Doctor Who: The Comprehensive Guide to Things I Like, Eleventh 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 :

11th Doctor, played by Matt Smith 2010-2013

I already know that I am biased because I prefer my Doctor in a very certain way: alien. A bit more than unpredictable. Kind but stern and somehow despite all that, he should be very full of love. It’s probably why I like 8th, 2nd, and 11th so much. They are all kind of clumsy and dorky but not in a purposeful way. In a way that it’s impossible for them not to be a little spacey and foreign because it’s so bone deep to their being. But to all of them, beyond that layer, is something deeper and more mysterious.

I think where 10th was absolutely full to the brim of sadness or loneliness that it spilled out of every pore, instead 11th tries to mask his sadness from his companions and the people around him. 11 spends a great deal of time feeling sorry for himself but does this by trying to cheer up other people (like distracting Amy from her wedding woes). The Doctor has a great love of all things unique and now that he himself is becoming an ever-rarer item after sealing up the Time Gate and seeing The Master perish, he doesn’t feel like he has a lot left to offer. An antique in this museum of a world.

The weirdest thing that 11 does is what I call “nesting”. He gets attached to Rory and Amy in a very family-ish way but unlike most of the companions he can’t seem leave them behind. I think the Doctor is old and tired of running some days. 11 reminds me someone who is just trying to keep things together before the wheels fall off the bus but every now and then he is zapped by the spark of life and newness and the beauty in the universe. Especially in The Lodger and Closing Time, he stays to clean up Craig’s house. I don’t think any other Doctor would have done that. I think 11th is sentimental now and he keeps gathering up his friends around him to ward off his loneliness (I see a little of this as 10th too). 11th reminds me of 1st sometimes in that he seems very closed off and makes sure to remind everyone he’s not the same as they are but falls in the trap of being an old softy in the end.

The Beast Below

Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Companions: Amy Pond
Thoughts: This is the second episode for 11th and I think it gets really glossed over how truly fantastic it was. The first time I saw it I don’t think I was in love with it the way I was after my 2nd viewing. This episode just hits me in the gut. The people on the ship are doing a terrible thing only because they believe if they stop, that they will all die. What a terribly powerful motivator fear is. While the conclusion is a little contrived, the ride is too good to feel anything but relief that just today, everyone gets to live. I also really like the line “No human has anything to say to me today”. I think this is both a very heartening and disheartening episode and that leads me to place it highly above many others.

Vincent and the Doctor

Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Amy Pond
Thoughts: I think is a very love it or hate it episode. I love it personally and it makes me weepy and crying and sad and happy all over. I actually really like how the episode doesn’t skirt about the depression that Van Gogh having as being a real thing and a thing that effects him no matter what others do especially being nice is a not a fix for depression and sometimes even if you do everything right things still goes south. I don’t like the sad invisible killer monster which is stuck in the B plot of an episodes that didn’t really need a B plot but I love the sentiment of being wounded and alone. I could talk about the imagery of this episode or the framing of Vincent as just a person but I think the episode does all the talking for itself. If nothing else, this episode gave a lot of people the language and understanding that life is a pile of good and bad things and that the best we can do, is contribute to the good pile.

The Lodger

Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
Companions: Amy Pond
Thoughts: This isn’t an important episode or very “plot” or “arc” moving or anything like that but it’s a very special type of fun. I like 11th when he’s interacting with men more so than women. Probably because his awkwardness with women seems overly sexual, even just if it’s being too friendly as to be confused and with men he just seems like he tried to skip past the get to know you phase right in to the best friend phase where he wants to buy you 20 cold beers because you like beer and isn’t beer great? This episode has literally everything I could ever want in Doctor Who. It makes almost no sense, the plot is paper thin, and at one point the doctor makes a contraption out of umbrellas and junk to communicate with the TARDIS. He also keeps a shopping cart in his room and seriously talks to a cat. Time loops around and there’s a space alien in the upstairs that doesn’t exist  in a direct homage to the stories name. Also the Doctor plays soccer while misinterpreting friendly ribbing and has no idea how money or recommendations work. He puts a man on hold to eat a biscuit – THIS IS THE STORY OF MY LIFE.

The Doctors Wife

Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 5 out of SOBBING FOREVER
Companions: Amy Pond and Rory Williams
Thoughts: I don’t even know where to start. I love that there is an Ood in this episode. I love that Aunt and Uncle are made from bits of Time Lords and glue. I love the message cubes (old who throwbacks are always nice). I love the hope that gets torn away from the Doctor. I love the word play in this episode. I love that the TARDIS thinks Rory is the pretty one for once. I love that Amy worries about having hurt Rory for making him wait. I love that the way to open a locked room is a thought. I love, most of all, the scene at the end of the episode with the Doctor repairing the TARDIS. It reminds me of 3rd and well, all of them, loving the TARDIS so much. I love the idea that the TARDIS takes the Doctor where he needs to go. The only thing that bothers me slightly about this episode is that he calls the TARDIS “sexy” but considering he calls all manners of things “gorgeous” “beautiful” “lovely” and “stunning” in all other incarnations and forms (especially hideous things) I let that slide. I also love Idris’ dress, please sent it to me thank you. Now if you excuse me I have to cry about life being short and sad and beautiful.

