NuWho 10th Anniversary: What Is Your Favourite Series 3 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.

After the battle of Canary Wharf, the Doctor meets two new friends: Donna Noble, a feisty redhead who initially turns down further trips in the TARDIS, and Martha Jones, a would-be doctor herself. She has one trip in the TARDIS: back to meet Shakespeare. And another into the far future to the gridlocked undercity of New New York. Oh, and go on then: another one to meet the Daleks. This one trip carries on – until they meet Professor Yana, striving for Utopia in the dying of the light…

Drew Boynton: Blink

Blink - Weeping Angels

Everyone knows why: it’s the BEST. Probably the best Doctor Who episode ever.

The story, the direction, and the acting are all top-notch. Carey Mulligan is radiant as Sally Sparrow, the best non-companion-companion ever. In 45 minutes, Steven Moffat’s writing hits emotional highs and lows that he hasn’t approached in five years as showrunner. The Weeping Angels were truly scary and inventive villains. The DVD conversations with the Doctor are brilliant. In fact, everything about the WHOLE episode is just brilliant. If everyone here hasn’t picked Blink, then I would be very surprised… and that’s even with the amazing Human Nature/Family of Blood, the entertaining Gridlock (come back, Brannigan!), and the dazzling Utopia (“I AM THE MASTER!”) all in the same series!

Alex Skerratt: The Shakespeare Code

The Shakespeare Code 4

I’d been longing for the Doctor to come face to face with the bearded Bard ever since the 2005 relaunch, and it’s fair to say that the resultant ep did not disappoint!

I will freely admit that Dean Lennox Kelly looked absolutely nothing like the eponymous scribe (I think the Time-Space Visualiser in The Chase had it sussed), but his scarecrow hair and sultry demeanour ably highlighted the cool side of iambic pentameter. And what’s more, the story was actually good. Hats off to Gareth Roberts for a ripping yarn that managed to encompass Martha’s first TARDIS trip, witches, Bedlam, The Globe Theatre, and Queen Elizabeth the Oneth.

It’s one of those stories that I can comfortably rewatch over and over again, with an absolute minimum of mental preparation, and that’s no mean feat. “Be not afraid of greatness:’ ’twas well writ!”

Joe Siegler: Utopia

Utopia - The Master YANA

Some will call it Part 1/3 of the series ending story, but I see it as more standalone than the last two. That quibble aside…

There’s MUCH to love in Utopia. The opening scene where they land at Torchwood HQ (which still hadn’t been blown up by Jack’s stomach bomb), and do a “pit stop”. Jack’s leap onto the TARDIS and through the vortex. It’s way OTT, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun. We get to the other side of the titles, and there’s a great scene which goes back to Eccleston’s finale about abandoning Jack. A chase ensues, with Jack saying “I missed this”, and after the characters showing their teeth, we’re introduced to Sir Derek Jacobi.

Derek’s performance in this story is brilliant, and by the time he is finally revealed to be the Master, you ache that you didn’t get more with Jacobi (Shalka aside). Jacobi’s time as Professor Yana is a great; you feel bad that he’s stuck there with bad coffee. His time as the Master is really short, but spot on.

There’s also Chantho – who is a bit of a goofy character – but the flirting with Captain Jack is great, and the scene with Martha and her about swearing is a great character development moment, and fun too.

But of course, the return of the Master, and then the regeneration into John Simm is awesome. That they included the voices of Anthony Ainley and Roger Delgado in this episode was just the icing on the cake.

And then there’s Blink, which is all kinds of awesome, but Utopia gets it for me for all the “Who History” and fun in it. This is by far my favorite Series 3 episode: lots of fun, lots of Doctor Who moments. It is one I can (and have) rewatched several times. In fact, I just might do that now.

Christian Cawley: The Lazarus Experiment

The Lazarus Experiment - Gatiss Tenth 10th Doctor

It isn’t just the Pertwee era style protagonist or the fact that Mark Gatiss gets his first flavour of acting in Doctor Who in front of the camera. Nor is it that he is deliciously creepy, the possibilities of what Professor Lazarus has achieved dancing in front of his eyes with every moment on camera. I’m not even discouraged by the CGI monster, which while looking nothing like Mark Gatiss (and resembling something from a computer game five years previously) is nevertheless engineered perfectly into the scenario with clever use of the set.

