5 Favorite Stand-Alone Doctor Who Episodes: Countdown to the 50th Anniversay 4...

I was asked yesterday what my favorite episode of Doctor Who is. It wasn't a question that I could answer right away. There have been over one hundred episodes since the show restarted, the bulk of which are made out of undistilled awesomesauce. How do you pick just one favorite episode out of that? Even trying to began to melt my brain. So I thought I'd pick five... but even that became too difficult. Do multi-parters count as one episode or two? What about the specials? Where does it end? WHERE DOES IT END???

Okay, I'm better now. So I decided to tackle my problem by dividing my answer into three separate lists, one each for the stand-alone episodes, the multi-parters, and the specials; one per month between now and November when the 50th Anniversary Special airs, culminating in a blog post to go along with it. This entry, then, is for the stand-alone episodes. I'm also going to do my best to encompass all three Doctors and most, if not all, of their companions as they all have their merits, but just to get this out of the way...

Eleven and Amelia Pond. They win. The end.

And because even five episodes wasn't enough for me, we're starting with an...

Honorable Mention: The Rings of Akhenaten (Series 7.2)
It's always fun when the Doctor takes a new companion to the stars for the first time, and Clara Oswald's first trip was no exception. She woofed at an alien who spoke in barks. She befriended a child fated to die to save her world. And she saved the Doctor with, of all things, a leaf. And the Doctor? What was he doing that made this episode so great? He was just raging against an ancient, hungry planet ready to devour everything, with nothing to back him up but a song and the aforementioned leaf...

5. Father's Day (Series 1)
Despite the fact that the monster of the week is just a glorified reject from The Langoliers, this episode touched me. In the episode, the Ninth Doctor takes Rose Tyler back to the day her father died so she can be there for him, and despite the Doctor's warnings about paradoxes, Rose tries to change history. The episode has a touching ending and reveals both sides of the Doctor: the caring and compassionate friend... and the Oncoming Storm.

4. The Eleventh Hour (Series 5)
The first appearance of the Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, and Rory Williams, this episode begins not just the season-long story of the cracks in time, but really the two-and-a-half-seasons-long story of the entire Pond family. With his new friends, the Doctor must hunt down a shape-changing alien before another race of aliens destroy the Earth looking for it. The Doctor is, of course, successful and the Earth-threatening aliens leave, but he calls them back for a chat...

I do enjoy when Eleven gets all ornery.

3. Vincent and the Doctor (Series 5)
This episode doesn't seem to be one of the most beloved generally, probably on account of the lameness of an invisible monster... but it's got Bill Nighy and Tony Curran as guest stars as the Doctor and Amy hang around with Vincent Van Gogh, my personal favorite painter. A lot of his art is showcased, and there's an absolutely brilliant moment at the end when they bring the depressed Van Gogh to the future so he can see just how beloved and appreciated his talent eventually becomes. And if nothing else, the episode led to this absolutely stunning image:

2. Midnight (Series 4)
Away from his companion (at the time the horrible Donna Noble, the only companion I can't stand), this episode features the Doctor on a train on a distant planet. Doesn't sound so great, right? But there's something else on the train possessing passengers, and it's working its way towards possessing the Doctor. The whole episode is a study in tension, claustrophobia, and paranoia, and it all just plays out brilliantly.

1. A Good Man Goes to War (Series 6)
There are so many ways I could tell you how great this episode is. It's the first appearance of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. There's the whole "Demon's Run when a good man goes to war" poem and what it means, or how "he'll rise higher than ever before, and then fall so much further," or how "the only water in the forest is the river." I could tell you about  the three minute, forty-two second victory, or the fate of Colonel Runaway. There are one or two clips of Eleven getting ornery again that could speak for themselves, we know I love those, but instead, I'm just going to leave this here.

Rory Williams. The Last Centurion.

Next month I'll be back with the list for multi-part stories. Until then, feel free to share your opinions on these and/or any of your favorite episodes, people.


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