'Doctor Who': What's the perfect gateway episode?

DR-WHO

Image Credit: Adrian Rogers/BBC America

As someone who writes a lot about Doctor Who, I’m frequently asked the following question by friends and colleagues who are interested in starting to watch the show: “Which episode should I check out first?”

It’s a very good question—and a very difficult one to answer. The British time travel show—which returns to BBC America on August 23—was first broadcast in the U.K. way back in 1963, and there are now literally hundreds of adventures from which to choose.

Should I recommend a show which properly introduced one of the recent Doctors, like 2005’s Christopher Eccleston-starring “Rose” (the very first episode of the rebooted, post-hiatus Who)? Or the same year’s David Tennant episode “The Christmas Invasion”? Or the Matt Smith-introducing “The Eleventh Hour”? Or should I suggest they check out one of the shows from the new era which has achieved classic status, such as “The Girl In the Fireplace” or “Blink” (even though the latter doesn’t feature the Doctor all that much)? What about going old-school and recommending adventures I watched as a child from the behind the couch, like the Jon Pertwee-era “Planet of the Spiders” or the Alien-esque, Tom Baker-starring horrorfest “The Ark in Space”? Should I recommend an episode which features Daleks? Or Cybermen? Or The Master? Maybe I should even direct them all the way back to the very first Who adventure, the William Hartnell-starring “An Unearthly Child,” or even the pair of Peter Cushing-starring big screen adventures (1965’s Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks—Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.) which back in the day actually did introduce the Time Lord to many future diehard Whovians?

To be honest, I’m never really sure what answer to give. But maybe you do! Which Doctor Who adventure would you recommend to someone who had never seen the show?  And why? Please give us your recommendation below…

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