We’ve already counted down our Top 5 Twelfth Doctor stories so far. But sometimes, it doesn’t take a whole episode to leave an impression.
It’s not just the stories that stay with us. It’s those magical, memorable moments. They might whizz by in a flash, but they make the show worth watching. Even the worst episodes often contain a singular moment of iconic ingenuity.
So, as Peter Capaldi prepares to exit the TARDIS, let’s look back at the moments we’ll remember from Series 8 and 9…
5. Anachronisms (Series 9, The Magician’s Apprentice)
At the start of Series 9, The Doctor is missing. He’s apparently going to die (again) so Clara and Missy go in pursuit. Where do they find him? Why, in Medieval Essex, playing an electric guitar and riding in on a tank!
Surprisingly, it takes a good 20 minutes for Capaldi to show up in The Magician’s Apprentice. (Well, if you exclude the Young Davros scene at the beginning, anyway!). So when he does arrive, it’s important that he makes a big impression. This is a loud, proud, and unexpected moment that introduced the world to the ‘rocker Doctor’. He shreds some strings, says some gags, and then plucks out “Pretty Woman” for Clara. Oh Twelve, you old romantic, you.
It’s funny, it’s bizarre, and it’s totally unforgettable. Love it or loathe it, this is an image that certainly sticks in the mind. It also perfectly sets the tone for the lighter take on The Twelfth Doctor that we saw in Series 9. Rock on, dudes!
4. Freefall (Series 8, Death in Heaven)
Erm… permission to squee!? While Death in Heaven might be a bit lacking as a finale, it certainly didn’t disappoint in scale. Set the scene: Cybermen are attacking The Doctor’s plane and causing it to crash. Missy has blown open a hatch and teleported away to the Nethersphere. The Doctor, helpless, plummets towards the ground at terminal velocity.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. Rather than let gravity takes its course, The Doctor instead decides to harness his inner James Bond. Battling the harsh winds, he reaches inside his jacket. He pulls out a key and, suddenly, it all makes sense. The TARDIS! In a clever move, he summons his time machine to fly to his aid. Just when all seems lost, the familiar blue box soars up above the clouds. The Doctor is safe, and now he means business!
This is just the sort of heroic, action-filled moment that you might not have expected from Capaldi’s older Doctor. He may have a few more lines on his face, but this incarnation is just as thrilling and quick-witted as the rest.
3. The Man that Stops the Monsters (Series 8, Flatline)
Every Doctor seems to have their own iconic ‘Doctor moment’. Usually it’s a big triumphant speech, like The Eleventh Doctor’s from The Rings of Akhaten. Initially, at least, this moment seemed like it might be Twelve’s.
Trapped within an ever-shrinking TARDIS for most of Flatline, The Doctor makes his mark when he does eventually get out. After Clara tricks the monsters into undoing their dimensional damage, the rebel Time Lord seeks revenge. He gave these otherworldly beings a chance to be civil. He thought, maybe, they might have just been trying to communicate. But, this is Doctor Who, so of course they’re actually trying to take over the world. The Doctor proclaims that they are “monsters” and that it is time for him to play his role: “the man that stops the monsters!”
With a powerful zap from the sonic screwdriver (and the naming of the Boneless), Twelve steps out and saves the day. In fact, this is probably the one and only ‘good’ use of a sonic screwdriver cop out. The speech is great, the set piece is great. Unlike the two-dimensional baddies, this is one moment that definitely doesn’t fall flat!
2. Breaking the Wall (Series 9, Heaven Sent)
If we could put all of Heaven Sent on here, we would. Heck, there’s a reason we ranked it number one on our Top 5 Twelfth Doctor stories list! But if we had to pick just one moment, then it easily has to go to the final montage.
While the preceding moments are stellar, this is the one where Heaven Sent propels into the stratosphere. As The Doctor shockingly realises what “BIRD” means, the episode unravels before us. All those little clues that were staring us in the face for 45 minutes suddenly all make sense. It’s a moment of mixed emotions. There’s joy at the revelation and the cleverness behind it. But then, oh then… there’s the sorrow. We know what this means for The Doctor now. And we have to sit and watch him suffer.
The montage is essentially just a re-edit of clips we’ve already seen, stuck on a loop for a few minutes. But how effective it is! Millennia pass by in seconds as the weight of The Doctor’s tragedy sinks in. Thankfully, there’s a happy ending. After four and a half billion years(!), The Doctor smashes through and escapes. Doctor Who doesn’t get much more powerful and euphoric than this.
1. The Anti-War Speech (Series 9, The Zygon Inversion)
Ousting the Flatline speech as Capaldi’s definitive ‘Doctor moment’ is our number one pick. Series 9’s The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion is a poignant, political story already. But this climactic scene turned it into a social media phenomenon. It not only ties together the story beautifully, it’s also extremely relevant.
It’s surely no coincidence that the best Twelfth Doctor moments see him acting solo. It’s minimalist: just two coloured boxes, one table, and the Black Archive as a back drop. But that’s all he needs to completely own the floor. Jenna Coleman and Jemma Redgrave may be on hand, but this is all about Peter Capaldi. Switching from comedy accents to bellowing roars, this is writing and acting combined to pack a punch.
Recounting the horrors of terrorism and war, The Doctor commands the screen for nearly 10 minutes. Like Heaven Sent, this is a concept that just shouldn’t work. But it does, and it’s as fine a moment as Doctor Who has ever produced. And, more importantly, it’s distinctly Capaldi. You simply can’t imagine any other Doctor delivering it with the same amount of raw emotion.
Whatever 2017 holds in store for us, and no matter how good or bad Series 10 is, The Twelfth Doctor’s era will forever be remembered for moments like these. Thanks for the memories!