Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005
Episode One: Rose by Russell T Davies
The first thing that really struck me as I watched the opening titles was how big, bright, and colourful they were. Also Murray Gold's dynamic arrangement of the theme music suited them perfectly. The very opening could have been almost any show about an ordinary London shop girl. The shots of central London are beautifully juxtaposed with those of the department store (which most of us know were filmed in Cardiff) so that you really do believe the whole thing is taking place in present day London. Again the music plays an important role (as it continues to do throughout the episode) in establishing that despite ordinary appearances something sinister is going on so even the casual viewer will be hardly surprised when the plastic dummies in the basement first come to life. However this scene still contains genuine menace leading to the Doctor's first appearance as he rescues Rose from what she mistakenly assumes to be a student prank. We then come to the much quoted 'Run for! your life' scene which works perfectly within the context of what has gone before as we can understand why Rose reacts to the Doctor as she does.
Billie Piper's performance as Rose Tyler really shows how thrilled the production team must have felt when she first auditioned. She is immediately comfortable with the situations she finds herself in and her character works fantastically as a link for the audience into the story. She also succeeds as a believable heroine and can proudly take her place alongside the Doctor as well other cult heroes such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
There are many highlights to this episode but I shall only mention a couple more. Firstly, the Doctor's appearance at Rose's flat the morning after the department store explodes; Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri on great form) attempts to seduce the strange man in her bedroom. Then the Doctor and Rose are attacked by a plastic arm in a hilarious scene which will instantly bring back older viewers' memories of Terror of the Autons. Secondly, Rose's internet search leading to her meeting with Clive Finch (a well judged performance by Mark Benton) a conspiracy nut expert on 'The Doctor', a very clever way of exploring the mystery of his background without having to reveal all his secrets in a confusing info dump. Christopher Eccleston is clearly the Doctor, never more so than the moment when he catches his own reflection in a mirror and says 'Could have been worse but look at those ears' (rather coyly suggesting he has recently regenerated).
Whilst this first episode is very much Rose's story there is absolutely no doubt as to why she chooses to follow this version of the Doctor. Despite his reputation as a 'serious' actor Eccleston handles the comedy aspects of this story brilliantly allowing the humour than runs through most of Russell T Davies' excellent script to shine through. Effects-wise, this episode is again a winner. From some of the more simplistic but hugely effective moments (such as the wheelie bin and the duplicate Mickey) through to the Doctor's confrontation with the Nestene consciousness, everything that appears is believable and in many cases easily outranks other recent cult hits such as Buffy, Angel and Smallville. Doctor Who has never looked this good and been this consistently well written and acted before. More than any previous version this is a series which deserves to succeed.
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