Timestamp: Series Nine Summary

Doctor Who Series Nine Summary

Timestamp Logo Twelfth

Peter Capaldi’s sophomore set was a big step up.

After Series Eight‘s uneven performance, the Twelfth Doctor really started to shine with stories better aligned with science fiction’s mission to analyze the human condition. Series Nine tackled vengeance and regret, life and death, and war and peace before capping the run with a love story.

Along the way, we did get a straight time travel tale in Under the Lake & Before the Flood and a swing-and-a-miss regarding choice and consequences in the three stories orbiting Clara’s death, as well as an experiment that flopped with Sleep No More. Those last two were the big drawbacks in the series, but I’m more than pleased with the deep dive into the human condition that was amplified by Peter Capaldi getting more comfortable in the Twelfth Doctor’s skin.

Clara’s negative growth from the last series didn’t play out well in this series. She was a lot more stable in this set, but her arc didn’t pay off thanks to Steven Moffat’s inability to say goodbye. She faced the consequences of her actions but then had the choice reversed, thus reinforcing my position that Last Christmas should have been her last journey.

Overall, Series Nine comes in with a solid 4.1 score, putting it alongside the Fifth and Eighteenth classic seasons and the Second and Seventh revival era series. That collection is a tie for tenth among the thirty-seven seasons (so far) in the scope of the Timestamps Project. That’s a good place to be.

The Magician’s Apprentice & The Witch’s Familiar – 4
Under the Lake & Before the Flood – 5
The Girl Who Died & The Woman Who Lived – 4
The Zygon Invasion & The Zygon Inversion – 5
Sleep No More – 2
Face the Raven – 4
Heaven Sent & Hell Bent – 4
The Husbands of River Song – 5

Series Nine Average Rating: 4.1/5


Next up, the Timestamps Project takes a look at Class, which is the last big set of episodes that your humble reviewer hasn’t watched before. That will take about eight weeks and lead back to Doctor Who, which will take us through Series Ten and the final adventures of the Twelfth Doctor before embarking on the Thirteenth Doctor’s journey.

UP NEXT – Class: For Tonight We Might Diecc-break

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Series Eight Summary

Doctor Who Series Eight Summary

Timestamp Logo Twelfth

Peter Capaldi’s freshman series was a mixed bag.

The Twelfth Doctor marked a significant shift in the franchise, re-introducing the alien quality and emotional distance to the main character that existed in the classic era and the Ninth Doctor’s single season. We were also treated to another attempt at the “regeneration gone wrong” story trope, which played with variable results in Logopolis and The Twin Dilemma.

The Doctor questions himself, Clara questions herself, and the relationship between them is stressed as it faces growth or breakage. In the totality of this series, it has done both.

This version of the Doctor pondered if he was a good man. He’s on the heels of (presumably) saving Gallifrey – an act that is tossed in his face by Missy as she pokes at his weaknesses – and has often looked down upon humanity until he realized just who he truly was in the final moments of Death in Heaven. The Doctor grows into his new skin, realizing that he is nothing more than an idiot with a magic box and a screwdriver who passes through, helps out, and learns. The Doctor grew well over the course of this series.

Clara, on the other hand, experienced negative growth in this go-round. She pushed her limits in stories like Flatline, but also lied (a lot!) and manipulated people, effectively becoming a reflection of the Doctor with very selfish motivations. She lied to the man she loved to keep traveling with the Doctor, and she intended to extort and betray the Doctor in an attempt to save Danny’s life by way of a temporal paradox.

To that end, Clara’s arc represents lost potential centered around what Davros and Rory have both pointed out in the past: Traveling with the Doctor can turn companions into worse people. Tegan knew it too. This series could have explored these waters, either culminating in a tearful goodbye for the relationship in Last Christmas or subverting the idea by having Clara evolve into a markedly better person. Instead, we got something more indecisive.

That’s a pretty good marker for this series, in fact, with the constant recycling of tropes and murky character motivations leading into rather disappointing stories at the end.  Yes, that includes both times that this series exercised the Black Dude Dies First trope, the latter of which was coupled with the Stuffed into the Fridge trope.

As an aside, someone on Facebook wondered if I was racist by pointing this out. That answer is no. The trope stems from the history of cinema where black actors purposely kept clear of leading roles. As times changed and more actors of color were cast in bigger roles, they were treated as token actors and their characters were often killed off first. It has been used less and less over time but has also given rise to the equally reprehensible Bury Your Gays trope.

The overall muddled path for the series translates into the scoring. Series Eight earned a 3.6 average. That is far from spectacular, leaving this set of stories at twenty-second out of thirty-six effective seasons since the Timestamps Project started. That’s more than halfway down the list.

It’s a shame since I do love Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. The stories that he has been handed are not doing him any favors, and neither is the treatment of his companion. I still stand by the opinion that Clara’s conclusion should have been Last Christmas.

