The beginning of a new series has always been a crucial part of the Doctor Who experience, as the long wait between episodes means fans have lofty expectations from when the latest series debuts. So far, “NuWho” has done a great job in delivering what the fans wanted, although this hasn’t been smooth sailing.
Some premiere episodes have left us without feeling completely satisfied, while the better ones have gone down as one of the very best stories we’ve seen. With Series 12’s first episode around the corner, it’s fitting we check out how the prior ones have all stacked up as we rank all the series premieres so far of Doctor Who.
11 Series 6 – “The Impossible Astronaut”
Series premieres are meant to give you a taste of what is to come without causing fans to go crazy over what the heck just happened. Unfortunately, Doctor Who’s Series 6 did just this by handing in the angle of the Doctor dying.
This opened up way more questions than there needed to be, and there was confusion over how the younger Doctor would be meeting the end his friends saw him facing. Although the appearance of the Silence was welcome, nobody was forgetting the frustration at the cliffhanger in place that would last the whole series.
10 Series 11 – “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”
This premiere suffered from a lack of originality, as the theme behind it was something of a carbon copy of the fifth series premiere. Featuring a new Doctor whose personality was wildly like that of the Eleventh’s with her awkwardness, happy disposition, and all around confusion, this premiere tread too much of the same ground.
It’s a shame too, since the Series 11 premiere at least handed us new companions that were unlike what we’d seen in NuWho. But without the presence of a storytelling style that was distinct, the premiere fell flat in execution.
9 Series 7 – “Asylum Of The Daleks”
As was the case with the Series 6 premiere, we were made to look toward the future more than enjoy what we were watching at present, as the introduction of Clara Oswald to the series was heavily teased by having one of her fractured personalities debut here.
Still, the episode itself wasn’t bad, as having the brisk pace enabled the story to feel quick and to the point. It also helped that this was Amy and Rory’s last series, so we appreciated their presence more; although the split nature between these companions and Clara’s presence was rather muddled.
8 Series 8 – “Deep Breath”
Credit to Peter Capaldi for making this premiere worth watching, as the writing was both great at times and rather lacking in other areas. The debut of the Twelfth Doctor wasn’t conveyed supremely well, as he ran around with Clara getting more exposure than him.
The great part about this story, though, was watching the new Doctor’s antics as he tripped and fell his way over to presenting his characterization and we had something different from the protagonist after quite a long time. A bit more screentime for him would’ve made this a much better episode.
7 Series 3 – “Smith And Jones”
Making this premiere such an intriguing one was the fact that we got to see a new companion after two full series with the same one. For this reason, there’s a definite sense of freshness watching Martha Jones’ dynamic with the Tenth Doctor.
The premiere also didn’t shy away from having a more alien experience rather than be grounded on Earth like most others, as we saw the main setting be placed on the moon in a story that could have gone either way. The one negative point here was the establishment of Martha being crazily in love with the Doctor, which didn’t do much to separate her uniqueness from Rose.
6 Series 9 – “The Magician’s Apprentice” & “The Witch’s Familiar”
In this two-parter, we had the best of the Twelfth Doctor as he put on his now-iconic pair of sonic sunglasses and rocked his guitar, all the while sipping tea among Daleks. In hindsight, there wasn’t a “Doctor is going to die” scenario as the episodes made us believe, but that was the reason why the enjoyment lacked by a bit.
On the other hand, having Davros as a young child interact with a Doctor that was far into his future was a twist we never knew we wanted, and this set the bar for Series 9 to be the best one Doctor Who has come up with thus far.
5 Series 10 – “The Pilot”
It was nice having a quieter series premiere for a change, as we saw the Doctor be placed as a university professor and interact with a new companion for the first time during the twelfth incarnation’s lifetime.
Bolstering the premiere was the addition of the delightful new sidekick in Bill Potts, with her and the Doctor racing around the world to avoid the sentient oil creature known as Heather. It had the kind of subtle charm that the first series premiere had, even if the episode lacked a bit in the action department.
4 Series 2 – “New Earth”
Episodes about the far future have always been a treat to watch on Doctor Who, and the return of an angle seen from the first series was always going to be a winner. Here, we also fell for the charms of the Tenth Doctor for the first time as his full series debut wowed us with his performance.
This premiere was different in that it managed to make us sympathize with a villain, as we saw Cassandra “possess” Rose but acknowledge her death by presenting us with a heartwarming departure. Some were bemused to see Rose and the Doctor’s love angle be so striking, but it was done with taste.
3 Series 5 – “The Eleventh Hour”
Speaking of taste, who’s up for a round of fish fingers and custard? That would be our own Eleventh Doctor, who won over all doubters in his debut appearance. Within the span of an hour or so, this incarnation carried over the dominating presence of the Tenth, while also introducing his lovable quirks that still make us think bow ties are cool.
The storyline of the cracks in the universe was introduced here, but it never outshone the occasion of watching the new Doctor save the world, find a fresh companion, and unveil a TARDIS that captured all of his whimsical nature.
2 Series 4 – “Partners In Crime”
We might get to see more of this pairing in the comics, but we do appreciate all of the Tenth Doctor and Donna’s interactions in the TV series, with the fourth one reuniting them in full. Of course, the evergreen moment here was the opposite window conversation between the two, which is still replayed by fans.
Rather than give us yet another companion who was in love with the Doctor, we were introduced to the dynamic he had with Donna where they constantly argued like a pair of siblings while retaining the sense of adventure that Doctor Who is famous for.
1 Series 1 – “Rose”
As it turns out, the show has still not beaten the original premiere of NuWho after all these years, as Series 1 handed out just the right kind of introduction that was needed to attract new fans. This is the episode to watch even if you’ve never heard of Doctor Who before, as the perfect pairing of the Ninth Doctor and Rose goes along splendidly with the story.
We get the unlimited possibilities that the Doctor and the TARDIS bring, along with the introduction of the right kind of companion for the beginning of a new chapter for Doctor Who. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen all the series or not, as watching the first premiere still injects the blend of curiosity and awe that made us Doctor Who fans in the first place.
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