This isn’t a favourite even because of the beautiful Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Martha’s sister Tish.

Rather, The Lazarus Experiment works so well for me because it is the first time in Series 3 that we get a sensation that “something else” is going on, something that only we have a hint of, that Martha’s overprotective mum believes she is clued up on (but isn’t) and that the Doctor is blissfully aware of. That guy in the suit warning Mrs Jones of the Doctor; the Gallifreyan-style circular logo of Lazarus’ company. The clues are all there, building up to the great reveal of the Master in Utopia a full five episodes later. Stephen Greenhorn’s script is perfectly paced, too, rounded off with that moment in the cathedral.

Darkness and anticipation, with a good chunk of pathos from Gatiss at the end. Brilliant.

Jonathan Appleton: Human Nature/ The Family of Blood

Human Nature - 10th Tenth Doctor Nurse Redfern

Probably the highlight for me since the series returned in 2005, Paul Cornell’s adaptation of his earlier novel proved just how far the programme was willing to go to put its lead characters through emotional torment. All those people unable, for a variety of reasons, to say who they really are or how they truly feel. The Doctor’s decision to give up the very thing that makes him who he is is made for the best of reasons, but has the most catastrophic results: innocent people die, Martha has to endure ghastly racism, and poor Joan has her heart broken.

Was David Tennant ever better in the role? Was there ever a scarier little girl on the screen? Did you ever blub so much at the conclusion of an episode as this one? For me it’s a no to all three.

James LomondBlink

Blink - Weeping Angel

Well it’s Blink, coz, innit? While it leaves the TARDIS crew languishing in 1960s domesticity and focuses on an (admittedly extraordinary) day-in-the-life of a woman we’ve never met before, it does it so very, very well.

Blink packs in the themes and tropes but does it with such style. When The Moff does The Moff well, (assisted by brilliant direction and performances) he can turn from horror to comedy to tears in a few moments. The “until the rain ends” scene does this perfectly. Given that all the information being fed to Sally Sparrow comes from her later recollections and those of people around her, telling her that he will live “until the rain stops” is both terribly poetic but very plausible. And it works.

It’s got well written, plausible characters with just enough lightness and realism to make the fantasy sail by as if it were all completely normal. Blink is metatextual up to its eyeballs but again with such cheeky style it just works: “The angels have the phone box” and putting that on T-Shirt; look to your left; and why does nobody ever go to the police?

And then there are the most chilling enemies modern Who has produced – and they’re done so CHEAPLY! This is British Sci-fi at it’s very best. LOVE.

Philip Bates: Smith and Jones

Smith and Jones - 10th Tenth Doctor Martha

Series 3 started off really well: we have Shakespeare, and the sublime Gridlock. Then a misstep in New York. Back on track again with The Lazarus Experiment (yes, I did enjoy that one), 42, and the obvious fan-favourites… Then the finale ultimately let me down. But what a strong run of stories!

Why? Perhaps because it all felt so very fresh and exciting.

I remember the excitement leading up to Series 3 well, and particularly how much I wanted to see great big space rhinos on the moon. Martha’s first trip into time and space, like humanity’s itself, starts on the lunar surface. Smith and Jones sums up Doctor Who so brilliantly.

We have insane ideas that all somehow gel together; the awesomeness of space and time travel truly hitting home; rain going upwards; grim gags about straws; police for hire; hauntingly majestic music; and great direction from the always-top-notch Charles Palmer.

Underneath all this is the core message of not judging by appearances. The Judoon are a bit thick, but they’re not the bad guys they’re initially purported to be. The true villain? Oh, that sweet little lady with the salt deficiency. The Doctor, too, looks like us, and his time machine is made of wood.

Right in the middle of all this is the wonderful Freema Agyeman, one of the most underrated companions of all. She’s smart and quick, questioning and logical. She won’t even call the Doctor by his name – not until he proves himself properly. And she’s dragged down by a bickering family who, frankly, we don’t see enough of. (Any excuse for more face-time with Gugu Mbatha-Raw.)

