Your Verdict on Sleep No More & Episode Ranking
Joshua Yetman reveals DWTV’s community episode score and ranking for the 9th episode of Series 9.
Nearly five thousand of you voted in Doctor Who TV’s polls last week for Sleep No More, the ninth episode of Series 9, written by New Who veteran Mark Gatiss. As usual, we asked you to give the episode a score out of 10, and the colossally chaotic results are as such:
Due to the significantly mixed reception this episode received after initial broadcast, I was expecting consequentially poor results, but never this poor. I mean, what even is this? These results are essentially deformed and conform to no recognisable distribution – they are quite literally all over the place, and I have never seen anything quite like this. The magnitude of these results is completely unprecedented and will give Sleep No More a lasting statistical impact, though for all the wrong reasons.
Anyway, as you know by now, each week we’ll be taking these votes and working out the average score, among other statistics. We will then use these average scores to rank the episodes and get a good idea of its placing in the series.
Last week The Zygon Inversion received critical acclaim from the Doctor Who TV community, soaring so high that it not just managed to dominate the Series 9 leaderboard, but become one of the most highly rated Doctor Who episodes in history. This week we have an unfortunately ironic inversion of last week’s stellar results, for the average score received by Sleep No More was a lowly 5.955, which is – quite simply – a disaster. It puts Sleep No More well at the bottom of the series and, as we’ll see, well at the bottom of the revival as well.
So, with three quarters of Series 9 now officially rated, the rankings look like this:
- 1. The Zygon Inversion – 8.994
- 2. The Witch’s Familiar – 8.603
- 3. The Magician’s Apprentice – 8.479
- 4. Under the Lake – 8.434
- 5. The Zygon Invasion – 8.325
- 6. Before the Flood – 8.181
- 7. The Woman Who Lived – 7.715
- 8. The Girl Who Died – 7.461
- 9. Sleep No More – 5.955
- Face the Raven – TBC
- Heaven Sent – TBC
- Hell Bent – TBC
The Series 9 average has reduced for the first time in three weeks, collapsing from the impressive average of 8.274/10 boosted by The Zygon Inversion, to the much lower 8.016.
(1) Interpreting the score
Unfortunately, there are many more inversions to be found against The Zygon Inversion! Whilst that episode successfully burrowed itself into the top ten of the revival, Sleep No More has groggily fainted into the bottom ten!
As always, our box and whiskers diagram can be used to show exactly where Sleep No More has fallen amongst the scope of the pre-Series 9 revival:
To clarify for any newcomers (though if you’ve just discovered this column, where have you been?!), this diagram represents the spread of episode quality in the revival. The box in the middle represents the middle 50% of all the 117 episodes between Rose and Last Christmas in terms of quality, distinguished into an upper quartile (the yellow section) and a lower quartile (the grey section), with the line between them being the median (i.e. the episode right in the middle of the rankings, which happens to be Time Heist). The ‘whiskers’ represent the absolute extremes of the revival, from The Day of the Doctor at the far right, to Fear Her at the far left. All the sample data for this diagram comes from the Rank The Revival census carried out earlier this year.
Although Sleep No More falls into the bottom ten episodes of the revival, you can see above that it’s still a fair bit away from the very bottom of the leftmost whisker. Simply, this is because the very worst episodes of the revival according to you guys – i.e. Love & Monster’s and Fear Her – are so poorly received, nothing can – and probably ever will – get close to them. Those two episodes are in their own little league of lowliness.
All the same, I can hardly say Sleep No More resides in a great episodic neighbourhood. To be more precise, Sleep No More is the 9th lowest rated episode of the revival (or 118th best, if you’re of the optimistic persuasion), and stands alongside episodes such as Daleks in Manhattan (which received a lower average score of 5.902), Night Terrors (another Mark Gatiss episode which received a higher average of 6.013) and The Lazarus Experiment (an episode which Mark Gatiss happened to act in, which received a higher average of 6.061). The episodes I mention may have sincere pockets of support, or possibly even a strong following of fans (I, for one, admit to being a huge fan of the Series 3 Dalek double-parter), but, overall, they form the bottom run of the community’s preferences, and amongst them Sleep No More has crash landed in a daze.
