Season 1, unsurprisingly, gets my highest average score. Given that Doctor Who was greenlit almost two years before this series screened, probably the biggest lead time for any season since the show returned, there’s a much better chance of things going right. It seems almost impossible that I could give this season a low score: this was the first Who in almost two decades and its return was a pretty big deal in our household. However, we rewatched the complete season recently and, if anything, my scores are higher than they would have been without a fresh viewing. So, going quickly through the episodes:
- Rose: a near perfect return for the show. Superb decision to tell the story from the companion’s perspective. I could have lived without the belching bin, but RTD does a masterful job of making Doctor Who work for the 21st century, reintroducing the Doctor in a whirlwind of mystery, excitement and darkness.
- The End Of the World: nothing special, but a finely crafted episode that brings the sci-fi elements of the show slamming to the fore.
- The Unquiet Dead: in what would become something of a tradition, we have an historical episode early in the season. This one brings back the gothic horror that, in particular, Tom Baker fans will be familiar with.
- Aliens Of London / World War Three: for my money, the first misstep of the new series. Aliens Of London does a pretty good job of building up an increasingly threatening mystery, and has the honour of the new series’ first cliffhanger (and doesn’t disappoint). Unfortunately the Slitheen are nothing short of terrible: ridiculous baby-faced looking, farting (for chrissakes) monsters wearing skin-suits with zips? A fairly decent story spoiled by a terrible monster.
- Dalek: anticipation levels up to maximum. Here we have the Daleks effectively reinvented, and with the added spice of a galactic, genocidal war between the Daleks and the Time Lords. The new design is excellent, a previously one-note (if iconic) villain becomes fully three-dimensional and *scary* again. It’s also a pretty moving story with a lot to say about the nature of the Doctor, the nature of evil, and the nature of ruthlessness.
- The Long Game: nothing wrong with this, but the season wouldn’t be any weaker without it. I always feel a bit sad that Simon Pegg’s only (to date) appearance in the series comes in one of its weaker episodes, though his performance is one of the bits that makes the episode worth watching.
- Father’s Day: a remarkable story that, unlike the previous episodes, you simply couldn’t imagine being made as part of classic Who. This not only explores the potential dangers of travelling in time but proves a bit of a tearjerker in the bargain.
- The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances: sheer perfection, bone-chillingly scary, and, for once, everybody lives!
- Boom Town: as you can imagine I wasn’t overjoyed about the return of the Slitheen. However, on second viewing this proved a more satisfying story than I remembered: mainly due to the witty script and the intriguing exploration of the moral dilemmas the Doctor is forced to tackle at times.
- Bad Wolf/Parting Of The Ways: oh, the excitement when I recognised the sound near the end of the first episode, after Rose had been beamed to a mysterious alien spacecraft … I wasn’t at all sure about how the Big Brother and Weakest Link elements would work, but RTD just about pulled if off and segued into another astoundingly dark story about Daleks cannibalising humans and, as befits their nature, demonstrating their absolute lack of mercy. As an added bonus we get the new series’ first regeneration.
- The Christmas Invasion: the first ever Christmas episode and the first ever David Tennant episode. Neither bad, nor great. I will, however, never forgive RTD for taking the feisty, determined and compassionate MP for Flydale North and turning her into, effectively, a villain.
|The End of the World||4|
|The Unquiet Dead||4|
|Aliens of London (1)||2|
|World War Three (2)||2|
|The Long Game||3|
|The Empty Child (1)||5|
|The Doctor Dances (2)||5|
|Bad Wolf (1)||4|
|The Parting of the Ways (2)||5|
|The Christmas Invasion||3|