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Series 1-7 Face-Off Results: Nightmare Run (Episodes 1-8)

Across March and April Doctor Who TV pitted all the revival episodes so far against each other and asked you to vote on each. The results are now in and to begin we’re revealing what we’re calling the “Nightmare Run” – these are the episodes that didn’t fare so well coming last in their respective episode slots.

So join Mark McCullough as he examines the first half of episodes in the list. Did they deserve their low placing?

Episode 1: New Earth

New Earth

David Tennant’s first regular episode, New Earth claims the first spot in the Nightmare Run. The story features a visit to humanity’s new home following the events of The End of the World in the first series. This allows for the re-introduction of several characters from that episode including Cassandra and the Face of Boe. With a narrative that touches on the ethical issues of the pharmaceutical industries and clinical trials, albeit in a totally different setting, I found it to be an interesting and poignant episode. Not a bad episode in its own right, but unsurprisingly no match for the quality of the other series openers.

Episode 2: The Beast Below

Doctor-Who-The-Beast-Below-(6)

Of all the episodes on this list, this one surprises me the most. As my own vote in the poll, I’m quite sad to see it feature here. Amy’s first proper trip on the TARDIS to Starship UK is filled with poignant imagery and contrast between characters. Featuring humanity as the monster and having the new companion to be the one who saved the day made for an intelligent narrative. I find The Beast Below to be the definition of an underrated story. Although it did face rather tough competition in this poll, the fact that I’m writing about it here shows just how underrated it is.

Episode 3: The Curse of the Black Spot

doctor-who-the-curse-of-the-black-spot-promo-batch-(1)

Pirates and Doctor Who? From the off this was either going to be a match made in heaven or not everyone’s cup of tea. Evidently the latter was the case as The Curse of the Black Spot finds itself taking the slot of the third episode on our Nightmare Run. By providing a clever (sci-fi) twist to common pirate tropes along with an engaging base under siege style narrative, made for a strong story. The episode, whilst fun and enjoyable, probably finds itself here due to the fact its series was split, meaning it was less welcome as a somewhat filler episode.

Episode 4: Daleks in Manhattan

daleks-in-manhattan-promo-art

Another episode, for which I had voted, Daleks in Manhattan, makes its way onto this list. I find this two part narrative to a fascinating set-up, utilising a classic and established villain and taking them somewhere completely new. The grasp of the struggles of the time period and their integration further complements the narrative. It also features some very strong characters: Laszlo, Tallulah, Solomon and Frank. It’s a shame to see that both parts of this fine story have made their way onto this list. However I feel if one part is deserving, it should be this one as it was quite slow in building to the grand reveal of the Daleks and their goals

Episode 5: Evolution of the Daleks

Daleks in Manhattan & Evolution of the Daleks

The second part of the story Evolution of the Daleks featured some dark concepts too, the idea of human testing demoting our species to its animal origins, with a superior species essentially using us as we use the animals of our planet. However taking an iconic foe like the Daleks and changing things so drastically was probably never going to go down well. It is my belief that this was the reason behind the genocide within the narrative. Bearing in mind the Daleks involved were the Cult of Skaro, I thought the risk paid off and made for an excellent story. I’m quite surprised to see this episode here, although again it is probably a case of tough competition rather than a bad episode

Episode 6: The Lazarus Experiment

Richard-Lazarus-mark-gatiss

Completing three in a row from Series Three, we have The Lazarus Experiment. The narrative follows the experiments of the aptly named Professor Lazarus as he tries to change the course of human history by reversing the aging process. His experiments go horribly wrong leaving his genetically mutated as a badly CGI-ed monster. Another focus for the episode is the family of the companion, Martha Jones. There’s something about this episode which makes it seem so average and I can’t quite put my finger on it. So perhaps it is fair to say it is no surprise to find it on the list.

