04 Apr 2005Rose, by Sam Loveless
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Bryan Jenner
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Joe Ford
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Ed Funnell
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Alex Gibbs
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Richard Board
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Andrew Buckley
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Gary Tinnams
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Tara Johannison
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Andrew Roberts
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Paul Berry
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Pete Huntley
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Ed Martin
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Jay Jay Green
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Rob Shade
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Matthew Wilson
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Alex Skerratt
04 Apr 2005Rose, by James Whittington
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Dave Farmbrough
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Mick Snowden
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Gabriel Schenk
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Paul Hayes
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Stuart Ian Burns
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Dan Tessier
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Mark Coxwell
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Jason Reich
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Robert Smith
04 Apr 2005Rose, by James Dawson
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Richard Ormrod
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Ralph Burton
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Clive Saunders
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Stephen Kelley
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Eddy Wolverson
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Jason Carr
04 Apr 2005Rose, by David Leverton
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Dwight E. Sora
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Timothy Austin
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Matt Davidson
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Matthew Austin
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Peter Ravenscroft
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Mike Olson
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Rossa McPhillips
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Thom Hutchinson
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Robin Calvert
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Steve Manfred
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Peter Hart
04 Apr 2005Rose, by James Main
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Beca Prew
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Michael Warren
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Peter Ibrahim
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Scott Coyne
04 Apr 2005Rose, by David Carlile
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Caleb Woodbridge
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Liam Pennington
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Angus Gulliver
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Stuart Palmer
04 Apr 2005Rose, by A.D. Morrison
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Jonathan Hili
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Alex Paige
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Andrew Bowman
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Daniel Knight
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Damian Christie
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Christopher Hammond
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Robert F.W. Smith
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Robert J. Young
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Richard Franklin
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Matt Kimpton
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Dominic Smith
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Paul Wilcox
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Phil Fenerty
04 Apr 2005Rose, by Tim Mayo
15 Nov 2005Rose, by Jordan Wilson
15 Nov 2005Rose, by Mike Loschiavo
15 Nov 2005Rose, by James Castelli
15 Nov 2005Rose, by Billy Higgins
15 Nov 2005Rose, by Nick Mellish
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Paul Clarke
24 Mar 2006Rose, by David Redge
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Robert Tymec
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Richard Radcliffe
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Brian DiPaolo
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Gregory Humphries
24 Mar 2006Rose, by David Lim
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Matt Kimpton
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Dominic Smith
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Paul Wilcox
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Phil Fenerty
24 Mar 2006Rose, by Matthew Kopelke
17 Oct 2006Rose, by Shane Anderson
17 Oct 2006Rose, by Steven Hancock
18 May 2018Rose (BBC Books), by Stephen Blenkinsop
27 Jul 2018Rose (BBC Audio), by Peter Nolan

And so we begin again.

"I'm the doctor. Now run for your life!"

It has been 16 years since the good doctor had a fresh broadcast fr the a person to sit down and enjoy. Certainly I was of those too young to enjoy such a thing and consequently left me on VHS and DVD to explore the past of this wonderful TV show.Thus 'my' doctor was Pat Troughton-the one I loved most.

Enough about the past though-this generation now as a doctor of thier own: Christopher Ecclestone (although this generaions doctor may be the next one). Since September 2003 we have been following the progress of the awaited return, debating the good points (the actors, writers and cast) and the bad (the logo, the jacket, the romance suggestions). Now we get to see the final results.

As was at the beginning, we are introduced with a startling and wonderful title theme. No time is wasted as we are introduced to Rose Tyler, played to perfection by Billie Piper. A hectically paced first few minutes shows us the life she leads: an average one and therefore something to connect us with her thoughts and feelings. 

In only a few minutes we are shown the principle threat of the episode: the plastic autons. If you didn't know, the autons have been in the show before. Did you need to know? No, and thats one of the reasons their use here is so good. The threat of something we see so often also acts in a way as another monster wouldn't have. 

The introduction of the doctor is well handled. The dialogue between him and Rose is emotional and comical, and continues well throughut the episode. The only prblem is the way Chris sometimes garble his lines, resulting in many watchings of certain scenes. The effects are top form for this episode and probably the best produced in an english drama. 

The guest characters here are a very odd bunch for an average setting. Mickey is a little too comical to be taken seriously when he needs to be (although the wheely bin sequence and the plastic replica smashing upth restruant are priceless). Roses mother is a curious but slightly discardable character. The best of all is Clive. His way of revealing the doctor to us is chilling, and his fate is one we care about. 

Roses first view of the TARDIS is a new way of introducing it and a very well worked one; in fact its one of the highlights of the episode. The climax of the episode is curiously effective, although the suggestionof a war we never saw is probably adding the continuity on early (although if we consider The Celestial Toymaker, maybe not). The final freeze frame sets out for the rest of the season.

So, he's back. Did it live up to what we want? Yes, it is certainly what we wanted and sets a promising start for what we hope to be many more years of time travelling.

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The Doctor is back, and it's about time and time again that I see the usual and inevitable comments and opinions about the first episode. There is only one way people will be able to enjoy the "perfect" episode of Doctor Who, and that's to write, direct, produce and star in it themselves. In the real world, fans will have to mix some water in their whine because this is a series for the general public, as it always was at the height of its popularity.

What I think will be a factor for the remaining twelve episodes will be a tension between those who see television as a visual medium and those who see television as talk radio or visual book writing. That seems to be a major theme in some of the preceding reviews, and may be a direct result of the overkill of novels that kept the series alive for the past 13 years.

What initially struck me as positive is the aggressive visual style of the episode Rose. Show, don't tell. We wisely get a sense of Rose's life in only 93 seconds in a wonderful sequence where the rest of the world goes by quickly with swish pans and ramp edits, and her world, despite some quick cutting shots, seems to move slowly. 93 seconds is all it took, and only a "See you later" of dialogue. Within two minutes we have established the baseline from which she will grow and develop as a character over the course of twelve more (plus?) episodes.

This brings me to a point I think many are overlooking when they comment on "too much" and "no character" and such. Think of the 2005 season much like Season 23 or Season 1: a year-long journey where not everything gets handed to you on a silver platter in episode one. If it were handed to you in episode one, what do you do for the other twelve? Recycle it all? Repeat it all? That would not be effective. Russell T Davies knows that the series has to maintain character cliffhangers throughout thirteen episodes as much as plot cliffhangers throughout the run. You can't start at the top of a cliff, because there's only one direction to go; rather, we need to see Rose and the others climb the hill to that cliff.

Another wise decision was having the creepy bits also come within the first five minutes. It might have been interesting to have Rose observed by some shadowy figure in the basement (you know Who) while she calls for Wilson, but still the creepiness works, and the chase scene was effective in its pacing and urgency. No stumbling, brightly lit Mandrels anywhere here.

Wilson's death resulted in a missed opportunity for some DW-style black humour. Some of the Doctors would probably have said, "The CEO position's been terminated" or something (remember the sign on his door) instead of "Wilson's dead." Maybe that's just me looking for stuff like that.

The first five minutes is make-or-break, and so far episode 1 is a winner on all counts. This is followed by some sparkling banter in the elevator that quickly establishes the Ninth Doctor as someone who can shift gears in the time it takes to ascend eight floors, before he detonates a bomb and destroys a building. Love it. This causes Rose to lose her job and immediately establishes an interconnectedness between what the Doctor does affecting Rose and what Rose does affecting the Doctor.

And we still haven't hit the ten-minute mark! Is this too fast for viewers? I have read that a programme must capture channel flippers within THREE SECONDS to hold them! Three seconds! There is no attention span anymore. This is a world where written communication to the other side of the planet takes one second as opposed to one minute by fax or one fortnight by mail. Get used to it, because it isn't going away. I wonder how long it will be before we have split screens showing two plot strands at once…

So, dialogue must be minimal and precise like a poet's poetry. Action must be quick and effective. For the most part, we will arrive after things have been set up, because we will not be allowed to spend 25 minutes setting up grandiose plotting. The plots will already be running. The audience will have to jump onto the side of a speeding train, because the train sure as hell won't be waiting for passengers at the train station. 

Rose's mom is so grotesque that she puts a smile on my face. The running gag about compensation and the dialogue about the Greek woman are straight out of Robert Holmes' quill. I look forward to her ongoing outrages as the series progresses.

It was probably a mistake to kill off the character of Clive, as he may have been both a useful provider of facts and possibly a thorn in the Doctor's side. I enjoyed his brief stay in the show as I swear I know him in real life! He also allowed some visual comedy by boyfriend Mickey who made me chuckle every time he glared at Clive or his neighbours. And did anyone else catch the Survival music in Clive's neighborhood?

Most people hate the incidental music. It was possibly aimed too much at the young women who groove to that sort of funky hip hop stuff, but that's the point: Rose is a 19-year old woman who would listen to it. It relates well to her and she was the focal point of the episode. I suspect we will hear different styles in future episodes.

Rose (the episode) then arrived with a confidence and a brazen declaration that this is the way it is, so take it or leave it. Finding a middle ground for the general public and fans is so very tough, and I think the production team nailed it. If the fans were 100% happy with it, then something somewhere is amiss.

I don't think I have ever seen a better "introductory episode" in any show. 9/10.

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My hats off to Russell T Davies and his team for supplying us with a great first episode. Don't get me wrong this isn't the best piece of writing we have ever had on the show but it introduces the show to a whole new generation of kids with considerable skill. It was sexy and funny and fast and all the great things about modern television.

I remember seeing a drawing in DWM of the eighth Doctor being rampaged by Autons on the streets of San Francisco and I remember thinking what a great pilot that would have been, certainly infinitely preferable to the story we eventually got. Obviously Russell T Davis had the same idea and he utilises the Autons skilfully in this first episode to really get the kids attention. When they come smashing out of the windows and shooting innocent bystanders I am certain that today's children will be equally as enraptured as those of the 1970's.

What Davies has done that is especially clever is to introduce the series through so much that people will recognise. You have a recognisable main character (Rose) in a recognisable setting (London) with a recognisable monster (shop window dummies). How can anyone fail to understand that? It was the domestical scenes that impressed me most about this episode to be perfectly honest; there was a lot of subtle touching between the actors that suggested real intimacy between them and the grounded, believable performances sold the story just fine. The gritty, down to Earth locations (the flat, the garages, the restaurant exterior) were well counter-pointed by the more fantastical locations (the beautifully lit London Eye, the Nestene Lair) and made them seem wonderfully otherworldly.

Christopher Eccelston is such a brave chap to take on a role with such baggage and I have to congratulate him for pulling it off with so much charm. I wan not sure about him for the first ten minutes or so, he seemed to be a bit goofy and McCoy-ish but he soon settled down and behaved as if he had been playing the role for yonks. I especially liked his scene on the Thames and his sudden burst of anger, condemning the human race as stupid apes. And the Doctor's huge grin when he realises just what Rose is trying to show him behind his back is to die for. Simon and I both agreed he was totally hot.

A huge round of applause though for Billie Piper who after the initial shock of her casting I was behind one hundred percent. What a revelation. Warm, witty, believable and totally hot. Forget Mary Tamm Rob, this is the girl that would turn a man straight! This episode is all about Rose and I would argue that the success of the pilot rested on Piper's shoulders as much as Eccelston's and she managed to connect with the audience with effortless ease. There were too many scenes where I was punching the air with delight but her "We can't hide inside a wooden box!" and "You were right, you ARE alien?" were superb moments. Billie makes entering the TARDIS an EVENT, which is something that was far too often forgotten in the series after AN Unearthly Child (except, amazingly, for Tegan in Logopolis) and I loved how the story explored how she loved being caught up in the excitement of it all (she is grinning like a nutter when they start running around London). Davies capitalises on the wish to escape our humdrum lives and leap into adventures with outer space and I found impossible not to identify with Rose. Ooh somebody has been watching far too much Farscape! The new TARDIS interior is certainly eye catching, probably not as much as the TV Movie's attempt but they have captured the scale and the awe of that last attempt. It has a very organic feel to it that I liked a lot, for once you get the idea that this isn't just a giant computer but a living organism in its own right. I could certainly see a lot of scope for lots of imaginative camera work in upcoming episodes.

Too much humour? I don't think so, this has to appeal to the kiddies after all and burping wheelie bins and gaping Mickey's are just the right way to go about it. Whilst Eccelston and Piper are playing their roles for all the depth they can get away with (well in a script about a 900 year old alien who fights shop window dummies) Noel Clarke goes for a much broader performance and he has come in for some heavy criticism which I think is a mite unfair. Whilst I could have done without his "!" pronunciation I really enjoyed the wheelie bin scene, which was as silly and as scary as it needed to be. I also quite enjoyed his reluctance to help the Doctor, why all the people who meet him some around to his way of thinking?

Didn't you just love Jackie Tyler? What a hopeless character! All that guff about compensation was hilarious (well Simon laughed). And her reaction to the Auton massacre was perfect, utter confusion and then sheer terror (the poor actress looked like she had walked into the wrong programme at first!).

I do have to comment on the special effects which were much, much better than imagined after listening to some ungrateful gits over at Outpost Gallifrey bemoan the quality of the production (and if that sounds like dismissing other peoples opinions Mikey, good!). Nothing made me go "WOW OH MI GOD THEY MUST HAVE SPENT MILLIONS ON THIS!" but there were certainly enough great set pieces to confirm that Doctor Who has entered the new millennium. I loved headless Mickey smashing up the restaurant and the Nestene creature, both were highly convincing pieces of CGI. The lighting was excellent and gave the entire episode a real sense of style; Davies' comment that he would rather watch beautiful images than ugly ones certainly looks as though it has made it on screen. The whole episode was a delight on the eye.

The direction could probably have done with tightening up at bit. Compared to eighties Doctor Who this was a triumph but compared to other SF shows that are on the market these days (I'm thinking of the slick and quick Battlestar Galactica and the trippy and sensual Farscape) it didn't quite have the oomph all the time. Certain scenes (such as the montage at the beginning and the wonderfully frantic climax) had real energy and style whilst others (the more domestic scenes) were directed more akin to a modern soap.

I don't want to walk away from this review sounding negative however because this was everything I had hoped for and more. Considering he had to introduce all the core elements of the series and try and tell an individual story (which was a little thin but perfectly serviceable) as well Russell T Davies has done us proud. This is everything we could have hoped for and more, distinctly British in flavour but far more interesting and well made than anything I have seen in Britain in ages.

This is Doctor Who for fans and the mainstream audience. I never thought the series could make the connection between the two but I have never been more pleased to be wrong.

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They may not have noticed the Nestene Consciousness glooping away under the their Eye, or the first suburban street in ‘sowf’ England where wheelie bins outnumber cars; or even the back of a department store that looks like a Bananarama set; but they will have noticed that Doctor Who was back. If you are going to reintroduce a brand (wistful, irrelevant aside to the Marathon chocolate bar), then you need all the mass marketing you can get so that the audience dusts off the nostalgia and buys into the product. Throw in a faux ratings battle; get the press paralytic at the press launch; and deck the billboards with reams of paper; and before you know it Joe public has an inkling that the only place they should be on Easter Saturday is squared eyed in front of the telly, swirling down the odd vortex, whilst choosing the right Celebration (must be low on sugar).

So, the success of the first Doctor Who TV episode since the millennium bug had us all looking at our Argos watches in shame is one of brand and marketing. Without some unsung hero dashing out the copy; building the profile; marketing the brand, the opening night would have had all the wrong signals.

The BBC Production Team seems to have mirrored this frantic oversell. Rose, as a first episode, has a lot to do in terms of positioning characters, revisiting core components of the series, whilst modernising the experience for a family audience with attention deficit disorder. It succeeds on all these levels, which is why we all shrug our shoulders and ignore the absence of story.

It is nice, therefore, not be given the time to think. One of the terrors of the old Who format was that the audience was given precisely that. Stupid plots ambled away, as some extra hilariously gurned their face off to the sound of someone tapping a teaspoon on the side of a cup. Episode one of the new Doctor Who was a cold water splash of wink, wink; say no more. Those silly Nestenes, always the wheelie bin, never the bride (hang on...).

Now, one cannot have style and no substance without some decent characters popping up, or popping off (screen), to ride us through the romp blindly. The entire better if they are grounded in reality by way of the better Carry On films. Some of the fun sequences in the opener belonged to Jackie Tyler and Mickey as they quickly reminded the audience how good comedy was in the Seventies. For a moment, in Rose's flat, it looked as though Christopher Eccleston was about to join in (Carry On Shameless, anyone?), but, no, this was a tease; just one of many in the opening script to conjure up the collected experience, and stop the eyes from drifting to the land of long sewer sequences filmed with daylight effect bulbs. As it turned out this new Doctor (soon to be old) was a bit of a fruit loop, desperately trying not to be Tom Baker. He succeeds here (not without fighting the urge to flash his pearly whites all over town), because, below the line, he is complex and alien. His also totty, which, in this age of living plastic (holds sides) is going to get bums on seats in the same way that a starved monkey will blank the banana if shown female monkey porn.

Billie Piper is also totty, but one that squints in lifts to indicate that the scene is going to change, and that she is going to have to wander in to a dark warehouse clutching the Lottery money, rather than go to the shop and buy the ticket . Rose is an intelligent Vicky Pollard; family friendly tinkers at social policy are off the cuff and quickly zipped along so there is not too much explanation around why her black boyfriend is a useless, cheating (?) git. One can only hope that the guy she gave up her education for had a bit more going for him; otherwise one seriously has to question her taste in men. Oh yes, that’s right, she goes off with the Doctor in the end to film a Timotei advert. Still, think of all those parents sagely rattling off the benefits of education as a prompt after the first episode, completely decimating the audience for Doctor Who Confidential looking at work behind the scenes.

Speaking of which, perhaps one of the production team can shed some light on why much of the ‘human’ drama was filmed using techniques more akin to Danielle Steele’s ‘Secrets’. Did someone borrow the soft focus from a Cosmopolitan shoot? Boak’s direction was similar to that used in NY: LON, until there were more than three words of dialogue when by all accounts he panicked and just left the camera running, or had some poor guy walk backwards with a steadicam at pace. At times there were breathtaking movements where the direction aided narrative simplicity (93 seconds of Rose huffing and folding jumpers as synapses connect for the viewing public), and the big set pieces were, well, big; but there just wasn’t much time for Boak to imprint this episode with much identity. Such a monster piece of television, with the cry for more monsters, promoted as a monster hit.

Which, of course, it was. A huge hit, and there is none more excited than licensing division of the BBC; or Russell T Davies; or all those lovely creative folk that brought Doctor Who back into the mind set of a nation who were more surprised it was coming back , but could tell that it had been away. Chip-eaters up and down the country suddenly found themselves thrown into a world of fantasy, romp, camp idiocy, thrills and sugar rush. They could pretend for 45 minutes that they were not the dysfunctional unit they knew themselves to be, but a family screwed up in front of the telly in a rare vacuum of shared experience. Fake and artificial, maybe, but not at all dissatisfying.

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Well. That was quite good, wasn't it?

Watched it first with my parents and my sixteen-year-old brother, then again alone in the dark. Enjoyed it far more the second time, and thus this short review draws from my second experience of Rose ...

The opening sting and title sequence were perfect, and I loved the mad rush down to Earth and through London. Music seems very Eighties, very Keff... but I think that's perfect. Billie is adorable, and even her opening shots with Mickey were very sweet. How cute did Billie look when she was in the lift trying to keep her eyes open! The first Autons sequence works beautifully when you're on your own in the dark, and I'm sure it'd scare the hell out of many a young 'un. (Did I hear some Graham Norton??? Someone, please check again... I'm sure of it!)

Then someone grabs Rose's hand, tells her to run, and BAM! We've got a new Doctor. And from the word go, he's our Doctor. Surprisingly, I loved his arrogance and his accent. Why? It's different. Refreshing. And all that. When the department store blew up, I immediately relaxed about the effects in this series.

Okay. Next morning. Billie is looking adorable again, even first thing in the sodding morning. (My girlfriend somehow manages to do this too... ah, women.) Sadly, Jackie is a little over-the-top... didn't have to be. The news report... the building blew up, so all Central London was closed off? Isn't that over-reacting a little? I loved it, actually... to me, it's a nice subtle little "kiss" to the Seventies Pertwee era, when they went to such extremes on the show.

Ooh! Scratching at the door... scary music... is it the monsters? Nope. Our Doctor. We have a nice little tete-a-tete at the catflap, reminiscent of the TV movie (I prefer the latter sequence), and the Doctor bursts in. And, of course, we have the (now) oft-quoted Jackie/Doctor meeting moment. Huh. Jackie even seems quite attractive when trying to seduce him! (Pretend I didn't say that.) I enjoyed Billie's ignoring of the Doctor's antics in the living room, though Eccleston seems to be rushing through these antics a little. Things pick up when the Auton hand smothers him, though. Yay, the sonic screwdriver!!!

So now we're outside. Great lighting and photography. (Do I sound savvy yet? Didn't think so.) And here comes some wonderful chemistry between our two leads. I could get very used to seeing these two together. But (as my father pointed out in the first viewing) why do we have fast music here? It's not needed. The Doctor's "world turning" speech... I nearly wept, it was so good. And there was the original TARDIS noise! (In the first viewing, my brother cheered!)

Rose comes to see Mickey... a great line nobody's mentioned: "Don't read my emails!" I let out a huge guffaw. Wow... Mickey, an almost unanimously reviled character (at least in this ep), made me laugh! This is good. So she goes to see Clive... and Mickey tries to look hard while sitting in the car. (Don't make that dirty, guys.) Another big guffaw from me. Clive surprised me too - loved his characterisation. Those photos of Doctor-sightings, especially the JFK ones... they could've tried a bit harder! Yes, the wheelie-bin looked vaguely cartoonish, but I still enjoyed it. Cute. But then Rose comes back to Mickey, who's all plastic and... well, to me, hilarious. "Pizzaaaa!!! Pph! Pph!" Like some demented Ninja Turtle.

In the restaurant, I laughed out loud again at the clone-Mickey's terms-of-endearment malfunction. And "doesn't anyone want my champagne?" You know, I had no idea that'd turn out to be the Doctor in that reveal. That was my "hero moment". I got scared when the disembodied head opened its eyes. And I'm 22!! Loved the mallets aswell. (For the record, I'm still vehemently anti-CGI. But hey, this worked.)

So we're running away from the Mickey-Auton, and the Doctor casually strolls into the TARDIS. Oh, to be young and unknowledgeable! When Rose steps in, steps out, then runs in again... it's a breathtaking moment, even for someone who knows what she's going to find. I loved the Doctor's "No no no no no!!!" as the TARDIS did silly things - very Doctorish. Now we're on the Embankment for a bit of necessary exposition for those who aren't familiar with the whole "aliens-from-dying-world-need-our-well-everything" plot from old sci-fi. ("The Invaders", anyone?) Loved the triple-take London Eye gag. And the one about the breast implants.

But then... suddenly... we're in the Nestene lair. Er... that was a little... quick. Oh well. Wasn't so concerned the second time round, to be honest. But still jarred a bit with me. Anyway, the Doctor talks to the Consciousness... a bit of Doctorishness, a bit of exposition, a bit of reference to the oncoming story arc... and the TARDIS is revealed. Again, I didn't know this was going to happen (and I'm a spoiler FREAK!). Meanwhile, in Central London, the dummies are coming alive again. Which, to me, doesn't get frightening until they're out in the street. And then it is QUITE freaky. Love the brides. And the atmospheric FX stuff with the London Eye - very TV movie, and very effective.

Billie saves the day in very Buffy-ish style, but I'm not complaining. All is well, and Rose declines the Doctor's offer to come with him. The TARDIS fades away, then of course reappears. The Doctor forgot to mention something... and as someone who's been enamoured of the whole concept of time-travel since I was quite, quite young, I shared Rose's excitement - and her huge grin - as she ran towards her future in slow-mo, accompanied by our favourite sting. And how about that voice-over at the end! I love my ABC.

So, Rose has dumped her plastic life and joined the Doctor on his "anti-plastic" adventures. (Nice allegory - was I the only one to notice?) A very good introduction to the characters and - to a lesser extent - the set up of the series, Rose achieves in forty-five minutes what the TV movie tried very hard and ultimately failed to achieve in over twice that length of time. I love this Doctor, this companion, this team, this TARDIS... I know the next few months are going to be the trip of a...

See? Didn't say it.

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Whilst the privileged in the U.K. are, at the time of writing this, pouring over last night's Empty Child and anticipating next Saturday's Episode 10, we poor Australians have only made it to Episode 1, Rose.

Actually, what could be better? 12 - not just 4 - more episodes to look forward to, following on from a very promising start.

I probably went through most people's initial reactions when learning, months ago, of the new Doctor's contempory costume and pop star Billie Piper's role as his companion. And what was this "coral" idea inside the TARDIS? And what sort of title is "Rose" for a Doctor Who story anyway?

But even before the series aired there was time to reflect on all these changes. For instance, the Doctor's character would be more important than his costume, not to mention that a low-key leather jacket seems preferable to multi-coloured long coats and question marks! Billie? Well, let's see her act before passing judgement (though it was a relief to read, prior to the show's debut here, a slew of positive reviews posted on this website). Eventually some picture snaps of the TARDIS interior came out, banishing that concern. So it became a case of wait and see, coupled with a growing feeling that just maybe they weren't going to miss the mark (no further mention of 1996!).

Now, with a warm and happy glow, I can talk about the episode itself. First and foremost: it was Doctor Who in both name and character; one can imagine a whole new generation of frightened kiddies, over-protective mothers turning off the TV, and emergent protogeeks (sorry guys - and gal - but we are, to the boring blinkered rest of society), thanks in no small part to a particularly lovely, nasty Auton killing spree at the end. For this show to be true to itself, it must have teeth; I'd be worried if there were no complaints about violence at all.

The domestic scenes were certainly atypical for Doctor Who but thankfully so well handled that one could actually enjoy them. I even liked Jackie - didn't think I would! - and I'll have to watch it again to discern Mickie's terrible acting, for he seemed to serve his role as far as I was concerned first time around. These slice of life elements also serve well to foster a sense of identification for the new viewers, providing them a base from which to start, lending perspective to the stranger concepts and, by contrasting the Doctor's entirely different character, helping to illustrate his vaguely alien presence.