Sure, the Doctor pulling a plug is a slight let down, but the rest of this story is a beautiful fairytale.

Becky Crockett: Gridlock

Gridlock - 10th Tenth Doctor Brannigan

It’s simply a good storyline: the whole dying Face of Boe clue (“you are not alone”) to the upcoming stories, all the different people in the cars in the under-city – plus David Tennant and kittens.

Nothing beats Tennant and kittens.

Scott Varnham: Utopia

Utopia running 10th Tenth Doctor Martha Jack

For me, Utopia created hype for a story that no other has been able to live up to since. This was the story where Captain Jack (one of the few companions I actually cared about) was coming back. I’d been waiting for this since the end of Torchwood‘s first series. When I actually sat down and watched it, I was not disappointed. The banter between the three main characters was fantastic, it cleared up a few unanswered questions, and the script was well-written.

It’s not perfect (what are the Futurekind, exactly? Where did the Master’s TARDIS end up?), but no Doctor Who story is. One of the few times Doctor Who has been able to live up to the hype, for me. Full marks, Rusty.

James Whittington: Blink

Blink Sally Larry

The strongest story from a rather patchy season, Blink is one of the stand-out stories from the whole of the show’s 50-odd year run. Doctor-lite, it focuses not on the resident companion but on the best companion that never was, Sally Sparrow, played perfectly by soon-to-be Hollywood star Carey Mulligan. Moffat’s script about “quantum locked” Weeping Angels that have the power to send you back to the past is eerie and packed with jumps and intelligence with the Doctor really only appearing as DVD Easter Eggs segments and at the end.

This smart expansion of a short story originally written for the Doctor Who Annual in 2006 contains an over-arching melancholy of our own mortality that gives it a bleakness that is deep and moving. Its power is in the sparse use of the Doctor and Martha; we get flashes of their dynamic rather than the over reliance on Martha looking doe-eyed at the Doctor and bemoaning the lack of attention he gives her. Though the Weeping Angels would return on numerous occasions that effectively removed their impact it is this episode that they will be judged and which finally gave the new run of Doctor Who the horror injection it so sorely needed.

Those are a few of our favourites from Series 3. Now it’s your turn! Vote below for your favourite, and we’ll find out the overall winner later this year…

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  1. Castellan Spandrel says:

    Lawks, this is a toughie, as there’s two standouts.

    I’ve opted for Human Nature/Family of Blood, simply because Blink often gets the plaudits over it.

    I’ve watched both again very recently, after Empty Child/ Dr Dances and Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways. I know this is about S3, but I was surprised to find I enjoyed Empty Child/Dr Dances the least of the four, while the other three are still very exciting, top notch stories. Not that EC isn’t; I think it’s simply that the ‘child/parent bond’ and ‘tech gone wrong’ themes, amongst others, have become overused in the 10 years since it was first shown, which takes the edge off it now.

    On S3, I also still like The Shakespeare Code a lot. It has a certain verbal wit and visual style. Smith and Jones is entertaining. I seem to recall 42 is kind of okay without really grabbing the tension afforded by an adventure that was hyped as unfolding in ‘real time’.

    The rest don’t do a lot for me, barring the last 10 minutes of Utopia, which, with Blink and HN/FOB, reaches a kind of peak of modern Who for me.

    • Castellan Spandrel says:

      Despite not being too fond of Sound of Drums/ LOTTL, I do like the S3 story arc involving Saxon, the Lazarus machine, Francine, the fob watch, etc. It unfolded brilliantly over the episodes.

  2. Guest says:

    Utopia is, like it or not, part one of three. Deal with it.

    • James McLean says:

      I see your point, but is Planet of the Daleks part two of two? Logopolis part two of three? It’s a mini-arc, I agree, but it is a self contained story with an open end.

      • Dr Moo says:

        It’s ambiguous and a matter of preference as to how you define it. Personally I’m with the Guest on this one.

