peter Capaldi (2014-2017)
While Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor, Capaldi has become almost tied with him for me, and in a lot of ways i feel he is probably the best representation of the character as a whole and maybe even the best doctor.
Capaldi's portrayal is hard to pin down, in his three years on the show he's gone through more character development then any other modern doctor, generally though he shares similarities to 9 and 11.
Like 11 12 is alien, very alien however a big difference between him and 11 is that while 11 tried to understand humans 12 simply couldn't care less, he saves people but at least for the first half of his series he doesn't care for their approval or to be thought of as a hero, this makes him a lot more blunt and very insulting similar to 9 which I think is used very well as both a character flaw for drama and also for comedy as well.
After his first season he starts to soften up a lot, his dickery does come out from time to time and he remains a somewhat sterner doctor but he's overall trying to have a lot more fun with adventuring and at least attempts to get on with people(attempt being the operative word). Also while my description of him might make him sound like one of the more serious Doctors(Which he is), this by no means makes him a less comedic one, Capaldi is an amazing comedy actor and I've gotten just as many laughs from him as I've had from the previous two doctors. 
couldn't end this description of him without mentioning his mighty eyebrows!
A quick word of advice about 12 though, he's not a very good doctor to start on, mainly because he joined just after the 50th anniversary special which blew open the lid on what happened during the time war and also set the show in a bit of a different direction then before, this led to his first and second seasons having quite a lot of spoilers for the war that might change your perception of previous episodes if you watch these seasons first(this also means a ton of my favorite episodes are off limit for this list damn it!) 
If you really find yourself liking his doctor though and want to watch a season of his fully, his third season(season 10) is your best bet, while it still has some spoilers it has much less then the previous two and won't confuse as much, as most of his previous plot lines have been wrapped up.(I also think season 10 is one of the best seasons in general).
 Under The Lake/Before the Flood
The Doctor and his current companion Clara arrive in an underwater mining facility in the 22nd century, however they find the crew fighting for their lives against their own comrades, as whenever one of them dies they return as vengeful ghosts.
I really dig this episode, for one it's based around a certain theoretical idea about time travel(Which I won't spoil here) and I really love it when Who approaches ideas like this, the way the episode is setup  doesn't just make use of it but also teaches the viewer about it which I appreciate a lot. 
Second reason for loving it is that it's a really creepy episode with a bunch of great supporting characters and some top notch villains, the ghosts themselves while simple look and act very creepy.
Thirdly the second episode starts with a guitar solo of the Dr Who theme by Capaldi himself(he used to be in a punk rock band), whats not to like? 
art by Yohiri Here
Into the Dalek 
After years of floundering around the Dalek's make an interesting comeback here, while definitely not as threatening or scary as they were in Dalek(I don't think anything but a long hiatus can fix that), this episode approaches them from an interesting angle, can a Dalek turn good?.
The Doctor finds himself in the middle of a war between a group of humans and a Dalek fleet. After saving a member of the group, he's introduced to a patient of theirs a badly damaged Dalek that wants to wipe out it's species, the Doctor, Clara and a group of soldiers are miniaturized and sent inside the Dalek to try and repair the problem and gain an ally that could change the course of the war.
This episode has the 12th Doctor at possibly his most dickish, having just recently regenerated and being very confused and bitter, he constantly finds himself arguing with and being as unsympathetic as possible to the soldiers, however the ending of this is also arguably the start of his transformation into the man he'll become during season 9 and 10.
The way they approach the Dalek is fascinating, not only do we get some very nice dialogue between the Doctor and the Dalek but seeing the insides of how the Dalek functions on a small scale is interesting to say the least.

The Doctor and new companion Bill arrive on an alien planet in a brand new human settlement city, however there's no signs of any of the colonists within the city instead it being populated by emoji faced robots who are there to keep you happy, by whatever means necessary.
The last two seasons of Capaldi's run have been some of the strongest in the shows history and I think that is partially due to the change in approach for the episodes. 
A lot of the episodes especially during season 10, try to focus the sci-fi around a specific topic be it fake news, racism, capitalism gone mad or in the case of smile what could happen if we try to rely on near sentient robot's too much.
Considering how A.I is rapidly getting smarter I think questions about how we use this technology are important now.
Smile overall is a delightfully bizarre episode if you're a fan of Black Mirror then you'll probably enjoy it, the episodes setup and style are very reminiscent of the show, the emoji robots while not creepy per say are very threatening and I love how this episode manages to create fear out of being forced to be happy.
The Doctor, Bill and other companion Nardole follow a distress signal to a deep space mining station finding it to be overrun by what appears to be the living dead in space suits.
However the ship itself has barely any oxygen, instead requiring the use of the space suits to breath, being forced to use the suits to survive, they have to plan around their remaining oxygen in order to survive.
Oxygen is an amazing episode and is one of the best of the Capaldi era.
 The fear of space, the suffocating darkness of it is something that is downplayed a lot nowadays but Oxygen makes full use of that fear, whats more the "zombies" are very cleverly written, what first appears to be a simple zombies in space episode turns into so much more, they are legitimately unnerving and grotesque, I'm somewhat amazed by what they got away with in season 10 it being mostly a family show, it involves body horror that is mostly unseen in the new series.
Also this episode will introduce you to Nardole, not a very important companion in the grand scheme of things but he's the first alien one of the new series and by god he is amazing, the fact that we only had 1 season with him has been a crime.
So there you have it folks, 5 episodes from each of the new Doctors that'd be a good watch to give the show a try, 20 episodes might seem like I picked out a lot, but this is from 10 seasons with 12-14 episodes each, I even had to cut some of my suggestions out.
If you do end up watching some episodes, leave a comment with your opinion if not..well fuck you too :P.
....I actually managed to finish another blog in you face Kerrik!.


- Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.

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About triggerpigkingone of us since 3:40 PM on 05.12.2014

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