Opinion Steven Moffat, writer of Doctor Who and Sherlock

Published on June 1st, 2013 | by Andrew Reynolds

What Are Your Top Ten Moffat Era Episodes?

There are good days and bad days and Thursdays and Bank Holidays where it’s wet and miserable but then there are exceptional days. Days like today where someone suggests that you sit down, pop on a brew, and watch all your favourite Moffat-era Doctor Who episodes, and then have them describe all of this watching and slurping (I know, bad habit) as work.

Of course, there are caveats.

Firstly, to keep the world’s supply of adjectives healthy, I’ve been ordered to limit my ramblings to ten episodes (it’s a benign dictatorship, there were biscuits.)

So just encase you haven’t read the title above, this is my Top Ten Moffat era Episodes!

In no particular order, let the debate being!

What better place to start than the beginning but this being a Moffat guide, we’ll start at the mid-point, circumnavigate the beginning, go sightseeing at the end and then land somewhere around a conclusive point where everything will be nice and wrap up with no lingering questions (sorry but why did the TARDIS explode again?)

Start below by wrapping your optic nerves around this selection of ten superb Doctor Who episodes since 2010, and then let us know whether you agree or not in the comments!

The Impossible Astronaut

There are confident, exasperating openings and then there is this, an absolute treasure trove of pitch perfect performances, stunning direction and the kind of scope that deserves to have the word ‘cinema’ portmanteau to its front.

dw-s6-impossibleast-review-hp1Looking back at it now, the long running argument for much of season six was that it was too complex and scary for its intended audience (particularly the bathroom scene where the universe becomes Joy less) but in fact, the exposition is beautifully parcelled out.

For every breath-taking idea there are expository lines that marshal your thoughts in the right direction – admittedly, there are a bumps along the road, ideas that are raised and then cast by the wayside as well as lulls where densely packed dialogue scenes seem only skim the surface; leaving the viewer at a distance when they should be right there with the characters as they struggle to keep the Doctor from knowing what he shouldn’t.

However, then come the big moments, the moments Moffat thrives on: the Doctor’s fate at Lake Silencio, the ‘oblong room’, the aforementioned death of Joy; there are few television shows that have this level of ambition and there are even fewer that have this level of confidence while strutting its stuff.

In ushering in new long-form storytelling The Impossible Astronaut is as an important opening episode as The Eleventh Hour.  It’s that good.

Hide

There’s nothing scarier than love.

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Hide is a Trojan horse; an almost traditional episode of Who that feels as modern and fresh as anything from the RTD era and a story of the Doctor investigating man’s exploration into new fields that doesn’t end with him lambasting them for meddling with things that have no understanding of or, for that matter burning the whole operation to the ground.

It’s this point that makes the episode so special – Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor for once is amongst equals – while they don’t possess the ability to reach the conclusions the Doctor does, there can be no denying that regardless of the Doctor’s involvement, their conclusions would have been perfectly valid.

It’s because both Jessica Raine as Emma Grayling and Dougray Scott as scientist Professor Alec Palmer are such a strong pairing (There’s a look right at the start of the episodes given by Alec to Emma that is so perfect, and that encapsulates future events so well that I couldn’t help cracking the same winning smile on my first watch through) that Matt Smith is free to do what he does best; steal the whole show.

The pair are such a good anchor that the cartoony nature of the Doctor and Clara’s relationship that niggles elsewhere in the second half of series seven never grates here. Writer Neil Cross finds the right amount of nuance (Alec’s parallels with the Doctor and Emma’s apparent lack of trust in him) to stop proceedings descending completely into a romp around a fairground ghost house.

Cross also showed the same flair for character in the misjudged The Rings of Akhaten and it could be argued that while the Doctor is key in solving the mystery at the heart of the episode; he is surplus to requirements when it comes to character dynamics.

Where other episodes floundered with the characterisation of both Clara and the Doctor together; their giggly nervousness and eventual bone-deep fear (altogether now: “I am the Doctor and I am afraid”), anchored with such strong supporting actors reveal a hidden (pun intended) emotional depth to an episode that probably wasn’t expected.

While its last minute tonal shift doesn’t quite result in the satisfying narrative conclusion it hoped for it does serve to underline what makes the episode great; the Doctor’s constant search for knowledge, both in the people around him and the monsters lurking in the trees, for once results in a perfect happy ending.

The Eleventh Hour

There’s nothing like having your expectations not only met, but exceeded exponentially by an episode that rightly deserves to be called a classic in every sense.

