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

Published 9 months ago by , Updated November 6th, 2014 at 1:37 pm,

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

Once viewed by many TV lovers as a niche sci-fi program, Doctor Who and the TARDIS have been popping up with increasing regularity on television screens around the globe. In the past few years, the cult British staple has become a full-on global phenomenon. These days, being a Whovian is, as the eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith) would say, “Cool.”

However, with over six seasons of the Russell T. Davies 2005 series relaunch plus three spin-off shows (Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and K9) available online and in stores, it can be an especially daunting task to get started – and that’s not even taking the hundreds of classic Doctor Who episodes into consideration.

Fortunately, we’ve put together the following handy guide to help viewers figure out which episodes are a good barometer for whether or not someone will enjoy the series, where to find the show online (in addition to retail shelves), as well as a complete list of Doctor Who episodes, specials, shorts, prequels and tie-ins – including where the Torchwood, Sarah Jane Adventures, and K9 crossovers fit in (assuming you want the “complete” Doctor Who experience).

doctor who david tennant matt smith Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List

That said, our guide will only focus on the modern series (starting in 2005) – since the copious amount of content in the classic chapter could be pretty daunting for most viewers who are new to Who. We recommend that interested viewers follow our guide and then, if they’re up for it, go all the way back to the beginning of the franchise with Season 1, Episode 1: “An Unearthly Child” (1963) – which featured the first, and grumpiest, iteration of The Doctor (played by William Hartnell).

Continue reading for suggestions on where best to start adventuring with The Doctor…

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  1. Oh I also meant to say your guide is great. It is very helpful. I love the part about you will hate the new companion at first—so true. It’s almost like you think they don’t appreciate him like they should or know him like WE do!! LOL

    • Thanks! Glad you liked it!

  2. I know!b it’s like I hated the 11th Doctor at first then I hated Amy.
    The only thing is on our tv it gives us Season 6 not 7 :(

  3. Satan’s Pit and it’s prequel are great for indoctrination! They show the programmes brilliant story-making!

  4. I think we should. Have a tribute show. Of our Doctor Who family. That we have lost, over the years. :-(

  5. i have an episode called “Music of the Spheres” which you haven’t listed.. any idea where/when it goes? :)
    p.s. this guide is fantastic! keep on the good work..

    • Music of the Spheres was a feature in the Prom(s?) which is a music performance/feature. The theme that year must’ve been Doctor Who. It was shortly after the third season (the one with Martha) or at least I’m heavily assuming because Freema, the actress who plays Martha hosts it, and Donna’s theme is never played *Shrugs* it’s not really meant to be canonical in any way, but it is entertaining :)

  6. So skip the 26 years ahead and just get to nuwho.

    Really? Why? There are 11 doctors, not just 3. Grr.

    • Beau – The guide specifically states on the first page that the sheer amount of Doctor Who episodes in the classic series could be daunting for NEW viewers.

      Which is why we said: Our guide will only focus on the Russell T. Davies reboot series (starting in 2005) – we recommend that interested viewers follow the guide and then, if they’re up for it, go all the way back to the beginning of the franchise with Season 1, Episode 1: “An Unearthly Child” (1963).

      The point of the guide was to help people get into the show – not dismiss classic Who adventures.

      • I think that if you had any experience watching Classic Doctor Who you wouldn’t say that starting from the very beginning is a good way to watch it. The show as it is now is very different to how it was back then and attempting to go back to the very beginning is more likely to put off any but the most determined even if they do enjoy the show as it is post revival.

        Also as much as I am loathe to criticise what are clearly someone else’s opinions, and thus subjective, Love and Monsters? You’d really list that as something someone should try to see whether they would like Doctor Who?

        • We’ve explained the “Love and Monsters” choice earlier in the thread.

          It was a Doctor-lite episode, so it wouldn’t spoil much, and is much more accessible – and even though it’s one of the weirder villains, the plot is more than just an adventure story.

          Commenters are split on that one for sure but the goal of the guide was to try to give people a taste of ‘Doctor Who’ – and, like it or not, plenty of the Russell T. Davies episodes are pretty campy.

          Still, like you said, it’s subjective.

  7. I love this show SO much!!!! I only got into Doctor Who about a year and a half ago because of my roommate who grew up loving it. This has got me so excited for season 7.5, I’m going on netflix right now and watching Blink!

