Your Verdict on The Husbands of River Song & Episode Ranking

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Joshua Yetman reveals DWTV’s community episode score and ranking for the 2015 Christmas special.

capaldi-river-Hydroflax-christmas

Although we are now enveloped in the depressing wintery embrace of 2016 (Happy New Year, by the way!), 2015 fortunately still has some lingering statistics to divulge. That’s right, it’s time to reveal how all five-and-a-half-thousand of you voted in Doctor Who TV’s poll for the insanely bizarre and yet so hauntingly romantic Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song, written by showrunner Steven Moffat. It is his sixth Christmas special to date.

As usual, we asked you to give the episode a score out of 10, and the results are as such:

rate-husbands-xmas-graph

Polls like this one were held throughout Series 9. As we did back then, we can take these votes and calculate the average score, among other statistics, and then see how The Husbands of River Song performed compared to the rest of 2015 Doctor Who.

Specifically, The Husbands of River Song averaged a fairly brilliant score of 7.984, just below the 8/10 threshold. So where does the episode fit in with the rest of Series 9? The full DWTV rankings for 2015 are as follows:

  • 1. Heaven Sent – 9.344
  • 2. The Zygon Inversion – 8.994
  • 3. Face The Raven – 8.800
  • 4. The Witch’s Familiar – 8.603
  • 5. The Magician’s Apprentice – 8.479
  • 6. Under the Lake – 8.434
  • 7. The Zygon Invasion – 8.325
  • 8. Before the Flood – 8.181
  • 9. The Husbands of River Song – 7.984
  • 10. Hell Bent – 7.760
  • 11. The Woman Who Lived – 7.715
  • 12. The Girl Who Died – 7.461
  • 13. Sleep No More – 5.955

So, despite its high score, The Husbands of River Song can only manage 9th in 2015. However, this position is more a testament to the sheer quality of episodes last year rather than any problem with the episode itself, as the average score of 7.984 attained by The Husbands of River Song is certainly commendable and not one to discount just because it edged slightly below the 8/10 threshold (which seems to be a curious psychological tendency these days).

Ultimately, the 2015 average was 8.157. For those of you that consider The Husbands of River Song a part of Series 9 (I certainly do not, but that is subjective), 8.157 is the final Series 9 average. Well…for now at least…

(1) Interpreting the score

The Husbands of River Song is the 53rd highest rated episode of the revived series, and the highest rated episode below 8/10. This position puts it between The Time of the Doctor in 54th place (coincidentally another Moffat Christmas special, which achieved an average score of 7.972) and School Reunion in 52nd (which achieved an average score of 8.010). Nearby are episodes like Journey’s End (7.951) and Asylum of the Daleks (8.021).

To further clarify its position within the revival, a trusted box and whiskers diagram can be used to show exactly where The Husbands of River Song has fallen amongst the scope of the entire revival (not the pre-Series 9 revival anymore):

husbands-xmas-box-position-graph

To explain this diagram, imagine that you ordered all 130 episodes of the revival from best to worst in terms of average score, and then you split your ordered list into four equally sized quarters (in this case, as 4 does not divide 130, they need to be as close to equally sized as possible). You have a bottom 25% – the quarter for the drudgery of the revival; that is the lower whisker on the left above. Then you have the subsequent 25%, which isn’t the very worst, but is still below average; that is the grey box above, called the lower quartile. The next 25% – the yellow box, called the upper quartile – is for episodes better than the average but below the most revered echelon, which is the upper whisker, which represents the top 25% of episodes. The black cross demarcates the position of The Husbands of River Song. Thus, it has attained a rather snug position in the upper quartile, indicating that it’s far from the very best of Doctor Who, but it is still comfortably above the revival average.

Now, for our usual round of rapid statistics:

  • Moffat has now written or co-written an astonishing 41 episodes, nearly a third of the revival. Out of these 41 episodes, The Husbands of River Song ranks 28th. Again, this is a more of a testament to the strength of Moffat’s episode that a commendable score of 7.984 only ranks 28th.
  • Out of the 26 episodes of Capaldi’s era to date (and may that number double before he even thinks about leaving us!), The Husbands of River Song would rank 15th, sandwiched between Last Christmas in 14th and Death in Heaven in 16th. The average of Capaldi’s era continues to creep slowly upwards, now standing at 7.928 (up from 7.925). Thus, as far as Capaldi’s era is concerned, The Husbands of River Song is above average.
  • A considerable 30.8% of you gave this episode full marks, with 89.8% of you electing to award this episode with half marks or more. The full marks proportion is the 8th highest in 2015 and the 34th highest on record.

