As Doctor Who comes to it’s mid season close, I decided I should start something: My Infrequently Asked Questions.
These are questions that, while no one has really asked, I feel the need to offer you, the reader, a chance to know the answers to.
This was the episode that I happened to catch a few moments of when I was flipping channels one night that made me decide, “Yep, I need to watch this.”
The deft way that the Doctor’s methods are drawn in parallel to those of his greatest and most hated enemy make for bracing, smart television. It has always been the character driven drama that has been the better part of the show and this episode, with Nine matching wits with an all but dead Dalek is a wonderful example of that.
The limited scope of the setting and the really bad future-gun that is obviously just some pieces of PVC painted black are the only downsides to this really amazing episode.
4. Human Nature/The Family of Blood
This episode gives us a great look at what the Doctor would be like minus the TARDIS and knowledge of the world. Also, when he reclaims his mantle at the end of part two, we get a better glimpse into just how different he is from the rest of us.
The character of the Doctor has always edged on demigod. The monologue about the “wrath of the Timelord” sums up how dangerous the Doctor is, why the character is never to be trifled with, in minimal and brilliant fashion. It also offers a wonderful contrast to how his would be human love interest cuts him down to size with a question and a look.
3. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
“You just killed someone I like, that is not a safe place to stand!”
Chills. Every time.
In addition to the fact it adds the incomparable Alex Kingston the cast, this episode is a truly scary, truly convoluted and truly thrilling ride. We see the Doctor as vulnerable, as compassionate and as being just straight up hard as stone. The fact that the character is left, along with the audience, with a deep sense that there are still depths to be explored within the man tops off this excellent story.
This is one of the most gripping hours of television I have ever watched, hands down. For not having much of the title character in the episode at all, it is still one of the best stories of the modern series. The introduction of a new and instantly iconic Doctor Who nemesis, the addition of “timey-wimey” to our vocabulary, the crisp use of time travel elements to make things happen… there’s just nothing bad about this episode.
Except that now, I don’t trust statues at all.
1. A Good Man Goes to War/Let’s Kill Hitler
More for the first half than the second, this is my favorite episode. Aside from the big reveal, there is so much in this episode that was worth the big buildup and hints from two series back. And so many quotable lines:
“Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many!”
“Would you like me to repeat the question?”
“We’re the Thin Fat Gay Married Anglican Marines. Why would we need names as well?”
“…I can produce magnificent quantities of lactic fluid. ”
Just so much to squee about.
The second half, while interesting and cute, didn’t quite measure up. That said, I think “A Good Man Goes to War” was a story that producer Steven Moffat had been wanting to do for a very long time and it shows.