Since we have celebrated the best episodes of each Doctor, it’s time to look at their worst outings. Here are the ten worst episodes of Peter Capaldi’s time in the TARDIS.
Smile is a great episode, until Bill and the Doctor enter the spaceship. As it’s only Bill’s second episode, there are a lot of great moments that build her character and her relationship with the Doctor. Then they enter the ship – then the plot freezes for about 20 minutes and the Doctor saves the day by doing something he could have done all along.
9. Empress of Mars
Mark Gatiss shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Ice Warriors ever again. While his first episode, the Matt Smith-led Cold War, was entertaining for the first two thirds, Empress of Mars is the work of a writer, and actors that don’t seem to be paying much attention. The Doctor and Bill are side-lined for most of the episode as the British and Empress of the Ice Warriors have a dull conversation followed by dull murder. In a better writer’s hands this could have been something special, hell, in Gatiss hands five years ago it could have been great.
8. The Zygon Inversion
The Zygon Invasion was a promising introduction to this season nine two-parter. What promised to be a dark, action packed ending turned into very repetitive discourse about how it’s better to be friends. Peter Capaldi’s speech aimed at both Unit and the Zygon’s about the cost of war on both sides was brilliant, until it went on for another five minutes. It didn’t help that Jenna Coleman’s bad Clara impersonation was the typical reductive female villains you see on Supernatural. Purring all your words does not a villain make.
7. Robot of Sherwood
After the opening two episodes season seven had Capaldi as rough and callous, Robot of Sherwood was a jarring tonal shift. Another Gatiss episode, Robot brings out the worst qualities of Capaldi’s Doctor. His competition with Robin Hood is immature, and actually gets in the way of saving lives. Thankfully this wasn’t a side of Capaldi’s Doctor recurred in future episodes.
6. The Eaters of the Light
Peter Capaldi really deserved better from his last monster of the week episode. What’s typical of this episode, and most of season 10, is that both the Doctor and Bill are both highly entertaining. What’s also typical of this episode, and season ten, is that the supporting characters are not. Add to this a rubbish monster, and the annoying way that Scottish actors have to enunciate, and Eaters of Light becomes an episode to forget.
5. In the Forest of the Night
Speaking of forgettable episodes, can anyone remember what this one was about? I just watched it and I’ve already forgotten again. Something about a school trip, a stupid message that if children stop taking their medicine than the Doctor will talk to you, and tigers. Wait a minute: none of this episode took place at night. It may be a poetic title, but it needs to make sense.
4. Deep Breath
A controversial pick here, as Deep Breath has its fans. But really, this episode does nothing but confirm the fact that Steven Moffat was out of ideas. When the previous Doctor has to basically call up Clara, and us, and say “give this guy a chance”, it doesn’t fill you with confidence. This is also the point where Vastra, Jenny, and Strax outstayed their welcome. They should have been quicker with that spin-off.
3. The Girl Who Died
Ah yes, the ultimate alien race that were scared off by a space YouTube video of them getting humiliated. Add to that an awful performance from Maisie Williams (she did get much better as season nine went on), and the unintentionally hilarious “serious” scenes of the Doctor speaking baby, and you have one of the dumbest episodes of the show’s run to date.
2. The Pyramid at the End of the World
The second part of season ten’s ambitious three-part story broke one of the cardinal rules of story-telling. It made the previous episode (the excellent Extremis) completely irrelevant. Oh, and there is the small detail of the Doctor being blind. This is another episode that relies on the Doctor, one of the smartest beings in the universe, acting like a complete moron.
1. The Lie of the Land
As bad as Pyramid was, nothing can compare to the steaming pile of wasted potential that is The Lie of the Land. Not only was there a fake regeneration scene, something that was definitely put in for the trailers, it also had the Doctor stealing credit from Bill for saving the world. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that Peter Capaldi is actively bad in this episode. His skill has kept together worse episodes than this, but his overwhelming mediocrity in this episode blasts The Lie of the Land to the top of this list.