3.12.2014

The Doctor Who Project: Ranking Series 6

It's so hard to believe that we've nearly reached the end of this ride. Next week's episode will be the conclusion of our fun little Doctor Who Project. Cue the sads. But not for too long, because there is just too much fun to be had in the episodes between now and then. At the end of next week's rankings, I'm going to have a whole slew of fun metrics for your perusal. Whole seasons ranked best to worst, a Top 10 episodes of all time, and I'll also have some polls for you to vote in. In the meantime, if you're new here, get caught up by reading our compendium! Now let's get started. Series 6 brings us a lot of great surprises, not the least of which is this:
Stetsons are cool now.
And there is also this:

Can't believe I remembered these guys...
But let's see how it all worked out after the wedding of the Ponds, shall we?

Special Episode: A Christmas Carol

Newly wedded companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) are trapped on a crashing space liner which has been caught in a strange cloud belt. They call the Doctor (Matt Smith), who lands on the planet below and meets the miserly Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon), a man who can control the cloud layer but refuses to help. Inspired byCharles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, the Doctor attempts to use time travel to alter Kazran's past and make him kinder so he will save the spaceship. (Wikipedia)

Justin: I'm not sure why, but Netflix didn't have this as a download, and unlike Planet of the Dead, I had no idea this existed until after Time of the Doctor. So I enjoyed it for a few reasons: it was a bonus Eleventh Doctor episode, and I've always enjoyed Christmas Carol stories. It was interesting to me that the Doctor unintentionally led Karzan into becoming a grumpy old man. I thoroughly enjoy the work of Michael Gambon (who plays the older Karzan--and in my opinion, a better Dumbledore) so seeing him play against the good Doctor was very nice. All in all, a better Christmas episode than most. 8 Sonics

Jaime: I liked the setting of this episode, and Michael Gambon was a wonderful guest star. The flying fish were a little odd, however. The idea of cryogenics has always been fascinating to me, and I enjoyed the numerous Christmas Eves with The Doctor, Kazran, and Abigail. There were also some humorous moments between the Doctor and young Kazran. Overall a decent, entertaining Christmas episode. 7 Sonics

Allison: This one had a lot of hallmarks I love about Doctor Who. An original setting giving a modern twist on an old classic, excellent use of time travel as a storytelling device, and a lot of heart. Christmas specials on this show really run the gamut of being either dreadfully boring or downright corny. This one managed to avoid both of these traps. Gambon proves himself a treasure. I've seen this special twice, and I'll happily make it a Christmastime tradition. 8 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 7.7


Episode 1 & 2: The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon

Amy Pond, Rory and River Song are summoned to Utah, USA, by the Eleventh Doctor, who is killed by a mysterious figure in a space suit. The dead Doctor is revealed to be an older self, after his younger version returns. They try to understand what the future Doctor said and are sent to Washington D.C. The team deals with the Silence, a race of aliens with the ability to make people forget their encounter with them when they look away. (Wikipedia)

Justin: This season really solidified why I liked Matt Smith as the Doctor. The first episode was able to show Matt's ability to be old, but still have a somewhat boyish look. River Song was becoming even more prominent in this world, and Amy and Rory felt essential to being with the Doctor and not just throwaway companions. Plus, you had the ultimate villain in these two episodes. No, not the Silence.  Richard Nixon. 8 Sonics

Jaime: And here we go. These episodes start off one of the best story arcs in Who history, in my opinion. Also one of the most confusing, but it all ties together eventually. And Canton Delaware III is a brilliant addition. River Song plays a prominent role in these episodes (even more so than the viewer is aware of). I loved the scene in the diner when River and the Doctor are comparing time lines. The blue envelopes, the 200 years older Doctor, the Silence, Amy’s pregnancy, a possible Time Lord. Wow. A lot of good stuff here. The Silence is possibly my favorite Who villain. The idea that you see them and then don’t remember is terrifying. Great two-parter! 9 Sonics

Allison: This pair of episodes made my Top 10 for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the iconic imagery. The astronaut coming out of that Utah lake, the introduction of the Silence and their chilling ability to make people forget about them the second they look away, the TARDIS appearing in the Oval Office. Add in the stellar acting, the strange time-bending, and the whole mystery of the older Doctor, and this is a fantastic starting off point for the season. Certainly the strongest one we've had to date. Also the appearance of William Morgan Sheppard as Canton Delaware III is the icing on the cake. I absolutely love that man, and I would love it if his character made another appearance on the show. 10 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 9


