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Doctor Who on HBO Max: 14 timeless episodes to get you started right away

Doctor Who time-travel onto HBO Max this week. Here are some of the best episodes to give you a flavor.

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BBC

Adventure! Aliens! Famous historical figures, in adventures with aliens! Doctor Who has it all. And new streaming service HBO Max is the place to watch Doctor Who online, and will soon include the latest episodes right up to the recent season 12 finale.

The long-running BBC TV show is surely one of the most flexible formats ever to grace our screens. Armed with a time machine and an irrepressible sense of humor, the series blasts off through distant past and beguiling future, running the spectrum of drama and emotion from comedy to action to spine-tingling horror. 

Doctor Who began in 1963, and you can watch the original classic show on streaming service Britbox. After a few years off, it returned in 2005 and became a global phenomenon with its thrilling mix of mind-bending sci-fi action, lovable leads and chillingly scary villains. At launch, 11 seasons are available. Season 12 will follow at some point, as well as future episodes after they've aired on BBC America. So whether you're a long-time fan or you're new to the show, here's a selection of great standalone episodes you can stream right away. This isn't a list of the best episodes or a comprehensive overview, just a quick sample of how exciting and varied Doctor Who truly is. Enjoy!

Rose

The time-traveling series burst onto screens in 2005 and immediately laid out its pitch with this breathless romp. It was designed to be the perfect introduction -- or re-introduction -- for Doctor Who, giving us two charismatic leads in Billie Piper's Rose and Christopher Eccleston's mysterious alien Doctor. It's funny and energetic and maybe even a little scary. You'll never look at shop mannequins the same way again.

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BBC

The Girl in the Fireplace

A dying spaceship is a window into a love story that spans a lifetime in this inventive and emotional episode. David Tennant took over as the Doctor for season 2, and this is one of the stories that shows him at his most irresistible.  

Human Nature/The Family of Blood

The Doctor is an all-knowing and ageless alien … but what if he weren't? This emotional season 3 two-parter features Tennant's Doctor transforming into a human being, ably assisted by much underappreciated companion Martha, played by Freema Agyeman. But sinister alien enemies are never far away. 

Blink

Doctor Who has introduced us to decades of terrifying and memorable monsters, and this deft vignette features the instantly iconic Weeping Angels: statues that come for you when your eyes close, even if only for a moment. Blink is both agonizingly suspenseful and utterly affecting. Not only that, it highlights Doctor Who's endless versatility by barely featuring the Doctor at all.  

The Stolen Earth/Journey's End

The season 4 climax is an over-the-top encore for writer and producer Russell T. Davies, who stepped down from his role at the helm of the show with this unashamed greatest hits collection. As big and fun as Doctor Who gets, it's a nonstop extravaganza of show-stopping moments with a galaxy of guest stars and villains drawn from the show's entire run. 

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BBC

The Eleventh Hour

Matt Smith bursts onto the scene as a new Doctor in the first episode of season 5. Smith's youthful energy is matched by his delightful eccentricity, instantly establishing him and his delicious chemistry with new companion Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillen.

Vincent and the Doctor

Hanging out with legendary historical figures is a staple of the show. Season 3's The Shakespeare Code is a funny one, and season 5's Vincent and the Doctor is the heart-rending one. The Doctor and Amy meet deeply troubled painter Van Gogh in this nuanced sketch from writer Richard Curtis.

The Day of the Doctor

Tennant and Piper join Smith in the 50th anniversary special, a witty and exciting romp through time unleashing a terrible secret from the darkest hours of the past: a man they call the War Doctor…

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BBC

Deep Breath

A new Doctor takes charge in season 8, and it's no more mister nice guy. Peter Capaldi and his "attack eyebrows" take the lead in this gothic chiller, showing a darker side in a devastating final showdown.

Heaven Sent

Perhaps the finest hour from showrunner Steven Moffatt, this season 9 episode focuses on the Doctor losing his mind in a strange castle. It's surreal, mind-bending and utterly riveting.

BBC

Rosa

Season 11 introduced new Doctor Jodie Whittaker and a trio of new companions. One of the most powerful episodes of Doctor Who ever, this shatteringly direct encounter with Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement boldly strips away science fictions's usual metaphors to directly confront racism. 

Fugitive of the Judoon

The most recent run is season 12, which will arrive on HBO Max at some point. In this mid-season episode, showrunner Chris Chibnall heralds a revelation reaching back into the very DNA of the show…