NuWho 10th Anniversary: What Is Your Most Underrated Series 2 Story?

This year, Doctor Who has been back on our screen ten whole years. It feels like yesterday that the TARDIS materialised once more; suitably, it also feels like forever.

So join us as we celebrate a decade with the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors. Let’s find out which serials are our favourites, and shine a light on the underrated ones too. Watch us run.

And then vote on your favourites. At the end of the year, we’ll find out which serials showcase our beloved show at the height of its game.

Back in 2006, a new Doctor was on the block. We’ve taken a look at the firm favourites, but what’s the most underrated serial of Series 2?

Becky Crockett: Fear Her

Fear Her

Many fans don’t care for the episode and find it either unintentionally funny or just plain bad, but aside from the weird crazy voice they give Chloe when the alien inside her is speaking, the episode is quite good, and very Doctor Who. A lonely alien that finds a lonely little girl and gives her the power to trap people in her sketches is an interesting premise and themes of being afraid and feeling lonely are ones that kids watching can easily relate to.

The gags in the episode, like having to re-park the TARDIS and Rose talking to the cat (but the Doctor thinking she’s talking to him) are quite funny as well. Just wish they’d been able to have Tennant run with the Olympic flame in real life!

James Whittington: Love & Monsters

Love & Monsters - 10th Tenth Doctor

A Doctor-lite story and a soundtrack by ELO? It can only be one thing: the much debated Love & Monsters!

One of Series 2’s finest, it’s packed with wit, pathos, and wonderfully over-the-top moments of pure sentimentality. Come on, who didn’t have a bottom lip wobble when the end chords of Mr Blue Sky was playing as lead character Elton Pope (Marc Warren) realises what really happened to his mother? He is ably support by Shirley Henderson and Simon Greenall as a gang who get together to look for the Doctor and instead find themselves – well, for a short time anyway.

The Abzorbaloff (Peter Kay) is a forgettable pantomime monster – let’s be honest, Kay was a piece of stunt casting the JN-T would have been proud of – and here only as a metaphor for the footprints the Doctor makes in time; how people are sucked into his life and then forgotten about.

The music grounds the adventure and gives us a clue as to what is all about. There’s nothing wrong with being normal or different or loving someone, or in this case, something who are different to others or what society dictates as “normal”. It’s about being yourself, and being comfortable doing so.

Not to mention probably one of the only times a very naughty joke slipped by innocent viewers…

Alex Skerratt: The Christmas Invasion

The Christmas Invasion - 10th Tenth Doctor Rose

It seems very strange to me that The Christmas Invasion is often overlooked. In a sense, it is one of the most important episodes of Doctor Who.

For a start, it was the first ever Christmas special, unless you count the obscure Hartnell episode of the 1960s. In addition, it had to establish a new Doctor, with actor David Tennant facing a similar problem to Patrick Troughton in 1966, when he took over from the first Doctor, William Hartnell. In this instance, the 2005 re-launch had been a success, but there was a nagging feeling of doubt that the show could survive without the man who had made it possible (that is, Christopher Eccleston). So it had to tick a lot of boxes, whilst being a ripping yarn in its own right, and I think, on the whole, it succeeded. The particular highlights for me are the killer Christmas tree, Billie Piper’s awesome performance, the sword fight, and the famous wardrobe scene. So yes – I look back on this episode very fondly!

Philip Bates: The Idiot’s Lantern

Idiot's Lantern - The Wire

Series 2 is quite an underrated series, but there’s one episode in particular that I feel is overlooked far too often. The Idiot’s Lantern isn’t anywhere close to the very best of Doctor Who, but then again, it’s far from being The Twin Dilemma as well. It’s probably about average, yet it remains an episode I always look forward to revisiting.

The thing is, I can’t think of anything particularly bad about it. Sure, it doesn’t especially make sense that the victims of the Wire have no faces, but let’s put that down to artistic license. Because really, they’re horrible images: just think of that scene where the Doctor’s in a cage full of them. They’re just stood there, Auton-like – then suddenly, they become aware of him, and they turn towards him. Their bodies arch with frustration. Hands grasp at the darkness. That’s proper horror.

