|Originally Broadcast 26th March 2005|
In a nutshell: Rose Tyler is just an ordinary girl, until a mysterious man named ‘The Doctor’ appears in her life. Rose tries to track down this mysterious never-aging man, finding more than she bargained for as an alien invasion is beginning.
Review: Launching Doctor Who to a whole new audience was definitely no easy feat and the opening two minutes of this episode feel nothing like Doctor Who or, in fact, fit as the opening to any television show, which is part of why it works so well. Seeing Rose’s everyday life in montage-style footage immediately tells us this is a show that can be styled in anyway possibly, but also gives us the knowledge of who Rose is and how she’s just like us, we like her instantly through this clever piece of storytelling.
And now as we get further into the episode, plastic dummies are advancing toward our lovable Rose Tyler with the laugh of Graham Norton! Oh, wait, sorry, that’s the original transmission version where the BBC dubbed GN live over the top of Rose! The introduction of the Doctor works so well, I think it’s the best introduction for a new Doctor there’s been (barring possibly Hartnell) and, indeed, it is the first time since 1963’s ‘An Unearthly Child’ where we meet our Doctor not through regeneration. The episode really steps up here, the Doctor testing Rose about students, summing up us humans as eating beans on toast (something that gets very old through this episode and the 2005 series as a whole) and blowing up the shopping centre. All this leaves us with a startled Rose running past a lonely, old (unrecognised) police box.
We follow Rose for a long time again now, with no interruptions from the Doctor, as we learn more about her personal life (more ammo to make us like and relate to her). Mickey, the useless boyfriend, is Russell’s worst scripted character in this episode (and series), he really is wasted and it’s no surprise Noel Clarke hated his first run on the show, we also get Jackie Tyler, Rose’s mum, who I love but she does get a bit overboard and naggy here with her ‘compensation’ jibes, she’s very much a one-trick pony in this episode.
But I’m sure it’s time for another appearance from ol’ big ears so the Doctor finds his way to Rose Tyler’s flat with some wonderful lines as Rose is making him a coffee (just milk, thanks), this scene suggests to us Eccleston has recently regenerated (looking at himself in the mirror) but doesn’t make a point of it to new audiences, why should it? The plastic arm attacking the Doctor works well due to Mickey pretending with it the previous night, although it looks a bit tacky at times (which I still hold as an opinion since 2005, along with how bad the effects of plastic Mickey, the ‘alive’ wheelie bin and the shop exploding, yes, even in 2005) but at the end of the day it’s a funny scene for the kids. I feel bad about Jackie’s smashed coffee table though, something she doesn’t when she gives Rose a quick ring twenty minutes down the line.
All of this paves way for what’s often considered Eccleston’s (and one of RTD’s) finest moment, as the Doctor explains who he is and performs a brilliantly powerful speech about the Earth revolving, this is the scene that really establishes him in the role with his cocky, northern “Sort of, yeah” lines thrown in for good measure.
Sadly this leaves us with Rose desperate to learn more, as she gets on the old internet to find out more about the Doctor, leading us to a website about plastic surgery before finding one labelled ‘Doctor Who?’ which Rose follows up on.
|A new TARDIS team for a new century|
This scene is a bit slow and, frankly, I’m not sure if Rose would’ve gone along to this (although now she’s unemployed, why the heck not?) and the scene does slow the story down a little, although does deal out some badly photo-shopped mysterious about who this Doctor is. During this, Mickey manages to get eaten by a plastic bin with some poor CGI and make-up; how Rose can’t spot the difference between normal Mickey and plastic Mickey I have no idea! It’s painfully obvious at the worst of times.
We next see our (crappy) couple at a restaurant (P-ZA) where the Doctor makes a third appearance to toast the pair. Eccleston’s brilliantly alien in this scene and Rose is (again brilliantly) quick at stepping into action, setting her up as good companion status. Running through the kitchens with a headless Mickey following, we end up in an alleyway where that same old police box is standing. There’s a wonderfully directed introduction into the TARDIS, we don’t quite see what it looks like as Rose has to run away again to check the outside, before finally unveiling the interior design. This entire scene is shot so well, Eccleston looking really powerful as he stands above Rose at the top of the walkway, before we learn how he’s an alien.
I think once the TARDIS has made it’s first (televised) jump through space, the episode slowly takes a downfall, pushing in bits of dialogue (what’s a police telephone box?) with a hurried reply as well as managing to make the Doctor look incredibly stupid. What these scenes does set up, is an alien Doctor, who doesn’t have time or care for humans, he’s become amazingly inhuman since the 1996 movie (ironic as he was half-human there). The episode begins feeling a bit rushed too, with things such as Rose finding an entrance to the Nestene’s lair (how did it even get in there?) and Mickey magically being trapped there too (although this gives Eccleston a funny eye-rolling moment).
|The Autons in action|
I think the biggest shock of the episode is seeing Clive die, but the biggest disappointment is how, when trapped by the Autons, as Rose swings to save the Doctor he can easily trip one over his back. Why did he not just do this before he spat about the war and how he’s failed everyone? Bit of poor directing, acting, writing or editing there, I’m not sure which one it fell down to!
But the day has been saved by a Macguffin (quite rightly as the alien invasion was only the sub-plot for the episode), giving us time for the Doctor to persuade Rose to come with her. Denying the offer at first, she learns of it also travelling in time (a good pay-off in episode seven) and with a final look at useless Mickey, she slowly runs into the little old police box, ready for her next time trailer.