2.20.2014

The Doctor Who Project: Ranking Series 3


Welcome yet again, Whovians! Time sure is flying by on this project (punny-wunny) of ours. We're more or less to the halfway mark as Jaime, Justin, and I rank each episode of Doctor Who, season by season. If you're just now joining us, feel free to stop by our compendium page and read our previous entries.

So far, both seasons one and two have been pretty equal, but I think the three of us have been looking forward to ranking this one the most, as a great many of our Top Ten picks came from series three. Who would have thought it possible to pick up the pieces so swiftly after the heartbreak of Doomsday?

Too Much Hotness
Martha, in many ways, was the rebound companion, and this created moments where I wanted to punch the Doctor in the nose. Even so, this season is when the show really hit its stride, and save for a few slow patches here and there, it's been on an upward trajectory ever since. But will the numbers bear that out? We shall see. As usual, there will be an average for each episode followed by a Best-Worst ranking and an overall season average at the end. I'm excited to see how the scores shake down, so let's get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?

Special Episode: The Runaway Bride

A young bride in the midst of her wedding finds herself mysteriously transported to the TARDIS. The Doctor must discover what her connection is with the Empress of Racnoss's plan to destroy the world. (IMDB)

Justin: As I stated before, I was pretty sure I knew who the next companion was, and when Donna Noble (the very funny Catherine Tate) shows up I was again lost. I enjoyed this episode. Donna was worlds away from being like Rose...and that's a good thing. Then, in the end, she's gone. My one drawback was (again) the villain. 6 Sonics

Jaime: Still reeling from the loss of Rose (both me & the Doctor), the humor in this episode is very welcome. Donna Noble proves to be just what the viewer and the Doctor need at this point. Her attitude and sarcasm are the saving grace of what otherwise was only an okay episode. This is due to the villains. I found both the robotic Santas and the Empress of Racnoss rather...cheesy, for lack of a better word. Given the option to travel with the Doctor, Donna declines but I think she is correct when she says he shouldn't travel alone. 6 Sonics

Allison: I'm with both the J's on this one when I say that Catherine Tate is amazing and the villains are dumb. The humor was very welcome, though, and I loved the chemistry between Tate and Tennant. This episode also did a good job of showing how dangerous the Doctor can be when he doesn't have a better angel traveling with him. Alas, Donna would not be that better angel (at least for now). The ending was quite poignant to that effect. 6 Sonics

Average Sonics:
 x 6

Episode 1: Smith and Jones

When the hospital where medical student Martha Jones works at is transported to the moon, only the Doctor can come to the rescue and face the might of the Judoon. (IMDB)

Justin: Super smart, adventurous, and love struck with a man that his mind on someone else = Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman--which sounds like the name of a Who character), the newest companion to the Doctor. This was an adventurous episode, and had me trying to figure out how the two met, met again and then met for the first time. 5 Sonics

Jaime: This is a good one. Lots of action, interesting aliens, hospital on the moon, the goofy humor of the 10th Doctor, and a new companion! The name John Smith is now becoming a familiar pseudonym of the Doctor, which will be common throughout Tennant's run. All around, a well put together episode.
7 Sonics

Allison: I loved the time-loopy aspects of this episode and the introduction of Martha. Freema Agyeman, as it turns out, played a minor character in Army of Ghosts. She was a Torchwood employee who ended up possessed by a Cyberman, but this show does like to recycle certain actors (cough) Capaldi (cough). The Judoon are an interesting race. They gave me a Douglas Adams/Vogon vibe. I was a tad disheartened to see Martha start in on the whole puppy love thing right off the bat. The show just didn't need that sort of pathos after the previous season, but it's forgivable, I guess. 6 Sonics

Average Sonics:

x 6


Episode 2: The Shakespeare Code

The Doctor takes Martha to 1599, to meet none other than William Shakespeare in the Globe Theatre...but can he stop the curse of the three witches? (IMDB)

Justin: When a Doctor has a new companion he ends up making his first trip in one or two directions. Since Rose went to the future (twice with two Doctors), it makes sense that Martha went to the past (it could have also been a budget issue). I like seeing companions experience their first travel through time. It's like taking your friend to a place you love but they haven't been. There were some funny moments, but alas a weak villain (or villains) for them to battle against. I'll rant about villains I do like when I get to them. 4 Sonics

Jaime: Another one that just barely missed making my top ten. I love everything about this episode. The Harry Potter references are abundant and actually pretty important to the plot. I also love that Martha inspires Shakespeare, and he adds a lot of laughs to this one. We start to see how much the Doctor misses Rose, and that Martha is obviously infatuated with him. I'm also a fan of witches, so I found the villains in this episode a good addition. Overall, one of my favorites. 10 Sonics