Rory and Amy meet the Doctor in The Eleventh Hour

Not only did it usher in a new era effortlessly with the kind of tightly plotted, exceptionally strong narrative and concise sense of character that typified Moffat’s episodes up to that point; it brought us something new from something timeless – a darker, romantic fairy tale setting for our adventures with the Doctor.

Through the eyes of Amy Pond, the Doctor became an idealised figure; fitting in somewhere between a father for the young Amelia and then the perfect partner, a romantic figure who’ll could whisk Amy away on the eve of her wedding to a world she could only imagine existed– it was as if Peter Pan had returned to take Wendy back to Neverland just as she had settled into a quiet life.

Has there been a more physically assured Doctor than Matt Smith?

While Tennant before him hid his eccentricities behind a steely determination and commanded the space around him (there are countless examples, but the one that springs to mind is The Satan Pit, where he literally paces while trying to rationalise the evil before him) here, in his first appearance, Smiths Doctor is a bundle of barely concealed oddness – rather than commanding the space around him, he enacts the Doctor’s thought process in a series of tics and physical bits.

Both fill the space, but in markedly different ways.

At this point the pair weren’t a million miles away from each other in terms of interpreting the character but already you can see the choices made that would go on to mark out Matt’s Doctor as one of the best and an equal to Tennant’s popular Tenth Doctor.

If there is one moment of pure fan service then it comes with the Eleventh Doctor, emerging from holograms of his past incarnations, clad in his soon to be typical tweed, reminding the returning Atraxi that this planet is protected; it’s the kind of gloriously self-serving moment that, in the hands of anyone less astute with the material, would be dismissed as hubristic at best.

Here, it’s an indulgence fully deserved.

Vincent and the Doctor

There are two strong metaphors at work here; the literal ‘black dog’ of depression stalking the streets, a misunderstood beast that if crossed could end your life and the sense that even though everything seems normal at face value and even with no memory of the tragedy that befell her in the previous episode, something persists behind the eyes of Amy Pond.

Vincent and Amy

‘Something’ that can only be seen by someone who has made tragedy and depression their uneasy bedfellow, artist Vincent Van Gogh – here played perfectly by Tony Curran.

Now, ambition might be a quality Doctor Who writer’s need in spades, but here matching Richard Curtis’ edict to tell a story about depression yet still make it the kind of light, fun entertainment you’d expect from an episode of Doctor Who is an almost impossible task.

And yet, despite the cross-purposes of those twin goals, the episode works.

Perhaps, ultimately it isn’t about the message rather, the attempt to tell such a mature story in the most unlikely of ways that gives it such a powerful punch.

You’d imagine that if it wasn’t saddled by some of the demands of the season arc for that year; it might not have suffered such discrepancies in tone. If Amy had been unburdened by a grief she doesn’t understand and had bonded with Vincent despite that missing connection, it might have been a more assured attempt to tell a ground breaking story.

But it’s that final moment; where despite knowing that his work means so much to so many years after he has passed on, Vincent still can’t beat the ‘black dog’ that lives longest in the memory – a genuinely moving and mature episode that deserves to be praised for attempting to tell a difficult, familiar story.

The Doctor’s Wife

Meeting expectations by hoodwinking the audience from the title onwards, The Doctor’s Wife is a triumph. Here the Doctor and his greatest companion finally get to meet each other in the realm of flesh and blood and it’s perfect.

The Doctor's Wife - what a sexy thing!

Of course Idris (seriously, you were kicking yourself when you released the significance of that name) would kiss the Doctor immediately, sure she’d have trouble with tenses and yes, with a character who’s empathy can change the course of destiny and who’s social skills are a little rudimentary at times, of course she’d completely and totally understand him more than anybody else ever could.

For the first time we see the Doctor travelling through time for selfish, sentimental reasons; he’s lonely and upon receiving a message seemingly from another Time Lord, he instantly heeds its call. Here we get an opportunity to yet again see how assured Matt Smith when the Eleventh Doctor discovers that he has been had.

The whiplash turn from delight to absolute anguish and fury reminds us of the cost of his existence – mostly at his own hand – and that the very best Doctor Who writers can give us both a rollicking adventure and remind us of the fundamental nature of the character – that even though he can call strangers friends and seeks to unite all kinds of desperate species, he is ultimately alone.

Loneliness isn’t solely confined to the Doctor.

