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Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 6

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 6th 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-6-face-off

Introduction by David Selby

Today’s Candidates

  1. Dalek (2005)
  2. The Age of Steel (2006)
  3. The Lazarus Experiment (2007)
  4. The Doctor’s Daughter (2008)
  5. The Vampires of Venice (2010)
  6. The Almost People (2011)
  7. The Bells of Saint John (2013)

What makes a good Episode Six?

Episode Six is a free reign for a writer. It’s essentially the first episode in the series (presuming the series follows the conventional structure) that doesn’t have a specific ‘role’ to play in the series-wide narrative. Whereas the first three episodes generally entail introducing a Doctor or companion and bringing them to the present, past and future – and whilst the following two-parter takes the sense of danger to a new level, building rifts between the key characters – the sixth has no definite focus. Occasionally it is a continuation of a two-parter (The Age of Steel, The Almost People). In other cases it is character-driven; slower and more philosophical, ethically adventurous with its key concepts (The Lazarus Experiment, The Doctor’s Daughter). It can be a singular adventure which explores the Doctor’s conscience (The Vampires of Venice) or simply a fun romp (The Bells of Saint John). What episode sixes are by record, is very, very good. Therefore these candidates have been difficult to select.

Predicted Winner

The highlight of this strong selection wasn’t a difficult choice. Dalek restores Doctor Who’s most iconic antagonist to its former glory as the nightmare of children across the country (and now, the world). Robert Shearman does this through isolating a singular, damaged Dalek; he uses the creature’s vulnerability to accentuate how deadly and cold-blooded it is. This Dalek is true to its original design but enhanced by new abilities – swifter, more startling motions and some grotesquely inventive methods of massacring its victims.

As for the characters themselves, Shearman focuses on the impact of the Time War on the Doctor, a man of painful experiences, contrasted with Rose; a lovable, relatable character in her quintessentially human naivety. The Doctor undergoes a change, not unlike the Dalek, as the latter’s poignant demise grows closer. The veteran realises himself; a man who will become a monster if he doesn’t change – “Exterminate.”

The Dark Horse

The Bells of Saint John has never received the acclaim I feel it deserves, yet I wouldn’t dismiss it doing well anyhow. There’s something quite appealing about it; something which I find becomes more prominent on re-watch – a matchless, magical, ‘start-of-era’ quality. Conceptually, it is highly imaginative and captures a wide scale and scope. Miss Kizlet is a refreshingly sinister and complex villainess; a puppet of the Great Intelligence, but a strong character in her own right. The episode has a fast, well-structured pace and all-round excellent production values (the music and directing are at their best). One can only hope that, due to its recentness, it is more successful than it has been in previous polls.

Writer’s Pick

Whilst Dalek is unequivocally my favourite (shortly followed by Bells), I thought I’d take the time to address Stephen Greenhorn’s The Doctor’s Daughter.

Greenhorn characterises the Doctor as dark and multi-layered; a weary but wise old man shattered by his experiences and consumed by regret. In The Lazarus Experiment, he explains how age has wearied him (“In the end you just get tired. Tired of the struggle. Tired of losing everyone that matters to you. Tired of watching everything turn to dust”). In The Doctor’s Daughter, he recalls his experiences of the Time War and illustrates how they have burdened him.

Unlike many, I don’t feel that the ‘last of the Time Lords’ idea was getting old. I see copious potential in it and The Doctor’s Daughter is just one example of how it can be used to bring an element of pathos to a story and to draw parallels between the characters’ current (and still significant) predicament and their own previous experiences. Tennant excels when his Doctor is emotionally pressured. His account of the Time Lords (“You’re an echo, that’s all. A Time Lord is so much more. A sum of knowledge, a code, a shared history, a shared suffering. Only it’s gone now, all of it. Gone forever”) and his conversation with Donna about his losses (“But when they died, that part of me died with them. It’ll never come back. Not now”) add another layer of tragedy to the character: he’s given up.

