Series 11 of Doctor Who premiered this past weekend and gave us a brand new Doctor and a lady one at that. So I thought it would be a great time to do a ranking of the Doctor introductory episodes. Now to be clear this is not a ranking of the episodes where the particular incarnation of the Doctor first appeared but their first full episodes.
With a fantastic SPOILER ALERT, an Allons-y and a Geronimo let’s get to the list:
#5 Rose – Ninth Doctor
The first episode of the revived series starts off very strong. We have Rose and the Doctor running from the extraordinarily creepy Autons, The Doctor bantering with Rose’s mother Jackie, the silliness with the Auton arm and the unraveling of the mystery of the Time Lord. Then Rose’s annoying boyfriend Mickey gets eaten by a trash can and it all goes to crap. Auton Mickey is cartoonish and couldn’t look more like an Auton if he had “I’m an Auton” tattooed across his stupid plastic face.
Then in the final act The Doctor pleads with the Nestene Consciousness and gets captured like a dope and his anti-plastic seized. He ends up having to be rescued by Rose doing her best Jane of the Jungle impression. You could understand the Tenth Doctor being all commiserating with an enemy but this is the same Ninth Doctor who would later let Cassandra O’Brien explode from heat and tried to torture a Dalek to death. Just one of the issues with this uneven episode.
#4 The Woman Who Fell to Earth – Thirteenth Doctor
This past weekend we had the highly anticipated full introduction of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor and, controversially for some but no problem for this reviewer, the first ever female incarnation. In The Woman Who Fell to Earth Whittaker imbued the character with an energy and sense of wonder reminiscent and the Fifth and Eleventh incarnations but with a strength, intellect and fortitude all her own. But the episode though; not so great.
The Woman Who Fell to Earth begins interestingly enough with the mysterious egg-looking thing and the mysterious coil creature. But it is a set up for an alien hunter whose most interesting aspect is his penchant for wearing teeth as foundation. The three companions don’t have that much development and almost feel tacked on. The death of Ryan’s grandmother could be seen coming a mile away and lacked the impact that was intended. So to recap: strong Doctor appearance, weak episode.
#3 Deep Breath – 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.
#2 The Christmas Invasion – Tenth Doctor
Our very first Christmas special of NuWho was also the first full episode featuring Tenth Doctor David Tennant, though he spent about half the episode comatose following his regeneration. After creepy Santas and a killer Christmas tree we meet the bone-headed Sycorax, some very visually interesting baddies.
The Doctor, when he finally does wake up, just bursts with energy. We see him bouncing around, sword fighting with the Sycorax leader and then killing him with a fruit. No second chances beyotch! The running gag of Harriet Jones introducing herself and everyone saying “I know who you are” was pretty funny. What was not so funny for her was when the Doctor destroyed her career as prime minister with six little words. Dang. All in all a rollicking introduction to one of the most beloved Doctors of all time.
Honourable Mention: The Day of the Doctor – War Doctor
The Day of the Doctor only gets an honourable mention? Somebody revoke this guy’s Whovian card! Now before you all start whipping out your sonic screwdrivers and pointing them at me let me explain. I thoroughly enjoyed The Day of the Doctor and the late great John Hurt did a magnificent job as the one-off War Doctor. But this was also the 50th anniversary special and it brought back fan favourite Doctor David Tennant. Because of these advantages it really would not be fair to rank The Day of the Doctor with the other introductory episodes but it does deserve a mention.
#1 The Eleventh Hour – 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. And that is why it is our number one today.
For my ranking of the Top 9 Doctor Who Finales you can click here.