Welcome to Day 47 of my 47-day series about the revival version of Doctor Who (2005-present). I’ve come up with 47 topics / questions to answer, all of them basically positive and upbeat about the program. Each day (or as often as I can actually write these–so far so good!) I’ll pick one of them at random (using this convenient random number generator) and then write up an answer.
Why 47? It’s my favorite number.
Why Doctor Who? It’s my favorite show.
Why the modern day Doctor Who only? Simply because I remember it better.
Why only positive stuff? Because really, I write enough snark.
Well, this time I’ve cheated a little bit, because I started this post well before the 47th day and I purposely chose to leave this topic until this day. So so much for the Random Number Generator. (This means that technically, yesterday must not have been randomly chosen either) (Edited to add: Yup, that’s right. Based on the events of the day earlier, and my own choices, it was pre-determined).
Anyway, I decided to do something special for this 47th day of my 47 day series, so today’s topic is to pick not just one thing, but…
“47 More Memorable Moments”
So this means that I’m going to select 47 more moments that I’ve enjoyed from the modern Doctor Who series, with the stipulations that 1) I haven’t highlighted them in this blog series already and 2) I actually remember them–I’m doing this post entirely from memory.
So…here we go!
The Doctor meets Rose, Rose
The Doctor returns to TV for the first time in 9 years, grabbing the hand of an ordinary shop-girl and telling her to Run! A quick chase with Autons ensues, with the Doctor giving some hasty explanations while the two escape. He tells her to go home, and then disappears from her life. But then, an instant later he reappears, asking her what her name is. “Rose Tyler,” she stammers. He responds, iconically…
Rose Tyler, nice to meet you. Now run for your life!
The Doctor offers his gift, The End of the World
The Doctor and Rose arrive at space station from which many VIP dignitaries are gathering to watch the earth come to an end. It becomes apparent that each of these visitors are expected to make some sort of personal offering to each other. The Doctor, as always, is unprepared. What will he do? To our amusement, Christopher Eccleston proceeds to breathe dramatically at everyone, offering them all…Air from my lungs.
How intimate, one of the aliens replies.
“Narrows it down!”, World War III
The Doctor, Rose and Harriet Jones are holed up in some government offices of London, trying to make sense out of the latest invasion of earth. The Doctor asks his friends to help him remember what they know about the aggressors, and as they go over each detail, he yells “Narrows it down!”, wracking his brain to figure out which species he is dealing with. It highlights the whole thing of the Doctor’s mind being so brilliant and so full of information that he can’t completely keep track of it all. It’s the first time I remember this aspect of the Doctor’s character, now something overtly revealed, being hinted at.
“Everybody lives!”, The Doctor Dances
One of the best endings of any episode is found in this first season two-parter. An odd child with a gas mask attached to his face has been terrorizing Londoners during the blitz, and causing others to turn into similarly deformed versions of themselves. It’s unsettling and creepy and horrifying, but it comes to a joyous conclusion when the Doctor figures out what’s really going on, and even better, how to reverse it. “Everybody lives!” he shouts to Rose, full of euphoria. “Just this once, everybody lives!”
And then later, he dances.
The Doctor vows to come for Rose, Bad Wolf
Rose is captured by the Daleks, and the Doctor is helpless to do anything about it. The Daleks demand that he surrender.
No, the Doctor says.
He’s not surrendering. He’s got no plan, no weapons, no reinforcement, but he’s not surrendering. And that scares the Daleks to death. The Doctor is coming for Rose. He’s coming for the Daleks. The Oncoming Storm is coming, and the Daleks are terrified.
The Doctor shows us what sort of man he is, The Christmas Invasion
About two-thirds of the way through his debut episode, both David Tennant and the 10th Doctor come onto screen and take absolute control of things. A newly regenerated Doctor confronts the Sycorax warlord, while trying to figure out what sort of man he is. By the end of the conflict, he’s figured it out, and the Sycorax has paid for his arrogance with his life.
The Doctor and Rose are separated, Doomsday
The Doctor and Rose abruptly find themselves on different sides of a wall and of a dimensional barrier. And so the first companion of the new series, a woman with such obvious and deep affection for the Doctor that she would never willingly leave him, is separated from him forever (as far as we knew).
The Judoon on the Moon, Smith and Jones
One of the earlier “fantastic images” that the series offered us was in the third season premier, when an alien race that looked like anthropomorphic rhinos transported a hospital to the moon. It’s the sort of inspired visual and conceptual lunacy that keeps the show lively.
