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Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 4

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 4th 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-4-face-off

Introduction by Michael Coats.

Today’s Candidates

  1. Aliens of London (2005)
  2. The Girl in the Fireplace (2006)
  3. Daleks in Manhattan (2007)
  4. The Sontaran Stratagem (2008)
  5. The Time of Angels (2010)
  6. The Doctor’s Wife (2011)
  7. The Power of Three (2012)

What makes a good Episode Four?

With the audience now hopefully settled into the series, the show can afford to take slightly more risks and still expect the audience to remain stable, which has resulted in some of the more unusual or challenging episodes of the modern era. This is generally a good time to explore the Doctor or the companion’s psyche and relationships in a little bit more depth. Whether by coincidence or design, a lot of Episode 4s seem to have a strong romantic element. This is most obvious within The Girl in the Fireplace and The Doctor’s Wife, but you also have the Doctor and River’s budding romance in The Time of Angels, Tallulah and Lazlo (yick, to quote Tallulah herself) in Daleks in Manhattan and Amy and Rory’s wedding anniversary in The Power of Three. It can also be a good time to have the companion go back and visit their family, as in Aliens of London or The Sontaran Stratagem.

Predicted Winner

While there has been a limited amount of hype backlash towards it, this episode is still more or less revered within the fandom, having placed 4th in the recent Best of Matt Smith poll. I am of course, talking about 2011’s The Doctor’s Wife. It really shows off Matt Smith’s abundant skill as an actor; as writer Neil Gaiman says; he makes all of the right choices. Equally good though, is guest star Suranne Jones as Idris, a woman who ends up with the TARDIS matrix inside her. The episode really explores the depths of the relationship between the TARDIS and the Doctor, how the Doctor sees her as the only constant in his life, how the TARDIS feels about him bringing home ‘strays’. It also looks at how the guilt over the Time War continues to affect him, wanting to be forgiven foreshadowing what’s to come later. Though out of focus a bit, Amy and Rory are part of some of the most unnerving moments I have ever seen on the show, where House (a sentient asteroid voiced by an unrecognisable Michael Sheen) subjects them to psychological torture in the TARDIS corridors. And then there’s that beautiful ending. “Alive. I’m alive.”

The Dark Horse

Series 5 is definitely my favourite series of the revival, and The Time of Angels happens to be one of my favourite episodes.  It happens to be the first episode Matt Smith and Karen Gillan filmed, but you’d never know it, both are at the top of their game here, as is Alex Kingston in her second appearance as River Song and guest star Iain Glen, perfectly understated as Father Octavian. It presents and brilliantly realises some chilling concepts for the Weeping Angels, most notably ‘the image of an angel becomes itself an Angel’. The tone of the episode is utterly faultless; it’s creepy, it’s unnerving, it evokes a feeling of being trapped and that anyone can die (a feeling that is quite justified); which is a great credit to director Adam Smith. Moffat’s script is especially clever thematically, especially with how it deals with religion, the repeated ‘come and see’ the Angels use being a reference to the Angel of Death from the Book of Revelation. What I love most though, is the twist hidden in plain sight that sets up, in my mind, one of the best cliff-hangers of all time (provided Graham Norton doesn’t pop up in the middle of it).

Writer’s Pick

This was very easy for me, to be honest. When you look at a list of episodes and you see an episode that is possibly your favourite of all time, it does make for a fairly easy decision. I’m referring to 2006’s The Girl in the Fireplace, an absolute masterpiece. You’ve got Murray Gold contributing perhaps his best single episode in terms of compositions (all but one of which has been released so far, cheers Silva Screen). There’s some absolutely gorgeous and ingenious set design, I only learned yesterday that the sets of the spaceship and Reinette’s bedroom were built alongside each other, so instead of green screen, the magical moment where we first see Reinette in the fireplace was the same for the cast. The central premise of the Doctor and Madame de Pompadour was incredibly well handled, with David Tennant and guest star Sophia Myles at their very best, particularly during the mind melding scene. I think the use of time in this episode is perhaps one of the most interesting we’ve seen in Doctor Who, before or since, it’s an inspired script from Steven Moffat that ends up being both very emotional and very profound. Speaking of which, the ending has never failed to make me cry.

