#5 The Lazarus Experiment by Stephen Greenhorn
Things That Are Not Completely Awful About This Episode: Ten in a tux! Martha's dress is pretty. And I like the way Martha stands up for herself at the end of the episode, insisting that she be given a proper spot on the Tardis. Also, I like the mention of Southwark Cathedral (even if the episode wasn't actually filmed there) because that's near where I used to live in London!
Why This Episode Is On the List: This is probably the one episode on the list that is going to surprise people. While this episode might not be at the top of people's favorite lists, it's also not often one that gets singled out for being bad, but idk. I JUST REALLY DISLIKE THIS EPISODE.
Firstly, Francine is AWFUL in this episode. Like, wtf Francine? Jackie had good reason to slap the Doctor. HE'D TAKEN HER DAUGHTER AWAY FROM HER FOR A YEAR AND JACKIE THOUGHT ROSE WAS DEAD. You're just angry because... you haven't been able to get in contact with Martha for like a day? And you think he might be distracting her from her work? GET A GRIP.
Then you have Lazarus the creeper, and TISH GOING FOR HIM. GIIRLLL... LOOK AT YOUR LIFE, LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES. And the CG for the Lazarus monster is laughably bad. And really the plot of a older person wanting to find eternal youth backfiring is just not new or interesting.
But really I dislike this episode because I think the pacing is atrocious. You get all the action in the science lab and you think everything is over. Everyone is gathered outside and there is a sense of closure, but JK! HE IS MUTATING AGAIN! TIME FOR ANOTHER CHASE SCENE! THIS TIME IN A CATHEDRAL. I know this is a stupid reason to hate an episode, but idk. It just feels like some really awkward writing and it annoys me every time I watch it.
#4 A Good Man Goes to War by Steven Moffat
Things That Are Not Completely Awful About This Episode: Rory being sweet with his baby! (Lol. Too bad it later turns out that it is a fake, but the sentiment is nice.) Amy and Rory actually appear to give a shit about their baby. Savor this. It won't last long.
Why This Episode Is On the List: This episode is trying to do WAY too much in too short a time. The Rory and Doctor shenanigans opening, the rounding up of all the Doctor's BFFs who we've never met before, that random soldier who met the Doctor as a kid and embroidered the leaf for Melody, trying to cram in some backstory for the Silence, saving Amy, the battle, the River reveal. There's a lot happening and it's all crammed into one episode and everything feels like it's only given a cursory scene before moving on to the next thing.
There's also the fact that this is supposed to be the Doctor's ~Darkest Moment~ and his ~Biggest Fall~ or whatever. BULLSHIT. We've seen bigger defeats and darker moments. Also, for the rest of series 6 nobody seems all that bothered by it (especially compared to how the Doctor reacts in series 3 to the loss of Rose), so you'll have to excuse me if it's hard for me to believe that the Doctor views losing his best friends' baby as that big of a deal.
Speaking of the Doctor's ~Darkest Moment~, it's funny that even though the River we see here is probably one of the oldest Rivers we've ever seen (aka the Library is probably not that far off), River chews the Doctor out for the EXACT same thing she praises him for in the Library episodes. UM. OK THEN. Character continuity? WHAT IS THAT?
But of course the main reason this episode is awful is the reveal that River is Amy and Rory's baby. LOLLLLL WORST PLOT EVERRRRR. I mean, it was obvious from the opening two parter, but this was the ~big reveal~. Moffat really dug himself into a hole with River's story. People already figured that River was the Doctor's wife, but he'd built up her mystery SO much that just about any reveal was going to be a let down compared to the build up. So he made her Amy and Rory's baby and also part Time Lord, but it's still just dumb. Sorry, River, your story is awful.
#3 The Girl in the Fireplace by Steven Moffat
Things That Are Not Completely Terrible About This Episode: It is very visually striking with the way that 18th century France is smushed up against a 51st century space ship. Sophia Myles is pretty.
Why This Episode Is On the List: WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE AND WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH TEN, ROSE AND MICKEY? The number one reason this episode is terrible is that it is horrifically out of character. I mean, the plot isn't that ~amazing~, but it'd probably be a perfectly acceptable episode if it took place in series 5 between Vampires of Venice and Amy's Choice and featured Eleven, Amy and Rory. But alas, that is not the case, so we get these characters acting completely out of character. At the end of the previous episode, Rose was a bit put out by Mickey joining Team Tardis, but at the beginning of this episode (which seemingly follows minutes after the last episode) Rose is totally cool with it. And the Doctor who was always so keen to take Rose with him on various adventures, just leaves her behind on the spaceship while he goes to 18th century France. It just doesn't make sense.
