David Tennant’s Best ‘Doctor Who’ Episodes: ‘The Christmas Invasion,’ ‘Doomsday’ & More (VIDEO)
Sure, we have questions about the how. Going into “The Power of the Doctor,” we knew that Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor would be regenerating, but we thought we’d see Ncuti Gatwa, previously announced to be the Fourteenth Doctor. Tennant, along with Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, was expected to appear in the 60th anniversary special. Instead, Whittaker’s Doctor regenerated into Tennant’s (“What?!”), he’s now the Fourteenth, and Gatwa is the Fifteenth.
In honor of Tennant’s return, we’re rounding up the best episodes from his first time as the Doctor.
“The Christmas Invasion” (2005 Christmas Special)
In the episode that truly introduced the Tenth Doctor, even he, upon waking following his regeneration, had questions about who he was. “I’m the Doctor, but beyond that, I just don’t know. I literally do not know who I am,” he said. “It’s all untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy? Right old misery? Life and soul? Right-handed? Left-handed? A gambler? A fighter? A coward? A traitor? A liar? A nervous wreck? Judging by the evidence, I’ve certainly got a gob.” That speech and the subsequent fight with the Sycorax leader let us know that one thing was for certain: Tennant was going to be a great Doctor.
“The Girl in the Fireplace” (Season 2 Episode 4)
A spaceship in the 51st century connects to a fireplace in the 18th — and the Tenth Doctor to Reinette (Sophia Myles), a.k.a. Madame de Pompadour, at different points in her life. It’s a love story, yes, but it’s also about the Doctor trying to save her from clockwork androids seeking to use her to fix her ship. And there’s a heartbreaking end to it, as he returns to bring her on an adventure, only to find he’s too late since time passes differently on either side of the window.
“Doomsday” (Season 2 Episode 13)
Doctor Who bid adieu to the Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) in the most heartbreaking of ways: trapping her in another universe, with him unable to follow, and their goodbye — and “I love you” — cut off when the connection faded. The episode, the second of a two-parter, also featured Cybermen and Daleks, Torchwood London, and the introduction of Tate’s Donna Noble.
“The Runaway Bride” (2006 Christmas Special)
Amidst grieving following the events of “Doomsday,” the Tenth Doctor had a mystery on his hands: How did Donna just appear on the TARDIS?! It was just a taste of how good Tennant and Tate would go on to be onscreen together when she returned as his full-time companion in Season 4, and it was fun in a way that we (and the Tenth Doctor) needed after the loss of Rose.
“Human Nature”/”Family of Blood” (Season 3 Episodes 8 & 9)
To hide from the Family of Blood, seeking his immortality, the Doctor “became” human, with his essence and memories in a fob watch. Even he believed himself to be schoolteacher John Smith, with companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) the only one who knew the truth. And when he had to give up that life after the Family tracked him down, well, he showed just how creatively cruel he could be when it came to doling out punishments.
“Blink” (Season 3 Episode 10)
While the focus of this episode may be on Sally Sparrow (Carey Mulligan) and just how terrifying the Weeping Angels can be — if unobserved, they move and trap you in the past, as they did to her friend — it’s impossible to talk about the best episodes of the Tenth Doctor without mentioning this one. Tennant’s Doctor is mostly seen in video recordings he leaves for Sally, per her own instructions at the end of the episode — it’s “a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.”
“Midnight” (Season 4 Episode 10)
A case can easily be made that this is one of the most terrifying episodes of Doctor Who — and it’s one of Tennant’s strongest. While Donna’s relaxing at a spa, the Doctor spends almost the entire episode on a shuttle, with a group of passengers who turn on each other after some sort of alien (never seen, only heard) takes possession of one and begins to steal their voices. It’s the Doctor who becomes the alien’s focus, as it goes from repeating to speaking in unison with to speaking ahead of its target. The Doctor is paralyzed as the passengers try to throw him out of the shuttle, until the hostess recognizes the Doctor’s “molto bene” and “allons-y!”
“The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End” (Season 4 Episodes 12 & 13)
“The Power of the Doctor” wasn’t the first time Tennant was part of a twist of a regeneration. While facing the Daleks (and with many familiar faces back for the fight), the Tenth Doctor was shot and seemingly about to change faces — only to use the hand he’d lost in “The Christmas Invasion.” The result: two Tennant Doctors (Tenth and the part-human Meta-Crisis, who would go on to stay with Rose in her world) and the Doctor-Donna, which led to Tate’s exit.
“The End of Time” (2009 Christmas & 2010 New Year Specials)
“I don’t want to go.” Need we say more? Well, we will. It was during this two-parter that we said goodbye to Tennant’s Doctor (at the time, we thought, for good). After trying to run from his fate, the Doctor saved Donna’s grandfather Wilfred (Bernard Cribbins) from a lethal dose of radiation, but was given just enough time to see his companions one last time.