With Steven Moffat one episode away from stepping down as head writer of Doctor Who, let’s countdown his best episodes of his 12 years with the show.
10. Girl in the Fireplace
Moffat’s second episode of the show, and his first with David Tennent’s 10th Doctor. In what would become Moffat’s typical “timey wimey” style, Girl in the Fireplace has an ambitious premise and many of the quirks he would use as the showrunner: a fairy tale tone, the Doctor being an intrinsic part of a little girls life, and some old-fashioned a plot that celebrates the show’s talent of producing big ideas on a small budget.
9. The Eleventh Hour
Moffat’s first episode as showrunner was also Matt Smith’s first full appearance as the Doctor. With a planet-wide threat, a new Doctor, and new assistants to introduce, Moffat and Smith pull the job off with confidence, ease, and a cool new bowtie.
8. Silence in the Library/Forrest of the Dead
The last episode Moffat wrote in the T Davis era is a brilliant two-parter that also sows the seeds for his own tenure: mainly the introduction of River Song. The plot is pure Moffat as the Doctor, Donna, and River must literally try to battle the dark, or the creatures that liver in it, in the biggest library in the universe.
7. Time of Angles/ Flesh and Stone
This two-part story see’s the 11th Doctor’s first team-up with River as, along with Amy, they take on an army of Moffat’s deadliest creations, the Angels in a cave, underneath a wrecked starship. It’s never easy with Moffat.
6. Heaven Sent
Despite being sandwiched between two lesser parts of the overall finale of season nine, this one man show brings out the best in Moffat, director Rachael Talalay, and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Faced with nothing but his wits, the Doctor must escape a prison, and a creature known as the Veil, he will make it back to his home planet Galifrey. It’s an episode that makes you wish that Capaldi had more episodes like this.
5. The Impossible Astronaut/Day at the Moon
For Moffat’s second season in charge of Doctor Who he attempted something ambitious by killing the Doctor within the first ten minutes. While the rest of the season buckles under the weight of that ambition, this opening two-parter, which introduces the Silence, and prominently features the Moon Landing, is one of Moffat’s most exhilarating stories.
4. A Christmas Carol
Moffat and Matt Smith’s first Christmas Special is still the show’s seasonal high water mark. Taking inspiration from Charles Dickens famous story, the Doctor must manipulate a bitter tycoon, played by Michael Gambon, into saving a crashing ship that happens to have Amy and Rory aboard. More than just a race against time, A Christmas Carol shows the joy, and sometimes heartache of being halfway out of the dark.
3. The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances
The first story penned by Moffat for new Who is one of the creepiest, scariest, and ultimately hopeful stories of the show’s new era. With a monstrous child, that still gives people of a certain age chills, is at the centre of this wartime tale. Boasting perhaps Christopher Eccleston’s finest performance, and the introduction of fan-favourite, Captain Jack Harkness, Moffat was hard pushed to top this debut effort.
Listen is a strange episode in both Moffat and the show’s cannon. It’s certainly one of the best episodes of the new era, but only when you take it out of the context of the season it’s placed in. Listen fiendishly delivers a taut, gripping episode in which Clara and the Doctor might be battling and running from nothing at all. Taking away much of the unresolved Danny Pink plot, Listen is a shining example of genre storytelling, and it takes a truly stellar episode to beat it.
That episode is Blink. It’s a testament to how good this episode is that, despite the Doctor and Martha barely appearing, it’s seen as the best episode of new Who. It’s hard to argue considering it stars Carey Mulligan as one of the shows best one-off characters, Sally Sparrow. It introduces the Angels, the best new monster in the show’s cannon, and manages to redefine the quality of family entertainment. Oh, and it itntoduced “wibbley wobbly, timey wimey.