After truly ripping into the Tenth Doctor, both the characterisation and the writing, I felt a bit guilty. After all, despite everything I’ve said, I do actually like the character! To make amends, I’ve decided to pick out just five of the best stories from the Tenth Doctor. My hope is that this will prove to you that even I can find something positive to say about my least favourite era in the show’s long and varied history.
Honorable mentions: There were lots of stories that I’d love to have included here but couldn’t because of limiting myself to a top five. These include The Christmas Invasion, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, Blink, Time Crash, The Fires of Pompeii, Planet of the Ood, The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, Turn Left and The Next Doctor.
5. The Day of the Doctor
Written by Steven Moffat
Seeing David Tennant return for the fiftieth anniversary special was a treat! A lot of the character flaws that sadly define his Doctor were poked fun at, his last words being a particular highlight (“he’s always saying that” 11 says), and Tennant was a good sport to go along with it. It also happens to be one of his best ever performances in the role (only the top two on this list beat it in that department). It was a pleasure to see the 10th Doctor team up with the 11th and War Doctors to thwart the Zygons and then seeing “the man who regrets” save Gallifrey – The Day of the Doctor was a triumph!
4. The Girl in the Fireplace
Written by Steven Moffat (Read my full retrospective here)
On paper this is the story that sees the Doctor groom a little girl. In practise it was the story that showed him fall in love with a human only to lose his soulmate. If you can watch this one without crying then you have no soul. But The Girl in the Fireplace is so much more than that! It will not just bring the tears; it’ll have you cheering just as much. Far and away one of Steven Moffat’s greatest ever contributions, and that, I think you’ll agree, is saying a lot.
Written by Russell T Davies
Like no other incarnation of the Doctor, number 10 has a mouth that never knows when to stop. Imagine then if he was somehow unable to speak. To do that to any of the Doctors is a scary thought, to do that to this one is unthinkable! There are not many Doctor Who stories scarier than Midnight and the monster that renders the 10th mute is only half of why. The TRUE villain is not the unseen monster but the monsters that the humans he’s with turn out to be. Harrowing stuff. To think it came from the same man as Love & Monsters or The End of Time is a fact that I just can’t get my head round.
2. Human Nature / The Family of Blood
Written by Paul Cornell
Ten rocking the bowtie before it was cool.
The 10th Doctor is the most human-like of them all so it’s easy to forget how alien he still is. Thanks to Paul Cornell we have a story that emphasises exactly that. The life lived by John Smith is a stark contrast to that of the Doctor and just the sort of life he could never have. Smith is completely different to the Doctor, with a willingness to even send children to war, and he needs Martha’s help to do anything important. When he learns his true identity as a Time Lord he has to make an impossible choice. David Tennant gives the greatest performance of his career and when John Smith gives up the adventure of a lifetime to become the Doctor again there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
1. The Waters of Mars
Written by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford
Arriving on Bowie Base One on Mars (Bowie, as in David, as in Life On Mars? I see what you did there!) the Doctor discovers that the crew’s water supply is contaminated and is turning them one by one into zombies. He has the chance to save them but their deaths turn out to be one of those fixed points in time that show up in Doctor Who from time to time. What follows is a startling edge-of-your seat race against time that you know the Doctor shouldn’t win – but he does. The 10th Doctor could be an arrogant arse and all too rarely was this negative character trait emphasised, this time it is and the chance to see him get some comeuppance for once is very welcome but also very terrifying to see the Doctor go, for all intents and purposes, from good to evil. The Waters of Mars is a stunning achievement for this and is an essential episode that everyone should watch and treasure, a reminder of what happens when the Doctor fails to do the right thing.
Which are your favourite Tenth Doctor stories? Tell us your top 5 in the comments below.
When he's not obsessing about Doctor Who whilst having I Am The Doctor play in his head, Dr. Moo can usually be found reading up on the latest in Quantum Physics. As you do when you're a physicist.