Doctor Who: The Comprehensive Guide to Things I Like, Tenth Doctor Edition

This is a short overview / series for Doctor Who episodes that are my favorite from each doctor after finishing all of the TV show Doctor Who (Old and New).

Just a couple thing before I jump in to it:

  • I broke these down in to Doctors because comparisons between the eras are nearly impossible
  • There’s a link to every other entry at the bottom if you missed any of them
  • These are not reviews or even summaries, they’re just some stray thoughts about what I liked about the episodes usually
  • These episodes are listed in order of airing, not in order of ranking
  • Also :

 

 

10th Doctor, played by David Tennant 2005-2010

10th is a wibbly wobby lovey dovey fluff of a Doctor and he is delightful. Tennant was really excited about the role and it shows so much. 10th is wonderfully expressive across his seasons and many people argue this is because he was born out of love for Rose during his regeneration and I don’t disagree. 10th is probably the most human, even more so than 5th, and for me that means he takes up a smaller part of my heart since I like my Doctors less human.

That doesn’t mean he’s not strange or alien or that he doesn’t have all the characteristics one might outline for being the Doctor. 10th is very eager to make sure you know he’s right like every Doctor ever and he does his best to be kind and direct with his explanations but goes hilariously and delightfully overboard. As he spends time with different companions he seems to sort of pick up their personality traits as they rub off on him a way unlike any other Doctor. He is kind and full of love with Rose, he’s level and pragmatic with Martha and he’s snippy and extra clever with Donna. Some of 10th’s best moments in my view come from when he is really and truly looking at things through human eyes. Seeing Rose’s excitement at being on New Earth, experiencing Madame de Pompadour’s life through the fireplace, gaining Martha’s resolve in Smith and Jones, or giving in to Donna’s stubbornness to save someone, anyone in Fires of Pompeii are just some examples.

On the other hand, 10th is kind of sulky. The Doctor is getting older and he’s filled with regret and pain and fear about what he’s done and being confronted with not only losing Rose who was the first person he became attached to after the Time War, but the resurrection of his boyhood frenemy the Master leads him to be a bummer at times. He spends a lot of the 3rd season re-treading his past with Rose and feeling bad for himself and the finale of his run is also marked by a lot of self-pity that seems somewhat misplaced. He actually tried to sabotage his future regeneration which is a cherry of a Time Lord Jerk Move after seriously considering letting one of his best friends die and then wiping Donna’s memory without her permission. In the end, 10th’s inability to let go is the icing on a cake of a man wrapped in unstable near-human emotions and he’ll always be my sad Doctor in snow (this is a MegaTokyo reference because I AM OLD).

The Girl in the Fireplace


Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Companions: Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith
Thoughts: ALL OF MY TEARS. First off, this episode has some of the strongest original music in the entire series, including the track for Madame de Pompadour. This episode sticks with me for any number of reasons. The “villains” in this episode are robots that are honestly interestingly designed and beautiful. They are gathering organs for their ship in a misguided attempt to repair it. This episode has some top notch visual effects. On top of all of that we get to experience time in this episode in what is a strikingly similar way that the Doctor must (as I’ve pointed out a few times, for a show about time travel we rarely use time as anything more than a way to change scenes).

For the Doctor going in and out of these gateways – that is simply walking in – all the stars and time change. That might be what it feels like to be a Time Lord. To love someone knowing they will blink out of existence in what we would measure in minutes, in seconds even, and to still love them despite that. We can say the Doctor couldn’t have loved her because it was just minutes but as he was giving the speech to Rose on the beach in Doomsday about how he couldn’t live his life with her I couldn’t help but picture how fleeting he must feel time is because of this episode. Why he leaves everyone, even those like Sarah Jane, who he loves and who he knows would stay.

Gridlock


Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 4 out of 5
Companions: Martha Jones
Thoughts: I’m going to guess that not many people are attached to this episode but it really knocked it out of the park for me for whatever reason. Somewhere between Bliss destroying most of humanity (or at least the people who weren’t are trapped in a hellish motorway where you don’t move or you get eaten by a giant crab creature) it is just up my alley. Martha and the Doctor are separated as well causing both of them to be extra clever to make up for the loss, each believing the other will come through even though they haven’t known each other very long. This episode includes: adorable old lady lesbians, a cat person having kittens with a human lady, nudists, Annie from Being Human, and an uptight sweater wearing gossip – there is nothing here to not like. Even though I’m not religious this episodes prayer portion displays the true strength and power of belief which keeps us going on our own motorways (metaphors! metaphors everywhere!) and I quite like that too. My favorite part of the episode isn’t the Face of Boe revealing that the Doctor isn’t alone but when Martha demands to know what is the Doctor’s deal and he respects her enough to sit down and tell her. Space and Time bros for lyfe.