Vote

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

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167 comments
chinnysandshoes
chinnysandshoes

The Doctor's Wife. I think the title says it all regarding his relationship with his TARDIS and indeed with anyone else. No one else has the place in his hearts like his TARDIS, no one ever will. They were destined for each other - in sickness and in health till death do they part. I mean at the end, when Idris corrects the Doctor and says, "No. I just wanted to say.... hello, hello Doctor, it is so very very nice to meet you." And he cries and begs her not to go. My heart broke! And in her last breath she says I love you.... This is a sentimental choice for me. I chose it on the strength of how it moved me so deeply.

The Wizard of Fez
The Wizard of Fez

The girl in the fireplace. Best episode of new who in my opinion

Unibot
Unibot







I *adore* Time of Angels and often rewatch it. It's one I often use to hook people into Doctor Who. However, I don't want to vote for a two parter, so I've gone with Moffat's excellent Girl in the Fireplace:

1. The Girl in the Fireplace (2006)






2. The Time of Angels (2010)





3. The Doctor’s Wife (2011)



4. The Power of Three (2012)




5. Daleks in Manhattan (2007)

6. The Sontaran Stratagem (2008)

7. Aliens of London (2005)








TheOncomingFish
TheOncomingFish

1. The Time of Angels 

2. The Girl in the Fireplace 

3. The Doctor's Wife 

4. The Power of Three 

5. The Sontaran Stratagem 

6. Daleks in Manhatten 

7. Aliens of London




DaftDalek is Ceter Papaldi: Moon Lives!
DaftDalek is Ceter Papaldi: Moon Lives!

1. The Time Of Angels: Bombastic opening scene, fantastic cliffhanger. The Weeping Angels were creepy, despite the wide range of new abilities brought by Moffat. I prefer it to Blink!

2. The Girl In The Fireplace: Great production values, original story, great acting cool villains, the chemistry between David Tennant and Sophia Myles is untopped. However, I can't say it has captivated me as much as more people. Maybe I have to watch it again...

3. Daleks In Manhattan: Yes, it's on number three. I feel that it has been over-criticized without deserving it. The concept is intriguing, the 1930s setting is quite realistic and it has an oldschool Doctor Who feel. Of course, the Pig Slaves aren't exactly great, but whatever... 

4. The Sontaran Stratagem: Another oldschool-Who episode. The Sontarans are still and enemies and feel like being such. The cliffhanger is fantastic.

5. The Doctor's Wife: Yeah, I know everyone loves it etc. but I'm not keen on the Doctor - TARDIS romance thing, so it actually spoils the episode for me, at least to an important extent. Still, the acting is top and House proves to be hell of an enemy...

6. Aliens Of London: Lots of people seem to vote it, but I think it's mainly due to the nostalgia, because apart from the iconic scene with the Slitheen spaceship crashing on the Big Ben and every single moment featuring the Doctor, isn't something special. Sounds weird, doesn't it?

7. The Power Of Three: This is like Love & Monsters. It seems promising in the beginning. The cube invasion is a totally original project and the Doctor being part of the Ponds' life is hilarious. But then the ending comes and the Doctor comes face to face with the deadly Shakri,a legend of Time Lord history, well an hologram and they can be beaten by the Doctor using the sonic to scan a screen... anything else? Ah, yes the Doctor saves Rory and Brian and forgets everyone else in the spaceship...




MrOrsie
MrOrsie

Definitely Girl In The Fireplace. My all time favourite episode of Who!

GWad84
GWad84

My choice: The Girl in the Fireplace. Very fairy tale as later became a trait of Moffats series. The relationship between The Doctor and Reinette, very strong scifi core to the story and the conclusion is dramatic and touching. Flawless episode and has to be good to edge out The Doctors Wife

2nd choice- The Doctors Wife

3rd choice- The Time of Angels

ahunter8056
ahunter8056

I went with 'The Girl In The Fireplace'. I have no clue where I'd rank the rest, so this time I'm not even going to bother.