Which leads me to the next most important ingredient: the Doctor, of course. He must be smart, eccentric, sometimes childish, sometimes serious. A sense of humour helps, and he should in no way come across perfect. Christopher Eccleston seems to have created his own indelible character within the broad parameters of this framework and so far I have no complaints. If he improves with "settling in" as every other Doctor has in the past, we're in for a very interesting Time Lord. Similarly, it's great to see, as so many reviewers have so far pointed out, a strong and likeable character in Rose; her decision at the end to join the Doctor after initially declining had one member of our little household audience clapping with delight.

The story itself had admittedly more style than substance, with a two-parter here perhaps being justified. Still, what was in it was generally good. Bringing the Autons back was a smart move, as most fans can readily accept this familiar enemy whilst adjusting to all the new changes. For the uninitiated, it's difficult to imagine a better introduction to the dangerous world of Doctor Who. Setting the drama from the companion's point of view was certainly one of RTD's best ideas, harkening back to the very first story, An Unearthly Child - for Rose, of course, now has to serve the very same purpose as pilot episode for a brand new audience.

And this is a crucial point. However much the aging fans of Doctor Who (such as myself, alas) wish it otherwise, the show is no longer targeted for them and them alone. But a smart show aimed at intelligent youngsters is far better than a dumb show aimed at mindless adults. Doctor Who has always been the former. Let's face it though, it only intermittently lived up to it's potential, and I'm not just referring to poor set design or low budgeting; often the scripts themselves were illogical and contrived. But always imaginative. If this new series does no less, I won't complain. With a little bit of luck we'll be served something even better, if the producers have managed to learn anything from the sophistication of such shows as Star Trek, Babylon 5, Buffy and Angel. My prediction is something in between - there will be improvements and good moments, mixed very probably with ideas better left on the drawing board. I doubt, however, it will every old fan's dream. Doctor Who will be aimed primarily, as it always has been, at the younger generation, but it will have been suitably updated into a style and format it's new audience, raised on a diet of quality American productions such as those just listed, can better appreciate. I see little wrong in that.

For now, here's looking foreword to the End of the World!

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When the announcement came through that a new series of "Doctor Who" was going into production, ready for a 2005 transmission, I have to admit, my first response was: "oh, no!" Not, I must add, because I was afraid it would be rubbish, but because 2005 was scheduled to be my year abroad from university. I was to spend the first half of the year in Germany, and wouldn't be able to see it! Typical - I became a fan in 1996 (yes, the movie did convert some of us) and they have had almost a decade to bring it back; when they do, I have to miss it!

Still, thanks to the delights of a friend's DVD recorder (she was home for episodes 1 and 2 only) and BBC DVD's quick work, I have now had the pleasure of episodes 1, 2 and 3. I've read all sorts of reviews, and really, some fans will moan about anything, won't they?

"Rose" is, as far as I am concerned, the perfect way to bring the show back. We meet the Doctor through the eyes of Rose, played so very well by Billie Piper. I remember being impressed with her in "Canterbury Tales" but here she is something else. 

I showed this episode to a non-fan friend who sat through it, all the while gasping in surprise at how "cool" it was. "Doctor Who" is cool. Believe it. 

So, why do I love Rose so much? Well, firstly, there's the Doctor. Wild, manic and very very funny, this is the Doctor as he should be, showing up, saving the world and leaving again. Eccleston nails it from his first word - "Run!" and is the star of every scene he is in. Somehow, despite his everyman look, everything about him feels right - I believe in this Doctor, I want to spend time with him, to get to know him. His "I can feel it" speech adds much more mystery to the character than any of the Cartmel stories ever did.

Next up, Rose herself. She balances initial disbelief with a growing realisation of what she is encountering so well, and her first scene in the TARDIS is brilliant. 

Thirdly, the TARDIS. Just what I'd hoped for, the designers haven't simply ignored either the original design or the TV Movie version, and have come up with a cracking set.

Fourth - the Autons are back. Though not named, we know who they are. The plot is a little non existent, but it's fast, it's fun, it's an adventure and it's "Doctor Who", people. rejoice.

There are many magic moments in "Rose". The first time you see the Doctor. The lovely scene where he looks in the mirror. Clive's menacing summary of our hero. The beautiful, haunting scene where the Doctor tells Rose who he is, and the arguably even better bit just afterwards where he walks back to THAT BOX and you hear THAT SOUND over a haunting score as Rose runs back to see the dematerialisation. Rose's first trip in the TARDIS. The Doctor pleading for humanity, suddenly very serious and very scary - "I am talking!" The Doctor and Rose leaving together at the end.

Oh, it has faults, but you know what, I don't care. "Rose" marks the welcome return of a hero who should never have been away for so long. Christopher Eccleston is Doctor Who. Believe it. Watch it. Love it.

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My first impressions of 'Rose' are very mixed. I got the feeling that Christopher Eccleston was playing The Doctor as a bit of a smug goof. I can only think this was a gimmick for his initial performance, because there were moments of intensity which made me think, yeah, this is The Doctor after all. These being the skin of the Planet speech, and the regret in his voice for worlds he was unable to save. From the things I've heard I get the impression that these undercurrents are going to slowly accumulate. So, for now, I'm reserving judgement on Christopher, because I think he can be a great Doctor if the script is permitting.

Rose herself, well I knew Billie Piper could act, and she does a good job of making Rose a character who is very self-aware. I thik that's her strength, she has no illusions and also she is very curious. There is one point in the episode where her boyfriend holds her back from helping the Doctor. This seems typical man on the street mind your own business stuff. She isn't like that though, she 's like the Doctor and will not mind her own business, she will get involved. For me Billie was the best thing in it, there being a real sense of her joy as she rushed for the Tardis door at then end.

Supporting characters, well Clive was just Mr Exposition, who met with a tragic end and I didn't care at all. The boyfriend was annoying, cowardly, and the actor who played him was far better as the Auton. Nice body movements and menacing smile, all subtlety was lost, however, when he started speaking too fast. Oh and Rose's mum I simply found annoying, like she wondered in from a certain East London soap with her talk of benefits and shopping. She was a caricature, so again, fear for her safety or caring for her character, nill. Social realism, matter of opinion, yes annoying people like that do exist. IFor me Rose was the only member of the human race who made any emotional impact. The episode sorely missed a human authority figure, who goes through the stages of suspecting, threatening and then trusting the Doctor.

Being a Doctor Who fan I suppose I'm used to a slower buildup of facts, and I even like the padding. There was no padding in this, and as I said, no subtlety, no real buildup of darkness or threat. I'm going to hear things like, this is tv for the 21st century and needs to be fast and sharp, but for me it was missing something. I understand though, that's it's a first episode, and it's going to take a little time. I was very pleased to see the dummies break through the shop windows, nice throwback to Spearhead in Space.

So... mixed bag, but I haven't given up. This was my first taste, and it may take a few weeks to get into. It's good to have the Doctor back and the title sequence was very Tom Bakerish. Shame about the BBC3 audio bleed, as Rose enters a darkened room filled with dummies there is riotous applause.

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After watching it a couple of times - and a couple more - I have to say I was surprised... in a good way! I really didn't know what to expect and after the comments from the BBC earlier that the show had been 'modernized' for the new generation of kids I was pretty sure I wouldn't be impressed with this version. The overly-Americanized movie was a disappointment so I wasn't going to get my hopes up! It took me a while to get used to the new modern feel... and the new Doctor of course... but I think the BBC have done the show proud and I can see why they have changed certain things. Yes, it's modernized, but not over the top. They have kept the base plot the same and it will still feel familiar in some places to those of you who grew up on the old-school Doctor Who - especially the plot of this episode (I think it was done tongue in cheek as those who know Doctor Who well will remember this story from way back when! For some people it will also dull the potential shock factor at seeing such a modern version and help them integrate!) Obviously though this new Dr Who is aimed at today's kids and they have had to modify things accordingly. The effects have been spruced up, but it isn't as 'in-your-face' as the movie effects were and what I always refer to as the 'silliness factor' is still there (do you remember the dinosaurs roaming about n London during Pertwee's era?). The techno-style music and the Doctor's accent and clothes definitely give the show a more up-to -date feel, although I had a few problems with the continuous action scenes and I would suggest that once the writers have settled in a bit they concentrate a bit more on dialogue rather than relying too heavily on drama. My 11yr old cousin had some difficulties understanding the characters and the story does need a bit more explanation in parts - some of the important bits that my generation take for granted (such as the TARDIS and the Doctor's origins) are only brushed over and younger viewers may have trouble keeping up. I realize though that this is the first attempt at a Doctor Who TV series since the 80's and the writers still need time to find their feet. I'm guessing this first episode was deliberately action-focused in order to grab the attention of the new audience and I'm hoping future episodes will calm down a bit and give the characters and dialogue more of a front seat. It felt a bit too rushed for my liking. The ending was definitely an improvement in this respect. After the action and drama of the episode's plot had died down we had a chance to meet the characters properly - in my opinion anyway - and I want to say well done to whomever decided to let the Doctor and his companion interact on an emotional level. In the movie the writers went too far with the kissing scenes and Grace acting as a love interest for the Doctor, but in the past the Doctor has been very unemotional and sometimes cold towards companions and it was great to see a more subtle interaction this time around. It's a much needed modernization that works well for today's audience. 

Okay... on to the characters... you've probabaly guessed that the first episode 'Rose' is going to be focusing heavily on the new companion so it won't be a suprise to know that this indeed is the case. The Doctor's character definitely plays a backseat in comparison but then we have the rest of the series to get to know him and I wasn't too upset about sacrificing one episode to Rose! I haven't seen Billie Piper in any other role yet - I just remember her as a pop singer in the 90's - so I can't say whether this performance is typical of her or not. Based on this performance alone I would say she is well suited to the role and brings a bit of kick and realism - not once is Rose shown screaming hysterically while the Doctor goes about trying to rescue her! I'm not going to be too critical of Piper's acting just yet as it is only the first episode and she too needs a chance to settle into the role. Christopher Eccleston does a good initial job as the Doctor and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in future episodes. The Tom Baker-esque mania was definitely a good choice, although in some places the dialogue did become a bit too rushed and indistinguishable - this may be due to the recording though. I'm still undecided about the modern clothes and hair - for me the Doctor always had a slight madness about him that was emphasized in the way he dressed - he never made an attempt to conform if he could help it - and so the new Doctor's dramatically toned down look was a big surprise and I'm still not sure whether it works or not. The Doctor no longer looks 'alien' and I don't know if this is intentional and ties in with a future story line or if it is just a mistake - I'll soon find out either way. I know there was a big uproar at the Doctor's statement in the movie that he was in fact half human and I'm worried the producers are now trying to focus on this. If so then that may work against them as the Doctor's alien background has always been a major component of what makes Dr Who such a good show! I was also surprised that there was no regeneration scene (however understated) or any explanation of the Doctor's new form and knowing how many adults are going to be watching the new series (I know literally hundreds of adults who are setting aside Saturday afternoons to watch the new Dr Who!) I would have thought the producers would have made an attempt to keep the story flowing from the last Doctor. But then again, there may be more references to the 8th Doctor in the next few episodes so I'm not going to moan too much at the moment. I expect Eccleston too will smooth out his performance further as the show progresses and he shows a lot of potential. As I mentioned before, the writers just need to make sure the action doesn't overshadow the characters or the actors won't get the chance to fulfill that potential!

I'm going to leave it there as I don't want to spoil the episode for the people who haven't seen it yet. I also want to wait and see how the next few episodes turn out and whether or not my criticisms are unfounded. It has been a while since the last Dr Who series and I don't want to give the new writers a hard time just yet! 

Again, this is all just my opinion and you are welcome to disagree with any or all of what I have written. At the end of the day I am just thrilled that Dr Who is back on TV! It has to be one of the all-time greatest shows and there is still so much more that can be done with it! Overall I'm pleased with the first episode and there is a lot of potential for this to be one of the best series. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out and if the writers calm things down to give it a chance.

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The beginning didn`t bode well. The main titles, both in sound and vision, were poor. The new version of the theme wasn`t strong enough, and was as poor a rendering as the revamped version Colin Baker`s Doctor had for the Trial of a Time Lord season. The visuals, no doubt trying to show the viewer how the TARDIS travels through the time vortex seemed a mish mash of Pertwee`s final season and Tom Baker`s first season, which, though not as hi-tech, were both however far superior. The lack of Eccleston`s face appearing also jarred. What also didn`t work was the two leads names appearing in the titles and the new logo doesn`t stand out at all. 

As the episode began proper, (along with that annoying US TV habit of superimposing producer/director credits over the scenes) the early scenes of Rose`s work/home life worked well. Her mother`s character, played by the wonderful Camile Cordouri, was very well rounded, though Noel Clarke as her boyfriend Mickey, really didn`t have much to do. 

It wasn`t until after the department store had been blown up, that Rose`s character began to shine. Billie Piper started well in these early scenes, and by the time she had met The Doctor, she had begun to display the right kind of confusion you and I would have felt, had we been in her position. The chemistry between her and Eccleston was very good, and I`m sure will get better as the series progresses.

I couldn`t quite make up my mind about Eccleston in this first episode. I feel he is certainly happier (as was I) doing the "serious" stuff than he is the comical, but again that may improve as he develops the role. 

While the production team have spruced up the exterior of the TARDIS, (for the better) they`ve made a complete hash of the interior. It seemed strange to me that the designer designed the set to show audiences how big the console room is, (and the size is impressive) but then took away that size by placing large support structures all around it. What with these, the hanging cables and metal gratings for the floor, the central column, (which is supposed to dominate the console room), just got swamped.

I liked the idea of the London Eye being the focal point to activate the Autons, but I was hoping that the invasion was going to be on a larger scale than it was. I was rather hoping to see a number of establishing shots of other major cities around the world, all with their own equivalent London Eye focal points, activating a worldwide Auton invasion, which would have upped the drama factor that much more. 

The Nestene Consciousness was certainly an improvement from the squid like creature we first saw in Spearhead from Space, and it was nice to see that Eccleston`s Doctor actually wanted to help the Consciousness, rather than just destroy it, (even though we all knew the Anti Plastic virus was going to be used in the end). 

The writing, on the whole, was very good. Some good one liners, "Every planet has a North", and some obvious poor ones. Was everyone waiting for the "armless" joke? Exactly. When the Doctor was giving Rose the brief outline of what the Nestene Consciousness was, and what it wanted to do to Earth, we never heard the words, "I fought these aliens twice before" which I think was a good decision on behalf of the writer/production team not to bog themselves (and the new series) down with too many references to the past. The older fans will get the connection, why try and confuse new fans. Maybe it was me, but did anyone hear the actual word "Auton" being used by the Doctor? 

The Autons/shop window dummies coming to life, (both earlier in the episode with Rose as well as in the climatic scenes) were very well filmed and I got the sense that the writer/director really did want to scare the "little ones", and in both these scenes they succeeded. On the comedy or "light relief" front both fared less. The scene with the Auton arm strangling the Doctor, while Rose is in the next room, totally oblivious to what is going on, was reminiscent of the worst kind of excess that marred Tom Baker`s awful performance, ("My arms, my legs") in Season 17`s Nightmare of Eden.

The direction on the whole was very good, but I think Keith Boak pulled the punches a bit when the Autons began mowing down the shoppers at the end. It`s no good trying to instill horror into a situation, and then not at least show what final effect that "horror" has, both on the characters and the viewers at home.

The incidental music was, on the whole poor. The blend of orchestral music for the suspense scenes and the electro-funk for the lighter scenes jarred with me, and as I was listening to it, I was thinking, "God! What would good old Dudley Simpson have done with THAT particular scene?" 

Like Colin Baker`s Season 22, I don`t think 45 minutes is the best structure for Doctor Who. An extra 15 minutes would have helped this story no end. It would have allowed the characters (and audience) to take a breather from all the frenzied running about and given the Doctor and Rose more time in the "getting to know you" stakes. Mention of the Doctor`s age, where he comes from, etc. would have helped to cement the character in the eyes of the new fans wondering what the hell this programme was all about. The ending, though I suppose satisfactory in dealing with the Autons/Nestene Consciousness, was still a bit rushed, and it would have helped the story more had the writer dragged the suspense out for a bit longer. 

All in all, I give it 7 out of 10. It certainly wasn`t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but equally there were times throughout the episode where I was thinking, "uh oh - didn`t like that" or "no - not sure about that". 

Can it get worse? Possibly. Probably. Oh well, there`s always the Daleks in episode 6/13, I suppose....

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The anticipation was almost overwhelming; the reality of it almost too unbelievable to be true, but yes after 16 long years it was finally back. The years in between had been almost impossibly bleak years of vague hopes, that made even the most ardent of us consign this series to the graveyard of TV history. We went off to watch Star Trek, Buffy, Babylon 5 and the X Files, but sitting in front of the telly tonight I realized that still nothing had stirred the feelings, had quite stimulated those fan boy urges as much as Doctor Who could.

Video recorder poised and we were off. 45 minutes later, it was all over, and time to be honest. Yes it was enjoyable, yes it had some great moments, but no it was not perfect, and nor did I really expect it to be. I had similar feelings to those I first had when watching the TV movie, very modern, very slick but not edge of the seat stuff. At times I felt the series was trying to be too hip, the lightness of tone was perhaps just a little too flippant. But this time I am not worried because there are 13 more episodes to come and I feel sure that any problems inherent in this first episode can be ironed out.

Eccleston has yet to prove himself but didn't do anything to put me off either, I think after a few episodes he should settle in. Piper too, as Rose gave a solid performance as I was always sure she would. Tardis was great, theme tune and titles were the best since the original, and there were some great moments of humour. It was possibly the first Doctor Who where I have laughed out loud and it worked for the most part. 

I am confident this show is in good hands, but I think that the production team should be confident that they have a winning concept and not feel the need to pander to every conceivable demographic. I think this first episode was trying to throw off the stigma some people have of Doctor Who by throwing too many things in the boiling pot, forgetting a little of that atmosphere just like the 1996 movie did. It was great to see the Autons, but they were to be honest shoehorned in and for the most part played for a bit of a joke. The show needs to slow up just a little, and do its own thing. The audience will go with it if they are allowed, but if every episode plays as if it's seeking admission to the trendy club then there could be problems ahead. But well done Mr. Davies and co, you have done the almost impossible thing and reinvented Doctor Who without it being total crap and that surely deserves some praise. Just one request, please start putting the Doctor's face in the title sequence!

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Good points and bad points on a series we have waited for, for so long, they are bound to have made some mistakes. Lets hope that these can be put right in the future.

Bad bits first.

1: An hour long story? 

This felt rushed. It got in everything, just, but it all went past so quickly. Losing the episodic structure of the stories definitely feels like a minus, no cliffhangers, no slow pace to get to know the characters. Even with McGann's doctor the movie was long enough for us to get a full story in. This was half a story. In some of the older series the bad guys wouldn't even be identified until the second hour of the story. All the stories for this season have been filmed but for next season a return to episodes would, I think, make a great improvement.

2: No regeneration?

Well, we can live with it, but it led to one huge plot hole. The Doctor checks his face in Rose's flat as if it's the first time he's seen it, the implication being he's only just regenerated, however in Clive's shed we are explicitly shown that this doctor has been around for a while.

3: Clive. Why?

The episode hasn't got enough time to get the story in as it is, suddenly we get a character and his family, inserted only to fast track Rose's (and new viewers) understanding of the Doctor and then get killed. We don't care about Clive, we don't get to know him. Again because of the shortness of the story, extraneous characters used to have ages to endear themselves to us before wandering into the sights of whatever alien was slowly lumbering towards them. This little spot could have been far better filled by the Brigadier or one of the past companions, someone we knew which could have made a nice link. An opportunity missed.

4: Special effects.

The sticky wheelie bin was awful and the Nestene consciousness was pretty bad. For goodness sake, computer special effects without Peter Jackson's bank balance are worse than any amount of hand puppets and full body suits. Lets hope they don't digitise the daleks.

5: Rose.

I don't care what anyone else thinks, Billie Piper is too well known a celeb to pull off the role. Eccleston is a brilliant actor, Piper is merely a decent one, you can't watch her without remembering everything else she's done. An unknown actress would have been better. Was Peter Purves on Blue Peter or Dr Who first (Don't know, wasn't born) but I don't think any other companion was a well known actor/actress or personality before Who and I think there was a reason for that.

6: Locations

Cardiff is an excellent place to film, so is London, but you can't put Cardiff landmarks, such as the Queen's Arcade into London. Anonymous streets maybe, but the two cities have an entirely different atmosphere and it comes across on film.

7: Tardis.

I agree with Sylvester McCoy who wrote immediately after transmission on the BBC website that he wasn't keen on the new Tardis interior and that Paul McGann's Jules Verne inspired Tardis was much better. It was. So were the Victorian and the Classic interiors.

8: Scary? No.

My doctor was Sylvester McCoy and whatever may be said about his era, one thing was for certain, the stories were atmospheric and very scary. The Wolves of Fenric, The catmen from Survival, The gothic weirdness of Ghost Light, The Kandyman gave me nightmares and The Cleaners were terrifying. Again, with the hour to fit everything in the Auton's, after a good start in the basement, were not given the eerieness and creepyness that they deserved. The Mickey Auton looked like he'd come off a CBBC program and since when did a superior Auton replace his guns for hammers? This brings me to the next point.

9: Incidental Music.

Something else McCoy highlighted, or the lack of. It was always part of what made Dr Who. Think of any great Dr Who scene and you will almost certainly remember the music that ran beneath the scene. I can't remember a single piece of music from this episode. Obviously the directors are aiming for more realism in the show but I think it's lost the atmosphere that reached it's peak at the end of the McCoy era and was also evident in the McGann movie.

10: Writing.

Some absolutely fabulous writing on this episode, which was almost ruined by the blatant choreographing of the director. As in the Doctor is being established as someone who runs around all the time, always on the move, (Again, too short a time for a full story) so you know that whenever the Doctor stands still and gets a serious look on his face he's about to say something profound. As great an actor as Eccleston is he can't pull this off yet with the same ease and panache that McCoy or the great Tom Baker could, because the director puts so much emphasis on it.

Ok. Good Points.

1: Christopher Eccleston.

An absolutely fabulous actor, he singlehandedly saved this story from being drowned by all the bad points I've just listed. He's already leaning towards a Tom Baker style but with the Peter Davidson angst that we saw when he gets caught by the Autons and shouts that he couldn't save their homeworld. He's least like Colin Baker and Patrick Troughton. This darker streak we hear about may not neccesarily be in his character but in his failings. He did seem to be a far more human character than any who came before except perhaps Davidson. I don't think the romantic element that is supposed to occur is a good idea, certainly when the Doctor and Rose held hands it was almost big brother like. 

Many many things I disliked about this, having grown up with McCoy I now realise why everyone says they prefer the one they first meet. I think however that the Doctor is essentially complete, Eccleston is great, but I think that modern day styles and techniques of working are not neccesarily the most appropriate for Who. We'll have to see how the rest of the season pans out and what the rest of the fans think. 

If I were to pinpoint any one thing that needs to be changed for next season though, the stories have to be longer, episodic if need be, an hour simply is not long enough it all felt rushed. I think if that happened all the other elements would fall into place.

(And get a good incidental music composer)

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Much as I was looking forward to the series, I also had my reservations the same as anyone else-but I put them on hold as I always trusted in the writers. Now it seems my trust has paid off because, an hour and a half before I wrote this review, Doctor Who rocked and rolled into the 21st Century. The show as a whole has regenerated, but all the elements are there. The Doctor hasn't fixed the outside face of the TARDIS, but has somehow made it twice the size.

The title sequence, although slightly unimaginative by the standards of Bernard Lodge's work in the '60s and '70s, is good and fulfils the main requirement (aside from displaying the show's name, of course) of being evocative of the show itself. The title sequence, faithful to the extent that if the orchestra was taken away it would almost be the original, bodes something special.

I enjoyed the episode as a whole, but I am withholding too binding a judgement because I want to see the other episodes first. Nevertheless I get to say what I always hoped I could: there aren't really any criticisms I can level against it that can't also be levelled against the original series too. And there was much to criticise about the original series, it wouldn't be the best show ever made.

Okay then, on to the main reservation was about hearing of the 45-minute format, which I didn't think was long enough. It struck me merely as being the way sci-fi is done these days, rather than the best way to make Doctor Who. I was worried that this wasn't going to give room for the laid-back characterisation and plot intricacies of the original series. This was reflected to an extent, as when we join the show the Nestene Consciousness has landed and established itself, the Doctor has arrives, worked out the problem and is ready to get going. So much for introductions. This was not a problem here as they (appropriately) told the story from companion Rose's point of view, who isn't privy to all these goings on. I'm waiting to see at the moment how they'll deal with it later episodes-I hope they'll still be more than just cheap thrills even with this restrictive format.

Any other criticisms are very tiny. The sonic screwdriver, although generally used well (a minor element, not some miracle device that can solve any problem you give it) has a blue swirly thing effect: pleasant though this is, ask yourself what the word 'sonic' means.

Lastly, the time frame Doctor's regeneration is unclear. It is implied to be recent, as he appears to see himself in a mirror for the first time-but then again the 9th incarnation has been swanning off to the Kennedy assassination (not to cheapen the horrific events of that day, but any fan can tell you how significant it was for the show) and the Titanic. This is a glaring inconsistency; are there no mirrors on the TARDIS? I refuse to believe there are none on the Titanic. There was a period where the Doctor carried one in his pocket.

Anyway, off from the minor niggles, on to the considerable good. The episode is visually stunning: the effects, while rubbery compared to modern films, are in proportion both to the growth of TV SFX and also to the show's relationship with film. The effects of 'Rose' can be compared to those of 'The Matrix' in the same way that the effects of 'The Space Pirates' can be compared to those of '2001: A Space Odyssey'.

