Happy 13th Birthday, New Doctor Who!

Thirteen years ago today, and in spite of those who said it couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be done, Doctor Who finally returned to our screens. And as a nice little gift, the BBC created a playlist of some of the most memorable moments from the past thirteen years. And being a Doctor Who fan, I naturally disagreed with some of their choices (not to mention how unevenly distributed they were between eras) and decided to make my own. As I was doing this, however, I will admit that even though I had my thirteen choices clearly in my head, the more suggested videos that popped up, the more my judgement became clouded. In fact I would wager that if you ask me about it this time tomorrow, I will give you a completely different list.

Still, never mind. In the spirit of celebration, here are my thirteen most memorable moments of Doctor Who, from 2005 onwards.

This first one is a pretty obvious choice. If ‘Rose’ hadn’t worked so well as a reintroduction to Doctor Who, the series might never have worked. We owe a lot to this fantastic (and very, very dated looking) story.

This is my first deviation from the BBC’s playlist. I would argue that the reintroduction of the Daleks was a pretty important moment. Yes, they are pretty overused anymore, but this story gave us a lot of characterization for the Ninth Doctor, Rose, and, weirdly, the Daleks. Well, one Dalek, anyway. Besides, what Classic Doctor Who fan hadn’t been waiting for them to pop up again?

This is one of my favorite speeches in all of Doctor Who, and it’s actually Rose that says it. Her speech in ‘The Parting of the Ways’ sums up what, for me, Doctor Who has always been about. It also feels rather timely right now, so it had to make the list.

I distinctly remember this moment from ‘School Reunion’ above all others because it was the first time the show actually gave me chills. It’s something about the direction (and music) in this incredible scene, when Sarah Jane sees the TARDIS and then the Doctor is standing behind her and she realizes. And the way Elisabeth Sladen played it…honestly I still cry every time I watch it. It all works beautifully and this is, hands down, my favorite moment of the entire Tennant era.

Much like the Daleks, you can’t have the Doctor without the Master. Derek Jacobi (who also played the Master in ‘Scream of the Shalka’) beautifully plays this moment–bonus points for the addition of Roger Delgado’s voice in the background.

Okay, yes, I know, this story is largely terrible. I don’t deny it! What I will say, however, is that I think this moment is incredibly important for the Tenth Doctor’s character. Yes, he has sort of unwittingly turned all of his friends into weapons, but as he later says, his friends have always been the best of him. And flawed though it may be, this moment shows us both sides of that particular coin.

I’m going to be honest now and say that I found it incredibly difficult to whittle down the entire Smith and Capaldi eras into just three choices each. So I had to go with my knee-jerk reactions on what was most memorable. And when I think of the Eleventh Doctor, I automatically think of Amy and Rory as well (as is right and proper). And there probably isn’t a more iconic moment to sum up what that relationship meant to the Doctor and to the rest of us.

Though it did have its problems, one of the defining moments of the Smith era had to be the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who itself. And as there’s no better way to have a Doctor Who party than with all the Doctors at once, this scene was as close as we managed to get to that. And even though it wasn’t what some of us had hoped for exactly, I still remember the way I felt when I saw it for the first time and that is reason enough for it to be on my list.

Yes, this is another ‘Day of the Doctor’ moment. Say what you want, but you won’t convince me that this wasn’t a massively important moment for Doctor Who. Getting Tom Baker in this one scene is obviously a huge nod to the past, but the entire conversation is about looking forward. It’s about hope. The idea that Gallifrey could still be out there puts the light back in the Eleventh Doctor’s eyes when he needed it most. For both Doctors, I think it’s a truly wonderful moment.

I felt this moment was overlooked even when it aired. Granted, there’s quite a lot going on in ‘The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar’, but I was certainly ready to throw all the awards at Davros for his performance (and Julian Bleach, obviously). I was on the edge of my seat despite knowing the inevitable betrayal was coming, therefore, it goes on the list.

I think this is pretty much considered the Twelfth Doctor’s defining speech, or one of them anyway, and rightly so. Peter Capaldi plays this beautifully and with so much passion and it just does everything it needs to. If only the people who really need to hear this would listen.

I almost feel guilty putting another Twelfth Doctor speech on the list because I feel in a way that I’ve done a disservice to the Capaldi era by not including some of his many brilliant and hilarious lighthearted moments. But this scene is SO IMPORTANT because it does loads of good things. Not only does it sum up the Doctor’s character so succinctly, it also does the same for two VERY different incarnations of the Master. When you stop and really think about it, the fact that we’re getting moments like these for characters that have been around for so many decades, that’s pretty amazing.

I’m not sure many people would leave this one off their lists at the moment. Not only for Capaldi’s brilliant exit, but also for the dawn of a whole new era of Doctor Who that’s yet to come. What could be more appropriate to close a 13th anniversary list than with the 13th Doctor herself? I absolutely cannot wait to meet her.


BONUS:

Okay, I wanted to include this but didn’t really know where to put it or if it technically even qualified. It’s kind of New Who but it also kind of isn’t. If I was ranking them by ‘most suprising’, this would easily have gone at the top of the list. You’re right, Doctor. I was definitely NOT expecting you!

 

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