Sunday, 1 February 2009
Doctor Who: Rose
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!
—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.
—Anti-plastic? Good grief!
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?'