Episode 3: The Curse of the Black Spot
On board a 17th century pirate ship sailing the ocean waves, a crew under the command of one Captain Avery are being picked off one by one by a ghostly apparition. (IMDB)

Justin: I'm sure this seemed like an amazing idea to someone. Who vs Pirates vs Siren/Alien-thing. Overall a shiver me timbers kind of episode, but they can't all be Season Six worthy. 3 Sonics

Jaime: Pirates. A Siren. Rory almost dies, again. Could have been good, but just doesn’t stack up in comparison to both the previous episode and the following episode. 3 Sonics

Allison: I'm with my friends here. This episode pretty much sucked. It started with some promise. The siren creature was scary, and there was a hint of some interesting character development with the lead pirate, but it just all fell flat when the whole mystery was explained. An alien nurse? No, sorry. 3 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 3


Episode 4: The Doctor's Wife

The Doctor and his companions receive a distress call from a living Time Lord, though all other members of the Doctor's race were thought to beextinct. However, they discover that the call was bait to lure the Doctor to an asteroid outside the universe, where previously the energy of Time Lords' TARDISes have been consumed by an entity called the House (voice of Michael Sheen). The matrix of the Doctor's TARDIS is removed and placed in the body of a woman named Idris (Suranne Jones), who proceeds to help them escape. (Wikipedia)

Justin: Way back in the second episode of season two I wondered why the TARDIS was messing up when it came to traveling to a destination. This episode answers that query of mine, and does so in a beautiful way. It was also written by the very talented Neil Gaiman, a man I know from his years writing comic books. This was an amazing episode, and not just because it had an Ood cameo. I wish there were more like this. 9 Sonics

Jaime: Another from my top ten. I simply adore this episode. The soul of the TARDIS brought to life. It is so beautifully written by Neil Gaiman and wonderfully acted by all. The dialogue alone is reason to love this episode. The TARDIS tells the Doctor she “wanted to see the world, so I stole a Time Lord and ran away.” As one would think, the Doctor and the TARDIS have great chemistry. This episode also is pretty suspenseful, as the Doctor originally thinks he may have found a surviving Time Lord. 10 Sonics

Allison: It is impossible to count all the ways in which I love this episode. I have an abiding love for the concept of objects personified, and Neil Gaiman takes this idea and runs with it when he breathes the soul of the TARDIS into a woman. The result is a heartfelt story between a man and his truest companion. Though not to be discounted is the weird junkyard planet setting and the terrifying sequence of events that happen to Amy and Rory, who are trapped in the labyrinthine quarters of the actual TARDIS hallways after its been possessed by the planet's strange inhabitant. All in all, a harrowing and tender episode that more than earned its spot on my Top 10. Can Neil Gaiman write all the episodes? I'll be asking this again in series 7 as well. 10 Sonics

Average Sonics

9.7


Episode 5: The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People

The TARDIS is hit by a solar storm, sending the Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions to a monastery on an island on Earth in the 22nd century, which has been converted into a factory to pump acid off the island. To prevent death from the acid, the workers have utilized a "programmable matter" called the Flesh, which creates a doppelganger controlled by the worker. As the solar storm hits, the Gangers become independent, and the Doctor, Amy and Rory must work to prevent the two groups from breaking into a war. (Wikipedia)

Justin: Bad effects + cheesy mystery x the question of one's identity = this two-parter. I was bored and intrigued all at once. I couldn't wait for these episodes to end, but then they pulled such an amazing ending out that I appreciated the build up. I think Matt Smith did a great job of playing Doctor Who & Doctor Two (something he would sorta do again in season seven), but that was about it when it came to the acting. 5 Sonics

Jaime: While I liked the idea of the Gangers, this two-parter was not so fabulous. Looking back, I remember just not being drawn in to the episode. It never really caught my attention. Well, the two Doctors thing was kind of cool. And the reveal at the end is the only reason this episode didn’t get a lower rating. 5 Sonics

Allison: I actually liked this pair of episodes more than my friends did. While it got a bit laggy, I liked the concepts it raised about autonomy among clones, and I liked the creepy X-Files vibe the whole show had (and seems to almost always have while under the helm of Moffat). Matt Smith's turn was particularly good as he played two different versions of himself. And then there was that ending. Not a single ERMAHGERD was spared in this household. 7 Sonics

Average Sonics

5.7


Episode 7: A Good Man Goes to War

A member of the Doctor's team has been abducted and he will call in every favor and maybe even go to war to get him/her back. 

