Doctor Who Season 1 2024 Episode Rankings and Thoughts

Doctor Who Season 1 2024 Episode Rankings: Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor,(Screenshot, (c) BBC)
All the episodes of Ncuti Gatwa’s first Doctor Who season ranked, as well as my broader thoughts on this year’s episodes.

So, with previous seasons of Doctor Who, I have tended to write a small review or thoughts on each story as they aired, or shortly thereafter.

For the first BBC/Disney+ season (Season 1 if you must), I didn’t do that.


It was largely practical; the airdate for the first two episodes saw me travelling on the day, where I remained largely spoiler free, but it meant that (much as I might have liked to), I ended up watching those two episodes relatively late by my standards.

I decided for reasons that will become obvious that it might be better to do one long season wrap writeup instead with thoughts across all eight episodes.

That lies below. However, I was grateful that, while I saw the first two episodes a couple of days late, they weren’t spoiled for me by anyone.

I HATE spoiling any kind of content for anyone, so I always throw in some spoiler space. If you’ve landed here before watching all eight episodes, then be warned.

Below the embedded randomly chosen YouTube video, there will be spoilers for the entire season. Don’t say you weren’t warned.


The big reason that I felt like maybe waiting until the end of the season to critique the whole set was because of the strong mystery thread that tied all of the episodes together, and the way that much of what each episode tried to do was going to tie (hopefully) into the finale in a way that made satisfying sense.

Spoiler: In my view (this is a review, subjectivity is inevitable) it didn’t really do that.

But still, I’m going to kick off with a feature I used to throw into the end of each review, namely my running order from best to worst for each episode in the series.

  1. Boom
  2. Rogue
  3. 73 Yards
  4. The Devil’s Chord
  5. The Legend Of Ruby Sunday/Empire of Death
  6. Dot and Bubble
  7. Space Babies

Yes, I know, I know, Disney’s treating “The Church on Ruby Road” as part of the series, but it’s a Christmas special. I have different tolerances and expectations for the Christmas specials.

Also, while they were broadcast on different weeks, The Legend of Ruby Sunday and The Empire of Death absolutely do form two parts of the same story, which is why I haven’t separated them here. If you want an absolute order, then The Legend of Ruby Sunday sits above The Empire of Death, pretty clearly in my view.

So let’s get into it, shall we?


Boom is, in so many ways, the very simplest episode this season, and it’s all the much better for it. It is of course also a very pure channel for Ncuti Gatwa to flex his acting muscles, given it has to balance the tension of an episode where (for the most part) the Doctor simply cannot move and has to think his way out of a problem.

Which is exactly as it should be; while Doctor Who can have action sequences, The Doctor is not an action star — he’s a thinking scientist type.

The best bit: Ncuti’s performance, which absolutely gets the core premise of why the mine is so dangerous over in a way that seems effortless but creates an amazing sense of tension. A lesser actor might not have managed this quite so well.

The worst bit: The daughter, Splice, and her obliviousness to what’s happened to her departed Dad lasts far too long for my tastes. If she had perhaps been a toddler that might have made more sense, but she wasn’t.


Not quite as good as Boom (but it’s close), Rogue presents another mostly-contained story that lets both Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson shine in a period drama that perhaps leans a little too much into Bridgerton for its own good — I suspect that, like the Big Brother/Weakest link bits in “Bad Wolf” that might not age well — in what is essentially, a fun Doctor Who romp. Which is as it should be.

The best bit: Millie Gibson giving relationship advice. Sure, it’s mostly played for laughs, but she does it so particularly well; it’s totally believable that Ruby would forget her anachronisms and give her real world view even if she was dropped into a completely different social strata.

The worst bit: The Chuldur’s heavy leaning into the word “Cosplay” nearly takes this (it’s a bit of a sledgehammer to my tastes), but really, the fact that you can get past a molecular level trap through shoulder barging someone out is more than a little daft as a plot resolution.

73 Yards

A Doctor-Lite episode — even lighter than others, though my understanding was that this was mostly around Ncuti’s other filming commitments at the time — that plays it creepy the whole way through.

I’m sure me putting it this low in the series order might annoy some, but the problem here is that while I loved the first three quarters of the story, it does not stick the landing at the end of the story.