Now, for our usual round of exciting (terms and conditions apply) flash facts:
- This is the lowest initial score on record (though said ‘record’ only goes as far back as A Good Man Goes to War). Even Series 8’s enormously polarising In The Forest of the Night received a higher initial score of 6.482 (although Sleep No More currently ranks higher than this episode using long-term scores, where Forest received a reduced average of 5.324).
- Although I was sincerely hoping that Sleep No More could do for Mark Gatiss what The Zygon Inversion did for Peter Harness – i.e. give him an acclaimed classic to make up for apparent past transgressions – Gatiss failed to even beat the majority of his own already divisive and relatively poorly received episodes. As it stands, Sleep No More is his second worst episode, only beating 2006’s The Idiot’s Lantern. All of his episode still reside in the bottom half of the revival, a questionable achievement for the most prolific guest writer of the revival.
- Sleep No More is the second lowest rated episode of Peter Capaldi’s illustrious era to date. As hinted at earlier, only last year’s In The Forest of the Night ranks lower (though only by considering the most recent scores available for all episodes).
- As I’m sure you’ve picked up on by now, I am always keenly interested to see how each episode of Series 9 performs against its peers in its relative episode slot. So, how does Sleep No More rank against the other Episode 9’s of the revival? Well…it takes last place. A tad anticlimactic result that, perhaps, but that’s the fact. For fairness though, it should be noted that Episode 9 is an enormously strong slot (the second strongest, in fact), hauling classics like Flatline, The Empty Child, Forest of the Dead and The Family of Blood, so the relative positioning of Sleep No More can be attributed to its competition as well as its apparent inherent weaknesses.
- Only 10.92% of you gave Sleep No More full marks. This is the lowest case of this in Series 9 to date. However, this is a remarkably high percentage compared to other episodes in the bottom half of the revival (on average, the bottom 20 episodes receive just 4.6% of the 10/10 vote option). In fact, whilst the episode ranks 118th when you consider the average, it ranks only 73rd when it comes to the size of the 10/10 vote! So it’s clear that Sleep No More does have a fairly significant amount of support out there.
- As the only truly single-part story this series (I will not be analysing Face The Raven as such), it’s a shame that it had to be so poorly received. As it stands, the average single-parter across the whole revival attained a score of 7.313. Thanks to the acclaim received by most double-part stories this year and throughout the revival, the average double-part story now attains an overall average of 7.939 (7.945 for part 1, 7.933 for part 2). Series 9 has driven the difference between the two storytelling formats even wider.
(2) The divisiveness of the story
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Take another look at the diagram at the top of this article, showing the distribution of votes. You’ll note that approximately 10% gave this episode full marks, whilst another 10% gave it no credit whatsoever. A complete polarisation of opinion. This result, along with the overall chaotic nature of the results, has led to a staggering and extraordinary statistical event: Sleep No More has attained a record standard deviation of 2.775 and is, thus, the most divisive episode in the entire revival.
I’m stunned. Although it was clear the episode was incredibly divisive and was evidently splitting people into ‘loved it’ and ‘hated it’ camps, I had no idea it was on this scale.
To clarify earlier remarks, 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. To make additional sense of what this number means, I have generated the following rough scaling system for interpreting standard deviation in the context of Doctor Who episodes:
- Less than 1.5 – very high agreement amongst the fanbase; whatever the overall opinion is of this episode, positive or negative, the vast majority of people conform to it.
- Between 1.5 and 1.75 – not particularly divisive.
- Between 1.75 and 2 –fairly divisive
- Above 2 – considerably divisive; opinions vary far and wide for such an episode.