        In a similar manner there’s Turn Left as potentially part 1/3 and the final scenes of Closing Time can support a case for calling it part 1/2. A Good Man Goes to War is possibly part 3 of The Rebel Flesh/ The Almost People. Let’s not forget E-Space. And as for The Key to Time and The Trial of a Time Lord… Don’t even go there!!!

      • Castellan Spandrel says:

        The production team stated at the time that Utopia is part one of three, so it’s official, though oddly they didn’t do the same thing with Turn Left and Stolen Earth/Journey’s End the following year.

        • Dr Moo says:

          Plus there’s having Planet of the Dead officially billed as the 200th story which is only the case if…
          -Utopia is a part one.
          -Turn Left is a standalone.
          -Minisodes are not included.
          -The Trial of a Time Lord is one story.
          -The Key to Time is six stories.
          -Trilogies (E-Space, Black Guardian, etc) are three stories.

          But that’s the official stance but it does, as with a lot of these things, come down to personal preference.

  3. TheLazyWomble says:

    I agree about Human Nature/Family of Blood, but for me it’s Blink. I don’t think Mr Moff has written anything this good since.

    Surprised to see Gridlock so high on the list. Oh well, as Frank Muir and Dennis Norden once said: chuck on, arson, goo. (To save comment, it’s supposed to be chacun a son gout)

  4. Dr Moo says:

    Human Nature/ The Family of Blood is one of the best pieces of televised drama ever made. David Tennant is given some incredibly tough acting to do and he pulls it off magnificently, all the guest cast are great, it even managed to make Martha not seem useless which is quite an achievement.
    Blink is so intricately written, produced, directed and acted that it’s hard to fault. Also it introduced the Weeping Angels, my favourite NuWho-exclusive monsters. And it’s so quotable: THE ANGELS HAVE THE PHONE BOX!!! One of Moffat’s finest, and that’s against some serious competition.

    So I’m torn on this one.

    The rest of the series was fairly mediocre (seeing as Utopia is part 1/3, get over it) but still thousands of times better than series two. The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, The Lazarus Experiment, 42… They hardly bear repeat viewings. I do controversially like the Dalek two-parter though.

    • Castellan Spandrel says:

      I don’t mind the Dalek 2-parter, though I don’t like it as much as I did at the time.

      I love the cliffhanger to pt 1.

      • Dr Moo says:

        I felt the need to specify. “Daleks in Manhatten/ Evolution of the Daleks” is one of those serials that’s widely hated but I have no issues with it; It’s actually pretty good and it’s MUCH better than the previous Dalek adventure “Army of Ghosts/ Doomsday”.

  5. TimeChaser says:

    Not an easy choice but it has to fall to Blink. The Weeping Angels are the definitive nuWho monster and as good as the best of the classics. I disgree though with James Whttington’s assertion that Season 3 was “patchy”. Seasons 3 and 4 are unquestionably the most stable and consistently good seasons of the whole new series.

  6. Ranger says:

    I have a mind full of confusion!

    This is really, really hard. I think series 3 is possible the best season yet (until series 8, anyway). So many great stories. I love 42 for the claustrophobic atmosphere; Smith and Jones as a great running around camp yarn; the Runaway Bride, because Donna – Best. Companion. Ever. Derek Jacobi, a mad Dalek, pig-men, Shakespeare, the fab Anne Reid, kittens, Macra, John Simms – just all brilliant.

    But it comes down to The Lazarus Experiment, Blink and Human Nature/The Family of Blood. Which do I choose? Lazarus feels like almost classic DW, with its reversing the neutron flow and I think Gatiss is excellent in it; Human Nature/The Family of Blood is just perfection; and Blink is, well, Blink.

    The focus on two scenes is what I keep coming back to – the realised heart-break at the end of The Family of Blood in the confrontation scene between the Doctor and Joan; and the unrealised, nebulous, what if? heart-break of the rain scene in Blink – that single, killer, line. Both masterpieces of restrained, awesome acting. Hell, this isn’t helping.

    OK – I’ve voted Blink. And immediately regretted it and wanted to change it to Human Nature. Can I vote twice?

    • Dr Moo says:

      Yes you can. I went back and voted for both of those two, I literally couldn’t choose which I like better.