Rory, who after becoming locked in the hollow TARDIS with Amy, becomes trapped down endless corridors, seemingly spends an eternity waiting for Amy; scrawling horrid graffiti across the walls, is a neat twist on the idea of Rory being the ultimate warrior – sure he might wait forever but in this incarnation he embodies the fear lying at the heart of Amy Pond, that even with those 2,000 years alone, he still might resent and leave her.

Neil Gaiman takes a fundamental part of the shows history, the Doctor and his TARDIS, and turns it into a beautiful mediation on the dysfunctional relationships at the heart of the show and in doing so, sparks new life in those familiar unions.

It’s an absolutely stunning episode.

A Good Man Goes to War

There’s something about twist endings that when you write them down or say them aloud, they seem to do the moment a disservice even when they have long since become common knowledge.

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“No Luke, I am your father” in no way encapsulates the sheer spine-tinglingly excitement you felt when you saw that moment for the first time. Nothing can help reclaim that moment when, in a daze you relived previous episodes as you attempted to readjust your expectations and challenge that seemingly definitive fact.

Unlike that revelation from The Empire Strikes Back, A Good Man Goes to War’s big revelation regarding the true nature of River Song had been a secret very much in the open, but again the speculation could never really capture that amazing moment when it was finally confirmed as so.

The episode is stunning; it makes it almost possible to take for granted Moffat’s skill in writing economic, witty dialogue and in delivering a truly exciting revelation and then completely subverting it.

However, not all the revelations in A Good Man Goes to War created those moments. The casual way in which Amy and Rory accepted the fact that they would not raise their own daughter in a traditional sense left most fans cold.

Personally, I think it’s more to do with our own expectations when it comes to drama.

We want those moments where the Doctor would return their daughter to them; we want those emotional and conclusive moments, and because we are dealing with a young child, we expect to see them reunited in that traditional fashion.

In attempting to subvert our expectations perhaps Moffat misjudged our willingness to accept that time travel ultimately lets them raise their daughter, albeit in an unconventional fashion.

It’s a device that I admire more than adore; it’s a story of desperate redemption rather than triumph.

The boldness to attempt to upend our expectations with such a sensitive issue, during prime time on a Saturday night, and in such a fashion is a startling reminder of Moffat’s skill with narrative – if not an entirely successful one.

A Christmas Carol

There’s something reassuring about basing your Christmas episode around Charles Dickens immortal text – it’s almost a tradition in itself but no one has attempted to tell the story of the redemption of a miser through time-bending means quite like Steven Moffat, in perhaps the best Christmas episode since The Christmas Invasion.

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Some of the finest moments in the episode are also some of the most familiar in both what we’ve come to expect from Moffat and our own familiarity with the original text.

In Matt Smith, we have a Doctor who can bring real pathos to some of the more flippant of Moffat’s one liners such as his reading of: “It’s this or go to a room and design a new kind of screwdriver. Don’t make my mistakes,” and a Doctor who has both a natural affinity with children and an ability to unite two lonely hearts.

Perhaps its best moment is in the breathtakingly simplistic way the Doctor enacts his role as the ghost of Christmas yet to come. What’s interesting is that the Doctor’s early attempts to change the course of Sardick’s life may have changed his experiences but it didn’t change his fate; he still turns towards misery and loneliness.

It’s the Doctor’s final act, to present the young Sardick with a vision of the life he is headed towards that shocks the most.

It’s also reflected in the Doctor’s attitude towards Abigail’s fate as well; he doesn’t attempt to save her life, he just wants her and Sardick to make the most of their time while they are here; it’s a consistent character note that Smith nails perfectly and motivates him to save the lives of those on the seemingly doomed ship that is hurtling towards the planet.

After all: “In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before.”

The Pandorica Opens

Season Five was all about irresistible traps. Before the Doctor returned, Amy had settled for a quiet life in the village where nothing happens – it wasn’t until her raggedy doctor came back that her yearning to see the stars drew her into the concluding events of The Pandorica Opens.

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Likewise with the Doctor, he found himself drawn like a moth to a flame to the awful truth that one day he would destroy the universe.

His trap maybe more literal come the end of the episode but the most of the joy in those final moments comes from the neat way Moffat draws together all the desperate elements from the previous episodes.

It may be a familiar trait now but those opening moments where a series worth of plot pieces finally fall into place felt bold, exciting and above all new.

The highlight of the episode is undoubtedly the Doctor’s speech at Stonehenge – his rousing, thinly veiled threats maybe nothing more than bravado in the face of insurmountable odds but Matt Smith nails it perfectly.