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People

Running Time: 2 episodes, 45 minutes each
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Companions: Amy Pond and Rory Williams
Thoughts: I like horror films and I think I knew when this episode started that I would really like it. The thing that stands out the most for me in this episode is Rory’s kindness to Jennifer even though he realizes she is probably a ganger. The ending of the episode is one of the least believable endings possible but I forgive it because it’s one of the best rides up until that point. If we just ignore that Amy is pregnant (a story line I could have lived without) the rest of this serial is great. I feel like this is more of an old school style run around while weird stuff happens episode than a New Who episode and I liked it a great deal. Lots of deflection and running down the same three hallways but with a modern spooky CGI twist (pun!). The side story with the son and the balloon killed my feelings and that the Doctor is clever enough to pretend not to be himself is fun too. I always love a good doppelganger plot.

The Girl Who Waited

Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Amy Pond and Rory Williams
Thoughts: I know a lot of people dislike this episode because Amy is “powerless and needs to be rescued” and that Amy’s only motivation is her relationship but I’m not sure I really saw it that way and in the end, to survive, you have to have something to cling to. Older!Amy is absolutely not looking to rescued in the traditional way to start with AND she was perfectly smart enough and strong enough to live many years alone without dying. I love this episode for a lot of reasons but most of all I love that Rory isn’t put off by Amy being older and his real regret is not growing older with her. I like the idea of sacrificing your past for someone else’s future as a noble idea and I wish it’s something Doctor Who could explore more. The cinematography, makeup, and sets in this episode are absolutely over the top in terms of loveliness and everything from the pristine waiting rooms to Alice in Wonderland-ish courtyard to the dingy backroom Amy holes herself up in make this one of my favorites in terms of visuals.

The God Complex

Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Amy Pond and Rory Williams
Thoughts: This is an episode where the episode I wanted it to be was 100% better than the episode it was and it wasn’t even a bad episode. Doctor Who hasn’t done a good job with the Minotaur myth, which they also tackled in Horns of Nimon – one of the least good episodes and this episode handles that myth similarly. That is to say about as well as a 2 year old with a glass bowl full of paint. The strengths of the episode are in its characters and the use of an eerie but familiar setting of the maze-like unoccupied hotel. This is also one of the episodes that proves to me there’s a lightning that strikes of good dialogue in bad stories. Ignoring the Minotaur in the hotel, the misfit characters the Doctor encounters during this adventure are some of my favorites including Rita who devastated me by being both amazing and then not being able to journey with the Doctor. To me the crown on top of this story isn’t the Amy letting go of the notion that the Doctor is the good guy sent to save her (this is laughable to me as a premise) but Rory’s absolutely understated “I’d forgotten not all victories are about saving the universe.” The heavy handed ending with the revel of the creature in addition to the Doctor leaving the Ponds is inevitable but it keeps this story from being its best self but you didn’t expect something too profound from an episode with the name “The God Complex” did you?

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Running Time: 1 episode, 45 minutes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Companions: Clara Oswald
Thoughts: I had a lot of problems with the last season 11th Doctor in all sorts of ways but I love this episode. Again, it is horror themed which I’m prone to like. This episode has a sort of nonsense premise and the B story is crap but all that doesn’t matter to me because I love it. I can’t say it’s grounded in any sort of brain thought but it’s the only one from season 7 I have gone back to rewatch on purpose. I don’t know if it’s the timey-whimey solve that gets me or if it’s that the TARDIS never forgets anything or that no matter how good Clara is about staying still, she still has to touch everything and open all the doors. I like the Doctor being confounded and lost. I like him stopping and freaking out. I like him admitting weakness. I like him doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Even if that timeline gets erased, the TARDIS will always know what happened. The side story in this episode could have been a lot more fleshed out but they decided two parters were for losers and tried to cram it in to 5 minutes between the main story line and that keeps the episode from being better than just “extremely good”. The cinematography and CGI in this are really top notch as well.

Some extra thoughts:

  • I had to cut Closing Time from this list and it destroys me but it was a “love saves the day!” episode and it has no business being the best of anything except I love it and I love the Doctor’s “Here to Help” name tag (and that he needs a name tag because he forgets his name sometimes).
  • You might notice I didn’t love the “story arc” episodes. That’s because I don’t like the story arc episodes. Because they were bad.
  • I love Asylum of the Daleks and Dinosaurs on a Ship but the Ponds overstayed their welcome on the TARDIS by almost 6 episodes before that season and it affected how I feel about them
  • I like River Song (especially if you watch all her episodes in reverse which makes them really interesting) but other than Silence in the Library her episodes tended to suffer from: THIS IS A PLOT ARC or episodes that just did not cut it.
  • I started off really liking Amy but ended up really liking Rory more. I feel conflicted about it.

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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