Episode 7: The Idiot’s Lantern

idiots-lantern-wire

A mix of really strong competition and this episode being sub-par sees Mark Gatiss’ The Idiots Lantern find its way on to the Nightmare Run. The episode had good intention featuring a clever alien threat which corresponded well with the time period the episode was set in. Unfortunately the episode suffers from the companion in grave danger situation. Perversely instead of upping the ante, having Rose fall victim to the Wire undermines the threat of the narrative as we know she is not going to be left faceless. Despite this the episode fares quite well in other areas particularly in the Connolly family subplot. In truth, this is an episode which deserves its place on the list.

Episode 8: The Hungry Earth

hungry-earth-retro-poster

I’ll be honest, this one surprised me a little, at least until I looked at what the competition was. The Hungry Earth is the first part of the re-introduction of the Silurians to the audiences of the twenty first century. The narrative is very tense with the Doctor and Amy being split within the early stages of the episode. The story then adopts a base under siege style story whilst keeping the identity of the attackers initially withheld. The cliff-hanger is strong too with Amy in danger and the Doctor discovering the existence of an entire civilisation. Perhaps this story doesn’t deserve to be here, I find it quite good.

Join us again tomorrow for the conclusion of the Nightmare Run, looking at episodes 9-13 and the specials from each showrunner.

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267 comments
JamesStroud
JamesStroud

The only one I am particularly disappointed about is the Hungry Earth, it was a very good episode, but the other beginnings of two-parters that it was up against were better, i'll admit that much. Cold war and Let's Kill Hitler were definitely worse than it though, which is a shame. My list would have been:


1. New Earth

2. Beast Below (Or Dinosaurs On a Spaceship, those two are close)

3. Victory Of The Daleks (Or Gridlock. Or Black Spot. They were all pretty bad)

4. Daleks in Manhatten (Though I love this episode it is a toughy)

5. Angels Take Manhatten (Most of the episode 5s were pretty bad, but this one edges it. I'm really disappointed that it was seen as the best. The Rebel Flesh and Evolution of the Daleks were both as bad though, so I'm not too disappointed by the "Nightmare Run" 's choice)

6. the Age of Steel (Or The Almost People. Or the Bells of St John. I rather liked the Lazarus experiment to be honest)

7. The Unicorn and the Wasp (or The Rings of Akhaten, that was a close battle)

8. Let's Kill Hitler

LeeBeing
LeeBeing

Cold War was also terrible. It was following the 'Aliens' format like the Weeping Angels.

LeeBeing
LeeBeing

What? Where was Nightmare in Silver? That was THE worst episode of Doctor Who in 50 years.

I am the doctor (maybe)
I am the doctor (maybe)

Mostly agree with all these votes, besides episode 8 which I believe goes to Let's Kill Hitler, but great voting!

Pertbaker34
Pertbaker34

I agree with 5 of the 8 Nightmare run choices. So, I think fandom did a pretty good job in the voting. One of the great things about Doctor Who is how we can all have completely different points of view on what the best and worst episodes are, and I think that is because there are a lot of different elements that make people fans and depending on if the most important elements to us as individuals get checked off in a particular episode can determine where it ranks. I chose Dinosaurs on a Spaceship as my worst of the #2 episodes, but I don't hate it. I just think it is the weakest of the group. I chose The Doctor's Daughter as my nightmare #6 episode. I never really connected with that episode at all and thought it was an attempt at doing a classic style Doctor Who episode, but that it just didn't quite hit the mark. And I chose Father's Day as my worst #8 episode. I love Rose in that episode, and her backstory, but always thought the wound in time and the time scavengers to be completely daft (possibly the worst creations in Nu Who). I really like The Hungry Earth, but admit the competition is pretty fierce and would probably rate it pretty low compared to #8 episodes.

NewWho2012
NewWho2012

I do agree here as I find most of the episodes pretty boring when I think of them including the Silurian episode and The Beast Below, yes Moffat episodes, some are boring too.

