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Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 11

Doctor Who TV is running new series pitting all the revival episodes against each other to decide your dream run. This will be done on an episode by episode basis. Today we continue with the 11th episode of each of the seven series so far.

Note: Splits are not counted and specials will have their own categories at the end.

episode-11-face-off

Introduction by Mark McCullough.

Today’s Candidates

  1. Boom Town (2005)
  2. Fear Her (2006)
  3. Utopia (2007)
  4. Turn Left (2008)
  5. The Lodger (2010)
  6. The God Complex (2011)
  7. The Crimson Horror (2013)

What makes a good Episode Eleven?

By the time we have reached the eleventh instalment of the series, we are almost at the long-awaited finale. Now only this episode stands between you and several of the answers to the questions amassed over the course of the series. Going by the more traditional (Series 1-5) format of the show, it is the last single episode before the two part finale. As such it is important that it advances the story arc a little, bringing it back to the fore in the minds of the audience, and perhaps even create a few new questions to further tease the audience. Examples of how writers have focused the attention of the viewer back onto the arc include: the emphasis on Bad Wolf in Boom Town, the crack at the end of The Lodger and Rose’s return in Turn Left. In Series 3, there was a slight variation to the theme as several fans consider the finale of this series to be a three part trilogy. This is supported by the fact that Utopia is linked so heavily with the episode which follow. Series 6 and Series 7, due to a split in series did not feature two part finales, thus reducing the role of their respective Episode Elevens. Both served their purpose of strong standalone episodes whilst also bringing in elements of the wider story arc.

Predicted Winner

Looking at the list, there are a few episodes which stand out for me which seems indicative of a potential close contest. One such example is Fear Her, however that is for all the wrong reasons. When it comes to predicting a winner here, the decision becomes rather straightforward. Toby Whithouse’s The God Complex is an episode which has received large acclaim from the fans, and it isn’t difficult to see why. The premise of the episode is a sublime idea, taking something iconic to the show and using it as a plot point. The relationship between a Doctor and his companion is a focal point of the show and the audience’s window into the Doctor’s world. To take this and have an alien prey upon it forcing the Doctor to sever the position of trust in which his companion holds him, was a bold move on Whithouse’s part. Furthermore, to draw a parallel between the Minotaur and the Doctor made the revelation even more poignant. A statement to the audience that perhaps we shouldn’t trust this man we know so little about, after-all as are subject to witness each week, life with the Doctor is dangerous. However it is not just the concept behind The God Complex which earns the episode its plaudits, but the content within. Everyone has a fear, whether you admit it or not. All of us would have had a room in that claustrophobic hotel, and as per the narrative of the episode would have been defined by what was inside, a thought which in itself is quite terrifying. The (some-what unexpected) departure of Amy and Rory from the TARDIS at the end of the episode gave it a feel of consequence and authenticated the events contained within the narrative. The God Complex would be a deserving winner and will always be thought of as a classic.

The Dark Horse

From one episode which plays with a fundamental theme of the show, to another. Turn Left takes the entire concept of Doctor Who and turns it on its head. Utilising the Doctor-lite format for the narrative allowed for the exploration of a world without its Time Lord Protector. By focusing on a single decision and then expanding upon the consequences shows the audience that sometimes the smallest tings can mean a lot. For Donna, the importance of being in the right place at the right time meant everything to the fate of her planet. To think that something as simple as turning your car in a different direction can have such a huge impact on your life is incomprehensible. However, therein the beauty of the narrative lies, it rings true to a situation which anyone could find themselves.   Such a set up gives the episode a unique feel which allows it to explore and integrate interesting concepts such as the labour camps. Fans were also treated lots of small references and monsters from earlier in the series and the previous two. I can still remember the chills down my spine on initial viewing upon learning that the Doctor had died. There was more emotional turmoil as we learned the fates of Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, and Captain Jack Harkness, before finally witnessing the unfathomable situation Donna found herself in and the leap of faith she had to make. All this was very succinctly resolved with an intelligent plot device which was led perfectly into the series finale. It would feel wrong to discuss this episode without passing comment on Tate’s exemplary performance in the role of Donna; she brought the character to life as a centre for the audience’s empathy. As a wonderful standalone episode, Turn Left has every chance of winning what looks like it could be a very tight poll.

