Since 2005, there have been some classic stories that have really stood out. Blink, The End of Time, The Day of the Doctor and most recently Heaven Sent have all been outstanding and will go down as masterpieces in the show’s all time history. However throughout the last nine series, there have been several hidden gems, episodes that have not been given the credit they deserve. Here are my top five underappreciated episodes.
5- Father’s Day – Series 1
Travelling through time and space is not without its dangers, and that’s what this episode portrayed perfectly. Meddling with time and the past is risky and when Rose Tyler wanted to go back to see her dad, the ninth Doctor was unsurprisingly cautious about taking her back, especially to the day that Pete Tyler died. When Rose eventually did the obvious and saved her dad from the car that was supposed to kill him, we saw the consequences that come with altering the past. The Doctor was then trapped as the Reapers looked to devour all in sight, as well as disabling the TARDIS. The Reapers appeared because the events of that day didn’t go as they should have. The car that should’ve run over Pete continued to circle the church as the Doctor, Rose and Pete along with the others attending the Tyler’s friend’s wedding hid from the winged beasts. They were a fascinating monster that really made the episode scary. However what was so brilliant about the story was the focus on the Doctor and Rose as they reacted so differently to the situation. The Doctor was angry at his companion, going as far as calling her a “stupid ape” and stripping her of her TARDIS key. His rage was fascinating to watch and introduced a new dimension to Eccleston’s incarnation. Watching Rose so determined to save her father and the emotion on show was also brilliant as it was so relatable. If you could go anywhere in time and space, you would be tempted to try to recover loved ones from their deaths. The concept of the episode was very original and it really doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
4- Amy’s Choice – Series 5
This episode also had a unique concept. The Dream Lord was such an intriguing enemy whose motive was to simply wreak havoc with the Doctor and his companion. The Doctor knew who he was but the viewer was kept guessing as to who he was. Portrayed by Toby Jones, we watched as he created two scenarios and suggested Amy needed to pick one to die in along with the Doctor and Rory and one to concentrate on and survive. Both scenarios were life threatening and both were investing for the audience and exciting in their own ways. It was a fast paced episode that left us guessing until the very end about what world Amy would choose. It really tested the companion, as up until that point it was unclear where her loyalties lay… to the Doctor or to her soon to be husband, Rory. In the end, the Doctor eventually worked out that the Dream Lord had no control over reality so the trio must die in both scenarios to get back to real life. It was a clever and quirky episode with a dark and mysterious villian. The plot was solid and the story was fast paced and this is definitely another underrated story.
3- Rings of Akhaten – Series 7
This episode was unusual in the sense that there was no real villain for the most part. This was Clara’s first trip into the universe and the Doctor took her to Akhaten where the Festival of Offerings was taking place. The story wasn’t scary or particularly intense but it was nice to see the Doctor and his companion exploring and appreciating for the majority of the story. The episode’s ending is when it begins to stand out. Merry, a young girl that Clara befriended, was about to be sacrificed for the so called Grandfather of the planet. The Doctor and Clara then rent space bikes and soar across to the Grandfather to try and save Merry. Once they’ve escaped, it’s discovered the Grandfather is just a parasite of the planet and requires memories to survive. The standout moment of the episode then takes place as Matt Smith gives one of the best speeches of his tenure. He opens up and tries to over power the parasite with all of his memories but it’s not enough. Clara then appears with the leaf that she blew into the world on. It’s a beautiful moment as the parasite realises how powerful and important that leaf is and implodes, saving the Rings of Akhaten. This episode is inexplicably eight from bottom on the Doctor Who Magaizne all time episode rankings, a very undeserving place for a beautiful and sentimental episode.
2- Mummy on the Orient Express – Series 8
In a series of single part stories up until the finale, this is arguably the best and doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Sometimes in Doctor Who, plumping two random features together just works and that’s exactly what this episode did. The Mummy was a terrifying monster, appearing to only its victims and killing them after 66 seconds. We saw the Doctor at his darkest as he offered no sympathy to the victims and only interacted with them to extract as much information about what he was dealing with. It was a thrilling episode where nobody was safe and seeing several people die on screen added to the tension. The setting of the Oreint Express also adds to the brilliance, the claustrophobic atmosphere gave no room to escape or hide and made the Mummy appear even more threatening. In the end, the Doctor was almost excited to face the Mummy, he had used the death of others to equip himself with as much knowledge as he could and it was the best example of how dark and uncaring the twelfth Doctor could be at that point. This episode seems to get forgotten in the middle of series 8, but really it has been one of the best stories that Peter Capaldi has done so far.
1- Tooth and Claw – Series 2
Similar to Mummy on the Orient Express, this episode takes two random features and just whacks them together. Seeing a werewolf chase Queen Victoria around a Scottish house is everything brilliantly bizarre about Doctor Who. The episode allowed no time for breath as the werewolf was always closing in on the Doctor and co. The CGI werewolf looked stunning and believable and it was one of the best monsters of the series. It savagely tore through a few characters during the episode and at times you really did think it might catch up with the Doctor, or even Queen Victoria. The conclusion was valid as the Doctor used the telescope to direct the moonlight into the werewolf to free him. It was cheeky of Russell T. Davies to end that scene with the mystery over whether the werewolf had bitten Queen Victoria and if the Royal Family could now be werewolves. This fast paced, exciting and at times hilarious episode is definitely underrated and is one of the best of the modern era.