Rose's characterization in this episode is so bad, so when people say that this is the only episode they liked her in series two, I give them some major side eye. I love Rose to death, but she does have a tendency towards jealousy (as does the Doctor: see his behavior towards Adam, Mickey and Jack) as seen with how she reacted to Sarah Jane and her snide comment about Lucy in the Cyberman two-parter. However, in this episode, Rose is the long suffering girlfriend (see the "we're not keeping the horse" line) who stays at home while the Doctor goes out and has fun, invents banana daiquiris, and dances with and falls in love with another woman. Rose in this episode just does not fit in with Rose in the rest of series 2, a woman who is in love with the Doctor and who wants to stay with him and sometimes can be a bit jealous.
Speaking of Reinette, I think the ~mind meld~ leading to instant love is the epitome of lazy writing. Why bother having your characters converse and actually connect with each other in a way the audience can see when you can just hand wave it all away with a psychic connection. It's also really frustrating that the text keeps TELLING us how awesome Reinette was and all the things she did, but within the story she really only functions as a romantic object, save for maybe that one scene where she tries to keep everyone calm.
And of course this has the ~fun~ Moffat trope of a woman being obsessed with the Doctor as a child and then having romantic feelings for him as an adult. This is especially squicky because from the Doctor's POV, Reinette was a kid like 5 minutes ago and then all of a sudden he's making out with her. Ew.
#2 The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon by Steven Moffat
Things That Are Not Completely Awful About This Episode: The scenery! Being American, I might be biased, but I happen to think that American scenery is gorgeous, so I am quite fond of that. Rory in his 60s suit and glasses is super attractive.
Why This Episode Is On the List: So many reasons. When I first saw these episodes, I had hope. I mean, I still had some major issues with aspects of the plot, but I hoped that this would all make sense and tie together neatly by the end of the series. HAHAHAHAHA. NO.
Why were the Silence in 1969 in the first place? No really. WHAT WAS THE POINT? And why did they need to manipulate humanity developing technology to go to the moon? From what we saw of the Silence in A Good Man Goes To War (which for them takes place before the events of these episodes) their technology was way beyond mid-20th century Earth technology. SO WHY ALL THE MANIPULATION TO BUILD THE SPACE SUIT AND GO TO THE MOON? I don’t get it. Also, why did they program their suit to automatically call the highest authority? That seems really dumb for a suit they were building for their assassin.
Knowing what we know now about Melody’s life, those pictures on the dresser in her room in the children’s home make no sense. Why did Amy happily pose for a picture (presumably taken by the people who kidnapped her and were holding her prisoner) with her baby? And I guess it’s sweet that the Silence apparently took Melody on vacations? An essential part of turning her into a psychopath assassin is going to the beach and stuff?
Speaking of Melody, River is apparently the world’s greatest actress. Considering that for her, these events take place AFTER the events of The Wedding of River Song, unless she completely forgot all of her childhood and her wedding to the Doctor and all that, SHE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON. She should know what the space suit is for, and thus is just playing dumb due to time loops forcing these characters to act OOC in order to follow the script laid out before them by the plot. She’s already in prison for fake killing the Doctor, so that definitely happened. She knows the Doctor isn’t dead, so I guess she should be nominated for an Academy Award for her acting in the lake scene. The first time I watched it, it was quite sad, but now I know River is just faking, so whatever, I guess. I really am sick to death of the "wibley wobbley timey wimey" nonsense.
Speaking of the lake scene, the Doctor is an asshole. He made his friends believe he was dead and let them grieve him because he didn’t want to fake die alone? WHAT A DOUCHE. He could easily have left notes for his younger self, the Ponds and River to meet at some place and then go to 1969 and look for Canton or whatever and then left a note for Canton to burn the body at the lake. He didn’t need to put them through that emotional trauma. But Moffat was really determined to make us believe that the Doctor was totally for realsies dead, so I guess he needed the companions to believe he was dead to amp up the sadness, so I guess it makes sense from a Doylist perspective. But from a Watsonian perspective, the Doctor is an ass.
I still can’t get over how the script glosses over the fact that the Doctor brainwashed humanity to kill all Silence that they meet on sight. I get that the Silence are the Bad Guys. I’m not saying that they’re sparkly and innocent. BUT from what we actually see of them in these episodes, one of them killed a lady (definitely not good) and… encouraged humans to go to space? Genocide seems like a BIT of an overreaction. The script just didn’t do a good job of convincing me that genocide was an appropriate response and the only solution, let alone something that I should be cheering for (which the triumphant music was clearly indicating). I also understand that the net effect was make the Silence stay away from humans and not necessarily a slaughter, but it still rubs me the wrong way. The Silence brainwashes humanity to go into space. The Doctor brainwashes humanity to kill people. Who is the bad guy, again?