I was honestly hoping that the series finale might make more sense of 73 yards, but aside from a quick reference to that distance, it did not.

The best bit: Millie Gibson absolutely shines in this, as she absolutely needed to. The first three quarters of this set a wonderfully creepy scene, the denouement of the Welsh pub bit is quite funny while still advancing the plot, and the very simple use of a blurred view of the antagonist is a nice way to create a cheap, but effective enemy.

The worst bit: It doesn’t make a lick of sense.

What was old Ruby saying to everyone (whether they knew young Ruby or not) that made them run away? She didn’t yet know about Sutekh, so it’s not that. She didn’t simply say “boo”, so it’s not that.  My best guess is that she threatened to show them season 4 of Torchwood if they didn’t run then and there…

Also, why does she have time travel powers by defeating Roger ap Gwilliam and then living on for a good long while? It was just hand waved away as “spooky” for the sake of it, or at best punted to the end of season explanation, finale… which really undid the tension for me in the least satisfying way possible.

The Devil’s Chord

Doctor Who and music have a strong connection, and in concept the idea of having a Beatles-centric episode is a pretty good idea.

I could see some not being that happy with a rather more Disney-esque presentation in this episode specifically — all those musical chords flying around are rather “Fantasia” in presentation — but Jinkx Monsoon’s performance straddles the line between camp and OTT camp rather nicely for my tastes.

The best bit: Jinkx Monsoon, hands-down. If you’re going to have an evil musical entity, they’re going to have to go all-out in performance terms, and this is handled well, even if the actual finish to the story was so obvious so very early on. Added points too for including June Hudson in the story.

The worst bit: A bit of a tie here for me between the not-Beatles — I mean, I get that the licensing might have been a bit on the expensive side, but if you can’t actually do the Beatles, why not do a random “Merseyside band” (wink wink) instead, so that the fandom isn’t befuddled by the casting choices which are clearly straddling legal likeness lines?

Also true for the music, though I can believe that getting actual Beatles tunes isn’t a cheap matter.

However, that’s also tied with the musical number at the end — and again, I was waiting for the season finale to perhaps explain that whole bit, but it never did.

A whole lot of time and money was spent shooting that, and aside from RTD perhaps patting himself on the back about it (there’s always a Susan Twist somewhere, ho ho, very clever, sigh…), it didn’t feel to me like it added much.

The Legend Of Ruby Sunday/Empire of Death

I’m putting the final two episodes together in one go here, because they do segue together entirely; the end of The Legend Of Ruby Sunday is a cliffhanger in the old school style for Empire of Death.

This is where it all needed to be tied up, making sense of Susan Triad and Ruby Sunday… and I don’t really feel like it did.

The Legend of Ruby Sunday is much better in this respect, of course, because it has far less weight on it, effectively just being the first act of what was to come and creating the scenes that play out in Empire of Death.

Still, for a series that wanted deep and satisfying mysteries throughout, their explanations eventually ended up mostly flat for me. Once you kill off the entire population of planet Earth in the opening five minutes, of course you’re going to have a time-travel wibbly thing to resolve it — it’s just a matter of how you get there.

Empire of Death has some clever ideas — possessed Mel isn’t bad, though I don’t know how she’s able to resist Sutekh for even a second given the fourth Doctor couldn’t even when Sutekh’s powers were constrained by Horus in Pyramids of Mars — but also some pretty serious structural problems, especially as Sutekh is defeated with a whole lot of soap opera business left to rumble through.

The best bit: The Sutekh reveal at the end of The Legend of Ruby Sunday. Nicely done – I just wish it played out better in Empire of Death.

Also, the bit with the mother and the baby is about as dark as I’ve ever seen Doctor Who go, hands down. It’s well played and quite unnerving.

The worst bit: So, so much of Empire of Death.

If Sutekh can control Mel because of her dead skin cells, why not Ruby? Does the Doctor not have fingernails?

Why does Ruby’s mother matter if she’s only human and presumably long since dusted by the sand as it passes over the earth anyway?

The “Death versus Death equals Life” bit is silly too — would have been simpler to say “We’re in the time Vortex, as Puppy Sutekh (on his good boy leash, strongest in the universe) bounces off the walls and rips them, it undoes his death-dealing and brings them back” just off the top of my head.

