Doctor Who : Rose
The first episode of the new series of Doctor Who had a very hard job. It had to introduce a series, which had often been seen as a joke by a lot of people, and make it into a Saturday night favourite once again, and it had to get it right, or that would have been it for the show as far as its future on television anyway, and it had to speak to people who had never seen anything like Doctor Who on television before and who thought that science fiction was just for geeks.
The first episode was set firmly in the present day and after a first scene where the camera crash zoomed into the Earth the first few minutes could have from any other show on television. We had a young girl who can’t be bothered to get up in the morning; who travels to work on a bus; who has a normal job in a normal department store; and has dinner with her boyfriend and laughs and jokes and is just like the people watching.
Then her world is turned upside down when shop mannequins come to life and start attacking her and her life is no longer the same, and by this time the audience have been well and truly dragged in.
The plot of this episode zooms along and the audience is drawn into this strange new world bit by bit with Rose, the ordinary girl from a council estate, as the audience anchor point, who is not used to this sort of stuff to sentient shop window dummies, alien consciousness, other aliens who sound like they are from the north of England, and space ships disguised as blue boxes which are much bigger on the inside than the outside and who has all of this thrown at her in the very first episode, but it is exciting for her, just as it is for the viewer.
I was already sold, as I was a Doctor Who fan of long standing, but this would have grabbed me if I were watching it for the very first time and I think that it did a really good job of bringing what was an old tired series right into the 21st century with a bump.
The dialogue was short and snappy and there were plenty of jokes (such as all planets have a north), Rose was a good strong and realistic character who we could identify with, the Doctor was very alien, and a bit of an oddball and you really didn’t know what he was going to do next and he was great to watch, when he appeared on the screen he owned it.
You also didn’t necessarily know whether or not the Doctor was a goodie or baddie after hearing about the things that he has apparently done by Clive and that adds another level of mystery to the character, which makes him even more interesting than he was before if you ask me.
The show had obviously had a great deal of money thrown at it due to the production values when compared to the old series and none of the sets shook or anything like that.
The acting was uniformly good with Eccleston and Piper taking all the plaudits for the Doctor and Rose. Even when being attacked by a plastic arm Eccleston made you believe that he was being attacked by a plastic arm and wasn’t just larking around with something that didn’t look in the least bit threatening.
Some of the humourous bits the Doctor did seem a little bit forced but when he was being serious Eccleston was superb and was quite unsettling at times and very, very alien, which is important as that is exactly what he is, alien.
Noel Clarke did a decent job as Mickey in what was quite an underwhelming role in this episode as he just ended up not being quite as interesting as the Doctor and when Rose decided to leave him at the end to travel with the Doctor you couldn’t really blame her really as he did seem a bit wet, but, if it was my missus who ran off with a strange bloke with a blue box, then I would be a bit narked off to be honest.
Rose’s mum Jackie was funny with her mock flirting with the Doctor and her phone calls to her friends, again a character that people can identify with, she could be anyone’s Mum or Auntie.
I am guessing that the only reason that we had Mark Benton’s character, Clive, who really only had a couple of scenes in the episode was to give the viewers some teasing details on the origins of the character such as the fact that he appears to be immortal and has been spotted throughout history, and warning Rose about travelling with him.
Perhaps that was all he was meant to be there for, which is a bit of a shame, as it might have been interesting to have him as a semi-regular character, which possibility ended when he was killed later on in the episode, when he has it would seem pretty much served his purpose for the story.
It has to be said after the event that Rose was an unqualified success and made Doctor Who relevant again.