Writer’s Pick

Making a decision on which episodes fitted best to each of the categories in this introduction was a difficult one. The three episodes themselves were easy to single out however, and Utopia completes the line-up. I could honestly see any of the trio of episodes coming out of this poll as the victor. Utopia has a lot going for it, taking the Doctor further than he has ever gone before (quite literally) whilst simultaneously re-introducing characters and drawing upon concepts established earlier in the series. The narrative follows the endeavours of a group of humans (the great survivors) at the end of the universe, trying to find the fabled Utopia as their last hope of survival. The twist involving Professor Yana with hindsight is quite easily spotted, however upon initial viewing it was totally unexpected. The combination of shock and excitement proved to be a winning one which in tandem with the narrative produced a wonderful compelling story. The return of Captain Jack was also a welcome one which made for an interesting dynamic between the now TARDIS trio. This ultimately was overshadowed by the return of the Doctor’s arch-enemy the Master resulting in possibly the best cliff-hanger in the history of the show. For being absolutely marvellous, Utopia wins my vote.

Vote

You’ve heard Mark’s thoughts, but what about your own? Which one tops your list? Vote below.

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139 comments
GWad84
GWad84

My choice: Utopia. Pacing was excellent throughout and the last fifteen minutes were lacked with action, great acting and topped off with two fantastic reveals and a genuine @how are they going to get out of that cliffhanger. Derek Jacobi is worth a mention. Undoubtedly my favourite guest appearance (followed by Iain Glen & Simon Callow).

2nd choice: Turn left

3rd choice: The God Complex

DW_girl
DW_girl

All quite strong episodes here, I must say. For me:

1) Turn Left 10/10

2) Utopia 10/10

3) Fear Her 9.5/10

4) The Crimson Horror 9/10

5) The Lodger 8/10

6) The God Complex 7.5/10

7) Boom Town 7/10



JJ2000
JJ2000

11. Boom Town - Comical and just absolutely brilliant. lol :) :D

Tardis Stowaway
Tardis Stowaway

Hmmm. Turn Left was great, as was Utopia. Went for Utopia in the end, it had an unexpected cliff-hanger and some great moments.

DrWhoGoesThere
DrWhoGoesThere

Turn Left for me - one of the first episodes of NuWho that I saw.  Also, it was a really good episode.

lukashcartoon
lukashcartoon

Utopia. Derek Jacobi was the most evil Master In just the shortest time.

legionofthebeast
legionofthebeast

Turn Left - so many what ifs and so much despair. Really makes you think. Outstanding performances from the Noble family.








Utopia - the Doctor/Jack radiation scene is one of my favourites ever. Seriously, how creepy did the Doctor look. Jack calls him out for the events of the S1 finale. I still get excited by that cliffhanger.






Honorary mention to The Lodger because it was a great character piece for Eleven and one of my favourites of his. "Can you hold? I have to eat a biscuit." I wish Matt Smith and James Corden had more episodes together. Also, Boom Town for Nine which is such an underrated episode for its quiet moments. 



















TheMysticalFez
TheMysticalFez

I have gone for Gareth Roberts' hilarious: The Lodger. I just love this episode because it utilities Matt's great football ability and the 11th Doctor's alien...ness. Craig is expertly portrayed by James Corden and the enemy is intriguing and quite freaky. 

chinnysandshoes
chinnysandshoes

It's Turn Left or Utopia. I chose Turn Left. It's fascinating how the seemingly mundane choices we make determine the shape of our life in years to come. We don't, can never realize, the impact at the time of the decision. In my own life, I often find myself saying "if I didn't...., I never would have....." These little decisions are a very big deal.

I am also profoundly moved by the exploration of attitudes towards immigrants in times of extreme crisis. This is sadly and painfully relevant even in our time. The immigrant family that took in Donna were good people, really good people, who shared what little they had. But that didn't matter and they were sent to internment camps anyway. We lose our humanity when we are forced to survive. It's terrifying.

YorkshireDicky
YorkshireDicky

For me the reveal of the Master puts Utopia ahead. With the exception of Fear Her, which is rubbish, all of the rest are a close second.

DawnTime
DawnTime

It's between Turn Left and the Crimson Horror for me.  Not a huge fan of Fear Her or Utopia.  Boom town and The Lodger and The God Complex were enjoyable but nothing special.  So I think for the complex story and the Fab Bernard C I will go for the wonderful Turn Left.!

tardiselliot
tardiselliot

Utopia, easily one of my fav ever episodes. God complex would be my runner up








Bert_Macklin
Bert_Macklin

The Lodger and Boom Town are personal favorites of mine. Some silliness, fun character stuff, and calm before the storm.