Allison: This one also narrowly missed my top ten. I loved everything about this episode, and as usual, I love when the Doctor goes into the past and starts fiddling around with established history. The production values were fantastic (according to David Tennant's extensive video diaries on YouTube, they actually shot this on location in the real Globe Theater, and in the town where Shakespeare lived), and all of the in-jokes about Shakespeare's writing and how both Martha and the Doctor influenced him were just very clever. I also loved the shades of Macbeth seen in the three witches, and the Harry Potter references were just icing on the cake. This one is on my "watch again and again" list. 10 Sonics

Average Sonics:

x 8


Episode 3: Gridlock 


The Doctor and Martha go back to New Earth were The Doctor will encounter the Face of Boe who will tell The Doctor "The Great Secret". (IMDB)

Justin: This was another episode I saw parts of before becoming a regular watcher. I--again--had no clue what was going on, and just as they were about to reveal what was at the bottom...I had to stop my lunch break. Luckily, it was a great episode. Wrapping up the future trilogy starting with episode two of season one. The Doctor is hysterical in it as he goes from car to car, and I apparently love cat people. This episode had a bunch of elements I enjoy in my Who viewing, and as long as you're paying attention the Face of Boe's comment "You are not alone." will--eventually--make sense. 10 Sonics

Jaime: An interesting premise. And overall I enjoyed the episode, but nothing about it jumps out at me. I liked the development of the relationship between Martha and the Doctor; hearing him talk about Gallifrey almost gives you goosebumps. And seeing the Face of Boe again was intriguing, especially with the message he gives the Doctor. But it kind of felt like filler to me. 6 Sonics

Allison: This is another one that narrowly missed my Top 10. Absolutely love the concept of a traffic jam that has been going on for decades, and the social order that takes place among these people who are trapped here and living out their lives but never moving more than a few feet. New Earth is also an everlasting fascination to me, and I am a fan of the Face of Boe and the cat people. 9 Sonics

Average Sonics:

x 8.3


Episode 4 & 5: Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks
The Doctor and Martha confront a host of surviving Daleks from the Canary Wharf battle. What are those creatures in the sewers? Who is Solomon? And why are the Cult Of Skaro attempting to create a Dalek/Human hybrid...? (IMDB)

Justin: A Dalek two-parter set in the 30s?!?? Pretty cool. Plus it stars a young Andrew Garfield (Social Network, Amazing Spider-Man) as a real tough chap ready to prove himself to his fellow depression era homeless. The really cool part is the hybrid. I think meshing things together can work--for the most part. The Grapple, Brundlefly, Reese's Cups. Sure he looked a bit silly, but he (like the Monster from Frankenstein...or even Bride) realized there was something beyond what he was made to do, and as in those movies, it was not taken well by the people around him. 5 Sonics

Jaime: The Doctor in 1930s New York City. Great setting. The Daleks are both my favorite and least favorite enemy of the Doctor. They are sometimes overplayed, like a popular song on the radio. Anyway, this is an exciting episode with a wonderful supporting cast. Martha is proving to be a great asset to the Doctor, she is quiet the clever girl. We see the Doctor trying to help the Daleks, which is a change from when the Ninth Doctor last saw them. I think the Doctor has softened a little, but his loneliness is becoming more evident. The pig slaves are a bit annoying, though. 6 Sonics

Allison: Let's start with what I liked: the setting. Depression-era is my thing. Also, I typically enjoy Daleks. I also enjoyed the Hooverville camp and the people who inhabited it. But then the pigs showed up. ARGH! NO MORE PIGS! There is nothing even remotely cool about humanoid swine. Can we please stop seeing them? Pretty please? Also the Dalek-human hybrid with the phallic-like appendages jutting from his head. Again, NO. As much as I liked certain aspects of this episode, they were completely drowned out by uber fromage. This pair of episodes symbolizes yet again everything I hate about the RTD era. 3 Sonics

Average Sonics:

x 4.6



Episode 6: The Lazarus Experiment
The famous Dr. Lazarus has appears to discover the secret of eternal youth - but do his experiments hide a sinister secret? (IMDB)

Justin: What I enjoyed; Martha's family. What I didn't: the rest. 2 Sonics

Jaime: An average episode. I like when the Doctor refers to experiences he had as a former incarnation of himself. Like always being slapped by the mother, Jackie Tyler and now Francine Jones. I liked the idea of this episode, and the name Saxon is heard again. Feels like we're building up to something big. Oh, and now Martha is officially the Doctor's companion. 5 Sonics

