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Blogtor Who Writers’ Faves of 2013

Included here are the thoughts, opinions, thoughts, reflections and thoughts from the various lovely people on the Blogtor Who reviews team on this year’s best Doctor Who episodes and stories from 2013. As you will see, all the Who output, or Whotput, has been included for consideration.

Philip Rowntree: The Night of the Doctor

I shall keep this as short and sweet as the episode itself.

Of all the episodes broadcast in 2013, this was undoubtedly my highlight. I’ve found the fallible story arcs, ham-fisted writing and unsatisfying conclusions that have prevailed throughout the tenure of Matt Smith increasingly frustrating, to the point that I no longer cared for his Doctor.

But when I was presented with those 6 minutes and 56 seconds of McGann Magic I remembered the emotional kick, the eager gasps and the pang of unanticipated excitement that Doctor Who used to bring me.

In short, The Night Of The Doctor made me feel – albeit for the shortest of times – like the lapel holding, recorder playing, judo chopping, scarf wearing, cricket loving, cat badge owning, umbrella toting and new show fitting Doctor Who fan that I am.

Jack Bowman: The Night of the Doctor
2013 – a year that has been long looming for every Doctor Who fan; a year that was going to carry a serious weight of expectation as November 23rd was to bring the 50th Anniversary. So what was it for me that delivered the biggest thrills? The Day Of The Doctor with the return of Tom Baker and David Tennant – in 3D? The Time of The Doctor, which emotionally saw Matt Smith bow (tie) out in beautiful style? The gorgeous labour of love was all that was An Adventure In Space and Time? Or The classic Doctor’s reunion in The Light At The The End? Or even in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot (with THAT Barrowman gag)? There couldn’t have been anything better, surely? But yes, they there was.

As they say, the best things come in small packages – and my choice of the best episode of Doctor Who in 2013 was the most surprising, charming, gorgeous and delightful – The Night Of The Doctor.

To see Paul McGann once more step into the void the Eighth Doctor left behind in 1996 was the most thrilling moment of 2013 – to recall my review at the time, it was a pleasing straight-forward, linear tale from Moffat, a worthy story very much in character of the Eighth Doctor’s heroic self-sacrifice, that brought to a close this much-loved but never seen incarnation of the Time Lord.

If this minisode had only one flaw, it was that the Eighth Doctor’s death and rebirth as “the Warrior” didn’t break my heart, especially now we’ve seen that Moffat is more than capable of writing scenes like that. But as a little gem in a loud, whizz-bang year of fan-service, then The Night of The Doctor, and McGann’s second screen outing as the Doctor, giving his life for that of a doomed space pilot alone in the night, should be forever treasured.

Daren Thomas Curley: The Night of The Doctor
There was very good reason why this minisode managed to break all BBC iPlayer records… It proved one adage: Less is certainly more.

The sheer impact of this small but vital part of the jigsaw, which set up both John Hurt’s “War Doctor” and gave us the return of McGann was enough in itself. But it also gave us a return to Karn and its Sisterhood for the second time on screen (and the second time for the Eighth Doctor too), whilst the direct acknowledgement to his Big Finish adventures was the perfect icing on the cake (no doubt sending some personal fan Who canon into meltdown in the process).

Paul echoed his previous performance so well that the intervening years just melted away (my god he must have a painting in his loft!). He was still very much the same Doctor, albeit with a fresh twist, both in appearance and place within the Time War. Yet, he brought a depth and intensity that gave the role a refreshing change and focus from his other more recent on-screen personas. Equally, his very Doctorish put-down of the secret flame, sisterhood and demand for knitting provided some nice humour into the mix too.

With just a few minutes of screen time, this was ambitiously epic in scale and importance. He may not have been The Doctor we were expecting, but he was the one we wanted back the most. Welcome back Paul. We missed you.

Emrys Mathews: The Night of The Doctor

Unfortunately
this year perhaps hasn’t always lived up to my high expectations of the
Doctor Who 50th Anniversary but, for me, the biggest highlight is an easy one. It’s
also a short one.

I can remember watching
it on the screen of my iPhone at work [other viewing devices are available – Ed.], and shouting and exclaiming to a
bewildered crowd in the break room, “Oh. My. God!” I had to explain
afterwards why I was so giddy; not that anyone understood. Paul McGann
back on the scene, returning to Karn, the Sisterhood of Karn, name
checking all of the Big Finish audio companions and that regeneration!

Just finally getting to find out what happened to the wonderful and all
to short lived Eighth Doctor made my Doctor Who year. (That and the
excellent drama An Adventure in Space and Time.) My choice: this seven
minute scene, sadly speaks volumes about my opinions of everything else
that was on offer for the fiftieth year of my favourite television
programme.