The visuals are never better than with the brilliant ways the Doctor and the TARDIS are revealed. It takes a writer of considerable knowledge and respect for the series to know how to pitch these elements perfectly. Talking of pitch perfect, the continuity references strike the just right balance between being recognisable and subdued (you all though I was going to talk about Billie Piper didn't you?), my favourite being the opening shot that mimics the one of 'Spearhead From Space'. The Auton guns have the original sound effect, and indeed the shopping centre sequence is reminiscent of 'Spearhead', although curiously is less violent-although the off-screen death of Clive in front of his wife and child leaves an unpleasant feeling. There is also a barbed remark about the gender gap in fandom, an example of Mr. Davies biting the hand that feeds him, I can't help but feel.

I can't review this episode without talking of the actors. Eccleston's performance as a northern cheeky-chappy may take some getting used to, but is basically good. Billie Piper is, meanwhile, skilfully casting off the light entertainment albatross that plagued Bonnie Langford.

On the whole then, 4 out of 5 and a very promising start. I look forward a great deal to the new series. Except for the farting aliens routine, maybe...

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A welcome return for the Doctor!

The episode started with a very un-who-like concept; telling the tale from the POV of the leading lady. It didn't feel quite like who to begin with (maybe that's just me), but I did warm to the style. The first few minutes were i'm afraid a bit dull, showing Rose getting up and going to work wasn't really impulse viewing, but it then moved on well. The bit where the dummies (autons) come to life was cool, and I think will scare children of school age. The return of the sonic screwdriver was impressive, as was the return of the Doctor!

Ecclestone played the character in a very quirky way. He often played dumb, whilst showing signs of eccentricness. This reminded me of Troughton.

Moving onwards, Clive was a breath of fresh air, he is an established comedy actor, having appeared in Early Doors (a bbc sitcom written by Mancunian Craig Cash). The scenes with him were excellent, and I'm sorry to say that he was killed off. Shame really. I felt they could have used this idea of there being traces of the Doctor in history to a better effect, by showing some pictures of other incarnations... however, this may have been confusing for new viewers.

The Wheely bin scene had me in stitches laughing! It was a stroke of genius, and despite the actor's lack of acting talent, it was pulled off magnificently. For those that dont know, the Nestene Conciousness pulled Jimmy (Rose's boyfriend) in to the bin.

The next bit, with an auton Jimmy, wasn't very well done. Obviously he looked plastic... but too obviously plastic that anybody would have noticed - but not Rose! However, in the restaurant the "Champagne" scene was excellent. Didn't expect it to be the Doctor! 

The psycho headless auton was poor. Too overloaded with special effects. However, thats just my opinion, my girlfriend seemed to like it! The timeless classic "double take TARDIS" scene was extremely well acted, despite the new TARDIS interior, which I loathe! I personally thought that the McGann TARDIS was the best to date.

The bit with the Millenium Eye was very funny. Also, worth noting, that when the Doctor grinned manicly after noticing the eye, he looked uncannily like the grin of (Tom) Baker's doctor! "Excellent!"

From here i'm afraid I disliked the end. The Nestene Conciousness wasn't as scary as it could have been. In fact, in the book Synthespians, it was truly terrifying. The attack of the Autons wasn't hugely inspiring anyway.

To round off, a great Doctor, a semi-impressive first episode, but masses of Potential!

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There was some bad feedback a few weeks ago from someone who had seen the pirated copy of the pilot episode "Rose", about which I was immediately skeptical. The review, that is. It seems my feelings at that time were wholly justified, because I've recently watched said copy myself, and couldn't disagree more. I intended to avoid peeking at it until it showed up on my own TV, but I hadn't figured at this point we Yanks would still be waiting for any word of a network picking it up. Out of courtesy to the current BBC regime, who rule all in time and space for bringing Doctor Who back, I wanted to wait a few days until it launched in England before I wrote my review. Though I don't think anyone should worry since my thoughts are encouraging after all. And I know I'm still going to watch it in its PROPER setting of my television via my cable connection. Let me just start from the top and work forward...

If that pilot episode's a caterpillar, there's probably one effin' sexy butterfly on the way...

The title music isn't the final version in what I saw. I've heard the new arrangement played in several different settings, from the trailers to a snippet aired on one of the BBCs morning shows, and it is a testament to the original's awe and mystique, which literally serves as the backbone for the meat that Murray Gold has grafted onto it. Frankly, I'm dying to hear it in clear digital stereo as soon as some network, ANY network in this land of opportunity decides to pony up for the rights to air the thing! I'm not 100% sure that the title sequence is the final version, either, but I like what I see, and can't wait to see it married to the proper melody.

Now here is where people are going to have the most problem with this episode. It suffers from the exposition syndrome. Folks, you need to get over it. If you want Doctor Who back you're going to have to suffer through the obligatory period of introductions, explanations and plot development. The great news is that, whereas the 1996 TV movie shoe-horned more established history into ninety minutes than anyone could digest without the aid of pharmaceuticals, this one succeeds brilliantly at the same effort in half that time with a sensibly leaner plot.

Some will say that the choice of villain is lame. Some will say the means by which the Doctor handles and resolves things is too easily achieved. Some will say they should have shot from the left in stead of the right. But you know... we're not running the show here. What they've done is the only thing they could do in a case like this. INTRODUCE THE DOCTOR! That's what it's all about, nothing more. The fact that he's got the solution to the whole situation literally up his sleeve is beside the point. By way of character Rose's point-of-view, we get swept up in the Doctor's world, and as you will perceive, events are already under way. Through her eyes, we've just stumbled into the midst of it all, and the fact that these events whizz by at an unsettling pace, brilliantly brings the viewer into Rose's humdrum life and how she herself is struggling to cope with what she's found herself suddenly involved in. But of course, that has always been the place and purpose of the Doctor Who companion: to be the on-screen manifestation of the viewer's interest. Since we can't ask the Doctor "what's going on?" they serve that purpose for us. Some may find the first chunk of the show (I'm not saying how many minutes go by, because that'd give away when things turn interesting!) rather dull, but that's the point. Rose's life is very uninteresting. When she runs into a life-threatening situation there's only one way out, and I'll give you an obvious hint: she doesn't escape on her own.

One thing I noticed was the parallels between this story and the 1996 FOX movie. Certainly, both were out to achieve the same ends, the re-introduction of the Doctor's character. But while the movie went to the length of showing the Doctor regenerate from the last actor from the original series into the new actor, this outing neatly steps past that event and, frankly, I don't miss it. I was delighted to see, as I'm sure many will be, that they even made a brief nod to his most recent regeneration (which apparently took place not too long before the story began!). And the nature of the reference is an even subtler nod to a moment in Tom Baker's post-regenerative recuperation.

This goes a long way to explaining what I'll just call Christopher Eccleston's somewhat over-the-top delivery. The Doctor is apparently still coming to grips with his new body and apparently, in regards to the above-mentioned moment, has dressed himself without a mirror. His demeanor is almost defiantly cheery and his body language has more spring in it's step than a staircase built from Serta mattresses. Once again, some will groan, "Ohhh, no, too much!" But these mannerisms are all the more effective when the flow of chaos is broken by a sudden moment of dramatic lucidity, like when the Doctor explains to Rose who he is is such a way that one is left feeling both transported and at the same time a little saddened at the hint of his inner loneliness.

I mentioned "parallels" between this story and the TV movie. The aforementioned moment of lucidity is similar in mood to a scene in the movie where the Doctor reminisces to his companion Grace about stargazing in his youth, leading unexpectedly to a charming moment involving the fit of his new shoes. The scene in Rose's home reminded me of when Grace brought the Doctor to her house to examine his health. Different events transpire but the way in which each Doctor picks things out from his surroundings and "makes a moment" for the viewer to appreciate. And in the end, the Doctor finds himself restrained and on the verge of destruction, leaving the companion to heroically show their mettle by saving the day by saving him. Hell, I even made connections between things like shots of Doctor and companion running at - and past - the camera hand-in-hand, and the fact that in both cases, the Doctor was seeking an essential something that they only eventually found with the companion's assistance. In the movie it was an atomic clock (or a piece of it), and in this case it;s a transmitter.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying plagiarism or re-hashing of old plot devices at all. I'm saying that what this production crew did was take the bare bones elements that the TV movie used and employed them to a much greater effect! And once again I ask, nay, BEG all the viewers, fans and non-fans alike, to consider these things when they have their chance to see it. Once the whirlwind exposition is past, we can settle in and enjoy the ride. Remember the first episode of Buffy? Compare that to subsequent episodes if not the future history of that series, and you can forgive the occasionally frenetic pace.

Christopher Eccleston's Doctor is weird! But in the way that leaves a grin lingering on your face. This is due in part to the post-regenerative recovery I believe he's getting through, but also stems from the aforementioned loneliness that seems to be lurking beneath the surface. His is a Doctor that has lived nearly 1000 years, has been to one side of the universe and back as well as from one end of time to the other. He probably hasn't yet seen it all, but he's certainly seen enough to give anyone a melancholy perspective on the nature of everything. They say it's the worst to be alone in a crowd, so what does one feel when that "crowd" encompasses the collective mass of life throughout the history of the universe? (And to any writer working on the series who may be reading this, you're welcome to quote that question in a future script : ) ). When someone with so little life like Rose brushes against someone who's lived more life than anyone probably ought to, there's bound to be an equalizing effect on them. Many have been the murmurings of the new Doctor's "love" for Rose, and when you take this dynamic into account, it's apparent that they need each other. With the Doctor's irritable exclamation to Rose that he can't afford to focus all his emotional energy on the death of one human while he's trying to save ALL of the "stupid apes on this planet", we get an idea of the scale of his sense of responsibility, possibly mixed with a dose of self-imposed guilt.

The "scary" factor is fairly middle-of-the-road this time out with alien forces moving zombie-like towards their human victims amongst other moments. But I will say there was one part in particular that gave me a bit of a chilled feeling. A character is killed and duplicated, and at a later moment the doppelganger is sitting, speaking with the deceased's friend. I found it mildly unsettling each time the double's face snapped back to a smile when they finished talking. Maybe others won't see it like that, but I found myself thinking, "Hey, that's actually kind of creepy."

Now, I said at the beginning that I had some criticism, but really, it is nothing that can't be laughed off. By process of elimination it's awfully petty. The first thing is the choice of music at the story's climax. For a scene involving a potential mass-slaughter, it sounded awfully "doot, de-doot, de-doo" perky to me. I forgive this by saying that once again, it's ONLY the first episode for cryin' out loud, and they're trying to establish a sense of wondrous adventure. In the end the Doctor saves the day and you want more! He even advises Rose that it's always that dangerous in his world.

The other thing takes place when a character is absorbed by the enemy and afterwards they actually cap the experience off with a "belch" sound. Okay, I can forgive a lot, including this, but really, now! BELCH?

Oh, and another thing about the music... the negative review totally panned all of it, and I honestly can't see why. Other than what I've said, I felt it was perfectly acceptable.

One other thing original series fans might suffer from is whiplash from the speed of the plot. It's been said many times before in different settings that people have learned all of the old TV and movie story-telling devices from the past sixty years, so when a story is told today it moves at a faster pace, getting to the heart of the matter, whereas many years ago, the viewer would have to have things established in detail in order for the story to progress. Since sixteen years have passed between the end of the old series and the dawn of the new, one is bound to have a sense that it's not Doctor Who-like because it's moving "too fast". I'm sure we'll all get over soon enough, though. I can't wait to see the first two-parter and judge how it feels compared to a traditional 90-minute story. There'll probably be so much going on in that story as a whole it'll be very exciting, if this 45-minute sample is anything to go by.

And then there's the TARDIS. What can I say? It's the most beautiful, not to mention HUGE set that a BBC production of the show has used since the original pilot. The concept of the Doctor being akin to a space-traveling hippie with the TARDIS being his van, is so apt, one wonders why they never thought of it before. The control console is supposedly a lash-up of whatever pieces and parts he could find from whatever time periods he visited grafted onto the futuristic equipment already there. This isn't actually addressed in the first episode, and I don't know if they'll actually explain this, but that's how the production team came up with the new look. For the moment we get a few good tantalizing glimpses within, but not much beyond that. It will be interesting to see what lies beyond the inner door, leading deeper into the ship.

Bottom line is: forgive the hyperactive pace, be patient and let the future episodes unfold and keep an open mind. For those who really enjoy this, especially those who've either sneaked a peek at the bootleg or taken a trip north of the border to catch it on April 5 when those lucky, stinkin' Canadians get it, you may find yourself really feeling pissed at the Sci-Fi Channel for being so shortsighted. Wasn't that network originally established to be a haven for the sci-fi geeks out here? A place that's supposedly capable of recognizing that there's a thing called "Doctor Who" which has a solid base of fans in this country who are hungry for a new chapter in their favorite story? A friend of mine and I were having fits over it not long ago, exclaiming sarcastically, "God! If only someone would come up with a TV network that actually showed, you know, science-fiction. Where shows like this or Wonderfalls or Dead Like Me could find a home and thrive there. Oh, yeah... I think there is one and it's called THE SCI-FI CHANNEL!!!"

The wait is worth it. You will enjoy!

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Rose, the pilot episode of the new series of Doctor Who, can best be described as "promising". There is a lot to like about it, and a few minor quibbles. In essence though, the show's creators got the important things right. 

Opening Title Sequence:

In a word: inspired! A wonderful updating of the classic 'time tunnel', with a Tardis bouncing through the vortex, below 3D credits. The theme music is wonderful; a subtle recreation of the classic signature tune before the synth-heavy meddling of the 1980s. 


It was implied that there had been a recent regeneration, due to the Doctor looking into a mirror, and puzzling over his face. That may explain the schizophrenic first half of the show, where the Doctor is alternately giddy, flippant and then reflective and thoughtful. But, if we're not reading things into the character, such as this, then it seemed uneven. Yes, the Doctor is alien, and yes, he doesn't necessarily have to behave as a normal person behaves; but, there's a fine line between an eccentric character and a badly written character. They skirted that line fairly closely in the pilot.


The dynamics between the Doctor and Rose will make or break the show. They will be the only consistent thing between episodes, and on this count, the show scores high marks. The actors have an easy rapor and watchability, which should only strengthen over time. All supporting actors score fine marks. It sports some of the most consistently well acted scenes of the series.


The editing was fast-paced, something never before accomplished on this show with the three-camera setup. It gives the show a very contemporary, cinematic feel. Periodically, editing seemed to be a bit too jumpy, especially during characters' conversations, where it seemed unwarranted, however, this may be a rough edit and prone to change prior to broadcast.


The incidental music is a major weak point. In a word: generic. In two words: generic and overpowering. It is common practice to have generic music on early edits of films, so I suspect (hope) this is the situation. It is hard to believe it can be composed by the same person who did such a wonderful job of the theme. The music, rather than subtlely enhancing a scene, totally overpowers it. It is loud, generic, and very similar to the wall-to-wall music of the 1980s series.


The plot, while interesting, is nothing special. Autons and the Nestene Consciousness are back again. That is not a critique per se, just an observation. As a pilot episode, the main purpose of the plot was to introduce the principal characters and give them a believable motivation for wanting to be together as companions by the end of it. On this count, it succeeds very well. If in doubt, look at the episode title: Rose, not The Auton Invasion. Rose is the focal point of the plot, and the strengths of the plot are in discovering what sort of life she lives, and why she would give up everything she knows to become a companion of the Doctor.


Probably the most serious critique is one of pacing. Where the classic series was prone to padding out a plot to 6 episodes that could easily fit into 4, here we have the opposite. The pilot could easily have been 90 mins instead of 45 mins, and maybe better for it. The makers of the series should have seriously considered making the pilot a movie. The pilot is a whirlwind of activity; plot points, character introduction, subplots... there's a lot going on! Almost too much for 45 mins. The more time people spend running around hitting all the plot points, the less time there is for characterization; those quiet moments between the storm where characters can interact 'normally'. An introductory episode by its nature is not a normal episode, so I would hope the series will settle into a more traditional groove in later episodes.


There is a lot of humour in the Pilot, numerous visual gags, and general silliness. That is not to say it is being played as a farce or an ironic variation of the original series, merely, that the characters are written in such as way as to appreciate the absurdity of their situations (ie. fighting man-eating wheelie bins, or fighting disembodied mannequin arms!)

Special F/X:

Computer effects were a mixed affair. The Nestene Consciousness and various bolts of energy at the conclusion were not quite on par with with what I had expected, and were generically CGI. Other computer effects, such as a massive explosion at the start of the episode were wonderful. Where the effects excelled was in the realisation of the Autons. Of course, for any Doctor Who fan, F/X can't be a top priority! ;-) And, as before, these effects may be temporary and due for revising before broadcast.


The pilot starts with a bang: literally. Very dark and atmospheric. When the Autons first creak to life in the basement of a department store, it is genuinely creepy. However, it doesn't last. Very early on, it becomes more of a light-drama/comedy and the brooding, atmospheric scenes later on have a hard time making any impact because of it. By the time the Doctor confronts the Nestene Consciousness at the conclusion, it seems less threatening than a dark basement with a lurking mannequin.

Overall, this is a very watchable episode from the point of view of a fan. Many of the building blocks of a great series are there, not all in perfect proportion, however, but the foundation is solid. Without wading into any of the extensive backstory of The Doctor, the first time viewer will see him more as an enigmatic figure, who keeps his origins and past very close to his chest. All you really know is that he's a decent person/alien, who wants to make a difference for the better. But, really, that's all you need to know. Hopefully, my few critiques will shake themselves out as the series finds its feet.

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The main problem with a new series of Doctor Who is that it will never, ever satisfy the casual mass of critics; they're just too damned finicky. The reviews I have read so far of 'Rose' appear to have been written by people who watched the episode blindfolded whilst listening to some loud heavy-beat rock music in their earphones. Take note:- Doctor Who 2005 is excellent.

'Rose' comes at a time where the population of Britain is drugged-up on continuous detective and hospital dramas, and this show is like nothing ever seen/done before, even if you're a fan of the show. 

The opening title sequence - so true to its predecessors - sets the scene for a superb forty-four minutes of television. The most obvious achievement of 'Rose' is the pace at which it runs. Three and a half minutes into the episode (yes, seriously), and you have Rose being attacked by a selection of familiar faces before being heroically pulled to safety by a quirky northener in a leather jacket. And this is the speed the rest of the episode runs at, and sadly it's all over too quickly. 

I'm probably just euphoric, but it's possible that Christopher Eccleston could turn out to be my all-time favourite Doctor Who. He's like no Doctor seen before. So alien, mysterious, humorous, heroic, but with a much darker, grittier edge than any previous incarnation. McGann was good, don't get me wrong, but you knew where he was going. Number nine switches gears every other second, and will quite happily be strolling through a department store chatting about baked beans before pulling out a detonator and shouting, "run for your life!" 

Rose is an interesting companion. Again, so different to any of the screaming girls before her. I'll be honest - I didn't warm to her. This is on no part related to Billie Piper's acting ability - she delivers a superb performance throughout - but alas Rose Tyler is a bit of a disappointment. It would have been nice to see some sarcasm, or mild wit, coming through in the dialogue, and there wasn't. However, there is certainly potential for this in future episodes and, let's face it, anything can happen in twelve weeks.

The new TARDIS interior will have fans old and new drooling at the mouth, a cross between the original and the 1996, and by far the best yet. The original always looked drab and clinical, the 1996 looked like a stately home - the new rendition looks like an alien spaceship. Think of 'Event Horizon' and you're getting close. The BBC's really gone to town. 

Other reviews have murdered the quality of the CGI effects, but I urge you to take no notice. The visual effects in 'Rose' are easily comparable with any multi-million pound American blockbuster. The closing sequence - which sees the defeat of a familiar enemy - is a fine example of what The Mill is really capable of.

And I'll just dispel another rumour now if I may - 'Rose' does NOT look cheap. Claims that it was shot using the same videotape as Eastenders are a load of rubbish. 

This forty-five minute package is gleaming with quality from start to finish. It's brilliance at its most brilliant. Watching it nineteen times over still won't be enough... 

... and if you're not thumping the air with your fists when you see what happens in the last ten minutes of this episode, then maybe you're not a Doctor Who fan. 10/10

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Well it’s finally arrived. It’s taken years to get here but at last Doctor Who is back with its first full series in 16 years. Anyway, for those of you who have been hidden under a rock for the last 18 months, here’s the plotline…

Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) works in a dead-end job at Henriks Department Store in London. At the end of her shift she has to take this week’s lottery money to a member of staff in the basement. A nasty surprise awaits her for when she leaves the lift the shop dummies come alive and attack her. Luckily a stranger calling himself The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) saves her life. From here they battle Autons and a fight to save the Earth.

OK, so this sounds a bit familiar shop dummies coming alive, plastic things crawling around (AAA anyone?), but apart from that what we do have here is one of the smartest pieces of television in years. It’s fast and has little time for deep character development but this doesn’t matter as I expect the next few episodes to gently shed light on all main players. It’s beautifully shot in a cinematic style and has bags of energy. Director Keith Boak directs with confidence, never shying away from long takes or trendy jump cuts, which work nearly all of the time.

The special effects are surprising with the Autons looking very creepy and the many explosions that occur happen with the as much noise and fire as possible. The Conscience at then end looks superb and FX artists should be applauded for it.

But what about the performers? Well for starters Piper lights up every moment she’s on screen increasing her strong reputation as a serious actress in just 45 minutes. Rose is an excellent character, a sort of Ace but without the daft attitude problem.

The supporting cast too add to the piece more than you’d expect. Mark Benton as internet nerd Clive helps provide some back-story and also one of the best cameos seen in a Doctor Who adventure. He’s not here just because he’s famous (unlike the John Cleese kind of cameos the Classic Series suffered from). Clive is instantly interesting thus makes what happens later in the adventure even more poignant.

Noel Clarke who plays Rose’s boyfriend Mickey is given little to do but be daft and wimpy and he doesn’t seem to grasp the idea fully, but this is only a slight niggle.

As for Eccleston himself, well all I can say is that he could power a TARDIS with the amount of energy that bursts from his characterisation of the Doctor. He’s funny one moment and deadly serious the next with a grin that’s infectious and unseen since the days of Tom Baker. He doesn’t put on a posh accent or have any airs or graces, so when he comes out with technical jargon it’s a bit of a shock. He's like a normal bloke until Rose questions him about time travel and his alieness peaks through. It’s a marvellous piece full of thought and heart and will bring lumps to many throats.

Shame there’s no regeneration sequence but his change in appearance is subtly hinted at. And for those of you who worried about his costume, well let me just say you worried over nothing, it fits him and the story perfectly.

For hardcore fans you can rest easy about valued treasures such as the theme. Composer Murray Gold has returned to the classic version, but added an eeriness to it. It’s not over orchestrated like the TV Movie version, nor as radical as the McCoy era one.

The interior of the TARDIS is wonderfully organic and more compact than I was expecting. Gone is the grandiose of the TV Movie and the blandness of the Classic Series, now we have subtle earthy shades and plenty of shadows. And yes it makes the right noise when landing and taking off. Even the sonic screwdriver gets a good outing, helping The Doctor more times in ten minutes the he did the whole of the Classic Series!

Even the much-debated new logo looks good spinning around in 3D.

Russell T Davis has hacked and stripped away the mythos that was choking the series and given us back the show we loved when we were kids. His script is witty, well observed and sharp but never condescends to the young audience it’s aimed at. The opening ten minutes are a huge adrenaline rush for all ages. Davis also paces the plot perfectly, one minute you’re laughing at burping bins, the next you’re watching in horror as people begin to be slaughtered in the streets.

On my review copy was a 5 minute preview for the next 12 episodes; let’s just say that the idea of people hiding behind the sofa again isn’t as daft as it sounds.

Don’t waste your time downloading the show, wait for Saturday night and watch with the curtains closed. For those who may have to wait longer for their TV Stations to buy the show then let me assure you that the wait is well worth it.

This is Doctor Who for the 21st Century; this is instant classic Doctor Who, this is cool television and one of the best pieces of drama I’ve seen in a very long time. All the promises that were made at the start of production seem to have been met, fingers crossed the viewing public agree.

The Doctor is back and has never been better.

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The opening titles set the scene for the whole programme. They broke with tradition, yet they kept it.The break was in not using the Doctor's face in the sequence. The kept elements were much greater; the tunnel effect, the TARDIS, and the title coming at you from the back. This was very well realised and had a lot in common with the 1996 version. I couldn't see many Doctor Who fans fretting about the absence of a face when the result was as appealing as this.

The music was also very cleverly done, using (we are told, but I am suspicious) samples of the original Delia Darbyshire recording of the theme but with new backing. The essence of the 1963 version was kept, but it manages to sound quite contemporary. Composer Murray Gold has also worked in a small fantasia, which keeps it different.

From a great opening we go to a toned down, quiet few opening scenes, but these serve to build up the tension. Gold's incidental music here is a little too powerful in the mix, but it is so good, that it seems churlish to complain. A couple of bad sound problems mar opening sequences, but these may have been transmission errors.

Billie's performance is spot-on, and very easy on the eye. Rose, her character, is very much like Ace, in fact, except you are given a lot of her back-story straight away. This is a good contrast with the Doctor's mysteriousness. She didn't scream, nor twist her ankle, and proves to be a valuable resource for the Doctor.

Christopher Eccleston justifies everyone's faith and proves not only a capable Doctor but also a very likeable one. His performance is so full of humour and feels as fresh as Paul McGann's did back in 1996. Only this time you know he isn't going to be here for just one story. I like this Doctor, and I think I have taken to him quicker than almost any other. He DOES have a northern accent, but previous Doctors have changed their pronunciation with each regeneration - just remember how Troughton pronounced 'stabiliser'.

The story does what it is supposed to (re-introduces the character, concept, and ideas behind Doctor Who) without being clumsy, and manages to entertain at the same time. It was a good idea to bring back the Autons; so much so that you wonder why it was only done once before. The regeneration is swiftly dealt with by Eccleston examining his ears in a mirror - leading us to believe that this is his first adventure since re-generating (or he may have re-generated part way through this encounter as we come in half way through the story). This is a good way to deal with this problem. The fans can fill in the gaps, and the casual or new viewers aren't bothered by it. Did the Doctor really mean to say that ALL plastic was controlled by the Nestene consciousness? I don't really care - it was such a good adventure it doesn't need to be nit-picked by the likes of me.

