Saturday, September 19, 2015

Top 11 Doctor Who Episodes For Whoobies


whoobie
/ho͞obē/

noun informal

     an inexperienced newcomer to the BBC Doctor Who television series

Doctor Who is a show of incredible imagination, excitement, drama, sorrow, comedy and horror, but it is also something of an enigma when it comes to getting other people to see it for those qualities. This of course is mainly coming from the perspective of a fan who lives in America where our televisions are generally filled with more grounded and "believeable" Sci-fi which makes the cheeky humor and often times cheesy visual effects of something like Doctor Who hard to swallow, endearing as they are. Find out which episodes you should see after the break.

America has been raised on this idea that it needs to look cool in order for us to like it. We need dashing heroes and heroines to show up and save the day, where as The Doctor usually bumbles his way around saving the universe while dragging along a random companion or two for comic relief, with only a few moments here and there of actual bold faced heroism and smugging. It is essentially a super hero show for geeks where problems are solved through intelligence rather than brawn. But that is just the surface layer of Doctor Who. Fans know there is plenty of darkness and forboding in the Whoverse that can rival just about any drama on American or any television.

So, the challenge is how to get someone to give the show a proper chance without giving up on it in its first few minutes. Even though Doctor Who has made some rather remarkable leaps in technology since his return in 2005, there is no getting around the obvious low production values of its first couple seasons. Just look at the first episode of the first season/series of the new Doctor Who, "Rose". While it does what it needs to in order to reintroduce the Doctor to a whole new fanbase, it simultaneously sabotages itself by not only having a rather silly premise (living plastic), but also suffering from what is commonly known as "first season blues", which means it hasn't found its stride yet.

After numerous attempts to get family and loved ones into the show using the traditional method of having them start with the first season and work their way through, which have all failed, it is time to find a new approach to introducing Whoobies to the magnificence of the Doctor. The great thing about Doctor Who (well, one of the many great things anyway), is that it is a show based around time travel and with that premise comes this idea of how the Doctor can and often will cross timelines with others and even himself making his story already fragmented in a certain way.

What this conceit allows us is the ability to view his adventures in the Tardis in any order we like without feeling as though we have missed any significant story beats or characters. Using the logic the show itself is built upon it almost seems like we are encouraged to watch the show in any order we prefer. Sure, there are different Doctors and different companions who you will first meet without a proper introduction, but that is in keeping with those moments when the Doctor himself meets people out of order and is forced to adjust. Heck, this also could be a fun way of re-watching some of your favorite episodes in a whole new light.

So, this list has been comprised of the top 11 Doctor Who episodes from the new series that began in 2005 leading up to the departure of the 11th Doctor in 2013. The mixture has been hand picked to not only provide an introduction to the Doctor using episodes that anyone can follow, but also put in a very specific order to help demonstrate the many intracacies of the show and how at one moment it can be light hearted and the next will be like a punch to the gut. Plus you will get a taste of who the Doctor really is and hopefully understand that beneath that hyper surrealistic facade he puts on for us is the soul of a tortured individual who sadly has no place in the universe or in time itself.

Here's what you need to do before sitting your friend or loved one down for this collection of episodes:

1. Explain who the Doctor is (regeneration/super smart/alien/timelord/time travel/companions), but keep some mystery about him (example: Don't reveal the history of the timelords).

2. Explain that the companions are more or less people he finds along the way that are there to help him, but leave it at that.

3. Explain that they will be watching these out of order and that the change in production value and actors is to be expected (see number 1).

4. Most important of all however is to inform them that they are not expected to try and link all these episodes together. There is no master plan to how they are ordered besides presenting the Doctor with his best foot out first and letting them experience the world of Doctor Who in a way that will hopefully dazzle them.

Below you will find the episodes listed in the order you should (but don't have to) watch them along with a brief description on why that episode has been picked and why it has been selected for that slot. Just to point out in case you don't fully understand, these are not what I consider to be the 'best' Doctor Who episodes (that's an entirely different list), these are merely what I believe to be the best 'introductory' episodes to the series. Hope this list works for anyone out there looking to get more fans hooked on Who, because let's face it, everyone needs a good Doctor in their life.


