Doctor Who: Top 11 Matt Smith Episodes!

With just over a week until Doctor Who returns with The Bells Of Saint John, it seemed as good a time as any to reflect on the Matt Smith era as a whole, and answer that most ultimate of questions... what are our eleven favourite Eleventh Doctor episodes? And which is best?

More to the point, do you agree?

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11. The Girl Who Waited

It's a simple episode with an inevitable ending, and even though I'm doing The Matt Smith Countdown, this one is more notable for acting and prosthetics on Karen Gillan. Still, it falls within his era, and has good quality acting by all involved, including one of Arthur Darvill's finer performances as Rory, and an ending that had me tearing up in buckets.

10. Asylum of the Daleks

Flawed by that ridiculous Amy/Rory divorce subplot, this episode nonetheless featured the best Dalek moments in a few years, as well as the charismatic debut of Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswin Oswald, the girl with impossible middle names. Not to mention Matt Smith is totally comfortable in the role by now and nails it here, including that genuinely frightening moment where a Dalek finally corners him.

9. Vampires Of Venice

Written by Being Human showrunner Toby Whitehouse, this might not be an obvious choice, but I was massively entertained by its strong mix of drama and fun. This episode kept all the characters in use, and provided our first good look at the Doctor/Amy/Rory dynamic that would become central to the whole show. One of my favourite episodes from the midsection of series five.

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8. The Impossible Astronaut/Day Of The Moon

Two-parters count as a single entry, because the other option seems lazy. The problem with this story, in retrospect, is that it sets off a lot of arc plots which later trailed off. Nonetheless, it was really good, and there's enough resolution to its own plot (Doctor Vs Silence) for me to still enjoy it without feeling bitter. So yeah, even though some topics went wrong later, well-constructed two-parter, great engaging start to series six.

7. The Lodger

And from massive two-part epics to one-off episodes set largely in Essex flats. Well, just the one (although I was tempted to roll Closing Time into this entry), but it was a surprisingly human, warmhearted and funny interlude before that year's finale. Despite fan concerns beforehand, James Corden was great in his part, and I'd have no problem with a third comeback for Craig Owens.

6. The Snowmen

Obviously, this is the most recent episode on our list, because it's also the latest to air. Still, it was the most fun and sheer excitement I've had watching Doctor Who for a while, best Christmas episode since Matt Smith took over (or possibly even since the first one with David Tennant's debut as the Doctor). Yes, the traditional festive power-of-love ending is present and correct, but this zippy full intro for Clara Oswin Gerald Theodore Oswald is still highly watchable. Added points for Madame Vastra and her Victorian detective supporting cast.

5. The God Complex

Our second Toby Whitehouse episode, and it's a great one. Coming hot on the heels of The Girl Who Waited, this was a masterful episode of funny, scary character moments, climaxing in a huge emotional scene for Amy and the Doctor. One of my favourite episodes of series six, so crammed with stuff that it stands up to a lot of re-watching. I highly recommend you do so.

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4. The Doctor's Wife

The Neil Gaiman episode, in short. Beautiful characterisation, great Gaimanesque ideas thrown into the Doctor Who backdrop and a memorable guest performance by Suranne Jones. Could've had a stronger plot to go with all those little touches, but especially for existing fans, this felt like a real love-letter and I enjoyed the hell out of it, rght up to the tearful climax.

3. Vincent And The Doctor

This episode, by Richard Curtis, puts much of the alien-fighting on the backburner to focus on the Doctor and Amy meeting Vincent Van Gogh. It could've been boring, but the light and dark in their interactions with the great man (played by Tony Curran) keeps it fascinating. Yes, the soft rock in the closing sequence was a bit much, but this was probably the best straight standalone episode in Smith's tenure so far, in my opinion.

2. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

Another two-parter, and I absolutely loved this one. Again, you could moan its impact has been lessened by some storylines later fizzling out, but as a wrap-up to Smith's entire debut series it was still masterful. The first part had one of the all-time great cliffhangers, and the second brings us the best silly time travel paradox sequence Moffat has ever penned. It also marks the last time I didn't find River Song annoying, as well as the Amy/Rory wedding sequence, multiple cameos and some great acting moments from the entire cast.

So, only one episode left. What could it possibly be?
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1. The Eleventh Hour

I never envied Steven Moffat the job of writing this episode, or Matt Smith the task of starring in it. They had to stamp themselves on the show, after a half-decade in which David Tennant and Russell T. Davies thoroughly stamped themselves on the property as the iconic Doctor Who team. But they pulled it out beautifully, with a charming, funny, dramatic, fast-paced masterwork of an episode. I've rewatched this a ridiculous amount of times but have yet to get bored. Matt Smith has done better acting performances in later episodes, but in terms of sheer impact and rising to the occasion when needed, he's still fantastic here, as is Karen Gillan. Brilliant.

Although hopefully something in the upcoming eight episode run will top it, and I'll need to rewrite this list completely.

Honourable Mention

Let's Kill Hitler only missed the list by a gnat's wing. It's a very enjoyable episode, but unfortunately gets a bit sidetracked by problematic continuity, so was supplanted by The Girl Who Waited.

So, what did you think of that list? Did the right eleven make the cut? Any obvious omissions? What about the top spot? Arguments welcome!

Doctor Who

The long-running BBC TV science fiction series that started in 1963 and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. 2017 saw Peter Capaldi regenerate into the show's first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker. The Thirteenth Doctor's first season debuts in 2018, with Chris Chibnall replacing Steven Moffat as the current showrunner.

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