The Unquiet Dead
Historical setting, high-profile guest star, gag about Wales, bit about Christmas. All good. Except it just kind of misses. The Gelth don't come across too well - they're hard to make out, sometimes. And it's trying too hard to evoke The Talons of Weng Chiang, which it can't do well, because it wasn't made in the 1970s.
And here we have a couple of icons, and proof, if proof were needed that this is the same series that Lis Sladen was in in the 1970s. Some great character moments for Billie and Lis, and Mickey realises that he's the metal dog. All of which makes this episode rise above the thinness of the plot.
Heavy on the CGI, reuse of sets and characters, combining the returning Cat People from Season 2 with the Macra from the 1960s. Another slim plot, bookended with the Doctor talking about Gallifrey - and that's what lifts this story.
Planet of the Ood
In their previous outing, the Ood were an innocent race, used by an outside force, and they all died. All of them. That's not really a very good message, perhaps, to send out to kids. Yes, they had red eyes and went mad and stuff, but here they carry their brains around, and they get liberated from slavery. Which they would probably have done without the Doctor being around, actually.
Catherine Tate is very good.
Victory of the Daleks
I want to like this one more. I want to proclaim it as a hidden gem of a story, with the humour of the Daleks offering tea, the fantastic dog fight, the brilliant reveal of new daleks, and the humanity of the characters - even the robots.
It's got great hopes for itself, but it fails.
Part of the problem is that it needs to be a longer story. The Dalek subterfuge needs to be questionable for longer - there needs to be a real feeling that the Doctor is wrong about them. And then there's the reveal of the new range of toys that look like a marketing group sat down and wondered "how can we make these nasty machines of death less threatening and more cuddly?"
Curse of Fenric handled war better, over twenty years ago. And it had Tomek Bork in it.
Ranking for Episode 3
Series Four extends its lead, but Series Two and Three are close behind. Next: Slitheen, Clockwork, Daleks, Sontarans and Angels.