4. Series 9
Had it not been for Hell Bent then series nine would’ve comfortably sat at number one. I know a lot of people will say that one episode shouldn’t affect how I feel about a season so strongly but it completely ruined a lot of what was so good about the latest instalment of the show. I find it unfathomable how the show can go from Face The Raven and Heaven Sent, two episodes that were written, performed and produced to absolute perfection, to the complete mess that was Hell Bent. I strongly believe that had Clara’s death not been meddled with two episodes later by Moffat, then Face The Raven would be regarded as one of the greatest episodes of all time, yes of all time, it’s really that good. Heaven Sent is another outstanding episode where Peter Capaldi is on top form throughout. I’ve already said why I despise the finale so much in recent posts. It should never have gone from a Doctor vs Time Lords battle to a Clara rescue mission and the conclusion was just absurd. Sleep No More is the only other poor episode in the season though, but when I say poor, I mean atrocious. The Sandmen were a non-sensical concept and I absolutely detested the whole thing. Other than that though I love the series. The first four episodes are really strong. The exchanges between the Doctor and Davros were really powerful and Missy was a lot better in this series too. I didn’t particularly like Ashildr, her character annoyed me, especially in Hell Bent where she and the Doctor only theorised about the Hybrid, an arc that was frustratingly never explained properly. As I said though, series nine was brilliant, and had Hell Bent been written and scripted properly it would be my favourite of the modern era hands down.
3. Series 1
Similar to series eight, the first series of the modern era is very hard to fault. There aren’t many poor episodes at all, and even the worst; The Long Game and Boom Town aren’t all that bad. Rose and The Doctor Dances are both superb and in the eleven intervening years, still nobody has written a better Dalek story than Dalek. That single Dalek showed more menace and threat than any of the thousands of fleets that we’ve since seen put together. Rose and the ninth Doctor are brilliant together too. I like how she helps him develop into a more compassionate man and helps him recover from the Time War as much as she can. We see this in The Doctor Dances when he’s so delighted that “Everybody Lives”. The story arc of “Bad Wolf” kicked off the trend in RTD’s era of a single word or phrase following the Doctor and his companion through time and space. Bad Wolf worked well, and cleverly concluded when Rose realised she must return to save the Doctor from the Daleks. The Parting of the Ways is my favourite finale as it’s action packed, intense and posed the Doctor with a true moral dilemma. The ninth Doctor’s eventual regeneration was scripted perfectly by RTD as it fitted in nicely with Eccleston’s tenure. Overall series nine is a near flawless season. It is a little safe in places, which was to be expected with it being the first year back. A few more thrilling episodes like Dalek would’ve moved the series up even higher but it thoroughly deserves to be in third place.
2. Series 5
What a terrific job both Steven Moffat and Matt Smith did of following up the previous era with more brilliant stories. Series five is a bit inconsistent, there are a few poor stories like a The Beast Below and Victory of the Daleks. But there are some brilliant ones too. The Eleventh Hour, Amy’s Choice and Vincent and the Doctor are all really good. The latter is in fact one of my favourite episodes and I do wish Richard Curtis would return to pen some more episodes. The ending where the Doctor showed Van Gogh his future legacy was beautiful and I wish there were more scenes like that in the show. The crack in time following the Doctor was a strong arc, and although series five wasn’t the last we saw of it, it was intriguing all the way through and created the problem for the finale. The Big Bang is a fantastic conclusion to the series. I think Moffat did very well to write a story that covered more than one period of time and made it easy to understand yet thrilling too. Amy Pond was a companion who definitely got better as her time in the TARDIS continued. I wasn’t a big fan of her in series five, to me she just seemed to stand about a lot and not really do much. Her dynamic with the eleventh Doctor was really entertaining though as they enjoyed a fun and bouncy relationship. When you watch series five you feel as though you’re on a remarkable adventure through time and space with the Doctor and that’s why it’s so high in my countdown.
1. Series 4
Only series nine could’ve really challenged series four as my favourite had the finale been better. A lot of why I find this season the best is down to the relationship between the Doctor and his companion Donna Noble. They are so entertaining to watch and have such a happy and humorous time together. The Unicorn and the Wasp sums them up as they’re faced with such an almighty threat in such esteemed company, yet still manage to laugh and have fun in such bizarre circumstances. The Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead story is my favourite two parter of the modern era. It’s fast, scary, thrilling all at the same time and introduces us to the enigma that is River Song. The DoctorDonna arc was probably RTD’s weakest but it still worked and led to an epic finale. I didn’t like the metacrisis Doctor or the way in which the Daleks were defeated, but the episode was still such a brilliant way to round of the series on a huge scale. It finished a three part story that included Turn Left. This is an absolute masterpiece by RTD and a story like this probably won’t be attempted again, and if it is then it probably won’t be anywhere near as great. To see the Earth in ruin with the Doctor gone was fascinating and finished with the return of Bad Wolf. That took us into The Stolen Planet, an episode that ending in shocking fashion. Seeing the Doctor shot by a Dalek and start to regenerate is a cliffhanger that hasn’t been and probably won’t be topped for a very long time. There aren’t any poor stories in series four, even the weaker ones are still enjoyable. I couldn’t get bored of watching it and that’s why it is my favourite modern series.