Love and Monsters: The 10 most romantic Doctor Who episodes (NS)

14 Feb

It’s Valentine’s day! So what better thing to do then post an article that finds a way to relate the subject of love to Doctor Who?

Don’t fancy celebrating in the conventional way? Or perhaps looking for something to watch with someone special? You need look no further, dear reader,  than these episodes of everybody’s favourite time-travelling show. Below are my choices, for the 10 best love stories the revived show has given us so far:

10. The Doctor’s Wife

The Doctor's Wife

Ok, so this one might seem like an odd choice at first, but think about it: the Doctor and Sexy (the TARDIS, obviously), the only consistent companions throughout the show’s entire history. If that isn’t a love story, than I don’t know what is. Neil Gaiman’s episode is quite frankly just too good not to include on this list. Scenes in particular where the Doctor and his time machine argue like a married couple, or are zooming off together to save Amy and Rory, just perfectly illustrate the relationship they share. A love letter to the show’s other main character, the TARDIS,  and a delight from start to finish.

9. Love & Monsters

Love and Monsters

Love & Monsters! Remember that hidden gem in Series 2? It featured the lovely Elton and Ursula and the rest of Linda! Point in case, this story is all about how ordinary life (without the Doctor) can be a thing worth having as well, and featured a heart-warming romance sub-plot too. While Peter Kay (as the Abzorbaloff) can be a bit testing at times, this really is a rather good episode that is often overlooked. Try out Love & Monsters for a different kind of Who experience on Valentine’s day.

8. Amy’s Choice

Amy's Choice

You will of course remember this episode as the story in which the Dreamlord, played chillingly by Toby Jones, was to make his first (and hopefully not last) appearance. It was, though, also the episode where Amy finally realises that she couldn’t live without Rory. This episode is filled with brilliant moments, and the whole thing is particularly well written (kudos – and a plea to Steven Moffat to give another episode commission – to Simon Nye). We get to see another angle of our nine-hundred year old hero and some revealing observations about his travelling habits, not to mention a sterling performance from all of the cast (watch out for Audrey Ardington, who plays Mrs Poggit, the actor who played the Abbess in The Sarah Jane Adventures). Most importantly though; Amy makes a choice and she chooses Rory; a triumph for true love. Good show, Pond!

7. The Lodger

The Lodger

Probably two of the most endearing characters to ever grace Who, Craig (James Corden) and Sophie (Daisy Haggard) are hopelessly in love with one another but can’t seem to find the right moment to say it. Suddenly though, one day, the Doctor turns up and everything begins to change. This episode is masterfully written by Gareth Roberts (who wrote the follow up story in Season 6, Closing Time, and also the new novelization of Shada) and Smith and Corden have a chemistry that is just delightful to watch on screen. Being such a brilliant episode, it also became the subject of Chameleon Circuit song “Kiss the Girl” mentioned in a previous review of mine. The Lodger was the “budget” episode of Series 5 (like an excellent Series 4 episode I remember: *cough* Midnight *cough*), replacing the overly expensive The Doctor’s Wife, (yes) that one I just wrote about above here, yet still manages to meet all the expectations of a normal episode – and beat them. This is a classic love story with a lovely ending and a great cast – a must watch for any Valentine’s viewer.

6. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

The boy who waited

Perhaps one of the most epic love stories DW has ever offered us, came under the banner of a much bigger story. The Doctor had to reboot the universe and wipe himself from existence to ensure it would work; you pretty much can’t get bigger than that. So yeah, you could say that there was other stuff going on. However, alongside all that, Rory Williams – who has now earned himself the awesome title of “the Lone Centurion” – waited for 2000 years, guarding Amy while she slept in the Pandorica. 2000 years. How romantic is that? For the ultimate moment of love-related dialogue in this episode, and one of Mr. Williams’ finest moments, click here. This is a master class in grand storytelling from Steven Moffat and a worthy no.6 on your list of Valentine’s stop-offs.

5. Human Nature/The Family of Blood

Human Nature

It’s 1913, in pre-WW1 England, and school teacher John Smith is having wonderful dreams: As his alter-ego, “The Doctor”, he travels through time and space in a blue box and witnesses impossible things. However, this being Doctor Who, his dreams turn out to be real. Taking on the ultimate form of camouflage, re-writing his own DNA to become human with a device called the “Chameleon Arch”,  the nation’s favourite Timelord goes into hiding from his pursuers, the Family of Blood, at Farringham School for boys. Leaving companion Martha Jones a list of things to watch out for while the “real” him is gone, he forgets one thing; love. John Smith is forced to cope with the realization he has to give up everything, so that the mysterious Doctor can take his place again… at the cost of his own love life with Joan Redfern (who is played, pitch-perfect, by Jessica Hynes). Paul Cornell (who, by the way, should also get another episode, or two), delivers a truly touching piece of drama that notably adds to the “lonely god” image that was a running theme throughout David Tennant’s time as the Doctor, but contrasts this beautifully with the completely unimportant, ordinary and humble character of John Smith.  This is a stirring love story, albeit with a sad conclusion, unparalleled in Doctor Who and definitely worth a watch.

