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Doctor Who 'Rose' [TV-EPISODE REVIEW]

On March 26th 2005, ‘Doctor Who’ graced our screens once again after a 16-year hiatus since the classic series ended (apart from the Doctor Who movie in 1996) in 1989 due to poor ratings and a big lack of support from the BBC. The opening episode was simply titled ‘Rose’ and saw the introduction of the ninth Doctor played by Christopher Eccleston and of course Billie Piper playing Rose Tyler. The writer of the episode was also the man who brought the show back; Russell T Davies.

Rose Tyler is a 19 year old typical everyday girl who currently spends her life very by the numbers as seen in the opening montage, she wakes up, goes to work, hangs out with her boyfriend Mickey Smith and then goes back to work – but this time on her way home she is being ordered to go back and deliver lottery money to some guy named Wilson downstairs. She stumbles upon a group of shop-window mannequins who suddenly starts to move towards her. Action ensues as the Doctor grabs her arm and says the famous word; “Run!”. The Doctor introduces himself and then blows up the building. The next day he tracks a signal to her house and finds an arm of one of the mannequins that Rose accidentally brought home, they talk a little bit and then he leaves. Rose naturally feels compelled to find out who this “Doctor” is so she tracks down a conspiracy theorist who tells her about how the Doctor has been seen in paintings and pictures throughout history and that everyone of them seem to be connected to death.

As it is essentially a pilot for the new series it does a good job of establishing the Doctor as being this mysterious character without revealing everything at once and instead paces it out throughout the first handful of episodes. The introduction of Rose in this episode however makes her come across as just a straight up bitch. She does not seem to care about her mother or her boyfriend in the episode and I have to examples and they both take place at the end in a span of like five minutes.
First off, her mother Jackie calls her after having witnessed an attack by all the mannequins coming alive and shooting people in the shopping mall, obviously this is not something that happens everyday so naturally she tells Rose to not go outside the house. What Rose then does is just hang up the phone and laughs about it.
Her mother is horrified after what just happened and she does not even tell her to calm down or even respond. She just hangs up the phone.
The second example is the final line of the episode, the Doctor offered to take Rose with him on adventures in the TARDIS (only Rose by the way) and what she does is look at her boyfriend Mickey and these are seriously the final lines of dialogue in the episode;

ROSE
Thanks.

MICKEY
Thanks for what?


ROSE
Exactly.

She then turns around and runs towards the TARDIS with a huge smile on her face. It is not easy to find a lot of redeemable aspects about her character (lets see if there are in some of the upcoming episodes when we get there) when she does not even seem to care about the two people closest to her.

Having the autons as the first villains in the new series was a downright genius move on Russell’s part because in this day and age we are a consumer society more than ever when it comes to fashion and clothes so having a monster that has the form of mannequins we see every time we enter a clothing store is just perfect. While I do wish they were used a bit more I can give it a bit of a pass seeing as this episode had introduce the audience to the characters and what the show is about while also telling a good story in 45 minutes.

The performances all around are excellent though. Christopher Eccleston is a revelation as the Doctor, he is pretty much the only one so far that has not borrowed any character trait from an earlier incarnation. His line delivery and body language makes him one of the Doctor’s who is just the boss whenever he enters a room. Billie Piper as Rose does a very good job with the material she is given but the way she delivers some of her lines does make her sound even more bitchy than the script does (which of course does not make for a very positive combination).
The music is good as most Murray Gold scores are but the very first piece of music we hear in the episode (apart from the opening titles which is great) is just… terrible, it really does not set a good first impression for the show as it sounds so dull.  This is only a minor negative though as it might literally be the only piece of music in the new series that I do not like because Murray Gold is a marvel at what he does.

Generally the episode’s tone is targeted a lot more towards kids by having a lot of goofy moments that I am sure a lot of older people would groan at or say “this is so stupid”. I am sadly one of these people as I had a hard time getting into the story because of just how silly some of the scenes were. Sure this is a show that kids watch but it is not a show just for kids – it is a family show so it needs a better balance between the silly stuff and the more mature stuff but as we all know, the show does find this balance in due time. This tone is also very detrimental because whenever I try to introduce someone to the show and the start by watching ‘Rose’ they almost always return to me saying “seriously?” and I end up having to explain that it does get a lot better later on. It has gotten to the point were I just tell them to start with ‘The Eleventh Hour’ because that episode does a perfect job of establishing everything while also telling a great story with a balanced tone that can appeal to everyone.

I also find this episode quite difficult to re-watch because there is really not much to it apart from it being the first episode in the new series (I would probably never have seen it twice if it was not). But anyways, as a “pilot” it is definitely not a bad one, it does a great job of introducing the Doctor and a not so good job of introducing Rose and sadly I have not met many people who wanted to continue watching the show after having seen it but it has inventive direction and great acting.

6/10

- Lucas

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