With the sad news yesterday that Matt Smith will be putting aside the fez and bowtie as the Eleventh incarnation of the Doctor on the popular British television series Doctor Who, I thought over the (nearly) four years he’s been with us.
I’ve only been watching the series since October 2012, so to me it seems like no time has passed at all. Still, I grew attached to this silly old man with a young face as Matt portrayed him. I decided to compile a list of the eleven (see what I did there?) episodes from his era that you absolutely must see, if nothing else.
Goodbye, Matt. Good luck in your future endeavors, and thank you.
The Eleventh Hour
This one was a no-brainer. The Eleventh Doctor’s first episode is by turns funny and interesting, as we get to know this new man. He crash-lands in little Amelia Pond’s garden like a fairy tale, and we go along for the ride. I didn’t like it the very first time I watched it, but after rewatching it a couple of times, it’s one of my favorites.
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
All right, so I’m cheating a bit by compiling two continuation episodes into one “episode.” But you can’t separate continuations! Anyway. The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone re-introduces us to one character and a villain: River Song and the Weeping Angels. Thus begins the confusing saga of River Song. She was introduced in the previous season (Silence in the Library, in which David Tennant was still the Doctor) and died. We begin to see that she will come into the Doctor’s life at random points, and we may or may not know when it is for her. Talk about confusing! But the Weeping Angels…if you thought Blink was scary…think again.
Vincent and the Doctor
This is, arguably, the best episode from Smith’s entire era. Very well written from beginning to end, with an emotional 1-2 punch of an ender. The monster ends up being completely forgotten in most discussions of the episode, which is as it should be (it’s kind of lame, but the episode is amazing)
The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
I actually hear a lot of complaints about this season 5 ender, which always surprises me. Yes, it’s confusing. But wonderfully so. The Big Bang is one of the few episodes that can make me cry every time without fail. That’s mainly due to the brilliant writing of Steven Moffat and the acting of Arthur Darvill. One of the best season enders since the show returned in 2005.
A Christmas Carol
Another that makes me cry every time. I also hear a lot of hate involving Smith’s Christmas specials, but this one is truly amazing. Michael Gambon, singing, cryogenic freezing, a crashing spaceship, fish that swim in fog, and Christmas. What more could you want?
The Doctor’s Wife
I can’t explain my emotions about this episode. I thought it was odd but generally entertaining the first round, but it’s shaping up to be one of my favorites. This is the episode that introduced me to the writing of Neil Gaiman, and I am forever grateful. Whoever decided to ask the question: “What if the TARDIS was a living woman?” deserves all the awards.
Asylum of the Daleks
My personal favorite from season 7, part 1. We’re introduced to a brilliant, funny character named Oswin, with a tearjerker of a twist at the end. I could’ve done without the Ponds’ marital trouble bits but they’re human, right?
The Angels Take Manhattan
Ah, Angels. The episode we all love to hate and hate to admit we love. Ponds’ tragic departure aside, the episode itself was really wonderful. I guess you can tell I enjoy the Weeping Angels stories, can’t you? They’re a truly remarkable Who baddie. This episode is in the top 3 writing masterpieces from the pen of Steven Moffat. Great job, you tormentor of souls. (PS: I added this particular picture to remind you of how happy they all were early on in the episode. You’re welcome)
This was the first episode I watched on the day it aired. I was still trying to catch up (from season 1 to 7) so I had seen a little bit of Matt Smith but not much. My only complaint is that the snowmen themselves didn’t seem like much of a threat except in maybe one scene. Still, Clara made up for it all with her sassy ways. It’s almost too bad this version of her didn’t stay with us.
Nightmare in Silver
Neil Gaiman strikes again! In my opinion, Nightmare may even be better than The Doctor’s Wife. Cybermen, an amusement park on the moon, Warwick Davis, and the Doctor playing chess with an evil version of himself (who calls himself Mr. Clever)? Yes! One of my favorites of the season.
The Name of the Doctor
It’s come to this. The season 7 finale. Who is Clara and why does she keep making appearances in the Doctor’s life? Those questions were answered two weeks ago with this episode. This episode is in my top 5 Doctor Who episodes ever, and check another off in the “always makes me cry” category.” Brilliant. Whoever thinks Steven Moffat is a dreadful writer, check again. The Name of the Doctor is a special piece of television.
After 3 seasons, nearly 4 years, of work, it’s time for Matt Smith to say goodbye. With only two appearances as the Doctor remaining (November’s 50th anniversary special and the Christmas special in December), time is running out. Oh, Doctor, it was such fun to run with you. Thank you, Matt, for all the memories.