As the war reaches its culmination, both forces reach ‘The Source’ – a terraforming device initiating peace at last. Jenny’s death breaks the Doctor’s, and indeed the audience’s hearts, but he exercises restraint. He is, forever, the man who never would.

Vote

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

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126 comments
MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Dalek, obviously. The worst one is the doctor's daughter. An unbelievably crap episode.

JJ2000
JJ2000

6. Dalek - It shows how superior one Dalek is and how much it hates itself for having another emotion that isn't hate. Brilliant.

ThePinkSilent
ThePinkSilent

Dalek or the doctors daughter because they both brought out different personality's of the doctor.

lukashcartoon
lukashcartoon

While I Love Bells of St. Johns, Dalek is the one Best of the 9, and easily in the top 10 of the New Doctor Who.

GWad84
GWad84

My choice: Dalek. I've said before, Doctor Who is fabnyadtic when it does base under siege. Asylum replaced this as my favourite new series Dalek story but Robert Shearmans story revived The Daleks to their full horrific best. By the end of the episode Rose hadn't only transformed The Dalek but also the war scarred Doctor

2nd choice: The Age of Steel

3rd choice: The Lazarus Experiment

DaftDalek
DaftDalek

1. Dalek: Well, it's the obvious choice and the best. Honestly this is one of the best Doctor Who episodes, easily the best NuWho Dalek story and all in all a modern classic. It shows Daleks, well one of them at their scariest and most powerful, as just that Dalek exterminates about 200 people. Well, apart from that, the dialogue between the Dalek and the Doctor is great, it evokes so much power and emotion and it makes us understand how horrible the Time War was. Of course, the acting is top (Eccleston at his best) and it somehow makes the death of a Dalek emotional, which is no small feat.

2. The Almost People: That may be a controversial option, but that's a really underrated episode. It features a satisfying amount of running, the Doctor meeting himself (kind of), a hell of a cliffhanger and I truly believe the moment a Ganger meets the son of the actual person is one of the most touching of the show when it comes to secondary characters.

3. The Bells Of Saint John: Its action (the aeroplane scene and the "Doctor" riding the Shard I'm looking at you) and other great moments, such as Clara calling the Doctor in the Medieval looking for help for the Wi-Fi, or when Miss Kizlet behaves childishly towards the end make it a really enjoyable episode.

4.The Age Of Steel: It didn't live up to Rise expectations, but still it had its moments and the first 20 minutes or something were bombastic. Still the ending felt somehow flat.

5. The Doctor's Daughter: The least good episode of Series 4 is by no means a bad one. Jenny is great and so is the plot twist. However, you can feel that this episode was just an introduction to the character of Jenny which needs more development. And the Doctor is a bit too pacifist for my taste.

6. The Vampires Of Venice: A well-executed idea, but not an original one. Amy is annoying in that.

7. The Lazarus Experiment: This is cool-looking (the Doctor in suit jumping in front of explosions) and the conversation between Lazarus and the Doctor at the end is moving. But other than that, nothing special. Just an idea that has been used before quite a lot and bad CGI.








YaelMoise
YaelMoise

Wow, tough call. Dalek is brilliant, Age of Steel creeps me out to no end, and the Doctor's Daughter... well, it's basically the ultimate "Why didn't they make more of this??" episode, isn't it.


I think TDD it'll have to be.

Doctor What and Where
Doctor What and Where

Incidentally, two of the worst episodes in the whole series, Lazarus Experiment and Doctor's Daughter, face off each other here. 


Anyway, Dalek is the EASY winner here. One of the greatest DW stories ever. My favorite Dalek story.



TimeLordVictorious
TimeLordVictorious

would just like to point out that although the snowmen was a christmas episode it was definitely episode 6 of season 7. having bells in there is an unfair comparison.

SEDAKRO XIV
SEDAKRO XIV

I've voted for The Bells Of St. John. Dalek comes a very very close second...


DawnTime
DawnTime

Between the first Dalek and Last The Bells of Saint John - Going to go with The Bells of St John - looking slick and the chemistry between Matt and Jenna. 