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

New Earth is awesome! And The Lazarus Experiment is quite good.  These results means nothing to me.

zkotkami
zkotkami

I'm quite surprised with the first two. I quite like New Earth and the Beast Below, but I agree with the rest. 

Earthborn
Earthborn

From what I have seen the radical redesigned silurians are rather unpopular in comparison and I totally agree with them. The silurians are now just a general speicies that lives underground and doesn't actually retain any recognisable features through the years. If the silurains looked the same I would wager the outcome would be very different.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Why is everyone defending The beast below. The plot had more holes than Swiss cheese and it was very dull. Even Moffat admitted it wasn't very good.

Christopher Brown
Christopher Brown

Really fandom? The Beast Below, one of the most intelligent and symbolically meaningful episodes of the Moffat era, one that really defines what (from a moral perspective) Doctor Who should be? I'm disappointed in us, I have to say, as if I had any right to but since I'm an internet commentator, I guess I will anyway. (:P)




I would curmudgeonly complain that people aren't interested in actually engaging with something that doesn't immediately make sense these days, but considering the amount of articles trying to make sense of the Moffat era on this very site that doesn't ring true at all. And I mean, no offense but it's pretty obvious that the supposed "plot holes" or unexplained elements of the story like the Winders being half-human, well, aren't - the *point* of them in this sort of symbolism-based story is what they *represent*.  So really, what gives? 

Agonslayer
Agonslayer

These are maybe my least favorite episodes of each category. 

DasManiac
DasManiac

I don't get how people are defending The Beast Below. Moffat admitted it was bad and he wrote it. There's really no way around it. If the writer admit it's bad, it's bad.

Romanadvoratrelundar
Romanadvoratrelundar

Woah, I am so happy The Doctor's Daughter wasn't on this list! I say this a lot but I love it, it's my third-favourite New-Who episode - and generally hated by everyone else. 

My personal nightmare run would be:


1. Partners in Crime - the "samba" moment pushes New Earth over the edge, also the conflict is quite good if you can get past the cheese

2. The End of the World - I'd have voted for Dinosaurs if it wasn't for Brian

3. Planet of the Ood - I know lots of people love the Ood but personally I just find them gross. This story isn't that bad, but it's just really forgettable.

4. Revenge of the Slitheen - hands down, the Slitheen were great for SJA but I find their DW story awful.

5. World War Three

6. The Lazarus Experiment - I also disliked The Almost People but Lazarus was just that bit worse. Also Almost was better than The Rebel Flesh.

7. The Long Game - the side-plot with Adam was good but I found the story climax weak

8. Cold War - I actually really like all the eights, I just enjoyed The Hungry Earth a bit more



antimon_bush
antimon_bush

And here is my 'nightmare run': 


1. New Earth

2. The End of the World

3. Victory of the Daleks

4. Daleks in Manhattan

5. Rise of the Cybermen or The Rebel Flesh. Can't decide. Dislike both of them.

6. The Age of Steel or The Almost People

7. A Good Man Goes to War (yes, I am serious!)

8. Let's Kill Hitler 


ajl117
ajl117

I agree with this list apart from Lazarus and the Idiots lantern, although I think Lantern just went there because of its competition. Lazarus may be the same case (I can't remember what others it was up against) but I disagree that it was bad. Sure the monster wasn't the best CGI but I found it quite good as a child in 2007, and the concept has some good morals to show about aging and life.

TheOncomingHurricane
TheOncomingHurricane

Yeah, apart from The Beast Below and Curse of the Black Spot, this is pretty much my list.

TheSoundofDrums
TheSoundofDrums

My personal Nightmare Run of Episodes 1-8 would be:

1. Partners in Crime

2. The Beast Below

3. The Curse of the Black Spot

4. The Power of Three

5. The Poison Sky

6. The Doctor's Daughter

7. The Long Game

8. The Hungry Earth

Note: I don't hate the likes of The Beast Below, The Curse of the Black Spot, The Poison Sky, The Doctor's Daughter and The Long Game, they're just simply the weakest (IMO) of their catagories.

