Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Tournament – Round Three

We are voting on  Tenth Doctor Doctor Who stories starring David Tennant, pitting them against each other in an elimination tournament, with whichever story gets at least two out of three votes from our judges will move on to the next round. The judges will be myself and two of my daughters–Johanna (15) and Laurelle (14).  The stories have been seeded according ratings on IMDb, and randomly broken up into two conferences–the Newman Conference and the Lambert Conference.

Doctor Who - Journey's End

We are now down to the final eight stories.

Read all about that process and the first round, starting here.

Right now, we’re going to continue things with Round Three of both Conferences.

The Lambert Conference

Doctor Who Blink b

1. Blink


13. Midnight

Ben:  Well, this is hard.  These are two of my favorite episodes.  Blink is an incredibly expansive story which fits with incredible economy into its 40+ minute runtime.  It introduces us to four separate guest characters who are fully realized and developed, all while introducing the most famous menace that modern Doctor Who has come up with.  A strong performance by Carey Mulligan anchors the story all the way through, whilst the Doctor remains a presence throughout even though David Tennant is barely in it.

On the other hand, Midnight is quite simply the best thing that Russell T. Davies ever wrote for the series, taking a very limited setting turning it into a tightly packed container of terror that never gets boring.  Davies manages to subvert all the expectations that he himself had spent three years setting up about the Doctor and his abilities.  It’s outstanding.

Weaknesses?  Blink’s premise doesn’t completely make sense.  Midnight‘s guest cast isn’t all that interesting.  Really, it could go either way.  On another day, I’d give this to Midnight, but at the moment, I’m handing it to Blink.

My Vote:  Blink

Johanna:  Right.  I know popular opinion would probably say Blink is better.  I liked Blink and it was fun to watch, but I loved Midnight.  I really really liked it.  It might just be because the Doctor was actually in the episode, not like Blink where both the Doctor and the companion were basically not in it.  And in Midnight, that one moment where the woman spoke just a second before he did–that was terrifying.  I loved it.

My Vote: Midnight

Laurelle:  Ooh, this is a hard one.  These are both really good.  Oh, I don’t know.  It’s so sad to have to get rid of one of them.  Can we rearrange it so one of the bad ones are paired up with this one?  OK, this is what I say:  I’m going to have to say Blink.  I really like Midnight.  I like the bad guy, I like how tense it is, I like the situation the Doctor is in.  But I really like Blink, and that one made me curl up into a little ball because I was freaking out so much watching it.  And I like how Blink, the idea of being sent back in time and having died right before the moment before they touch you, and that’s how they kill you, I like that.  And I like the idea of the Doctor leaving a message with the people who were sent back in time…that guy who ended up being the person to manufacture the DVD’s…that’s pretty cool.  And it’s pretty cool how the episode introduced a new recurring monster that is quite good.  So I’m sad for Midnight to go away, but I’m voting for Blink. 

My Vote:  Blink

The Winner:  Blink

Doctor Who - Human Nature b

2. The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End


3. Human Nature / The Family of Blood

Ben: I do like The Stolen Earth for it’s Endgame-style finale, a giant team-up of all our favorite characters facing an existence-threatening foe.  But for actual drama it doesn’t beat Human Nature & The Family of Blood.  This two-parter by Paul Cornell gives us David Tennant’s best performance in the series as a human avatar of the Doctor wrestling with his own identity.  The story features a touching romance, some creepy villains and some interesting underlying messages about war.  It’s a great story, one of the truly special moments for the series.

My Vote:  Human Nature / The Family of Blood

Johanna:  Right. For some bizarre reason, I was not a huge fan of Human Nature / Family of Blood.  I don’t know why, but I wasn’t.  I really enjoyed Stolen Earth though.  I really loved it.  It was so good, and so sad.  It’s one of the only episodes of Doctor Who where I don’t remember any bad bits in this episode, any bits where I thought that sucked.  Donna leaving was one of the saddest things I’ve seen in Doctor Who thus far.  The bad guy’s thing was interesting–it wasn’t just “we are invading” or “we are going to make you all into Cybermen” and it wasn’t the Master, thank goodness.  It was an interesting plot, or at least, not really dull (like I’ve found some end-of-season plots)

My Vote: The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End

Laurelle:  Dad, this is too hard, these questions now!  OK, I choose Human Nature and Family of Blood, probably because I don’t remember the other one as well.  I like the idea of the villains taking the form of the villagers.  And I like the idea of the Doctor having to turn back to himself, and how he’s so scared.  And I like how at first you don’t know what’s going on in that story.  In the other one (The Stolen Earth), I was so sad when Donna had to go back home and couldn’t remember the Doctor at all.  I liked how the Doctor grew the hand into a second Doctor, how they finally used the hand that they had for ages sitting around.  And I liked the suspense of thinking the Doctor was about to regenerate–I was freaking out, thinking we were getting the next Doctor, but we weren’t. And I liked the end with Rose getting to go off with the second Doctor in her own dimension.  Hmm, now that I come to think of it, maybe I’ll choose that one.  Yeah, I choose The Stolen Earth!  I liked it, and I liked the Donna-Doctor a lot, that was funny.

