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Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 3

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 3rd 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-3-face-off

Introduction by Lewis Hurst.

Today’s Candidates

  1. The Unquiet Dead (2005)
  2. School Reunion (2006)
  3. Gridlock (2007)
  4. Planet of the Ood (2008)
  5. Victory of the Daleks (2010)
  6. The Curse of the Black Spot (2011)
  7. A Town Called Mercy (2012)

What makes a good Episode 3?

After the first two episodes riding on the hype of the show’s return to screens, it’s up to the third episode to convince viewers to keep watching. They are standalone stories that have very little impact on the series arc, apart from a few exceptions like Gridlock and Planet of the Ood. It’s also worth noting that Episode Three is most often the first “normal” episode of the series, with Episode One usually an introduction to a new Doctor/Companion and Episode Two being their “first trip”. Episode Three is the first normal trip where hopefully audiences are used to the new characters thus being the first episode where the plot is in huge focus.

Predicted Winner

David Tennant’s first Series as the Doctor may not be my favourite, but I can’t deny that School Reunion is a magnificent episode. Featuring the return of Sarah Jane and K9, this episode featured a lot of nostalgia for older viewers as well as tempting younger viewers to pick up the Classic Series. Sarah Jane’s emotions upon seeing the Doctor again still get me today. The episode is also brilliantly plotted and paced featuring perhaps one of the best New Who villains to date. Mr Finch (played by the stupendous Anthony Head) is truly magnificent. It’s hard to imagine the episode being the same without him. It certainly wouldn’t be as memorable in my eyes. Another excellent part of the episode is Murray Gold’s brilliant music and his excellent action theme for the episode which sadly still hasn’t seen an official release. But all in all this is an excellent episode and if it wins, it will have deserved it.

Dark Horse

Matt Smith’s first Series as the Doctor is still one of Doctor Who’s best, even if some episodes are still criminally under loved. One such episode is Victory of the Daleks. I often feel that a lot of the criticism towards this episode come from the designs of the Paradigm Daleks, which in my opinion are not that bad especially after their slight repaint in Series 7. But after looking at this episode, I struggle to see what makes people dislike it so much. It’s a very fun episode that makes great use of its period setting. Sure, its conclusion is a little cheesy but it’s still very good throughout. Winston Churchill is a great character with some excellent lines. And come on, Spitfires in space? What’s not to love? And I know I’m not the only fan of this episode so I’ll tell my fellow Victory of the Daleks fans to “KBO”.

Writer’s Choice

Planet of the Ood is probably one of my favourite episodes from the entire Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who. It’s very rare for big issues like slavery to be handled in the show but Planet of the Ood handles it perfectly. It’s one of the very rare episodes where Humanity is portrayed as the villains. The thought that humans can take defenceless creatures like the Ood and effectively lobotomise them to make them willing slaves is horrible, but it’s all played brilliantly. It’s an episode that never fails to make me cry. The scene in which the Doctor and Donna venture into the cells and discover the truth about the Ood is extremely powerful which is certainly helped by Murray Gold’s excellent Song of Captivity. Planet of the Ood is a pretty much perfect episode that I often feel is overlooked and under looked but I for one think it’s one of Doctor Who’s best.

Vote

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

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179 comments
mlawesome
mlawesome

Curse Of The Black Spot Is The Best!

chinnysandshoes
chinnysandshoes

The Unquiet Dead. It's Charles Dickens! Enough said.

Ok, but seriously, I just love the idea of a servant girl saving the earth and no one knows about it, no one mourns her or misses her. It echoes what the Doctor says over and over again - that ordinary people are always important people. And in the end, Charles Dickens finds his courage and his humanity to step up. He is lifted by the Doctor's visit to hope and wonder at life again, to strive to be a better person. And that is completely what the Doctor is all about.

Rio Rio
Rio Rio

Victory of the Daleks

TheOncomingFish
TheOncomingFish

A Town Called Mercy definitely. It explores so many interesting themes and I love episodes that explore the Doctor's dark side (Matt is brilliant at that). 

HisNameIsTheDoctor
HisNameIsTheDoctor

  1. The Eleventh Hour
  2. Day of the Moon
  3. School Reunion
  4. The Doctor’s Wife

Badwolf2
Badwolf2

I hope they do a great pirate episode I like pirates

ReadingBadger
ReadingBadger

For me immediately it was a toss up between School Reunion, Planet of the Ood and A Town Called Mercy. Slowly, I got rid of SR - putting it to second. I think, purely for re-watchability, taking on some tough topics and being great I put.... damn I'm not even sure. I haven't submitted my vote yet and they're both great.

