A friend made this request of me:
Now as for Dr. Who if you have any content that helps someone interested but not indoctrinated like myself get to a must-watch list of the most recent few seasons, that’d be super cool. I started watching occasionally with the Ninth Doctor.
Since my taste when it comes to this show can be idiosyncratic, a simple list of my personal favorites won’t do the trick. So I’ve picked out an almost-bare-minimum subset of episodes that fit at least one of three criteria:
Continuity You’ll definitely be confused about what’s going on in the larger story if you skip these.
Fan Favorites There’s a general consensus among fans that these are among the best the series has to offer.
My Favorites Stories I personally love the most. Sometimes I agree with the fans, and sometimes I go my own way.
If a story has two or three of these icons, you should definitely watch it.
only: also definitely watch it. It might not be the greatest story ever but you’ll be lost without it.
only: probably worth your time. You COULD skip it and maybe come back to it, but it’ll be better if you watch it in order.
only: there’s a good chance you’ll think I’m nuts for liking this. But if you really get into the show, it might appeal to you the way it appealed to me. Watch if you have time, skip if you don’t.
And it’s entirely possible a story that has no continuity impact and isn’t considered a major classic might still greatly enhance your enjoyment of the show. “Robot of Sherwood” isn’t on most people’s top-ten lists, but I saw someone cite it as their favorite Capaldi episode the other day, and if “The Doctor meets Robin Hood” sounds like fun for you or maybe something you’d like to watch with the kids, you won’t be disappointed.
The End of the World
The Unquiet Dead
This is kind of a marginal choice, but there are people for whom it’s their favorite story of the first season.
Empty Child / Doctor Dances
Bad Wolf / Parting of the Ways
The Girl in the Fireplace
Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel
Not the show’s finest hour, but it introduces an important enemy and has a big impact on a character’s path.
Impossible Planet / Satan Pit
Army of Ghosts / Doomsday
The Runaway Bride
Smith and Jones
A divider. I love it, but a lot of people would tell you to skip it.
Human Nature / Family of Blood
Probably my favorite story of the entire run of New Who. An adaptation of a novel about the Seventh Doctor, but it works brilliantly for the Tenth and kind of has everything. Do not skip.
Many people, especially people who are not already huge Who nerds, count this as their favorite episode ever. It’s not mine, but I think it’s pretty good, and I see where they’re coming from.
Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords
The general consensus is that the first two parts are REALLY good and the last one…maybe not so much. But you can’t very well stop on the cliffhanger. Just watch it all.
Partners in Crime
Fires of Pompeii
Some very mild continuity stuff here, in the area of character development and themes.
Planet of the Ood
Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead
I don’t think anybody knew Doctor Who could pull off an episode like this until it happened. Chilling.
Even more disturbing in 2017 America.
Stolen Earth / Journey’s End
The Waters of Mars
Another of the very best.
The End of Time
The Eleventh Hour
The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone
Another episode that pushes the envelope for the show and is a nice change of pace.
The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood
I hesitated to include this but again, it (re)introduces an important alien species. I left out a two-parter in Season 4 that does the same, but I couldn’t bring myself to recommend that even for continuity reasons. You can take or leave this one.
Vincent and the Doctor
This is another divider. This time I’m on the wrong side of it, but everyone else loves it so much that I can’t tell you to skip it.
Another of my favorites. Non-essential but really fun.
The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang
A Christmas Carol
The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon
The Doctor’s Wife
By Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman comic series, the novel American Gods, and a whole bunch of other great things.
The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People
This is REALLY dreadful. But it sets up the next story so you have to suffer through it.
A Good Man Goes to War
Let’s Kill Hitler
The Girl Who Waited
One of the best. Highly recommended for anyone really into the time travel aspect of the show.
The God Complex
Another of my favorites of the season.
If you watched and liked “The Lodger” you’ll probably like this too. If you skipped that, don’t bother with this.
The Wedding of River Song
Asylum of the Daleks
The Angels Take Manhattan
The Bells of Saint John
Another on my short list of favorites. Maybe others agree with me more than I think? Another good one for time travel buffs.
The Crimson Horror
The Name of the Doctor
This had a big impact on us fans of the classic series, but also on pretty much everyone else.
The Day of the Doctor
Another of the very best. I’ve come to admire it more and more over time, not least for being perfectly tuned to please almost everyone without being any the worse for the effort.
The Time of the Doctor
A “Blink”-level classic in some people’s books. It has its moments.
Kill the Moon
I hate this episode more and more the more I think about it. But some people think it’s amazing. It might depend on how important the “science” in “science fiction” is to you.
Mummy on the Orient Express
If you watch “Kill the Moon” watching this becomes a continuity issue. If you skip it, you can skip this too, though it’s more enjoyable.
Dark Water / Death in Heaven
Crazy good. Essential viewing.
The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar
The Girl Who Died / The Woman Who Lived
The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion
May or may not be a continuity issue, depending on what happens next season, but definitely not to be missed.
Face the Raven / Heaven Sent / Hell Bent
The Husbands of River Song