  8. I remember this guide from some time back. If I’d add anything, it would be to warn viewers not to let the weaker production values of the early seasons discourage them. While it didn’t bother me much, new viewers may find that stuff like the CGI and costumes were a little lower quality than what they may be used to on TV. It got a lot better with the Matt Smith episodes though.

    • Yeah, we bumped it back to the front page for the mid-season 7 premiere as well as updated the episode guide list with new prequel videos, etc.

    • On the other hand, the initial kitsch can be part of the appeal. I know it was for me, and though I do enjoy nowaday’s fancy FX, I kinda miss that lost charm. Thank goodness the monsters are still often fairly silly-looking.

  9. Great article for the New Whovians out there…. which I’m not. But I still read and enjoyed every word.

  10. My personal fave episode is The Satan Pit, purely for the shot of the beast, blew me away and I still remember it years later.

  11. 7 months later and Netflix STILL doesn’t have the episode “A Christmas Carol”. Seriously what happened there?

    • Is that the one with David Morrisey?

      If so, I think that was the last Christmas special I saw, didn’t think it was very good.

      • No, A Christmas Carol was the one with Michael Gambon, and IMO was one of the better Christmas specials overall.

  12. Fear Her was terrible doesn’t deserve bold and get Doomsday was Brilliant although it was horrifically sad but had hilarious banter between two doctor who classics. How could you bold Fear Her but not Doomsday???

    • Yeah I totally agree. Also Love and Monsters is, in my opinion, the worst episode of the revival and I believe that a lot of Whovians would agree with me.

  13. I would say Rory Williams is also the Doctors companion.

    • Agreed. Rory is probably one of my absolute favorites. Not sure why he doesn’t seem to get more credit in some of the other sites I’ve looked at.

    • Uh no, he’s the companion’s companion, at first clearly not wanted aboard then quite reluctantly accepted for a time. Like your daughter’s flea-bitten dog she found in the gutter or something.

  14. I wanted to say that this site has been very helpful as an introduction to Doctor Who. I went ahead and started with the 2005 reboot and am just about to finish up Season 6. Viewing on Netflix and missed the Holiday Special A Christmas Carol as they don’t have it, and obviously they don’t have Season 7 available yet, but I think I’ll just have to jump on board Amazon Prime (and also order BBC for cable).

    I just ADORE this show. I knew before I started that I was going to love it, and it certainly hasn’t disappointed, but it is so much different that I expected.

    I must say, in my opinion I think you’re missing the mark about not highlighting The Impossible Planet/Satan Pit story arc in Season 2 as that has been one of my favorites of all I have seen. I also don’t have the hate for Love & Monsters that others seem to have, I quite enjoyed it.

    I easily was able to accept the new characters that came into the show although I thought it would be difficult. Martha might be a small exception, but she really came out on her own after “leaving” the Doctor as a full time companion.

    Anywho, just wanted to say thanks for the help in getting started in this amazing journey!

    • Thanks Lucy! Glad the guide has been helpful.

      I like the Impossible Planet/Satan Pit story arc too. I think we were just trying to be find a happy medium – based on input from several Doctor Who fans at the site.

      • Its certainly hard to choose!

  15. I must congratulate you on this excellent guide. Honestly, it has everything I could have hoped to understand and need to get started with Doctor Who. I checked out maybe a dozen links, and this is definitely the mist comprehensive one out there.

    On another note, I’ve enjoyed all the Doctor’s performances. The 9th Doctor doesn’t seem to have been given much credit, but I think he was very good and suited the role well. The writing though, was quite rubbish. Which is probably why people aren’t very fond of the first reboot season.

    Again, thanks!

    • Cheers Kritika! Glad it was helpful – and that you’re enjoying the show!

  16. I love this site. I admin a Doctor Who page, and this is my go-to episode guide.
    However, the name of the last episode of series/season 7 is called The Name of the Doctor, not The Death of River Song. I’m not sure where you got that from. Once you fix that, this page will once again be perfect. :-)

  17. Death of River Song? I thought it was called The Name of The Doctor. Well, looks like that is spoiled for me. Still a great guide. Nice job.

  18. Season 7 episode list says “Death of River Song” but the current confirmed title is “The Name of the Doctor”.

  19. I love your guide! I use it a lot so I know which episodes are two-parts. like one episode is the first half, the next ep is the second. but I thought the episode after the nightmare in silver is called The Name of the Doctor…?