The effects were well above par. I was worried that the CGI in particular might be rushed (see the Mill's work on The Mummy Returns), but they turned in a good showcase for the rest of the season, as did the Visual effects boys. Prosthetics and make-up were all up to standard, and gave the impression of a quality classy production. The set design was also in this category except for one really outstanding piece - the TARDIS. This control room has a lot in common with the TV Movie version but also with the Cushing films' interior in that you can see directly from outside to the inside. Some nifty video manipulation achieved this result but the trick wasn't over-used, so it kept its impact. The console looks partly organic and partly mechanical. Gone is the contemporary look of Mike Kelt's (very pretty but unconvincing) 1980s re-vamp, and for that we should be grateful.

All in all, a spellbinding show. My 73 year old father loved it as much as my 3 year old son, and that has to be good for the future of Doctor Who.

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For those of you not currently in the UK, and have so far resisted the urge to watch the downloaded copy - Nya-nya nya-nya-nya. We've just seen a totally awesome, 2005 version of a timeless classic. And we'll have seen several more before you lot do!

Sorry, had to get that out of the way. But I guess the reason you're reading this is to find out if its any good. The short answer is no. This is not good. Russell T Davies, a respected TV writer, and Dr Who fan, has taken our classic show and done something that is just not good. Because good does not even begin to describe what happened on BBC One at 7pm.

Let's take it in order: The titles. I'm still not sure about the new logo, and the names are displayed in a style reminiscent of the Superman movies but the graphics are superb. They seem to some how encapsulate the best bits of all the previous title sequences since 1963. And of course the music! Far better than the slightly pompous version on the TVM, this time we stay true to the Darbyshire classic, but with a fuller, cleaner sound.

Onto the drama. This is where Who 2k5 really scores. It out with a montage of a fairly typical day for Rose - which automatically gives it the gritty, realistic grounding we were, let's face it, we expected from RTD. However, its not Eastenders gritty - with misery surrounding our heroine at every corner. It shows a side of working-class Britain not often revealed in TV; the poor are often very happy with their lot - with enough love, and small bits of joy in their life. 

Bearing in mind that a lot of the old 25 minute Who eps seemed to drag, the 45 minute format could have worsened this problem. Oh contrare! Rose is almost instantly propelled into the thick of the plot - as is the Doctor. Considering the mass audience has not seen the Doctor since 1996, we waste no time re-introducing him. That is left to little clues dotted throughout the piece.

Eccleston is superb, if a little too over the top in this first episode. However, this may be down to a combination of needing time to settle into the role, and the fact that the Doctor exhibits a different kind of intensity and mania than the darker roles the actor is famous for. There are some overdone pieces in the story that take the comedy a smidgen too far, but that amounts to about 30seconds in the whole episode.

As for the Autons, we have a dilemma here. Whilst they do look a lot more realistic, and therefore less naff than the originals, in some ways this detracts from their innate creepiness. Some of the CGI effects with them adapting or reacting are more Roger Rabbit than Terminator, but again these are small gripes. The already legendary Wheelie Bin sequence could possibly have done without the burp - but I defy ANYONE to write a scene where someone is eaten by a wheelie bin where it doesn't burp!

Of the other characters, only Mickey fails to engage our emotions - he's a bit wet, cowardly, and too self-absorbed. In a way, his only purpose is to be the catalyst behind Rose's departure with the Doctor. 

There are those who posted reviews about the downloaded version that complained about the "cheap" look of the show being shot on video. Whilst its true that it makes the show look a little cheaper than the TVM, it is in keeping with the style of shows aimed at Doctor Who's target audience. Shot on film, the show would have been darker in film, and ended up in later slot more in keeping with Sea of Souls.

Wobbly sets have indeed gone, but there are points where the use of Green Screen techniques are obvious, as CSO overbleed used to be in early 70's Who. 

However, none of these criticisms and little niggles are enough to overcome the fact that Doctor Who is back - and on the basis of Rose, could be around for quite a while.

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The Autons. They felt like a mysterious Alien force and then went out to full blown Halloween-esque unstopable terror. Shame it didn't last longer.

The ending. Rose deciding to swing ont that chain was a great defining moment, and the way it was inter spliced with shots of the Autons and their guns worked brilliantly.

Generally excellent dialogue, which is what you'd expect from such an acclaimed writer.

The references to time in the whole episode. Could have been better if it wasn't so rushed, though.

The Tardid looks great. It looks Alien, and it looks like it's actually been used. Before Star Wars everything "future" was white and curvy and clean, and Lucas made it look realistic by making it dirty, worn down and broken - which is also what the BBC have done. It's easier to believe that the Tardis has been through time and space since forever, and that the buttons and levers actually do something.

The Doctor is pretty good, though I still prefer Pertwee. ;

The end finale was great, but I wish it wasn't all wrapped up in one episode. The scene of devastation at the end somehow felt unsatisfying - I kind of felt like there should be some Men in Black style mind eraser, because even though they'd wrapped up the Doctor and Rose, they hadn't bothered to explain what humans would make of the Auton invasion.

The sonic screwdriver and the way the Doctor is shown as being very mortal.

They way get got in the London Eye. Makes you proud to be British, sort of.

The special effects, obviously. It never felt too blue-screeny either, which is good - there was a good mix of CGI and actual sets.


I thought they wrapped up the story far too quickly. In fact, they really packed too much in full stop (though to be fair they did all the explaining really well - they were always on the move which meant that it wasn't too dull, though that 5 minute walking sequence when the Doctor explained everything was a bit much). The Autons were too easily destroyed and we didn't feel their terror as much as we did in Speerhead from Space, which gave them a lot more time.

Why didn't Rose's boyfriend just die? They set it up so well. It doesn't make sense that he survives, and it means that Rose following the Doctor is even less plausible. They could have even gone the way of killing Rose's family and had the "well I've got nothing left for me here" route. At least it would have made sense.

Missed opportunity

The Who nut was great (and a good reference to the fanbase), but it would have been really cool to have had a link to the past Doctors there. Something like "I've been tracking this guy for ages and he seems to change faces, but it's definitely the same guy because he comes out of the same police box. (Shows pictures of Hartnell, Pertwee, etc. in appropriate photographs)

They missed out the best bit of the Who theme. It usually plays at the end credits and is the best bit.

The music

I didn't like the tech music they used, but the sort of Gothic like ones they had were great. At the end finale they had undertones of the main theme, which was also cool.

The main Who theme is great, with a good ochestratic beat replacing the old 80s style thump. Shame they missed out the best bit, though.

Coming up next

Now that they've got all the explanatory storytelling out of the way, the next episode looks really great. The last remaining human looks fantastic, and it's good to see the old style weird Aliens (but this time without lines where you can see where their masks end)

What I want is a main storyline that continues over each Episode, and isn't wrapped up neatly at the end. I'm presuming the BBC will do this.

To sum up...

Pretty damn good, but not without its faults. I'll be eagerly anticipating the next one. 8/10

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For the past sixteen years, the concept of “a new series of Doctor Who” has existed purely in the abstract – a dream in the minds of the fans, something to debate and conjecture over, write articles about on internet message boards, talk to other fans about down the pub. As the years went by without any new television series, so each and every one of us began to imagine what such a thing, were it ever to happen, might be like. This long period meant that we all had time to build up our individual fantasies of what we wanted, until we all had a ‘perfect’ Doctor Who constructed in our heads, whether consciously or not. 

This is part of the problem of Rose, but only for fans – suddenly, rather than each having our own visions of the future, there is only one, and it’s here and now and right in front of us and it’s real. It’s such a culture shock to find that it’s actually here, that we perhaps risk forgetting that it can’t satisfy everyone’s desires – that would be impossible. Nor should it strive to – this is, after all, a new series for the general public, and however many nodding winks it may tip to fandom, it can never be exclusively designed for a few thousand of us amongst the millions, let alone for an individual fan amongst those thousands.

Rose was not my image of perfect Doctor Who, of course it wasn’t. I’ll tell you what it was though – pretty damn good.

First things first then, Christopher Eccleston. It sounds a crass and obvious thing to say, but he really was one of my favourite actors long before he ever got the part of the Doctor. I remember well sneakily staying up late in my room as a twelve year-old, because I was desperate to find out what happened to all of Our Friends in the North, but more than any of them I wanted to see what became of Eccleston’s Nicky. The intensity and sheer watchability he brought to that and other previous roles is present here, but with so much more – a wonderful sense of a lust for life, a line in bad jokes, charisma and great comedy timing. On first watch I wasn’t convinced about his wrestling with the Auton arm, but second time around I really enjoyed it. His whole comic routine in Rose’s living room was wonderful – for a moment he has the ‘Fonz touch’ of previous Doctors as he goes to shuffle the cards in a fancy manner, and it’s all suddenly lost as cards fly all over the place. The intelligent and the farcical going hand-in-hand – very Doctorish.

This is not an out-and-out comedy Doctor though – he’s also excellent when called upon to do the more serious stuff, such as the ‘world spinning’ speech to Rose, or the confrontation with the Nestene Consciousness where he pleads almost guiltily that he couldn’t save its world. Is this the sound of a plot arc being dropped into place, perhaps? References to ‘The War’ are interesting – it’s probably a coincidence, of course, but way back in 1963 CE Webber and Donald Wilson, two of the show’s triumvirate of creators, were of the opinion that the mysterious ‘Doctor’ character in the series they were dreaming up was a refugee from a massive ‘Galactic War’ tens of thousands of years in the future, suffering from some form of amnesia brought on by the horror of what he’d seen there… Never a concept developed upon in the series itself of course, but worth mentioning.

A Doctor needs his companion of course, and in this case we have the episode’s eponymous heroine, Rose – Rose Tyler, this project’s bearer of the Russell T Davies trademark surname. I have to admit I was one of those who was a little surprised when Billie Piper’s casting was announced back in May 2004 – yes I was prejudiced, of course I was. “Why you gotta play that song so loud?” I was always more than willing to give her a chance though – I trust this production team, and it’s clear to see why. Piper is fantastic – her ‘mockney’ accent may take a little getting used to, but I think that’s more to do with being used to hearing her natural speaking voice in interviews so much over the past couple of weeks.

Rose is an interesting character – at first she seems to be nothing more than an ordinary, everyday girl from London working in a shop, but there are glimpses of something else beneath the surface. There’s the sense of unfulfilled ambition – she left school under what are hinted at as being slightly unusual circumstances, something to do with a boy… This extra spark of life, a verve for existence, that she shows is perhaps what attracts the Doctor to her as a new travelling companion. There is a very slight touch of the Buffys to her, too – the line where she talks about being an “Under sevens gymnastics” bronze medallist was just the sort of self-effacing quip Joss Whedon might have penned for his famous leading lady, although you get the sense that Rose is going to be using her brains rather more than any sort of kick-boxing moves as she confronts the bad guys.

That brief slice of Buffy-type dialogue was part of the mix of influences at work in the episode – the Doctor holding the still-talking head of the Mickey-Auton was straight out of Total Recall, which the slightly comic council estate life Rose and her mother lead echoes Shameless, the Channel 4 drama by Davies’ great friend Paul Abbott. The mention of cats and council estates, with the TARDIS parked on the corner of a sunny suburban street in summer, also brings to mind Survival, the final story of the original 1963-1989 run of Doctor Who – an unintentional sense of picking up where we left off, perhaps.

Because despite all of those influences, all of the modern pacing and production, this is still very much Doctor Who. The sense of fun mixed in with the adventure, the righteous crusading of the Doctor tempered with his unhumanity, and the fact that he wants to give the Nestene Consciousness a chance before he has to destroy it… All of this comes right out of the heart of the series we all know and love. This is certainly Doctor Who, and very good Doctor Who at that.

The production was uniformly excellent – well-paced, well-shot and with only the incidental score from the usually-reliable Murray Gold occasionally jarring – Gold’s done an excellent job on the new mix of the theme, however, admirably accompanied by pleasingly familiar-seeming visuals from The Mill. In fact the only technical aspect to let the BBC One broadcast of the episode down were the two very brief sound bleeding errors from BBC Three’s concurrent broadcast of the Strictly Come Dancing tie-in show: unfortunate, perhaps, but I’d challenge anybody to say that these two three-second or so interruptions in any way spoiled their enjoyment of the episode.

Given how much there was to fit in and how brisk the pace was, it’s surprising there was much room for any supporting characters, but Davies has always been good at quickly establishing character, and the main supports were all very good. A few have suggested that Mickey is ‘token ethnic comic relief’, but I think this is nonsense – yes, he’s a bit useless, but that’s just his character. There’s nothing derogatory about it – Jackie and Clive are equally comically drawn and I don’t see anybody complaining about them being stereotypes.

Clive of course is one of Davies’ knowing nods to us, the fans – he is one of us basically, from a world where we don’t have a show but an actual real Doctor to obsess and make websites over. The collection in his shed was nice, and the photo from 22nd November 1963 was a lovely touch – the new beginning going right back to the first time around. Oh, and his wife’s line of “She’s read a website about the Doctor, and she’s a she?” was one of my great favourites. I would have liked to have seen more of Clive – a shame he ended up being a rather resigned victim of an Auton attack.

The Autons themselves were fantastic, blank-faced, unstoppable and suitably menacing, only really letting the side down a little when the three brides just stood there pointing their guns at Jackie and not shooting her in the several moments they had before they were deactivated. But hey-ho, it’s nice to still have Jackie around – she looks as if she’s set to provide more comic relief in the contemporarily-set episodes, and her ludicrous attempt to seduce the Doctor was a nice way of signposting just how uninterested he is in that sort of thing, thank you very much.

Overall then? Superb. The first time around I was a little worried there was too much humour for my tastes, but I think after a second viewing I was simply worrying because I was watching it with my parents and I was anxious that they’d find it too silly. Needless to say, they loved it – the burping wheelie bin went down well, and I can’t see what all the fuss has been about concerning it. Yes, it’s a comic moment, but it works. The humour never undermined the drama, it nicely counter-pointed it, which has always been how the very best Doctor Who has worked down the years.

So of course it wasn’t perfect. It never could have been it had too many expectations and dreams weighing down on it for that. But it was a fine start to what looks set to be a very fine series indeed.

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The downloadable screen saver which until seven o'clock tonight has been counting down until the start of the new series of Doctor Who now simply says 'The Invasion Begins...' Somehow I don't think it means the brief sound bleed of Graham Norton creeping in from BBC3 just as new companion Rose was being menaced for the first time by the Autons (who oddly weren't named this time out). It was an own goal from the BBC on what is one of the most important broadcasting nights of the year. But you know what I'm willing to forgive them.

Because he's back. He's bloody back. Bless him.

To be honest considering how much has been written about the new series off and online, all the tv and radio documentaries, the actual first episode, Rose, felt beside the point. As the busy new title sequence swished by part of my brain wondered if I was actually watching another trailer. But as Billie Piper strolled into view, and camera overcranked in Trafalgar Square during her lunch date with her boyfriend, my attention snapped back into view as I realised that it had started, I was there and nine years of wait were over.

Actually I think the plotting would have come as something of a shock for anyone who hasn't been catching the Doctor's adventures off screen in the gap. Atypically, The timelord already knew what the problem was and how to solve it even before the episode began (it was a bit like turning up for the last episode of a six parter in the old series). The Nestene Consciousness was using a transmitter (the London Eye) to control all the plastic in London in preparation for invading the Earth, with the help of shop dummies. The Doctor had a vile of anti-plastic, which he could use to destroy the Consciousness if needed to. It's exactly the sort of thing you'd find in one of the many short story anthologies (Short Trips etc) which been published in the interim.

This was clever move number one. Because just like best of the classic series, we were seeing him through the eyes of the companion, Rose Tyler -- she became our eyes and ears during the mad adventure. We needn't understand what it all meant, because she didn't really -- for her it was about going with the flow, enjoying the spectacle and the adventure -- much as it was for us. Like a prologue or opening act, it's about introducing the concepts and ideas to a new audience and reintroducing them to the old, and show what's changed to those who've never gone away. The was absolutely nothing in here which could alienate fans, well not this fan anyway.

The next clever idea was casting Christopher Eccleston. I think it was Tom Baker who said that the series is actor proof, that anyone could play it. That may be true, but its playing it well, and in a way which carries on the tradition. Eccleston's playing was just spooky; look into his eyes and you can see the other eight incarnations looking out at you. The moment on the bridge when he explains to Rose about the TARDIS moving around and says that 'She wouldn't understand' was just like grumpy old Hartnell. At the other end of the scale, as he fought the ships control panel as it melted the fake Mickey's head, McGann was back with us briefly. He's energetic, funny, sober, philosophical yet authorative when he needs to be. Standing over the the Nestene Consciousness trying to negotiate a truce using galactic law was just amazing.

Also amazing was Billie Piper. I don't think I was quite prepared for how much charisma she has, having not seen her in any of her previous acting roles. There is a real spark to her, an instant likeability. There is an edge of vulnerability in there, that kind of Alyson Hannigan (Willow in Buffy) huggability -- you really care if she gets hurt and I imagine they'll be playing that card somewhat as the series progresses. As a character, Rose Tyler is absolutely the right choice. Everything will be new to her, and there is that sense of wonder which was missing too much from in previous companions.

The tone was also just right. Some will no doubt knock on about the humour, especially in the scene when the Auton arms comes to life and attacks the Doctor without Rose noticing, or the wheelie bin burp, but I that's not much better or worse than John Pertwee's cleaning lady, or any number of Jelly Baby scenes. It's an important part of the series and in the Whedon age, vital other it would all look a bit ernest and silly. The episode's director Keith Boak hasn't 'done' sci-fi before (depending on your opinion of NY-LON) and was no doubt chosen because this is a story very much grounded on Earth, and these elements, quite right felt like they were intruding on the setting. Photographer Ernest Vincze, comes from a film background and that showed. At no point did the visuals feel flat; the moment when the London Eye created a halo around The Doctor, as well as feeling like a sneaky Second Coming reference (in that Russell T Davies series Eccleston played the new Christ) offered a perspective you don't often see on tv.

And yet. It wasn't perfect. Murray Gold's music was annoying. Considering how good his work has been in Casanova, here it just feels misjudged. Some sections felt desperately late Eighties. Every now and them there would an excellent spot effect, then a drum beat would clatter in and ruin it for everyone. We can't all be Alistair Locke or Dudley Simpson (both great incidental musicians from different eras of the show), but it just felt out of place somehow. That said, his mix of the theme is very good, but Delia Derbyshire's version was perfectly fine no matter what he and Russell might say about it seeming 'a bit sad'. Also, and I hate to single out any actor like this, but what did Noel Clarke think he was doing with that performance as Mickey. Yes, the character's a sap, he needs to be, otherwise Rose would shack up with The Doctor in the TARDIS, but why did he feel the need to play every scene as though he was auditioning to replace Craig Charles aboard Red Dwarf? Perhaps he settle down as the series progresses -- we'll be seeing more of him in later weeks as there as re-occurring characters this time around ... oh yes ...

But if that's all I can think of then something must be very right. This isn't another Phantom Menace. I keeping asking myself why I'm so excited about a new television series when there is still lots of other really good Doctor Who going around. It's about hope. It's about the fact that if enough of the right people care about something, and enough of those people are in the right position to doing something about it, wonderful things can happen. If that doesn't make you choke up, you must be an Auton.

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Well, what can I say except 'Brilliant!' I was one of the lucky so-and-sos who got to see the episode a few days early thanks to DWM, and I am very glad that I resisted the temptation to view the leaked download version. After the fantastic new title sequence, the story went straight into the action, with no slow build-up or prevarication. I certainly feel that this approach will please the kids - there really wasn't a chance to get bored in this episode, with rapid action, jokes and some wonderful character moments between the Doctor and Rose. 

Eccleston is an excellent Doctor, capable from switching from humourous tomfoolery to powerful, dramatic performances in an instant. Those who consider either Tom Baker or Troughton as their favourite incarnations will, I feel, be especially pleased with his portrayal. 

Billie Piper was also very good as Rose herself, and Noel Clarke, although he had little to do as Mickey, impressed me with his portrayal of an almost-human like Auton. Mark Benton was also good as Clive, a clever addition to the characters, and I hope we'll somehow be seeing more of him.

The effects were, at times, a little cartoonish, but that suits the plastic nature of the Autons and Nestene fairly well. The infamous wheely-bin sequence stretched this, and, although amusing and well-integrated into the plot, did look a little cheap.

However, this is a tiny quibble. The script was exciting and fun, and allowed the Doctor to be a monster fighter, but also a very caring, ethical individual who truly wants to help; rather than immediately attempt to destroy the Nestene, he first attempts to reason with it, which is just how I feel he should act.

On the whole, excellent. One other thing, though - anti-plastic? How does that work?

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I was one of the lucky few who, thanks to DWM got to watch this episode a few days early and I've had a few days to get my thoughts in order. This is my first review of anything so apologies if I ramble.

Let's begin at the beginning - the title sequence. I have to be honet and say that I found the visuals for this to be fairly unimaginative - very similar to the TV Movie titles but, for some reason, not so impressive. The new version of the theme tune, on the other hand, I thought was great. It probably won't be quite what some people were hoping for but it suits the style and tone of the new series perfectly. 

This first episode is fast, very fast and, as its title implies focuses on the character of Rose. Within about a minute of the episode beginning we've been given a whistlestop tour of a day in Rose's life and met her mother, boyfriend and co-workers. It's clear straight away that this is her story. The Doctor is only shown through her eyes and so instantly becomes a man of mystery. 

This is an excellent strategy from Russell T Davies who uses Rose to guide the audience in an intriguing quest to find out more about the Doctor. Information is revealed piece by piece so as not to confuse the all-important new viewer and is done so in a variety of different ways so as not to bore people. 

So much time is used set up the character and the relationship between them that, even in this fast-paced new 'Who', there isn't much time left for the rest of the plot. As such, I think RTD has deliberately left the plot fairly simple and straightforward: aliens have come to invade Earth, the Doctor has to stop them.Not that this is a criticism, it's pretty much what 'Doctor Who' has always been about anyway and the simplest way to get across the fact that the Doctor is a hero.

And what sort of hero is he? Well he may look quite different to what we've known before but he is unmistakably the same Doctor that we've always watched. Christopher Eccleston's portrayal brings out so many different aspects of the Doctor's character, he can change from being funny to deadly serious at the drop of a hat; you warm to the character immediately yet at times he appears quite distant and, well, alien. Which is just what he should be really. 

You would think, given the celebrity baggage that Billie Piper brings with her, that it would be difficult to accept her as Rose Tyler but within moments you forget that you're watching a former pop star/celebrity wife and you are completely drawn into her performance. That's how good an actress Billie is. If she has failed to convince then, no matter how good the rest of the episode was, I just wouldn't have been able to watch it. 

The script is very good, fast and funny with a few little nods to the past that won't alienate or confuse the new viewer and a nice little in-joke at the expense of Doctor Who fans. My only criticism is that RTD didn't make more of the character of Clive. Granted he was intended primarily as a means of giving new viewers a bit of background about the Doctor but the idea of a guy who has spent years researching who and what the Doctor is just seemed so intriguing. Sadly it doesn't seem likely that we'll get to see that particular character again. 

Finally a quick word on the direction, although I'm no expert on the subject. It's very different from what we've been used to in the past (and that includes the TV Movie) but it's just what I would expect for the 21st Century version of Doctor Who.

All in all, if this episode is any indication, I think that Doctor Who is in very safe hands.

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The world rejoices for a Time Lord walks among us once more. Now realising what a momentous evening this was, I made sure the entire family sat down to watch 'Rose' together (save the littlest one just in case there were any behind the sofa moments).


From the moment we meet Rose (nice bedroom) and set about her daily life people begin to realise this is going to be a different format to what we are used to. This was to be expected. This is a NEW series, with a NEW writer, with NEW actors, written for a NEW audience.

“Nice to meet you Rose. Run for your life!”

I found the entrance of the Doctor to be predictable but satisfying, just what I have been waiting for all these years. I quite liked Christopher as the leading man. In my opinion, he captured the eccentricity and casual attitude I had always recognised in the Doctor. However, another member of my family thought that he had taken it too far and ended up grinning like he was one of the Chuckle Brothers.

“... how comes you sound like you're from the north?”

My thoughts on Billie Piper were that while she probably will make a very good companion, she is just playing Billie Piper (especially with the running off with the older man bit).

“Am I addressing the consciousness?”

I didn't find the first episode particularly frightening but then again, the Autons never were. What Mary Whitehouse had against is beyond me. It was on the other hand a good introduction to those who are new to the series and, from what I have seen from the excessive coverage, the enemies only get better. My only real complaint is this 45 minute episode malarkey. While it is more easily digestible to the occasional viewer, it does mean we miss out on the mid-story cliffhangers.

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The first episode of the long-awaited new series accidentally leaked its way onto the net. It's given fans a chance to whet their appetite, particularly fans located in countries without a television deal in place. The leak has prompted a lot of media reporting on both sides of the Atlantic. But perhaps the biggest shock to fans is the realisation that, finally, it's real. Doctor Who is *back*!

But what of the episode itself? How can the story, how can anything, live up to the hype, the promise and the dreams we've had for fifteen years?

Rose, fortunately, is fantastic.

It's not just okay, or as good as could be hoped for in the circumstances, it's utterly, utterly wonderful. There are so many great things about Rose, none of which I'm going to spoil. But after the first five minutes I was grinning like a fool and that grin never left my face for the next 24 hours.

The new show is smart, sassy, witty, scary, laugh-out-loud funny, touching and clever. It's got all these things in spades, although for my money it's the humour which succeeds best of all. Doctor Who, as a television show, was fundamentally a funny show. That's something that got lost when it made the transition to fan-produced property and something which I'm very glad to see return.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment long term viewers may have to make is to realise that it's a character piece, not a plot-driven spectacle. Which is fantastic, IMO, because it's the characters we really care about. There's a reason it's called Rose and not Return Of Some Extraterrestrials.

Rose herself is fabulous, carrying much of the episode. She's recognisably a companion, but without some of the more embarrassing touches. Billie's acting is the real shock though: it's fantastic. Stunt casting a celebrity pop singer sounded like a recipe for disaster, but I'm extremely pleased to report that she's amazing.