Perhaps the most interesting point is that while the Doctor maybe playing ‘The good wizard’ as River calls him, it could be argued that the army of all his past foes see themselves as the heroes of this particular fairy tale.

How about that for an irresistible trap?

Let’s Kill Hitler

Whereas most show runners at the climax of one complicated storyline might start to answer some of the questions raised in the few episodes remaining; Moffat adds more, and more and then a few more for good measure.

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It’s not always a successful or satisfying way to conclude a two-parter (hence my predilection for the first part of most of the major two part episodes in this list) but again Doctor Who isn’t like other show – it can sustain all these new ideas on pure invention alone.

Where I can only admire the idea of Amy and Rory not raising their child in the traditional sense and throughout Let’s Kill Hitler, they readily accept the idea that they do raise their daughter a little too quickly; I can adore the rollicking execution of that same idea.

It’s like an atheist admiring the architecture of a church; you might not share the same beliefs that forced it into existence but you can still love the craft, the man power and the artistry involved.

And Let’s Kill Hitler gets everything else right; the snappy dialogue, the character development, the big concepts and the little moments that surround them.

Despite a misstep, it’s still one of my favourite resolution episodes purely because it has the guts to take on our expectations and then rewards us in ways that we would never have expected.

The Name of the Doctor

What else could it have been? For a list complied mostly of opening episodes to long-form narratives it would be churlish at this final point not to include the most tantalising, fan pleasing opening episode; The Name of the Doctor.

Doctor Who Series 7: The Name of the Doctor

Where criticism of the handling of Clara’s characterisation maybe valid for some of the episodes of Series Seven; what cannot be ignored is that Moffat consistently brings out the Doctors emotional core.

The strongest moments of this episode aren’t the resolutions to the secrets of this season (it rarely is with Moffat’s Doctor Who) it’s in the significance of the Doctor’s final resting place; Trenzalore.

In Matt Smith’s hands; the Doctor manages to pivot from neatly goofy cheeriness to absolute anguish and despair seamlessly. Particularly in the moments where he wanders through the graveyard Matt is able to convey melancholy, fear, and quiet rage all while delivering plot explanations and references to other adventures.

You know that when he looks down at the smouldering, scorched surface of his final resting place that the Doctor genuinely believed that he might just spend his last day’s beekeeping or painting watercolours.

If there is a criticism of this fantastic episode, it’s that it doesn’t really have the spending power for its core idea – it would have seriously taken hundreds of millions of pounds to properly tell just what Clara did to undo the damage done by the Great Intelligence in the multiple Doctor’s life times.

Conversely, it’s because the ideas in this episode are so big and beyond its usual remit that some of the quieter moments get drowned out.

Clara was never the bravest of companions so for her to have to step into the scar tissue and make that change regardless of her own free will was something that wasn’t really give the space to feel its impact fully.

But these are quibbles and nothing more; the episode is stunning, the ambition out of this world and the possibilities it raises, tantalising to say the least.

I can’t wait to see what comes next.

It’s an exhaustive list, but what is your top ten episodes from the Moffat era?

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About the Author

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Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.




35 Responses to What Are Your Top Ten Moffat Era Episodes?

  1. avatar Gruff says:

    Not sure if AGMGtW or ACC would be in my ten, but I will have a think and come back later with something…

  2. avatar stevefiori says:

    Hmmm. My list is kinda arbitrary, but here it is…

    1. The Eleventh Hour
    2. The Girl Who Waited
    3. A Christmas Carol
    4. The God Complex
    5. The Pandorica Opens
    6. The Doctor’s Wife
    7. The Name of the Doctor
    8. Asylum of the Daleks
    9. The Impossible Astronaut
    10. A Good Man Goes to War


  3. my top ten, in broadcast order:

    Series 5:
    “The Eleventh Hour” – Matt Smith inhabits the Doctor from the very first moments of his tenure.
    “Amy’s Choice” – Toby Jones’s Dream Lord is my personal favourite Moffat-era villain. Facing off with Jones challenged and raised Matt Smith’s game in ways no other actor did until John Hurt.
    “Vincent and the Doctor” – if you’ve ever made art and had the chance to show it somewhere, the scene where the Doctor and Pond take Vincent to see his exhibit in 2010 will ring true in so many ways.
    “The Lodger” – Murray Gold’s juxtaposition of battle music with the football match is just genius.