Eradallion
Eradallion

The Girl in the Fireplace was the first episode I ever saw, and the one that got me hooked

Oncoming_Badger
Oncoming_Badger

1. The Time of Angels

2. Daleks in Manhattan

3. The Doctor's Wife

4. The Girl in the Fireplace

5. Aliens of London

6. The Sontaran Stratagem

7. The Power of Three.

Wow there are all in my Top 50 Doctor Who stories, I personally think 4 is a good luck charm.

DawnTime
DawnTime

Difficult - The girl in the Fireplace beautiful looking episode, sumptuous I would use, the time of Angels I love my kind of episode - and the wonderful Doctor's Wife so it's between the three. ! Aliens of London Daleks of Manhattan and the Sontaran Stratagem I can take or leave not to special for me.  The Power of Three is good fun too.  Decisions Decisions.  - Must go with the time of Angels. for the scene when the Angel is coming out of the screen to get Amy - still very effective after repeat viewings.

KarenBee
KarenBee

Girl in The Fireplace for me easily. After The Empty Child two parter, Moffat's best script. Blink is also a great script but it is the other elements supporting this such as the directing, acting, pacing and tone of the episode which make truly great. I thought Library was a step down, still good of course, but for me Moffat scripts have seen diminishing returns since then with the first three are the ones to which he returns the most in borrowing ideas and set pieces.

I like the Doctor's Wife but don't find it wholly successful - a bit too much Gaiman by numbers and I think it has feet of clay despite its mythical status.

The others are filler for me. I was so very disappointed with Angels. It seems to encapsulate my love-hate relationship with Series 5, the only Matt/Moffat one I admire. Brilliant set pieces, glorious Matt acting, excellent concepts, terrific production values - all good but then, trite dialogue, self-satisfied smug tone, odd pacing and the begiining of the slow decline into parody of the character of River Song.

EdWhovian
EdWhovian

Wow, so many good episode fours! Girl in the fireplace easily on top though.

Doctor's wife was a bit weak at the start, whereas Girl in the fireplace was solid all the way through

needcomicmoney
needcomicmoney

The Girl in the Fireplace is one of my absolute favourites. It's a Moffat and it's a lovely tragic story. But I'm voting for The Doctor's Wife because it is such a brilliant idea that is perfectly executed by the actors.      

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

1. The Doctor's Wife. 

................. 

................ 

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90. The Girl in the Fireplace.









Malohkeh
Malohkeh

It's interesting to see trends between episodes. Looks like episode fours tend to be a tour de force or a catastrophe (or, in the case of TPOT, simultaneously both).


I mean, this is a slot where you get "The Doctor's Wife", "The Time of Angels", and "The Girl in the Fireplace", which are all classics in their own rights. But there's also "Aliens of London" and "Daleks in Manhattan", openers to the two worst two-parters in all of the revived series.


Only one of these stories stands out as neither exceptional nor abominable to me, and that's "The Sontaran Strategem".

trenzalew
trenzalew

The Time of Angels. The rest are poor.

sontaran17
sontaran17

  1. Aliens of London (2005) -- 8/10
  2. The Girl in the Fireplace (2006) -- 10/10
  3. Daleks in Manhattan (2007) -- 9/10
  4. The Sontaran Stratagem (2008) -- 9/10
  5. The Time of Angels (2010) -- 10/10
  6. The Doctor’s Wife (2011) -- 10/10
  7. The Power of Three (2012) -- 10/10

As Much as I love love love love TDW and TTOA and TGITF, Ill have to go with a personal favourite: The Power of Three 

Sophia_Sovereign
Sophia_Sovereign

The Girl in the Fireplace or The Doctor’s Wife. Super Hard choice this one! Gah! why must Doctor Who be so good!




RecycledCompanion
RecycledCompanion

I was very torn between The Girl in the Fireplace and The Time of Angels, and ended up going with Girl, though there were elements of ToA that I loved, particularly in retrospect, where the episode tied in with others.


I really didn't like The Doctor's Wife, although it's one I should have liked, in theory, because I love the TARDIS, and I love her mysterious sentience.


I also didn't like The Power of Three, which felt contrived and lightweight at the same time -- just a matter of taste, as I'm sure that others perceived it differently.


The Sontarem Strategy was "meh," with some great moments (and I, too, loved the interaction between Donna and Martha), but overall, it wasn't one of my favorites.