What blows everything out of the water, though, is Chris Eccleston's Doctor. He's incredible. What's more, he's unlike any Doctor we've ever seen and the complete antithesis of what you'd imagine the Doctor should be... except that he's utterly convincing. Right from his (fabulous) first appearance, you're never in doubt that he's the Doctor. What's more, he gets actual acting to do and carries the role with a boyish enthusiasm that's incredibly infectious.

I'm amazed at just how great Rose truly is. I honestly never thought they could recreate the series I fell in love with, preparing myself to adapt to whatever new incarnation it appeared in... but somehow they have. There are lots of little moments that really set it apart, but they're best seen without spoilers. Try and see this without ruining it for yourself if you can, it's really worth it. Doctor Who is back, but it's like he was never away.

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An attractive blonde girl investigates an abandoned basement. She hears a suspicious noise. "Is there someone there?" she asks nervously. So far, so "Scream", but then you realise a shop dummy has started to move behind her. She backs off, questioning if this is someone's idea of a joke, but then other plastic assailants spring to life. They stand before her arms raised...


Okay, the mysterious stranger who saved her was always going to be the Doctor, but how wonderful that in an instant, generations who grew up with Doctor Who KNEW that this new, leather jacket Northerner WAS the Doctor.

Fairly obviously much has changed since the Doctor and Ace strode off into the sunset, but I would argue Russell T Davies' "Rose" is very much singing from the same song sheet. First the differences:

Plot and characters aside, the pace of the episode is frankly dizzying, although never off-putting. The time taken in later episodes such as "Curse of the Fenric" just would not be possible for today's "Buffy" fed market. The relentless pace of the first ten minutes does slow when Rose asks the new man in her life who he is and why she has been attacked by a plastic arm, although I feel the pace is an excellent way of demonstrating The Doctor's effect on the mundane life of a normal girl. 

This brings me nicely to Rose. I feel the nicest suprise of the lot. I was a teenager when Billie Piper assaulted the music charts with offensively sugary pop tunes such as "Because We Want To" so was understandably nervous upon hearing her casting. My fears were unfounded, Piper shines as the very human Rose, a character who finds her blinkers removed in the space of two days. She cannot believe the TARDIS yet goes back inside it. She doesn't believe in Living Plastic but follows the Doctor regardless. She phones her Mum before attempting to save herself. Now it's hard to see how we ever cared about the other human companions who were in many cases plot devises. Rose is unique in that she has a life and I very much felt Rose's dilemma at the end of the episode, Piper's performance was charming as she obligingly chose her normal life, ("Because She Had To") and uplifting as she raced towards her new life in the closing seconds ("Because She Wants To").

Of course, Rose's success is down the the obvious chemistry with the new Doctor, another real plus to the episode. We knew Eccleston could act, but I was surprised at how unpredictable he was, very hard to get a handle on and I rather like that. Peter Davison was charming but utterly predictably and in the end even Tom Baker could be relied upon to do something silly. This ninth Doctor seems to find such joy in his vocation but his ready smile often flashes out of darker moments as when Rose questions his morality and before the Nestene Consciousness. An fabulously intriguing start, and I have now forgiven the rather dull costume. Essentially we know Rose, but along with Miss Tyler, I can't wait to travel with our new Doctor.

Other goods? The music is better after a few listens. The TARDIS interior does work and I'm sure as the weeks go on it will grow in "character". The Autons were suitably chilling, especially the junior dummies. Jackie was excellent and for the most part I enjoyed Mickey, especially his "Gansta" face on arriving at Clive's.

Now, no part of the episode really made me cringe or hide from my TV and I never stopped enjoying the experience of having Doctor Who back, although if I could have a whinge it would be on the smallest of plot details. Firstly I'm glad I knew what the Nestene Consciousness was before I started as The Doctor's explanation was a touch brief given the "blink and you'll miss it" nature of the whole episode and I understand the function of the Wheelie Bin totally given the fact I'm a teacher of ten-year-olds, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Further the scene in Clive's shed seemed to quite coldly blank the fact that Clive knew there had been other Doctor's, but wasn't sharing. It seems insane to deny there used to be a series with same name. You don't have to be a big fan to want nods to the past. My Mum for example would have loved some less subtle acknowledgement of the old show. I guess the Dalek show may be the big test of how much RTD is willing to indulge.

All in all, whats not to love? It's Doctor Who! It's the same, but new! The debut has so mush promise...An alien with secrets, a human with the strength to share them? A machine that can take them anywhere, anytime. The next three moths will be a real treat.

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"Rose" must have been one of, if not the, most anticipated Doctor Who TV stories of all time, matched perhaps only by the anticipation of the 1996 TV movie. It had a heck of a lot to live up to in terms of expectations by both fans and more casual viewers and the obvious question is; does it deliver?

The answer has to be a resounding yes! I watched 'Rose' as a dedicated long term fan, with me were my wife who is a casual viewer and my nine year old who has seen the old series and enjoyed some of it, but not the dated effects. pon viewing 'Rose' all three of us came to the conclusion that we had very much enjoyed it, so much so that we watched the BBC 3 repeat on Sunday evening.

Perhaps more than anything else what made this episode so good for us all was Christopher Eccleston's amazing performance as the Ninth Doctor. For me, personally, Mr Eccleston has become my second favourite Doctor solely on the strength of that performance, beaten only by the great Tom Baker. Without relying on an outlanish costume or other frippery Eccleston totally convinces as a nine hundred year old alien tim traveller. He has a madcap quality that reminds one of Troughton or Baker (Tom) but which is completely different from either of those predecessors. There is a wonderful lust for life, a genuine sense of wonder, an infectious enthusiasm - the grin says it all. Eccleston very much gives us a Doctor for the nineties, yet a Doctor who is immediately recognisable as the same Time Lord we have known and loved for 40 years. Perhaps the ultimate accolade I could give is to admit that, for most of the episode, I forgot there was an actor playing the Doctor, for me this was the Doctor in the same way that Tom Baker was the Doctor when I was a child.

The titular heroine, Rose, is very much a companion for the twenty first century and telling the story from her point of view was a master stroke. She proved in this one episode, both to the viewers and the Doctor that she has what it takes to be one of the all time great companions. I had my reservations about Billie Piper's acting ability, but I am happy to be proven completely wrong. She proved she could scream with the beast of them in a moment of genuine terror, but also proved to be gutsy, resourceful and to have the courage and intelligence to be, in amany ways, the Doctor's equal.

The supporting cast were uniformly good, though I found Mickey more than a little irritating. A pity he wasn't one of the stories fatalities!

Finally, the story itself. For a fan who has been reading the New Adventures / EDAs it was a lot more simplistic than the stories I have become used to of late, but somehow it didn't matter. I loved it. Perhaps more importantly, my wife (the casual viewer) and nine year old daughter both loved it. My daughter in particular laughed at the intended jokes and jumped when the Autons crashed through the shop windows. For myself I thought the story an excellent way to re-introduce the concept of Doctor Who and feel that it was certainly good enough to keep the 10.5 million viewers who reportedly watched the first story coming back for more. If the other twelve scripts meet or exceed this high standard then TV Doctor Who looks set to have a long and healthy future.

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Doctor Who is back! And it’s being ridiculed by everyone I speak to. What went wrong?

Contrary to my initial fears, it wasn’t Billie Piper. Rose came across as likeable, capable and intelligent. Christopher Eccleston on the other hand, disappointed as our hero. His antics in Rose’s flat were silly (although his struggle with the Auton arm was played perfectly, since Rose was meant to think he was pratting about like Mickey before him) and his asides (such as the oft-quoted “run for your life” line) were delivered flatly and without conviction. I know Eccleston’s fantastic, ‘cos I own half his CV on video, but he does nothing to justify that reputation in this episode. The rest of the cast were great, with the sole exception of Mickey, whose idiotic grinning as an Auton replica just made Rose look stupid for not spotting him straightaway.

The plotting owed more to literary Who than any previous televised outing, with the Doctor in the thick of the action from the outset. Having Clive fill in his background was a very fannish idea, but was superbly handled, and I look forward to the Doctor’s upcoming adventures with Krakatoa, the Titanic and JFK. The pace was fantastic, and the plot holes (where does the intelligence get the plastic to recreate Mickey and how does it transport him to its lair?) barely showed as we were catapulted from scene to scene. Unlike the 1996 TVM, we actually had a decent monster tale this time round, but the Doctor’s speech with the Nestene was appalling. This was a chance to give Chris some great lines as he faces down the monster-of-the-week, but he’s just left stuttering about some war or other. Suddenly it felt we were watching a sequel to something we hadn’t seen, Silver Nemesis style, and as with that story, it just didn’t work.

The CGI effects were uniformly abysmal, from the failed attempt to blow up a department store convincingly, to the wheelie bin which makes the chair in Terror Of The Autons look good. The less said about the obvious green-screening at the end, the better. It’s as if the FX people were so worried about episode two that they didn’t pay any attention to this one.

The music was sterile and intrusive, and brought back memories of Time And The Rani. The Doctor’s speech about feeling the rotation of the earth would have been far more effective with a silent background. The theme tune – whilst not as bad as the McCoy or McGann variants – was also botched, with an irritating drumbeat destroying any menace or feeling possessed by the original arrangement. The time-tunnel looked OK, but it’s a very derivative idea which was executed with more style in the TVM. The 3D actors’ names look horrid, and I suspect they were only included to make the logo look better by comparison. The logo is still ghastly.

This isn’t to say that the entire episode was bad – the Auton massacre was well-handled, the dash across the bridge looked great, and there’s a wonderfully atmospheric moment when rose turns round and the TARDIS has vanished after she’s left her flat with the Doctor. 

There is much promise for the future, if Eccleston can calm down and inject some much-needed gravitas into the proceedings, and his debut is still a lot better than his two immediate predecessors’. The Next Time trailer looks stunning, and I look forward greatly to April 2nd. But I have to wonder how many of the general public will also tune in next week. The opening night may have garnered 10 million viewers with its remorseless hype, but I know half a dozen who’ll be switching back to Ant & Dec, and I fear they may not be the only ones.


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Ok, get the gripes out of the way and done with.

For me, the story moved at such a pace that the suspense never built. The opening scene with Rose in the basement of the store and the activation of the Autons is a case in point. Effect followed cause too quickly. Probably caused by the need to set up the main characters and still tell a story in only 45 minutes.

No cliff-hanger into the second episode. Part of the magic of Doctor Who for me as a child (who was 6 when Jon Pertwee tumbled out of the TARDIS in Spearhead from Space) was the week spent imagining how the Doctor/companion would get out of the mire they were left in at the end of the previous episode.

No regeneration. Having watched the supporting programmes that preceded and followed Rose: yeah ok RTD, you've got a point, lets not confuse the target audience by introducing the main character only to have him change his face.

The new Doctor - he's a funny so and so - sometimes eccentric (bordering on Tom Baker, referring to us as blundering apes, the cheek!), sometimes comic (the scene in front of The London Eyes was class), sometimes a dork (the 'Vindaloo' walk to the TARDIS with Rose), sometimes vulnerable (those 'save me Rose' eyes), but brilliant....... as if Chris Eccleston is capable of anything less.

Rose - a character that grows on you (pun intended). Faced with the choice of chips, telly, a wally for a boyfriend and a 'compensation culture' mother she showed loyalty and only ran off to the TARDIS at the second offer. Just the right hint of hidden depths to make the character really interesting and a touch of Buffy when the occasion demanded without turning her into a Buffy clone.

Production values were good throughout. Special effects on the whole were strong, although the 'deadly dustbin' appeared cartoonish when it warped to swallow Micky.

Autons were and still are my favourite of all the monsters. Interesting, the Auton gun sound effect sounded just like it did in the 1970s.

The story raced along (as I have said previously, a little fast for my taste but certainly acceptable for a modern audience) with interesting continuity references. What is this war, did the Doctor's involvement lead to his (recent??? - the mirror in Rose's flat) regeneration and will it tie in with Big Finish CDs or the EDA books?

Overall 7/10

But the real acid test - my godson and his sister (7 and 5 respectively) both liked it, although it was a little scarey when all the dummies came to life and started shooting everyone.


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Well, I've held off talking about the new season of Doctor Who as of yet, mainly because I didn't want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to see it. 

Well Its not the best episode of Who I've seen, but if this episode is any indication, I CAN'T wait for more. Rose was really well done, the pacing was spot on, and although silly, the special effects were great.


Christopher Eccleston - well, I'm very impressed. The only other thing I've ever seen him in was "28 days later" where he played the military major, that was the head of the base. For that role he was very dark, and not too terribly likable. I sort of was scared that this who would be too dark, to me that isn't doctor who. Thats why I didn't like the movie nor did I like the BBCi flash cartoon very much - Because it was too mature for its own good. Even in the old days who was always a family show, even the scary episodes. Thats why when everyone thought Bill Nighy was going to be the doctor I kind of cringed. Now I sit back and watch Eccleston, which reminds me a bit of Tom baker's doctor. Sort of goofy, but with a dark side. He has the possibility to be one of my favorites if his acting stays like this, or he gets better.

Billie Piper - I'm not too familiar with her, because I honestly try to avoid british pop music because of some of the stuff I heard when I visited London a while back. I know she was basically the Britney Spears of the UK, but I'm not too familiar with her career. I was really impressed by her performance, and felt that she was really good in the role of Rose. She was a strong female character without being as over the top as Ace, a companion during the McCoy era.


What I liked about this episode was how it appeared to be a part 2 of 2 part series where we didn't actually see part one. We saw from Rose's eyes, and have no idea what the doctor had been doing up to that point. This was a good plot device, because without all the extra baggage that a regeneration scene, and such, the scene was allowed to flow, and not be bogged down with over explanation or continuity as with the Paul McGann TV movie. I do hope that they revisit the regeneration later on.


I thought the incidental music was good, not the pseudo porn music from the movie, or the odd sci-fi music from the original series. It was modernized quite a bit. Also I LOVE the theme tune, it was actually quite a bit different than the BBC radio version that I downloaded a while back. It seemed like they cranked up the "diddy dums" in the bassline a lot. I think Murray gold did very well, and I think its the best theme since the Tom Baker theme.

So yeah, I really liked it, 4/5 stars.

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After what seemed like forever, the familiar yet re-vamped music began accompanied by an interesting new title sequence – a sequence much more faithful to the ‘classic series’ than I anticipated, something of a combination between the Pertwee and Tom Baker titles, but with much, much better effects obviously.

Rose, the episode title; a fast montage of contemporary London. Rose Tyler, the eponymous heroine, entering a spooky storeroom full of what we fans know to be Autons…

“Run for your life!”

I watched the episode with my fiancée, her stepfather and her 8-year old cousin. For forty-five minutes none of the adults in the room spoke bar myself, and that was only to answer the 8-year olds’ plot-related questions. As soon as Eccleston appeared on the screen he had us in the palm of his Gallifreyan/Mancunian hands (half human, or so the story goes), and the pace of the story carried us to it’s conclusion before we even had chance to decide what we thought of this new Doctor, of this new show. Although the forty-five minute format has had (and will continue to have) its detractors I consider the pace of the show to be one of its strongest weapons.

When the Doctor arrived Rose’s flat I really began to like this new Doctor. I always admired Colin Baker’s Doctor for being arrogant in that almost unlikeable sort of way, but Eccleston’s Doctor is arrogant in a ‘cool’ way, he’s not conceited he’s convinced. It is interesting to watch his respect for Rose develop over the episode as he realises she is more than “just another ape” that he’s here to save; after all, she saved him!

There is a huge comic potential for the new Doctor - take him dismissing Jackie Tyler’s seductive advances. “Anything could happen,” she says. “Nah!” says the Doctor, turning and walking away. It was downright funny – at first I was worried the new show would be too funny, but that isn’t the case. It’s funny in the way it always was, the way Troughton was, the way Tom Baker was, and so on, just slightly more risqué and contemporary. “He’s a gay and she’s an alien!”

I also liked the Doctor checking his appearance in Rose’s mirror, implying a very recent regeneration, very recent indeed if he hasn’t seen his own face clearly yet! It was nice to have the continuity link to the old series, especially as it isn’t set it stone and opens the door for a ‘flashback’ episode featuring Paul McGann later down the line if the series continues. After all, there would have been little point in doing a Time and the Rani style regeneration, it would serve no purpose at all other than to confuse the new audience, and on the same note it would be equally wasteful to bring back Paul McGann for ten or twenty minutes when he deserves a much better send-off after his years on the Big Finish audio adventures. 

I was surprised to hear that some fans were complaining about the scenes in Clive’s shed where he shows Rose the ‘evidence’ he has gathered about the Doctor. This was one of the highlights of the show for me, made even more enjoyable thanks to the in-jokes poked at the fans of the old series, in particular the online contingent. True, it would have been nice to see some pictures of Doctors 1 through 8, but again, I think it would only alienate new fans and perhaps taint the mystique of this new Doctor in the eyes of brand new fans who know almost nothing about him.

As for the gripe that “if they Doctor has only just regenerated, then how does Clive have pictures of him at famous events in history, e.g. Kennedy’s assassination (nice reference to An Unearthly Child, by the way) and with the family due to sail on the Titanic?” I think the answer is appalling obvious; the Doctor is a Timelord. He travels through time. These photographs, although taken in the past, may actually be in the Ninth Doctor’s future. His life is far from linear after all! How did the Seventh Doctor put it, “…perhaps in the future. My personal future, that is. Which may be the past…”

Personally I thought the wheelie-bin scene was awful and wasn’t all that impressed with the CGI either! It’s inclusion though is justified in that the 8-year old I watched the show with was covering his eyes and would not go near wheelie bins the next day!

Now, when Rose entered the TARDIS was where I think Russell T. Davies and company got it exactly right for all the fans, old and new alike. Rose’s wonder and exasperation; the Doctor’s short, blunt answers. The best TARDIS interior of the lot; very alien, very epic, very weathered. The production team also managed to do what I’ve never seen done on the show itself in that they create a beautiful effect where the interior of the TARDIS is visible from the outside when the doors are open. When I was a child watching the classic series I could never quite work out the relationship between the Police Box exterior and the interior – I always know the latter was inside the former, but in my mind’s eye I envisaged some sort of ‘hallway’ or ‘interim room’ between the Police Box doors and those huge, white cylinder-covered doors (which when fully open, appeared white and covered-covered on the outside too, oddly!) In this new TARDIS, on the inside you can tell the doors are the Police Box doors – it all fits together wonderfully. An absolute triumph for the production!

When the TARDIS materialises by the London Eye the interaction between the Doctor and Rose is brilliantly done, emphasising the Doctor’s alieness, his alien values, and his apparent lack of compassion which again reminded me very much of Colin Baker, or even William Hartnell’s Doctor, more concerned with the greater good than one life. Colin Baker often said he wanted his Doctor to be able to step over a dead human body, and then cry over a dead butterfly. I think Eccleston has the potential for that kind of powerful contradiction in his performance, to have that alien quality that suggests he knows and understands far more than we are ever capable of.

As many people have pointed out, the plot itself is simple and throwaway, for this one story the plot being used as a device to carry the characters rather than vice-versa; it’s Rose, not Doctor Who and the Autons III. That said, the Autons are as formidable and memorable foe as any seen in the classic series, and their inclusion was an excellent choice for the seasons’ opener. Moreover, it wasn’t just the same story rehashed for a third time. Davies took the general formula for an Auton story, broke it right down, kept what would have been the last two episodes of a classic serial, and crammed it all into forty-five minutes. On top of this, he added another layer, a layer (I think) will set up Aliens of London/World War III, and perhaps reveal another facet to the Doctor’s character. The mention of this “war,” and the Doctor’s apparent guilt at not being able to save the Nestene’s world. Was the Doctor a soldier in this galactic war? More likely, was he an interfering pacifist, trying to stop the bloodshed? This first episode, simply though the plot may be, succeeds in the sewing the seeds of mystery for what will probably be this new show’s first story arc… 

As for the conclusion, in this day and age Rose saving the Doctor was almost a political necessity, and it also explains the Doctor’s growing respect for her, why he asked her to join him in the TARDIS. Her reluctance to leave Mickey and her Mother was also a nice touch, but her hanging up the phone on her rabbitting Mother and the classic “Exactly” line to the brilliantly cowardly and selfish Mickey stole the last scene.

They’ve modernised it, and although I was one of the few advocates of the 1996 TV Movie, I was glad to see that it was British through and though, right from the Doctor’s northern accent to the London Eye. The TARDIS was spot on, the Doctor was compelling, and for once the effects weren’t crap. It’s not exactly as us hardcore fans would have made it, it’s not in the style of Big Finish or the New Adventures, it’s not my perfect idea of what Doctor Who should be but it’s the closest that they’ve ever got and that’s the highest praise I can give this quite magical new series. First-class!

I await the end of the world with bated breath.

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Major spoilers throughout, so if you haven't seen it DON'T READ THIS!!!

First of all we have the new titles, which I found slightly unoriginal in that it is just an updated version of the old slit scan going down a tunnel idea (apart from the brief moment where the TARDIS materialises into real space), presumably showing the TARDIS' flight through the time/space vortex. I might have preferred something more abstract; weird shapes that morph, like a constantly evolving Rorschach inkblot. Something more like the original "howlaround" titles from the 60s maybe.

That said, the effect is nice and the colours pleasing, and the titles are hardly the most important element of a show anyway.

As for the music, well I was expecting to hear the music from the "ride of a lifetime" trailer, which I rather liked as it retained the exact same main melody from the original version of the theme and added a new backing. I find the final version is lacking the power and eeriness of that one, although it still may grow on me, and it's such a classic piece of music it is hard to really ruin it.

In all the titles and music aren't bad at all really, and still beat the McCoy titles by a mile!

Onto the show itself now and we start with a shot of the Earth from space, the POV of which falls through the atmosphere and comes to land in Rose Tyler's bedroom! This is very well designed and effectively executed.

Next we have a very fast sequence of brief shots which succinctly sums up Roses' busy day to day life as a London shop girl. The music here is rather naff, but this is forgivable. The department store she works in is called "Henrik's", presumably not a real store (the lettering puts me in mind of Harrods, probably intentional). Rose takes the lift to the basement to run a last-minute errand and we know that the fun is about to start!

Of course the basement is deserted and underlit, and the lack of music (just a few strange noises) as Rose creeps warily about looking for Wilson helps the suspense immensely. The animation of the Autons is nicely done, they move slowly at first and we hear the dry plasticky squeaking of their limbs (also one apparently male mannequin has its shirt open, revealing a considerable pair of manboobs!). This is the cue for the Doctor to appear, snatching Rose away from a deadly Auton karate chop (these Autons don't seem to have guns) that severs a lead pipe!

Interestingly, the first contact between Rose and the Doctor is him holding her hand to lead her away from danger. The "action" music here is a bit tacky, but we are transfixed as an Auton tries to grab the Doctor through the closing lift doors. The Doctor wrenches the Auton's arm clean off and Rose is alarmed, especially when he throws it at her! It is here we see the first glimpse of the Sonic Screwdriver!

As Rose attempts to rationalise what is going on the Doctor appears defensive and unwilling to say too much, he has his arms tightly crossed, something he does several times during the episode. He gives Rose a quick and (to her) incomprehensible explanation and rushes her outside so he can plant his bomb alone, seeming to only tell Rose his name and that she should run as an afterthought. The possibility that the Doctor is a terrorist must have crossed her mind surely?

The subsequent CGI explosion is fairly well achieved, as the transmitter goes up and the top floor windows blow out. How many viewers were glad the action didn't switch to 16mm film of a 2 foot high model erupting in slow-mo? As Rose runs, we get our first look at the TARDIS too.

Back at Rose's house, and we are introduced to anorak-wearing boyfriend Mickey, who isn't painted as the most thoughtful or caring beau, but the playful nature of their interaction suggests that she does have affection for him. I suspect the leather-jacketed stranger isn't far from her mind though. Does she keep hold of the Auton arm because it is connected to him? Maybe not, since she tells daft Mickey to get rid of it (which he oddly does without question).

We know the Doctor will pop up again soon, but the exact location is unexpected, and it's pretty amusing. Rose's mum is flirting with the Doctor, but his answers to her remarks are perfectly innocent (he is "strange" because he's not human!). We learn that the Doctor takes coffee with just milk, and either there are no mirrors in the TARDIS or he has just regenerated.

The Doctor's actions with the magazine, book and playing cards reminds me of Doctor 4's showing off to Harry Sullivan, but it's a shame Rose doesn't notice, even when the Auton arm is attached to his neck. Eccleston's facial reaction is a bit over the top, but less so than Pertwee's reaction to the old school Nestene's tentacle attack, and I found this pretty funny and the effect is rightly achieved without CGI this time (I think).

Once the arm is deactivated the Doctor is keen to be off again, and it's only due to Rose's persistence that he reveals more about himself. We get the one-day-famous "falling through space" speech and more hand-holding. This time the hand-holding seems symbolic of their brief relationship, as he finishes the speech he lets go of her hand, as if to accentuate the fact that he has to leave and they will never meet again.

For the second time this episode, the Doctor and Rose part ways. I get the impression at this point that this Doctor likes to operate alone, maybe because something bad happened to his previous companion? The music in this scene is nice, the vocal element is quite effective, and the dialogue is top notch.

Rose goes to Mickey's flat, but the Doctor is the real reason she is there: she wants to use Mickey's PC to investigate further into his background. Dialogue between Rose and Mickey establishes that he is something of a slob. Rose is obviously not a regular net user, she types "Doctor" into the search engine and seems surprised to get over 17 million results! A few more tries and she finds the site of conspiracy theorist Clive.

The next part is a mixture of good and bad. Mark Benton is a favourite of mine (and RTD obviously). His performance shifts from daft (but harmless) Internet loony to someone we think should be taken seriously quite convincingly, and his lines here establish the darker aspects of the Doctor's character very well. A disappointing aspect of this scene is the photo of the Doctor in the crowd at Kennedy's assassination, it is so glaringly faked that one might wonder if we are to think that this is something Clive has knocked up with Photoshop, rendering all his evidence null and void.

