One of the best ways to cope with this year-long Doctor Who drought (be strong my Whovian brothers and sisters) is the binging of previous episodes or even entire series/seasons. But as you joyfully careen through various adventures in time and space you will encounter some speed bumps. You know what I’m talking about – those episodes that stink up the place like a disguised Slitheen hiding out at Taco Bell during two for one burrito night.
As a public service I have compiled a list of the stinkers you may want to skip for your next binge. I have focused on NuWho (2005-2015) and ranked them in descending order, based on both the overall quality of the episode and what it adds to a particular series arc or the overall show mythos.
So with an Allons-y, Geronimo and SPOILER ALERT for everything up to “The Husbands of River Song,” here are the seven least rewatchable Doctor Who NuWho episodes:
#7 Daleks in Manhattan/ Evolution of the Daleks (Series 3, Tenth Doctor)
The Daleks may be the Doctor’s oldest and most iconic enemies but that does not prevent them from being used in some craptastic stories. Case in point this two parter, which I will count as one, that featured the Tenth Doctor and Martha dealing with awful looking pig men and Daleks that wished to evolve themselves or something. We also had the dumb looking 80s cartoon reject that was the Dalek/human hybrid and the robotic and plastic Dalek/Timelord hybrids who thankfully were all wiped out by the end of the story.
This story does not make it lower on the list because we see the return of the Cult of Skaro from “Doomsday” and the deaths of all of them save Dalek Caan who would escape only to return in the much better two parter “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.”
#6 Love and Monsters (Series 2, Tenth Doctor)
This is the episode that most Whovians love to hate. Whether it’s the dull lead, the disgusting monster created by a child for a contest or that ill advised oral sex joke at the end there is a whole lot to loathe here.
But the episode does have a quirky charm and is not lower on the list for being the first Doctor-lite NuWho episode (which would be perfected in “Blink” in the subsequent series) and because it references all Russell T. Davies plots arcs including ongoing, resolved, and incoming, in one episode: Bad Wolf, Torchwood, Mr. Saxon, and Clom, later cited as one of the missing planets in Series 4.
#5 In The Forest of the Night (Series 8, Twelfth Doctor)
Bor-ing! What a dud of an episode. Sure I get that they wanted to do a light childlike fantasy story but did they have to make it so uninteresting? The kids are forgettable, the “villain” is the trees and the resolution comes out of nowhere and leaves more questions than answers.
It would be lower on the list but this is the last we see of Danny Pink before he tragically dies (and Missy before her revelation as a regenerated Master) in “Dark Water” the following episode. Otherwise “In the Forest of the Night” could have easily made bottom two.
#4 Victory of the Daleks (Series 5, Eleventh Doctor)
The Daleks make another appearance on this list with another uninspired story. We have this episode to thank for the multi-colored Dalek designs of the Supreme Dalek Paradigm which appear to be sponsored by Skittles; thankfully the design has apparently been phased out following their last appearance in “Asylum of the Daleks”. We have Winston Churchill and the British forces believing that the Dalek wants to be their “soldier” but the cherry on the crap cake is seeing the Spitfire planes outfitted with shields and lasers and fighting the Dalek ship in space. What is this, a Syfy Saturday movie?
The saving grace is Amy’s inspiring speech to the unwitting robot scientist Bracewell, the Jammy Dodger bluff and also the appearance of Churchill who would return in the Series 7 episode “The Pandorica Opens.”
#3 Cold War (Series 7, Eleventh Doctor)
Of all the nine series of NuWho, Series 7 stands out as the most uneven and features the most mediocre episodes. And matters were not helped by the series being split into the “Goodbye to Ponds” half and the “Meet the dull Impossible Girl” half. For the latter half we got this unremarkable episode featuring the Eleventh Doctor and Clara on a Soviet sub facing off against an Ice Warrior, a Classic Who alien returning after almost 40 years.
But the episode managed to make the Ice Warrior less interesting than he was in the days of the Second and Third Doctor by making his form a survival suit and the real Ice Warrior a reptilian creature that enjoys giving people head massages. It was supposed to be claustrophobic and scary a la Alien but it is just boring and dumb. If not for the Ice Warrior shout out, as dubious as it was, this episode could have taken the top/bottom spot on this list.
#2 Sleep No More (Series 9, Twelfth Doctor)
In a pretty solid series 9 “Sleep No More” came out of nowhere and hit us like the toilet seat fell from space and hit that woman in the TV series “Dead Like Me.” We started with an interesting POV camera set up and mysterious sleep technology. Then we got turd-looking monsters which were actually made from eye cold (which somehow was even worse) and a twist ending which was less mind blowing, see The Usual Suspects, and more “saw it coming a mile away,” see The Village.
“Sleep No More” adds nothing to the series 9 arc or to the overall mythos and can easily be skipped without negatively affecting your binge experience.
#1 Fear Her (Series 2, Tenth Doctor)
David Tennant is a lot of people’s favorite Doctor (I would put him second after Tom Baker myself) and most of his episodes are infinitely rewatchable. But not “Fear Her.” Not one bit. Let’s see what went wrong:
Silly plot? Check. Heavy handed child abuse message? Check. Awful child actress? Check. Stupid “Scribble Monster” and “Sketch Monster?” Check and check. Adds absolutely nothing to the series or mythology? Check, check and double check.
I had actually forgotten about this episode until I stubbed my toe on it during a previous episode binge. And the level of suckage was most painful especially as it came right after “Love and Monsters” and I was still in recovery mode. Skip “Fear Her.” You will miss nothing and you will avoid it sucking down the quality of everything around it like a whirlpool of crap.
So what do you think of the list? Did I miss any skip worthy episodes? Feel free to comment below and if you enjoyed this post you can share it with your peeps. Sharing is caring.