      • Ranger says:

        So I have voted again for Human Nature. I am a little surprised that it is in the lead – I thought that Blink was a sure-fire winner, because it is always being quoted, whereas Human Nature is rarely mentioned and Blink has won all sorts of fan awards. Just goes to show.

  7. Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

    Human Nature & The Family of Blood are it for me. The directing is superb: the filming justs has that award-winning cinema feel. Son-of-mine is creepy in a cool way. The plot is original: The Doctor flees a foe, not out of fear, but out of mercy. The villains have a very good reason for not killing the Doctor (a problem with so many stories across all media: the villains never kill the hero outright); but a vaporized Doctor doesn’t really net them regeneration capabilities, does it? The Chameleon Arch is awesome technology, but it has a cost that makes unlikely to be used over and over throughout stories until it becomes over-powered. The pre-WWI setting is interesting, and is not a historical period much visited in many stories (Doctor Who and otherwise); I find it an interesting setting because unlike its successor it lacks the Nazi element, and we can focus on the issues of war itself and how all the sides involved are really quite bad – mass death is seen on a worldwide scale and brings war into the modern era, where millions can be wiped out in years. Of all the random psychic one-off characters on Doctor Who, the psychic anti-war child feels the most realized and well-written (the lady from Hide probably comes second to my mind).
    Blink is great, but so over-hyped. I don’t think the hype diminishes the quality, but I just can’t stand fans that mention Blink and nothing else. Those people aren’t Who fans; they’re Blink fans. Still an amazing episode, the Weeping Angels in their non-convoluted prime!
    42 is a poor mash-up of “The Impossible Planet & the Satan Pit” and “24” that doesn’t work for me. I just could not buy into Gridlock one bit, and it’s so weird (I don’t care for the New Earth stories in general). Smith and Jones is great, even if campy; it’s just a shame that Martha seems to devolve from the person we see in this episode. The Daleks Take Manhattan debacle can be its own article, but I hate it quite simply. The Shakespeare Code is alright: some great potential, but there’s something about it I don’t care for – it might be the celebrity historical aspect of it. Again, an alien invasion in Earth’s past. Doctor Who can spout “time is in flux” all they want, but does any audience member really imagine Earth’s past will be rewritten and humanity exterminated sometime in our past? To me, only the First Doctor gets historicals right; something like Marco Polo: the TARDIS’ unusual abilities (some of them) become known to the people, but they consider it magic, and it then drives a very a real conflict by a very unreal impetus. I’d like Doctor Who to try to do more realistic portrayals of historical celebrities, and weave the conflicts around them, putting the sci-fi out of their sight; perhaps having the Doctor being the only barrier from some crazy alien conspiracy set in the past from becoming known, and thus becoming part of recorded history.

    • Dr Moo says:

      I agree on everything you say except the NYC Dalek story which I enjoyed and The Shakespeare Code which (if I’m being polite) was garbage.

      • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

        Haha, yes, I was being polite to the Shakespeare Code as well. Not horrid; just mediocre. But I will fervently disagree with you about the NYC Hentai-Face story. Nothing in the universe can change my opinion on that one. The only good Daleks are the ones from the Evil of the Daleks story (such a contradictory sentence) – watching the Second Doctor get a ride on those Daleks is just charming to me.

        • Dr Moo says:

          The Evil of the Daleks… Now there’s a good Dalek serial! Though I think their best stories to date would be The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Genesis of the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks, Bad Wolf/ The Parting of the Ways, The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End and Into the Dalek.

          • Ranger says:

            Hmm, yes Evil is great, but for me it has to be Genesis followed by Remembrance – Tom and Sylvester both hitting their highs as the Doctor.

          • Dr Moo says:

            Is it controversial if I say that Remembrance is better than Genesis? Because I honestly believe it is, albeit by a rather small margin. I guess it’s because I like Four less than Seven.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            Controversial maybe. But never let that put you off expressing a genuinely held opinion. Received wisdom is that Genesis is the best ever Dr Who story, but plenty of people disagree- and they are entitled to.
            Personally my favourite two Dalek stories are Evil then Power. As my favourite Doctor is the Second, my reasoning may be similar to yours.