These scenes are intercut with a bemused Mickey's encounter with a moving wheelie bin, which I found amusing at first and a bit suspenseful. The CGI effects here seem undeveloped: the strands attached to Mickey's hands don't blend in with the rest of the bin, and look too glossy. I would have preferred it had the effect been realised physically with the bin lid covered in a tar-like substance. Also I didn't think too much of the burp, but if the kids enjoyed it then that's okay, and it may have been included to soften a potentially disturbing scene for the very young.

There is more daftness to come, the plasticised Mickey effect is too much to allow suspension of disbelief when Rose comes back to the car. Why doesn't she notice the rubber hair, the fixed grin, the bizarre dialogue and the crazed driving and let it pass without comment? Does Mickey often act like this?

In the next scene in the restaurant at least the Mickey copy has managed to improve its disguise, and finally Rose questions his behaviour. I'll admit I didn't recognise the Doctor at his first interruption, but practically cheered with delight the second time (was this because I knew that the Doctor's involvement meant the end of the Mickey clone?). The cork in the face is accompanied by a silly "boing" effect and the CGI effect looks like something from 10 years ago. At first I wondered why the Doctor decided on this method of attack, then realised on the second viewing that his intention was probably to reveal the copy to Rose.

The fake Mickey redeems itself somewhat with the attack on the restaurant (the CGI hands here look dated also, and I can't help but be reminded of T2). We also get a taste of the new Doctor's ruthlessness, grabbing the auton by the neck and wrenching its head off! In fact, he seems delighted by his actions! Rose shows quick thinking by setting the fire alarm off, instead of just standing still and screaming (good girl!). One very odd thing here though, as the Doctor and Rose run through the kitchens, her face seems oddly distorted with effects, seemingly on purpose. Does anyone know why?

Out in the back yard is the TARDIS (this Doctor seems to have perfect control over where it goes these days), and some funny dialogue ("Nah, tell you what, let's go in here" & "You can't just hide inside a wooden box!"). Nicely, Rose doesn't just follow the Doctor into that very small wooden box, but tries other options first. It's only when she runs out of options that she enters, and her reaction in exiting again and walking round the outside seems very understandable.

So, onto the new TARDIS control room, which has already been discussed quite a bit, so I'll say that so far I have no reservations and really quite like it. It's hard to believe that the interior once was the size of a living room and had walls that were studio flats with roundels printed on! I'm intrigued to see how the organic theme develops.

Also here we have quite a bit of explanation for the new fans, succinctly written by RTD, and that nice vocal music again. The alien side of the Doctor comes up again, he's totally forgotten about the original Mickey!

Upon arrival at Embankment the Doctor defends his uncaring behaviour, saying he has greater concerns. He also is obviously very proud of the TARDIS, patting the exterior and grinning as he explains its appearance to Rose. There is an explanation of the aliens' presence on Earth and their plans, and the first mention of a "war" (more on that later), and also a funny scene with the Doctor unable to see the obvious (remember he's an alien!).

Next up is a shot to excite even the most jaded Who fan, the Doctor and his assistant running across London Bridge at night, with red buses going by and Big Ben (yes, I know!) and the London Eye in the background. It's utterly cliched, but who cares? London at night looks atmospheric and colourful too. More hand-holding as well!

Once the Nestene's underground lair is located we know we are in for a treat and this part didn't disappoint me in the least. The location is fantastic; large, grungy, and nicely lit too. Presumably this used to be a foundry, very apt since the Nestene this time appears to be a large sentient blob of lava (some nice CGI thankfully). This isn't keeping with continuity, but so what; this is sci-fi!

Interestingly, the Doctor attempts to reason with the Nestene, citing an intergalactic law (and he said to Rose earlier that he wasn't the police?!), and this may have worked too if the Nestene hadn't grabbed the TARDIS earlier. The Doctor maintains he isn't an enemy, but the Nestene reveals the TARDIS to show him that it knows exactly who he is, and the presence of the vial of antiplastic doesn't exactly help back up his story. It is now we come to the most intriguing line in the whole episode...

"I fought in the war, it wasn't my fault. I couldn't save your world, I couldn't save any of them!"

This line lets our imaginations run riot, with its mention of an unknown war and the Doctor's no doubt major involvement in it. The idea of the Doctor "fighting" in a war may well challenge our ideas about what the Doctor is and does, and suggests that this situation on Earth may be all his fault. With many future episodes involving aliens on Earth, we can probably expect that their backstories revolve around this war.

And so the Nestene invasion kicks off, as Auton mannequins at the Queen's Arcade come alive, smashing their way out of the shopfronts and slowly rounding on the shoppers, who think at first it's a publicity stunt! This important sequence left me slightly disappointed, due to occasional slack editing and the reluctance to actually show anyone being shot (something old Who never really shied from), resulting in something of a lack of impact.

It would have been nice had the child Autons been used more, an opportunity for some chilling scenes missed here, but we had a few types of Auton, some without facial features, and the brides were a nice idea. The scenes of chaos were realised on a larger scale and more effectively than old Who would have, so I won't be too critical.

I was surprised to see a promising recurring character like Clive killed off here, maybe Mark Benton had a busy schedule and couldn't return? I liked the way he realised all his suspicions were true just before he died, giving his life's work some (brief) meaning.

With the Doctor held captive, it is up to Rose to make an effort. Understandably she is scared and it takes a while, and the speech to herself is a bit daft, but at least it makes her options clear and gets across the need for excitement in her life. With the antiplastic absorbed into the Nestene, the Autons are stopped just in time to save Roses's mum and of course the lair has to explode in spectacular style (and it does, convincingly).

As for the final scene, well, we know how it will end, but it's interesting to see the Doctor practically asking Rose out (rather shyly too, but for an alien he doesn't do a bad job). Mickey is cowering by some bins and obviously needs looking after, so Rose declines. In a nice reversal of action hero stereotypes here, the man is the one clinging meekly onto the woman for protection! We see the interior of the TARDIS through the open door, and then The Doctor's gone, but only briefly. It only takes a mention of time travel to sweeten the pill for her, and she's running for the TARDIS as the end music begins (and I am glowing with pride!).

So after 4 viewings so far, I can only describe Rose as a success (with some reservations). Piper was more than good enough to be the Doctor's companion, and Eccleston himself shows much promise in the title role, only hinting at what might be to come in future episodes. If I didn't like the Mickey clone scenes too much, I won't blame Noel Clarke as his performance is fine in the other scenes (and it was a fairly thankless role anyway).

Effects wise, I think generally they pulled it off, despite the CGI seeming simplistic and underdeveloped in some parts. A special mention here to the Nestene lair scenes, which were excellently realised. The direction didn't stand out especially, and the editing could have been a bit better, but it did the job well enough.

As for the script, RTD must be commended for his dialogue, which had me listening intently even on the 4th viewing. Not that much in the way of a plot, but since the focus of the episode is Rose and the introduction of the Doctor for new viewers, then that can't really be said to be that much of a minus (and there was an extraordinary amount of material packed into 40 minutes or so).

I really liked it. Now I can't wait for Saturdays to arrive, and the series holds nothing but promise for me. If the almost unanimously positive reaction on UK TV message boards, and the 10 million who tuned in is anything to go by, many more will share my enthusiasm.

Doctor Who is back!

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Right, here’s the conundrum: how to review the rebirth of Doctor Who without descending into the usual lame clichés and without saying exactly the same as a million and one other amateur columnists? Well, I got through that first sentence without saying the series has ‘regenerated’, so I may be safe…

Can I get my gripes out of the way first? I hate the fact that the Doctor is listed as ‘Doctor Who’ in the end credits, as was the case in the bad old days until the dawn of the Fifth Doctor’s tenure. HATE it. His name is The Doctor for heaven’s sake; seeing him erroneously named otherwise invariably sets my teeth on edge, and regrettably taking a big backward step is what the producers of the new series have decided to do. Dammit. One black mark. Secondly, the closing music only features the classic main motif repeating and entirely leaves out the euphoric higher-key ‘middle eight’ that was always my favourite part of that magical theme tune. Two black marks.

Two black marks. And that’s it. Not bad going in the grand scheme of things, when I have to scrape such a barrel of pedantry to find negatives to comment on. As for the rest, a whole hatful of gold stars is to be handed out to all departments as far as I’m concerned. The performance of Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor was everything one could have hoped for: human, yet definitely alien; wise, yet silly and on one occasion extremely and hilariously dense; calm, then angry, then comic by turns. He bounds through the direst danger with a ready joke and a dazzlingly broad grin upon his face (strangely reminiscent of an illustrious predecessor) that make it all the more affecting on the occasions when he abruptly sobers up, such as his spine-tingling monologue about feeling the turn of the Earth beneath him. It’s good to see Billie Piper matching him in this regard: her Rose convinces as a bored 19-year-old who accepts the Doctor barrelling into her life in full flow as he does ours, doesn’t flinch when the world threatens to collapse around her ears, and suddenly sees there could be so much more to life than a dead-end retail job – and she leaves the fretting and screaming to others.

For, of course, this is a thoroughly 21st century update to the series we knew and loved. Rose was never going to be a helpless accessory to the Doctor’s mad schemes in this liberated age, but then again that’s old news – the same was true of Ace seventeen years ago. What has changed is the overall look and feel of the programme; considering its age, Doctor Who has never looked better or moved faster. The visual scope has suddenly, dramatically broadened: with immeasurable advances in CGI and bigger budgets to work with the effects are now terrific, the TARDIS interior has had a striking industrial-organic makeover, and a long-overdue emancipation from studio-bound claustrophobia has finally released Who into the great outdoors for a large proportion of the action – literally a breath of fresh air. It was odd, as someone who knows Cardiff well, to see shots of the city centre masquerading as London intercut with views of the real London, but I’ll let that slide. The rate of said action is breakneck: the self-contained format of the new 45-minute instalments will leave no room for the oft-maligned ‘Episode 3 lag’ factor of the old stories, and from the opening zoom into London from Earth orbit to the final shot of Rose running for the TARDIS the berserk pace never lets up. You’re literally gasping for breath on occasion, not least because the programme is surprisingly and enchantingly laugh-out-loud funny at numerous points. All credit to Russell T. Davies for his sparkling script that gives the Doctor and Rose several excellent exchanges, with a cast of memorable supporting characters including a plastic version of Rose’s boyfriend Mickey, her mouthy, flirty mother, and a conspiracy theorist tracking the Doctor’s trail through history while maintaining a website that is a neat nod to the geekier edges of fandom.

Shepherding his baby into the limelight is a task that Russell T. has to undertake while walking a tightrope. On the one hand there is that very base of fandom, established in the forty prior years of the programme’s existence; on the other the new audiences just waiting to be tapped, today’s generation of eight-year-olds sitting down with their parents ready to have their minds opened if the new Who is only good enough to do it. If he can please both camps without toppling too far to one side or the other then he’ll be able to feel very proud of himself. This first roll of the dice was a good indicator: by bringing back the Autons (although they are never referred to as such) he is using a familiar but not too familiar foe that can translate to scaring anew the modern audience whilst being inherently, well, crap enough to be a subtle dig at former production values. Talking of which, the BBC sound error that briefly threatened to turn the opening scenes into Terror of the Nortons was an amusing reminder that nothing is entirely sleek and well-oiled in the Whoniverse… Yet, for the first time in years, the BBC are treating this venerable institution with the respect it deserves. They took it off the air when I was ten years old just as I was starting to really get into it, so my appreciation has until now been almost entirely retrospective, in that almost-shameful, slightly culty way many find themselves adoring Doctor Who. Here and now, though, following a lengthy buildup and mouthwatering selection of trailers there was a palpable sense on Saturday teatime of sitting down as a nation to be transported together to another world, one lost to us for far too long but that is suddenly and joyfully here again to be explored once more.

Coupled with the aforementioned catalogue of plus points, Mr. Davies appears to be successfully out onto the tightrope. If anyone can traverse it, he’s probably the man: he loves this baby, it’s extremely plain to see – and he’s got the whole of time and space to let it play in.

Long may it play.


Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

A bit of self-intro to begin: I’m a die-hard Doctor Who fan. Ever since first watching the final half-hour episode of “Robot” as a six-year-old in 1979 on my local Chicago PBS station, I have been captivated by the adventures of the strangely-dressed man who traveled in a blue telephone booth. Even as I aged through adolescence and into adulthood, with my entertainments expanding and growing in sophistication to include the science fiction writings of Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Frank Herbert, movies such as Terry Gillium’s Brazil and Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, Yukio Mishima novels, Frank Miller comics, and nights at the theater, Doctor Who has not ceased to hold my attention with its deft mixture of intriguing concepts, fantastic storytelling and childlike wonder, blended with a dash of dry wit, cynical humor and brusque anti-establishmentarianism. 

It was never a perfect show, by any means. It’s sheer length (some 26 years) and the host of different writers and producers working on it meant that the travels of the good Doctor were marked by often jarring variations of tone and style (from good-natured family escapism to grand guignol horror to “hard” science fiction), not to mention inconsistencies in the ongoing narrative (From what I recall, there are two conflicting explanations for the sinking of Atlantis, two reasons given for the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the mythologies for Time Lord founders Omega and Rassilon don’t quite gel with each other). The acting occasionally descended into unforgivable camp, the studio-bound BBC locales were wobbly and rarely convincingly exotic (let’s not forget those endless quarry-pit alien planets), and the special effects could be (especially for my fellow US viewers) laughably garish and cheap.

Despite all that, Doctor Who, for me, has remained a remarkable television achievement. I’d dare say that no other show ever displayed such a daring and far-reaching sense of imagination. Name one other program that ever juxtaposed Avengers-style thrills with slapstick and melodramatic cliffhangers, against a backdrop of alien monsters, supernatural forces, and sometimes even the vast stretch of eternity itself? Not the interminable iterations of Star Trek, not even the spooky X-Files. No wonder the BBC management didn’t know what to do with it. The show (like the Doctor) was audacious and indefinable.

And now, after a prolonged absence (and the ill-fated 1996 Doctor Who TV-movie), the good Doctor has returned to our screens. How does he fare?

Judging from Episode One, “Rose,” I see a series that holds the promise of successfully carrying the mantel of the original Doctor Who. In Christopher Eccleston, we have a Time Lord who suitably fits into the pantheon of regenerations that preceded him, capturing the puck, intelligence and idiosyncratic nature that defined the character to previous audiences. I was initially put off by new leather-jacketed look, so distant it was from the Victorian frock coats and hats of the past, but Eccleston is so at home, so committed to his performance, it no longer bothered me. I’m quite impressed by the conviction of his performance, going into action-hero mode, challenging marauding plastic drones in the form of department store dummies, and then fearlessly plunging into a slapstick comic moment wrestling with a disembodied killer arm while new assistance Rose Tyler (actress Billie Piper) obliviously prattles on. That last bit could have felt painfully camp, but Eccleston pulls if off skillfully.

Billie Piper fared well as the companion, serving as proxy for the newcomers in the audience. It’s through her eyes that we are first (re)introduced to the world of the Doctor, his dimensionally-transcendental TARDIS, and invading extraterrestrial meanies, so I’ll forgive her for this round if character development felt a bit minimal and rushed. As a Stateside viewer, I didn’t have any baggage about her career as a singer, nor did I notice anything about her accent, which left only her performance for my judgment. As such, I found her thoroughly believable as a normal, modern girl thrust into fantastic situations. Nice that she had hints of having more of a background than the previous companions (We meet her Mom and boyfriend Mickey, plus get a glimpse of her mundane pre-Doctor life at home and work), and that she wasn’t a girlish screamer like some of her predecessors. 

Getting down to the story, “Rose” isn’t particularly memorable in terms of either Doctor Who or other televised fantasy fare. It’s basically a rehash of the 1970s episodes “Spearhead from Space” and “Terror of the Autons” with the invading Nestene Consciousness and their killer plastic soldiers the Autons, and as such, is actually quite inferior. “Rose” lacks the slow build-up of menace of those old episodes, a fact partly attributable to having to cram in exposition for the Doctor and Rose, and partly to the new 45-minute episode length. In addition, for dedicated fans of the series, it’s a very sloppy episode with respect to the show’s details and history. In writer Robert Holmes’ original Auton stories, the Nestene were a disembodied form of energy that initially transported itself to Earth encased in plastic meteorites (unlike the “warp shunt technology” Eccleston’s Doctor references). Their invasion was methodical and carefully planned out, brainwashing key human allies, then taking over plastic factories that allowed them to build their murderous mannequins and then have them shipped out to London stores. Very Quatermass. When the Nestene finally did manifest themselves for the purposes of invasion, they took the form of an octopoidal mass of tentacles, not the molten living plastic vat that the new Doc ends up chatting with. I also found the Doctor’s dispatching of the Nestene with the handy test tube of “antiplastic” in his pocket a weak deus ex machina (especially since we never saw how he came about this miracle substance). 

I’m hoping that the reason that new series creator Russell T. Davies chose to re-use an old enemy and make the story simplistic was deliberate; an attempt to allow the audience to put most of their focus on Rose and the new Doctor. As an American, I have never had the opportunity to sample Davies other works for TV, but based on the articles I have been reading these past few months, his reputation as a writer is absolutely stellar, with the original UK “Queer as Folk” and “The Second Coming.” Therefore, I’m assuming that future stories will have a bit more dramatic and conceptual meat to them. I read another online review of “Rose” that absolutely hated it and felt it was a bit thin. I don’t go so far myself, but they did have a point.

In terms of production values, I was mightily impressed. Some viewers disliked the look of the film (done on some form of high-def video?) and the lighting chosen, but I felt it worked well and did not distract. I thought the CGI effects for the Autons and Nestene worked well, though a bit cartoony (Buffy-esque?) at points, but that seemed to fit the tone that Russell T. Davies and company were aiming at. The highlight for me was the interior design of the TARDIS. It seemed to be a combination of aspects of the 1996 TV-movie (the floor-to-ceiling time rotor, for example) and the control room that appeared in the 1990s Doctor Who comic strips (slanted walls, dark lighting). I thought it had a wonderfully alien quality, with its organic lines and unearthly shadows. Also fun to watch was the final gun-toting assault of the Autons, which basically was a remake of the climax of “Spearhead from Space” done on a bigger budget (this time we actually SEE the dummies smash through the windows, an effect that was conspicuously handled offscreen in more modestly-budgeted times).

The title sequence may have been a trifle unoriginal, quoting from the time-tunnel effect of the 1970s era, but I actually found its simplicity appropriate, as was replacing the hyper-synth versions of the theme from the 80s with a throwback remix of the original tune. The incidental music, on the other hand, was simply too loud and intrusive. Instead of commenting on the onscreen action, it seemed to overwhelm, making even a simple shot of the Doctor and Rose run across a bridge tiresome. 

The technical details are the least of my concerns for the future of the series, as what always attracted me to Doctor Who was the writing and acting. Plus, even Who’s bigger-budgeted US competition such as Star Trek: The Next Generation had its fare share of mediocre design and effects in its incipient episodes. 

What’s very interesting to note is how much the new Doctor Who reflects changes in our popular culture since the original show left the airways in 1989. There’s the new 45-minute format, as mentioned before, plus the fast pace we’ve come to expect with our modern comedies and cop shows, not to mention the MTV-induced attention spans of youngsters. Davies and his team are also obviously clued into what’s been going on in popular science fiction and fantasy lately. Although it can be argued that irreverently mixing humor and horror have always been part of Doctor Who, there’s definitely signs of influence from American shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, such as the scene in which Rose’s boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke) is eaten by a plastic garbage can, followed by a now-infamous burp which has made some viewers cry foul. Another Buffy-ish series of events unfolds as the plastic duplicate of Mickey the Nestenes send in comically attempts to deliver “romantic” dialogue to Rose, followed by a hands-on fight with the Doctor. Also present is an X-Files-type conspiracy theorist (Mark Benton) who has been researching the Doctor’s escapades through history.

With “Rose” I saw the seeds of potential. Doctor Who may have been reborn, Phoenix-like, but there’s still some ash that needs to be shaken off its wings before it really soars. Let’s hope that Davies and company have some real aces waiting to be released onscreen, and that, like Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Stracynski, they’re media aware enough to pay attention to fan complaints on the web and elsewhere, and rectify the parts of the show that aren’t working. For those fans put off by “Rose,” I’d like to remind everyone that Babylon 5 had a weak pilot, the original Star Trek went through two pilots before getting on the air, ST: The Next Generation had a first and second season many consider awful, and the popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer started with a critically-savaged movie that bombed at the box office.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Nine years of waiting, sixteen years of unfulfilled hope, twenty two years of fandom and it’s finally back. And how do I react to the first few minutes of new Who? Supremely hacked off!

But it wasn’t the new doctor that did it, oh no. It was that, after so much time waiting and praying, I was rewarded by an audio glitch that led to a baying crowd of Graham Norton fans invading my favourite show! Sadly I began watching ‘Rose’ having been wrong-footed from the off. Good thing I had recorded it really.

So what did I think second time through? I doubt there is enough space on the site to write it all down. One thing I did realise was that on my first viewing I was pre-disposed to distrust it. I suppose that it was the so-called fan gene that threw this dampener on things. After all, it couldn’t live up to my years of hoping and praying could it? Well it did. All I needed to do was to forget that I was a fan.

I found that I really enjoyed the contemporary new style of things. The rush about London as Rose lives her mundane working day was as refreshing and pleasing to me as great shows like Hustle (also back this week) have been. A couple of minutes into this first episode and we already know that Rose has a layabout mum, a job in a department store and a boyfriend that meets up with her in her lunch breaks. It’s the kind of speedy exposition that can be seen in the best of old Doctor Who and is absent in the worst of it. After all, why do we need so many episodes to find out that the Cybermen want to invade London? Get on with the popping out of the sewers by St. Pauls already! Many have wondered if the Doctor is suited to modern TV and I am glad to say that it is.

The plot, such as it is, seems superfluous to the introduction of the characters and the premise. Shop window dummies are coming to life at the behest of an alien invader. That’s it. No sinister plastics factory, no bearded man with a magical horsebox, just a vat of living plastic under the London Eye and a vague explanation involving a ‘Warp Shunt’. It is by far one of the shallowest evil schemes that we have ever seen in Doctor Who and you know what? I didn’t care. Okay it could have done with a little more time (the ‘invasion’ itself was over before it began and not particularly sinister for it) but I found myself forgiving this. I became swept up in what must be considered the main plot; Rose finding out about the Doctor.

This story dominates the proceedings and there are enough mysteries for newcomers to get through to make it quite rewarding. Seeing the story through Rose’s eyes is a great modern equivalent to Barbara and Ian following Susan Forman to Totters Lane those many moons ago. Indeed in many ways this story is better appreciated by new viewers than by us fans. A warning though; as a result it may seem somewhat flat and obvious to some. In fact I felt decidedly under-whelmed by the first reveal of the TARDIS interior because my fan bias. Try to look at it as a child may, however, and you’re less likely to feel short changed.

The writing really caught my attention. My first experience of the excellent Russell T. Davies writing ability was the superb (and deeply terrifying) Dark Season on CBBC. Mr. Eldridge, the peroxide blonde millionaire with a blinding white light exploding from behind his shades, was a villain straight out of the Doctor Who mould. With that memory alone etched into my mind I knew that he would put together something special. Oh, and he’s won an award or two.

So expectations were high and the script did not disappoint. Dialogue of this quality has rarely been seen in Doctor Who since Robert Holmes downed his pen for the last time. It had a confidence and believability in places that is quite beyond the stilted techno babble that was so often seen in the classic series. It felt natural and that’s very difficult to get right. The script was also very funny in places, the now infamous Heat quip being of particular merit as was Jackie telling Rose about her Greek friend getting compensation for being told she looked Greek. There was so much good stuff in there that it’s difficult to pick out a favourite but what really made the story for me was the Doctors eulogy on the world spinning through space. It purveyed so many things at once and was so well conceived that it must have been a joy to perform. Dialogue like this is the reason why we’re watching a new series of Doctor Who while Star Trek has come to its sad but timely conclusion.

Of course nothings perfect. Jackie seemed nothing more than a stereotype to me, comic relief where genuine affection between mother and daughter may have been better. At the end of the story Jackie is about to be mown down by three Auton brides and I actually felt sorrier for Clive’s family than I did her. The Auton Mickey’s glitching was unnecessary, the armless gag predictable and the “shunt off” quip more than a little naff. But faced with so much good writing the poorer stuff fades into the background and taken as a whole we’ve never had it so good.

Of course where is good writing without solid acting too shore it up? And this brings me to our protagonists. First up is Rose, played by ex teen pop pipstrel Billie Piper. I’ll go on record here to say that I predicted this casting right from the beginning. Many a time I waxed lyrical on the BBC’s forum about how good she would be and now I feel justified in my faith. Piper was radiant and solidly convincing as Rose Tyler, with just the right mix of Buffy-style sarcasm and adventure to make her unique as a companion. Indeed she almost single handily carried this first episode and that is no mean feat! She had subtlety in her acting that took it beyond a good performance and into a great one. Look at her face closely and watch her expressions to see what I mean. Bronze medal in gymnastics? You go girl!

And what of Ecclestone’s Doctor? Although the show was dangerously close to being stolen by Ms. Piper my attention was still drawn to the newest portrayal of our favourite Time Lord. Ecclestone has certainly confounded his critics by turning in a much cheerier performance than his track record has credited him with. This new Doctor struck me as being very childish, an outward gleefulness that only just covered a deeper fatigue, resignation and loneliness. It was definitely a many-faceted performance that went beyond many of his predecessors. Not even in the heyday of Tom Baker’s Doctor did we ever see more than one side of his character at a time and only by the Davison and McCoy eras did we scratch behind the surface and see something else.

Given to a lesser actor (and there is certainly an argument that McCoy didn’t quite pull it off) it may have been lost in the pomp and energy of the character. But Ecclestone is not a lesser actor. Given potentially disastrous lines like “they want to overthrow the human race and destroy you” he makes them solidly believable. He conveys this manic creature with an amount of energy that sweeps you along with him, at the same turning on a sixpence to confront you with a terrifying temper. “I am TALKING!” Yes sir. You are. Sorry.

Oh, and watch his face at the end when Rose doesn’t go with him. If that’s not the greatest piece of acting seen on TV this year I’ll eat my hat. You can literally see his heart break and he doesn’t say a word.