    Series 6:
    “The Doctor’s Wife” – Neil Gaiman’s first script for the show is nothing short of astonishing.
    “The God Complex” – one of the most complex and fraught episodes of the Moffat-era. It is heart-wrenching to hear Rita tell the Doctor “don’t be frightened” when he discovers she’s Muslim. That’s the 21st century world her character comes from that gives rise to such subtle and insidious self-denigration.

    Series 7:
    “Asylum of the Daleks” – Clara’s debut episode and I was already completely on board and ecstatic for what she’d bring to the show and how she’d change the Doctor following two and a half series worth of the Ponds domesticating him.
    “Hide” – love stories within love stories within sci-fi within ghost stories. At its very best, the show can be and is many things at once.
    “The Crimson Horror” – Mr Sweet is my second-favourite Moffat-era villain.
    “The Name of the Doctor” – everything about the finale is breathtaking.

  4. avatar Andrew G. Dick says:

    1. Vincent and the Doctor
    2. The Doctor’s Wife
    3. The Eleventh Hour
    4. Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone
    5. The Name of the Doctor
    6. The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
    7. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
    8. Hide
    9. The Bells of St. John
    10. Angels Take Manhattan

  5. avatar TonyS says:

    Top ten Moffat era stories? Hmm. In no particular order (except as they occur to me- so that may be significant): The Doctor and Vincent; The Eleventh Hour; The God Complex; The Snowmen, Hide, Cold War, Amy’s Choice, The Lodger, A Christmas Carol and The Girl Who Waited


  6. In order, Cold Blood, Vincent and the Doctor, Nightmare in Silver, The Eleventh Hour, The Beast Below,The Girl Who Waited, Hide, Closing Time, Power of Three, Rings of Akhaten.

    Cold Blood is my favorite episode for the same reason Journey to Babel is my favorite episode of Star Trek. It gets heavy and political.

    • avatar Mark Lenton says:

      Fascinating. I absolutely HATE Cold Blood. The story just comes to a pause and goes no-where, the negotiations are with two humans who have no authority so are pointless and all time worst of all, the Doctor is horrible to the mother who defended her family but is nice to the vivisectionist Silurian who does experiments on Children!

      Just horrible.

      Still, each to their own….

      • avatar chris p says:

        What are you talking about? As the Doctor says, just because they don’t have any authority doesn’t mean they’re not important, and the reason the Doctor is angry at the mother is because she needlessly killed the Silurian they held captive just because she thought her family was being threatened, even though the Silurian was just trying to get herself killed so that the Silurians would have a good reason to go to war with Humans. Also, while the Doctor did favor the scientist over the mother, it was because the scientist was merely observing the creatures he had (including the mother’s son), and was one of the only people who saw that Humans and Silurians have much more in common the they think. To me, Cold Blood was an excellent episode that plays on the idea that people make mistakes under pressure and the conflict that comes out of protecting one’s family

        • avatar ??? says:

          ??? Do you guys mean The Hungry Earth? Are you arguing about an ep you couldn’t even bother to check the proper name of?

        • avatar Mark Lenton says:

          Hi Chris, You probably make some good points here (although don’t I remember the vivisectionist Silurian with a scalpel and clearly shown to have scarred the man through an operation – hardly observing. And the woman was goaded into killing the Silurian who was killing and kidnapping her family members – she wasn’t right to do what she did but it’s certainly more understandable than the Doctor allows her).

          But I found the episode so distasteful and contrary to what I feel the Doctor is, that I wiped it and do not have a copy. And I wouldn’t want to re-watch it anyway as the experience was so poor. So I’ll concede your points and just think what a diverse group we have on here where something that I absolutely hated (because it changed what I thought the Doctor was) and thought pointless and distasteful is loved so much by someone else.

          And yes..??? below. it may well be the wrong episode title. I’m meaning the second episode of the Silurian story in season 5. I thought that was Cold Blood.

          • avatar Arthur Dent says:

            The first part of the two-parter is entitled The Hungry Earth, the second is named Cold Blood. I’m not sure who’s right and who’s wrong…

  7. avatar Solonor says:

    1. The Name of the Doctor
    2. The Doctor’s Wife
    3. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
    4. The Girl Who Waited
    5. Asylum of the Daleks
    6. Vincent & The Doctor
    7. The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
    8. The Eleventh Hour
    9. A Good Man Goes to War
    10. The Time of Angles/Flesh and Stone

  8. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    Assuming we’re listing individual episodes and not stories:

    The Eleventh Hour
    Time of Angels
    The Pandorica Opens
    The Impossible Astronaut
    The Doctor’s Wife
    The Girl Who Waited
    The God Complex
    Hide
    The Crimson Horror
    The Name of the Doctor

    Remaining baffled by the love for Christmas Carol and Good Man Goes to War, but each to their own! :)

    I maintain that Time of Angels and Pandorica Opens are as good as any Doctor Who episode from any era ever; the follow up episodes for both couldn’t quite live up to them.