I know that I put:

3. School Reunion

4. Victory of the Daleks

5. Gridlock

6. The Unquiet Dead

7. Curse of the Black Spot

But I just don't know! I think that I've got to go with Planet of the Ood. Just.

So, rankings:

1. PotO 9.5/10

2. ATCM 9/10

3. SR 8/10

4. VotD 7.5/10

5. G  7/10

6. TUD 6.5/10

7. CotBS 5.5/10

stig oien
stig oien

Wow, episode 3 is really not the best of the bunch. Out the 7 episodes listed, I think maybe School Reunion is the best. Mostly because of Liz Sladen.

DW_girl
DW_girl

I really don't think Victory is the dark horse, I reckon it's The Unquiet Dead....

DW_girl
DW_girl

1) School Reunion 10/10

2) A Town Called Mercy 8/10

3) Gridlock 7.5/10

4) Planet of the Ood 7/10

5) The Unquiet Dead 7/10

6) Victory of the Daleks 6.5/10

7) The Curse of the Black Spot 5.5/10


I don't think many of the episode 3's are fantastic, except for School Reunion. And A Town Called Mercy has a bit of something special, but the rest I consider 'mediocre'.

WHOturnedoutthelights
WHOturnedoutthelights

I was split between Planet of the Ood  and A Town Called Mercy. They were both severely underrated episodes with great storylines and ideas about slavery and forgiveness. I went for the first Doctor WHo episode to feature cyborg cowboys and a horse named Susan.


Liana21
Liana21

I go for

1-A Town called Mercy

2-Planet of the Oods

3-Victory of the Daleks

LaraHarris
LaraHarris

I dithered over this one for a while trying to decide between The Unquiet Dead and School Reunion. In the end I decided on School Reunion. Not *just* for SJS or K9 (although seeing them was wonderful and I'm pretty sure the wow factor of having her back would make people choose it even if the episode was rubbish... people are weird that way..) but because it was about the Doctors life and  relationships, how travelling with him affected companions, it was the first time we saw 10's dark side, with his temptation to change what was, he was cruel to Rose and he first showed us here how he could be ruthless. It wouldn't have mattered to me *who* the other companion was, the fact that it was SJS was the cherry on the cake. 

Second favourite for me and the reason for my dithering would have to be The Unquiet Dead. Oh it's SUCH a good story. It's so VERY Who and reminds me of the older Baker stories. Brilliant enemy, brilliant premise, great acting and the Doctor and Rose starting to find and understand each other. Nice wee bit of comedy too. Without a doubt in *my* mind, Gatiss' best episode. 


As for the others; Planet of the Ood is an excellent story, well told, with good pacing and and some lovely moments between the Doctor and Donna and some nice foreshadowing.

Gridlock is another brilliant story. Inventive, funny at times, starts to bring Martha in to her own, quite moving at times too and more than a little sad. *nods* no complaints from me! 

As for the others... 

I don't really understand the hatred for Victory. It's a nice wee story. It messes with canon and timeline a bit and Amy is once again irritating (to me) but I certainly don't hate it.

A Town Called Mercy is another good one. All this nonsense about the Doctor being out of character... in what way? The Doctor has pointed a gun more than once in his lifetimes (has even shot folks and dropped bombs) and has also been more than prepared to throw someone to the wolves. I felt his pain in this. His hatred for Jex was very much a reaction to himself and his own actions and his anger at Jex choosing how he serves his penance was again, as much about him as it was about what Jex did. Perhaps it's a little too grown up for some? Perhaps a little subtle? Either way, when I hear people saying things like "The Doctor is out of character!!" I think... you ain't watched much Who!" Oh and that line, a nice little egg referring back to oh so many of his stories but most recently Midnight... "Frightened people. Give me a Dalek any day." Nice

Now we come to the clunker of the group for me. Curse of the Black spot. Yaaaaaaaaaawn. *stretches* Oh I'm sorry... I almost fell asleep *thinking* about it. Amy lepping (no not leaping, lepping, like stepping.. its a Irish term) about with a sword, chucking out gold when it just needs covered, breaking mirrors and glass not reducing the number of reflective surfaces but increasing them tenfold... meh. And if the siren is a doctor, who snatches people up with a mere cut of the hand and threatens the Doctor with fire when he sneezes, why did she not save the crew of the the ship? NONE of them?? It irritated and bored at the same time. NOT a good combo.