Moving to the production itself I felt that it was as glossy and polished as any modern TV has a right to be. All this fuss about not being filmed in High Definition really is crying over peanuts. The lighting was good, the style was fun and the sets flawless but the effects? Well I agree with a recent reviewer in the Guardian who commented that they are pre-built to look naff in ten years time. They are okay, a far improvement over the original series but you could still see the joins. The wheelie bin sequence was obvious green screen (the shadows give it away) and I’ve seen better lightning effects in my time (look at the Thames as the London Eye starts glowing. See something missing?). However unlike many I actually quite liked the Nestene itself and the descent from space was nice. I’ll chalk it up to first episode teething problems, I know the Mill can do better and I hope to see it as we go on.

So I'm not going to give this a perfect evaluation as there were problems in it that tarnished this first episode for me. The humour was dangerously close to overwhelming the danger that Doctor Who should be conveying to its sofa cowering audience. The arm attacking the Doctor was done for comedy when it could have been very creepy and the burp from the wheelie bin destroyed the realism of the scene preceding it. Ecclestone almost overdid his grinning when he leaves the flat and the invasion was far too short – did we see anyone actually die? Call me cynical but I didn’t feel any tension there at all. So all in all a solid first episode to build the new series on, if not the perfect Doctor Who story that it could have been.

Four out of five, Doctor.

Oh, and why do people see a plot hole in the Doctors appearances in time after a recent regeneration? Why can’t he travel to all those places after he has met up with Rose!? He has a time machine!!

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Doctor Who is back. And it's fan-bloody-tastic.

Being a young'un (if you can call 20 'young') I've never before had the experience of sitting down to watch a brand new series of Who (I'm not counting the TV Movie because that wasn't a series and anyway I had to record it), so as a complete virgin to the wonders of new Who the whole experience made me a bit giddy. But giddy in a good way.

I've seen lots of old episodes of Doctor Who on video, from every era, and I have to agree with what RTD was saying in the 'New Dimension' documentary about each Doctor being relevant to his own specific time period. The ones that I watched were all relevant to the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, the movie captured the essence of the 90s . . . and now we have Doctor Who for the 21st Century. It's new, it's different, but so are we and the series has evolved with us.

I love the new music. I know there have been comments about the lack of a face appearing in the title credits but for me that's a minor thing that was more of a mildly amusing recurring theme than a genuine mainstay of the series. Yes it was nice to have a face appearing to let you know who was starring but do we really need that? I love the time tunnel effects and the music has just enough of the original in to remind us that this is Who we're watching while adding a fantastic new spin. I particularly enjoyed the slightly orchestral feel of the later part of the title music.

The beginning of the episode was like nothing we've seen before. Fast-paced, choppy, you could be forgiven for thinking you're watching the beginning of the BBC's new drama series about the everyday life of a London girl - and that's perfect, because that's the point of Rose herself. She's an everyday London girl and this was the best way of introducing her. Being honest, I didn't at first warm to Billie simply because she had little to do in her first few scenes other than run around in a montage but by the time we had her walking down the dark corridors, I was beginning to see an actress who could quite easily become one of the industry's biggest stars.

Rose as a companion is intriguing. It's not the first time the makers of the series have claimed that the latest female companion will be 'on an equal footing with' the Doctor, but this time I get the sense that Rose will not go the way of most companions before her. She is a genuinely strong character and the very fact that she investigates the Doctor when she could quite easily just let it go makes me think that she is going to be as much a part of the action as the Doctor - someone particularly deserving of the title 'companion' rather than 'assistant'. I particularly enjoyed her 'gymnastics' quip towards the end of the episode and I couldn't help but heave a sigh of relief when she made the decision to leave her life behind and join the Doctor.

Now, for the Doctor himself.

If it's true that everyone has a Doctor, I think that the Ninth Doctor might be mine. I'm giving him time because I don't want to jump to any conclusions yet, but he is the deepest and most interesting Doctor I've ever seen and it's only been one episode. 

It's already been mentioned on here but I'll say it again, in Christopher Eccleston's performance there are hints, glimmerings, of all the Doctors that have gone before - an authoritarian streak worthy of Hartnell, the 'armless' quip that is pure Troughton, a willingness to become part of the action like Pertwee, an amiable silliness inherited from Tom Baker, a boyish excitement that speaks of Davison, a certain irritability under stress that could be Colin Baker, a mysteriousness that was brought to the fore by McCoy and the love and compassion that epitomised McGann's short reign. In short, this Doctor more than any before him is, as the Fifth Doctor said in 'The Five Doctors', the sum of his memories.

This Doctor is the most alien of all the Doctors. He is driven by a love of all life but as is shown by his apparent forgetfulness regarding Mickey he is also capable of seeing the big picture. The Eighth Doctor would most probably have been as concerned for Mickey as Rose but in this new incarnation he has accrued a sense of responsibility that forces him to look beyond individuals, as his somewhat startling speech to Rose reveals.

Chris's performance was extraordinary. He managed to take the Doctor from one end of the spectrum to the other in the space of a few minutes with incredible ease and the sense that this was all completely natural. I love his slight swagger and easy grin, and I love that without realising it he has become the Doctor I wanted him to be.

There have been complaints about the lack of a regeneration scene. Whatever. I really don't think it's necessary and anyway the point of the story is that we arrive halfway through. A regeneration scene would have been complicated to explain to any new fans and its absence allowed us to hurtle straight into the story. I'd also like to point out to those who have complained that this caused a plot hole with Clive's pictures of the Ninth Doctor: he's a time traveller. Just because the pictures were taken sometime in the past doesn't mean they've already happened. The pictures of the Ninth Doctor could just as easily have been taken in five years' time when he decides to pay the past a visit. Hole closed.

The interior of the TARDIS is gorgeous. The similiarity between the new look the Time Rotor and the Rotor from the TV Movie provided a continuity bridge and the walls are like a more detailed, less harsh version of the original. The console is a delight, made up of a mish-mash of bits and pieces that look as though they're held there by Blu-Tack and the organic, coral feel of the interior makes it a mysterious, gorgeous wonder.

With the new TARDIS we are returned to the idea that this is a battered old Type 40. The movie interior was gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but it turned the TARDIS into the Doctor's living room and the console was so pretty that it seemed perfect. The point is that the Doctor's TARDIS isn't perfect, and with the console that looks like it's a Blue Peter experiment that sense of age is perfectly portrayed. The gangways also bring us back to the idea that this is a 'ship' - as it was often referred to in the Hartnell years - and gives the impression that the TARDIS itself is alive, a point that has been made several times in the more recent slew of books, and a point that would be interesting to see portrayed in the series. I also particularly like that the Police Box doors are now actually a part of the interior decor, my personal favourite point being that there is actually an old-style telephone behind where one would be on a real Police Box.

The Autons were menacing but not particularly frightening but that might simply be because we have so much violence on TV now anyway that the idea of a walking mannequin just isn't that frightening to us. The Consciousness didn't particularly impress me as a villain but the references to the Doctor's part in the 'War' intrigued me enough that this didn't particularly matter.

And this is where I reach the point: this was the first episode in a brand new series. If it had been about the Daleks, or another more menacing creature all the focus would have been on them. Using the only mildly scary Autons and introducing the Consciousness so late meant that we had time to get to know this new Doctor and Rose, meant that we were able to sympathise with them by the end of the episode so that when the Doctor realised that he had failed and the Consciousness was going to destroy Earth, we felt his pain with him, so that when Rose managed to wrestle aside the Autons and destroy the Consciousness we raised a cheer for her bravery.

New Who? Fantastic. Old Who? Fantastic. They're all the same Who. But this Who's been regenerated and it's not done any harm at all.

What was it the Sixth Doctor said?

'Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon.'

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Well, it's back... and it really is about bloody time. Worth the wait? Worthy of the hype? Was anything going to be? I'll start from the beginning...

The title sequence was everything it needed to be, and nothing more, but then why would you want a title sequence to be more than it needed to be? The visuals were stylish and in keeping with the shows traditions as well as injecting a little more pace to the proceedings from the outset. And I think this idea of urgency was behind the updated theme music also. Gone is the dum-da-dum-dum-da-dum, deemed not energetic enough, and we have in its place a swirling orchestra more indicative of our time and pace (yes, I mean pace). All in all then, I think a success. And no. I'm not going to start a picket line outside BBC HQ insisting the doctors face be re-instated in the titles, because I didn't miss it, personally.

Moving on then and we open with a whirlwind day in the life of Rose which does it's job in all of about a minute, which is good as there are only 45 of them to pack a story into these days. Before you know it Rose and the ghost of Graham Norton (a very fired BBC sound technician is crying into the bottom of a whiskey glass as I write this) are creeping down an ominous corridor before being pounced on by some mannequins under the control of an alien being and it's as if The Doctor had never been away. Up he pops to save the damson in distress with some pithy dialogue, a smile, a sonic screwdriver and a bomb that looks not an awful lot like a bomb, but it matters not a jot. In a slight departure from the ways of old what follows is the almighty exploding of the top floor of a building which actually does look like the almighty exploding of the top floor of a building.

Things move on, again wasting no time, to the introduction of the supporting cast. We meet Rose's gossip-prone and slightly tarty mother Jackie as well as Rose's big wet shrug of a boyfriend Mickey. And the script I'm happy to say doesn't reserve all the choice lines for The Doctor or Rose. special mention then for Jackie's "It's aged her, skin like an old bible" and of course the laugh out loud line about her neighbour who sued the council because someone said she looked Greek, "she was Greek but that's not the point". Up pops the doctor again and in a nod to us the knowing fans checks his reflection indicating that he has recently regenerated. "oh no!" I hear you cry, "continuity gaff, because later Clive shows pictures of him throughout history so he must have been around for a while". Sigh. I shall take a moment to dispel this myth. There is no continuity problem here. Why would you think these pictures of Clive's were necessarily taken before the doctor meets Rose? Think about it. Why not during or after his time with or Rose? Even whilst she'd nipped out of the Tardis to find a Ladies? There are so many explanations it doesn't bare dwelling on, which I realise I am doing, so I'll move on... You're always treading a fine line when you play the killer disembodied arm card, and although this may not be the most original, nor my favourite part of the episode, it isn't so cringe inducing it makes you want to change channel. Which is a stroke of luck. the "armless" quip may have been a quip too far. Before we get to the last supporting character Clive, we get to witness a little of both what I thought was good and questionable in Eccleston's performance. The Doctor and Rose take a stroll in a rare, more subdued, moment and rose steels the opportunity to quiz the Doctor on who he is. The questionable first then: I wasn't entirely sold on the manic smirking with which Eccleston's doctor at first replies to Rose's queries, however I get the impression this was something of a one-off, I hope I am right. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against the Tom Baker-esque broad smiles such as when he exclaims "fantastic" in front of the millennium eye, but in this walking sequence there was something demented about the smiling, ala plastic Mickey almost. The good: The falling through space speech, where Eccleston flexes his acting muscles and gives the cheek muscles a much needed rest. Anyhow, enough about performances for now. The character of Clive and the idea of using the internet to trace the doctor through history I thought was both intriguing and clever from the point of view of this being an introductory episode. I kind of liked that we didn't get bogged down in pictures of the doctor in previous incarnations for the same reason I liked that the doctor didn't harp on about his previous dealings with the Autons (in fact he didn't harp on about 'Autons' at all) because to the first time viewer all of this would only have been disengaging, had it been included it might only have smacked of self-indulgence.

While Russell T Davies is poking fun at the doctor who fan base (in a nice way, of course) we are treated to the sight of Mickey being devoured by an empty wheely bin, although, as my brother pointed out to me, quite why the owner puts his bin out for collection with nothing in it is beyond me. I remember when it was first leaked that Rose's boyfriend was to be eaten by a wheely bin thinking that it could turn out being an incredibly naff moment. In fact I was finding it difficult to think how they could successfully pull such a moment off without it seeming ridiculous. Then I though of a moment in Ghostbusters 2 when a bath tub comes to life and tries to eat a baby, and what made that scene was the animated bathtub, the elasticity of it, it looked like a living thing. Lo and behold, wheely bin success!! What in the old days would have been a bin with flapping lid at best, what we had here was a snarling, snapping, living bin monster that actually worked. Admittedly the animation at this point may have been a bit more Shrek than Star Wars (although, that said, there are some pretty ropey effects in Star Wars) but it did enough, and it was from this moment on I think I really started to believe in this new Doctor Who. And it burped. I'm not going to talk about the burp. Plastic Mickey with his constant and unnatural smirking (as opposed to Eccleston's. Only kidding. I liked him really) was the creepiest thing in this episode, and definitely brought the best out of actor Noel Clarke. Not sold on the effect when The Doctor shoots the cork into his head but it didn't bug me enough for me to dwell on it.

On to the obligatory companions first entrance of the Tardis. Nicely handled. And was that an intentional throw back to the old days when Mickey breaks through the suddenly not quite so metal-looking door? Seems strange to say this but I had imagined the new interior of the Tardis would be bigger, maybe it's those huge columns that close the space down. I like the design but I'm hoping it will not prove to be a one room Tardis.

The rest of the episode I will cover quite briefly, and it does, lets face it, pass by quite quickly anyway. I liked the doctors double take gag with the millennium eye, I liked that he tried to reason with the Nestene Consciousness and then expressed guilt over the destruction of it's world, I liked the consciousness itself as a special effect as did I the effect of the London Eye as a transmitter. Wasn't so sure about the lightning bolts in between though, but I feel guilty for even picking that nit. By the time the shop dummies actually started to wreak havoc over London unfortunately there wasn't enough time left in the episode for them to do an awful lot of damage. They just about managed to kill Clive (much to my dismay) but couldn't quite bump off Jackie (much to my dismay, although this was due to laziness more than anything else, her daughter was making speeches and all they had to do was pull the trigger, so to speak). Rose did a Tarzan impression, the anti-plastic um... anti-plasticked the Nestene and the roof started randomly exploding, as it does. Then came what I have to say was one of the finest examples of acting in Doctor Who that I can remember, when Rose initially turns down The Doctor's offer to accompany him and although he tries to hide it you can almost see his hearts break. Many a "awww" was heard in my living room, I can tell you.

Well, that about sums it up I think, good writing, good acting, good effects, good news! I wasn't even as upset by Murray Gold's music as some others were (although it was a bit loud at points). I'm going to reserve judgement on the 45 minute format until of few more episodes time, but I will say I think this first episode could have done to have been an hour. Also I must confess to not being a fan of the "next week..." segment of any show, including Doctor Who. That said, I can't wait for next week, and I'm especially looking forward to the first two parter where the writers will have been able to, dare I say it, pace themselves. 

One last time, look it's the Autons! (raucous applause)

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I don't want to spoil the party. It really is the last thing I wanted to do. But 'Rose' has left me disappointed, and I do so hate being disappointed.

I'll accentuate the positive first. Christopher Eccleston is superb as the Doctor and Billie Piper looks set to be a fine companion. The episode itself was pacy well shot and well directed; the show has never looked better.

Now, however, the viewers can have their say. Russell T Davies and company, who have been so busy with their mutual back-slapping ever since September 2003, can no longer hide behind platitudes. Telling us that something is fantastic doesn't make it so. And 'Rose' was far from fantastic.

According to Mr. Davies and company, they are taking Doctor Who seriously. If they really are lavishing such care and attention on a programme with so much potential then the burping wheelie bin should have been left on the cutting room floor, or completely re-shot. This scene had the potential to be quite frightening, sinister even; an everyday household object turns evil and attacks people. New nightmares for a new generation. Instead, it was shot and played for laughs. Though I had no problems with the character or portrayal of Mickey overall, the appalling, cringeworthy nature of his duplicate in the car signalled exactly the place where the episode took a turn for the worse. The scene in the restaurant was pure slapstick, any tension evaporating the minute Mickey opened his mouth.

And so to the supposed "Best writer writing for television at the moment," the ubiquitous Mr. Davies. Is a clumsy deux ex machina in the form of anti-plastic the best that he could come up with? I know Doctor Who has resorted to convenient outcomes to wrap up a story in the past, but never has it been employed in so unsubtle and unconvincing a way. When the Auton took the phial from the Doctor, seemingly scuppering his plan, I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that this would not be the source of the denoument. How wrong I was.

I am well aware that this next comment is purely the fan in me talking, and I really have tried to look at this from a detached point of view, but the main problem with the whole episode is that it is a complete rehash of 'Spearhead From Space'. There is nothing new here, nor is it done as skilfully. The only chilling scene in the invasion set-piece were the child-sized mannequins; top marks for that. I was also sad to see Clive go, a testament to the performance and character. Which is more than can be said for Rose's mother. I really would not have cared if she had been massacred by the Autons (why were they never referred to by name?). And therein lies another problem; supporting characters that the viewer doesn't care about. Both Mickey and mother should have been written out in this episode. I only hope they both meet a timely demise later on in the series.

Oh, and the incidental music. Appalling! Apparently, Murray Gold is "The best composer working in television today". Not on the strength of that tinny and irritating drum machine that he left running at the start of the episode. Music speaks volumes and this was screaming "It's for the kids, y'know!"

I am overjoyed to see Doctor Who back on television. I am glad that it is being made for family viewing and not for the fans. But quality television needs quality writers and on the strength of this episode Mr. Davies just hasn't quite got it. Please prove me wrong!

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Chris Eccleston IS the Doctor. Perfect casting. Such was like Tom Baker & Pat Troughton rolled together. I think every 8 year old boy is going to want a leather jacket for the birthday or Christmas.

Billie Piper turns in a convincing performance. I wonder how much of Billie is in Rose, because she doesn't appear to be acting, just someone who gets caught in the events happening around her. No screams, or "yes Doctor, no Doctor" here.

The opening scenes work brilliantly. The fast pace sequence was a nice way to show "a day in the life" of Rose. 

The new TARDIS is wonderful. I love how TALL the interior is. The door has always been a tough concept: going from the police box doors to the huge doors of the console room. What a smart idea to borrow the white interior police box doors from the Cushing movies. Being able to see the interior from the exterior perspective really gives the feel that its not just a box. I love it.

Mickie was a mistake. Maybe it was how he was directed, or played, but I found myself wondering what she sees in this guy.

The climatic scene where the Autons are holding the Doctor seemed to drag to me. I was alittle disappointed that the Autons seemed to be a backstory, not the plotting villian we're used to. But then it hit me: the episode is called "Rose" for a reason. RTD was using this as a tool to introduce the companion. Of course the Autons were minor point!

At the end, it left me wanting more, which it should.

When I first heard the show was coming back last year, and that RTD was going to be head writer, I said that I would save my judgement until I saw it, that I would give RTD a chance. I know that some people were concerned that it wouldn't happen, or that it'd be a mix of Queer As Folk and Coupling and so forth. If Russell's a fan, then he'll know how it should be done. I'm pleased to see that I was right. Keep up the great work Russell & Team! Wonderful stuff!

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I watched 'An Unearthly Child' before 'Rose' and you can really see the contrast between the two eras. Where Hartnell is grumpy, unheroic and perhaps mercenary, Eccleston is joyful, dynamic and even sympathetic to the Nestene Consciousness. While 'An Unearthly Child' was written beautifully with well rounded characters who revealed themselves gradually throughout the 100 minutes, here, bits of information are thrown at us in witty and visually impressive ways. Doctor Who has indeed moved on, and after couple of viewings of the 'Rose', I liked it a lot.

My first overall impression was the pace of the story. It felt like it only lasted about five minutes! It developed at an unbelievable frenetic pace, with dialogue that even Aaron Sorkin [writer of 'The West Wing', a favourite programme of RTD's] would covet! Perhaps this feeling was due to my watching the first ever episode which definitely goes at a more piecemeal pace. Or perhaps it was because of the fact that I didn't want the episode to end.

The actual plot was probably a dumbed down version of 'Spearhead from Space' but very enjoyable nonetheless. The anti-plastic antidote was a bit of a quick fix but the story's climax wasn't without tension. The first scenes of Rose in the department store storeroom was very chilling, and well executed. And the scene where the Doctor asks Rose to come with him but she declines, only to have him return sent a chill up my spine as if I felt like I was Rose. Indeed, what I really liked about Rose's character was that she was (for want of a better word) so human and normal. Dead end job, overprotective mother and an annoying boyfriend. Being a recent university graduate myself, without much career focus, I certainly felt sympathy for her and wished that the Doctor would ask me to accompany him on his travels! Some things never change. No matter how old you are....

Christopher Eccleston is indeed an amalgamation of previous Doctors, but he certainly feels like he is capable of anything at anytime which is nice. He has Tom Baker's grinning danger, Paul McGann's orgasmic excitement, Troughton's wink and McCoy's darkness. I did feel he was trying to do his utmost best to be happy and joyful - to get rid of the image of Eccleston as a miserable actor and it did feel weird seeing Eccleston so happy all the time. However, he has the edge to be a great Doctor. I'm looking forward to his development. Billie Piper is beautiful and I kept wishing that I was her boyfriend! Even when she got out of bed she looked great! She's in for a few shocks on her travels with the Doctor isn't she? Piper was a joy and I'm looking forward to seeing such shocks.

What didn't I like? I suppose I would have liked to have taken a breathe once or twice as it was fast but on second viewing it was a lot more easier. Hearing Graham Norton bleeding through was a bit annoying but anyone with "a sensitive ear" will notice that you can hear the producer chattering from the gallery in the first episode of 'An Unearthly Child". People have said the music was quite intrusive but I found it to be higly complimentary. Then again, this is from a person who loves the 'Remembrance' and 'Battlefield' scores! The plot could have been a bit more sophisticated but I'd be lying if I really cared about that in the first episode. Episode One is about establishing the series in tone, style and scale. This did it and it looks very promising.

I'll let you read the other reviews now as I sum up; fast, energetic and DEFINITELY Doctor Who as we know it. Eccleston is brilliant but weirdly joyous, Piper is drop-dead gorgeous and a character who lives in all of us. Welcome back old friend. It's been a long time.

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I could do my absolute best to consider Russell T Davies’ ‘Rose’ objectively, but that would be silly, and I would almost certainly meet with failure. I’m far too much in love with Doctor Who, or at least the idea of Doctor Who, to think about this as anything other than a new and special part of myself. So this can’t rightly be considered a ‘review’, since it’s impossible for me to separate myself from the thing in question. Instead, I’m obliged to tell my story.

For a start, I knew too much. A six-second trailer, and I had to go for a lie down. I’d already memorised the ‘falling through space’ sequence long before I had the opportunity to see it in context. And aside from not knowing precisely how the narrative would fit together, I pretty much knew what would happen, thanks to spoilers, speculation and the knowledge that the whole concept, and its associated iconography, had to be squeezed into forty-five minutes of screen time. The cynic in me would say that watching ‘Rose’ was merely a matter of joining the dots, so it’s fortunate I’ve decided to silence him.

What I’ve come to realise, over the fortnight preceding ‘Rose’, is how important the whole ethos of Doctor Who is to me. It’s hardly consistent, except perhaps in its ‘Britishness’, but the show’s multiple aspects – the horror of death, the secular sense of wonderment, the idea that one should ‘never be cruel or cowardly’, the desire to live your life in an interesting fashion – are what I’m working with here, in this life. It’s such a crucial part of my upbringing, I can’t imagine going forward without it.

So what’s important to me, and it’s the reason why the new series had me giggling to myself in the shower last week, is not that He’s coming back, but that He’s been away for so long. He hasn’t, of course, but suddenly it seems like that, because there’s a difference between reading Blood Heat on the train, and trying not to bend the spine of the book, and having the Doctor suddenly bounce into everyone’s lives, not just mine, every Saturday night. On television.

And that’s why it was so important that Davies and Billie Piper (and, to a lesser extent, Christopher Eccleston), got Rose right. She was at least as important as the Doctor, and thank Verity, she worked. A beautiful person leading a dreary life, and immediately the Doctor’s best friend. It’s necessary, I think, that the Doctor-friend (she’s no companion, and definitely not an assistant) dynamic has the suggestion of ‘fate’ scribbled on it somewhere, and that’s the episode’s first big success. The Doctor and Rose have a destiny together; that much was clear from the moment she dragged him playfully through the front door of the house. Rose’s TARDIS entrance is the flipside of the same coin, and played beautifully, as are her subsequent tears and the Doctor’s warm-yet-alien reassurance: ‘It’s OK.’

Attention to the wonderful Piper does Eccleston a massive disservice, of course. His awareness of what is required, and how much he can get away with, is masterful, and the Doctor of ‘Rose’ is a great stride forward for the character. His laughter with his new best friend and his dismissal of Mickey might seem too much like Russell T Davies ticking the boxes marked ‘human’ and ‘alien’ in his masterplan, but these are inevitable flaws for an episode with so much to do, and Eccleston has an unprecedented lightness of touch (unless you were witness to 2004’s Electricity).

Keith Boak’s job, it seems, was to make Doctor Who look like television drama for the twenty-first century, and this involves a corruption of sorts. ‘Rose’ was basically shiny and restless, leaping hyperactively from one jazzy shot to the next. This isn’t good for tension, and the Autons were not as scary as they might have been with a more patient approach to editing, but for the generation of kids we hope were watching, this might, sadly, have been necessary. Visually, ‘Rose’ was never less than interesting, even if there were often too much superficial goings-on, without the depth that would give the show a helpful suggestion of realism.

Murray Gold’s music suffered in exactly the same way, being incredibly ostentatious, and occasionally drowning out the dialogue. It was brash, too exciting for its own good, and incredibly appropriate. The episode had such a frenetic pace, it didn’t require such urgency in its incidental music, but it didn’t jar, because this is the kind of music video-style of television that we – and Doctor Who – are dealing with here. What’s true is that with a budget of millions, Doctor Who can’t yet risk being as downright weird as it once was. Hence the quasi-orchestral theme, relentless pace, and CGI. This is 2005, and the new Doctor Who is, in many ways, a child of the movies.

