We’re hopping back in the TARDIS to chart another era of Doctor Who. The BBC’s long-running sci-fi series has had plenty of stars take up the titular role over the years, but few had as big a challenge as Matt Smith. Taking over after the acclaimed David Tennant years, Smith won us all over as Raggedy Man. If you’re ready to shout “Geronimo”, here are the eight best episodes from Matt Smith’s tenure with the TARDIS.
The Eleventh Hour
Going back to the start, Smith’s first episode in a post-Tennant world was always going to make it onto a list of his best. It’s where we first met a young Amelia Pond and then caught up with her adult self (sporting a sexy police officer’s uniform) to start her legacy as the Girl Who Waited. Smith showed his fun-loving side as a more boisterous version of the Doctor to Tennant and Eccleston.
Probably the most divisive entry is “Amy’s Choice”. A classic time travel episode of Doctor Who that saw multiple realities and (obviously) Amy Pond face some tough decisions. Karen Gillan really shone as the no-nonsense partner in crime of No. 11. While some stuff about space pollen was a bit lame, Toby Jones was at his villainous best as the Dream Lord and lived up to his acting prowess playing the big bad. There was another clever climax when the sadistic Dream Lord was revealed to be a dark manifestation of the Doctor himself.
That tricky Doctor sure likes to get around, but sorry River Song, it looks like you’ve got some competition. A partnership extending beyond any of the Doctor’s companions is the one between him and the TARDIS. Seeing her brought to life in human form was some Black Mirror-inspired genius, but it worked. Suranne Jones was brilliant as the humanised TARDIS, aka the Doctor’s wife, and became a standout guest of the series. If only she'd stuck around a little longer.
Vincent and the Doctor
Doctor Who is known for peppering its episodes with historical figures like Queen Victoria, William Shakespeare, and Agatha Christie, but few had as much emotional impact as Vincent Van Gogh. The budding artist took a shining to Ms. Pond, prompting the Doctor to tell her, “you’d have very ginger children.” Watching Tony Curran play the tormented creative still brings a tear to the eye.
A controversial choice that put Smith’s Doctor on a more subdued adventure on Earth, “The Lodger” featured a pre-America James Corden as Craig. No matter what your opinion on Corden, he played the part of a bumbling sidekick to a tee. There were plenty of laughs to be had as the Doctor tried to adapt to ‘normal’ life. Although the alien payoff at the end was a little predictable, the episode was a brief respite from all the darkness of Series 5.
The Impossible Astronaut
Series six tipped its stetson and took us Stateside for the first time in “The Impossible Astronaut”. A strong supporting cast of Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and Alex Kingston made for a memorable outing with Smith at the centre. There were twists and turns as Smith played two versions of the Doctor some 200 years apart and viewers tried to figure out why River Song was set to kill her love at Lake Sliencio.
The Angels Take Manhattan
Another easy choice for any Matt Smith episode is the swansong of Amy and Rory. There are many brilliant Doctor Who episodes that feature the Weeping Angels, but none get to the core of the show like “The Angels Take Manhattan”. The brilliance of the episode was the last-minute twist that saw the Doctor’s companions sent back in time to a reality that even he couldn’t save them from. Doctor Who is known for retconning some of its emotional moments, but “The Angels Take Manhattan” was a definitive goodbye for Smith’s stalwart friends.
The Asylum of the Daleks
Amping up the horror aspect of Doctor Who that we all love, Series 7’s “Asylum of Daleks” dumped the Doc on an automated prison housing the rotten robots that were too mad for even the Daleks. Oswin Oswald was a memorable addition and we’re not sure if we’ll ever get over the heart-wrenching twist that her rescue attempt was all in vain when Smith’s Doctor realised soufflé girl had been a Dalek all along. Oswin’s legacy lived on as she managed to purge the Daleks of the Doctor (briefly) and Jenna Coleman made her first steps to becoming Amy and Rory’s replacement.