Also, what the fuck is up with the Doctor not caring about the little girl that (last he knows) is alone, lost and scared. This is an actual quote from the end of the episode: “So, this little girl, it’s all about her. Who was she? Or we could just go off and have some adventures. Anyone in the mood for adventures? I am. You only live once.” WHAT. Just WHAT. I feel like this is even worse in light of the fact that we know this is Melody (aka River), Amy and Rory’s child. I mean, obviously the Doctor does not know that yet, but even without that knowledge that is just incredibly cold. Lost and scared little girl? Should I help her? NOPE LET’S LEAVE HER TO SURVIVE ON HER OWN! I WANT TO HAVE ADVENTURES! This is a prime example of why time loops are terrible. From the Doylist POV, the Doctor can’t go after the girl because then that will screw up the whole “little girl has to become Mels who has to become River to kill the Doctor”, but in order to get to that plot point, the Doctor has to act wildly out of character and not give a shit about an abandoned child when in "The Beast Below" he couldn't bear to hear a child cry. WHAT IS THIS CHARACTER CONTINUITY THING?
#1 Let’s Kill Hitler by Steven Moffat
Things That Are Not Completely Awful About This Episode: Uh... Driving a car through a corn field to write the word "Doctor" to get his attention is pretty cool.
Why This Episode Is On the List: EVERYTING ABOUT THIS EPISODE IS SO TERRIBLE. So what was Eleven doing while his best friends were stuck at home, knowing their baby had been kidnapped by a crazy military/religious organization? Was he actually looking for Melody or just going shopping? The Doctor's shiny new coat points to a trip to Oxford Street. Sorry Melody, the Doctor needed a new coat! Hope you're cool with being brainwashed to become a psychopath! You understand, right? And really even Amy and Rory don't seem all that bothered. They've been chilling at home for who knows how long before they pull the crop circle stunt. I would have been sick with worry if I were them. I just cannot with the lack of emotional realism. Also, if the Ponds HADN'T done the crop circle stunt, when would the Doctor have bothered to show up again. Also, HE HAS A TIME MACHINE. He could have spent years searching for Melody and still shown up at the Ponds doorstep the second after they were dropped off in Leadworth.
What was even the point of including Hitler? Honestly, if you're doing a time travel story dealing with Hitler, take it seriously or don't do it at all. Punching Hitler and putting him in a cabinet does not count. It seems to be that the only reason Hitler was included in the episode was so that the Tessalecta could be like "OMG RIVER SONG. SHE IS EVEN WORSE THAN HITLER!" which, I'm sorry. That is horribly offensive. Hitler was a real person and people who survived the horrors of his regime are still alive today as well as descendents of those who DIDN'T make it out alive, so could we not act like this fictional character whose major crime is (fake) killing the Doctor is ~worse than Hitler~? Thanks.
Speaking of River, another annoying thing about this episode is the fact that Mels had to be retconned into the story. Oh she just doesn't ~do~ weddings which is why she wasn't at her best friends' wedding. Mels doesn't seem like a great friend, tbh.
It's also really silly how quickly River gets over years of military brainwashing. Whatever, show. Oh and River also gives up all her regenerations for the Doctor because idk. River's life just doesn't revolve around the Doctor enough. So she had to have been conceived on his Tardis, raised to assassinate him, fall in love with him, give up her regenerations for him, become an archeologist so she can find him, convince him to marry her, and then later die for him. EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SERIES 6 RIVER SONG PLOT IS TERRIBLE.
And of course this episode has some of Moffat's ~fun~ sexism what with River needing to check her weight after she regenerates (because all women are super worried about their weight!). Yes, I know that the Doctor checks out his physical features when he regenerates, but he's never been specifically concerned about his weight. There's also that ~hilarious~ comment about how a minute ago River wanted to marry the Doctor and now she wants to kill him. Oh those women! So fickle!
EPISODES THAT ARE NOTABLY ABSENT FROM THIS LIST: The Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks. Idk. Maybe I am easily swayed by a musical number. Maybe it's just because I really like all the supporting characters of Frank, Solomon, Lazlo and the flawless Tallulah. Maybe I am dazzled by Andrew Garfield's good looks. Maybe I just really like angsty Ten, but penis faced Dalek aside, I actually like these episodes!
Love & Monsters. I legitimately like the first ~35 minutes of these episodes. It does a good job of looking at what happens to those the Doctor leaves behind with both Jackie and Elton. And it's also a really cute take on fandom. LINDA meets together because they share a mutual interest in the Doctor and then they start creating fanworks about him. And then they start to get invested in each other's lives and care each other as people. Idk. It's a sweet take on fan culture. Unfortunately the Asorbaloth stuff and the blow job joke at the end is awful, so this will never be one of my favorite episodes, but I can't list it as a Worst Episode just because I do think the first ~35 minutes are quite good.