NicholasDahir
NicholasDahir

This is the hardest one yet had to go with School Reunion 

Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd
Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd

So far I've chosen Rose, Tooth and claw and Planet of the ood although I might change Rose to The impossible astronaut later though also I hate this malformed content  thing on lifefyre it prevents me from making a list 

DaftDalek
DaftDalek

1. Planet Of The Ood: I can't help but praise this ep. It's visually stuuning, it has a nice plot twist, the soundtrack is superb, it's action-packed (running and explosions!), it has touching moments, great acting, its messages on slavery are effective and powerful and it features one of the most realistic depictions of an alien race ever on the show. The Ood are probably the best-created race since the revival.

2. Gridlock: A greatly underrated RTD era gem. The moments when the Doctor jumps from car to car are incredibly cool and the ending with the Doctor talking to Martha about Gallifrey is beautiful.

3. The Unquiet Dead: This is probably the best Gatiss episode. The Gelth-possesed corpses are really creepy and Charles Dickens is awesome!

4. A Town Called Mercy: The Gunslinger is greatly made and the the Kahler scientist's sacrifice is a touching and unexpected moment. However, the Doctor goes way out of character.

5. School Reunion: I can't say I enjoyed the return of Sarah Jane as much as other people, as I didn't grow up with the classic series. Nevertheless, I have to say Mr Finch was a great enemy and K9 rocked!

6. The Curse Of The Black Spot: This episode doesn't deserve the hate it gets, still it's totally the kind of episode you can't care about.

7. Victory Of The Daleks: The serving-tea Dalek is cool and so are the Spitfire-Dalek saucer air-battle. BUT the plot is largely illogical, too fast-paced and the story childish. The previously mentioned air battle is illogical, too and a Dalek bomb is deactivated with love, something to remind us that Daleks are not to be afraid of anymore. In addition, Churchill could be better written and the WWII sets were unconvincing. And of course the new Daleks are not something to boast about. The episode ends up being useless, as it was made to introduce the colourful Daleks... BUT GUESS WHAT, we had no need of new Daleks... One of the worst Nu-Who episodes...

brewbrew42
brewbrew42

My order of preference: Gridlock, Unquiet Dead, School reunion, Victory of the Daleks.... planet of the ood, curse of the black spot, town called mercy.   The last three could be any order, and at least mercy looked pretty.

DrIndianaJonesThatsWho
DrIndianaJonesThatsWho

You know what, I really like victory of the daleks. Yes some of it is silly but Churchill is great and the doctors hatred of the daleks is demonstrated for the matt smiths first time quite expertly. Planet of the ood is also great tho, weird for me because I dont like donna as a companion (controversial). Powerful episode though

Oncoming_Badger
Oncoming_Badger

1. Gridlock

2. School Reunion

3. The Curse of the Black Spot

4. Victory of the Daleks

5. A Town Called Mercy

6. Planet of the Ood

7. The Unquiet Dead

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

A Town Called Mercy. I love that episode, it's probably one of my most rewatched New Who episodes. Everything fits together perfectly. 

SEDAKRO XIV
SEDAKRO XIV

i found it hard to choose one from these episodes as i like them all in one way or another.


However, i did choose A Town Called Mercy mainly because I really enjoyed the dialogue between The Doctor and Kahler-Jex...





EricPavlat
EricPavlat

Durned no-edits.  The reason I love Unquiet Dead is because we get to see the Doctor mess up big time due to his guilt over his role in the Time War and his status as last of the Time Lords.  He makes a tremendous error in judgment in his eagerness to help--or rather, his eagerness to erase his guilt--, and the earth almost pays a terrible price for it.  We don't get to see that very often, and it was an important character moment for that season.  Kudos to Gatiss.


--3rd place: Planet of the Ood.  

EricPavlat
EricPavlat

Hmm.  Not a five-star episode among them, and plenty of clunkers.  My heart says School Reunion, but Unquiet Dead is probably a better story.  Unquiet Dead it is, then.

The Moment
The Moment

School Reunion, an excellent episode and featured the return of Sarah Jane Smith and of course K9. 

DawnTime
DawnTime

Much easier than yesterday - Gridlock no question. Emotion, who does not like Cats. Wonderful make-up on the cat people. David's speech at the end about Gallifrey and the music. Love it.