It also has one of my favourite scenes of the Tenth Doctor era, when the Doctor is being interviewed by DI Bishop. Some really witty, clever dialogue and the tables have turned. “Start from the beginning. Tell me everything you know.”

There are other lovely little nuances, like the excellent Maureen Lipman glancing off-screen with contempt as she says, “I shall regain the corporeal body, which my fellow kind denied me” – almost as if they’re producers, forcing her to go through with this grotesque performance.

Everything about The Idiot’s Lantern is different: the style, the monster, the idea, the Doctor slicking his hair back and riding around on a scooter. It’s the 1950s! Doctor Who doesn’t often do the Fifties! But here it is, feeling bright, and fresh, and just that little bit sinister.

Here it is, ready to rip your face off. Surprisingly brilliant stuff.

Jonathan Appleton: Tooth and Claw

This one rarely seems to feature in ‘best of…’ lists, perhaps because it represents a solid, well-told type of episode that tends to get eclipsed by the more noteworthy, game-changing ones and the big, bold season finales.

Like Horror of Fang Rock, to which it’s been compared, it was apparently written quickly (in this case when The Runaway Bride was dropped back to form the 2006 Christmas special), and that sense of pressure and urgency comes through in this pacy story. Good performances from the guest cast, a nicely realised period setting, and one of those wonderfully Doctor Who-ish plot turns that don’t really stand up to close examination (wouldn’t Prince Albert just have urged his wife to stay away from that part of Scotland?) combine to form an atmospheric tale that grips from the get-go.

Queen Victoria’s banishment of the Doctor and Rose undercuts their larking about rather well – an early indication that things won’t always turn out well for these two.

And does anyone else feel as I do that, terrific as David Tennant was as the Doctor, it would have been great if he’d used his Scottish accent throughout his time…?

James Lomond: The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit

The Impossible Planet - Ood

In the preceding article, my top rated Series 2 story was The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit. And sticking to the title criteria I am putting forward my most underrated Series 2 story as… The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit. Simply put – it’s hard to give this story enough credit.

Head, shoulders and a lithe, rippling torso above the rest, this is sublime Doctor Who. But casting a quick eye at its Series 2 companions it seems to be free from a lot of what *doesn’t* work in other episodes. It doesn’t suffer from panto performances, failure to scare, failure to look awesome, failure to intrigue, failure to sustain our attention, and failure to look utterly beautiful. Sarah Jane and K9 were laboured with a childish storyline, New Earth was laboured with forced comedy, the werewolf was laboured with pointless European Samurai monks (just a hint of explanation is all we needed), the Cybermen were burdened with rewriting Spare Parts (impossible- it’s too good), the Wire failed to grab us, Love & Monsters failed to take the show seriously, Fear Her failed to keep the pace up, and the finale let us down with the ultimate Dalek-Cyberman-meeting-fangasm turning into a bitch fight.

Ladies and gentlemen: Only Beelzebub and his chorus of red-eyed spaghetti men emerge from Series 2 unscathed.

Drew Boynton: Love & Monsters

Love & Monsters - LINDA

I’m going to do it. Yep, I’m gonna do it. Okay, here goes nothin’! Love & Monsters is the most underrated episode of Series 2.

Only people who have something against having fun could not like at least something in this episode: It features Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) at her most likable, winning guest performances from Marc Warren and Shirley Henderson, a funky ELO soundtrack, a goofily bizarro performance from Peter Kay (I will never think of “eczema” the same way), and a jam-packed Doctor-lite Russell T. Davies script.

I think one reason that Love & Monsters gets so much hate is because it is SO different. Except for brief appearances by the Tenth Doctor and Rose, it really has the feel of a completely different show. And yes, I have to admit, the Abzorbaloff is pretty embarrassing, with his rubbery costume, Fat B*st*rd attitude, and sumo-wrestler attire. But a person has to remember, he was designed by a child… for a TV contest!