Deep Breath – 5
Into the Dalek – 4
Robot of Sherwood – 2
Listen – 4
Time Heist – 4
The Caretaker – 3
Kill the Moon – 2
Mummy on the Orient Express – 4
Flatline – 5
In the Forest of the Night – 4
Dark Water & Death in Heaven – 3
Last Christmas – 3

Series Eight Average Rating: 3.6/5


Next up, the Timestamps Project tackles the ninth series of Doctor Who, followed by the single series of Class and then Series Ten. Series Nine will be a shorter set of analyses since most of the stories are two-parters.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice and Doctor Who: The Witch’s Familiar
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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Series Seven, Specials, and Eleventh Doctor Summary

Doctor Who: Series Seven, Specials, and Eleventh Doctor Summary

Timestamp Logo Eleventh 2

The Eleventh’s senior showing was a good wrap to the run.

For the purposes of the Timestamps Project, Series 7 and the specials that wrapped up Matt Smith’s era are treated as a single group, and among them were very few disappointments. In fact, of the normal episodes, only Hide and Nightmare in Silver scored average or lower – Nightmare in Silver was the big loser there – and they were accompanied by the collective mini-episodes that were in-universe bonus material.

I’m not a big fan of the mini-episodes or the prequel shorts. They’re fun, but they don’t really add much to the narrative. The prequels really could be added to the episodes that they supplement, or they could be left out overall since the information that they convey is already part of the story.

This set did explore some fascinating territory, from the emotional departure of the Ponds to the introduction of the “impossible girl”. The downside to the Pond story was the disjointed timeline, a problem that carried over into Clara’s tenure as a companion with odd jumps and missing adventures in time between episodes. That latter offers plenty of room for novels, games, and audio adventures, but doesn’t play well for audiences who only pay attention to the television side of Doctor Who.

The big highlight, of course, was the 50th-anniversary celebration. The major milestone provided a big reason to pull out all the stops with a multi-Doctor story that added new context to the adventures that we’d seen since 2005.


The series comes in at an average of 4.1. Over the Eleventh Doctor’s run, that marks a steady decline year-to-year, down from 4.3 in Series Five and 4.2 in Series Six. Also notable is the increase in story quantity year-to-year which might point to the reason for the sliding scores. That said, the era still remains over 4.0 overall.

Series Seven comes in at tenth all-time for the Timestamps Project, tied with Series Two, the Eighteenth Series, and the Fifth Series. It comes in behind the Eleventh Series, Series Six, Series One, Series Three, Series Five, the Tenth Doctor’s specials, the Eighth Doctor’s run, Series Four, and the Ninth Series.

The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe – 5
Good as Gold & Pond Life – 3
Asylum of the Daleks – 5
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – 5
A Town Called Mercy – 4
The Power of Three – 4
The Angels Take Manhattan – 4
The Snowmen – 4
The Bells of Saint John – 5
The Rings of Akhaten – 4
Cold War – 4
Hide – 3
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS – 4
The Crimson Horror – 5
Nightmare in Silver – 2
The Name of the Doctor – 5
Clara and the TARDIS & Rain Gods The Inforarium – 3
The Day of the Doctor – 5
The Time of the Doctor – 4

Series Seven and Specials (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.1/5


Timestamps Eleventh Doctor

Following tradition…

The First Doctor was a wise grandfather, the Second a sly jester, the Third a secret agent scientist, the Fourth an inquisitive idealist, the Fifth an honorable humanitarian, the Sixth a squandered cynic, the Seventh a curious schemer, the Eighth a classical romantic, the Ninth a hopeful healing veteran, the Tenth a bargaining humanitarian…

…and the Eleventh Doctor is an irascible runner.

The Eleventh Doctor readily displayed his desire to forget his place in the Last Great Time War. He just wanted to move on from the horrors he perpetrated as the War Doctor, and when things did not go according to plan, his fury was right at the surface and ready to burn.

Death and defeat reminded him of his failure at Gallifrey, something that he finally came to terms with when he met his predecessors on that same battlefield. Following the Kübler-Ross model of grief that each of the revival era Doctors has followed in its very real non-linear manner, this Doctor finally found acceptance thanks to his weary warrior forebearer.

To that end, he truly found happiness at the end of the race he ran.


Series 5 – 4.3
Series 6 – 4.2
Series 7 – 4.1

Eleventh Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 4.17

Ranking (by score)
1 – Eighth (4.50)
2 – Tenth (4.34)
3 – Ninth (4.30)
4 – Eleventh (4.17)
5 – Third (4.00)
6 – Second (3.67)
7 – Fourth (3.67)
8 – Seventh (3.54)
9 – First (3.41)
10 – Fifth (3.20)
11 – Sixth (2.73)
N/A – War (No score)

Ranking (by character)
1 – Tenth Doctor
2 – Second Doctor
3 – Ninth Doctor
4 – Eighth Doctor
5 – Third Doctor
6 – Fourth Doctor
7 – War Doctor
8 – Eleventh Doctor
9 – Seventh Doctor
10 – First Doctor
11 – Fifth Doctor
12 – Sixth Doctor

As I’ve mentioned before, the top nine spaces on the character ranking are really, really, really close. I’m always tempted to simply rank them all as a first-place tie, but I find the real challenge to be actually thinking it through and ranking them.