The Master kills his assistant, Utopia
One of the best Master’s that the series has ever seen is the one played by Derek Jacobi in Utopia. The friendly, somewhat doddering, scientist discovers to his shock and ours that he is the ultimately evil renegade Time Lord, and to prove it the first thing he does is brutally murder his sympathetic and innocent assistant. It showed us we were really in for something. Too bad the Master regenerated into John Simm a few moments later.
The Doctor & Donn re-meet, Partners in Crime
The opening of Season 4 was not a great episode, but the scene where the Doctor and Donna finally find each other again was delightful. Both investigating the same strange phenomenon, they find themselves looking at each other from the opposite sides of two different windows of the same room. Their pantomime shock and attempts at communication is really hysterical.
Suddenly, Rose is there, Partners in Crime
For such a mediocre episode, Partners in Crime has a good number of memorable moments. One of these is unexpected and unspoken cameo by Billie Piper as Rose, who had not been seen on the program since two seasons earlier. Her cameo set up many questions related to the overall season arc, and would not be explained (sort of) until near the end of the season.
Jenny Lives, The Doctor’s Daughter
The Doctor’s Daughter ended in tragedy, with Jenny taking a bullet for the Doctor, and being accepted by him finally just before she died.
Until she didn’t. A Time Lord offspring clone (or whatever she was) doesn’t give up the ghost that easily. She lives, and she leaves, all in an instant. Someone tries to stop her, but she’s having none of that. “What are you going to do? Tell my Dad?”
River’s Speech, The Forest of the Dead
After the story is over, after the Doctor & Donna have walked sadly away, we get a poetic voice over from River Song, who had just died a tragic death. She talks about how when you run with the Doctor, you think you can run forever, but you can’t…except that sometimes, something unusual happens.
Sometimes, everybody lives.
And the Doctor returns, realizing the message that his future self was sending him by giving River his sonic screwdriver. And the 10th Doctor is off, on one last run with River song.
The Doctor opens the TARDIS, The Forest of the Dead
Connected directly to the moment above, but it deserves to stand on its own. Having met River Song, the Doctor has learned that he has an even greater destiny ahead of him–greater power, authority & influence. This is symbolized in part by his ability to open the TARDIS by snapping his fingers. The Doctor doesn’t believe this, but at the end, when he’s been able to save River from certain death, he realizes it’s time for him to take it up a notch. He stands before the TARDIS, extends his arm, and snaps…
The Doctor Regenerates?!, The Stolen Earth
One of the most shocking moments in the series was the surprise ending to Season 4’s penultimate episode: as the 10th Doctor is finally reunited with Rose, the Daleks shoot him, and he begins to regenerate! I didn’t get to see this one “cold”, unfortunately (meaning I knew what was going to happen beforehand) but man, it must have been intense for the original viewers.
Donna Noble “Dies”, Journey’s End
All throughout Journey’s End, the ugly Dalek mutant predicts that one of the Doctor’s companions is going to die. This turns out to be Donna Noble, who doesn’t actually die but loses everything she has gained since meeting and traveling with the Doctor. It’s pretty heartbreaking.
The Doctor stays of dinner, The Next Doctor
After sharing a very personal adventure with Jackson Lake, the Doctor reflects upon the loss of all the people who once traveled with him, realizing that in the end, they break his heart. Jackson Lake insists that this once, the Doctor not be alone. And uncharacteristically, the Doctor gives in.
The Return of Gallifrey, The End of Time part 1
The End of Time is a pretty dud episode, especially Part 1. The big threat at the end, when everyone turns into the Master, would be bad in real life, but on TV it’s just plain stupid. But far cooler, almost enough so to redeem the episode, is the stunning reveal of Gallifrey and the Time Lords in the episodes closing moments.
“I don’t want to go…”, The End of Time, part 2
He’s not my favorite Doctor, it’s not my favorite regeneration, it’s not my favorite episode. But there’s no denying that David Tennant’s final moments as the star of Doctor Who are affecting and emotional. We didn’t want you to go either!
“Why did you say five minutes?!”, The Eleventh Hour
Frankly, one of my all time moments, ever. Most of us of course already knew that the sassy police woman in the slightly awkward costume was the same person as the little girl the Doctor had just met, but it was immensely satisfying to see him realize it. In that one sentence, we get to the core of Amy’s character: she’s the girl who was forced to wait, and she’s hurt and angry about it.
The Doctor points out the error of the Angels’ ways, The Time of Angels
It’s the not the series’ best cliffhanger, but it’s up there just because it’s so different. The Doctor and his friends are in a heap of trouble because of an army of Weeping Angels, and Matt Smith delivers one of his best speeches. He boldly tells the Angels that their trap is flawed because they’ve included something they shouldn’t. “There’s one thing you should never put into a trap….Me!” And then he fires a gun in the air.
