The casting of a woman as the 13th Doctor in British sci-fi series Doctor Who has split fans of the show in twain and stirred up huge controversy. Now I discussed a female Doctor in a previous article (I’ll link that below) even before Jodie Whittaker was announced, but I will say that I look forward to seeing where she takes the character.
But for this article I wanted to return to a simpler, happier time and a Doctor that was universally loved – Tenth Doctor David Tennant. So let us go back, way back, back into time, and rank the Top 10 stories from Tennant’s tenure. With a SPOILER ALERT, and a note that Day of the Doctor is not included (that is under Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith), let us Allons-y on to the list:
#10 Planet of the Ood, Series 4
We first met the odd, bald, tentacled Ood in the Series 2 two parter The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit, but it was this episode where we visited their planet and learned all about them. In this tale the Doctor and Donna try to uncover the mystery of the subservient aliens while facing off against a ruthless businessman.
The angry, red-eyed Ood are scary, there is some fun action and a beautiful, touching message about freedom and prejudice. Listen closely and you will still hear the Song of the Ood.
#9 The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, Series 4
Don’t look at me like that. I know, you wanted this two parter, Series 4 finale to be higher on the list. And yes seeing all the NuWho companions and Sarah Jane come together with The Doctor was a wonderful time and we also had the shocking return of Classic Who nemesis Davros.
But this was the third Dalek finale (oh Russell) in four series and the ole pepper pots had lost a bit of their gravitas in this one. And the DoctorDonna ex machina at the end did feel somewhat rushed. Despite these drawbacks it is still an entertaining, epic story that allows each character a time to shine.
#8 The Waters of Mars, 2009 Special
It was in 2009 that we did not get a full series of Doctor Who but five specials, and the Waters of Mars was easily the best of them. We see a companion-less Doctor off the rails and breaking the rules. The drippy Flood were some of the most disturbing villains in all of Whodom and we got a firm message about not messing with history.
Lindsay Duncan also gives a strong performance as space commander Adelaide Brooks. It is because of this episode whenever I hear news reports about water being discovered on Mars I get very, very concerned.
#7 Voyage of the Damned, Series 4 Christmas Special
It’s Christmas and you’re on a spaceship called the Titanic. What could go wrong? Well a whole a lot actually. In this Christmas special, the best of Tennant’s run, the Doctor, waitress Astrid Peth (the scrumptious Kylie Minogue), and other passengers are trapped on a doomed ship with homicidal robots dressed as angels. It is a wild action adventure with memorable characters like spunky, diminutive, spiky alien cyborg Zocci Bannakaffalatta.
Tennant is on top of his game and delivers a speech that makes you want to cheer to the rooftops. And then we got all sad at the death of Peth at the end which was truly heartbreaking. I just can’t get her out of my head. You see what I did there, and you liked it!
#6 Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, Series 2
And speaking of heartbreaking it is time to pull out those tissues and remember that scene. You know what I’m talking about. The Doctor and Rose separated across dimensions and he burns up a sun just to say goodbye. And before he can tell her he loves her the transmission goes and we are all a big, amorphous, weeping mess.
Before that we get our very first Dalek/Cyberman story and a whole lot of shade throwing between the two. Action! Excitement! Mickey being bad ass! This story does not rank higher because the first part, Army of Ghosts, is 90 per cent set up and all the delicious stuff is in Doomsday.
#5 Human Nature/Family of Blood, Series 3
I absolutely love this two parter and because of it I still refer to my sister as “Sister of Mine.” In this story the Doctor and Martha Jones flee the vicious trio of aliens called the Family of Blood to a school in 1913 England. The Family is tracking the Time Lord so The Doctor turns into a human and wipes his own memory in an attempt to elude them. This opens the door for Tennant to shine in a star crossed romance with a matron (Jessica Hynes).
Freema Agyeman also does a great job as she supports the unwitting Doctor. The Family are freaking terrifying and the scarecrows creepy as well. It is a thrilling, scary, beautiful, emotional story that is worth rewatching over and over.
#4 Midnight, Series 4
This companion-lite episode sees the Doctor taking a bus trip with a group of strangers and encountering a body swapping, word repeating, unseen foe. And it is downright chilling. You never see the creature, never find out what it is or where it came from, and that only adds to the terror. The tension builds and builds until an explosive, unexpected climax. The sound team on this episode won a BAFTA award for their efforts and this was most deserved as every creak has you on edge.
Tennant gives a cracking performance and is ably supported by the guest stars, including David Troughton, son of Second Doctor Patrick Troughton. It is one of the most unique, most subtle, most simple, most petrifying episodes of Doctor Who.
#3 Blink, Series 3
Now please put down your pitchforks. Yes Blink is one of the best Doctor Who episodes of NuWho and of all time Who. It is well acted, the story is tight and well paced, and the Weeping Angels will make you jump out of your skin with fright.
But this is a Top 10 Tennant list and Blink, while perfect, is a Doctor-lite episode and therefore Tennant-lite episode. And for this reason, and this reason alone, it can only make top three on this list. Umm, why do you guys still have your pitchforks?
#2 The Girl in the Fireplace, Series 2
It was difficult choosing between this episode and our number one because The Girl in the Fireplace is such a beautiful story. In this tale The Doctor, Rose and Mickey find an abandoned spaceship with time portals to 18th century Versailles. In the past The Doctor meets and romances Madame du Pompadour/Reinette, played by the lovely Sophia Myles, and protects her from organ hunting Clockwork Droids.
It is funny, fun and a little scary at times but the highlight is the blazing chemistry between Tennant and Myles. And when he returns to the past only to learn that Reinette had died it is a tear jerking scene. The villains are a bit one note and the twist at the ending not that great but it still remains the second best story of the Tennant era.
#1 Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, Series 4
You may have noticed that half of the entries on this list come from Series 4. You didn’t? Well someone has not been paying attention! Anywho Series 4 was just so fantastic – the best NuWho series in my opinion – and featured so many great stories that it was inevitable that it would dominate this list. Near the end of the series we had Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead two parter, which was movie epic.
Not only are we introduced to fan favourite character and future Doctor’s wife River Song but we have a thrilling, intriguing plot and brilliant baddies in the flesh eating, space suit borrowing Vashta Nerada. We had fun with the Doctor’s banter and brainstorming, got worried when Donna was trapped inside the Library, our hearts leapt every time there were two shadows, and we teared up when River sacrificed herself. Tennant gives a full breadth performance in a masterful story and that is why it number one on this list.
So that’s my ranking. Did I miss out any of your favourite Tennant stories? Feel free to share them in the comments. Or you can just tell me how rubbish my list is. Either way is cool.