For us Yanks across the pond the season finale of Doctor Who will air this weekend with “The Wedding of River Song.” That said, let’s look at the ten best episodes from the modern era which started with Christopher Eccleston in 2005 and is running currently with Matt Smith. This list will only include regular episodes, not the Christmas specials and other shows that have popped up over the years.
10. “The Girl in the Fireplace” The Doctor has a brush with romance (aside from the tension between him and Companion Rose Tyler) when he meets Madame de Pompadour via time portals on a derelict spaceship.
9. “The Eleventh Hour” Our first introduction to Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amelia “Amy” Pond showed the kismet the two had as partners across time and space.
8. “School Reunion” Old-time companion Sarah Jane Smith (the late Elizabeth Sladen) returns to the Who-verse and it’s a joy to see her holding up quite well; the scenes where she and Rose (Billie Piper) exchange Companion stories were great.
7. “Bad Wolf/The Parting of The Ways” The Ninth Doctor’s swan song is epic without being too overblown and bittersweet while giving us one of the best modern Dalek storylines and radically changes the dynamic of the show.
6. “The Girl Who Waited” This one illustrates the danger of time traveling with the Doctor when Amy enters the wrong door in a planet and winds up trapped for over thirty years waiting for rescue while time passes by normally for her husband Rory (Arthur Darvill) and the Doctor.
5. “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” An amnesiac Doctor hides from predatory aliens out to feed on him by transforming into a human that falls in love; then we are given a glimpse as to how coldly vengeful the Doctor can be when he regains his memories and dispatches them.
4. “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” When the Ninth Doctor first appeared he was an angry, morose person but here he starts to lighten up in the second part of this creepy World-War-II era episode, which features great visual sights, frights and introduces Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).
3. “The Doctor’s Wife” This Neil Gaiman-written episode has the TARDIS’ core matrix is transferred by an evil sentient asteroid into Idris (Suranne Jones) an enchanting, attractive woman who is dying. The asteroid transfers its mind into the TARDIS and tortures Amy and Rory as the Doctor and Idris (showing us a rare examination of their relationship) try to recapture the Time Lord’s ship.
2. “Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords” A three-part epic that brings back Jack Harkness from Torchwood and re-introduces the classic Who villain The Master (played first by Derek Jacobi and then with devilish glee by John Simm) who is found literally at the end of time by the Doctor and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman). Then he is reincarnated into a Tony Blair type of politician who infiltrates modern-day British politics and becomes Prime Minister, instituting a reign of terror.
1. “Blink” Any fan can see that guest star Carey Mulligan’s Sally Sparrow is a prototype for Amy Pond. She’s pretty, smart, young and quite resourceful when dealing with the best of the new Who villains, the Weeping Angels. They appeared as angelic statues that steal a person’s temporal energy by sending them back in time, which they did to the Doctor and Martha. Trapped in the 1960s, the Doctor communicates to Sally via DVD Easter eggs, and the entire episode is a brilliant use of time travel and genuinely frightening villains. The last few seconds with the Doctor warning viewers not to blink are unforgettable.
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