Doctor Who 1.01: Rose

There is going to be a lot of Doctor Who content here for the next week. Then this blog will go back to the usual knitting and life stuff apart from weekly episode reviews, but be prepared for a week of Doctor Who madness here.

I’ve written reviews for most of the episodes in the new series over the years and posted them else where. With Season 5 starting in a week (!!) I thought it might be fun to go back through those reviews, post the ones related to episodes that I re-watch this week (there’s a re-watch plan, yes) and then add a bit of commentary on what I think now that I’ve had a few years (and a few episodes) since writing the review.

First up, Rose! I re-watched this one a couple of months ago as part of a Doctor Who induction night for some friends. This review was what I posted the morning after it first aired:

I have woken up as a very, very happy Doctor Who fan :-)))))))) Just getting new Doctor Who has made me an excited fan for months, but I’ve now seen the first episode and I couldn’t be happier about it. Wooo!

It’s not often that I get a little tingle of excitement when watching the opening credits for a show. Hell, it probably hasn’t happened since the Doctor Who movie years ago. But yesterday evening, as the theme began and the Tardis tumbled through a vortex, I had that little tingle and I knew that I was going to enjoy this.

Technically I was eating tea during the show. It was Saturday tea-time, it was therefore Doctor Who. And we (the family *g*) had set up to eat in the lounge so that we didn’t have to miss anything. I say ‘technically’ because I was too busy watching and only ate about three bites. Possibly this needs to be taken account of next week ๐Ÿ™‚

My major fear had been that it wouldn’t feel like Doctor Who. The walking manequins were rather Doctor Who-ish, but it was Christopher Eccleston’s first appearance that really sealed it. I like his Doctor very much. He’s excited, almost child-like in his enthusiasm for everything, yet he has moments of quiet vulnerability that just stop it being over the top. His Doctor also has a tendency to forget the small things when pursuing the larger picture. Forgetting that Rose might be a little distressed by the probable death of her boyfriend emphasised that and added a hint of alien-ness because his priorities are so different. He’s the kind of person who would be cheerfully pointing out and enthusastically describing something completely lethal, forgetting that Rose might be frightened and not understanding why she isn’t has excited as him.

Now, I didn’t expect to like Rose much. After all, Billie Piper began as a cheesy pop singer rather than a serious actor. I wasn’t sure whether she’d pursuade me to forget that and Doctor Who has rather a reputation for weak female characters. But I like Rose and I suspect that she’ll grow on me a lot more as the weeks go by. I did have a moment of wanting to shout at her when she decided to stay with her wimpy boyfriend rather than join the Doctor in a jaunt around the universe, but her decision to follow as soon as she knew that the Tardis was a time machine won me around. I suspect that Rose will be the character that we’re all identifying with and that’s part of her major purpose – the character that we’d cheerfully swap places with or just plain want to be.

Or it could just be me that wants to hop in a Tardis and have fantastic adventures ๐Ÿ™‚

The plot was hampered a little by needing to introduce all the characters and the concepts, but it was still good and showed a huge amount of potential for future episodes. The only point that didn’t quite work for me was Rose not noticing that her boyfriend had been replaced with a plastic Auton copy, but leaving that aside it all worked for me. The next episode should be really great because they can get into the plot without needing to spend time introducing the characters to the audience. And the trailers for next week look very exciting ๐Ÿ™‚

Now I just need to hope that other Doctor Who fans are just as happy and, maybe more importantly, that non-Doctor Who fans were won over. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that ratings stay good for the next two or three episodes and the BBC commission a second series. Not that I’m a greedy Doctor Who fan…

It appears that my hopes panned out, what with season 5 starting shortly and the show already showing good signs of surviving the departure of the original show-runner and moving onto the Eleventh Doctor.

I really loved Rose in the first season. I’m kind of surprised that I was so enthusiastic at this stage – I thought it took me a couple of episodes to warm up to her – but apparently I’d been so used to the old companions that Rose was a total breath of fresh air. Re-watching it reminded me that there are elements of this episode that are embarassing (that burping wheelie bin, the Rose-not-noticing-Auton!Mickey section) but at the same time it reminded me that this was a pretty good episode. As a first episode of something, with all the introductions necessary, it was actually a very good episode compared to the premiers of other shows out there.

There was some fun commentary on that post, including a note from a friend who wasn’t a Doctor Who fan saying that she quite enjoyed it. As she’s now watched more classic Doctor Who than I have and regularly supplies me with borrowed Big Finish audios, I think we can safely say that we converted her.

It’s a little odd reading myself commenting on Rose with no idea of what was about to happen. There was still a part of me that couldn’t quite believe that I was watching Doctor Who and had no confidence that we’d get any more than this one series. Aw, naive little 2005 me.

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