4. The Girl Who Waited

The Girl Who Waited

After watching Karen Gillan in this episode, it is awe-inspiring to see how far her portrayal of Amy Pond has come. Gillan has never been better as young and old versions of Amy meet, and Rory shows his ultimate love for both to be timeless, in this brilliant Series 6 episode. Torn apart in different time-streams where Amy ages faster than her travelling companions, Amy is forced to wait for more than three decades alone while Rory and the Doctor try to save her. What unfolds is a brilliant re-telling of the feelings that hold the couple together, and affirmation that Rory Williams, played perfectly (as always) by Arthur Darvill, is one of the best new characters to come from the Matt Smith years.

3. The Girl in the Fireplace

The Girl in the Fireplace

In what regular readers will know is one of my favourite episodes, comes the most tragic of love stories in Doctor Who to date. The Doctor finds his soul-mate, in the form of the famous 18th century French mistress Madame De Pompadour. They see each other for who they really are, and in the end are tragically torn apart. Sophia Myles is stunningly good as the French King Louis XV’s mistress and her scenes with Tennant are simply enthralling. After watching this episode you wish, more than anything, that the laws of time would break so that Myles could join the permanent cast forever. No seriously, forever. But then it wouldn’t be as poignant, would it? Another cracker by current head-honcho of Who, Steven Moffat. If you’re interested in finding out more about this story, see my earlier Blueshift post here. Anybody spending Valentines watching Who, watch this.

2. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead

Silence in The Library

It was close, but in second comes the episode which began the greatest story never told.  River Song, the show’s biggest enigma besides the leading character himself, makes her outstanding first appearance (played by the marvellous Alex Kingston) in this two-parter and begins a legendary tale that will span 3 series and beyond. Though their story begins tragically, we can be assured that we’ve still got plenty of wonderful things to see the Doctor and River do in the future, and that makes her sacrifice (and realisation that he must have known she’d die there the entire time he’d known her) that much more inspiring: River gives up her life, so that the Doctor can experience the one he’s yet to have with her, and tells him she wouldn’t want to change a single thing. Stunning, romantic and captivating; you won’t see many better episodes of Doctor Who that hit this standard of story telling. Bravo Moffo (and please, please, please let us see the Singing Towers of Darillium one day).

1. Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

Army of Ghosts

At number one, you guessed it, is a true heavyweight of all the episodes in the RTD era. It was a dark day for all fans of the new series when the episodes we’d been dreading for an entire season came to fruition.  Not dreading because they were bad, but because it signalled the departure of Rose Tyler and, by extension, an end to one of the best love stories ever told on television. Russell T Davies takes the viewer through a roller-coaster of emotions and finally delivers Rose’s last bow with grace and emotion. Without a chance for proper goodbyes, Rose is wrenched, quite literally, from the Doctor’s reach and trapped behind the most unbreakable (except that one time) barrier imaginable just, heartbreakingly, before he gets the chance to say those three words. Be warned, if you’re prone to getting into the moment when it comes to film and television, the ending to this episode will have you in tears. RTD takes the crown for best romantic writer in Doctor Who in my books – and episodes like this are precisely why.

So there you have it! I hope you’ve found this post interesting. I’d love to hear some opinions about whether you think I got the list right (or not), so please like this post or comment below.

Thanks for reading, and happy Valentine’s day!

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4 Responses to “Love and Monsters: The 10 most romantic Doctor Who episodes (NS)”

  1. bbaz28728 February 14, 2012 at 15:04 #

    Reblogged this on beddyburc.

  2. musingsofananglophile February 23, 2012 at 20:14 #

    Reblogged this on Musings of an Anglophile and commented:
    BRILLIANT post.

  3. bernadetterowley June 9, 2012 at 04:44 #

    I enjoyed the post. I believe there are too many episodes with Matt Smith in the list. I have to say though it is a hard task to name only 10. I did have tears last night watching a re run of your number 1 most romantic as the Doctor again failed to tell Rose he loved her.

    • gravityshmavity June 13, 2012 at 11:04 #

      Thanks for your feedback! I can see where you’re coming from – it probably would have been a better list if some Eccleston episodes were included too, but I didn’t feel any of his episodes were particularly “romantic” in tone – but some (ie the end of the Parting of the Ways, the basement moment in the Unquiet Dead and the end of The End of the World to name but a few) do have some scenes that fitted my criteria. I think the Smith-bias is probably more to do with his stories having a couple onboard – which tends to lend a romantic helping hand more often.

      If I did it again, I’d include some classic episodes – but I decided to do just nu-Who eps as I feel the modern series have included more “human” moments and made more effort to relate to the average person watching at home – a quality I feel is not as common in the Classic series, even though they are just as brilliant.
      It is an incredibly well-written scene. RTD tops it for me out of all the writers when it comes to emotional moments – and characterisation.

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