Doctor Who Rose’s enthusiasm to help and sense of fun about it all is also extremely refreshing and contagious, her grin as they run to the Millennium Wheel infectious! Her final moment, the final moment of the show with the remixed theme playing is totally uplifting and a sign of great, great things to come!
Review by Jean
He’s back… and it’s about time! And how many times have we heard that since The Doctor’s shaky would-be comeback in 1996? But, truly, what better a way to welcome him than with not just one of the most fantastic debut stories, not just the best (I’ve seen and I admittedly haven’t seen all that have aired in the UK or, well, the rest of the series to come) of the new series, but one of the most solid, enjoyable stories in Who’s history.
We start off with a serene view of the Earth from space, a little hint of things to come, and thrust our way straight into the mundane: the every day routine of Rose’s life. This is done in a succession of fast cuts some have accused of being strictly for the M generation and, while I belong to that group, I felt it was so much more in keeping the pace of the story moving While loading you down with information. We meet Jackie, we meet Mickey.
We see her with her friends, we see her working at Henricks department store. We get the impression that this is the ordinary, everyday girl of the 21st century going about her business in the of moments.
And just as soon as we’re catching our collective breath from this peek into modern life, we’re thrust into the action, the world of the Doctoras Rose encounters the murderous Autons in the basemnent of Henricks and is rescued in a seat-of-your pants sequence that includes breathless dialogue that an aspiring writer such as myself aches to achieve!
It should be said, right off the bat, that the performance by Billie Piper is superb! Being from the states and therefore not knowing a whole lot about her or her celebrity (about the extent of it was the fact that a friend had her album, Honey to the Bee, for about a week before trading it in), so I came into it without the biases I would have had if she’d been a known figure to me.
Whatever expectations I did have for her were completely blown away by the sympathetic, intelligent and completely believable character that she created. Her reactions are completely human, identifiable and I must say, it is nice to see a young attractive woman on the tele who has a real body, not a lollipop on a stick!
And then there’s Christopher Eccleston, who I did have very high expectations for indeed as I knew him as an actor and was off my head with excitement when I’d heard he’d been cast! He blew me away. Rarely has a Doctor been so on his game in his debut episode and rarely have I seen Chris act with such giddy enthusiasm for the material. To be fair, rarely has the material so lived up to a new Doctor’s performance (Twin Dilemma, Time and the Rani, the TV Movie, I won’t go on…), but Rose not only rises to it but uses itself to showcase both of our new main characters!
The Doctor’s a strange sort of duck: he moves from his dizzy enthusiasm to dark seriousness in a flash, a bit of a bi-polar there! But that only gives so much more weight to the character, to know that he’s not just a grinning idiot, that there’s something lurking just beneath the surface. The cut-fast ing only serves to heighten this impression as it moved so quickly from the smrtly written dialogue when Rose is grilling him (“So what you’re saying is the entire world revolves around you. “Sort of, yeah.”You’re full of it!” Sort of, yeah!”) to the emotive and tremendously moving (no pun intended!) Earth spinning speech!
The humor is superbly handled, with snappy back-and-forths like the one mentioned above, the scene with Jackie in her bedroom, the tussle with a plastic arm in the living room, the Auton Mickey (a fantastic and completely outrageous perfomance by Noel Clarke!)
Complaints have been made about the underscore but I personally took to it: what better way to usher in this fast-paced, snappy story than with a thundering techno beat? It made the ing, which I felt was spot-on, stand out wonderfully and highlighted all the right moments. The effects were wonderfully retro without looking camp or like too much like a wink of the eye to the old series. Where they fell down, frankly, I felt, was where they were trying to look too realistic, like the Nestene Consciousness, which was far from looking awful but kind of had that bad generic CGI feel to it.
Speaking of the ol’ Nestene, yes, our friends are back and animating plastic like never before. This is where one of my only gripes comes in: we are told that the Consciousness is animating the mannequins with thought control, so we are to assume that they would be otherwise normal window shop dummies. So where did they get those nifty built in guns? In both Spearhead from Space and Terror of the Autons, we’ve seen one plastics factory or another infiltrated, pumping out custom made dummies to aid in the Nestenes’ plans but that is absent here making it rather, well, a bit of a gaffe. I suppose one can imagine, as the Consciousness has clearly been on eArth sometime, that they’ve gone through all of this off screen, it’s a nitpick that bothered me personally.
That said, the scene where the Autons come to life in the Queen’s Arcade is simply stunning and Clive, we hardly knew yet.
I particularly loved the brides menacing Jackie, a foreshadowing of the episode Father’s Day, perhaps?
While the Autons menace however, it seems as if the Consciousness holds onto The Doctor forever, giving no clear indication as to what it actually plans to do with him as Rose makes up her mind to help. Now this I love: a girl actually explaining HOW she can kick butt instead of just doing it because she’s a girl and GIRL POWER and Buffy S and all that! Her line about her short gymnastics career was one of my favourite of the show as it highlights something I caught onto from the first moment: that we’re getting a sense of realism along with out fantasy. I can believe in Rose, I can believe in her abilities!
It is in the lair of the Consciousness we get our first hints about the Time War as well and perhaps even The Doctor going rogue (?) during the mysterious battle (“I was there! I couldn’t stop it!”).
Rose’s enthusiasm to help and sense of fun about it all is also extremely refreshing and contagious, her grin as they run to the Millennium Wheel infectious! Her final moment, the final moment of the show with the remixed theme playing is totally uplifting and a sign of great, great things to come!