When RadioTimes.com determined to carry a vote for the greatest Doctor Who series of the fashionable period a pair of months in the past, I used to be intrigued to see how issues would stack up.
Would the freshness of Jodie Whittaker’s current series outweigh its controversial finale? Would David Tennant’s standing as fan-favourite be challenged by the likes of Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi? And would Christopher Eccleston’s well-formed first series have a shot at the prime title?
Now, 55,000 votes and a nine-week lockdown later, we have now our reply – David Tennant’s series 4, aka the 2008 series he starred in with Catherine Tate, stays the fan favourite, taking a powerful 75 per cent of the vote in the ultimate. Actually, I ought to have seen it coming.
Arriving onscreen at a time when Tennant-mania was at its peak, series 4 still managed to exceed expectations in 2008, delivering a 13-episode run of terrific episodes (together with just a few classics) in addition to an all-time nice Doctor/companion relationship between the Tenth Doctor and Donna (Tate).
Different Doctor Who series could have had higher particular person episodes however few have had such a constant run of high quality by means of the complete series – although relating to The Unicorn and the Wasp, YMMV.
Private favourites from this series embrace Davies’ “bottle episode” Midnight, the two-part Sontaran episode that filmed on my street (geographic bias, sorry) and Steven Moffat’s masterful River Track intro Silence in the Library/Forest of the Lifeless, all constructing to a genuinely epic conclusion in the finale The Stolen Earth/Journey’s Finish and Tennant’s goodbye specials over the following 12 months.
Earlier than we had Marvel film crossovers, Russell T Davies’ capacity to incorporate parallel Whoniverse TV reveals like the Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood in the important series was a masterful feat of organisation, giving the finale some actual heft as the NuWho universe he’d created got here collectively.
Over the years, series 4 turned one thing of a connoisseur’s alternative in phrases of Doctor Who eras. Series one with Christopher Eccleston was perhaps the purest expression of fashionable Doctor Who, series two hit the notes of the Doctor/Rose romance completely and series three had some sensible one-off tales, whereas later adventures with Matt Smith entranced viewers abroad and rebooted the series completely.
Peter Capaldi’s adventures, in the meantime had been beloved by each new and previous followers, whereas Jodie Whittaker’s more moderen series struck a chord with an entire new space of viewership and introduced Who again to the centre of the popular culture dialog.
However series 4 was extra measured and fascinating than all of them – slightly darker, slightly extra complicated and experimental as each Davies and Tennant ready to depart the present behind. This model of Doctor Who was going out on a excessive, and so they used that energy to create some genuinely fascinating bits of tv relatively than resting on their laurels.
Now, not less than amongst our readers, love of series 4 seems to have calcified into the mainstream opinion. After we ran the same series ballot in 2018, it additionally received the vote (with series one once more in second place), and clearly any future series could have a hell of a job to displace it in Whovian hearts.
Still, perhaps that’s honest sufficient. Whereas you might have your personal favourite series, or assortment of episodes, or Doctor, it’s arduous to argue that this superior run of TARDIS enjoyable doesn’t deserve all the optimistic consideration it’s still getting. Series 4 is an important season of TV, a excessive watermark for Doctor Who and the good swansong for the Tenth Doctor.
If we’re again right here in two years, don’t be stunned to see it take the prime slot as soon as once more.
Doctor Who returns to BBC One in late 2020/early 2021