Doctor Who: Ten Best Episodes of Tenth Doctor – David Tennant
Fifteen years back, Christopher Eccleston re-introduced the famous “Doctor Who” series to the 21st century audience, making them fall in love with it, in just a few episodes. Till date, four actors have played the new incarnation, following him. But, his immediate successor David Tennant was the one who had to face so many challenges, since taking over the role from Eccleston only after just 13 episodes. The scenario was simple – “What? So soon? New Doctor? I am sure he will not be that good. Is this how the entire series will be?”
Did Tennant overcome these challenges? Well, in my opinion (which most people will agree) he did and he became the name of the series, with his successors having a very hard time to fill the Doctor’s shoes that he left behind. In fact, most of (my, if not for all) favorite episodes in the history of “Doctor Who” are from the 3 seasons played by David Tennant.
It’s been years since the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, saved Wilfred Mott from a radiation chamber and triggered his own regeneration, and then we had the youngest Doctor in history, Matt Smiths, and then the spiky, ruthless and pragmatic Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and the current, first ever female Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. But still, Whovians miss the David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor a lot and will probably miss forever. So, here I am with a list of ten best episodes from the Tenth Doctor, for you re-watch during the ongoing COVID-19 related shutdown.
- “Blink” – Season 3 Episode 10
Easily this stands out to be the best ever episode during the Tenth Doctor era, or some might even argue as the best episode in the entire new “Doctor Who” series. It comes as no surprise, what with the best of the best monsters – the Weeping Angels’s inventions, that surely had the Whovians, not blinking.
Oddly, this episode doesn’t feature much of the Doctor, but still the impeccable performance from Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow, contending and defeating the Weeping Angels, which are horrifying statues that can only move when not being observed. Till date, any die-hard Whovian, would surely have this episode in their list of favorites.
- “Doomsday” – Season 2 Episode 13
Goodbyes are always heartbreaking, be it in “Doctor Who,” or any other TV series. And this, which marked the end of Rose Tyler’s (Billie Piper) time with the Tenth Doctor, is one of the most emotionally painful scenes ever in the franchise history. Relationships between the Doctor and the companions has always been amazing, but the connection the Tenth Doctor had with Rose Taylor was just another level, and that being unexpectedly ripped away, not affected the Doctor, but also the Whovians.
Tennant’s performance was extraordinary, which along with Piper’s heart-wrenching breakdown, made this episode one of the unforgettable in the “Doctor Who” history. Especially the scene, when the Doctor and Rose are touching the wall that “separates” them in two different universes, in the aftermath of battle between the Cybermen and Daleks, has forever seared itself in our minds.
- “The Girl in the Fireplace” – Season 2 Episode 4
Combination of historical period pieces with the futuristic space plots, colliding with the past, present and future. Sounds something like a typical “Doctor Who” episode, but what’s really special is that, the Doctor falls in love with the real-life French woman Madame de Pompadour (Sophia Myles), from the 18th-century, and shows up the protect her, for her entire life.
However, this episode isn’t about love, as this visit takes a different turn from the others, when it ends with the traffic note of Doctor entering Pompadour’s time stream seven years after her death. The look on David Tennant’s face, the moment the Doctor realized that Pompadour is really gone and he is too late, made me cry my eyes out. It’s only Tennant, who could make you feel everything that the Doctor feels.
- “Silence in the Library” & “Forest of the Dead” – Season 4 Episodes 8 & 9
If there’s any show that could kill of a character even before you know them, and then go on to develop the character arc and make you fall in love, it’s “Doctor Who.” And of course, the character that I am talking about is the most popular River Song, played by Alex Kingston. The first episode of this two-part story arc, introduces us to River (as well as the Doctor, for the first time), whose sensitive reaction to the Doctor, convinces us that their relationship is highly complex.
And before we know about the said complex relationship, in one of the most momentous moments in “Who” canon – River Song dies, who is later revealed to be the daughter of Amy and Rory Pond, two of Eleventh Doctor’s principal companions. But, as the show progresses and we get to see her character development, with not just the Tenth Doctor but also his successors, this rare moment of her death becomes even more traumatizing, making the episode extremely re-watchable.
- “Midnight” Season 4 Episode 10
Dubbed as one of the “Companion-lite” episodes, which just means the Doctor carries the episode by himself, without the companion, this is one of the best Russell T Davies’s episodes, bringing in a brand new group of characters, who the Whovians will never see again, but still care for them, as the Doctor cares for them.