The Moment
The Moment

Dalek for me as it was my first Dalek episode. 

sontaran17
sontaran17

It comes down to Bells or Dalek .. and thanks to Kizlet "The Bell of St John gets mi vote!"

TheOncomingSnow
TheOncomingSnow

Dalek or Bells are the only real standouts for me...with The Age of Steel emerging as pick of the rest. This one goes to Dalek.

needcomicmoney
needcomicmoney

Though 'Dalek' was a pretty important episode for the revived series I'm voting for 'The Doctor's Daughter'. At the time it was an absolutely perfect teaser for fans of classic Who - he had a granddaughter originally so did this mean we were going to meet Susan's mother? Story aside, the fact that she turned out to ironically be the Doctor's daughter (Peter Davison's daughter) was just icing on the cake for a fun episode that featured a new alien species and not one but two companions in Donna and Martha. 

PeterGecko2
PeterGecko2

Not seeing any love for 'The Lazarus Experimet' :(

...Even though i did vote for 'Dalek' but Lazarus is a close second.

Unibot
Unibot

"Dalek" for me! Amazing story. "The Bells of Saint John" comes a close second - Moff wrote a great episode with a lot of energy. It was fun, although I think the plot came secondary to the task of reintroducing both The Doctor and Clara.



Thesilence_1994
Thesilence_1994

The best is 'Dalek', followed by 'vamplres' and then 'bells of St. John'. The rest are stories that I don't particularly enjoy and I think they are all equally weak



Oncoming_Badger
Oncoming_Badger

1. The Age of Steel

2. The Doctor's Daughter

3. Dalek

4. The Almost People

5. The Lazarus Experiment

6. The Vampires of Venice

7. The Bells of Saint John

mgm1229
mgm1229

Everytime one of these polls is posted, it confirms for me just how much I love series 1. Dalek is marvelous for so many reasons.

I also have affection for Bells of Saint John, which while imperfect, is an interesting romp.

But am I the only one who watches The Doctor's Daughter to watch David Tennant doing his scenes with Georgia Moffat, who was very soon to become his beloved? A little real live romance that makes me smile, daft as the episode is.

Kiki Kiki
Kiki Kiki

I'm voting for one of my favourite ever Doctor Who stories – "Dalek."

tcexect
tcexect

'Make the foundation of this society a man who never would!' remains one of Ten's low points. Yeah, never mind that in his many lifetimes he's not only shot people, but done much worse things to them - Ten himself sealed the Family of Blood into eternal torment only the previous series, and let's not even mention the Time War, or Seven. His taking the high and mighty moral ground here is ridiculous. Ten's basically setting himself up as some kind of perfect messiah figure to imitate, the arrogance is amazing.


Actually, the episode in general is botched. It sets up a challenge to the premise of the series and doesn't deliver. The 'Daughter' herself only superficially, vaguely resembles the Doctor, makes some accusations against him that have obvious rebuttals that he weirdly never comes out with, and (because, you know, you can't actually mess with the status quo) only exists to die. Er, well, die, then come back after the Doctor has already left. So not dead, just neutered from having any further effect on the series.

Then you have the abysmal handling of Martha, stuck crying over a dead Hath...the fairly drab plot and world, dull revelations, and just frankly how rubbish the cheat in the title is to begin with.


There are other, interesting ways an episode about the Doctor having to deal with fatherhood could have been written, but here it falls into the 'Time War guilt' hole. She is a vehicle for Ten to angst about being the last Time Lord. For ages.


Anyway my pick would be Dalek. A massively less interesting shadow of Jubilee still qualifies as a good story, Shearman is just that good.

ManWithChips
ManWithChips

The Bells of Saint John for me. Speaking of which, it's now been a year since that episode first aired! 31/03/2013! Time flies quickly and it's hard to believe that Clara has been the companion for a year already.

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

Yet another Moff story for me. Much as I love "Dalek", there's nothing quite like the fun energy of "The Bells of St. John". Always puts me in a great mood.

