Technically the newest contribution to Modern Recap-itulation isn’t Steven Moffat’s first time he wrote for something akin to televised Doctor Who, that belong to the 1999 Comic Relief Special ‘The Curse of Fatal Death.’ But since that’s not canonical we then move forward to his first nu-Who contributions, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.
Despite some pacing problems during the back half of the story, this was the first time that nu-Who got a 2-part story right, and as a result The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances landed atop many fans lists as the best story in that inaugural series (anyone who seriously thinks Aliens of London and World War Three is a superior story needs a bit of therapy dont’cha think?).
Atmosphere, setting, and characterization are the hallmarks which set this story apart, notably in the character of Captain Jack Harkness, who would continue to haunt the series for the next few years, but there’s also the logical through line which drove the plot of what the nanobots were and could do, and of course you can never go wrong with a creepy kid in Doctor Who as happened in Remembrance of the Daleks.
But what ultimately should be remembered about The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances and especially as portrayed by Christopher Eccleston, is that it’s a joyous story. Everybody lives. How often can you say that in Doctor Who.