Human Nature/Family of Blood


Running Time: 2 episodes, 45 minutes each
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Martha Jones
Thoughts: This episode is one of the few that is adapted out one of the Doctor Who books, this specific one was originally a 7th Doctor story called Human Nature. This episode does it more than justice. The story is phenomenal, the pacing is perfect, and the acting is some of the strongest out of the entire series. This episode shows both a lighter side of the Doctor (who falls in love with a woman while pretending to be human) and the darker side of the Doctor (trapping the family of blood) in some of the most heart clenching minutes in TV. I think Freema as Martha does a fair amount of footwork for this episode from her anger at having to put up with older era racism and servitude to her abject panic and jealousy when the Doctor falls in love with a human. The Family of Blood is brilliantly acted, especially Brother who is 110% sass and smirk. It’s an interesting ethics question if you agree with the Doctor or not. Many people will cite the Doctor as being a “pacifist” or a “protector” but he is actually pretty trash at that and gets a lot of people killed unnecessarily and then punishes people who get in his way. This episode certainly falls on the side of not very nice after all.

The Fires of Pompeii


Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Donna Noble
Thoughts: I love historical episodes (Marco Polo, The Shakespeare Code, Vincent and the Doctor, The Highlanders, Horror of Fang Rock, etc.) so this one had a bit going for me anyway. The setting for this one is great and it’s a nice mix of fun, ridiculousness (giant cult, volcano monster, false deities, ESP, etc.) and harping on a well known historical event that causes the death and destruction of many. In honesty this is the least “heavy” episode that I picked but I love the story simplicity and heart that it shows. This story harps on fixed points/events that need to occur and that Donna is a little too empathetic to stand by and let everyone die. This episode is a pretty sharp contrast to The Doctor Dances in a way. I especially love that Donna and the Doctor become the house gods for the people they rescued.

Planet of the Ood


Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Donna Noble
Thoughts: I’m totally biased and I love the Ood. I loved the Ood in The Satan Pit and was so sad they would never be on screen again but then they were back! And I was happy. I love Uncle in The Doctor’s Wife even (as 11th says “just another Ood I couldn’t save”). The Doctor has a bad track record with the Ood and this episode adds quite a few causalities to the list even while he does manage to set them free, it’s not without a price. The two things I love the most about this episode is that the Ood sing and that Donna wants to hear their sad song even though she can’t stand it for more than a few seconds. This story leans on enslavement as its main theme and manages a happy/sad ending. While the Ood are free they still sing for those lost, as they will sing for the DoctorDonna when they (or literally she) is lost as well. I’m not sure this story is actually supposed to make you ball up and cry for an hour on end but here we are.

Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead


Running Time: 2 episode, 45 minutes each
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Donna Noble, technically also River Song
Thoughts: This is some good horror movie vibes right here. This will make you count your shadows and wiggle a little in fear at the phrase “Hey, who turned out the lights?”. I think I might have liked the 4th season of New Who because it was so dark. The premise in this episode and the dialogue are both really clean and delightful though I do kind of wonder why the Doctor doesn’t solve the problem sooner (I usually feel that way). I was sort of heartbroken about River but realizing that she would meet the Doctor out of order left me a bit of hope that good things had happened to her and that her sacrifice was not in vain. What absolutely devastated me was the death of Miss Evangelista and the man who couldn’t call out to Donna because he had a stutter. Donna is basically a walking missed connection until she is finally fully connected to the universe at the end of the series and this would eventually be rubbing salt in an open wound for me. Some of the best cinematography and lighting during 10th Doctor happen during this episode and the overall feel of the episode is chilling but not too scary making it actually enjoyable to watch. I don’t quite feel sad at the end of the episode though, which is interesting since it’s such a devastating piece.

Turn Left


Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 4 out of 5
Companions: Donna Noble and Rose Tyler
Thoughts: This is a pretty novel episode actually. It’s a butterfly effect style of what the universe looks like without Donna giving us the entire wave of foreshadow for the end of the season/10th. Even though Donna is technically “not doing anything” when she turns right her actions alone change the entire world in to a hellish, holocaust nightmare. I think in a very strange way Rose understands how even if you know you’ve affected history, that somehow you can still feel ordinary and alone the way Donna does. This episode really sat with me for a long time actually. Everything from the thought of how easy martial law would be to enact in crisis to the impact that people often don’t realize they have on the world. How you can feel so small and never know if you are or not. This is probably one of the better set-ups for a finale as well as it’s not too ridiculous in reaching it (Utopia) but also doesn’t just come out of left field (The Lodger).

A Few Extra Notes:
  • I can literally never watch Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks ever again. Just, awful.
  • 42 is a poor mans rip off of The Satan Pit/The Impossible Planet and I don’t like Satan Pit all that much
  • I really want to love Blink more but I don’t which is why it’s not on the list because that’s the first thing anyone who has seen this list asks me about.
  • School Reunion and Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel almost made the list by just a smidgen

Here’s an index for the other entries:
1st Doctor
2nd Doctor
3rd Doctor
4th Doctor
5th Doctor
6th Doctor
7th Doctor
8th Doctor
9th Doctor
10th Doctor
11th Doctor
12th Doctor

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