It’s been a whole fifteen years since everyone’s favourite time travelling eccentric returned to the small screen after a lengthy hiatus. Five doctors and twelve series later, the show has a global cult following that has earned it a place among the likes of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and James Bond as part of Britain’s pantheon of cultural exports.
But not even the most ardent Doctor Who fan would deny that the show has had its ups and downs throughout its revived run. With Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor set to take on the Time Lords’ age-old nemesis in ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ on New Year’s Day, here’s a ranking of the revived show’s twelve core series.
12. Series 11
Throughout the revived show, the Doctor has never been miscast; from Eccleston all the way to Whittaker, every single actor has brought something fresh and unique to the part. It was such a tremendous shame then that Jodie Whittaker, despite making history as the first woman to helm the TARDIS, was so let down by the lacklustre writing and stories of Series 11.
On paper, the series seemed immensely promising. New showrunner Chris Chibnall looked to cover significant historical events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Partition of India, and he appeared to have no pretensions of topping the increasingly flimsy high stakes of previous years. But all viewers got was a series of thinly plotted stories, with too many characters to fully develop, and next to no genuinely threatening or frightening villains. Despite Whittaker excelling in the title role, her initial run of episodes were almost all complete duds.
Best Episode: ‘The Witchfinders’
Also Great: ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’
Worst Episode: ‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’
11. Series 8
Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor also launched a rocky start. Coming shortly after the show’s cinematic fiftieth anniversary special, there was a lot of hype surrounding his debut, but much like Whittaker’s inaugural season, Capaldi’s first outing through space and time was largely anticlimactic.
It is saved from last place mostly by the solid chemistry between Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, as well as Michelle Gomez’s fresh interpretation of the Master. There are a handful of stories that offer some interesting ideas, such as ‘Listen’ and ‘Kill the Moon’, but even they feel a tad undercooked compared to the more ingenious episodes of the Tennant and Smith eras. Given the jump in quality in Capaldi’s subsequent seasons, Series 8 ages poorly.
Best Episode: ‘Kill the Moon’
Also Great: ‘Listen’, ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’, ‘Dark Water’
Worst Episode: ‘In the Forest of the Night’