11th Doctor – Matt Smith (2010-2013)

Matt Smith (2010-2013)

Matt Smith (2010-2013)

Like Peter Davison, Matt Smith had the difficult task of following one of the most popular actors of the series, but by making the Doctor quirky and awkward while maintaining the humor and quick with of his predecessors, Matt Smith has managed to make his performance just as strong and intelligent as David Tennant before him.

As one of the youngest Doctors, his performance is often a Peter Pan act, but, in the quiet moments, his Doctor, while being the youngest, still seems the oldest. His performance, like the Doctor he has claimed to have the greatest affinity with Patrick Troughton, is funny and seemingly effortless.

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Best Companions: Clara Oswin Oswald / Amy Pond

Clara Oswin Oswald

Clara Oswin Oswald

Amy Pond

Amy Pond

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Honorable Mentions: Rory Williams / River Song / Craig Owens

Rory Williams

Rory Williams

River Song

River Song

Craig Owens

Craig Owens

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Worst Companions:  Jenny Flint / Dorium Maldovar

Jenny Flint

Jenny Flint

Dorium Maldovar

Dorium Maldovar

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BEST EPISODES (STORY ARCS):

The Name of the Doctor

The Name of the Doctor

NUMBER #1

The Name of the Doctor (#239)

Why it’s the best: The season seven finale of the new series brings the Doctor to a place a time lord is never meant to go and brings up the mystery surrounding his name once more. It is the burning question that according to the Silence must never be answered – Doctor Who? What makes this episode so terrific is the way that the set up and mystery surrounding Clara are finally resolved, and by bringing back one of the greatest monsters in Who history, The Great Intelligence (one of my favorites) in a way that is absolutely terrifying. Weaving the story through all the previous incarnations was ingenious and makes this episode the perfect culmination for the Doctor’s story so far and a terrific lead in to the 50th Anniversary episode.  It packs an emotional punch that really leaves an impression and really brings the promise of 50 years of the Doctor to a head. For all these reasons, this is one of the greatest episodes of the Doctor’s long journey.

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The Doctor's Wife

The Doctor’s Wife

NUMBER #2

The Doctor’s Wife (#216)

Why it’s the best:  Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite writers) penned this brilliant episode which is the best stand alone episode of the eleventh Doctor’s stories. Taking us once again outside the known universe, the Doctor is introduced to the thing we never knew we wanted to see  – the TARDIS in human form (brilliantly portrayed by Suranne Jones).  Both funny and poignant, it reminds us that so much of the Doctor Who narrative is really about two things: A boy and his box.

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The Girl Who Waited

The Girl Who Waited

NUMBER #3

The Girl Who Waited (#221)

Why it’s the best:  The episodes that are the most fun for me (which I may have mentioned once or twice already) are the ones that show the potential problems with time travel and time itself. One of a few arcs which explored the idea of dual time streams, this is one of the best.  In this arc, the Doctor and Rory are presented with an Amy who has aged fifty years alone, and as other episodes before it, explores what can happen to the companions the Doctor leaves behind.  In addition to this, it is a real emotional trial for Amy and Rory and went a long way toward solidifying them as the outstanding couple of the series, as they are faced with impossible choices.  This is a terrific showcase for Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill’s excellent acting in the series as well.

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Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

NUMBER #4

Journey to the Center of the TARDIS (#236)

Why it’s the best: When the TARDIS is captured by a space salvage crew it instigates this adventure, and while not the first episode to feature the interior of the TARDIS at length {see The Invasion of Time (#97) and The Masque of Mandragora (#86) for more great scenes of the TARDIS} , it is certainly the first time in the new series that we’ve had glimpses of some of the mysteries the TARDIS contains. It is also without question the first time we’ve seen some of the awe-inspiring visions of what makes the TARDIS function. With plenty of hidden gems of history from the show, this is a great episode for fans of the old series and the new, and a terrific adventure.

