Sometimes it’s so hard to choose. Sometimes it’s easy.
I was thinking of this, I think, because of all the ‘Tooth and Claw’ imagery that pops up on Tumblr from time to time. This episode is really the beginning of the end for Rose. It’s a romp, pure fun in a lot of ways; the two are never more adorable or more obnoxious together than they are here. But you can see the strikes against them begin to accumulate. People have died, and they’re busy taking bets and pranking the Queen. They giggle to each other over their knighthoods while Lady Isobel looks on in agony. Her husband is dead, her household traumatized; while I’m sure she’s aware that Rose and the Doctor prevented a much worse outcome, I doubt she appreciates their levity.
But the episode IS a fun one. The pair’s banter is entertaining to follow. Rose is at her most resourceful, the Doctor at his most brilliant. They play off each other beautifully. It’s exciting and scary and smart.
And in the end there is Torchwood, and their destiny is fixed.
I think this makes ‘Tooth and Claw’ my favorite of S2. It’s got all the good stuff, and a touch of weight that keeps it from ‘Robot of Sherwood’ territory. It’s the heroes’ moment in the sun before darkness falls again. It’s all downhill from here.
S2 is not the easiest to choose from, but it’s not the hardest either. S1 gets that honor. The season as a whole is an easy favorite, and in my opinion hits no wrong notes. There are no major turkeys; maybe a flawed moment here or there, but overall every episode is strong, every character whole and complete. Choosing a favorite from among them is hard. ‘Father’s Day’ comes to mind, with Pete’s heroism and the Doctor’s silent sacrifice. ‘Dalek’ showcases Rose’s compassion and humor. ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’ is a gem of a story. How do I pick just one?
On the other hand, the later seasons are far easier. S3 has its moments, but ‘Blink’ easily blows all the others away. S4 is weaker overall, and so ‘Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead’ really stands out. If you count the specials of 2009 as a unit, ‘The Next Doctor’ takes the prize. S5 has ‘Vincent and the Doctor;’ S6 ‘The Doctor’s Wife.’
S7 is hard again, but for a different reason. There are no really strong episodes in this season. Personally I put ‘Rings of Akhaten’ above the others, because I love the music so much. The storytelling is really not very good. But no other episode has much to recommend it either.
S8 is harder than 5 or 6, but not really hard. ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ stands head and shoulders above the rest, though ‘Flatline’ and ‘Time Heist’ show strongly, as do the opening and closing stories. There’s much more good stuff in here than the last few seasons, though there’s a fair amount of not-great as well.
Forget about the classic series; there’s still too much I haven’t seen. However, ‘The Daemons’ (Third Doctor) and ‘City of Death’ (Fourth Doctor) are two that we love so far. ‘City of Death’ is a pretty universal favorite. Four and Romana lark about in Paris, much as Rose and the Doctor do at Torchwood Estate. Humor is paramount. John Cleese makes a guest appearance. But as in much of the classic era, there is no dark cloud to overshadow the fun. The recipients of the Doctor’s and Romana’s digs deserve it, and the pair walk away unscathed and unthreatened at the end.
I love the fun ones, but in the modern era at least, I enjoy a touch of the serious too.