Oncoming_Badger
Oncoming_Badger

1. The God Complex

2. Utopia

3. Turn Left

4. The Crimson Horror

5. The Lodger

6. Boom Town

7. Fear Her

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

It's really hard to choose between Turn Left and Utopia..... Ugh!! ..... Utopia was an AWESOME intro to the Master and that music! But Turn Left was hardbreaking and the cliffhanger was truly exciting with the return of Bad Wolf!!  

OK went with Turn Left because Donna was fantastic and adore the Doctor's reaction to Rose! :D 

The_Ogri
The_Ogri

The God Complex completely won me over.The monster whose face you never really get to see clearly, the way the whole plot was set up, it really was uncontested in my mind. The fact that the Doctor was sending people to their deaths, and how he lost Amy's trust in him were extremely ambitious. Praise Him. Oh no, I'll have to type quickly. The line that expertly keeps me think about this episode more than any other is "What do Time Lords pray to?" Just imagine the most powerful being you know that answers to a higher power; ingenious. Praise Him. I dare you to find an episode with a opening sequence that gives you more heebie jeebies than this one. The excellent portayal of this episode in the setting, the characters, and everything down to very idea is incredible. The crack in the Doctor's room being the thing he fears the most is a perfect thing to put in there. Praise HIm. The very end of everything he holds dear to him. His TARDIS explodes, the very universe falls apart, he loses River, and Rory. What else can I say? Oh I know, Praise it.









mgm1229
mgm1229

Four of my favorites, for different reasons. So hard this time!

I love The Lodger, seeing the Doctor try to be a normal bloke is one of my favorite Matt Smith performances.

I love Boom Town, for the dinner conversation which is a beautiful, quiet, but challenging scene, as well as for Mickey calling Rose out for stringing him along.

I love Utopia, for the marvelous Derek Jacobi, as well as John Barrowman and David Tennant meeting cute.

But I must go with Turn Left. So many beautiful moments, when we learn what life would be like without the Doctor. I can barely even think about the salute Wilf gives his Italian housemate without tearing up, and the look back over the series with alternative endings for familiar stories is bleakly delightful. But mostly it makes me think, what would my life be without the Doctor? Considerably more empty.

YaelMoise supports the nuking of space-spiders
YaelMoise supports the nuking of space-spiders

Torn between Utopia, Turn Left, and The Lodger.


Utopia has the absolutely inimitable Derek Jacobi, (chan) Chantho (tho), "Hermits united", the Doctor meeting Jack again so long and finding out about Rose surviving; Turn Left has that "What If?" appeal that gets me every time, plus a meeting between companions, which is always a good thing; The Lodger is just plain funny (as is its sequel).


I think I'll have to go with Turn Left, just based on the sheer number of times I've rewatched it.

sontaran17
sontaran17

BT or TCH or TL get my vote. I JUST CANT DECIDE!!!!!!!

needcomicmoney
needcomicmoney

Sorry but I'm voting for 'The Lodger'. Not because the story or the monster were particularly fantastic but because Matt did such a great job portraying a Doctor who was so wonderfully out of place in a domestic situation. For me it was the comedy element of this episode that makes it a sentimental favourite. My second choice would be 'Utopia' because of Sir Derek Jacobi.

Deus_Ex_Machina
Deus_Ex_Machina

It was a close one between "The God Complex" and "The Crimson 'Orror", but I think the former just pulled out in front. It definetly has one of the show's more original plot lines, which can be said for a few other of these episodes as well, most noticeably "Turn Left", which is a comfortable third in my mind.

Trenzawhore
Trenzawhore

The Crimson Horror is my least favourite episode of new who, The God Complex on the other hand is amazing. 