  20. Isn’t 14th episode(technically its 13th) here should be called The name of the Doctor?

  21. laurence fox to replace matt smith as doctor who

    • I have to disagree as the doctor is a TimeLord NOT a time lady.

      • …Except apparently he can switch sexes. Remember Smith’s first appearance when he wonders if he’s a girl because of longer hair?

    • If the Doctor can regenerate willingly, then I think he also ought to be able to willingly re-generate BACK into David Tennant for the final doctor. :)

      You’re right about the “hating” characters at first. I never warmed completely to Matt Smith but the well-written episodes kept me watching and I just kept telling myself who he was really supposed to be inside. :)

  22. I think that the ,,Doctor Who,, is the best series ever and i hope that it will last a long time

  23. I think “The Lodger” deserves to be bold haha It’s one of my favorites!

  24. A complete list? This is simply nu-who.

    • It clearly states in the guide that the list is focused on new Who – for the primary purpose of getting new viewers into the show.

  25. Nice guide, but I wish you wouldn’t mislead readers by using the term “complete”. You’re just covering the most recent 7 seasons. To be complete you need to include all of them. Yes, you do acknowledge with a handwave the first 26 seasons, but in this 50th anniversary year of all times people – especially newbies – need to be reminded about the show’s history.

  26. Excellent guide! Started the 05 series on Amazon Prime just a couple months ago and this really helped me keep track of the episodes so I don’t miss any…since Amazon has the specials listed separately and can be confusing. With that said…so true about taking time for each regenerated Doctor and new companion to grow on you. Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper will always be my first so they have a special place in my heart.

  27. You are obviously right; being used to one Doctor would make the next one unpalatable, at least at first. Curiously enough, though, I first watched a few episodes with the 11th and I thought “meehhh, who knows, maybe he’ll grow on me”, then I watched the whole first (rebooted) season with the 9th, and I went “meehh” again, but he didn’t really grow on me even after the whole season – though I did get used to him, and then he recycled and I thought “here we go”, and the 10th Doctor appeared and there was this heartbeat or two of skepticism and then he said the “hmm, new teeth” bit and that was it: hands down, to me, 10th will be the best and only Doctor! Already dreading the moment when he will go away.

    • It takes more than a few episodes for 11th to grow on you, at least it did for me but I ended up enjoying Matt Smith’s fantasy more than Tennant’s seriousness – found it more in line with the overall tone of the show. Don’t dread 10th’s last moment: it’s quite poignant and a very good double episode.

  28. Great guide!

    Just wanted to point out that the miniseries “Night & the Doctor” is missing in season 6 before “Closing Time”

  29. I started watching Doctor Who recently on Netflix (because it was mentioned so often on the SR Underground). I just finished Season 2. I’m addicted and interested to see how well I take my first companion change. I was fine with David Tennant’s Doctor. He won me over in the Christmas special with his speech and fight at the end of the episode.

    On the list of best episodes, you have #5 being The Girl in the Fireplace…of the episode’s I’ve seen so far, that is my favorite.

    Season 2 upset me though…Fringe ripped off Doctor Who…I loved Fringe’s interesting multiple universe plot, but now, I don’t know what to think. They even took the zeppelin idea…sheesh.

    • The multiverse concept has never been a Doctor Who trademark (the same goes for zeppelins). It’s a generic concept that was used long before and will be long after. It harkens back to Antiquity’s mythical planes of existence like the Christian Heaven and Hell, the Nine Homeworlds of Norse mythology or the innumerable universes of Hinduism. Its modern iteration was theorized by cosmologists and popularized in the 60’s by sci-fi/fantasy authors such as Michael Moorcock.

      • @bfg66 – yes, I know that the multiverse concept has been used in multiple mediums…I never considered mythical realms as part of a multiverse, but I get your case. But in this particle instance, Fringe had the same alternate universe with the zeppelins? That’s a blatant rip-off. (Story-wise, Fringe’s multiverse arc wins…nothing against the Cybermen)

        UPDATE: I’m now midway through series 5. I’m witnessing Matt Smith’s incarnation of the Doctor. The article is correct about the transition period of companions and at least this Doctor. I didn’t mind the shift to David Tennant.

        And I loved Blink. Great episode. The revisit of the Weeping Angels in series 5 is not nearly as poignant…but still a lot of fun to watch.