Polyphase
Polyphase

1)Dalek without a doubt

2)The Bells of St John

3)Vampires of Venice

4)Age of Steel

The rest are pretty equal

HandofOmega
HandofOmega

Dalek, no doub about. It was so amazing to see them back on TV after so many years, but no only that, we got a real belter of a episode as well

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

Reeeally torn between "Dalek" and "The Vampires of Venice" here. "The Bells of Saint John", while likewise great, doesn't work for the same reason that "The Angels Take Manhattan" - considering that I am voting based on narrative functionality instead of my perception of the episodes' respective quality, I can't vote a companion exit/entrance into the middle of a "dream series," because that only really works if there's a split, which your average series would not have. So all in all, I'm stuck between a spectacular monster reintroduction and an extremely enjoyable romp-episode. I suppose now I'll default to which of the two I like better, though, because they both function just fine in this episode slot. So "The Vampires of Venice" it is.

Oodkind
Oodkind

By the way, what is it with British people and WiFi? Is it some sort of countrywide fear? It's just a type of electromagnetic radiation, no different from light. Not some scary soup... serious question! It sort of brings down the episode for me... not that it isn't still good. It just makes it a bit silly.

Oodkind
Oodkind

Is there any question? Really? My vote goes to Dalek.

1) Dalek - Simply one of the best episodes ever. 10/10

2) The Doctor's Daughter - This one really shows off some of the best of The Doctor, and everything in it really works. 9/10.

3) The Bells of St. John - It is a good episode, though I didn't think it was spectacular. It was a nice way to start the half-series. It definitely reflected how the series would be. 8/10.

4) Age of Steel - Maybe it would get higher if I had watched it more recently. In any case, it was a very good episode. I would rate it about the same as Bells. 8/10.

5) The Vampires of Venice - I found it enjoyable, though definitely not my favorite, because the characters worked so well in it. Rory was brilliant. 7/10

6) The Lazarus Experiment - It seemed average. It was kind of a cool idea, but it doesn't make for the most brilliant episode. 7/10.

7) The Almost People - I didn't care for the episode much. Probably the most boring two-parter. Not the highest in my book. 4.5/10.

All good episodes today, for the most part! Hard choice between some of them, but it has to be Dalek. Exterminate!!!

The Genie
The Genie

@TimeLordVictorious  No, it's not.  It's a Christmas Special stuck between a series split.  And if we push them all forward, then Nightmare is the finale and that certainly isn't fair.

YaelMoise
YaelMoise

@needcomicmoney The Doctor's daughter played the Doctor's daughter, married the Doctor, and had his daughter. ;)

DaftDalek
DaftDalek

@tcexect  Yeah, before the Doctor's Daughter the Doctor had done many bad things, but after that did Ten kill or torture anyone? Of course, you could tell me about the Waters Of Mars, but he didn't intend to kill anyone. After all, what should he say to humans and Hath? They hadn't seen his dark side, so they knew him just as a pacifist. The Doctor wouldn't want in any way to encourage the use of weapons and he set himself as an example, as he had both shown anti-war intentions and he was the man who disclosed the truth about the human-Hath conflict and ended it.

TheDreamer
TheDreamer

@Oodkind  I'm not afraid of wifi, but the idea of something sentient living in the wifi harvesting human souls just appealed to me. Doesn't creep me out or anything... very little creeps me out in the show, lol - the only thing that really ever did was the entity in Midnight. The rest is just fun!

Silurian53
Silurian53

I highly doubt British people are scared of WiFi. That was just another example of Moffat turning something ordinary into something sinister and scary

TimeLordLiam
TimeLordLiam

@Oodkind  I'm not sure you're aware of the present dangers of WiFi, especially free-open WiFi. People can hack into your devices if you're connected and steal information. People have hit big organisations by using open WiFi so they are undetectable. 

SEDAKRO XIV
SEDAKRO XIV

@TimeLordLiam @Oodkind  If memory serves me well, I think the German Government issued a national health warning about WiFi not that long ago...