Seaborn W Deadman
Seaborn W Deadman

One of the easiest to pick for me so far. All decent episodes that I really like but none are really among my absolute favourites, so it's easy for me to go with Crimson Horror. I love the excellent use of the Victorian setting, the brilliantly batty villain, the perfect balance of gothic and funny, and the brilliant Paternosters! Gotta love the lizard woman from the dawn of time, her victorian chamber maid wife, and their endearingly bloodthirsty potato butler XD

Sir James Bond
Sir James Bond

'Mostly harmless'.....that's how I'd categorise most Ep's 11. Not offensive nor rude nor slovenly.....just nice, polite and handy with a hoover. 'Utopia', 'Turn Left', and 'The God Complex', are distinctively imaginative yarns with an appealingly melancholic air about them. 'The Crimson Horror' is a bit of light hearted whimsey, with its suckers firmly clamped to the breast of cod Victoriana. Even 'Fear Her' is welcome around my house, as long as it takes it's overly sentimental boots off at the door. As a last minute filler it works rather well, and features a central concept that's decidedly creepy and undoubtedly Whoey. Ohh imagine being able to trap people inside pictures.....I'd be sketching most of the House Of Commons in no time.....and Myleene Klass as well.....blimey she winds me up. Smug, self satisfied little.....sorry drifting.....where was I.....oh yes.....'Boom Town's good isn't it (nice segue eh?). 


I like these type of quirky little jaunts, were the fantastical and absurd are juxtaposed with the seemingly mundane and everyday. A nice plate of steak and chips in a pleasant seafront restaurant, with a big green galactic hoodlum in a human flesh suit, could really only happen in a show with a time tunnel shaped title sequence. ('Holby City' tried something similar once, and  well.....it was sh*t).  The episode's humour, which is often as overt and arch as you like, is neatly offset by a willingness to get under the skin (no pun intended) of the story's main characters. The toilet exchange between Blon and Cathy (that sounded better in my head) is quite touching in its own way, and manages to inject a welcome element of pathos into an enemy that could easily be dismissed as nowt but a fart gag with claws. The Doctor's dinner date with Margaret is an intriguing character study, with the old boy's outlooks, beliefs, contradictions and weaknesses all suddenly ripe for examination. Cue some great acting from Eccleston and Badland, and some intense close ups from Ahearne (whatever happened to him?). Even Mickey gets a good outing in this story, and manages, by episode end, to finally grow a pair. 

'Boom Town's an unassuming little number I'm more than happy to spend a bit of time with. It has a keen eye, a knowing smile and an overnight informality that just appeals to me.....so high fives, group hugs and big ticks all round. 

Nearly forgot......the accompanying soundtrack is a work of wistful beauty. Oh, for the haunting tones of the cor anglais.


Malohkeh
Malohkeh

Comes down to Turn Left or The Crimson Horror for me. I'll go with Crimson.

Oodkind is foretold...
Oodkind is foretold...

I have to go with Utopia. Both Turn Left and The God Complex are good episodes, but not good enough to dethrone it. I don't quite see all the awe over The God Complex. The execution was amazing, (Thank you, Nick Hurran) but the actual story was above average, but not particularly amazing. It was still an enjoyable episode. Turn Left is a really good episode, but it isn't quite as good as Utopia.

1) Utopia - 10/10 (Great episode. I can't really say what makes it so good. I just love it.)

2) Turn Left - 10/10 (Very good episode. It does a good job setting the plot.)

3) The God Complex - 9/10 (Well done. Lacking in the writing department.)

4) Boom Town - 8/10 (Eccleston was awesome. Not the best episode, but enjoyable.)

5) The Crimson Horror - 8/10 (A good episode. Not amazing.)

- ) The Lodger - 8/10 (Tied with above. I enjoy them the same level at different times.)

7) Fear Her - 5/10 (Just not a particularly good episode. The girl was too detestable.)

Polyphase
Polyphase

It's getting even easier :)

1)Turn Left

2)The Crimson Horror

3)Boom Town

4)Fear Her

5)The Lodger

6)Utopia

7)The God Complex

supermoff is on the Orient Express...in space!
supermoff is on the Orient Express...in space!

So far: Ep1: The Impossible Astronaut


Ep2: Day of the Moon,

Ep3: A Town Called Mercy

Ep4: The Time of Angels

Ep5: Flesh and Stone

Ep6: The Bells of Saint John

Ep7: A Good Man Goes To War

Ep8: Silence in the Library

Ep9: Forest of the Dead

Ep10: Blink (changed from Midnight)

Ep11: The God Complex

Huknar
Huknar

This is the first poll I'm finding a little tricky. Turn Left, Utopia and The Crimson Horror are all brilliant Doctor Who stories. They represent the very best of the show. But I do think that Turn Left has to get the vote for such a wonderful, daring concept. I'll never forget the harrowing scene of the Doctor's dead arm dropping the sonic screwdriver, because for a moment, just for a small moment, we saw him dead. Completely gone, and it was real. (Unlike The Impossible Astronaut.) 