SachinJayKumar
SachinJayKumar

M best ones would probably be:

1) The 11th Hour

2) The Day Of The Moon

3) School Reunion

4) The Time Of Angels

5) Flesh And Stone

6) Dalek

7) 42

8) Cold War

TheBiPunishment
TheBiPunishment

My nightmare run: Asylum of the Daleks, The End of the World, Curse of the Black Spot, Aliens of London, Flesh and Stone, The Vampires of Venice, The Rings of Akhaten, Let's Kill Hitler. Although when I say nightmare, all but one of these is above 5/10, and one is above 8/10! Really goes to show the high quality of the show we're watching.


Mikeyboss182
Mikeyboss182

My nightmare run

1. New Earth 

2. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship 

3. The Curse of the Black Spot 

4. Daleks in Manhattan 

5. Evolution of the Daleks  

6. The Doctor's Daughter 

7. The Long Game 

8. Cold War 












Mr 11
Mr 11

1. I agree

2. The End of the World (I truly think TBB is a misunderstood episode and if you look hard you'll find things you like. Also The End of the World is IMO the worst episode of the new series so I'm definitely putting it there.

3. Gridlock- (But TCOTBS is second to last)

4. Aliens of London (But DIM is pretty close to the worst ep 4)

5. Rise of the Cybermen- (Good but not great)

6. I Agree

7. The Long Game (Almost TIL but I think TLG is a bit worse)

8. Human Nature (I picked HN and I love The Hungry Earth, so shoot me)

lukashcartoon
lukashcartoon

Let us all agree on this: all of Doctor Who episodes are brilliant; these just shine a little less brighter than others.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

The Lazarus experiment worse than The doctor's daughter?

The hungry Earth worse than Let's kill Hitler?

WHAT?

jellybabyeater
jellybabyeater

The Lazarus experiment is the only episode to scare me, I mean very deeply especially when he sucks all the life out of the people in the ambulance and everything. I don't know why but still

Lord of Time declares war on the moon
Lord of Time declares war on the moon

Ok, Im gonna say it;                                                                                                            I think Lets kil hitler isnt that bad (even if it shou'd be called: "lets put hitler in a cupboard") because the important thing was river, freshley regenerated, wih was not bad.







chinnysandshoes
chinnysandshoes

I guess to each their own. I personally really liked The Beast Below. I liked that Amy overruled the Doctor because she "saw" what he couldn't. This is what a companion is all about. I liked the exploration of the theme of oppression for the greater good, or how we humans exploit what we do not understand with needless cruelty when sometimes, a little understanding and compassion would serve us so much more. But oh well. I do agree with The Idiots Lantern and the Lazarus Experiment, particularly the Idiots Lantern. I just found the whole damsel in distress needing to be rescued thing very annoying. Not that I think a companion should never need to be rescued - they all needed rescuing - just something about the way THIS particular episode was done.



DavidSJH
DavidSJH

None of the ones I chose...

hazwho
hazwho

New earth is my favourite episode ever! how did it come last?

GWad84
GWad84

Nightmare run

1- New Earth

2- End of The World. (Good episode, very strong category)

3- Curse of the Black Spot

4- Daleks in Manhattan

5- Evolution of the Daleks

6- The Doctors Daughter. (Ok episode just the weakest in it's category)

7- The Unicorn and the Wasp. (Closely followed by The Rings of Akhaten, I liked The Idiots Lantern shocked at it's appearance)

8- Cold War. (Hate putting this in my run as it's a very very good episode in possibly the strongest category)

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

The problem with this poll is that episodes are deemed bad just because they were the lowest of that point in the series. New Earth wasn't a bad episode, albeit not paricularly good either, but since it was up against every season opener, it didn't stand a chance. I rather liked the beast below, though it wasn't my favorite. But again, it was up against some tough competition. Though it was about a trillion times better than the Shakespeare Code. Yuk!

