Sunday, 11 September 2016

Doctor Who: 10 Greatest Chris Chibnall Episodes

We've already looked at the best of Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat, so now its time to count down the greatest episodes of Doctor Who's newest showrunner - Chris Chibnall.

 10. Torchwood: Countrycide

Torchwood's debut season tried out various tones and styles until it found its feet. While this didn't always equal success, Chibnall delivered one of the better, and most shocking, episodes of the show in 'Countrycide'. Eschewing any alien element altogether, the episode is practically a TV slasher horror movie, with the gang facing a bunch of cannibalistic country folk.

9. Torchwood: Adrift

Just a year later, Torchwood had matured to the point that it could produce this tragic and touching examination of how the Rift that runs through Cardiff effected the ordinary people of the city. Focussing on Gwen and putting Jack in an antagonistic role, it challenges the viewer's conceptions of right and wrong.

8. Torchwood: Fragments

This penultimate episode of season two functions as a portmanteau episode that gives us some backstory on different members of the team - for instance, how Ianto and Jack first met, Owen's tragic fiancee and Tosh's unfair imprisonment. The best is a quick history of Jack's century-long career at Torchwood.

7. Torchwood: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Torchwood always borrowed heavily from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it wore it on its sleeve in this season two opener as James Marsters joined the cast - as the very Spike-esque Captain John Hart. Marsters injects a fresh energy to the show and the writing is fast and punchy. There should have been a lot more of John.

6. Torchwood: Exit Wounds

That said, John did return to "tear your world apart, Captain Jack Harkness" in season two's thrilling yet heartbreaking finale. Twists and turns abound here, as well as multiple (yes, multiple!) character deaths that really hit home. If Chibnall can offer this level of shocking and emotional storytelling in Who, he'll be onto a winner.

5. 42 

After his work on Torchwood's first two seasons, Chibnall wrote his first Who episode in season three. Sporting the nifty premise of taking place in real time, it's a breakneck-paced runaround which features the terrifying sight of the Doctor taken over by the monster. One standout sequence is the Doctor's silent promise to Martha that he will save her from across space.

4. The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

Chibnall didn't write another Who until Matt Smith's first season, where he reintroduced popular classic monsters, the Silurians. A wonderful throwback to the Third Doctor's era, it presents a fair-minded take on creatures that are much more human than most Who aliens. Plus, there is the emotional (first) death of Rory at the climax, as well as some tantalising hints about the wider story arc.

3. The Power of Three

I would say Chibnall's second episode for season seven is his best Who episode so far, though. While the following instalment saw the actual end of the Ponds, this one is their last hurrah as the Doctor is forced to live with them for the year of the "slow invasion." There are two moments of greatness - the reveal of Kate's parentage and the Doctor and Amy's quiet talk on the banks of the Thames.

2. Pond Life

Accompanying that season was a five episode mini-series (the whole thing was 5 minutes long) about the home life of the Ponds - with added Ood and Doctor cameos. It's good fun and it ends on a sad moment for the pair which leads into their divorce in 'Asylum of the Daleks.'

1. P.S.

Perhaps Chibnall's most affecting Doctor Who writing was not even broadcast. Originally intended as a DVD extra, difficulty in getting the cast together prevented this from being filmed. Instead, this epilogue to Amy and Rory's departure - focussing on Rory's dad Brian - was realised with an animation and a voiceover by Arthur Darvill. Even in that diminished quality, it's still a lovely little scene.

Honourable mentions: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, Torchwood: End of Days, Torchwood: Day One, Torchwood: Cyberwoman

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