Season (or Series) 9 should premiere sometime around the end of summer, and as usual fans will compare it to the seasons that have come before – but those fans tend to have little agreement on which season so far was the pinnacle of the show. Which season they choose would often be down to which Doctor and which companion are their favourites – for example anyone who’s a big fan of Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman would probably claim Series 8 was the best so far.
Given how i’ve only reviewed a fraction of modern episodes so far, i’ve decided rather than posting over 80 episode reviews (which would take FOREVER), i’ll make 8 series overviews analysing the highs and lows of each particular season and when i’m done i’ll post a list of the 8 series in the order i’d put them in. For the sake of ease, the christmas specials and other one-off episodes like the 50th anniversary special won’t be counted as part of any particular series. There’ll also probably be an article on which showrunner (Steven Moffat or Russell T. Davies) was better (though those of you who know me know where i stand on that!).
So first off, i’ll make the case for and against the series i’ve mostly reviewed already: series 1 with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper as the 9th Doctor and Rose respectively, and Russell T. Davies as showrunner. Given i’ve looked at most of these episodes before, this overview won’t be too extensive.
Series 1: (Minor Spoiler Warning)
Highs: Time War plot arc was good but didn’t intrude too much on standalone episodes (a balance later series have repeatedly struggled with). Billie Piper is arguably at her best in this season compared to her appearances in 2 and 4, especially in the Father’s Day episode and the finale. Christopher Eccleston gives a good performance as a tough and tortured, yet at times cheeky Doctor, with his best moments generally coming when he faces off with the Daleks. Pity this was his only season. The Daleks’ redesign works wonders, and they are far and away the best monster from the series (as they should be) with both Dalek and the two-part finale giving them plenty of chances to shine. Moffat’s empty child two-parter remains one of the most talked about episodes.
Best Episodes: (4.5/5 or higher) Dalek (Robert Shearman), The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (Steven Moffat).
Lows: The special effects budget wasn’t particularly high. This causes a few problems – notably that four episodes take place on similarly dull-looking space stations because they were cheaper to create than Alien planets. Some monsters, like the Reapers, the Jagrafess and the Nestene consciousness also suffer and don’t look particularly convincing. The humour is at times, too childish (farting aliens…) for a series that needs to appeal to both children, teenagers and adults. Russell T. Davies probably writes too many episodes for his own good (8 out of 13), hence why only 3 of them really hit the quality mark (fortunately these are the final 3 of the season).
Worst Episodes: (2.5/5 or lower) The Long Game (Russell T. Davies)
Overall: it has several average episodes and one terrible episode, but on the whole season 1 mostly hits its targets – its just a shame it didn’t yet have the resources to aim that little bit higher. Still i won’t criticise the series that ensured we got another 7 seasons after it too harshly – Russell T. Davies did a stand out job of bringing Doctor Who back and giving it a workable format. Eccleston remains one of the most unique Doctors (very few, if any, are similar to him) and i know plenty of people who still miss Rose.
Season Rating: 3.5/5
Next Time: Season 2, with it’s Girls in Fireplaces, mentions of Torchwood and the return of the Cybermen… is it an improvement or a step backward? We’ll see…