The Ultimate Series- Episode 3

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The third episode tends to be a bit of a lull episode; we’re familiar with the characters we met in Episode 1, we’ve seen them explore the peculiar in Episode 2 and now this is where the series as we know it seems to get in the swing of things. If there’s one thing I look for in a third episode of a series, it’s a new take on something that seems familiar. With that in mind, it’s time to find the third episode of The Ultimate Series

This round consists of

The Unquiet Dead vs School Reunion vs Gridlock vs
Planet of The Ood vs Victory of The Daleks vs
The Curse of The Black Spot vs A Town Called Mercy vs
Robot of Sherwood vs Under The Lake

Since The Ultimate Series has been on an unplanned hiatus, and we’re restarting this feature in the New Year, I’ve decided to trim a lot of the fat. Which means no more Mister Nice Guy. I’m going to start these rounds purely by eliminating which episodes I don’t particularly like or I feel don’t have any replayability. For those reasons, we’re already losing GridlockVictory of The DaleksThe Curse of The Black Spot and Robot of Sherwood. Now that we’ve trimmed the fat, let’s see what’s left.

The Unquiet Dead vs School Reunion vs  Planet of The Ood vs
A Town Called Mercy vs  Under The Lake

Now that we’re stuck with episodes I would class as ‘real’ contenders to be in The Ultimate SeriesI’m going to have to go back to what I said at the top of this article. A third episode should be a new take on the familiar; something to please the fans. I know that every episode should please the fans, but I feel that if you’ve stuck around past the hype of the opening episode, endured the second episode, by the time you’re watching the third episode, you would ultimately consider yourself a fan. In my opinion The Unquiet Dead uses something familiar in the form of Charles Dickens, as well as the idea of ghosts; however, it doesn’t really harken back to anything quintessentially Doctor Who, so I will have to remove The Unquiet Dead.
School Reunion is an episode that brings back something so familiar to fans of Doctor Who in the form of previous companion to the Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith. It was really interesting when Sarah Jane came back to see how life after the Doctor would change, ultimately due to life with the Doctor. Seeing Rose realise that she wasn’t the first person the Doctor had invited aboard the TARDIS was great, and as Micky said “The missis and the ex, welcome to every blokes worst nightmare”.
Planet of The Ood saw the return of the Ood, the creatures we’d first seen in Series 2’s The Impossible Planet. This time though, we saw them in their natural habitat as opposed to seeing them purely be a slave race somewhere else. Planet of The Ood was also great because we got to see a really compassionate side to Donna again, like we did in The Fires of Pompeii; this time however, we saw Donna turn against how the humans were taking care of the Ood, showing the audience that she cared more about justice and equality than the human race.
As much as I like A Town Called Mercy, I can’t help but feel that it doesn’t really fit into my criteria for a third episode. Sure, we have the Western setting, which is stunning visually and something rather different for Doctor Who, but it doesn’t scream fan service particularly. This episode might have stayed in by the skin of it’s teeth if the villain was somewhat memorable, but unfortunately The Gunslinger was another villain that was severely underdeveloped in my opinion.
The Series 9 third episode, Under The Lake was a return to the classic Doctor Who trope of a base under siege. This time though, the base was underwater, and filled with ghosts that can’t be ghosts because ghosts don’t exist. The idea of Under The Lake is rather basic, but the characters, the set and the direction are all stellar, which is why it passes this round. 

We’re now left with

School Reunion vs  Planet of The Ood vs Under The Lake

I told you I was going to be ruthless. It’s only taken two rounds to whittle the episodes down to the final three. As they’ve passed the only criteria I really had though, now it’s time to get personal. I enjoy all three of these episodes for different reasons; School Reunion was really the first time that New-Who had fully included aspects from Classic Who that weren’t villains or the Doctor, Planet of The Ood was a humorous yet ultimately tragic episode that helped me fall in love with Donna as a companion and Under The Lake was a very atmospheric, spooky story with a cracking supporting case. Sadly though, a spooky story with a good supporting cast isn’t enough to win a place in The Ultimate Series so I have to eliminate Under The Lake leaving School Reunion and Planet of The Ood. This was a really hard choice for me, as I thoroughly enjoy both of these episodes. Ultimately though, there has to be a winner, and going on nothing but the willingness I would have to replay the episode over and over again, I’m going to have to eliminate Planet of The Ood

This can only mean one thing, the third episode of The Ultimate Series is…

School Reunion

That means The Ultimate Series currently looks like this:

The Impossible Astronaut
The Fires of Pompeii
School Reunion


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