          • Dr Moo says:

            True, but by that logic my favourite Dalek stories would be Victory and Asylum. (Fear not: They are not my favourites!!!)

          • Ranger says:

            Because we have short attention spans?

            I choose Genesis over Remembrance because of its impact on DW history and cannon. But actually I prefer Remembrance for just sheer fun. And Pyramids of Mars is the best DW story!

            And now back to normal service!

          • Dr Moo says:

            Pyramids of Mars??? I’m not so sure about that one. I mean it’s good (Sutehk’s gift of death… *shudder*) but, for me, not great. I’d have cut some of the padding and made it a three-parter I think.

            For me the best Dr Who ever is either Listen, Human Nature/ The Family of Blood, Blink, The Caves of Androzani, The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Eleventh Hour, A Good Man Goes To War, Inferno or The Tomb of the Cybermen depending on what mood I’m in and what sort of thing I feel like watching.

          • Ranger says:

            Fair enough, and I agree about mood affecting which DW’s I want to watch. I think though, that you can’t really appreciate all that is Pyramids as you came to it as an adult – believe me, it has a totally different impact when you watch it as a 6 year old!

            That’s an article that might be interesting reading – the difference between growing up as a DW fan and becoming a fan as an adult. And of course we now have two different eras for children growing up as a DW fan; one where there was little or no awareness of fandom as a concept (I had no idea of fanzines or DW Appreciation Societies) and one where fandom is very vocal, prevalent and easily contactable.

          • Dr Moo says:

            I came into fandom as a teenager with 2010’s The Eleventh Hour being the first time I watched it regularly (though I had seen The Fires of Pompeii and Silence in the Library on their original broadcast). The classic series had to wait until adulthood and money so that I could get copies of the older serials, beginning with the underrated Resurrection of the Daleks. Pyramids of Mars I only saw for the first time this year as a man in his early twenties. I’d imagine those mummies and Sutehk would be extremely creepy to a kid in a way they aren’t to adults. (Actually, Sutehk still is. Those cliffhangers to episodes 1 and 3…)

          • Guest says:

            That does sound like a good article. I hope the K writing team stumble upon your comment and have a crack at writing it.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            Or, even better, ask Ranger to write it.

          • Dr Moo says:

            Good call, my dear Womble.

            Ranger, what do you say to that?

          • Ranger says:

            Oh dear, that comment rather backfired on me!

            Appreciate the support, but genuinely, I would not know where to start with such an article, even if K would welcome it.

          • Castellan Spandrel says:

            I take it you’re all old enough to have seen Power of the Daleks and Evil of the Daleks? Or that you have complete copies hidden away in your lofts?

            Forgive my scepticism here. I tend to snort derisively when DWM polls put those two stories high up on fans’ story lists, particularly when the stats show the fans voting for them can’t possibly be old enough to ever have seen them in their entirety.

            They appear to be decent stories, based on telesnaps, novelisations, existing scenes/episodes, audio CDs, but is that really the same as watching them?

          • Castellan Spandrel says:

            Come on, Kasterboreans – dismissing a story as ‘garbage/mediocre/whatever’ – a bit lazy? Fair enough if you think that, but tell us why you think that. It’s better for debate that way.

          • Dr Moo says:

            As I’m the one who dismissed The Shakespeare Code as ‘garbage’ I shall be happy to oblige and give you my reasoning behind this statement. Feel free to respond and engage me in debate about it if you so desire.

            I disliked 10’s treatment of Martha in the whole of series 3 with this being the worst story for it overall. It’s often fairly clichéd (one of the witches, sorry, I mean Carrianites is literally called Lilith). It’s another of those non-historical historicals. It uses the Historical Celebrity Factor, a rather irritating trope that NuWho just can’t let go of, by making one of the greatest geniuses of all time a pawn in a monster’s game. It’s a rip-off of The Unquiet Dead (famous English writer, check, fighting a supernatural villain that features in one of their works, check, the Doctor goes all fan-boy on them, check) even though that story was superior to this one. It introduces the loose arc of the Doctor’s relationship with Liz 1 (ultimately building up to revelation that she was not The Virgin Queen when 10 was finished with her in The End Of Time, something I’m pleased Moffat later retconned for us). It has magic in it despite this being a sci-fi show (which also irritated me in Battlefield and Silver Nemesis). Also it has Shakespeare say “Expeliamus” which is just so wrong I don’t know where to start.

