Doctor Who: Rose

The Doctor: 'Run!'

Hardly the most profound opening dialogue ever written, but after sixteen years off screen we can certainly forgive the Doctor for his lack of verbosity. He's back! Unfortunately for him and the world, so are the Autons. The solution? Run like the clappers! I guess some things never change.

The episode's entitled 'Rose', so it should come as no surprise that it mostly revolves around the Doctor's newest companion. When we meet Rose for the first time she's an average person working at Henrik's department store. Then the Autons arrive, followed closely by the Doctor, and suddenly her whole world is turned upside down. Rose's story is basically a blueprint for the whole of Nu-Who: ordinary people, breaking free from the shackles of mediocrity to do extraordinary things. And Rose is a new breed of companion. In this episode alone she saves both the world and the Doctor, so clearly the show's finally grown up. I was also pleasantly surprised by just how good Billie Piper is in this role. I can almost forgive her for her dire singing career.

Christopher Eccleston was an interesting choice for the Doctor. At first, I wasn't entirely convinced that his background in gritty drama would help him in this role. That's not to say I don't rate him as an actor, I think he's superb, but it's a case of horses for courses. I have to admit however, he handled the lighter, more comedic material superbly. Yes, his smile bordered on a gurn at times, but he did manage to inject some humour into the story, and he certainly brings something new to the Doctor. No long scarves or Noddy cars this time around. No umbrellas or cricket bats. In fact, his appearance was decidedly normal. Gone are the tasteless costumes of old, replaced by a simple leather jacket and normal, everyday clothes. The powers that be have also allowed Eccleston to retain his distinctive northern twang. Great news for me as I'm a northerner—bad news for anyone that doesn't like the northern accent.

The dynamic between the Doctor and Rose is new, too. It's far more touchy-feely than we're used to. A lot of hand-holding goes on in this episode, and Rose certainly seems taken by the Doctor's other-worldliness. But what of the Doctor's interest in Rose? Clearly he's grateful for her saving his life, but is there more to it than that? Many have balked at the idea of the Doctor becoming romantically involved with his companions—despite McGann's Doctor kissing Grace Holloway in Doctor Who: The Movie—but Russell T. Davies does seem to be taking his Doctor in a more emotionally grounded direction. Who knows what surprises this season may have in store for us?

I also really enjoyed seeing the Autons. They were a solid choice of villain to reopen the series with, were a nice throwback to the era of the third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), and should've been instantly recognisable to all Classic Who fans. But whose idea was it to have a belching wheelie bin monster? The CGI was pretty bad in those scenes, and for a moment it felt like the old days again. But despite the minor stumble, this was a generally decent effort. Welcome back, Doctor!

Other Thoughts:

—On looking into the mirror the Doctor comments on his ears, suggesting a recent regeneration. This being the case, how is it that Clive has photos of him appearing throughout history? Unless of course he goes back in time at a later date.

—I know Mickey's a bit wooden at times, but surely Rose should've noticed his bizarre behaviour sooner? Terrible driving. Obsessively repeating 'pizza' over and over again. Shiny face and plastic looking hair. Crazy smile and bulging eyes. No? Come on Rose... get a grip!

—It was great to see the return of the sonic screwdriver (AKA the lazy writer's best friend). Can't think of a plausible way of getting the Doctor into a building? Easy—sonic screwdriver. Can't come up with a credible way of stopping that killer robot from smashing the Doctor's head in? Sonic screwdriver again! Expect to see a lot of it in the coming weeks/years.

—Although not mentioned specifically by name, this week's iconic enemy were the Autons—life sized dummies, animated by the Nestene Consciousness.

—Henrik's is actually real life department store Howell's, located in the centre of Cardiff.

—Clive's wife seemed taken aback that Rose had read her husband's website. Was this a sexist jibe about women and the internet, or simply a quip about Classic Who's predominantly male fan base?

—I never tire of seeing people run into the TARDIS and then straight back out again, their brains struggling to cope with the sheer impossibility of what they've just seen. It makes me smile every time.

Billie says...

I liked how they started. One day an ordinary shopgirl, the next, she's caught up in a fabulous adventure. It's what Doctor Who has always been all about. And it was a perfect way to pull in a brand new audience unfamiliar with Doctor Who... which includes me.

Believe it or not, I started watching Doctor Who because of Torchwood. And I tried Torchwood because of James Marsters. (What can I say; for me, it all goes back to Buffy.) I hope my newness to this 'verse will give me a different perspective. Although I almost feel I don't have the right to review such a venerable institution. I don't know the first eight Doctors, I'm not British, and I won't get a lot of the cultural references. (Which is why I didn't want to do these reviews alone, so thanks so much, Paul.)

Anyway, this adventure, while not outstanding, was fun and fast-moving and more than enough to suck me in and make me want more. I loved Billie Piper's Rose. (And a beautiful girl named Billie starring in a science fiction show? How cool is that?) I liked Christopher Eccleston, too, although at this point it was mostly because he was a bright light as a guest star on Heroes a couple of years ago.

Quotes:

Rose: "So, what you're saying is, the entire world revolves around you."
Doctor: "Sort of, yeah."
Rose: "You're full of it."
Doctor: "Sort of, yeah."

Jackie: "She's lucky to be alive. Honestly, it's aged her. Skin like an old Bible. You'd walk in here now and think I was her daughter."

Clive: "The Doctor is a legend woven throughout history. When disaster comes, he's there. He brings the storm in his wake. And he has one constant companion."
Rose: "Who's that?"
Clive: "Death."
---
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.

4 comments:

shawnlunn2002 said...

I wasn't initially blown away by this episod but this was the first time I had ever watched the series and I did it due to constant media, plus I liked Chris and Billie in different capacities.

The Autons are a brilliant monster and I think the episode struck a balance between respect for the old series without overwhelming newcomers with 26 seasons worth of continuity.

Paul and Billie, this is an excellent start to your summer reviews and I'm certainly looking forward to the other (I'll definitely be commenting on them).

Billie, my friend Claire did the same as you - got into Torchwood and then Doctor Who.

BTW, S3 of Torchwood's in June on BBC1. I'm just wondering how will that be tackled.

Anonymous said...

I loved Eccleston as the Doctor despite having some doubts. But in this episode he had me at hello, or "run". Billie/Rose was a very capable companion, but let's not dismiss past companions. Leela was a hoot for instance, all cavewoman ferocity and fearlessness. But no, you don't need to have seen old Who to dig this.

Anna

dragon_of_celts said...

Being a long-time watcher of the original series (fan or not, depending on the stories and whatnot), I was somewhat skeptical about how the new series would turn out (particularly after the very sub-par movie some years before). All in all, I think it did OK. My biggest gripes: the bin scene, overall, was groan-worthy enough, but the burp at the end was just painful; also (and I wish ALL shows would heed this), you aren't going to break a thick metal chain by hitting it with an axe. Ever. Particularly if you're Billie Piper.

ChrisB said...

A recent debate with some friends over the best sic-fi series ever had me a loss. Each of the others in the discussion raved about Doctor Who; I had never seen a single episode as a weird guy flying through time and space platonically with a woman never appealed to me.

I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. I liked it; I didn't love it. I will, however, stick with it for a while to see if it grows on me.

I was impressed with Billie Piper. I only knew her as Chris Evans' much younger wife, but I thought she did a pretty good job playing the everywoman being literally swept away.