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Amy's Choice

Amy’s Choice

NUMBER #5

Amy’s Choice (#208)

Why it’s the best:  One of the things that is the most fun about Doctor Who, particularly in the new series, is that the companions are frequently faced with moral dilemmas and choices that reveal their true character. Amy’s Choice is a great example of this. Amy Pond is important in the eleventh Doctor’s life, but not until this episode is it really clear how important the Doctor is to Amy. Like many other cases of the show’s history, this episode reveals a lot about the Doctor himself without really seeming to do so, and the episode also features one of Matt Smith’s greatest performances.  With the addition of Toby Jones as a guest star in the form of the Dream Lord, this is one of the show’s finest moments for character development.

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Vincent and the Doctor

Vincent and the Doctor

NUMBER #6

Vincent and the Doctor (#210)

Why it’s the best: Much of new Doctor Who has done a great job of having seasonal arcs and presenting a story or mystery that is woven into the thread of a whole season, and some tie into the long history of the show itself, but there are some exceptional stand alone episodes that feature an adventure in time (or space) that are self-contained and reveal something wonderful and unique. Vincent and the Doctor is amongst the best of these. With a fabulous guest star performance from Tony Curran as Vincent Van Gogh, The Doctor and Amy travel back in time to investigate a mystery discovered in one of Van Gogh’s paintings. As one of the mostly historical adventures of the show, this episode is more about Van Gogh than it is about the monster of the week, which is largely incidental in the story. Another story about the power of time and history, this is another to pack a real emotional punch.

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A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

NUMBER #7

A Christmas Carol (#213)

Why it’s the best: The new Doctor Who, (in keeping with the format of many modern BBC series) always features a Christmas story arc. For the most part, I have never been much of a fan of the Christmas arcs, but the arcs done by Steven Moffatt have been exceptional, and there is none better than this one. Of course A Christmas Carol has been done by many franchises before, but Doctor Who seems the most perfectly fitted to the story as it is about the times of a man’s life, past, present, and future, and who does that better than the Doctor? By giving the story its own unique Doctor Who spin and helped tremendously by the additions of guest stars Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins, this episode makes the old new again, and makes a classic story beautiful,  a really heartfelt Christmas episode.

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The Rings of Akhaten

The Rings of Akhaten

NUMBER #8

The Rings of Akhaten (#233)

Why it’s the best: As one of the first adventures through space with Clara, The Rings of Akhaten does a good job of helping to develop Clara’s back story while simultaneously presenting an incredibly awe inspiring new world for the Doctor and Clara to explore. Another great example of Matt Smith’s excellent portrayal of the Doctor, this incredible place and story are one of the more interesting journeys the eleventh Doctor has taken.

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The Angels Take Manhattan

The Angels Take Manhattan

NUMBER #9

The Angels Take Manhattan (#230)

Why it’s the best: Amy and Rory’s final episode as the Doctor’s companions, showcases both how far these characters have journeyed together and the heart of the characters themselves. Another episode to feature the hugely popular Weeping Angels, the story is presented through the pages of a mystery novel this time and is a tribute to all the things that made Amy and Rory’s time with the Doctor so wonderful. A heartfelt and amazing send off for two of the most memorable characters of the series make this another outstanding story.

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The Snowmen

The Snowmen

NUMBER #10

The Snowmen (#231)

Why it’s the best: As the second best of the Christmas episodes, The Snowmen did a great job of both showing what happens to the Doctor after loosing two of his closest companions and traveling alone. We get a glimpse at how dark the Doctor’s world might really be without someone in it to share it with him, and with the reintroduction of actress Jenna Coleman as the character Clara, the Doctor has a new mystery to solve and a new spirited companion to help him again. Everything about their meeting seems like fate, and is the set up for the Season seven finale. Add to that the reintroduction of the characters of Strax, Jenny, and Madame Vastra and the return of the classic monster The Great Intelligence, and this becomes a really fantastic episode.

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The Lodger

The Lodger

NUMBER #11

The Lodger (#211)

Why it’s the best: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have the Doctor as a roommate? This question is essentially the premise of this story arc and the answer is obviously it would be both terrible and awesome. No story has ever done a better job of showcasing how awkwardly our beloved Doctor fits into an ordinary human’s every day life, and no everyday companion was so endearing as the sweet Craig Owens portrayed by guest star James Corden. As the Doctor becomes Craig’s lodger and attempts to act like a normal human, his strangeness just becomes all the more apparent, another excellent example of great character development that the new series excels at, The Lodger is one of the funniest.