Allison: I'm pretty much in the same camp as my friends here. The family dynamic stuff was good. The rest of the plot was more or less forgettable with shallow villains and a monster for which I could not suspend enough disbelief to enjoy. 3 Sonics

Average Sonics


x 3.3


Episode 7: 42

On a spaceship headed straight for the center of the sun, The Doctor only has 42 minutes to save Martha and the rest of the ship's crew from an inevitable doom. (IMDB)

Justin: This is the second to last "seen before I started really watching" episodes, and I think it's wonderful. When the escape pod is launched out, and the Doctor screams (silently) the through space is when my lunch break was over. I figured the episode after that is when he ended up with a new companion. When I finally saw it (and finding out it had a different ending) I wasn't let down. Good stuff. 9 Sonics

Jaime: Very good episode. This one (almost) plays out in real time. It's well-written and very suspenseful. I liked the questions the crew had to answer to open the doors and there are some great lines by the Doctor in this episode. And when Martha is in the pod, well I think my heart was racing by that point. Something bigger is going on back on earth with Martha's family when we hear the name Saxon again. A bit of trivia: According to writer Russell T. Davies, the Doctor wears his blue suit in the future and his brown suit in the past. Not sure why but I find that very interesting. 7 Sonics

Allison: I have a thing for space crews being besieged by really creepy and silent killers. This one had kind of an Alien meets Sunshine (the Danny Boyle film) thing going on with it. Loved the idea of the sun being a sentient thing infecting people, and the supporting characters were all pretty great as well. 8 Sonics

Average Sonics:

x 8



Episode 8 & 9: Human Nature/Family of Blood

In 1913, Martha watches in jealousy from afar as The Doctor learns what it is to be human and to fall in love with the local school nurse, Joan Redfern. The Doctor must deal with the repercussions of his decision to become human, as the Family of Blood unveil themselves. (IMDB)

Justin: These were some sad episodes, because of all the emotions John Smith had to go through. They were also fun to watch Tennant play another character. Sometimes when you're going through a show on Netflix you might burnout a bit, or you go so fast you just need a break. This episode offered a break from the Doctor, and still let you watch the show. The Family are creepy, but what's really scary is how the Doctor jails them. 7 Sonics

Jaime: This is a fantastic pair of episodes. Seeing the Doctor really become John Smith is almost disturbing, he really is human. The episodes are rather sad in the aspect of John and Joan's relationship and the fact that falling in love never even occurred to the Doctor. I loved the journal John uses, again seeing bits and pieces of all incarnations of the Doctor. Both episodes are well-written and exciting, along with a little bit creepy. Martha again proves to be a great asset to the Doctor, sacrificing more and more for him the longer she is with him. Great cast, great acting, great lines. 9 Sonics

Allison: This probably stands as my second favorite two-parter of the show so far. There are heavy emotions involved in watching the Doctor become a human being, along with all the happiness and eventual heartbreak that it entails as he gains love and then loses it. Most difficult is when we watch him have to come to terms with who he really is (and all the loneliness waiting for him), and how hard he fights against it. We see the Doctor probably at his most vulnerable. Martha's feelings for him, unrequited, are particularly heartbreaking here. It's when we truly come to believe that she loves him and isn't just infatuated. I also really dug the villains (and the creepy scarecrows!) as well as the subplot with the young boy and the pocket watch and how it all comes together in the end. So much goodness here, and a true elevation of the show as a whole. 10 Sonics

Average Sonics:

x 8.7


Episode 10: Blink

"Don't Blink. Blink and you're dead. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And don't Blink. Good Luck." These cryptic messages left on 17 DVD's leave Sally Sparrow on a journey to assist the Doctor and Martha Jones, who are trapped in 1969. But Sally is in 2007, and they won't meet until 2008. Strange? Unusual? Not if you are the Doctor. (IMDB)

Justin: The Weeping Angels. There are some good villains. Simplistic, but driven. Beautiful, yet frightening. This episode is like a puzzle. As you progress it makes more and more sense. It also continues--when watched in order--a break from the Doctor. 10 Sonics

Jaime: "Don't blink. Blink and you're dead." Oh where do I start? If you've been following the blog, you know this is my favorite episode. And the Doctor is hardly even in it. There's so much to love here. Sally Sparrow is amazing. The Weeping Angels are terrifying. "The angels have the phone box." And the Easter egg on the DVDs? Brilliant. Some of the best lines ever are from this episode. "Big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff." Lots of time travel going on here, lots of action and suspense, plus the heart breaking meeting of Sally Sparrow and Billy Shipton. Again with the great lines! Billy: "It was raining when we met." Sally: "It's the same rain." Sigh. So much to love about this episode. 10 Sonics