Justin: This felt like another Doctor Who movie to me, and that's a good thing. I mentioned in the past that I didn't care for the Sontarans or the Silurians, but that changed with this episode with the formation of the Paternoster Gang (Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax). Then there's the return of River Song and her big reveal. It's a top notch show. 9 Sonics

Jaime: This is a good one—fast paced, suspenseful, lots of action, and great dialogue. We have the return of a likeable Silurian, Madame Vastra, and her sidekick, Jenny, plus Strax. These three provide a lot of humor. And headless monks. And heartbreak. And the big reveal. I can only wonder what it would have been like to watch this episode not knowing River Song is Amy and Rory’s daughter. The giddiness of the Doctor when he learns that is priceless. 8 Sonics

Allison: Another one of my Top 10! Season 6 really has it going on for me. I loved everything about this episode. Particularly loved Rory in full Centurion mode as he fights to rescue his wife and daughter from the clutches of the baddies. The best part is my favorite recent addition to the show, Strax, Jenny, and Madame Vastra. There were some particularly great lines in this episode as well, my favorite being the "Captain Runaway" speech. 10 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 9


Episode 8: Let's Kill Hitler

The Doctor comes face to face with the greatest war criminal in the Universe. And Hitler. Old friendships are tested to their limits as the Doctor suffers the ultimate betrayal and learns a harsh lesson in the cruelest warfare of all. (IMDB)

Justin: This is a great episode. The idea of killing Hitler is always a good one (fixed point schmixed point), and the fact that they not only fail at this, but instead save der f├╝hrer is hysterical. The "littler on the inside" people are okay, but better used later on in the season. My favorite part is River meeting the Doctor for her first time. Again, a fast and fun episode that shows how sci-fi can be sci-fun. 8 Sonics

Jaime: Loved this episode. Humor, timey-wimey craziness, and River Song is magnificent. Here’s some time travel madness for you—Amy and Rory name their daughter Melody after their childhood friend Mels. Wait, Melody is Mels, who then regenerates to become River Song. Wrap your head around that. This episode also introduces the Teselecta, who have a very important role to play later on. We finally learn who taught River to pilot the TARDIS…the TARDIS. All this set in 1930s Berlin. And to see River’s beloved blue diary given to her by the Doctor. Classic. 9 Sonics

Allison: I loved the paradoxical play with time here, and it is obvious from the beginning that Moffat was having a blast writing this episode. We learn that Melody Pond/River Song was raised to be a murdering psychopath with the express purpose of killing the Doctor, which has kind of a Terminator-esque vibe to it. We also learn that Melody/River has regenerative powers, as her previous incarnation was actually a friend of Amy's and Rory's and was expressly behind their hooking up in the first place. Matt Smith is magnificent in this episode, though, as we see him dealing with some pretty heady and difficult stuff in a very entertaining and optimistic way. However, I seem to remember feeling not entirely satisfied with the overly quick resolution to what is ultimately the beginning of the Doctor's and River's relationship, as well as the realization that Amy and Rory's child was stolen from them, as was any opportunity to raise her. I think this is one of those episodes I would have liked seen stretched out to two in order to enhance the drama of such complex topics. 8 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 8.3


Episode 9: Night Terrors

A young boy living in a tower block on a council estate sends out, unknowingly, a psychic distress call transmitted to the Doctor's 'psychic paper'. When the doctor and his associates eventually find the correct flat in the tower block, they are inadvertently sent by the boy into a doll house, where they are terrorized by life-size peg dolls, and are threatened with becoming peg dolls themselves. (IMDB)

Justin: I didn't think too highly of this episode. Finding it to be a bit dull (or "doll") and too dark for my tastes. It might be because of the fun that was the previous episode. Either way... 2 Sonics

Jaime: A little scary, a little strange. A little forgettable. 3 Sonics

Allison: I'll agree it was a little forgettable, but I'm a sucker for creepy doll stories and creepy doll houses. And creepy little kids. 5 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 3.3


