The first batch of episodes laid the groundwork for the reboot of Doctor Who but batch two immediately deepens the lore. As Christopher Eccleston continues to show his incredible range, Russell T. Davies delivers some of the best episodes of Doctor Who‘s Season 1. This group shows how good Doctor Who can be when it’s clicking on all cylinders. Reminder, this is a series from the perspective of someone watching Doctor Who for the first time, so any ties to larger lore and future events are not going to be present. Sorry in advance!

Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 6 Dalek

Season 1 – Episode 6 – “Dalek” – Directed by Joe Ahearne

IMDB Synopsis: “The TARDIS is drawn to an alien museum deep below the Utah desert, where a ruthless billionaire keeps prisoner the last of the Doctor’s most fearsome enemies.”

Episode Breakdown

Getting introduced to one of the Doctor’s most feared enemies, only to make the audience sympathize with it, is quite the trick. Robert Shearman writes the creature with incredible empathy. With an excellent antagonist in Corey Johnson and Eccleston’s best performance across the ten episodes, “Dalek” is quite impressive. The Nicholas Briggs vocal performance is incredible. When Doctor Who is playing in this sandbox, few shows can compete. The only real drawback is adding Adam (Bruno Langley). He is not bad in a vacuum but gets a lot of screentime for a character that does not work. Another excellent turn by Billie Pipper.

MVP of the Episode

This is a tough break, so we’re delivering a tie. Briggs’ vocal performance is too good to ignore. However, Eccleston’s unbelievable performance brings out the complicated feelings of loss, grief, and forgiveness. He has been charismatic before, but this taps the emotional depths of his talent. I loved this episode, and it quickly took my top spot over the first ten episodes.

Episode Rating: 9/10

Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 7 The Long Game

Season 1 – Episode 7 – “The Long Game” – Directed by Brian Grant

IMDB Synopsis: “In the year 200,000 the Doctor discovers that a satellite with a dark secret is controlling humanity and slowing its development.”

Episode Breakdown

While it would be difficult to live up to the emotional power of “Dalek,” “The Long Game” is uneven at best. While it features one very interesting side character and an entertaining performance from Simon Pegg, the flaws in adding Adam are quickly apparent. It’s almost as if Davies and his team realized it at once because they dump the character by the end. While another companion would later join The Doctor and Rose by the end of the season, it was wise to scrap him as soon as possible.

MVP of the Episode

Simon Pegg – there are not many bright spots in this episode, but Pegg’s cartoonish villain feels like water in the desert. The makeup, the comedy, and the sinister nature that he taps into are all sorely needed to keep “The Long Game” entertaining. Even so, Pegg’s excellence cannot help the episode overcome its challenges.

Episode Rating: 4/10

Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 8 Father's Day

Season 1 – Episode 8 – “Father’s Day” – Directed by Joe Ahearne

IMDB Synopsis: “Rose asks The Doctor to take her to 1987, on the day her father was killed.”

Episode Breakdown

On its face, this “Father’s Day” should be the most emotional episode of the season. However, the writing leans into a plotline that can only have one outcome. While the emotional toll it takes on the characters is never in doubt, the narrative devices do not quite reach the same levels. Still, if one is looking for a good cry, “Father’s Day” will deliver it ten times over.

MVP of the Episode

Through eight episodes, Billie Pipper has been excellent in nearly every scene. Yet “Father’s Day” is the piece de resistance. It’s a powerhouse emotional role that taps into the pathos she had built into the character since episode 1. While the episode occasionally falls into saccharine, if not manipulative territory, Pipper stays true to the character.

Episode Rating: 8/10

Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 9 The Empty Child

Season 1 – Episode 9 – “The Empty Child” – Directed by James Hawes

IMDB Synopsis: “When a spaceship crashes in the middle of the London Blitz the Doctor, Rose, and the enigmatic Captain Jack Harkness find themselves investigating a plague of physical injuries and a little boy in a gas mask.”

Episode Breakdown

Simultaneously creepy and harrowing, “The Empty Child” is a stylistic tour de force. Not only does the episode accurately capture the blitzkrieg on camera, but it also does so with upsetting imagery. With homeless children stealing turkey, a young ghost in a gas mask wandering the halls, and zombies on the prowl, “The Empty Child” has enough going for it with its A plot. However, the B plot introduces Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). Unlike Adam, Jack fits the tone, style, and adventure of Doctor Who.

MVP of the Episode

While Barrowman will star in additional episodes (and a spin-off), his introduction is incredible. Barrowman plays a typical rogue character and still stands out. Not only is he very funny, but he’s genuinely charming as hell. He’s excellent throughout his Doctor Who arc, but this episode helps us forget the disasters of other bad tertiary companions (Adam).

Episode Rating: 9/10

Doctor Who Season 1 Episode 10 The Doctor Dances

Season 1 – Episode 10 – “The Doctor Dances” – Directed by James Hawes

IMDB Synopsis: “The gas mask zombies are on the rise as the plague spreads across war-torn London.”

Episode Breakdown

Arguably the creepiest episode of the show yet, “The Doctor Dances” crescendos on a young woman accepting her mistakes. It’s a bit saccharine, but every character in the episode gets an excellent scene. Perhaps the most surprisingly effective aspect is the love triangle. Eccleston and Pipper do not read as romantic partners through the first nine episodes, but this one captures the chemistry they have been building. While they do not make sense as a romantic partnership, you have to consider it here.

MVP of the Episode

Steven Moffat, a future showrunner on Doctor Who, swings big across these episodes. He lands the plane, both literally and figuratively. Moffats helps Eccleston deliver another best-in-show because of the ample opportunity afforded to him. Moffat correctly pushes character moments over all else, leading to a devastating but heartfelt finale. Other shows only dream of what he pulls off here.

Episode Rating: 9/10

What do you think of this batch of Season 1 Doctor Who? Let us know in the comments below. Check out Part 1 of Season 1 here.

Check out our Reviews, Recaps, and Features on TV here!

Leave a Reply