Daleks in Manhattan had some nice themes, and some very good acting, but again, for me, just an okay episode in the overall New Who episodes.


I had to really think hard to remember Aliens of London, I think because there have been so many aliens in London! I can't say that the Slitheen are my favorite New Who aliens, but I did like that the show dealt with the repercussions for a companion of travelling with the Doctor and "vanishing" from her life for some time without being able to explain it to her family and those who knew her.


For these, I'd say my rating would be:


1) The Girl in the Fireplace (9.5/10)

2) The Time of Angels (9.4/10 -- catch me on a different day and 1 and 2 might be reversed)

3) The Power of Three (8/10 -- bonus half point for UNIT & Kate Stewart)

4) The Daleks in Manhattan (7.5/10 -- tied with 5)

5) The Sontaran Strategem (7.5/10 -- tied with 4)

6) Aliens in London (7/10)

7) The Doctor's Wife (6/10)


Chronos the Fannibal
Chronos the Fannibal

The Girl in the Fireplace….. was my second episode and got me even more hooked onto Doctor Who

Special Weapons Dalek
Special Weapons Dalek

The Girl In The Fireplace or The Doctor's Wife?! how am I supposed to choose?!?!   D:

Badwolf2
Badwolf2

I did love The Doctors Wife it did have some things that weren't quite right, I think The Girl in the Fireplace was much better, it made you cry.

The Mind Probe
The Mind Probe

Although I like The Doctor's Wife a lot, it has to be The Girl in the Fireplace! One of the most beautiful, heart-warming, and heart-breaking episodes of Doctor Who.

LaraHarris
LaraHarris

Now this one is easy. The Girl in the Fireplace. It's just a brilliant episode. The clockwork men are terrifying, that first bit when the Doctor tells Reinette to stay on the bed and you suddenly realise you are hearing a clock ticking that shouldn't be... *shudder* and the cooking roast meat. Eeeeeep! Mickey on his first adventure, the Doctor on a horse... wonderful. 

Now, it has to be said that for me the rest are pretty average, not bad episodes, just decent enough but not great except for the Sontaran Stratagem. Which I very much enjoyed. With TPOT being the worst. Possibly my most hated episode actually. 

What I will say is that I don't understand the love for The Doctors Wife. I think people get so caught up with the idea of the Doctor being able to talk to the TARDIS that they disregard the rest of the drivel that makes up the episode. Rory and Amy spend it running down the same corridor and we have the theme of "someone waits a lot for another main character to find them" a-g-a-i-n. The idea of the bubble universe is quite frankly daft. The distress calls from the other Timelords is rather good but I can't forgive the c*ck up that has the TARDIS telling the Doctor that the door say's pull. It really annoys me, Yes that might be a bit, extreme and obsessed fan of me, but it's an important exchange between them and it just falls on it's A$$ when she utters those ridiculous words. 

ClaraOswald
ClaraOswald

See, I feel like The Doctor's Wife is definitely going to win this, but I actually enjoyed The Girl in the Fireplace more. It was a beautiful episode. I love that Rose is "left behind" so that we can get to know the Tenth Doctor better. The music is wonderful and Sophia Myles' acting was brilliant.

Balatsoukas Pavlos
Balatsoukas Pavlos

When a poll arises and contains "the Doctor's Wife", well, it's pretty much a dead end.

The Doctor's Wife, nuff said.


Robertclose
Robertclose

Had to go with the Sontaran Stratagem, simply because it features Tennant at his best, UNIT, my favourite companion in Donna and THE FLIPPIN' SONTARANS before Strax ruined them. I'm sure that The Doctor's Wife will win this comfortably though.  

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

This poll is starting to be become very frustrating, as for Ep1 I've had to reject a favourite (Asylum of the Daleks) and Ep4 another favourite (Doctor's Wife) whereas for Ep2 I wasn't that keen on any of the episodes, and looking ahead none of the Ep5 episodes are amongst my favourites either! 

JustMarianna
JustMarianna

The Doctor's wife: 10/10 





The girl in the fireplace: 10/10

The Power of Three 8.30/10 (I loved the scene between Eleven and Amy, and the whole quote thing: you were the first face this face saw....also Amy and Rory's domestic life was an interesting angle i enjoyed.)