The Doctor tells a sleeping Amelia a story, The Big Bang
Now, we knew the Doctor wasn’t really going to be eliminated from existence forever, but at the time we had no idea how he was going to get out of this. The Doctor telling the sleeping Amelia a story about himself works as both the epitaph that it appears to be and the clever ploy for victory that we discover it is later.
The Doctor’s death, The Impossible Astronaut
It didn’t all make complete sense in the long term, but the opening of The Impossible Astronaut was incredible. The sequence where the titular mystery brutally guns down the Doctor by Lake Silencio made for a gripping start to the season, which was even more effective when another Doctor, 200 years younger, shows up just moments later, holding an invitation from his older self.
Amy, Rory and River are all hunted down, imprisoned with the Doctor, and escape, Day of the Moon
One of Steven Moffat’s most outstanding qualities as a writer is the ability to boil action and situations down to their essence and present them in a very brief period of time. A great example of this is the pre-title sequence in Day of the Moon, when we see Amy, River and Rory all hunted down by the apparently hypnotized Agent Delaware in three successive & impressive set-pieces, only to realize it’s all part of the Doctor’s to escape and put his scheme to defeat the Silence into action.
The little girl regenerates, The Day of the Moon
The Impossible Astronaut two parter ends just as grippingly as it opened (the weaker stuff comes later in the season) when the little girl in the spacesuit suddenly wanders into a back alley…and starts to regenerate! It all makes sense later, but at the time, man…we were all like, What the–???!?!!
Amy is a flesh duplicate, The Almost People
I’ve mentioned this a couple of times, but always as a “runner-up” to another pick, but the last couple of minutes of The Almost People is by far better than the entire rest of the story. The Doctor has figured out the truth, that Amy is actually an artificial person that the real Amy’s mind is inhabiting from a distance. In actuality, Amy is a prisoner of Madame Kovarian and is about to have a baby. It’s a fantastic cliffhanger that unexpectedly turbo-launched us into that season’s mid-year finale.
Melody Song is a flesh duplicate, A Good Man Goes to War
Less shocking than the above example, but more heart breaking is the realization that Amy’s baby is also a flesh duplicate. All through the episode, we knew that the Doctor’s victory was going to be followed by a heart-breaking defeat, but we never guessed how terrible it would be until young Melody Song abruptly dissolved into a pile of goo in Amy’s hands.
Banana exchange for a gun, Let’s Kill Hitler
Watching the River Song’s first (from her point of view) encounter with the Doctor was a highlight from Let’s Kill Hitler. Seeing them attempt to outwit each other, including the Doctor replacing the gun with a banana, was a real treat.
The Doctor closes the door on Amy Pond, The Girl Who Waited
One of the most brutal moments in the show came when the Doctor shut the TARDIS door on the older Amy Pond, confirming that he was right in the first place when he said they couldn’t keep both Amy’s around indefinitely. It’s a harsh view of our hero, which was followed up by a devastating “goodbye” between Amy & Rory.
A world in which all of time is squished together, The Wedding of River Song
The pre-title sequence of the Season 6 finale, The Wedding of River Song, is filled with an anachronistic mess items and images all jumbled together, to illustrate the idea of all of time having collapsed into a single moment. It’s grand scale imagination, the sort of thing the show excels at.
The Doctor’s planetfall, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
The 2nd Matt Smith Christmas special is not a great episode, but it’s got a grand opening sequence that is both funny and thrilling. The Doctor’s desperate escape from an exploding spaceship, crash landing on earth and rescue by Madge is a good bit of Christmas fun. It’s also one of the few times that we see a police box on the series, and it’s actually a police box.
“Humany Woomany”, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
Again, not the best story, but one that has a touching ending. The Doctor sees Madge and her children reunited with the father of the family, and remarks upon how they cry when their happy. Later, he is exhorted to go and be with his friends, and we get the very effective moment of him tearing up as he is received by Amy and Rory for Christmas dinner.
“This is the story of Amelia Pond, and this is how it ends,” The Angels Take Manhattan
Season Seven of Doctor Who was one of the weakest ones the series has had, but still, there was no avoiding being emotionally affected by the final farewell of Amy and Rory. I loved the way it tied into The Eleventh Hour, and I loved Amy’s final line.