Nick Fraser: An Adventure in Space
and Time

An embarrassment of riches to choose from, but for me, this year’s
shining beacon atop the pristine blue police box: An Adventure in Space
and Time
.

It is to Mark Gatiss’s great credit that he managed to
weave together such a successful retelling of the birth of a TV series
about a mysterious old man, his kooky granddaughter and her two
schoolteachers. But to create such an affection and compelling
evocation of the days when it all began, in the full glare of the show’s fiftieth year…I doff my astrakhan hat in appreciation.

Everything
about the programme was a pleasure, but the core performers – Jessica
Raine, Brian Cox, Sacha Dhawan – lifted Verity Lambert, Sydney Newman
and Waris Hussein from the familiar phrases ascribed to them in
interviews over the years, bringing the original production team to
life. And centre stage, portraying William Hartnell and Doctor Who with
a mix of magic, vulnerability, bluster and charm, David Bradley.

Bradley
perfectly captured the essence of Hartnell during his creation of a
televisual icon, as well as his tragic decline, powerfully evoking the
fear of one’s faculties slipping away.

As a viewing experience,
Adventure was an almost a guilty pleasure in a year when attention
should rightly be paid to the incumbent Doctor. A final thrill then,
when Matt Smith made his silent appearance at the TARDIS controls,
connecting the decades.

Cue one blubbing reviewer. I think I might have something in my eye… 

Andrea McGuire: An Adventure in Space
and Time

Mark Gatiss’s long-dreamed of Doctor Who origins story is not only the best thing I’ve seen as part of the show’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, but one of the best things I’ve seen on television ever.

With love of the show oozing from every pore, there’s not a single thing about An Adventure in Space and Time that isn’t perfect. Gatiss’s beautifully written script works wonderfully whether you’re a long-term fan or someone who’s (gasp) never even seen Doctor Who. The attention to detail in the costumes, set design and production are staggering, from the gorgeous Sixties fashions to the splendidly recreated TARDIS.

Jessica Raine and Sacha Dhawan positively sparkle as pioneering outsiders Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein, and Brian Cox’s OTT Sidney Newman is an absolute hoot. But it’s David Bradley’s portrayal as William Hartnell that’s the fragile, beating heart of An Adventure In Space And Time. The scenes between Hartnell and his granddaughter are both painful and delightful to watch.

As the cast and crew of Doctor Who inevitably move on, the depiction of Hartnell’s emotional isolation and increasingly fragile health (which ultimately lead Newman to devise the concept of regeneration) is handled with great sensitivity and poignancy.

From the second the policeman told Bradley’s William Hartnell to “move along” I was hooked and by the time Hartnell shared a look of pride and great affection with Matt Smith’s Doctor at the TARDIS console, I was wiping my face on my sleeve. All television should be this good.

Gem Kendrick: An Adventure in Space
and Time

It’s
been a special year in the world of Doctor Who, with milestone after
milestone. We saw the year in with the promise of a new companion,
swiftly launched into the world of The Doctor with a series of new
adventures.
But, of course, all of that was simply building up to the 50th Anniversary episode, where we saw the return of The Tenth Doctor, and
the arrival of a whole new one. And speaking of new Doctors, the year
went out with a bang with the final page of Matt Smith’s story, and the
first moments of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.
But amongst all of that, almost tucked away, there was a complete gem. An Adventure in Space and Time took
us back to the first days of the show we all know and love. It was a
beautifully crafted piece of television that never missed a beat. The
casting was utterly superb, and David Bradley brought William Hartnell
back to life so beautifully that the viewer could almost be mistaken for
seeing the man himself. It was a touching love story to the show, and
you can tell how much love went into producing it.
I’m not afraid to say
it brought a tear to my eye more than once, least of all the very
touching moment at the end when Matt Smith had an unexpected cameo. It
was without a shadow of a doubt my story of the year.

Gavin Dunbar: Cold War
It’s always nice to see an old adversary return in Doctor Who, especially when their return is done well. The Ice Warriors comeback in Cold War didn’t disappoint. I’ve always liked Mark Gatiss’s Who
stories. I like that he has written for each Doctor since the show came
back to TV, but has also penned some of the most memorable Virgin
New Adventures/BBC Novels with a great classic series feel, really
getting the tone of the older Doctors and their eras spot on.

Gatiss
has always enjoyed the historical stories, and it’s an interesting
twist to have one set in comparatively recent times. Always a weird one
when you realise the music of your youth is now sound-tracking period
drama.

A claustrophobic setting and fast pace keep you
on your toes, and a nice twist in showing us an Ice Warrior out of their
armour and out of control. Who to trust when your enemy has to be your
ally to survive? A great ensemble cast gets it right (with special props
to David Warner) and Douglas Mackinnon’s direction is really strong and
makes the most of the setting.