The time of Angels 8/10



The Sontaran Stratagem 5/10 (Not a story i enjoyed, if it wasn't for Donna and Wilf, and Donna's friendly interaction with Martha-so much different to Rose and Sarah Jane's- i wouldn't even remember it)


Daleks in Manhattan/Aliens of London so dull and boring for me.


One of the hardest polls ever.   I went for the Doctor's wife because of the importance of the episode.

It was after all the first time we saw the Tardis in flesh and bone. (Suranne was superb as the Tardis). It was nice having the Doctor finally be able to talk to someone so important as the Tardis, the place he called home for the majority of his life, the only constant thing for him.  

But the girl in the fireplace holds a soft spot in my heart-s, i absolutely loved it. Reinette's story was magical.

 It also holds one of my beloved theme's "Madame De Pompadour" Reinette's theme. 




Ivegotkidneys is companionless!
Ivegotkidneys is companionless!

My list so far 1.The impossible astronaut (used to be Rose) 2.Tooth and claw 3.Planet of the Ood 4.The Doctor's wife 


JoeBrooks1
JoeBrooks1

The first Doctor Who I ever watched was Aliens of London which got me hooked on it and for that reason (also it brilliant, yes the  other choices maybe better but it stands up well its a good list of stories) I haft to pick it, as the show is now my life. 

IceDaleks
IceDaleks

1) Time Of Angels

2) The Power Of Three

3) The Girl In The Fire Place

4) Aliens Of London

5) The Doctors Wife

6) The Sontaran Stratagem

7) Daleks In Manhatten

Wibbly-Wobbly is John Reese
Wibbly-Wobbly is John Reese

Steven... I love you. And I love Girl in the Fireplace... But The Doctor's Wife is my pick. Aliens of London is a good episode, but the conclusion is much more... palatable. 

Aliens: 4/5

Girl in the Fireplace: 29248375949043/5

Daleks in Manhattan: 3/5

Sontaran Stratagem: 5/5

Time of Angels: 5/5

The Doctor's Wife: 32894792890394385974827392919897324/5

The Power of 3: 4/5 (a very high four though...)

Mr 11
Mr 11

1. Time of Angels- 10/10

2. The Power of Three- 10/10

3. The Girl in the Fireplace- 9/10

4. The Doctor's Wife- 9/10

5. Daleks in Manhattan- 8.5/10

6. The Sontaran Stratagem- 8/10

7. Aliens of London- 8/10

Polyphase
Polyphase

There really is no competition this time :)

1) The Doctors Wife

2)The Sontaran Stratagem

3)The Girl in the FirePlace

4)The Power of Three

5)Daleks in Manhatten

6)The Power of Three

7)Aliens of London

twoheartsonemind
twoheartsonemind

The Doctor's Wife hands down. I like the Girl In the Fireplace, but I'd actually choose Time of the Angels for second place.

Aliens of London might be my least favorite Doctor Who episode ever. It is one of the most idiotic stories of any show I've ever seen.

sontaran17
sontaran17

NO IVE CHANGED TO THE GIRL IN FIREPLACE!!!!!

Polyphase
Polyphase

@LaraHarris The Doctor on the horse was the big cringeworthy moment for me. You would think he would have had some lessons.

IceDaleks
IceDaleks

How? I like it, my first ever episode...

Polyphase
Polyphase

@sontaran17    It was a good story but most people don't like the human dalek and i thought the pig slaves were a bit dodgy myself :)

Polyphase
Polyphase

@the_ponds_forever Wondered if anyone would notice :) Another time I would have liked the edit button, I'm not a fan of the Time of Angels but I did mean to put it in there.

twoheartsonemind
twoheartsonemind

@IceDaleks That's probably why you like it. My first episode was The Curse of the Black Spot and I love that episode, but everyone else seems to hate it.

 Notsosmartguy Will Kill the Moon
Notsosmartguy Will Kill the Moon

I liked it as well. The thing people forget about the cult of skaro is that they are unique among kind so it made sense they would try something like a human dalek. I enjoyed it alot more than the last dale story of RTD run but I'll explain my case when we get to it.