RickXeros
RickXeros

Victory of the Daleks! It's one of my favorite episodes, I have the poster from the episode on my wall for crying out loud!

Kylephantom4
Kylephantom4

Probably have to go with Planet of the Ood, other option would have been Victory of the Daleks but then I remember the Mighty Morphin Dalek Rangers

Thesilence_1994
Thesilence_1994

Planet of the Ood by far is the best! :) one of my favourite episodes!

lukashcartoon
lukashcartoon

man oh man, School Reunion is a great episode. The villain, the character interactions...and Sara Jane Smith!

tardiselliot
tardiselliot

A town called mercy followed closely by school reunion

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

Love Gridlock, but School Reunion is a classic! Sarah Jane FTW! :D

Huknar
Huknar

I actually went for Planet of the Ood. School Reunion is a great story, but I fear without Elizabeth Sladen's return it wouldn't be half as enjoyable. Whereas Planet of the Ood is virtually a standalone story, but a wonderful one at that. The end almost always brings me to tears.

Oodkind
Oodkind

From my name, I think you all can guess which one I voted for. For me, there are a lot of mediocre third episodes. In fact, seasons 2, 3, and 4 are really the only ones with stand-out episodes. The rest have rather average episodes. My personal ranking:

1. Planet of the Ood

2. School Reunion

3. Gridlock

4. A town called Mercy

5. The Unquiet Dead

6. Victory of the Daleks

7. Curse of the Bored Viewers. I mean black spot. Or something.

Bert_Macklin
Bert_Macklin

As long as the winner isn't 'The Curse of the Black Spot' I'm fine. No offense to Mr. Thompson, I'm sure there were budget issues, but I'm surprised team Moffat could screw up the concept of "Doctor Who meets Pirates."


I'll be surprised if School Reunion doesn't win, although ATCM is getting a lot of love. I don't think I've watched the full episode yet.

TheSoundofDrums
TheSoundofDrums

1. A Town Called Mercy

2. Victory of the Daleks

3. Planet of the Ood

4. School Reunion

5. The Unquiet Dead

6. Gridlock

7. The Curse of the Black Spot

TheCapaldiMasterplan
TheCapaldiMasterplan

A Town Called Mercy, without a doubt. Not only the better of Toby's two in the above, but the best on that list overall.

TheSoundofDrums
TheSoundofDrums

This one was a no-brainer. I had to go for A Town Called Mercy. It was just absolutely brilliant. Riddled with a great story, great characters and a great scenary. It just worked in every area and produced a high quality episode. Other close candiates were of course School Reunion, Planet of the Ood and Victory of the Daleks.

LaraHarris
LaraHarris

Ruddy inability to edit. 

Meant to say on Victory. EXCEPT for the truly dreadful Daleks at the end. The unforgivable thing that was done to them... it wasn't a bad story.

cyberbrayde
cyberbrayde

@Bert_Macklin  Actually, I think Curse of the Black Spot was okay. When you tail down the dialogue, its brilliant. But I think the camera photography was bad. It had a certain theme that just didn't fit, only in series 6. But the writer was great, and so were the actors for that part, I'm going to blame a little bit on the director. There could of been some impressive shots. I also think this episode could be alot quicker and more Bells of Saint John type. 

Polyphase
Polyphase

@Bert_Macklin I don't understand the anti blackspot brigade, I enjoyed it much more than Gridlock, Victory and Mercy. Have you watched it a few times?

Bert_Macklin
Bert_Macklin

@Polyphase @Bert_MacklinNot really since it came out. The story felt predictable and the characters felt flat. But again, I haven't seen it since it came out. 

I also just looked at my above post and it seemed kind of rude. Sorry if I offended anyone who really enjoyed this episode-- wasn't my intention

LaraHarris
LaraHarris

@Polyphase It *really* annoyed me as an episode lol I suppose different things push different buttons on all of us.

DW_girl
DW_girl

@Polyphase @Bert_MacklinI found it boring and for some reason I can never understand and hear the dialogue properly each time I watch it (pretty strange...)

Oncoming_Badger
Oncoming_Badger

In fact I consider Unquiet Dead the boring episode out of the 7, it's just awfully slow.

Oncoming_Badger
Oncoming_Badger

DW fans can have silly opinions. The Curse of the Black Spot is a favourite mine regardless of how low people consider it.