Turn Left also has a fantastic soundtrack to accompany it. "A Dazzling End" one of my favourite Doctor Who tracks.



PaddyB
PaddyB

I chose Turn Left which is amazing if not very, very depressing (the Doctor dead, Sarah Jane and her teenage accomplices dead, all residents of Royal Hope hospital other than that annoying guy dead, Torchwood dead, the entire population of London dead, all the fat people in America dead and to top it all off, British immigrants being sent off to Labour camps.)

Clearly a barrel-full of laughs!

Mattdream
Mattdream

Boom Town for the win! Absolutely hilarious!

jellybaby3571
jellybaby3571

The Crimson Horror is my favourite episode of series 7, and the God Complex is my favourite of Series 6 but I adore Turn Left!  gaaahhhh  I think I'll go with turn left mainly due to my love for Donna and she rally shines in this episode and A Dazzling End if also one of my favourite Murry Gold Tracks!



Lord Styro the Drashig
Lord Styro the Drashig

I really, really, really love The God Complex, but it seems to be getting enough support here, so I'll vote Utopia (which I also really, really, really love). 

Stradiwhovius
Stradiwhovius

Oh this simply has to be The God Complex. It's one of my favorite episodes. A tense, tightly-written, character-driven plot, supported by all-round fab performances and layered writing. Simply outstanding direction; Nick Hurran quickly became one of my top directors, if only for managing to keep the same corridor looking interesting. I also think it was a fitting finale for Amy and Rory - better than TATM, even. Amazing. 

1) The God Complex - 10/10 

2) Turn Left - 9/10. Unique and a brilliant episode, but I have to be in a certain mood to be able to watch it. It's almost too bleak for general viewing. 

3) The Crimson Horror - 5 or 6/10. It's... okay. Nothing jumps out to me as being fantastic or awful. Pretty standard as far as episodes go. 

4) Boom Town - 5/10. Again, it's average. But compared to TCH, there are more elements I like (the whole 'consequences' theme it has) and more I dislike (Mickey/Rose, the whole plot feels a bit convenient) 

5) Utopia - 4/10. I don't get it. Maybe it's my disdain for LotTL rippling over, but it's just boring to me. 

6) The Lodger  - 4/10. Well... It's better than Closing Time, at least. 

7) Fear Her - 2 or 3/10. There's some stuff I do want to like. The way it shows Rose's development and how she takes charge is pretty good, if a bit overplayed throughout Series 2. But it's hampered by just generally being a bit rubbish.

KristiStoneman
KristiStoneman

"Utopia"!  I love the last three episodes of Series 3 so much.  "Turn Left" would be my second choice, followed by "The Crimson Horror" and "Boom Town".

Leggy
Leggy

Easy - Left Turn. Not only is it a cracking story that sets up the whole ending to season 4, it also has one of the best performances 'ever' in a Doctor Who story, and I mean that. Catherine Tate acts everyone off the screen in this episode - stunning performance. 

 Notsosmartguy Will Kill the Moon
Notsosmartguy Will Kill the Moon

I'm gonna go with the crimson horror a very fun story that prooves that jenny vastra and strax deserve a spinoff . Runner up s boom town which is VERY underrated in my opinion. I love the date scene where the 9th doctor is at his funniest:-)

Ninjauthor
Ninjauthor

Other than a few exceptions a pretty average list I'm gonna go with crimson horror though cos it's so unique

Pockydon
Pockydon

Wow, fantastic piece of writing. I was only about 12 when Utopia aired, so I was one of those children who had no idea who the Master was, but was still absolutely stunned by the cliffhanger. I thought it was the best episode ever at the time, it really did catch me completely off guard. It's a brilliant example of RTD's ability to please the old fans, while still keeping it immensely entertaining for the younger generation.

PK-S
PK-S

I was inspired by you posting this quote to seek out the article again. Excellent stuff, TB, you really ought to do another piece like it on another episode you love - it's great. But I just love what you mean by Utopia uniting fans of old and new. I really must watch it again..