            The Shakespeare Code is an episode that manages to make my worst-of list coming up in my bottom ten.

          • Castellan Spandrel says:

            Ha ha! Fair enough.

            Did you like anything about it?

            I simply took the magic as being a form of science, as per The Daemons, but I do that every time magic crops up in Who. I found it more forgivable than, say, the Dr whipping a mystical sword he’d never mentioned before out of nowhere in the Gods of Ragnarok’s arena to save the day.

            I enjoyed the sparky dialogue, the use of witches, the death of Lindley (though really it’s rehashing an idea from Mind of Evil), the explanation behind the shape of The Globe theatre, the Dr (in response to her questions re: time travel) asking Martha if she wanted to kill her granddad.

            With a lot of modern Who, I ask myself, “Am I entertained by this?” That’s the bottom line – anything else, such as depth of characterisation or freshness is a bonus – and while TSC isn’t exceptional, I was entertained by it.

            I agree that The Unquiet Dead is superior, though.

          • Dr Moo says:

            Did I like anything about it? Honestly, not a lot. The acting’s all pretty good. The direction and sets aren’t too bad. It’s the story that drags it down for the reasons I stated. It’s not unwatchable but not really that good either. I can at least see why others would enjoy it even though I didn’t!

          • Dr Moo says:

            Evil and Power I had to watch via recons, it’s not the same but I still managed to enjoy the stories.

          • Ranger says:

            Well, I am old enough to have seen Power and Evil originally, but not quite old enough to remember it, (ungentlemanly of you, Sir, to reveal a lady’s age 🙂 ).

            But I take your point and agree, a lot of the early, missing stuff is idolised by the fans, just because it is not easily accessible. I remember the trepidation I felt when they found Tomb of the Cybermen and Web of Fear as I loved the Target novelisations and my very vague memories had built them up. And my relief, that yes, they were as good as I expected. Different certainly, but still good.

          • Castellan Spandrel says:

            And then, of course, there’s Enemy of the World, which turned out better than most of us had reasonably expected.

            Just wondering if the reverse might be true for Power and Evil? Audios & available scenes/episode would suggest they’re decent, but I usually avoid scoring them in any polls, along with other stories I can’t claim to have seen.

            It depends on how much of a story is available. There’s enough of The Ice Warriors and The Moonbase, for example, to really get a flavour of what they’re like.

            That’s my criteria. Others differ. A chacun son goût, and all that.

          • Mr McJohnson says:

            My criteria too. I often wonder about the rose-tinted goggles fandom wears about these stories. I found The Enemy of the Wirld to be really good, better than expected, and it’s probably because of the ‘meh’ reputation it had.

          • Dr Moo says:

            Ditto for me. TEotW turned into one of my personal favourites. Maybe it’s because the one episode we had before was the weakest one?

          • Mr McJohnson says:


            But does The Enemy of the World hold up against others of Troughton’s finest? The Tomb of the Cybermen, The War Games, The Invasion, The Web of Fear, The Mind Robber, Power of the Daleks and Evil of the Daleks for example are all better IMHO.

          • Dr Moo says:

            While there’s little doubt in my mind (or anyone else’s as I can tell) that those stories are better there’s a lot to be said for sentimental value. It was my third visit to the 2nd Doctor and only the first from his era (the others being Two Docs and Three Docs) which makes it a more significant story for me personally than those others you list.

          • Mr McJohnson says:

            Okay then. Is that why I like Aliens of London most from Eccleston’s series? It was the first episode that I tuned in for to see this new Dr Who show that everyone was banging on about. I’m pleased I didn’t start a week later and unwittingly start with part two!

          • Castellan Spandrel says:

            A week earlier would’ve been the terrific pt 3, Mr Mc- The Unquiet Dead.

          • Mr Mc says:

            Love that one. Best of season if we exclude the two-parters.