Allison: Favorite episode. Bar none. Not only is this the most outstanding Doctor Who episode, but it's also just one of the best episodes of genre television, period. In fact, I would say if you are not a fan of Doctor Who, you should still watch this particular episode. It's completely standalone, and the Doctor is hardly in it at all. You don't have to know anything about previous Who lore to even get into it, and all of that is part of "Blink's" genius. The way Steven Moffat plays with time in this one, the function of the Weeping Angels being something of a "benevolent" killer, sending victims back in time and forcing them to "live to death" is so original. I bow down to the sort of imagination that could think up such a thing. Add in a superb Carey Mulligan, and I'd give this 20 Sonics if I could. 10 Sonics

Average Sonics:

x 10


Episode 11, 12, & 13: Utopia/The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords
Soon after bumping into old friend Jack Harkness, Martha and The Doctor head off to Malcassairo, a distant planet where an old professor will do anything he can to keep his people alive. The Doctor, Martha and Jack return to the 21st Century eighteen months after the Doctor and Martha left. They find they've missed the election, and the new Prime Minister, Harold Saxon, is someone they've met before by another name. It's been a year since The Master unleashed the mysterious Toclafane onto Earth. With the human race and The Doctor enslaved under The Master's control, Martha Jones is the only person that can help stop the evil Time Lord. (IMDB)

Justin: There are so many things going on in this three parter. It wraps up subplots from the season, and makes you keep wondering how the Doctor & friends will survive. I really liked Professor Yana, because I felt he was trying to help everyone. Things would have been fine if not for the Doctor and those meddling companions. Then you have the Master (John Simms) hiding as Harold Saxon (another plot point--like "Bad Wolf"--that kept popping up) who is the Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock. You have the return of Captain Jack and a goodbye to Martha. It's really quite an epic story. 8 Sonics

Jaime: Whoa. A lot to cover here. The first of the this three-parter is the best of the three. They went to the end of the universe! And I loved that the Doctor wasn't sure what to expect. Along with the return of Captain Jack, Utopia had a lot to offer. Then we have the Master, played brilliantly by John Simm. Finally, the importance of the name Saxon. We see the Doctor grow old. And once again, Martha proves her worth. In the end, it's too much for her and she chooses to leave the Doctor. I would have liked to see her hang around for another season or two. But on to the next. Oh and the reveal about the Face of Boe? Loved that little twist. Wait, is that the Titanic? 8 Sonics

Allison: A three-part episode is just this side of self-indulgent for any show, but despite the bit of bloat and fatigue I was feeling by the end, I enjoyed myself. Like Jaime, I think Utopia is the best of the three, where we see Harkness return, and I liked the way it all came together with Professor Yana in the end. When The Master was finally revealed and Saxon came to power, the show took on a whole different energy. I absolutely loved John Simm's performance, as it added an over the top Bond villain flair I'd never quite seen on Doctor Who before. I did feel like the whole resolution involving Martha's arduous trek around the world to spread the word of the Doctor to be a tad over-wrought with religiosity, though, and the ending just smacked of the sort of ham-fisted schmaltz that, again, hearkens to the RTD way of doing things that I've never quite loved. Martha's departure was bittersweet. I was sad to see her go, but happy that her character made the decision she did. Don't be wasting time loving someone who won't or can't love you back. 7 Sonics.

Average Sonics:

x 7.7


Episodes Ranked Best to Worst
1. Blink
2. Human Nature/Family of Blood
3. Gridlock
4. The Shakespeare Code
5. 42
6. Utopia/The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords
7. The Runaway Bride
8. Smith and Jones
9. Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks
10. The Lazarus Experiment


Overall Sonic Average for the Season



x 7.1


And there we have it! One more series down! Although there were a couple blah episodes, and we diverged in opinion on a couple, I think series 3 hit some really superlative notes that brought the overall average into the far more acceptable 7 range. Next week, we are graced by the wonderful Donna Noble, who remains my favorite companion of the whole lot. But it also means we have to say goodbye to Ten. Sigh. Luckily there are a lot of great episodes to discuss in series 4, and I'm very excited to get to them!

Until then, don't forget to sound off in the comments and let us know your favorite (or least favorite) episodes!

-- Jaime, Justin, and Allison