Next up, we change Doctors but keep the same showrunner in charge.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Deep Breath

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Series Six Summary

Doctor Who Series Six Summary

Timestamp Logo Eleventh

Matt Smith’s sophomore series was about the same as the previous round.

The Moffat formula remains intact here, approaching a season-spanning threat while maintaining an adventure-of-the-week format. This version made the threat more personal by focusing on the Doctor’s impending death, the pursuit of Amy and Rory’s child, and revelations about Steven Moffat’s perennial favorite River Song.

One thing I really liked about this season’s approach was how it didn’t constantly remind us of the overarching threat. Series Five kept showing us the crack at various points, almost to the point of defenestrating each adventure. The reminders in Series Six were frequent, but they were also a bit more diffuse, allowing each story to thrive without constantly glancing at the sword dangling above.

I’m still up in the air about the conclusion. The end goal was the death of the Doctor – a fixed point in time – and The Wedding of River Song was pretty clear about what would happen if the Doctor was spared. Yet, he was spared because a machine that looks like the Doctor was shot and destroyed.

So, what happens when the Silence finds out that the Doctor survived? Alternatively, it is possible to subvert other “fixed points” through shenanigans and/or tomfoolery?

Anyway, to the numbers!

Series Six earned a 4.2 average. That leave this group at eighth place overall, tied coincidentally with the classic era’s Eleventh Series. Ahead of it in this ranking are Series One, Series Three, and Series Five (all tied for fifth), David Tennant’s specials, the TV Movie, Series Four, and the classic era’s Ninth Series.

A Christmas Carol – 5
The Impossible Astronaut & Day of the Moon – 4
The Curse of the Black Spot – 3
The Doctor’s Wife – 5
The Rebel Flesh & The Almost People – 5
A Good Man Goes to War – 5
Let’s Kill Hitler – 5
Night Terrors – 2
The Girl Who Waited – 5
The God Complex – 5
Closing Time – 3
The Wedding of River Song
– 4
Space/Time & Night and the Doctor – 3

Series Six Average Rating: 4.2/5


The Timestamps Project is still proceeding in mostly chronological order. Up next is the final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures. After that, we embark on a straight shot through the seventh, eighth, and ninth series of Doctor Who.

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Sky
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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Series Five Summary

Doctor Who: Series Five Summary

Timestamp Logo Eleventh

Series Five shifted gears with a new Doctor and a new showrunner.

Having seen the Matt Smith episodes before, I haven’t looked back fondly upon them. I think part of it was my mindset, especially after binging the episodes from Series One. I’m also a big fan of David Tennant and the paradigm shift from Russell T Davies and David Tennant to Steven Moffat and Matt Smith was a shock.

There’s a lot later in Steven Moffat’s tenure as showrunner to be critical about, but Series Five is much better than I remember.

The big stumbling blocks were Amy’s Choice and The Lodger. In the former case, the issue was presenting a mystery for the audience to solve but leaving out a critical puzzle piece to make the Doctor the smartest man in the room. In the latter case, the story was obviously a filler episode. The season also had a hard time selling me on the love between Amy and Rory. He obviously adores her, but she treats him like refuse far too often.

But it’s hard to be angry with such a fun and interesting slate otherwise, from the “I’m the Doctor” moment in The Eleventh Hour to the Daleks winning the battle in Victory of the Daleks, the return of the Silurians in The Hungry Earth & Cold Blood, and the time-traveling epic that is The Pandorica Opens & The Big Bang.

Lest we forget the most beautiful story in this batch: Vincent and the Doctor. It makes me cry every time.


Series Five comes in at an average of 4.3. That leaves it in a three-way tie for fifth place for the Timestamps Project, coming in behind the classic Ninth Series, the new era’s Series Four, the Eighth Doctor’s run, and the Tenth Doctor’s specials. It’s on par with two other revival groupings – Series One and Series Three – and just ahead of the classic Eleventh Series.

The Eleventh Hour – 5
The Beast Below – 5
Victory of the Daleks – 4
The Time of Angels & Flesh and Stone – 4
The Vampires of Venice – 4
Amy’s Choice – 3
The Hungry Earth & Cold Blood – 5
Vincent and the Doctor – 5
The Lodger – 3
The Pandorica Opens & The Big Bang – 5

Series Five (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.3/5


Next up, we head back to Bannerman Road with the fourth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

UP NEXT – The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Nightmare Man

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.