(2) Christmas special rankings

Now, where does this episode rank amongst the eleven Christmas specials of the revival to date? The official DWTV Christmas special rankings are as follows, with the overall ranking of each episode in the 130-episode strong revival given in square brackets:

  • 1. A Christmas Carol [46th] – 8.125
  • 2. The Snowmen [47th] – 8.111
  • 3. Last Christmas [48th] – 8.096
  • 4. The Husbands of River Song [53rd] – 7.984
  • 5. The Time of the Doctor [54th] – 7.972
  • 6. The Christmas Invasion [60th] – 7.796
  • 7. The End of Time, Part 1 [61st] – 7.779
  • 8. The Runaway Bride [82nd] – 7.202
  • 9. Voyage of the Damned [94th] – 6.970
  • 10. The Next Doctor [114th] – 6.332
  • 11. The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe [127th] – 5.378

Christmas specials tend to escape particular acclaim, so The Husbands of River Song takes a comfortable 4th place. The top 5 Christmas specials – albeit the very bottom one as well – are all written by Moffat. The Moffat era Christmas special average is 7.611, whilst the RTD era Christmas special average is 7.216, indicating a preference for Moffat’s take on the traditional Christmas special. The overall average is 7.431, below the revival average.

(3) Divisiveness

The Husbands of River Song was a considerably divisive episode, with a standard deviation of 2.322. To clarify, the divisiveness of an episode can be measured using standard deviation, a very handy statistic which measures how spread out votes are from the average. The higher the standard deviation, the more divisive the episode.

It turns out that this high score surprisingly makes The Husbands of River Song the 8th most divisive episode of the entire revival (the second top ten placement in a row), the 3rd most divisive episode of 2015, and the fifth episode in 2015 to attain a standard deviation above 2. Certainly, 2015 was a significantly divisive, albeit generally critically lauded, year.

The complete divisiveness rankings for 2015 are as follows:

  • 1. Hell Bent – 2.829 (most divisive…ever)
  • 2. Sleep No More – 2.775
  • 3. The Husbands of River Song – 2.322
  • 4. The Girl Who Died – 2.235
  • 5. The Woman Who Lived – 2.178
  • 6. The Zygon Invasion – 1.984
  • 7. The Magician’s Apprentice – 1.815
  • 8. The Witch’s Familiar – 1.758
  • 9. Before the Flood – 1.723
  • 10. Face The Raven – 1.716
  • 11. The Zygon Inversion – 1.600
  • 12. Heaven Sent – 1.554
  • 13. Under the Lake – 1.548 (least divisive)

Under the Lake remains as the least divisive episode of the year, and one of the least divisive of all time. Hell Bent, on the other hand, retains the dishonourable title of most divisive episode…ever. I’d say this is unlikely to beaten any time soon, but I’d rather not tempt fate and ending up eating yet another hat.

(4) 2015 overall

As said earlier, the 2015 average was 8.157. Our trusted Qualityometer can be used, once again, to show how amazing 2015 was for the show compared to the pre-2015 revival average:

2015-qualityometer-graph

2015 has fallen from 8.87% better (dashed arrow) to 8.68% better (golden arrow) than the pre-2015 revival average. Regardless, 8.68% is a brilliant final position for the year and – using the current scores – 2015 is still the best year the show has ever had in the revival.

(5) Conclusion

Although it was significantly more divisive than I expected, The Husbands of River Song still performed very well and concludes 2015 with a satisfyingly high average score. Although its final act is what probably elevated the episode to its high ultimate score, I personally can’t give this touching special anything other than praise from start to finish, and its statistics round off a year full of fantastic results and (hopefully) interesting statistics.

husbands-nutshell-stats

I’d say 2016 has a lot to live up to, but, due to the troubling mystery permeating around Series 10, I’m not sure how much of the show we’ll even get this year. But, regardless of when Series 10 starts, you can expect your usual full statistical breakdown. Until then, you can expect some other exciting and anguish inducing polls from DWTV, but, for 2015 and Series 9, here we come to an end. Thank you for voting, and Happy New Year.