Episode 10: The Girl Who Waited

The Doctor takes Amy and Rory to the planet Apalapucia for a holiday, but they find that the planet is on quarantine as the two-hearted natives are susceptible to a deadly plague. Amy accidentally gets separated from the Doctor and Rory but when they try to rescue her they arrive 36 years later in her timeline. (Wikipedia)

Justin: This reminded of Jumanji or maybe it's just your basic story of leaving home and retuning years later only to discover you've changed as a person and everyone else stayed the same. I really felt for Amy in this episode. Wondered what life alone must have been like. Eventually having to give up hope on ever seeing the people you once cared about. I might be looking into this too much. 7 Sonics

Jaime: I both liked and disliked this episode. Old Amy was so incredibly sad. The idea of spending all that time, alone, waiting for your loved ones to come rescue you is just heartbreaking. Very well acted by the entire cast, but left me feeling gloomy. 6 Sonics

Allison: I'll just jump to it, because I've been waiting many weeks to write this: I absolutely HATED this episode. I hated everything about it (except maybe the special effects). Hated. And not in the way I hated Love & Monsters, which was ultimately just silly and tedious fluff. I hated this episode because it offended me as a storyteller. It explicitly bent characters we've come to know and love in such unrealistic directions all in service of a plot complication. Things are going too well for the Doctor and our two companions, so they need to artificially create conflict between them. But doing it this way was completely cruel and unnecessary. Let's face it: Amy NEVER would have put such a selfish and unrealistic choice on her husband to take both her young self and her old self with him on the TARDIS. I don't care how long she's been left alone to fend for herself. Amy, who has up until this point been one of the most self-sacrificing characters on the show, who loves her husband more than anyone and would lay her life down for him, now wants to be saved while KNOWING what a horrible strain it would put on things? No, I'll never buy it. You can't make me buy it. This episode nearly made me hate Amy until I realized that it was the writer who deserved my wrath. Way to suck all the heroism and likability out of a character and turn her into the classic naggy Ophelia, Tom MacRae. You're dead to me. I'd like to pretend this episode never happened. 1 Sonic

Average Sonics

x 4.7 (too many)


Episode 11: The God Complex

The Doctor, Amy and Rory become trapped in a hotel of horrors unable to escape and unable to find the tardis. The Doctor must save as many people as he can taking many twists and seeing his own worst fear. (IMDB)

Justin: To get this out of the way: Doctor Who meets the Shining.  Ok, now to what I thought was interesting. The Doctor slipped. It might have come off as a joke, but to me there was a big reveal. The good Doctor has had many companions in the past. All of them give him something he needs, and eventually he says goodbye and finds someone new. Upon his arrival at the "All work and no play" hotel the Doctor meets Rita (Amara Karan) & friends. Rita amazes the Doctor with her ability to tell that the Doctor & his companions were equally surprised to see them. The Doctor "jokingly" fires Amy and tells Rita to call him. Yes, it was humorous, but I think that's a very big tell on his part. 6 Sonics

Jaime: I loved the setting of this episode. It had great pacing and the dynamic between all the supporting characters was excellent. And the idea of a hotel room revealing your biggest fear is pretty frightening. The Minotaur was not all that scary, but the overall feel of this episode was. We would have awhile to wait to find out what the Doctor saw when he entered one of the rooms. 7 Sonics

Allison: I really loved the concept of a creature that feeds on faith. This episode said a lot of interesting things about blind trust, and I think it was a far more organic way of putting the brakes on the companionship of Amy and Rory with the Doctor than the previous episode (that I'd like to still pretend never happened). This is the second-best of the Toby Whithouse-penned Who episodes. His previous efforts were School Reunion (best) and Vampires of Venice (meh), and A Town Called Mercy, which we'll be reviewing next week. 7 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 6.7


Episode 12: Closing Time

After traveling for 200 years and leaving messages for Amy Pond across time and space, the Doctor realizes his time is up, its time to settle down and accept his future at Lake Silencio. . . . . .But not before one last goodbye. The Doctor travels to England and visits Craig and Sophie, who are now happily married and struggling with parenthood. Not everything is well, as the Doctor soon finds himself miraculously working at a shop and battling Cybermen. (IMDB)