To sum up, Love & Monsters is the most underrated episode of Series 2 because it is an absorbing slice of fun and entertainment. Don’t take it too seriously, and it definitely won’t bring you down.

That’s what we think. Now it’s your turn! Vote below for the most underrated serial of Series 2, and we’ll find out the overall winner later this year…

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  1. Dr Moo says:

    (You realise that you’ve listed the two-parters as separate stories in the poll, right?)

  2. Dr Moo says:

    I voted for Fear Her. It was recently voted second worst story of all time, but it really isn’t that bad. Yes it’s rubbish but it’s not so rubbish as, say, Time & The Rani or Love & Monsters or In The Forest Of The Night. It deserves some hate but not quite as much hate as it gets.

    • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

      Yeah, it’s not that bad. I was binge-watching the first seasons of Who starting out, and I just remember thinking it was mediocre. The fact that I think of it all when thinking of bad episodes actually has more with so many other fans bringing it up. I guess peers influence me more than I realize.

    • Tink says:

      I’m glad I;m not alone! I’ve liked Fear Her since I first saw it. I hate that people list it among the worst – Love & Monsters is far worse, as are some of the classic era stuff. Fear Her holds up after repeated views far better than some other acclaimed episodes, like Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. Much as I love Capt Jack and Nine, I can only take so much Mummy? Mummy? Are you my mummy?

  3. Jean says:

    Oh my, it’s so hard to pick one. I like all of these episodes, well, except The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit. Just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I’m sure if I watch it a few more times I’ll come to like it as well as the others.

    • Dr Moo says:

      Hopefully you will, it was my personal favourite from the second series!

      • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

        My personal favorite of the season as well.
        I think the story does something well that is particularly hard to do. It asks us to make up our own minds without giving all the answers. Often times, that answer is what fans will say when a story makes no sense, and is a flimsy defense. But I feel this story asks and frames these questions, and does so in a simple manner. So, when it does not really answer every detail of the identity of the Big Bad, I feel it isn’t cheating the audience. The questions if it originates from before time, and that there is a whole system perhaps beyond the universe (Warriors of Light, Legions from Hell, etc.) aren’t answered. The Doctor argues a very reasoned, scientific view of the universe. When a very rational person is confronted with a powerful creature that resembles a supposed mythological monster, he/she will try to reason its existence, and not seek out religious explanation. I agree with the Doctor on this. But religious people could be right. The Doctor and I have a good argument, but we aren’t certain, and we could be wrong.
        The Devil creature is ambiguous. Is it the Devil pictured in modern Christianity? Probably not. Could be a being far greater that trumps that, and inspires versions of itself across time and space through some universal background though? Very possible (which I guess makes relgions into Devil creature fanfictions). Or could it be a very evil, famous creature that claims even more power and glory than is rightfully his? Also quite likely.
        My biggest gripe? The birth of a streak of not giving a damn about Ood deaths. That sight of poor, shivering Oods drifting into the void is heart-breaking. Ood may be ugly, but they were just innocent pawns.

        • Dr Moo says:

          The ambiguity is definitely a good thing that enhances the story. As a Christian myself (and as part of a largely Christian family) I was a little wary of what awaited me going into the episodes at the time but through the openendedness of the story it manages to avoid any potential issues that it could have raised while still managing to raise several intriguing questions about the difficult subject matter. The end result is one of my favourite Dr Who stories, not in my top ten but probably in my top twenty. It’s also my number five favourite with the 10th Doctor.

  4. Robert Lythgoe says:

    Love And Monsters. It has its obvious faults, but it’s an amusing and experimental episode with a great examination of the fandom.
    If we’re talking overrated, then The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. So unoriginal and bland.

    • Dr Moo says:

      Wow. You and I couldn’t disagree more on those two stories! I absolutely despise L&M (I hate it so much!!!) but thought that TIP/TSP was — even though my Christian faith is at odds with a lot of the story — a unique work of creative genius.

      …but what other fandom can allow for such polarisation of opinion as this?

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