FIRST EPISODE

S5: Episode 1 
The Eleventh Hour


Arguably, Doctor Who began to gain momentum and popularity over here in America around the time the eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) was first introduced. With a bigger production budget, a much more Western friendly sense of humor and quite possibly the most popular companions for the Doctor to date being introduced, "The Eleventh Hour" is the perfect introduction into the Whoverse. All in all, this is the best post-regeneration Doctor Who episode to date for aspiring Whoobies to set them up for the greatness to come.

Featured Doctor:

The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith)

Featured Companion(s):

Amy Pond (Karen Gillan)
Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill)



SECOND EPISODE

S1: Episode 2 
The End of the World


Once we get the introduction of the Doctor out of the way it is time to properly introduce our Whoobie to the Whoverse itself, and what better way than with the episode "The End of the World". While the pilot episode "Rose" that preceded this season 1 episode leaves a bad impression on a new viewer, this follow up episode does exactly what was needed next, expanding the Whoverse to extraordinary lengths. Also, we get a nice introduction to the different kinds of species and weird circumstances that the Doctor constantly runs into during his travels. Aside from a noticeable lack in its budget, this episode perfectly encapsulates what time travel with the Doctor is all about. Danger, fun and excitement.

Featured Doctor:

The 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)

Featured Companion(s):

Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)



THIRD EPISODE

S2: Episode 5 
The Girl in the Fireplace


Here is where we get into the real dangers of time travel. No other episode as of yet in the current crop of Doctor Who episodes has conveyed the many downfalls and problems with time travel than the fan favorite episode, "The Girl in the Fireplace". While doing what the Doctor does best, mixing the old with the new (space travel with the Victorian age this time around), we also get a deeply personal story about how the Doctor's mere existence can deeply impact an individuals life in both negative and positive ways. This theme is of course seen all throughout Doctor Who, but the relationship between the Doctor and the girl in the fireplace remains a high point for the Doctor to this day.

Featured Doctor:

The 10th Doctor (David Tennant)

Featured Companion(s):

Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)
Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke)



FOURTH EPISODE

S3: Episode 11 
Blink


Speaking of fan favorites, it is near impossible to talk about Doctor Who without talking about one of his greatest foes, the Weeping Angels. The Doctor has accumulated numerous foes over the course of his travels, but none have been as creepily sadistic or as unnerving as these seemingly innocuous statues that resemble angelic beauty and horrifying tragedy all rolled up into one. Aside from featuring an early performance from a then unknown Carey Mulligan, "Blink" remains one of the most thoroughly engaging adventures the Doctor has ever had and he isn't even really in this one for more than a few minutes! If the other episodes up til now have failed to hook your Whoobie then this one will surely seal the deal.

Featured Doctor:

The 10th Doctor (David Tennant)

Featured Companion(s):

Martha Jones (Freeman Agyeman)



FIFTH EPISODE(S)

S4: Episode(s) 9 & 10
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead


OK, so this might be a bit of a cheat listing a two parter as a single episode but the problem is that many of the Doctor's greatest stories take place over the course of a two episode arc that should for all intents and purposes have been just one long episode. That being said, this particular two parter is just some really great Sci-fi fun that features one of the Doctor's more interesting foes, the Vashta Nerada. On top of the sheer creepiness factor that the episode(s) imbue they also showcase the often impossible situations the Doctor finds himself in. Other than featuring a rather important character introduction which is also a great example of how the show plays with timelines, these two episodes combined are the perfect marriage of imagination, horror and the mundane. Who knew watching people run around a library would be so terrifying?

Featured Doctor:

The 10th Doctor (David Tennant)

Featured Companion(s):

Donna Noble (Catherine Tate)



SIXTH EPISODE

S2: Episode 11 
Love and Monsters


One of the more light hearted episodes but also one the more tragic ones as well, "Love and Monsters" is unique in the Whoverse in that it features a story that isn't really about the Doctor at all, but instead is the love story of two lonely individuals who find love while trying to unravel the many mysteries surrounding the Doctor. While featuring quite possibly the most ridiculous (but purposefully so) foe in the entire collection here it is easily overlooked for just how different this episode is from all the others. Most of all though this episode will emphasize to the Whoobie that not every episode will feature the Doctor trying to save the universe, sometimes it can be much more intimate and ultimately much more diverse than any other show out there.

