Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 12

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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 12th episode of each of the seven series so far.

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


Introduction by Mark Spurdle.

Today’s Candidates

  1. Bad Wolf (2005)
  2. Army of Ghosts (2006)
  3. The Sound of Drums (2007)
  4. The Stolen Earth (2008)
  5. The Pandorica Opens (2010)
  6. Closing Time (2011)
  7. Nightmare in Silver (2013)

What makes a good Episode Twelve?

During Series 1-5, episode 12 would be the pinnacle of Saturday viewing. The series was building up towards the grand finale and Episode 12 would be the first of a two-parter finale. However, in recent series Moffat has approached a single part finale; meaning Episode 12 of Series 6 and 7 being a standalone episode.

But let’s start with the Series 1-5 format. And what does make the first part of finale so good? Three things: 1. Build-up 2. Answers slowly being answered (and perhaps a few more questions raised) and a kick-ass cliff-hanger. The first part needs to have good pace and a natural build-up; a sense that the questions will soon be answered and that the story is slowly progressing into a belter. The Series 1-5 episodes above all have the qualities stated in this article. Fundamentally and overall; the first part of the finale is effectively to boost character development and move the arc forwards by substantial pace.

Now, on to the standalone episodes; in recent years Episode 12 has had a small part in the series arc. Series 6 gave us a joyful “romp” that perhaps gave a lighter tone, perhaps to build us up for the bonkers finale that is to come. The episode can sometimes be overlooked as people simply want to get to the finale and the episode can be dismissed as “childish” and not needed. These episodes do need to have qualities such as being both enjoyable and light-hearted. Of course they certainly need to end on a cliff-hanger to throw us into the finale; and Closing Time of course did this perfectly.

Predicted Winner

Of course it had to be The Pandorica Opens! Everywhere I’ve looked all I see is praise for this smashing episode. And why not? It is bloody brilliant. In my opinion Moffat should apply the two-parter scheme with Series 8’s finale. The Wedding of River Song is adequate and The Name of the Doctor is okay in small doses. Although the two are okay(ish!), I think Moffat’s best finale is undoubtedly this piece of wonder; and this is down to the two-parter system giving it time to breathe, develop and be a constant giver of brilliance. The Pandorica Opens give us Matt as his whimsical, dark and hilarious best, Amy at top form and Rory developing into the character that we all adore and miss.

The episode of course (like all of Series 5) has us, the audience hanging to the edge of our seats; on the point of falling and face planting the table or floor. The idea of the Pandorica is simply stunning and really highlights Moffat’s brilliant mind and work. The constant questions of “What on earth is in that bloody box?!” are answered with the brilliant revelation that it is in fact the Doctor. Whether you all saw it coming…I certainly did not! And what a revelation! We’re also introduced to the “Alliance” which in my eyes is a stroke of brilliance. Although the Alliance did not get THAT much viewing time; they certainly played a huge part and delighted me to no end. And of course this episode has the third key feature of a two-parter finale; a kick-ass cliff-hanger. I thought the world was over, that Amy was gone (bloody BBC even put a tribute to Amy on their site) and I genuinely could not see a way out of it for the Doctor. It left me stunned, confused and filled with sadness. So yeah, I guess I can see why it is the predicted winner.

The Dark Horse

Bad Wolf is in short the definition of “brilliant romp”. I’m surprised to see some criticism aimed at the “spoofs” but I find them both hilarious and in some way…rather dark. Imagine the day when TV gets to the point when death is involved, imagine the day when TV takes over, imagine the day when it is law to watch and own a TV. RTD is the master of underlying themes and presenting the possibilities that Earth could come to. Although this episode is not arc heavy it certainly does possess some of the qualities above: it has a good and strong build up, we’re left with various questions about “who actually used the transmit beam?” because come on, it was never going to be the simple game show runners. We’re left to wonder who the “Masters” are and what on earth is going on with these game shows?!

The episode boasts the underlying themes such as what really happens after the Doctor gets involved with current events, the lasting effects of his intervention and how they shape the future. The Anne…Droid is superb and downright hilarious and although I despise Big Brother, it was brilliant to see the Doctor in “the house”. The cliff-hanger is superb and really makes the audience exclaim “holy *insert swear here*!” and launches us into the brilliant The Parting of the Ways. I’m not 100% sure why this episode isn’t given positive acclaim as much as I’d expect. Perhaps the spoofs were too much; perhaps you simply had a bad day when you first watched it. But this episode is certainly a force to be reckoned with in this poll.

Writer’s Pick

The Sound of Drums. What an epic episode. The episode shows the return of the beloved Master and really casts Series 3 into “bliss”. We not only see the return of the Master, but the return of a situation I always love; the Doctor losing and being powerless. The Master is Prime Minister of Britain, full control of everything around him and has the upper-hand on the Doctor. We see what his inclusion and intervention has caused for the Jones family and we see the world at his feet. Every scene the Master is in equals a brilliant scene. The part involving his own party being gassed is just marvellous and really shows Simm’s brilliance. Of course the Master’s brilliance does not stop there; the moment the Master meets the Jones family is just pure evil. I’ve never seen such evil before. “This country has been sick. This country needs healing. This country needs medicine. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that what this country really needs, right now, is a doctor.”- oh the Master is simply brilliant. Like this episode all over! The episode boasts one of my favourite scenes in New-Who; the alley scene when the Doctor, Martha and Jack become “ghosts”, it features stunning music that really captures the mood and sombre feel to the trio’s predicament.

But what else does this episode have? Well for starters the brilliant song “Voodoo Child” by Rogue Traders. What a song! And of course it features in one of the greatest cliff-hangers in all of Doctor Who. The monstrous Toclafane are released to the world to bring a shining new future but instead bestow a massacre. The Doctor has been turned old, the earth is being destroyed and Martha has been transported away from the Valiant back down to the lands of the Earth and all hope is lost. But why is this better than the predicted The Pandorica Opens? Because we see the devastation of modern Earth, the Master and RTD perhaps at his best, if not near best. The devastation and excitement metre is cranked up to full and we gain a simply classic episode. What a belter!


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