Matt Smith’s first season as the Doctor is quickly becoming regarded as not only the best season of the modern Doctor Who, but among the best series the long running show has ever done. His friendly/quirky take on the Doctor is both pleasing long-time Who fans, as well as drawing new viewers into the fold; and both groups are eagerly awaiting the start of Series 6 this Spring. Below you’ll find the list of what we consider to be the best episodes in Matt Smith’s first year.
1. Vincent and the Doctor
Coming late in the season this episode is after the Doctor realizes that time can be rewritten, which explains his actions in the end. The episode is where the Doctor and Amy travel back in time to meet Vincent Van Gogh and fight a monster, but in the end it becomes a really moving episode where the Doctor takes Vincent to the future to show him that his artwork becomes treasured and appreciated. The episode also finally put Bill Nighy in Doctor Who, and fans probably know he was at one time considered for the Ninth Doctor.
2. Victory of the Daleks
The teaser for this episode where the Dalek shadow appears behind Winston Churchill likely made you cheer, if you’re a longtime Who fan. And for good reason. After the longest time, the Daleks have been upgraded and are back as a big threat to the Doctor. This is one of the biggest episodes in terms of repercussions for what the Doctor will have to deal with in the future.
3. The Eleventh Hour
If people are trying to get into Doctor Who, the first episode of Matt Smith’s run is a great place to start. It actually kind of feels like a mini-Doctor Who movie and it’s a great kick off for a season that will come full circle back to this. And that scene at the end where they show the holograms of all ten preceding Doctors is unbelievably kick ass.
4. A Christmas Carol
This season’s Christmas special took A Christmas Carol and gave it a Doctor Who time travelling twist. While I felt that the episode spent a bit too much time in the past, which made both the present and future very rushed; where else will you see the Doctor flying a sleigh driven by a shark?
5. The Big Bang
The season finale took the entire season full circle back to the beginning. If this were a Star Trek episode I’d be complaining about them hitting the reset button, but if you go back and watch the entire season from the start you see things that are revealed in the end have been placed there carefully and you see certain episodes in a whole new light.
6. The Pandorica Opens
Right before the finale you had the first part to set it up, and how awesome is every villain Doctor Who ever facing all teaming up against him. While you only actually see the more recent enemies, much older ones are named in the episode and the Doctor going up and facing all of the invading ships was seriously cool.
7. Flesh and Stone
While the episode leading into Flesh and Stone was really good, the suspense what cranked up a notch in this one. When Amy has to walk though the forest with her eyes closed and just a motion detector only inches away from the Angels, it’s hard to not be on the edge of your seat. Really cool and creepy episode. The other thing about this episode is that Amy literally throws herself at the Doctor at the end, and he turns her down. He definitely is an alien as no human being would turn that down!
8. The Time of Angels
After brining back the Daleks, they brought back the Weeping Angels with this episode. Sure they are only statues, but they can only move when you’re not looking and then you aren’t; they’ll snap your neck like a twig.
9. The Lodger
There is a lot of heavy and serious episodes in this season, but occasionally the Doctor interacts with others and the result is a rather cheerful and happy episode. This year’s “The Lodger” is just that with some dashes of a romantic comedy thrown in and the Doctor playing some soccer, it’s a nice break from the rest of the season.
10. Amy’s Choice
Multiple realities and a new enemy, the Dream Lord, make this one of the standout episodes in the season. The Dream Lord is from the Doctor’s darker side, so it’ll be interesting to see if he pops up again in a future episode to cause even more trouble.
Doctor Who airs in the US on BBC America. The complete fifth series is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray, with the Christmas Special due out in a month. If you’re curious about the series and want to check it out without putting out too much money, iTunes currently has the entire fifth series on sale (in HD) for only $10 with the Christmas special a separate $3 purchase.