The standard deviation of this episode is so far above 2, however, that “considerably divisive” doesn’t even do it justice. This is, frankly, “monumentally” divisive, and has stolen the title of being the most divisive episode from Love & Monsters, which had previously held the title for nine years (it had a standard deviation of 2.704).
Thus, The Girl Who Died is no longer the most divisive episode of Series 9 to date. The full divisiveness rankings of Series 9 currently stand as such:
- 1. Sleep No More – 2.775 (most divisive…in history)
- 2. The Girl Who Died – 2.235
- 3. The Woman Who Lived – 2.178
- 4. The Zygon Invasion – 1.984
- 5. The Magician’s Apprentice – 1.815
- 6. The Witch’s Familiar – 1.758
- 7. Before the Flood – 1.723
- 8. The Zygon Inversion – 1.600
- 9. Under the Lake – 1.548 (least divisive)
- Face the Raven – TBC
- Heaven Sent – TBC
- Hell Bent – TBC
(3) Series 9 to date
Sleep No More has had a damaging impact on Series 9. It brought the average down from 8.274 to 8.016, impairing the wonderful boost that The Zygon Inversion had provided just the previous week. Of course, an average of 8.016 is still very good, but Series 9 has now fallen behind the average score that Series 8 was rocking nine episodes in (8.179). To be fair, at that particular stage in the series, Series 8 had just benefited from the acclaimed Mathieson episodes, and was about to be brought down considerably by In The Forest of the Night, but the point still currently stands.
For the first time in three weeks, the Qualityometer – our informal measure of how much better Series 9 is doing compared to the pre-Series 9 revival average – has fallen (or, more appropriately, collapsed), from 10.25% better than the pre-Series 9 revival average to just 6.81% better:
The current average of 8.016 is likely the lowest the average will ever be. The final three episodes of the series should – hopefully – push the average back up and help the Qualityometer recover to how it was last week, and end the series on a high.
(4) Evaluating the projections
A few months ago, I produced a set of statistical projections for the initial community averages of each upcoming episode in Series 9. The purpose of this was to compare them to the actual results as they became available, in order to gauge how sensible it is to use statistical models to forecast such potentially unpredictable variables.
The estimate using my Oswald Model was 7.83, which represents an enormous error of 31.45% now that we know the actual figure of 5.955. This was already the lowest projection of the series, but no method of statistical projection could have predicted that the result would have been this low.
What a disaster these projections seem to be becoming!
(5) Best Gatiss story: Poll Results
Moving on from the main poll, DWTV asked you to rank each and every one of Mark Gatiss’ television contributions to the show, including not just his eight Doctor Who episodes to date but the acclaimed 2013 docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time as well. The average weighted rankings are as such:
Remember, the lower the weighted rank, the better. Thus, An Adventure in Space and Time, quite naturally, dominates the competition, but The Unquiet Dead ranks highest among Mark Gatiss’ Doctor Who episodes. Sleep No More ranks – once again – second from last. However, whilst The Idiot’s Lantern is lowest on a score basis, Night Terrors, interestingly enough, is lowest on a ranking basis.
I think the greatest tragedy out of all of this is that Mark Gatiss, yet again, has presented us with an episode that has divided the fanbase, thus preventing him from achieving a score in the upper echelons of the revival. It’s an enormous shame, as the man always comes across as one of the most enthusiastic and adoring fans of the show, but, unfortunately, he has again failed to produce something that is even remotely close to well received.
Even worse, Sleep No More has attained infamous statistics that will be difficult to beat, and will likely carry for some time. However, as we progress into the highly anticipated finale, it is very likely that Sleep No More will prove to be just a very unfortunate blip in what is otherwise shaping up to be the greatest run of the revival to date.
Join us next week when the first entry of the Series 9 finale – Face The Raven – will be statistically disembowelled. Will the emotional weight of Clara’s stunning exit push it above everything else this year, and, ultimately, how will the whole finale stand up against the other eight of the revival?
We are now entering an enormously intriguing period of statistics for this series so, as always, keep voting!