Featured Doctor:

The 10th Doctor (David Tennant)

Featured Companion(s):

Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)



SEVENTH EPISODE

S4: Episode 11 
Midnight


After having a break from the good Doctor and spending an entire episode free of outright terror or torment (for the most part anyway) we have what I consider to be one of the most masterfully written and acted hours of television ever produced for not only Doctor Who but all television. Fans of the Twilight Zone or what is known as bottle episodes (episodes that take place in a single environment) will eat this extremely unnerving episode up. This is also one of the very rare occassions we see the Doctor working alone which up til now the Whoobie hasn't seen occur just yet. Let there be no doubt however that "Midnight" will be one of those episodes of television that you will find yourself thinking about long after it is over.

Featured Doctor:

The 10th Doctor (David Tennant)

Featured Companion(s):

Donna Noble (Catherine Tate)



EIGHTH EPISODE

S6: Episode 10 
The Girl Who Waited


The Doctor's companions are generally free of harm even though they are constantly put in harms way which can result in your Whoobie thinking they are safe and nothing bad will ever happen to them. While "The Girl Who Waited" doesn't feature the death of a companion (although that does eventually happen) it does show how emotionally brutal and outright dangerous running around with the Doctor can be. Sometimes running head on into battle with the Doctor can be just as dangerous as walking through the same door he does only seconds later. This also happens to be one of Karen Gillan's (Amy Pond) best and most memorable episodes in my opinion. Here the companions are the star.

Featured Doctor:

The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith)

Featured Companion(s):

Amy Pond (Karen Gillan)
Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill)



NINTH EPISODE

S4: Episode 16 
The Waters of Mars


Speaking of the Doctor's companions, if your Whoobie wants to know why they are so instrumental to the Doctor's success one only needs watch this special episode that aired during the final days of David Tennant's run as the prolific Doctor. "The Waters of Mars" looked at as a single episode doesn't really feature any one aspect that can't be found in many other episodes with its rather simple story of an alien menace killing off a team of space explorers one by one. But what it does put into perspective better than any other episode of Doctor Who to date is just how darn dangerous the Doctor can be when left unchecked. This doesn't just apply to potentially bad things he may dabble in but as this episode perfectly orchestrates, it's when he tries to do the right thing when things go haywire the most.

Featured Doctor:

The 10th Doctor (David Tennant)

Featured Companion(s):

None



TENTH EPISODE(S)

S1: Episode(s) 12 & 13
Bad Wolf/The Parting of Ways


Up until now the Whoobie has been exposed to three different Doctor's and a good assortment of companions but hasn't exactly seen anything that could be considered a true explanation or linchpin as to what ties them all together aside from the Tardis and some reoccurring characters. Likewise we have seen a number of alien foes, some one offs and others staples of the Whoverse. But now with the two parter "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of Ways" we get to not only see the Daleks for the first time but more importantly we get to see the process the Doctor goes through when he regenerates. While the episodes up to this point may have seemed random or completely unrelated to the uninitiated, when it is revealed who the Doctor turns into at the end it should leave a big smile of satisfaction on those who have paid attention up until now.

Featured Doctor:

The 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)

Featured Companion(s):

Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)
Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman)



ELEVENTH EPISODE

S5: Episode 14 
A Christmas Carol


Without a doubt the most difficult task of concluding this initial batch of introductory episodes to your Whoobie is what final impression to leave them imprinted with. So why not take everything in a whole different direction with what has become a Doctor Who tradition, the yearly Christmas episode. While there isn't a bad one in the bunch, the reason "A Christmas Carol" stands out so much is its mixture of a classic tale and clever Sci-fi touches. Most of all though this is one of the more uplifting and hopeful episodes of Doctor Who which is needed more than ever after the cataclysmic conclusion of the last episode. In a nutshell, this episode of Doctor Who is the cherry on top of a very eclectic group of episodes that has hopefully at this point imparted to your Whoobie the very best of what the Doctor has to offer which then prompts them to start the series proper with the very first season and discover the Doctor in a whole new way.

Featured Doctor:

The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith)

Featured Companion(s):

Amy Pond (Karen Gillan)
Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill)

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