  9. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    …Still think I should have substituted Hide for Asylum of the Daleks… or not……


  10. Is it possible to have a top ten? The Moffat era is utter, infantile junk. He spat on the gave of Malcolm Hulke and turned the greatest SF show ever into an annoying soap opera / pantomime.

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      Yes it is possible. If its not your thing, then you don’t have to waste the time and energy to leave such a negative comment.

  11. avatar FourandElevenForever says:

    My favourites (difficult to chose only 10…)

    10. Dalek Asylum
    9. AGMgtW/ Let’skill Hitler
    8. The impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
    7. Pandorica/ Big Bang
    6. A Town called Mercy
    5. Hide
    4. Vincent
    3. The Doctor’s Wife
    2. The Eleventh Hour
    1. The Name of the Doctor

  12. avatar Mark Lenton says:

    My favourites – difficult to actually find 10 I like:
    1. Vincent
    2. Doctors Wife
    3. A Christmas Carol
    4. Asylum of the Daleks
    5. The Crimson Horror

    That’s it, I’ve run out of good episodes… Sorry.

    However if you let me count RTD era Moffat stories then ALL of his episodes beat the above. I can’t honestly believe that he’s the same man now as the meticulous, clever guy who delivered his four S1-4 episodes.

  13. avatar TimeChaser says:

    Its not easy to do a Top 10, but if pushed mine would be:
    1. The Doctor’s Wife
    2. Asylum of the Daleks
    3. The Name of the Doctor
    4. The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon
    5. The God Complex
    6. The Girl Who Waited
    7. A Good Man Goes to War
    8. Let’s Kill Hitler
    9. Vincent and the Doctor
    10. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

  14. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    “He spat on the gave of Malcolm Hulke” – That’s way, way out of line, Richard.

  15. avatar Geoff says:

    They are all rubbish, Moffat has killed Doctor Who :)

    Seriously though I like The Eleventh Hour, in fact pretty much all of the first series except the dodgy Silurian one. Again Vincent and the Doctor stands out for its wonderful tribute to the soul of Van Gogh. I missed most of the second series thanks to not having BT vision and my children having a habit of screaming and playing up every night between 5-7pm at that point! Ditto 7A. 7B, BT vision restored, I’ve seen and enjoyed all of 7B but funnily would place The Cold War and Nightmare in Silver as my bottom two, but they’re still pretty good.

  16. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    You’re a terrible man, Geoff! :)

  17. avatar iank says:

    1 Time of Angels 2parter
    2 The Impossible Astronaut 2parter
    3 The Big Bang 2parter
    4 Amy’s Choice
    5 The Girl Who Waited
    6 The 11th Hour
    7 The Crimson Horror
    8 The Name of the Doctor
    9 Vincent and the Doctor
    10 The God Complex

  18. avatar Gruff says:

