Before we slide into the finale, I thought it worthwhile to recap where we’ve been up to now. Here, in three buckets but otherwise no particular order, are the 11 season 5 episodes we’ve had so far.
cream of the crop
the eleventh hour
Finest debut story since “Castrovalva.” (Granted, that’s not saying much, but I did like “Rose”. And “Castrovalva.”)
the beast below
The payoff was weak (and a little disturbing), but the setup was worth it all by itself as far as I was concerned. New-Who future Earth is always encouragingly weird, except maybe for the cat nuns, and this one posed the most meaningful allegorical dilemma of the season.
time of the angels / flesh and stone
Overrated, but not unjustly. I still don’t really buy the Angels as the Best Who Monster Ever or even as a convincing lifeform full stop. But the episodes that feature them are really excellent entertainment.
I never would have predicted that this would be any good, but it was brilliant. Entertaining on a surface level, and surprisingly deep, skewering our Hero with a directness we’ve never seen before even in the supposedly dark McCoy days. The monsters seem lazy, but in fact they’re the pointy end of the skewer if you think about it.
The most flat-out enjoyable episode of the season, if you’re not hung up on Doctor Who being Scary and Serious all the time. Best part for me was Amy making way for a temporary “companion” who had much more chemistry with the Doctor than she’s ever had.
vampires of venice
Underrated, but not unjustly. Not a patch on “City of Death” (sorry, Paul Kirkley) and not the spooky “State of Decay” sequel it could (maybe should) have been, but good clean fun nevertheless. Critics who fixate on the “climb the tower” ending are really just trying to brag about noticing it.
the hungry earth / cold blood
As much as I love these monsters and as important as I consider the themes they always come prepackaged with, I have to concede this was largely a waste of time.
vincent and the doctor
Its heart was in the right place…sort of…but its head wasn’t. Massively overrated by people who think that mentioning depression and art is the same as weaving a compelling drama about them.
bottom of the barrel
victory of the daleks
Worst of the season and perhaps of the whole series. There is no moment at which something enjoyable is happening that is not spoiled by something incredibly stupid. I realize Gatiss started with hopeless requirements but surely it could have been better than this.