My Vote: The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End

The Winner:  The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End

The Newman Conference

Doctor Who - Silence in the Library b

1. Silence in the Library / The Forest of the Dead


13. The Sontaran Strategem / The Poison Sky

Ben:  I’ve always enjoyed The Sontaran Strategem, more than most it seems, as just a solid adventure story featuring a very well realized villain.  But this is where the road ends for that particular adventure, because now it’s up against Silence in the Library.  This latter story, by future showrunner Steven Moffat, serves as a bit of a sneak preview to what his era of the show will be like.  It’s full of all manner of delightful surprises.  Chief amongst these is the introduction to River Song, who proved to be one of the most significant recurring character the series has ever had.

My Vote:  Silence in the Library / The Forest of the Dead

Johanna:  Well, I liked Silence in the Library better.  When the Vashta Narada was a shadow in the beginning, and the Doctor and Donna were just watching as the lights were going off, that was just terrifying, and I was just like, “I don’t know what that is that’s making the lights go off, but whatever it is I don’t want to be anywhere near it.”  That moment in the playground in Donna’s dream when you realized all the children were just her children…probably if you had to choose a moment in all of Doctor Who to be the most horrifying, I’m going with this because it was just so freaky. And then we had River which is always a bonus. I don’t really remember The Sontaran Strategem that  well.  It was fun but it’s not really something I think of as something I love

My Vote:  Silence in the Library / The Forest of the Dead

Laurelle:  Hmm.  I liked Silence in the Library, the beginning of it.  I liked the bad guys, the shadows, they were really creepy.  And it really freaked me out a lot when Donna’s face appeared on one of the library statues.  And the “ghosting” thing that they do–that freaked me out, it’s such a creepy idea.  I like being scared in Doctor Who.  I also like River Song in that one, how she first appears in it.  It’s very fun, especially since you don’t know who she is and it’s very confusing.  I don’t remember that much about The Sontaran Strategem although I remember enjoying it.  I liked the part where the Doctor thinks Donna is about to leave but actually she just wants to go back to her house.  And I remember the part where they lit the sky on fire and I thought that was very exciting.  But I think I have to choose Silence in the Library because I like it more, even though I think it’s a bit odd that the monster decides to go inside the space suit when it could just move wherever it wanted so quickly.

My Vote:  Silence in the Library / The Forest of the Dead

The Winner:  Silence in the Library / The Forest of the Dead

Doctor Who - The Girl in the Fireplace

2. Army of Ghosts / Doomsday


3. The Girl in the Fireplace

Ben:  Neither of these stories are my favorite, but I’m going to go with The Girl in the Fireplace in the end.  The main appeal for Army of Ghosts / Doomsday is really just the emotional conclusion with Rose’s separation from the Doctor, as well as some novelty in seeing the Daleks and Cybermen be snarky at each other.  The Girl in the Fireplace is not Steven Moffat’s most memorable work on the show, but it still stands as solid piece of storytelling featuring some fun time travel mechanics.  It wins the vote from me.

My Vote:  The Girl in the Fireplace

Laurelle:  I like how in  Army of Ghosts you don’t know what they are at first, and they’re just walking around and they’re saying, “Look, it’s Dad,” before you know they are Cybermen.  And I like the cliffhanger with the Daleks showing up.  And I find it really funny with the conversations between the Daleks and the Cybermen. And I also found it very sad at the end when Rose gets caught in the parallel dimension.  With the other one, I found it very interesting with the Doctor meeting her at all different parts of her life.  And I liked the first part when they were in her bedroom, and it scared me so much with the Clockwork monsers that were hiding under her bed.  I don’t remember how things ended in that episode [I remind her–Laurelle is frustrated to learn that the Doctor missed taking Reinette with him because he came back after she died]. I liked Reinette but I find it a bit odd that he can’t just come back and get her using the TARDIS.  I remember liking The Girl in the Fireplace a lot even though I don’t remember heaps about it.  I think I’m going to choose the Army of Ghosts one.

My Vote:  Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

Johanna:  The reason I’ve been voting for Doomsday is because of savage Daleks (in the way they talk down to the Cybermen), but they don’t hold up against The Girl in the Fireplace.  The Clockwork people were really scary, especially when one of them was under the bed and the Doctor just said to stay on the bed.  That’s been kind of terrifying me ever since.  Then you had the ending which was really really really sad, just so sad.  I suppose the main reason one would vote for Doomsday is because you were really sad that Rose left, but I was never a huge fan of Rose, so whatever.

My Vote:  The Girl in the Fireplace

The Winner:  The Girl in the Fireplace

Tenth Doctor Tournament Brackets - Round 3

And there you have it!  I’m a bit gutted to lose both Human Nature and Midnight in the same round (even though I voted against one of them).  Looking forward to seeing where this goes next!

Onward to Round Four!


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