The One-Word Test, The Snowmen
Often, when Doctor Who goes through a big transition, it takes the time to give us a little throwback to what we’ve left behind. So we get the 10th Doctor saying “Fantastic!” in his debut, the 11th Doctor saying “What?! What?!” in his, and Matt Smith himself showing up in the 12th Doctor’s opener. The Snowmen featured one of these. The Doctor is wallowing in self-pity at having lost Amy forever, when Clara wakes him up with her answer to Madame Vastra’s one word test: “Pond”.
The First Doctor escapes, The Name of the Doctor
Most of Season 7 is a bit of a blur to me, but things went into sharp focus as soon as I started watching The Name of the Doctor, and found myself watching what was essentially a brand new First Doctor scene! And it wasn’t even the 50th anniversary yet! (Well, not quite).
Same software, different package, The Day of the Doctor
One of my favorite “timey-wimey” moments in all of Doctor Who is when the Doctor realizes that he can start a function going in the sonic screwdriver that will take hundreds of years, which will then be complete in one of his future lifetimes, who happens to be just standing with him right there.
The new three Doctors burst through the painting, The Day of the Doctor
If we’re going to have three Doctors in one story, that we want it to have lots of epic moments, and this is one of them. The Doctors hide in a piece of Gallifreyan art which is made out of a frozen moment in time. The camera zooms in and reveals them, they turn around and together make short work of a Dalek and send it smashing through the painting into the Black Archive. Epic music, slow motion walking, and we all give an inward cheer.
“I’ve been working on it for a very long time”, The Day of the Doctor
Anticipated by the moment listed two points above, the Doctor both learns and decides that he has been preparing to save Gallifrey all of his life. It was impossible to have all the actors who have played the Doctor appear in major roles in the 50th anniversary story, but at least we could have cameos by every incarnation we’ve grown to love over the years.
Attack Eyebrows!, Deep Breath
The highlight scene of the 12th Doctor’s debut story is when he runs into some hapless old guy in an alley and scares the daylights out of him with his ranting about being Scottish and having “attack eyebrows”. It’s a great moment and a great introduction to the newest incarnation of the character.
Clara has had enough, Kill the Moon
To say that Kill the Moon is sort of, well, completely out of its mind is probably an understatement. But the ending, when Clara tells the Doctor off for his approach to human affairs, helps to bring everything back to the relationship between our two lead characters…and its rarely been more interesting.
The Doctor does his best, Mummy on the Orient Express
The tension between the Doctor and Clara from the previous episode spills over into Mummy on the Orient Express, with Clara basically trying to decide whether the Doctor is trustworthy. In a great moment, the Doctor appears to be callously dismissive about one woman’s approaching death, before abruptly revealing that he was actually preparing to take her place in order to figure out how to stop the monster of the week. When Clara later comments on the Doctor’s heroism, he puts her off, saying he didn’t know if he could save the woman, he was just doing his best.
Clara threatens the Doctor, Dark Water
In a powerful opening to Dark Water, Clara has lost her grip on life because of the unexpected death of her boyfriend Danny Pink. She tricks the Doctor, putting him to sleep, and then threatening him by destroying the TARDIS keys until the Doctor agrees to help her save Danny from dying. It turns out to largely be a hallucination, but it’s fantastic stuff.
Clara’s Dream, Last Christmas
Another dream of Clara’s occurs in the Christmas special of 2014, which provides both an example of well-directed creepiness, and some unexpectedly effective closure related to the loss of Danny Pink.
Missy tells a story, The Witch’s Familiar
By framing it as a story being told by Missy to Clara, The Witch’s Familiar was able to give us a brief but exciting moment with a past Doctor–really, any past Doctor that we wanted to imagine–while still just being able to have Peter Capaldi in the part. Some stand-in silhouettes for the 1st and 4th Doctors only added to the fun.
Ashildr’s awakening, The Girl Who Died
At the end of the The Girl Who Died, the Doctor has achieved a miracle, returning Ashildr to life. It’s an amazing victory…until the end, when we get an accelerated look at the hundreds of years that follows, and see the coldness of immortality settle into her face.
Clara appears to the Doctor, Heaven Sent
I’ve said a lot of great stuff about Heaven Sent, but one of the most touching moments is when the memory of Clara suddenly speaks to the Doctor. She’d been an obscured figure at a chalkboard throughout the story, but suddenly, she is there, talking to him face to face…
The Doctor breaks through, Heaven Sent
In one of the most memorable climaxes the series has ever had, the Doctor turns the most brutal of defeats into a spectacular victory, when he spends billions of year punching his way through a mountain of diamond.
And there you go. 47 moments at the end of 47 days. Did I leave out of one of your favorites? Either way, thanks for coming along for the ride!
Click here for a master list for this series.