Why do other gods and entities give a tinker’s cuss about whether baby Ruby holds her mum in such high esteem anyway? Why the snow every time, even when it’s physically impossible? Don’t we all have those special people in our own lives, and if so, why wasn’t most of planet Earth unconsciously able to resist Sutekh, or have magical snow appear, or present the exact same protective mystery field?

Why the spoon? If it’s just a real bit of the real universe, could it have been anything?

I can’t have been the only one who saw the Doctor with a whistle and thought K-9 was going to make an appearance, could I?

Meeting Ruby’s mum is… not great in my view.

The reasons why actual children are abandoned in the real world are deep and complex, and while this doesn’t necessarily prohibit Doctor Who from covering it as a topic, my understanding of those issues does suggest that suddenly confronting a parent is not always a wise tactic, or one that ends well.

Presenting it all working wonderfully and ending up perfect might create the expectation for some that this might always happen in the real world. It feels cheaply manipulative to me, though I’m willing to admit I might be in the minority on this score.


Ahem. Also, presumably she’s got some serious questions to ask of Mrs Flood now. But somehow, she hasn’t done that, for… what reason, exactly?

It’s a minor quibble but “DOCTOR WHO WILL RETURN”?

Really? The character is The Doctor…

While the season finale didn’t satisfy me (and it’s the one I’m writing the most about, because it’s freshest in my mind), there are still two episodes to go, too!

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Dot and Bubble

Doctor Who tackles Social Media (by way of a sledgehammer ending about racism) was going to happen eventually, but Dot and Bubble was so particularly ephemeral and based around the audience not really questioning what they’re watching that it just fell over for me long before the episode was over.

The best bit: Ricky September is, I’ll admit, a pretty well observed influencer parody.

The worst bit: Another tie for me, this time three way. Firstly, there’s the slug creatures consuming people and only being seen on camera after Lindy Pepper-Bean becomes aware that the slugs exist at all. These people literally live online — they can’t even walk in a straight line without their bubble in place and their grouped conversations happening — so why has nobody been seen being consumed before now?

Equally, Ricky September is killed by a dot to the head — and if the Dots can do that, why did they need the slugs in the first place?

Finally, in the ending, where the whole racism-as-a-sledgehammer bit is used (and I’m OK with it, broadly, though it was a sledgehammer), the same people who couldn’t walk in a straight line are suddenly fine with heading off in boats into the wilderness with no understanding of survival skills… because?

(Final side thought: Lindy Pepper-Bean’s mother is called Penny Pepper-Bean. Lovely alliteration, but if Sutekh’s plan was to trap the Doctor, why isn’t she Susan Pepper-Bean?)

Space Babies


Babies… in space.

Yeah, look, I’ll be honest here, this was not the season opening I was expecting, though I guess it does feel very “Disney”, by way of Look Who’s Talking (not originally a Disney production, mind…). But there’s really not much that I do like about Space Babies, very easily the weakest episode this season.

The Best bit: Rubathon Blue is kind of cute, I guess.

The worst bit: Everything else. The babies, of course, but also the boogeyman being a quite literal boogeyman.

The plot is inconsequential, there’s a lot of what felt like filler and it all seems just too hell-bent on going “look, a baby with a flamethrower, isn’t that CUUUUUTE?” ALL THE DAMNED TIME.

So, you’re no longer a Doctor Who fan, then?

Oh no, I most certainly am. I critique because I love, after all, and I want Doctor Who to be as good as it can be.

While I am going on the record as being disappointed in the season — it ultimately didn’t live up to its premise and left too much either unresolved or at best underdeveloped — there are some genuine bright points.

It’s easy to see why Ncuti Gatwa was cast, because he’s brilliant, and even with weaker material Millie Gibson was and is awesome as well. My understanding is that she’s still cast for the 2025 season, so clearly Empire of Death’s finale is something of a fakeout in this respect as far as anyone knows. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

After all, with everything relating to Doctor Who, it’s always a matter of time…

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1 thought on “Doctor Who Season 1 2024 Episode Rankings and Thoughts”

  1. Not gonna lie I was wondering where the heck the Who content from Alex was this season, so happy to have it all in one big post!

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