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Doctor Who: A Look Back on Series 7

Doctor Who: A Look Back on Series 7

If there's any sentiment I've heard consistently since last fall it's that this has been the worst season of Doctor Who since the 2005 reboot. Now that we've all had our brains thoroughly exploded with the season finale, it's time to put the whole thing in perspective and decide exactly how good or not Series 7 was.

14. Asylum of the Daleks: The opening salvo in the series remains a very good episode, if just slightly contrived. A look at a ravaged Skaro, the bizarre evolution and superstition of the Daleks, and the introduction of Clara in perhaps her most cheeky and wonderful role made for very enjoyable television. The bits about Amy and Rory divorcing because she couldn't bear children were honestly one of Moffat's more obnoxious failures with female characters, but he made up for it with some true terror, nods to past stories, and some of his best dialogue.

Rewatch Value: 9 of 10

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13. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: Series 7 is very light on one-off episodes you can just enjoy on their own. "Dinosaurs" is definitely one of those rare gems. The kidnapping and subsequent adventures of Rory's father Brian as well as a new posse consisting of Nefertiti and big-game hunter John Riddell make it one of the easiest and simply most fun episodes to watch. Such otherwise unimportant throw-away outings are vital to Doctor Who because they require so little of us to enjoy. There should be more of them.

Rewatch Value: 10 of 10

12. A Town Called Mercy: The Doctor just never does very well with the Old West, though "Mercy" is probably the best of those. We see The Doctor in one of his rare cruel and angry moments, and in retrospect that's very important to how Series 7 ended. At the time though it felt like a temper tantrum, though the cyber western was otherwise a pretty good yarn. It deserves credit for finally making classic Whovians forget "The Gunslingers."

Rewatch Value: 6 of 10

Doctor Who: A Look Back on Series 7

11. The Power of Three: With the exception of the establishment of the legendary Brigadier's daughter Kate as the new head of UNIT there is simply no other reason to watch this droning and pointless story. We knew that Amy and Rory would leave in the next episode, so their decision to rejoin the Tardis crew fulltime was pointless. Mark Williams alone turns in a brilliant performance reprising Brian Williams.

Rewatch Value: 1 of 10

10. The Angels Take Manhattan: The final goodbye of the Ponds has more plotholes than... actually I don't even have an analogy there. It's just stupid, and wrong, and pointless, and not at all what two such loyal and long-serving characters deserved. That said, you have to be made of stone not to cry when Amy says, "Raggedy Man, good bye," and disappears forever. I'm not overly fond of Amy, but I remember the little girl on her suitcase and never imagined it would end like this.

Rewatch Value: 3 of 10.

9. The Snowmen: The Eleventh Doctor is known for the absolute best Christmas specials, and while "Snowmen" is probably the worst of them it still puts it in very high company. Clara returns in probably her best outing in the series, and we get a look at Vastra, Jenny, and Strax as major recurring characters. Richard E. Grant is probably the best humanoid adversay The Doctor has faced since The Master, and the ending is both hopeful and tragic. Wonderful storytelling that sets up the second act of the series.

Rewatch Value: 7 of 10

 

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Doctor Who: A Look Back on Series 7

8. The Bells of Saint. John: As we moved into the Impossible Girl storyline proper The Doctor tackled trapped souls in the wifi. Honestly, it's easy to overlook because of how focused we all were on the mystery of Clara, but this was the exact same kind of writing by Moffat that made "The Empty Child" a classic. It holds up much better the second time around once the pressure of who Clara is is off, and her and Matt Smith has some incredible moments.

Rewatch Value: 6 of 10

7. The Rings of Akhaten: One day I'm going to have to explore the meaning of song in the modern Who series. I'm still disappointed that the vaguely Egyptian setting didn't lead to an appearance of the Fourth Doctor villain Sutekh, but I'm willing to forgive that for one of the greatest speeches in the history of the show.

Rewatch Value: 5 of 10

6. Cold War: The return of the Ice Warriors was a lazy mess of an episode that merely took other science fiction tropes and managed to combine them into less than the sum of their parts. There are some great tense moments and a few brilliant deliveries by The Doctor, but it's just not enough to save the adventure from boredom.

Rewatch Value: 2 of 10.

5. Hide: it had been awhile since we'd had a nice horror outing, and "Hide" pulled it off perfectly. Historically, I loved the look at the evolution of Earth's time travel explorations and the accidents and horrors that will likely occur when we first step across that line. Clara and The Doctor warm to each other nicely in the episode as well, and even though the love story ending is a little pointless it doesn't detract from the overall quality.

Rewatch Value: 6 of 10

4: Journey to the Centre of the Tardis: No episode has ever been a graver disappointment than this one. We got nothing we hoped for, and it's a little racist on top of all that.

Rewatch Value: 1 of 10

3: The Crimson Horror: it was nice to focus on someone other than The Doctor and Clara, and that helped move "Crimson Horror" along very briskly. It was a deeply unsettling adventure that kept you guessing right up until the last minute. In retrospect, it's a masterpiece of an era-specific madness that you can't get out of your head.

Rewatch Value: 6 of 10

2: Nightmare in Silver: Neil Gaiman does it again, though not quite as well. He managed to make the Cybermen bloody terrifying again, turned Clara Oswald into a badass, and coaxed an amazing performance out of Warwick Davis that was just completely spellbinding. If any episode of the modern series can be said to have a truly classical appeal, it's this one.

Rewatch Value: 8 of 10

1: The Name of the Doctor: I have already sat through this episode three times. There simply hasn't ever been anything like it in the history of the show, and from the moment it begins it completely destroys every preconceived notion. I have yet to hear a single fan that wasn't blown away by the finale, and it's led to one of the best movements into obscure areas of the show's mythology to boot. If Doctor Who is still being produced 50 years from now, they will still be talking about this episode.

Rewatch Value: 10 of 10

As for the series as a whole... there were at least two episodes I count as the worst I have ever seen. So much of the middle was muddled and barely fleshed out. But a strong start and a stellar ending ultimately makes Series 7 something special leading into the 50th anniversary. I say it's good. Not great, but still full of moments we'll never forget.

Have you ever noticed the connection between The Beatles and Doctor Who? Or have you ever wondered if The Doctor is real?

Jef With One F is a recovering rock star taking it one day at a time. You can read about his adventures in The Bible Spelled Backwards or connect with him on Facebook.


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