What's the best episode of Doctor Who season 11? This was a historic season, with a new showrunner - Chris Chibnall - and the first ever female Doctor. Jodie Whittaker's already proved herself to be a great Doctor, with a whimsical air that's reminiscent of the best Patrick Troughton episodes, and has been back up by a tremendously strong supporting cast, including Bradley Walsh as Graham, who's become probably the most three-dimensional and well-developed companion in Doctor Who history.
Most impressively, Doctor Who season 11 has maintained a consistent level of quality over its 10-episode run. Indeed, none of the episodes are particularly weak; something that's actually quite rare for an entire season of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, it also doesn't have many instant classics either. This was a serviceable first season for Chibnall and Whittaker, and it was definitely effective, but not many episodes are likely to be talked about in the same sentence as "Blink" or "Heaven Sent". Meanwhile, the lack of compelling villains has damaged the effectiveness of several stories; most of the villains in Doctor Who season 11 are intended as mirrors on an aspect of human nature, an approach that works well but would have been better used intermittently.
Now the show is over for 2018 (with only a New Year's Day special in 2019), it's the perfect time to cast our eyes back over every episode and rank them from worst to best. What worked, and what didn't, in Doctor Who season 11? Let's talk a run through Jodie Whittaker's first season.
10. The Tsuranga Conundrum
One of the weaker episodes of Doctor Who season 11, "The Tsuranga Conundrum" drew on classic sci-fi tropes - but not in an entirely convincing way. In thematic terms, this is essentially a "base-under-siege" episode, with the Doctor and her friends attempting to ensure a monstrous creature known as the Pting doesn't destroy their spaceship. Unfortunately, all sense of drama is lost when the Pting finally appears on the screen, it's frankly not particularly threatening.
9. The Witchfinders
A traditional historical adventure, "The Witchfinders" opens with the Doctor intervening in a witch trial, and things just go from bad to worse for the Time Lord from there. Soon she's discovered an ancient alien threat lurking beneath Pendle Hill in Lancashire, attempting to escape its prison and conquer the planet. Alan Cumming is a classic guest-star as King James, even if the monarch's presence at Pendle Hill is absolutely inexplicable in plot terms; it's simply impossible to imagine a scenario in which the King would be wandering across the country, with only a single guard at his side. What's more, his disguise - a metal mask - is more likely to draw attention than to avoid it. This particular plot twist takes suspension of disbelief beyond the breaking point for even Doctor Who.
8. The Ghost Monument
The second episode of Doctor Who season 11 was really all about the TARDIS; the Doctor's quest to recover her beloved vessel left her and her friends stranded on the doomed world of Desolation. There, they wound up caught in a deadly game of survival, where the contestants battled against the nightmarish environment in the hope of acquiring incredible wealth. The episode was seriously atmospheric, with the real villain being selfishness and greed; victory came from the Doctor encouraging everyone to work together. Unfortunately, "The Ghost Monument" is a somewhat flawed episode. No explanation is ever provided as to why the Doctor's regeneration was so destructive this time, nor why the TARDIS wound up out of phase on Desolation for millennia. A tease of the "Timeless Child", expected to tie into a season-wide arc, was also left unanswered.
7. Demons of the Punjab
A strong character-focused historical adventure, "Demons of the Punjab" felt a little too similar - both structurally and thematically - to an earlier season 11 episode, "Rosa." As is common in the new Doctor Who, it introduced a brand new alien race of apparent villains, only to turn the plot upside-down; it turned out the Thijarians had long since given up their warlike ways, and were instead traveling through time and space bearing witness to the deaths of those whose deaths history barely even noticed. It was good to have an episode focused in upon Yaz, even if it wasn't the strongest.
6. The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
"The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos" feels more like a standard episode than a big Doctor Who season finale. The Stenza were introduced back in "The Woman Who Fell To Earth" and were referenced as background threats in "The Ghost Monument." Season 11 had forgotten them since those first two episodes, however, and as a result their return was anticlimatic. Tzim-Sha - or "Tim Shaw," as the Doctor insisted on calling him - has turned into a full-on megalomaniac in the 3,000+ years since he crossed paths with the Doctor and her friends. He's now attempting to avenge the Stenza be destroying all worlds that ever dared to frustrate or oppose them. In theory, this episode should be a lot stronger than it is; it certainly has the right stakes, with Tim Shaw even attempting to destroy the planet Earth. But the pieces don't quite come together well enough. "The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos" probably had the potential to be a classic, but it's not realized.