Tennant’s flawless acting skills made sure the episode stands out by selling the unseen threat, relying heavily on sound. He also managed to bring out a side of the Doctor that Whovians had never seen before, while simultaneously balancing the mission to save the universe and getting the crew members to trust him and calm down. To put it simply, “Midnight” is one great vacation of Tennant’s Tenth Doctor that turned for the worst with a literal unseen danger.
- “The Christmas Invasion” Christmas Special – 2005
It would not do any justice, if we do not mention the first full episode of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor of the franchise. This 2005 Christmas Special till date remains my favorite, which is an entirely thrilling episode packed with many firsts of the franchise (and also because it’s the time Tennant’s time on “Doctor Who” started.)
The entire episode revolves around Rose Tyler leading the defense against the invasion of a new alien species known as Sycorax, while The Doctor spending most of the Christmas Special regenerating. But, the moment Tennant’s Tenth Doctor opens the TARDIS and asks with a knowing smile “Did you miss me?” was of course one for a great applaud. Not to forget his dealing with the Prime Minister Harriet Jones – “Don’t challenge me, Harriet Jones because I am a completely new man. I could bring down your government with a single word,” Tennant absolutely stole the show, distinguishing the Tenth Doctor from all the others.
- “School Reunion” – Season 2 Episode 3
One of the qualities of “Doctor Who” that makes the series standout is how the fans of the original series are now watching it with their kids and make them the fans too. And this episode is especially for those parents, as it brought back the most beloved companion from the original “Doctor Who” in the 70s – Elizabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith.
The way Rose Taylor and Sarah Jane bond over how inept the Doctor can be, was something really incredible to watch. Rose realizing that she is not the only companion in Doctor’s life, and the jarring reminder that although Doctor is not human, he still feels pain and love and loss. And at the end of the day, when companions come and go, it’s always the Doctor who suffers the most loss, that too over and over again. Tennant’s portrayal of the Doctor’s internal devastation, but the quick flip back to happy-go-lucky Time Lord, was one of the strongest performances ever.
- “The Stolen Earth” & “Journey’s End” Season 4 Episodes 12 & 13
Regenerations are pretty much a very common event when it comes to “Doctor Who.” But, the Doctor regenerating into the same incarnation was something very special. While Season 4 was the last season for Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, and the “Journey’s End” was the finale episode, he did not regenerate into Matt Smith, which happened nearly a year later in “The End of Time.”
The Doctor and Donna are battling the Daleks, one of the most iconic enemies in the Whoniverse, in “The Stolen Earth,” a crossover episode between “Doctor Who” and the spinoffs “Torchwood” and “The Sarah Jane Adventures.” The tragic end of Donna in the second episode of the two-part arc, is one of the most disturbing companion departures in the history of the franchise, as her memory of the Doctor must be removed. The raw emotion of the Doctor’s pain and loneliness after this incident was excellently conveyed by Tennant, leaving the Whovians speechless.
- “Human Nature” & “The Family of Blood” Season 3 Episodes 8 & 9
This two-part arc really changed things up for true Whovians, who did not know which part of the Doctor to root for, the semi-immortal Doctor or the human Doctor. And Tennant’s ability to go and forth between both the characters was just astounding. But the most memorable scene from these two episodes is when the Doctor as a human must choose to become the Doctor again, killing himself, and leaving the love of his life behind.
In my opinion, it’s Martha (Freema Agyeman) who was the hero of these two episodes, as the Time Lord had his full trust on her, before becoming a human – John Smith, a teacher in the 1913, who has no memory of his life as the Doctor. Her words, “He’s just everything to me, and he doesn’t even look at me, but I don’t care, because I love him to bits,” makes you feel how devastated she really was.
- “The Day of the Doctor” – 50th Anniversary Special
Although this is not a Tennant adventure from his “Doctor Who” period, “The Day of the Doctor” was one extraordinary episode featuring not just our beloved David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, but Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, and legendary turn from John Hurt as the “War Doctor.”
Aired as the special episode celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who,” “The Day of the Doctor” brought in the Doctors of the past and present, on the last day of the Time War with a game-changing plot. The very first meeting of the two fan-favorite Doctors – Tennant and Smith will always go down in the “Doctor Who” history as one of the most memorable episodes.
Some of these episodes were remarkable just with the performance from David Tennant, while some episodes, with very less time of Tennant, stood the test of time to become a favorite. No matter what the case is, David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor is arguably the best, marking a high point in the show’s history, which is yet to be matched.
Is there any other episode that you think should be in this list? If so, please let us know in the comments, like a true Whovian, who would surely speak his mind out.