Warning: Content contains spoilers. Please read with caution. If unwanted spoiler gets in eye, rinse head thoroughly under water until burning rage subsides. If symptoms continue, please Google issue and then proceed with care.
I would say I'm a pretty devoted Doctor Who fan. After all, Doctor Who was the vehicle that opened my eyes to my inner geek. Time travel, space adventures, interesting characters, romance, horror, drama, comedy... for a family show, it seems to have it all!
About a month ago, I recorded a Skype-cast with Meds and Kenny for Treks in Sci-Fi, all about the most recent series (or "season") of Doctor Who. When the episode was released, we all received an email from Jen. She let us know that we all did an awesome job and that our love of the series made her "really want to revisit the series." She said she had started with series one... but she had to stop after the aliens invaded London.
I, being a huge fan of the series, do not blame her one bit. If I had started with the first series and saw the episode she spoke of, I would have abandoned Doctor Who myself. There are fantastic episodes of the series, but every now and then, there are terrible ones.
Jen received three different replies from Meds, Kenny and I about which episodes to watch. I had a color coded list ready to send, and then I thought of something. There are plenty of lists out there about which episodes of Doctor Who are the best. Anyone can get those anywhere, and they could miss some underrated episodes if they go by these lists alone. Even some mediocre and bad episodes have their merits. However, not a lot of articles cover the poor quality ones. And you know what? The best thing about these stories is you can skip them and you will not miss a lot!
I have compiled a list of five episodes from the new series that are absolutely abysmal. (This show is nearly fifty years old, I'm not going that in depth!) I will give credit where credit is due and I write why the episode might be worth watching. That being said, the episodes I have listed are bad and I point out why they are bad. Big emphasis on bad.
Take note that these are merely my opinions and mine alone. I'm also more than willing to be a hypocrite and change my opinions if I magically get a job working with the Doctor Who creative team. Until that extremely unlikely day, my apologies to the Doctor Who powers that be.
"Aliens of London/World War Three" (Series One, Episodes 4 & 5)
Reason for Skipability: Aliens known as the Slitheen are masquerading as humans. That's fine with me because some of the best science fiction has at least one story like this. The problem is that the Slitheen are gigantic green monsters that have to compress their forms into a tiny human suit. Therefore the tell-tale sign that they're aliens is that they experience moments where... you know what, they fart. Yes, you heard me. A television show about time and space resorts to fart jokes. Why, Russell T. Davies? Why?
Dang It: A character named Harriet Jones is introduced in this episode, and she occurs two more times in the show. She's probably the only good part of this two-parter. Plus, her portrayer, Penelope Wilton, can be recognized as Simon Pegg's mom in Shaun of the Dead.
"Boom Town" (Series One, Episode 11)
Why it's bad: The farting aliens return! Well, one of them. The episode itself is gets pretty lost and can never find its tone. In fact, I'm not even sure if this episode wants to be a science fiction story. It's really a back and forth about why this deadly woman-alien should or shouldn't be sent to her home, who will execute upon her return. I could watch a better version of this plot on Law and Order or Star Trek.
Dang It: In two ways, it connects to the following last episodes of the first series. Missing this episode won't ruin anything though.
"New Earth" (Series Two, Episode One)
Reason for Skipability: This episode has interesting basic ideas. Seemingly utopian future, dark secrets about utopia's hospital system, humanoid cat nuns--I can dig it. But the episode itself was poorly executed in terms of story. It didn't need elements like a returning villain or a theme about living forever... the whole episode just fell flat. Also, if I had to get onto "Aliens in London" and "Boom Town" for the fartiness, I have to get onto this episode for it's immature use of hidden swear words. Cutting to another shot before someone curses doesn't make you clever. Fourth graders will laugh at it now, but they will not when they grow up.
Dang It: There are a few good parts in here. As in four. 1) The first minute is beatifully shot. 2) Big fat spoiler--Rose kisses the Doctor. Sure, she's possessed by another female entity, but it's a pretty good kiss. 3) The Doctor gets possessed and then proceeds to act as a woman. It's amusing. 4) The last few minutes of the episode are, again, beautifully shot. Oh! And a bonus: you get to see the Face of Boe. But that's it.
"Love and Monsters" (Series Two, Episode 10)
Reason for Skipability: I must admit that I liked this episode the first time around. But I may or may not have had a glass of wine that night, because the next time I watched it, I could not believe how ridiculous it was. I have to admit that I like the format of the episode where it's an outsider talking to the webisphere about experience with the Doctor, and cutting clips in of Elton John and ELO. And the actors do a good job. But the story, dialogue, and direction are all over the place. It has some major A.D.D., and not in an interesting, Terry Gilliam kind of way. I mean a let's-give-a-five-year-old-a-cup-of-coffee-and-have-him-write-the-episode kind of way.
Dang It: I got nothing. Just skip it.
"The Voyage of the Damned" (2008 Christmas Special)
Reason for Skipability: This is probably one of the worst Christmas specials ever. And is it just me, or do most of the Christmas episodes have nothing to do with Christmas? This is basically a combo between Poseidon and B-movie, which is never a good combination. You are introduced to characters that you never come to care for, and the explosions are the kind that only Michael Bay could love.
Dang It: A character named Wilfred Mott is introduced in this episode, and he becomes pretty important later on. And there is one moving moment of the special near the end between the one-off companion Astrid (Kylie Minogue) and the Doctor, but I don't know if it's worth watching the entire thing.
I will admit that I would probably like these episodes if I were much younger. However, I'm an older viewer and I think that the only faults of this intelligent show are when it loses its maturity. But I still adore Doctor Who, and that's what true love is.
Alright, Who fans. We all love the show, but which episodes would you warn others about? Why do you think they're terrible? What are they're saving graces? Comment with your answers!
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