Justin: I wonder what the Doctor did in those 200 years. Did he get a new companion, travel through space and time, or maybe just binge on Netflix? Either way, Smith did a great job at returning to the older Doctor. Not a bad sequel to the Lodger episode, and it ended up being a great prequel to the Impossible Astronaut. I didn't care for Cybermen-lite, and I know it was a funny episode, but why not another villain?  It's also quite possible this is a prelude to Nightmare in Silver with Stormageddon being Ha-Ha. 6 Sonics

Jaime: Craig is back. Such a great character. And now we have his son, Stormageddon. Or Alfie, if you prefer. We also see the familiar TARDIS blue envelopes from way back at the beginning of the season. And the Stetson the Doctor wore in The Impossible Astronaut. And we also know a little about those missing 200 years. What do you think the Doctor did during that time? The only negative of this episode is the Cybermen. Sigh. I really don’t like those guys. 7 Sonics

Allison: This is actually when I start to enjoy the Cybermen a bit. They're evolving and it's making me sit up and pay attention. I loved this episode, namely due to the return of Craig. And I just loved the whole dynamic with the baby (Stormageddon!) and the Doctor's interaction with him. Other questions are answered in this episode, as pointed out above, and I thought it was a heartfelt episode as a whole. I think it's pretty clear what the Doctor got up to in those 200 years. Only we'd have to read all those pages in River's diary to find out for sure. ;) 7 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 6.7


Episode 13: The Wedding of River Song

It's April 22, 2011 the day the Doctor is supposed to die but time seems to be stuck at 5:02 p.m. London streets are clogged not only with automobiles but also Roman chariots; pterodactyls fly in the sky. The Holy Roman Emperor, Winston Churchill, calls on a prisoner to explain what is happening. In fact, all time seems to be occurring all at once. The Doctor determines that a fixed point in time has been altered or prevented from occurring. That fixed point is his own death at Lake Silencio where history records that River Song killed him.

Justin: It all comes together in a fantastic conclusion to this season. What I enjoyed so much about this season, and the prior, is that it was hard to distinguish the individual episode ls from one gigantic arc. I even remembered this being two episodes. You throw in an alternate universe and you're set. This episode even tied into the Ninth Doctor. Fantastic. When you finish this episode and start thinking about the Tenth meeting River for the first time it adds layers and layers to the story.  There are pay offs galore in this forty-five minutes of episode that's crammed into sixty seconds of stuck time. 8 Sonics

Jaime: This episode is so well done. It ties together (almost) all the loose ends from the season. We see who it was that killed the Doctor at Lake Silencio. We also get a parallel universe where Winston Churchill is the Holy Roman Emperor and time is collapsing. And it is all topped off with the wedding of River and the Doctor. At this point, River has become one of the most fascinating characters of Doctor Who. And this one ends with what I can only call prophesy: “On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked—one that must never be answered. And Silence must fall when the question is asked.” Excellent end to an excellent season. 9 Sonics

Allison: I've seen this episode twice. The first time, I truly was lost trying to put it all together in my head. So many loose ends are tied up and sometimes the act of tying them generates even more questions. A second viewing put my mind at ease. I love how it all came together. It amazes me the dichotomies of some of these characters. Matt Smith and Alex Kingston have amazing chemistry, yet they do not look like a couple. But you believe they're a couple anyway, because of the soul they both exude. I love that dynamic. I also love how this whole season had a very strong arc, something that is sorely lacking in series 7, but we'll save that for next week. Overall, this remains the strongest season for me, and Smith really came into his own. 9 Sonics

Average Sonics

x 8.7


Episodes Ranked Best to Worst

1. The Doctor's Wife
2. The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
3. A Good Man Goes to War
4. The Wedding of River Song
5. Let's Kill Hitler
6. A Christmas Carol
7. The God Complex
8. Closing Time
9. The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People
10. The Girl Who Waited
11. Night Terrors
12. The Curse of the Black Spot

Overall Sonic Average for the Season

x 6.9


The overall average here is frustrating, because this is easily our most consistently high ranking season thus far, but because it has two more episodes than our current highest ranker (series 3), it brought our overall average down. If that stupid Girl Who Waited episode had never happened, we'd be sitting pretty right now. Nevertheless, we'd love to know what you think of the numbers. Did you hate The Girl Who Waited as much as I did? What were your favorites? Stay tuned as we delve into some great episodes next week! The 50th Anniversary and of course the regeneration! 

Allison, Justin, and Jaime