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The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour

NUMBER #12

The Eleventh Hour (#203)

Why it’s the best: Following an epic finale to David Tennant’s extremely popular portrayal of the Doctor, Matt Smith has the challenge of convincing us that he is still the Doctor and making us fall in love with him all over again. Anyone unfamiliar with the series could easily start with this episode and jump into the current Doctor’s story without missing a beat, as this story is also the beginning of Steven Moffatt’s control of the show and they get off to a racing start, introducing the acerbic and yet endearing Amelia Pond as the eleventh Doctor’s first and main companion, and creating a great intro to one of the best season long arcs in the new series, the crack in time in Amelia Pond’s wall. By the end of the episode fans are convinced that while he might be a different Doctor, Matt Smith is without a doubt The Doctor.

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The God Complex

The God Complex

NUMBER #13

The God Complex (#222)

Why it’s the best:  I am a huge fan of the scary or creepy episodes, and one of the creepiest of the eleventh Doctor’s stories, The God Complex, features a monster that lives in a place in space that is made to look like an ordinary hotel on 21st century earth and feeds off the fears of its victims. Every person who is brought to the hotel (by unknown means) has a room that is targeted to them and in the room they face their greatest fear. The episode is like a strange nod to The Shining in some ways, and is frequently disturbing, but what is really great about the episode is not the horror of it, but what it reveals about the Doctor and his relationship with Amy. Another poignant relationship episode for the Doctor, it reveals how much he really loves his friend.

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Asylum of the Daleks

Asylum of the Daleks

NUMBER #14

Asylum of the Daleks (#226)

Why it’s the best: While the plot of this arc is a bit confusing at moments and moves fast as lightning, with Amy and Rory more mature in their relationship, and clearly it has been some time since they last saw the Doctor, and the relationship of all three might be stressed, but it is also a fantastic premise, a planet that is an Asylum for criminally insane Daleks that the Doctor and his companions have to search and save the Daleks from. Strange and yet somehow brilliant, this episode is on this list first and foremost, however as it introduces the character of Oswin Oswald to the series, and she is smart, sassy, and just what the Doctor ordered (pardon the pun), with a fantastic twist, it is definitely one of the best.

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Pandorica Opens

The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang

NUMBER #15

The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (#212)

Why it’s the best: Steven Moffatt is pretty well gifted in giving us elaborate stories that are so timey-whimey that they interlace backward forward and loop around like a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes this works. Other times it leaves us wondering at the gaping plot holes, but none was as completely satisfying as the two episode story of The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang. It was a culmination of everything that occurred throughout season 5 and set the stage for everything that would follow throughout season 6 coming to full and complete resolution in The Time of the Doctor. Matt Smith’s Doctor was always about this story and all the rest of his stories could be best linked to what happens here. It is integral to his turn as the Doctor, and it is a truly epic story about Amy, River, Rory, and the Doctor. It just gets better and better with every viewing and deserves its place on the list here.

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WORST EPISODE (STORY ARC):

Let’s Kill Hitler (#219)

Why it’s the worst: This arc has some really great ideas in it. It has a spaceship the size of a person that can morph into any shape, and has miniaturized humans inside it controlling it. It presents an idea that anyone who has ever thought of time travel has considered, the notion of going back in time and killing someone like Hitler, to change history and prevent things from happening. Plus it has got some of the most hilarious dialogue of the series. So why is it the worst?

Even though the 5th Doctor’s regeneration proved that the regeneration process can cause a time lord to become unstable (see my opinion on the 6th Doctor’s arcs for my feelings on that), the ways in which River Song was ruined by this story arc cannot be overstated. Stephen Moffatt went to great pains to create an enigmatic, wise, fun, and strong character,  the quintessential match for the Doctor in a sense, and effectively destroyed her in one fell swoop with this arc. I say again, the ways in which River’s character was ruined in this arc cannot be overstated. While she is still a very strong character throughout the series, she got a back story in this episode that was seriously beneath her and made no sense, and I think this is largely the reason why fans are torn over this character. The whole effort was just not good enough.

Let's Kill Hitler

Let’s Kill Hitler

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