          • Ranger says:

            I’ve not yet seen Enemy of the World (so many DW’s to buy, so little money!), but it’s on my list. But it is because of its meh reputation that it is not higher up my list (whereas Web of Fear became an instant buy when it was released, because I loved the Target novelisation so much). So I am heartened by the views that it is better than its reputation. Perhaps it should move up my list.

            To my mind, Tomb and Web are Troughton’s best stories. War Games suffers from being too long and therefore repetitious and fractured in my opinion. All the boring trotting around the time zones could have been condensed into the opening episode and then the interesting and exciting War/Time Lords stuff in the next 3.

          • Mr McJohnson says:

            It’s well worth moving up your list. It’s not the greatest 2nd Doctor story but it’s still great. Troughton, we must remember, was a proper character actor with the Doctor being just one of the many types of role he could play. The Enemy of the World is the Dr Who where he showed us what he could do when he got to also play the villain! Don’t let Nightmare in Silver put you off watching the Doctor and villain played by the same person; it worked this time.

          • Ranger says:

            OK, I’ve moved it up to top position.

          • Mr McJohnson says:

            You (probably) won’t regret it!
            Out of interest what was previously number one?

  8. BrittlePacker says:

    For me it has to be Human Nature/Family of Blood. Moving, different, brilliantly scripted, directed and acted. Tennant gets a lot of stick these days but given proper material he’s a perfectly good actor and he handled the material he was given superbly. Freema tends to be overlooked for being stuck between the big names – Billie and Catherine – and for being the “not Rose” character, but again – she’s magnificent as a modern woman trying to deal with the prejudices of the past and she’s heart-breaking dealing with a Doctor who doesn’t know her or himself any more.
    Blink is brilliant; I’m actually very fond of The Shakespeare Code, daft as it is, for light entertainment purposes and Utopia as a stand-alone, unsullied by the madness that followed, is superb. Even Smith and Jones served its purpose more than adequately. But if I’m forced to choose just one story from that year to watch again, it would have to be Human Nature/Family of Blood.

    • Ranger says:

      Yes, I agree Brittle (welcome back, by the way!) Freema’s tenure is overlooked and I think she is very under-rated. I think this and Smith and Jones are her best stories.

      • Dr Moo says:

        Smith & Jones, Human Nature/ The Family of Blood, The Sontaran Stratagem/ The Poison Sky and The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End as well as her brief Torchwood cameos are her best ones. It feels like a lot of the time the writers didn’t know what to do with her (Blink and The Doctor’s Daughter are the worst culprits for that) and she ends up being fairly useless. Which is a shame.

  9. Planet of the Deaf says:

    Human Nature/Family of Blood, as it’s a quality piece of Television Drama that has stood the test of time, and is more ‘rewatchable’ than Blink.
    It was the perfect story for David’s ‘slightly human’ Doctor, and gave Freema her best story too

  10. Mr McJohnson says:

    Best of series three? Human Nature/ The Family of Blood. Next question?

    • Dr Moo says:

      Next question: Why did you choose that one?

      And one more, just because we can: What’s the most overrated of series three? Mine is The Shakespeare Code for reasons I’ve outlined extensively in the other comments I’ve made here.

      • Mr McJohnson says:

        Why? Because it’s as near to perfection as the series had got to since Peter Davison’s swansong. David Tennant was just phenomenal.

        Overrated? Blink. Brilliant episode but extremely hyped so that it falls short of the reputation it has.

        • Dr Moo says:

          I’d say that they’d got back to near-perfection a few times since then. Ghost Light comes to mind. The Curse of Fenric. Two of Eccleston’s two-parters (we all know which two I mean).

          Although I agree that HN/TFOB smashes them all, with the exception of Ghost Light.

  11. Matt Hoare says:

    You do know that Utopia isn’t actually a separate story from The Sound of Drums/Last of The Time Lords.
    It is the only story in modern doctor who that consists of three parts (S3 E11, E12 + E13). This is noted in production of the episode, and at the end of Utopia where it says, quite obviously “To Be Continued”. If you disregard this, then watch Utopia, you will see what I mean.

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