With the 10th Series premiere The Pilot it is good time to revisit all the premiere episodes we have had so far (post-2005 Doctor Who only) and to rank them from worst to first. With a SPOILER ALERT let’s get to it:
#10 New Earth, Series 2, Tenth Doctor
David Tennant tops a number of people’s list of favorite Doctors but his premiere episode, after his introduction in “The Christmas Invasion”, was not exactly stellar. It was great seeing Cassandra O’Brien and the Face of Boe again, and there were some comedic hijinks with the body swapping, but as an opener it starts the season with a whimper and not a bang.
#9 Partners in Crime, Series 4, Tenth Doctor
This was a fun little episode and maximised the comedy talents of new companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and those adorable little Adipose are unforgettable. But the story may have served better as a mid-series filler episode rather than you’re opening shot. Thankfully Series 4 only got better and better.
#8 Deep Breath, Series 8, Twelfth Doctor
Our full introduction to the Twelfth Doctor and his attack eyebrows was a mixed bag. Capaldi was fantastic as the out of sorts Doctor and the new Clockwork Droids were terrifying. Was I the only one holding my breath?
But there was too much spinning of the wheels with Clara not accepting the new incarnation of the Doctor and the slapstick comedy with Strax felt forced and unnecessary, bogging down the episode. I did like the Matt Smith cameo at the end though.
#7 Rose, Series 1, Ninth Doctor
The first series of the revived Doctor Who had a whole lot to do: introduce a new Doctor and companion and reintroduce audiences to a show that had been off the air since 1989 and was last seen nine years before in an abysmal TV movie. Thankfully Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor brought an infectious energy with a hint of darkness to his incarnation while the lovable Billie Piper as Rose was a sweet and curious every woman. The return of classic foes the Autons was also a nice touch.
But like Deep Breath it is the comedy and some of the sillier aspects that lowers the overall quality. And by “aspects” I am referring to pretty much everything with the character Mickey. If you rewatch the episode you will notice that actor Noel Clarke was still playing ole Mick as a buffoon. Then you have that awful scene where he is eaten by a trash can. And finally you have the shiny plastic Auton Mickey who would not have fooled a six year-old but somehow tricked the adult Rose. Ugh.
#6 Smith and Jones, Series 3, Tenth Doctor
The Tenth Doctor’s third series opener, which features the introduction of new companion Martha Jones, a hospital transported to the moon and the wonderfully grunting Judoon, is definitely his best. After a full series under his belt Tennant is boundless energy and charm in this episode and the air of mystery and tension really pulls you in.
Plasmavore Florence Finnegan with her straw and her full leather henchmen made for interesting foes and the Judoon were so cool and memorable with their Rhino faces and military swagger.
#5 The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, Series 9, Twelfth Doctor
This two parter premiere was a whole lot of awesome. We had the return of Dalek creator Davros and Dalek home planet Skaro, the introduction of the blood curling Colony Sarff and Missy being deliciously Missy.
Part one starts a bit slow but picks up and I loved the interactions between Missy and Clara and the Doctor and Davros. And seeing Davros as a boy and hearing audio from Classic Who was just icing and candles on a tasty cake.
#4 The Pilot, Series 10, Twelfth Doctor
The newest premiere story misses out on the podium, but just by a hair. And speaking of hair new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) certainly has a lot of it! Bill is the focus of this story and her quirkiness, bountiful energy and edgy style were all thoroughly enjoyable. Fellow companion Nardole did not have much to do but he got in a few good one liners. The Twelfth Doctor is manic and full of quips; just the way we like him. The Doctor having photos of his late (?) wife River Song and granddaughter Susan was a wonderful touch. Maybe we will get a Susan appearance in Season 10. Make it happen Moffat! And we also had a Dalek cameo and the return of Classic Who species the Movellans, who were at war with the ole pepper pots for a spell. Cool beans.
But other than Bill and Classic Who references the main draw of this episode is the villain, a sentient oil puddle which is way creepier than it sounds. The water dripping did remind me of the creatures from The Waters of Mars, and the morphing effect was reminiscent from the T-1000, but a shape-shifting love lorn puddle that will track you throughout all space and time? Terrifying!
#3 Asylum of the Daleks, Series 7, Eleventh Doctor
Like him or not Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith had the best premiere stories and takes over our top three. This seventh series opener was just a gem of an episode. I loved seeing the various incarnations of the Daleks from over the years in one story and the creepy human Dalek puppets were a wonderful addition.
Seeing the Doctor and the Ponds again was great, especially having Amy and Rory rekindle their relationship, but the stand out in the episode was Jenna Coleman as Oswin Oswald, an incarnation of future companion Clara Oswald. Oswin was so fun, smart and flirty which made it even more devastating with the twist that she had been converted into a Dalek. This is one of my favorite Dalek stories of all time and definitely among the best of NuWho.
#2 The Eleventh Hour, Series 5, Eleventh Doctor
Like the first series opener this one had to fully introduce a new Doctor and a new companion and this was done in spectacular fashion. Smith’s incarnation is odd, awkward and charming. The start of the episode with him and young Amy is really sweet. And then, hell-o, we get Karen Gillan in her sexy kissogram outfit. Mama Mia!
This episode really has everything: a great baddie in the form of Prisoner Zero and his shape shifting abilities (that weird incongruous talking thing is forever etched in my mind), lots of suspense, some lovely humour and Smith delivering a helluva speech at the end. This episode is not only one of the best opening episodes but is a nice introduction episode for persons unfamiliar with the show.
#1 The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon, Series 6, Eleventh Doctor
What a whopper of an opening! You start off with the Doctor being murdered by a mysterious astronaut, lay the seeds for the origin of River Song and introduce one of the most iconic monsters of NuWho in the uber creepy Silents who have the fascinating ability to make you forget them once you are no longer seeing them. That will keep you up at night.
This opener was action-packed, frightening at points (count the ticks anyone?) and blockbuster film epic. And the resolution of having the Silents order their own deaths was ingenious. To get an idea of the legacy of this two parter you need only look at the cosplayers who use the ticks in their costumes or the merchandise associated with these episodes. “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon” does what every opener should – start the series with a bang and set the tone for what is to follow.
So what is your favorite premiere episode? Feel free to comment below and if you enjoyed this you can share it with your peeps. Sharing is caring.