(If you like this episode and want more Eleventh Doctor/Ice Warrior action – Dan Abnett’s The Silent Stars Go By novel is a great read.)

Cameron K McEwan: The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
If The Day of the Doctor wasn’t enough for Who fans
to get their collective (and that’s a big collection) teeth into on
November 23, 2013, then along came Peter Davison to cap that particular
Saturday off with one of the funniest and, for me, heartfelt half hours
in many, many years.

Right from off, Davison’s sitcom hit the right tone with hilarious appearances from Sean “My Dad Was Doctor Who” Pertwee and Olivia “Where Do I Know Her From? Everything” Colman before we’d even got to our loveable Doctors embarking on their most dangerous mission yet. Seeing Davison, Baker and McCoy send themselves up, along with the help of a barrel load of chums, was an absolute hoot from start to finish.

This thirty-minute comedy was packed full of references, tributes, familiar faces but, most of all, fun. Everyone involved looked like they were having a riot and this certainly transferred to the audience. Each minute felt like a lovely kiss on the proverbial cheek as another gag was laid out for us all to savour.


The Five(ish) Doctors is an apposite moment for fans and came at just the right moment.

My thanks to all the Blogtor Who “Gang” for contributing their thoughts. I was more than surprised to see the results, as I’m sure many others were too! You can now start voting for your favourite slice of Doctor Who from 2013 in the annual Blogtor Who Readers’ Poll. Let us know your Top 3 of 2013 in the comments section below. Feel free to include any piece of Doctor Who related programming from this year (including television episodes, prequels, minisodes, specials, BBC iPlayer exclusives, audio adventures, books, etc…).

11 COMMENTS

  1. 1. The Name of The Doctor – That cliff-hanger!

    2. The Night of The Doctor

    3. Doctor Who at the Proms 2013

  2. I wish Blogtor Who would stop pretending it's a 'Doctor Who' website. It's not. It's a 'Moffat hating, RTD/Tennant bunny loving Blog'…as this 'article' proves yet again.

  3. Nobody that writes for this site hates Steven Moffat. Your assumption is incorrect.

    He has the Number One story of the Matt Smith era in our Writers' Poll (along with 3 other stories in the Top 5) and Night of the Doctor was the highlight for many – which Steven Moffat also wrote.

    If we "hated" Steven Moffat, we wouldn't have voted for his stories at all. Let alone making them number one!

    Stop looking for an argument/fight where there is none.

    Having met, and interviewed, Steven on many occasions, I can say he is a lovely, lovely man. And someone whose company I enjoy thoroughly.

    Your comment is so very, very wrong.

    But typical from those who comment anonymously.

  4. 1. The Day of the Doctor
    2. The Night of the Doctor
    3. The Time of the Doctor

    But as one of the writers said, it's been an embarrassment of riches this year. Well done to Matt Smith, Steven Moffat and all the team.

  5. Re: Cameron McEwan @3.02 PM

    As well as being a RTD bunny and a disliker of the Moffat era (which you are, how you can deny it is beyond me), you also don't seem too bright. Why offer the option of 'anonymous' if you don't want people to use it? I'm sure you have no problem with those using it who agree with your RTD 'love' (Turn Left the best Doctor Who story EVER??? per example. Very amusing). Oh well, I'll get back to viewing the far superior Moffat Doctor Who. Long may it continue.

  6. Your argument is ridiculous.

    Please give evidence of me "hating" Moffat.

    This distasteful need in some fans to hate/love production teams is both pathetic and tiresome.

    And there's really no need for "you also don't seem too bright". Doesn't help your "argument".

    (For what it's worth, for those who care, I have a first class degree in Film.)

  7. Cameron, don't feed the animals. They just want attention. Only children and the weak use the ANONYMOUS function.

    If you have something to say, say it with your own name. Otherwise, you're an ignorant coward crying for validation. Which means your points are irrelevant. Thanks for playing kids. Go home. 🙂

  8. My favourites of 2013:

    1) The Day of the Doctor
    2) The Night of the Doctor
    3) The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot

    The same as another poster above's choices, I see. But a tough choice, there's been so much to choose from. My close fourth choice would be An Adventure in Space and Time.

    And by the way, for all that this matters (which is probably not much), having met you Cameron, and having read your blog extensively, I can say you don't seem unintelligent at all. I think you seem like a lovely, clever man. I don't always agree with your Doctor Who opinions, but I can always appreciate your reasoning, and I very often do agree with you.

    And I agree, the need of some Who fans who hate certain production teams and eras of Who is very saddening.

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