    1) The Doctor’s Wife
    The first, and still best to me, of Neil Gaiman’s contributions so far. Almost certain to be in the top twenty of all time. Can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said in praise of this gem, asides from that I quoted from it in a speech at my sister’s wedding.
    2) The Name of the Doctor
    The cliffhanger was the icing on the End of Series cake. The rest was Steven Moffat at his best: a new race of evil creatures – The Whispermen – whilst bringing back an old nemesis; showing a new method for communications across time and space; but even better creating the time-line of a post body-death Time Lord. I’ve still only watched it twice, but just know it will stand up to multiple viewings!
    3) The Impossible Astronaut
    The best start to a nu-Who series and the creation of one of the best Moffat ‘baddies’ in the form of the Silence. Not sure if it was let down a little by the part two, but they certainly made up the best two partner of Eleven’s time so far.
    4) The Eleventh Hour
    Similarly, in my opinion, the best starting episode for a new Doctor – Time and the Rani being the opposite end of the spectrum. Though both Seven and Eleven are my favourites since Four (must stress I love all of them) they started out with contrasting success.
    5) The Girl Who Waited
    There was something about the clean feel of the planet as they arrived that made me think it could do with a bit of Kang graffiti. I wasn’t aware that Amy would become a one woman Kang gang to fight off the handbots. Besides all of this is the best story of a companion who got separated from the TARDIS crew and how the Robinson Crusoe effect would affect those on either side of the division. The paradox avoiding scene was the first real appearance of Eleven having a manipulative side. Definitely Tom MacRea’s best work on Doctor Who.
    6) Vincent and the Doctor
    Could have been too ‘smaltzy’ given some of Richard Curtis’s films, but asides from the look of the Krafyis creature (which just seemed out of place to me) it all worked a treat. Interestingly enough there’s now a theory that two local kids accidentally shot him and he did not commit suicide after all. Could this be covered in a later story?
    7) Hide
    The second effort from Neil Cross in this his Who debut year was far more widely accepted. Perhaps rightly so, though I felt that the rather quirky ‘Rings…’ would have worked better if it hadn’t been portrayed as a scary episode in the build up. Hide certainly worked better as a truly scary episode, not that any of the scares made me jump but our kids were clutching cushions. Certainly enjoyed Eleven running away in a fashion not too dissimilar to Two. The story resolution was also rather good, though there are always detractors who could drive juggernauts through any story, and I felt it was plausible (for it is after all a ‘kids science fiction’ show).
    8) The God Complex
    Toby Whithouse’s best episode by far for the series. It was certainly a step up from The Vampires of Venice (which he had to write instead of this one for Series 5) and kept up the rather strong showing in the run that made up the end of Series 6. Also featured Matt’s best companion-who-wasn’t in Rita.
    9) The Big Bang
    The best Eleven Series finale until The Name of the Doctor smashed that record. OK so it includes one of Steven Moffat’s first, now overly-used, major plot re-directions but it was a great one. Until this point the cliffhanger episodes used to sometimes leave you completely underwhelmed by the resolution, but this was a classic.
    10) Nightmare in Silver
    It was always going to suffer in comparison to the first of Neil Gaiman’s episodes, but it is still within Eleven’s best to me.

    The nearlies;
    11 joint) Asylum of the Daleks and Cold War
    Both lost out to the Cybermen, would have been in a three way equal tenth place but I am such a Cyber fan.
    13) The Snowmen
    Just missing out on the top ten and by far the best Christmas Who episode of all.
    14) Amy’s Choice
    The Dream-Lord must return at some point surely? Well worth the return visit to Leadworth, which could have been a great setting for a Daemons or a Stones of Blood type of English mythology story. It is a shame that Simon Nye hasn’t been asked back since.
    15) Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
    Brought the long-awaited visit to the library, and a glimpse of the swimming pool. More importantly it was one of the best from Series 7B.
    16) The Angels Take Manhattan
    Farewell Ponds in the second best Angels story.
    17) The Power of Three
    Or at least the first half an hour. At least we got Kate Lethbridge-Stewart who is now also Eve Myles’s nemesis in Frankie.

    He hasn’t been a bad show-runner at all despite the flack thrown his way. I would challenge anyone to find any (non-series 3 or Non-Moff written) stories that would knock more than 2 of the above out of a nu-Who overall list. His own written efforts have sometimes disappointed, but isn’t that down to setting the bar so high in the first place?
    Am now more than a bit gutted that there are only going to be two more episodes of Eleven. Hopefully it will mean that there will be at least one Twelve episode that one day will feature in my Moffat (show-runner) top ten and at least one more from Eleven too.

    • avatar Edwardian Cricketer says:

      Brilliant review of your top 10. Nice, very positive things to say and I agree with most of your choices.

      • avatar Gruff says:

        Cheers EC, spent a while thinking about it, but, as you can see from inclusion of the nearlies, I still couldn’t decide upon my definitive set.

  19. avatar David F says:

    I like all the obvious candidates mentioned above, but a few variations:

    I have a huge affection for Amy’s Choice, which was hampered by the grim weather of the location shoot. I’m convinced that if they’d been lucky enough to get sunny days for filming, the episode would be higher on everyone’s lists.

    My favourite Christmas special is A Christmas Carol, which I prefer by far to The Snowmen (which was very good). ACC is the only time during the Smith era that Moffat has written a script as tightly packaged as those he wrote for Eccleston and Tennant. It was wonderful.

    I also like The Beast Below. It’s a bit slack on the production side, and it’s obvious they were still finding their feet, but the story was really quirky and gave me a sense the the show was being stretched in a new direction. It raised political questions rather brilliantly, which is something I’d love to see Doctor Who do more often.

