After watching a corker of an episode the week before, Episode 2 needs to up the ante. It needs to grab the bull by the horns and run with it, if we’ve had a high octane first episode, and the next episodes pace is much slower, it won’t stand up to the task. We need to find us a good second episode for The Ultimate Series. Let’s get looking.
This round consists of…
The End of the World vs Tooth and Claw vs The Shakespeare Code vs
The Fires of Pompeii vs The Beast Below vs Day of The Moon vs
Dinosaurs On A Spaceship vs Into The Dalek vs The Witch’s Familiar.
For me, my ideal episode 2 should really be a character driven piece. If you look at the majority of these episodes, they could all be considered character pieces. I personally feel that a successful second episode should have huge scale, whilst still giving the audience time to learn about the characters involved. As this is my first criteria, I think that the majority previous Episode 2’s have done this, even if some could be considered more successful than others. Series 1’s The End of The World primarily deals with how Rose copes with time travel, sending her off to the far future; Series 3’s The Shakespeare Code focusses on Martha and places her in an interesting setting, especially due to her race which develops the character by essentially toughening her up slightly. The Fires of Pompeii from Series 4 is an absolutely wonderful character piece, as Donna challenges the Doctor’s morals by making her beg him to save just one family from the oncoming destruction. The Beast Below, whilst not the most successful story gives Amy a chance to spread her wings and work on her own on the Starship UK. Series 6’s Day of The Moon is a character piece for all the main characters, especially the Doctor, River and Amy. Series 8’s Into the Dalek was great for showcasing the Twelfth Doctor at an early stage, pitting him against his arch enemies. Finally Series 9’s The Witch’s Familiar is a great example of a character piece, not only for the Doctor, Missy and Clara, but also for Davros, which is really interesting to watch.
As you may have noticed, I left two second episodes out of this list; those being Tooth and Claw from Series 2 and Dinosaurs On A Spaceship from Series 7. I don’t not like these episodes at all, Tooth and Claw is brilliantly suspenseful and eerie whilst Dinosaurs On A Spaceship on the other hand, is incredibly silly and fun. For me though, that’s just not enough for a great second episode, as I really think that they should focus more on developing characters.
The End of the World vs The Shakespeare Code vs The Fires of Pompeii vs
The Beast Below vs Day of The Moon vs Into The Dalek vs
The Witch’s Familiar.
Anatomy next criteria for what I want from a second episode. As I enjoy character driven stories for Episode 2, I really like having the Doctor and the companion surrounded by realistic characters; and I don’t mean realistic in the sense that they look real unlike some of the aliens. I don’t care if the supporting characters are twelve foot tall, three headed jellyfish, as long as I can relate to the supporting characters, and they don’t steal too much of the limelight from the main characters of the story, then I’m totally game. Unfortunately, I think that The End of The World doesn’t fit this criteria. I totally get what Russell T Davies is trying to do with this episode, as it was showing the audience just how much scope the show can have, but I feel that this detracts from getting to know the main characters of the story. Likewise with The Beast Below, I just couldn’t see any of the supporting characters being real people; Liz 10 was a monarch who was working undercover, yet for some reason, nobody recognised her at all? Likewise with the children, I get that they’re growing actors, but for me their performances were rather dull and detracted from the story.
The Shakespeare Code vs The Fires of Pompeii vs Day of The Moon vs
Into The Dalek vs The Witch’s Familiar.
Those are my only two real criteria for what makes a second episode perfect for me, so now it comes down purely to how much I enjoy these episodes. The episode I enjoy the least from the remaining episodes is The Shakespeare Code, whilst it is a great idea for Martha’s second episode, seeing her back in time in England when people of different races weren’t as accepted as they are now, I think it’s a great character piece for her as a companion. The main thing that annoys me in this episode is the villain, the Carrionites. I really liked the idea of witches influencing William Shakespeare into writing plays that feature spells that would bring their kind into our world, but the whole performance of the villains seemed a bit too pantomime for my acting.
The next episode I’m going to have to reluctantly remove from this competition is Into The Dalek. Whilst I love this episode as it really sets the foundations for Peter Capaldi’s portrayal of the Doctor (‘She cares so I don’t have to’) I can’t help but think that the Doctor is slightly too prickly in this episode, and I feel that the writers just wanted to convey how dark the Doctor can be instead of showing the other aspects to his new personality.
This means we’re down to the final three…
The Fires of Pompeii vs Day of The Moon vs The Witch’s Familiar.
All of these episodes are great for their own reasons. The Fires of Pompeii really challenge the Doctor as a character as he’s forced to decide whether to bend the laws of time or have the wrath of Donna Noble. Likewise, this episode really shows Donna’s caring side, as up to this point in her past two episodes, we’ve only really seen Donna as a sassy, confident woman. Day of The Moon follows up the extremely successful The Impossible Astronaut which won the place of being Episode 1 in my Ultimate Series, it starts with epic scale then brings everything together in a tight, neat package. Finally, The Witch’s Familiar is a great episode as we get to see Missy with a companion for a change, and it’s fascinating to see how Missy and Clara work together in an extremely unconventional way.
I have to come to a decision though, and I’m proud to say that the winner of Episode 2 in The Ultimate Series is…
The Fires of Pompeii
That means The Ultimate Series currently looks like this:
The Impossible Astronaut
The Fires of Pompeii