‘Doctor Who’ Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List

Published 1 year ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 3:41 pm,

doctor who blink guide Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List

Most Doctor Who fans agree that the first episode of the 2005 Russell T. Davies reboot is not a prime example of Doctor Who at its best – and could be off-putting to viewers who are testing out the show for the first time. As a result, we’ve selected three Doctor Who episodes that offer a good sample of what potential viewers can expect from the series – without spoiling too many of the larger story arcs and twists.

That said, as Matt Smith recently mentioned while talking about season seven of the series, Doctor Who is about “evolution and regeneration.” Anyone even remotely familiar with the show knows that The Doctor changes form (and actors) from time to time and companions come and go every few seasons. For that reason, our featured episodes will contain mild spoilers for the timing of certain Doctor and companion exits but nothing that will undermine the moments when they actually happen.

doctor who weeping angels Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List

If you want to avoid even the most basic spoilers then our best recommendation is to just start at the 2005 reboot, with Season 1, Episode 1: “Rose,” but keep in mind that the series premiere isn’t representative of the larger show’s quality. Anyone that chooses to start with the premiere should plan to stick with the series for several episodes – to get a much better sense of why Doctor Who is a worthwhile endeavor.

For viewers who aren’t overly-concerned about having a vague timeframe for when a new Doctor might be en route or when a companion might leave the series, below our top three Doctor Who indoctrination episodes. Each one will, for the most part, provide a solid standalone story experience and should help prospective Doctor Who viewers get a sense of the show - without the need for a lengthy canon rundown (or major overarching spoilers).

That said, if at any point you’re feeling like Doctor Who might be a fit – forget about our subsequent recommended episodes and jump to the 2005 premiere.

  1. Blink (Season 3, Episode 11) – A “Doctor-lite” episode. An entirely standalone story centered around Sally Sparrow (played by a pre-fame Carey Mulligan) and her run-in with one of The Doctor’s most feared enemies.
  2. Midnight (Season 4, Episode 10) –  A “Companion-lite” episode. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, The Doctor must battle a terrifying enemy who turns the Doctor’s greatest weapon against him.
  3. Love & Monsters (Season 2, Episode 10) – A “Doctor-lite” episode. Elton Pope (played by Marc Warren) recounts The Doctor’s impact on a group of strangers as well as the love story that grew out of them all coming together to share their experiences.

It’s hard to imagine any would-be Whovian not seeing the promise in the series after “Blink.” Assuming we’re correct, save “Midnight” as well as “Love & Monsters” for in-context viewing. Like any quality piece of television drama, Doctor Who episodes are most enjoyable as part of a planned out seasonal arc.

Additionally, here are some beginner picks that Moffat and Smith gave:

Steven Moffat

1. The Ark in Space (1975) – The Doctor and his companions Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) are on a seemingly deserted space station many years in the future. Station Nerva is not as empty as it appears, though; onboard are the cryogenically preserved survivors of Earth’s destruction, as well as an insect-like alien race, the Wirrin, which are determined to use the humans–and the Doctor–as hosts to grow their monstrous larvae.
2. City of Death (1979) – The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Romana (Lalla Ward) is pitted against a time-traveling alien (Julian Glover) whose body, fragmented by an accident, spurred evolution millions of years ago. Written by “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author Douglas Adams.

Matt Smith

1. The Empty Child (Season 1, Episode 9) - The Doctor and Rose travel back to London in 1941, at the height of the Blitz. A mysterious cylinder is being guarded by the Army, while homeless children (living on the bombsites) are being terrorized by an unearthly child. Rose meets the dashing Captain Jack Harkness – has she found a hero even better than the Doctor?
2. The Doctor Dances (Season 1, Episode 10) - The Child’s plague is spreading throughout the wartime London, and its zombie army is on the march. The Doctor and Rose form an alliance with intergalactic con-man Captain Jack, but find themselves trapped in the abandoned hospital. The answer lies at the bombsite, but time is running out…
3. Blink (Season 3, Episode 11)

Continue reading for a list of helpful viewing tips as well as our personal favorite episodes…

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TAGS: doctor who, torchwood

152 Comments

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  1. Great job – you’re just missing the Night and the Doctor mini episodes (Last Night, First Night, Good Night, Bad Night, Up All Night) which importantly adds to the the Doctor/River relationship.

  2. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely pleased I found it and I’ll be book-marking it
    and checking back often!

  3. Accept that you’re not going to like any incarnation of The Doctor at first. You will also initially hate every newly regenerated Doctor replacing the previous Doctor.
    Similarly, be aware that you will likely not be happy with each new companion at first.
    This is so true :D
    And i would put yourneys end and before that
    Its awesome that everyone is coming back to help the doctor one last time

  4. Could you update this to the recent episodes, mini episodes, and specials? It was really helpful when I first started Doctor Who and would like to use it further in the future if I could

  5. Is this page ever going to be updated? I love it. The animated episode was a great tip, even my biggest whovian friends missed that one. But I’m worried that as I catch up with the series I’m going to miss more suggestions.

  6. Not sure if anyone knows this, but on HULU+ you can catch Classic Doctor Who episodes along with Doctor Who (2005) including every episodes up to Season 7′s Christmas episode. Granted there are commercials, but to get to see all 7 seasons is a big enough treat for me. It’s been a whirlwind ride for me having only watched Classic episodes. I knocked out all 7 seasons in about a week.

  7. Ben Kendrick, thank you so much for this guide. I’m down in Australia where we don’t have Netfilx so this guide was very valuable for me as I made my way through the 7 seasons (remarkably, in order). I now consider myself a fellow Whovian and can’t wait for the next season.

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    • This is not a picture book, it’s a speculative news site, so its main medium is text. If you want more images, Google is your friend… Many articles already are several pages long (this very one totals 4), I’d hate for them to multiply pages because of an epidemy of pictures. After all, the important thing is information, isn’t it? I, for one, find the design perfect: easy on the eye with its dark background, not too sober and not too flashy, and easy enough too read precisely because the articles aren’t overwhelmed by a proliferation of images.

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