    Moffat’s nailed all the series openers. Which maybe proves he’s better at setting up story arcs than wrapping them up. But my single favourite moment from his time as show runner is the fish-fingers-and-custard scene, because that was a brilliantly calculated bid to get the kids on side right from the start. They put aside any issues of the Doctor’s sex appeal, forgot about monsters and special effects, and got straight down to reassuring the children that Doctor Who understood them.

    Conversely, my least favourite moments were the sexual innuendo in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: an episode that, commendably, set itself up as being for eight-year-old boys, but then wedged in really uncomfortable “jokes” about large penises and urinating and — worryingly — a moment where the baddie appears to threaten to rape Nefertiti.

  20. avatar baneofkings says:

    Impossible Astronought, Hide, The Name of the Doctor, The Doctor’s Wife, The Girl Who Waited, The Eleventh Hour, The Wedding of River Song, Nightmare in Silver, The Pandorica Opens & The Snowmen for me. All Awesome episodes.

  21. avatar Christine says:

    Well, there we go, also in no particular order. And I admit, I liked quite a few others as well. These are just the ones I enjoyed most.

    I am a Dalek nut, so all Dalek stories are included.

    Asylum of the Daleks is in (scary, great visuals, wonderful score and lovely surprises) as well as Victory of the Daleks (yes, the paradigm Daleks certainly aren’t my favourites and the aircraft in space was a bit silly, but this episode has got the Daleks serving tea and actually carrying a tray on their sucker arm. Best thing ever) and, obviously, the Pandorica Opens combined with the Big Bang (I loved the alliance and the Doctor’s speech, and I also very much liked the stone Dalek). I consider the last as one story though. So, that’s three already off my chest.

    Vincent and the Doctor (for sheer sentimental reasons as it makes me cry every time I see it, even though I’ve seen it quite often now).

    The Rings of Akhatan (Yes, I know many people don’t agree but I just loved it, like Vincent, it made me cry – and I like that).

    The Marriage of River Song (great visuals, lovely eye patches – sorry – eye drives, Amy with a Machine gun, and wonderful ending).

    A Christmas Carol (lovely take on an old story, furthermore this one also made me sniff).

    The impossible Astronaut/Day of the moon (great spectacular and shocking opening, great monsters, and I just love Canton Delaware the Third; love for him to come back to the series).

    A good man goes to war (especially the beginning with Rory shouting down the Cybermen and our wonderful, now very familiar, Sontaran nurse for the first time).

    The name of the doctor (great with all the old doctors and that wonderful scene of stealing the Tardis. And a real cliffhanger. Superb.)

    As I stated, I liked many others as well.


  22. Hide, Vincent and the Doctor, Time of Angels, The Eleventh Hour, The Pandorica Opens, The Rebel Flesh, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, The Doctor’s Wife, The Girl Who Waited, The Impossible Astronaut.

    Goodness, it was hard to make that list after the first few. This era has been characterised by a whole raft of good stories, and very few *undeniably* great ones…

  23. avatar Miss Universe says:

    many impressive episodes, me personally I like the story arcs better than the stand-alone ones. But what I’ve also enjoyed a lot: the bits in between, “Meanwhile in the Tardis”, “Pond Life”, “Time” and “Space”

  24. avatar Al says:

    1. The Doctor’s Wife. I’ve already decided that if the 50th anniversary special ends up being a dud, I will retroactively consider this to be the true anniversary episode. (But I don’t expect I’ll need to do so.)
    2. The Crimson Horror
    3. Vincent and the Doctor
    4. The Snowmen
    5. A Good Man Goes to War
    6. Night and the Doctor: Last Night (there have been so many great minisodes under Moffat’s watch, I had to include one)
    7. Asylum of the Daleks
    8. The Name of the Doctor
    9. The Girl Who Waited
    10. The Daleks Take Manhattan

    • avatar Al says:

      PS. In the event you don’t want to count minisodes, ignore Last Night, move the others up a spot and put The Lodger at #10. ;)

  25. avatar Mark Lenton says:

    I LOVE how one of your favourite Moffat Stories is by Helen Raynor from RTD’s time :-).

    (Unless you meant Angels take Manhattan, rather than Daleks) :-)

  26. avatar Arthur Dent says:

    10. The God Complex
    9. The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
    8. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
    7. Hide
    6. The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
    5. A Christmas Carol
    4. The Doctor’s Wife
    3. Asylum of the Daleks
    2. The Snowmen
    1. The Eleventh Hour

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