Anyway, saying these episode are the worst isn't correct-- they were just voted the worst in that block of episodes. Pretty much all of them were average. Except I didn't like the dalek two-parter. But the rest were just the middle ground of meh-ness. 

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

I'm going to join in with all the people who are saying that The Beast Below is criminally underrated. If I was choosing, I'd have put Tooth and Claw there instead.


All the other stuff doesn't surprise me much, and I agree that those stories are weaker than the ones they have been put up against.


I'm amazed Aliens of London and World War III weren't lower, but I suppose there was worse competition.

bluBob
bluBob

@Pertbaker34 While I don't agree with your least favorite episodes, I absolutely love the fact that you brought up the wide variety of Doctor Who fans. Because Doctor Who can be almost any genre it wants, vary rarely will you come across two fans who watch the show for the same reasons. One of my best friends loves the show for it's scary/creepy episodes, and finds himself rather disappointing by the more lighthearted ones. While another of my best friends is the exact opposite.

SirTrey
SirTrey

@DasManiac Absolutely not true.  Many all-time great poets and writers - Emily Dickinson is the first one that comes to mind - left instructions at their death to BURN their work, which would seem to indicate to me that they weren't proud of it.  History has judged them differently.

Also, I write myself, and I fully recognize that you're often your own worst critic.  I know I've been surprised at the reception of some works, where it was the chapter I thought was average or filler that got the most positive reception, while the "big" one was largely passed over.

With all of that said, specific to The Beast Below I don't think it's an AMAZING episode but I don't think it's the worst of Episode 2s either.  For me, both Tooth and Claw and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship were much less fulfilling.  Beast Below sorta meanders on - though the Queen is interesting - but what I remember most from that is Eleven's agony over potentially having to kill that innocent creature.  Even before the Doctor's name became an important plot point, you could tell how much that title meant to him and that ending speech, plus Amy, his new companion, finding a solution, made it special for me.  Showed some of Matt Smith's range very early on.

Pertbaker34
Pertbaker34

No, not really. A writer is often the worst judge of his/her own work.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

@Romanadvoratrelundar The doctor's daughter is an abomination. One of the worst 45 minutes of television I've ever watched. And I know it's your opinion, but Planet of the Ood is one of my favorite episodes.

Romanadvoratrelundar
Romanadvoratrelundar

@Oodkind Someone had this criticism in another post, doctorwhotv replied and pointed out that all polls are essentially meaningless and just a bit of fun to pass the time. I never thought to compare episodes in the same slots in each series, it's kind of interesting.

sontaran17
sontaran17

@Oodkind  I don't think anyone deems these episodes are  bad, just the lowest rated of the 7 others they were up against 

Pertbaker34
Pertbaker34

Exactly my point, and it disappoints me to see, not so much here, but in general so much sniping at each other by fans when we really should just embrace the diversity and wide range of fan opinions and tastes and celebrate the show. I'm an American and I've been a fan since I was a little boy and they first started showing Who here in the late 70's and let me just say that there were few fans here at the time. We were fans of an obscure show but we were all very supportive of each other and then it went into decline and went away, and now the show is hugely popular here (and should be because it has been mostly fantastic since it's return), but I see so much grumbling and negativity by the fan base now. It's really okay that some people prefer RTD as show runner, and it's okay if you prefer the wacky episodes, or the darker episodes, or a particular companion annoys you, and it's okay because just wait a little while and the show will change again and that's remarkable. There is nothing else like it.

Romanadvoratrelundar
Romanadvoratrelundar

@RobertLythgoe come on, that's a bit rude considering I just said I loved TDD and acknowledged that just about every Whovian hates it. I get that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I totally understand what you loved Planet of the Ood, at least try to understand my side of the story. 

TheBiPunishment
TheBiPunishment

AOTD - Weak use of Daleks, rubbish divorce subplot, but still a 6.5/10. TROA - Bad monsters, mediocre acting, very dull in places, weak plot. A 5.5/10.