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

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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 once 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 relaunch, 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 are three Doctor Who indoctrination episodes. This isn’t to say that these three episodes are the absolute best but 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, more importantly, overarching series 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

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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.

    • Thanks! I’ve added those links in as well.

    • DO you know where those are in the Blu Ray/DVD releases? Which season?

      • They should be included in the season 6 DVD and Blu-ray sets.

  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.

    • We update the guide before and during each new season. As such, I just updated it ahead of season 8.

  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.

  8. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your website?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe
    you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

    • 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.

  9. I started with Blink, and right after I watched The Eleventh Hour. I was hooked for life.

  10. I just started watching Doctor Who a couple weeks ago after I stumbled across it on Netflix. A ton of my friends are obsessed with it so I decided to give it a go starting with the 2005 reboot. While I’m not obsessed or ultimately hooked. I’m six episodes in and find it mildly entertaining. I had been thinking of asking my friends more about the show, if I was starting in the right place and if I could expect it to get better. The timing of this guide couldn’t be better. Think I will stay the course.

  11. I find this guide’s lack of Classic Who…disturbing. “Complete Episode List” indeed. Hmmph.

    • You did see the part where we said the guide focuses on the modern series only right? ;) Nearly 50 years of Doctor Who is a lot to digest for someone who is thinking about getting into the show. The guide is to help people get on board – then they can go back and watch the classic series if they want.

  12. Hey thanks for this!! Seriously – This is a big help to someone who wants to start watching the show. :)

  13. I started watching Doctor Who just 2 days ago, and I’ve started with the classics (those which are there at least) Any tips?

    • Netflix has some “best of” collections for several of the Doctors that highlight many of the most iconic episodes. Catching up on the classic series is a little more complicated – since availability of the episodes is inconsistent across different platforms.

      That said, Hulu Plus has most (but still not all) of the classic episodes.

  14. Happy premier day whovians. I hope yall enjoy the show. As for me, I will be waiting till monday to watch to watch the premier on the big screen :-)

  15. Here’s my “Viewing Tip:”

    DON’T WATCH THE “NEXT TIME ON…” BITS! They’ve gotten better, but especially in the first few (reboot) seasons, they’re terrible about revealing twists and major plot details. Skip to the next episode the instant the text appears on screen or it’s inevitable that something big in the next episode will be spoiled.

  16. Couple of minor errors and extra stuff:

    Wedding of SJS and Children of Earth should be BEFORE Waters of Mars, not after.
    Chronologically, The Infinite Quest can pretty much go anywhere in series 3 before Utopia.
    The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End is a crossover with SJA as well as Torchwood. Same goes for End of Time, but that one’s more minor.
    There is another animated episode, Dreamland, between Planet of the Dead and Waters of Mars.
    The end of Torchwood S1 leads directly into Utopia and has a sort-of appearance by the TARDIS (may be worth a mention).
    There are a few prequels missing (Impossible Astronaut, Black Spot, two for Name of the Doctor, the second Snowmen prequel).
    DVD minisodes for series 5 – two Meanwhile in the TARDIS eps, set after Eleventh Hour and Flesh & Stone respectively.
    DVD minisodes for series 7 – The Inforarium (after Wedding of River Song, before Angels Take Manhattan), Clara and the TARDIS and Rain Gods (both anytime after The Bells of St John).

  17. as it has not been corrected yet. “Blink” shows up on imdb and several other sites as episode 3×10, not 3×11 as stated in this article.

    source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1000252/?ref_=ttep_ep11

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