Thankfully, we’re still on a budget, and Rose having her face menaced by an amputated plastic arm is a fantastically cheap moment, superbly conceived. The hungry wheelie bin works less well, if only because of its ill-judged belch, and Noel Clarke’s obvious struggle with the illusory CGI. And the writing’s rooted in the great Doctor Who tradition of solving the problems of the universe by having a chat with a gooey blob on your doorstep. The difference between ‘Rose’ and ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’, which the climax pays homage to, is that this is so bloody loud, we can hardly hear the Doctor single-handedly conjuring up a whole new mythology for us to deal with. ‘I fought in the war!’ he screamed, and across the UK thousands of fans started to invent their own stories. This kind of half-explanation is exactly what Doctor Who’s so good at. It’s there in ‘An Unearthly Child’, Damaged Goods, and now ‘Rose’. This is just the beginning, and we can excuse the first show its lack of narrative substance. There just wasn’t enough time. Next week, it should slow down, and actually tell a story worth telling. As it stands, ‘Rose’ was the best trailer ever made. He’s come back to save the world, and yes yes yes, it needs saving.

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Like last time (November 1963), the first episode contained an aerial view of Central London and I loved the way time was speeded up to show us a day in the life of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). 

The new series has now got that filmed look and it was very tense watching Rose approach the store basement surrounded by what we knew at first glance to be Autons. The cheer that greeted her from BBC3 actually added to the scene - as it seemed the plastic nasties were luring her into a surprise birthday party, horror film style. But I didn’t mistake a couple of brief snatches of Graham Norton. Ironic, because he was reported to have wanted a role in the new series, having trained as an actor. I trust whoever was responsible for the sound transference will be exterminated, though it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. How could it? Rose needed someone to rescue her and the way The Doctor just burst onto the scene - sideways into the story - hadn’t been done before and is effective. 

I thought Christopher Eccleston was eccentric and likeable. Russell T set the character up quickly and well. In seconds we had established from his checking out the ears that he’d just regenerated, could scan-read quicker than humans and was quick at social comment: “he’s gay, she’s an alien - it won’t work”. I also laughed when he confirmed to Rose’s mother, who had her eye on him, that he was a strange man. As to the Ninth Doctor’s outfit: it suits Eccleston. As velvet smoking jackets & long scarves suited Jon Pertwee & Tom Baker. One or two of the subsequent outfits had been OTT (what Russell T said about “layers of association” over the the costumes, going one farther than something that had worked for a different actor) and I guess it had reached the point where it was considered one of the factors standing in the way of making DR. WHO accessible to a 21st Century audience. But Sylvester McCoy was actually the first Doctor to speak with a regional (non-RP) accent. 

It’s a good move to base DR. WHO on contemporary Earth in a domestic set-up, as it answers it’s critics on the question of social relevance and will hopefully attract a lot of new viewers. The use of London - red buses, Big Ben & LondonEye - is a good selling proposition for overseas sales. I sincerely hope a lot of the episodes start & end on present-day Earth as I’ve heard. Yet within that, historical stories & outer space will be present. There seems to be a deliberate contrast in the arrangement of the episodes.

I loved the lighting of the TARDIS in RADIO TIMES. A butterfly design in it’s lines from a distance - which is pretty appropriate as they metamorphose. I’m not sure about the new console so far. But I was taken with the slightly chunkier TARDIS exterior, which reminded me of the films - both of which have been on in the last week. The lights being full on is another neat idea that perhaps should have been used before. 

The Autons are perhaps my favourite monsters, so a re-imagining of the famous scene of them smashing their way out of shop windows to go slaughtering innocent members of the public scores top marks for me. The new Autons - the male business suit with lilac shirts, the Classic Brides, the Auton Children - absolutely brilliant and instantly iconic. The fact Mickey was recognisable to us as an Auton before Rose was an acceptable dramatic device. 

Fast paced, contemporary, witty & scary. This featured the best SFX I’ve seen on TV. This single episode certainly compared well with Hollywood. 

DR. WHO is back and, boy, he’s better than he’s been in years.

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The supreme rule of all great drama is "start small and build." The more fantastic and convention-breaking the drama, the more important I believe this rule is. If you're going to, for example, write a story about a girl being whisked by a tornado into a bonkers fantasy over-the-rainbow land, you must start out with her being very ordinary (yet appealing) and with her in her hum-drum ordinary world, or the general audience is never going to swallow the enormous gobstopper you've got coming for them later on. The previous attempt to restart "Doctor Who" in 1996 got this very muddled. I'm extremely happy to see that in 2005, the lesson has been learned and the new attempt is off to a great start.

In "Rose," what we have in many ways is a condensed and extremely updated version of "The Wizard of Oz," with Rose herself in the Dorothy role, and the Doctor of course being the Wizard figure (except he's authentic, unlike the Oz Wizard). "Oz" itself we haven't really got to yet... that yellow brick time vortex is yet to be travelled, and will no doubt be the point of the 12 episodes which will follow, but some of Oz's denizens did pay Rose and the Doctor a call in the familiar form (well, familiar to "Doctor Who" fans) of the Nestenes and their Autons, making at least their third attempt to take over the Earth.

If you see what the story's doing, introducing everyone to Rose, the Doctor, the TARDIS, and the sort of things the Doctor gets mixed up in, then yes, the story is predictable and may even seem thin. This is especially true if we make the mistake of comparing this story to the complexities of the stories we've been used to in the non-TV years from Big Finish, Virgin, or BBC Books. Those forms can all tell their stories in shorthand because their audience understands the code. This first paragraph of the new TV era has to go the long way around for the sake of the 10 million uninitiated who may (and did) watch.

And to that I say, "so what if it does?" Once in a while, I like to just stop and think about the entire basic concept of the show and revel in the majesty of its imagination, and the heights to which an author, a cast, a design team, and a director can leap to from this most powerful springboard of a format. We have an alien who looks like us but isn't us, who loves us and defends us and can sometimes hate us too, who can take one of us anywhere in the universe to any date there's ever been or ever will be, using the most fantastic and entertaining spaceship ever imagined. Isn't that enough right there? Maybe by episode 34 we might tire even of this, but this is _episode_one_. It's called "Doctor Who - Rose." It's job is to introduce both "Rose" and "Doctor Who" in a way that will keep loads of viewers watching and wanting to tune in again next week. Nothing more and nothing less. Oh, and it's only got 44 minutes or so to do it in.

In this job it succeeds brilliantly. It starts by simply showing us Rose, and within five minutes, Billie Piper's charm and acting chops have got step one nailed. She then bumps into some Oz-like elements in the form of a gang of Autons, and gets rescued in spectacular fashion by the Wizard - Doctor.

Ah, but we're not over the rainbow yet... this story pauses to let Rose and the viewer stop and think about it all while we see more of Rose's real life, namely her mother and boyfriend and home, and get to know her and how normal and nice she is some more, and we're also shown here a little of her stronger side when she clearly stands up on her own against her mother and boyfriend. Then along come Oz and the Wizard again, invading her home briefly, and getting her curiosity going. The rest of the story continues in a similar pattern, of her moving two steps down the yellow brick road in curiosity, a step back in fear, another step forward in bravery and another step more in curiosity, then another step back. For example, she goes to see Clive and starts to swallow what he tells her, until he says the word "alien" and then she pulls back. The two biggest forward-back-forward moves she does are when she first enters the TARDIS, goes back out and walks around it, then goes back inside again, and at the very end of the story when she at first turns the Doctor down on his offer to become his latest companion, then changes her mind when he gives her a second chance. This makes Rose into a perfect companion, and every inch the Dorothy figure this episode 1 needed. Billie Piper plays it all perfectly too, switching back and forth between fear for herself or for maybe-dead-real-Mickey to excitement and enthusiasm for the weird and wonderful things she's seeing without it ever looking jarring, illogical, or non-authentic.

Right, that's Dorothy down... what of the Wizard? So far, so good. Christopher Eccleston is doing what all the Doctors have done (and should do) and fusing the writing of the basic uber-intelligent, energetic, and curious Doctor coming from the writer's script with his own character traits, such as his speech patterns, jovial body language, and that goofy grin he loves to use. There are two moments in particular that marked out this new Doctor to me the most, one small and one BIG[tm]. The small one is during the bit where he is trying to leave Rose's life with the Auton arm and she's quizzing him on who he is, and after she asks "just the Doctor?" yet again, he quickly turns, flashes that grin, waves a hand at her high in the air and says, "Helllooo!" That's the sort of tangential humor I love to see in the Doctor. The BIG moment, as anyone who watched can probably guess, is when shortly after that he takes Rose's hand and talks to her about how he can feel the Earth turning and revolving around the sun and how at any moment we could all just fall off the planet. Both the writing and the performance fuse together flawlessly here and give us a verbal sense of the awe that a man like the Doctor must feel whenever he pauses while travelling and takes stock of the whole universe around him... and that we will hopefully get to see visually in future episodes. There is of course still a lot of room for more Doctor development, but again, this is only episode _one_, and that will all come when the time is right, I feel sure.

That leaves Oz, which consists of the TARDIS, the Nestene-Autons, and also the hints of an over-arching story arc and a backstory "war" that the Doctor says he fought in and which seems to have displaced the Nestenes. The TARDIS is so far handled very well, where they show us its basic abilities and properties and save its even more fantastic features for later. Again, they're starting small and building, and I can be patient. As for the Nestene-Autons... well, they're almost a sort of token villain here. We don't learn anything more about them than we did in their previous stories, and if anything, they seem to have regressed a bit in their tactics, being not able to make a very convincing Mickey replica, although to be fair, they did it very quickly and it was good enough to fool Rose, which is all it needed to do. They look, behave, and sound just as nasty as they did before, and the "mother" creature sure looks a lot better than the 1970 and 1971 ones did. The addition of child-sized Autons to their ranks was a great touch, as was the reuse of their classic sound effects, but I'm not sure they were directed all that well. They could've been much creepier than they turned out to be, and while I did find the comedy that they found in them to actually be funny, I think I prefer them when they're behaving more competently. They are not actually the point of this story of course... they're just there to be a "typical" foil to the Doctor's usual exploits, and in that they succeed just about well enough. (a bit like how the Cybermen, a Dalek, and a Yeti weren't the point in "The Five Doctors") That final element of the arc and the backstory gave us just enough to whet our appetites for future episodes, and was the perfect dash of salt for this great recipe of a show.

Story and acting-wise then I was very pleased, and pleased enough with the direction. Keith Boak seems to have got the most important things right (the Doctor, Rose, the guest cast, and the London setting), and what he got wrong (the Autons, and one or two other small missteps) wasn't all that wrong. Where I noticed his presence the most was in the pacing of it all, especially the opening act, and how much faster it was certainly than the older stories and even than other shows made today. A steady diet of this probably wouldn't be good for the whole series, but the way it was used here was very good I thought, and key in grabbing and holding that new audience's attention I'm sure.

The overall look of the finished show was better than I expected and better than the little bits I'd seen earlier on... it's very vibrant and bright and quite film-like looking, but I do still regret the decision not to shoot on either a film format or an HD-ready digital video format as this means the series' format is going to be out of date in just a few years time. I didn't mind the "techno" nature of the incidental music, just the choice of where to put it sometimes and the choice of the effect that was being gone for, which may have been out of Murray Gold's hands and in Keith Boak's. One moment in particular I didn't care for was when Rose is creeping in the cellar and the Autons are starting to awake and there's suddenly a string movement put in as though Julie Andrews is about to come bounding in with "The Sound of Music". It defused the tension instead of increasing it. (Graham Norton didn't help here either of course!) What of the much-talked-about CGI? I found it a lot more convincing with the full filmizing effect on this finished version than I did on some poorer-converted clips I saw before this, and really rather impressive in places, with the one glaring exception of the wheely-bin scene. The bit where Mickey first puts his hands on it and they stick is OK... it's what follows when the whole bin starts to undulate and open its "mouth" that looks completely unreal and not at all convincing. I've no idea what such a thing really would look like, but I can tell it wouldn't look like this... there's a sort of cartoon-like sheen to the bin at this point that completely sets it at odds with the rest of the image here. Everything else looked fine, especially the explosions (some of which were done with models I'm told... always a good move in my book), and I do want to save a special mention for the new way in which the TARDIS materializes and dematerializes, with its solidity pulsing back and forth along with the lamp on the top of the police box. Top marks also for taking the trouble to getting the sound effects exactly right and using the remastered versions provided by Mark Ayres on the Radiophonic Workshop CDs. I should also mention what I think of Murray Gold's arrangement of the theme music.... I very much like this approach he's taken, of mixing the original Delia Derbyshire-generated swooping sounds with instrumental ones in the gaps between. It's a little-remembered fact that this was in fact Ron Grainer's original intention with the original music... that Derbyshire would create these sounds that he'd then put real instruments behind them, which he abandoned when he heard the finished product she'd created, but it's nice to hear that approach actually taken and used here. I have to deduct lots of points though for his not including the "b" section/middle-8 section of the theme, which is my favorite part. I can only hope that it might turn up on a future episode (as it sometimes did in the original series... sometimes it would pop up and sometimes it wouldn't be there) or at the very least on a commercial CD release.

Scale of 1 to 10 for "Rose"... 8. Exactly what we needed, plus a bit more besides... I wouldn't say perfect, but in all the important ways, this was exactly what episode one of this new series should be. Next stop... the emerald city at the end of the world ?

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OK first things first, confession time. I am a backslidden Doctor Who fan. I only got 4 or 5 right on each round on the recent Mastermind. I had turned my back on all the books, animated and audio adventures that have followed since the end of the series. I watched and bought the film, but only because I felt I had to. I guess thinking about it, I had ‘buried’ Doctor Who in my head, and wanted to move on from it. For me the books, cds and paraphernalia were an unsatisfactory substitute, and just reinforced the sense of loss.

So during the lead-up to the new series I was worried - worried that they would a) produce something of quality but not Doctor Who at all or b) produce something laughably bad that would have Tom spinning in his armchair! Worried that it would be good but I would be unable to enjoy it as I was not 11 any more. And on top of that I was worried I was going to be so worried about it I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it even if it was good!

Given all of these misgivings and negativity, when I say that it was fantastic it’s high praise. Firstly the pace; it swept me along at such a speed that I didn't have time to stop and think. And it was pitched perfectly, at 8-12 yr olds like they said, but with one eye on adults so I was able to enjoy it despite my age.

In retrospect now the plot was a little thin and rushed. It seemed like no sooner had the aliens been introduced and their plan divulged than they had been defeated! But this was made up for by the élan, verve and sheer sense of fun which covered the whole enterprise. It is acknowledged that every piece of created work gives you an insight into the soul of the creator. Well, this Doctor Who was the product of someone who loves life. And that’s what it should be. 

Monsters and all that. I didn’t expect to be scared or even impressed by the ‘monsters’, and I wasn't. The only monster in ANY sci-fi which has managed to scare me was the Alien. But really it was never about the monsters for me, but more the concept; being – or meeting – someone who is totally free to travel through time and space and the possibilities this throws up. (to give you a clue where I’m coming from, my favourite story is Warriors Gate – no monsters. I've never even been that keen on the Daleks!) The most effective part for me 'monster'-wise was the scene in the cafe when her boyfriend had been copied; I found him genuinely a bit creepy. But judging from the posts on the cbeebies website, kids found the Auton shop dummies scary so that’s OK!

Bits and bobs. Doesn’t the closing theme music end a bit abruptly? Clive – an interesting character thrown away too early. In response to those nit-pickers saying that how come Clive saw the Doctor in various eras when he had only just regenerated – those were places he is going to be! (mangled tenses). And Clive happens to live in the same area as Rose after she does an internet-wide search for ‘Doctor Who’ – what’s the chance of that?!

But these are just footling concerns. I really loved it and I can’t wait for the rest of the series. It’s like being 11 again!

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I don't want to be too harsh on the first episode as a doctor's debut is typically not the best you can expect from the actor. I thought Christopher Ecclestone was very good though the fairly obvious and deliberate leaps from Tom Baker-like gurning to Pertwee gravitas will hopefully give way to a more relaxed and personal portrayal over time. Billie Piper lived up to her reputation as a fine actor - I was very impressed with her naturalistic performance and likeable portrayal of Rose.

Overall it was a very good piece of television though it seemed very much aimed at an extremely young audience - perhaps too much as I can imagine 10 year-olds still finding it a bit patronising. It did look a bit too bright and comical throughout and any parts that might have been exciting or make the hairs on the back of you neck stand up were ruined the bouncey up-beat incidental music. The dialogue was pretty witty throughout but really let down by clangers like, 'so all the stories I've heard are true' from Clive before he was shot.

There were some lovely touches like the Doctor's desperate apology to the nestene consciousness for not being able to save their planet in a previous war which we know nothing about, and the fear inspired in the Autons by the 'superior technology' of the TARDIS (wonderfully at odds with the ship's exterior).

However the Autons were terribly under-used - almost written off as not worth being a baddie and more of a joke. It's true that the idea of plastic coming alive and attacking people is very much rooted in the 1970s and the burgeoning environmental movements of that time when Pertwee battled them - but I feel that some fantastic oppourtunities to send shivers down our spines were missed here. In this introductory episode it seems as though the Autons were reduced to a vehicle for the audience to meet Rose and the Doctor - fair enough, but I do find myself feeling a bit bereft of chills.

Perhaps the series creators are aiming to welcome a predominantly young audience at first and when they decide they like the series, to deliver some more thoughtful and darker stories. This is what I remember form watching Doctor who as a child - it made me feel grown up and introduced me to quite advanced political, ethical and scientific ideas at the same time as being wonderfully exciting. As people to whom this series matters a more than any other television (ever) we're going to have to get used to a new stylistic take on the show and a new (almost too pacey) format (where's the story gone?). But in the spirit of optimism, I think we're just being asked to sit back and enjoy the relationship between Rose and the Doctor, and the fun of seeing new places and races over the next 12 weeks and to suppress our nit-picking. That doesn't sound too bad - plus the TARDIS looks very cool.

ps- How could RTD miss the 's' of 'dimensions' in TARDIS?! How could he!?!

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My 1st impression was "wow"! Whilst I can't really comment on how it compares to the classic series' as I've only seen a few random episodes on UKTV Gold if I get up early enough on a Saturday morning, I was really impressed! It's certainly very 21st century and had me engaged from the very start. Whilst the beginning could quite easily have seemed incredibly rushed, I felt that it just showed how Rose's life was so monotonous and that to her life would have just sped by without her noticing. It provided a good contrast to how things were when she met the Doctor- suddenly things were interesting and she actually had a purpose. It was actually possible for her to live a life full of excitement and things very much out of the ordinary.

Christopher Eccleston's portrayal of the Doctor was absolutely superb. He had perfect comic timing and I felt the comedy was suitably understated, making it much funnier. Previous Doctors had their eccentricity in their costume a lot more than Chris, something that he overcame through the sheer watchability of his acting and that infectious smile!

Billie Piper was excellent as Rose. I thought she too shared some of Chris Eccleston's comic timing, though to a lesser extent. Her final lines to her boyfriend, for example, were just classic- exactly the way I'd treat such a wimp of a bloke! It was necessary for Micky to survive- someone had to tell Rose's mum, who would be so much more likely to believe his story considering what she had experienced in her Auton encounter!

I liked the storyline. The script was well written and contained the right balance of humour, seriousness and action.

The special effects were on the whole excellent. Though the wheelie bin was a little cheezy and absolutely hilarious rather than scary- although I can see little children getting a little freaked by their bins at home! I also absolutely love the interior of the TARDIS!

Of course, it wasn't perfect. In fact far from perfect, but that just added to the appeal! I get the feeling that Doctor Who was never meant to be perfect.

My main criticism would be the fact that it's far too obvious that it was filmed in Cardiff and not London. This wasn't helped by the fact that I live in Cardiff and so I recognised every little side street! The London Eye just doesn't suit Cardiff Bay- I kept wondering what happened to the St David's Hotel! But this didn't really distract too much from the story and I'm sure that it wouldn't bother the worldwide audience as much, if at all!

The continuity issue was a little bit of a problem. There was the impression that he had recently regenerated but he still seemed to have had time for a bit of time-travel! 

Apart from that, it was perfect and I just can't wait 'til next week!

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"Do you know like we were saying, about the Earth revolving? [...] I can feel it. The turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour, and the entire planet is circling around the Sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour, and I can feel it. We're spinning through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go... That's who I am."

The wait is finally over. After 16 years (or 9, depending on your perspective), Doctor Who has returned. And it's a new look, new style Who. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Rose" is fast-paced, slickly-edited television - with 45 minutes to introduce and resolve a plot, it's certainly a far cry from the traditional slow-burn nature of the old 4- and 6-part serials. And yet, it works. The Auton invasion (which many would see as the main plot of the episode) is very much incidental, as the primary thrust of this new first episode is to (re-)introduce the concept of the series, and the new characters. As such, it does tend to fall flat. The Autons are very much underused as a threat, mostly confined only to the first and last ten minutes, although the attack in the shopping centre was very effective. The pace did seem a little too fast at times, but when you're having to infodump exposition to the new viewers (and the new companion), a little speed can sometimes go a long way.

The Ninth Doctor is a man of contradictions - one minute manic and giddy, the next serious, mysterious, and altogether alien. And Christopher Eccleston plays the part superbly, with genuine passion and power. And whilst the manic grin at times does grate, in general, the Doctor remains the mysterious stranger he has always been. The brief hints at this Doctor's backstory - his involvement in the war and the destruction of the Nestene homeworld, the appearances in 1888, 1912 and 1963 (if not the result of future temporal excursions...) - provide us with interesting discussion points, and the sense that this Doctor isn't coming to us at the start of his ninth incarnation, but we are catching him 'mid-flow', as it were...

I wasn't as pessimistic about Billie Piper's starring role as others - having none of the "teen pop star"-type affectations about her acting skills - and was pleased to see her carry the role of Rose Tyler well - a young woman seeking an escape from her humdrum existence, caught up in incredible events. Her non-reaction to the replacement of Mickey with an Auton double, however, whilst more of a script error than an acting one, made the character seem less observant and world-wise than the rest of the episode suggested. But, her general reactions to the events taking place around her - in particular, her reaction to the TARDIS - were spot on. And she didn't scream in terror once...

Of the minor characters, Mark Benton as Clive was, for me, the most memorable. A spin on the traditional view of the "Doctor Who fan" (this one, of the "real" Doctor), his observations of the effects of the Doctor's presence were well-put, and if the episode indeed portrays his death, it is a shame, as the character could have been an interesting one to bring back in future installments. Noel Clarke as Mickey was less of a success - sometimes a little bit too over the top - but did well, especially as the Auton Mickey, portraying an unfamiliarity and a creepiness that was just what was required for the piece.

Musically, the new theme tune perfectly accompanies the style of the new series - powerful, bombastic, and yet familiar and Who. Of course, I am one of the few people who liked the TVM theme, so what do I know...

The incidental music was much more hit and miss. The very first piece, as we reveal the Earth in space, then zoom down to London, was absolutely perfect. But then, at times - particularly in the early part of the episode - the music drowned out voices, overshadowed drama, and generally distracted from the on-screen events. There were some good points - the little snippet of the theme tune as Rose ran past the TARDIS after escaping Hendricks, haunting melodies that played over several key scenes, including the "that's who I am" scene - and in general it improved as the episode went on. Still, it could be improved further. Music should underscore events, not overwhelm them.

But, all in all, it was an outstanding episode - a worthy beginning, and the preview for "End of the World" seems to show that the level of quality will continue. 8 out of 10.

Welcome back, Doctor. It's been a long time coming.

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Doctor Who made it's long-overdue return to our TV screens last night and it seems fair to suggest that Rose and the following twelve episodes constitute a real 'make or break' period in the show's history; should it flop here then it seems inconceivable that the BBC would later choose to resurrect it yet again.

What then should we make of Rose?

The opening title lacked a feel of grandeur; after a nine year absence I was hoping for something a little more impressive but it was reasonable enough. I still can't get used to the new logo however, it looks horribly amateurish. Moving onwards, the opening few minutes were fairly impressive; Rose becomes trapped in the basement with a room full of Autons and this was just the start the series needed - something to get viewers hooked from the start. The tension was destroyed somewhat by the already well-documented technical problems involving Graham Norton, however I'm sorry to say that he wasn't the real culprit in destroying any menace that the planned Auton invasion carried...

The Doctor bursts onto the scene to save Rose and it's certainly a dramatic first appearance; after maniacally telling Rose to 'run for her life' he then proceeds to blow up the entire department store. He later catches up with Rose again in a slightly surreal scene which involves him peering through the catflap. At this stage, the undertones of a very zany type of humour really rise to prominence and proceed to manifest themselves far too regularly throughout the rest of the episode. The Doctor is propositioned by Rose's mother; to the best of my knowledge the series had managed to go the previous 160 serials without something like this and it feels alarmingly out of place - as if the show feels the need to keep itself 'fresh' or 'relevant'. This certainly isn't the way to go about it; it came across as completely contrived and an attempt at cheap humour. Perhaps it wouldn't have felt so ludicrous if it was portrayed with a little more subtlety and not inside the first ten minutes of a new show but unfortunately it stood out like a sore thumb.

Things generally took a turn from the worse from here on in. We have an interesting discussion between the Doctor and Rose regarding the spinning of the Earth and this hints at a darker, more serious side to the Doctor but there is painfully little else in the next twenty minutes or so to support this proposition. What we're presented with instead is an alarmingly arrogant, self-righteous Time Lord who appears to have lost any sort of fond regard for the human species (the dislike shown here is much stronger than any previous incarnations have shown) and who isincapable of sustaining any real prolonged conversation with his companion; we instead have some throwaway dialogue that consists of Rose asking questions and the Doctor giving fairly banal responses.

Some of the problems with this episode can be overlooked as perhaps being atypical of the season - how many times will the team need to try and create a scene with a wheelie bin swallowing a human being, for instance? But other criticisms are more worrying - the completely overworked humour being a prime example: why do we need to see the wheelie bin burp afterwards? Why do we need to see the Auton Mickey swerve from side to side; it's already obvious that he's not the genuine article. There's a strong contrast here between the constant humour which really erodes away all menace from the Auton threat (compare auton Mickey with Scobie's Auton duplicate in Spearhead from Space) and humour which exists to just break up the seriousness of the situation. 

The new series risks making the mistakes already made by Doctor Who and other sci-fi shows in the past. We've seen a very confident/arrogant Doctor with a very dismissive attitude to the human species and a proposensity for zany, slapstick humour. The last Doctor who made such an immediate impact, for better or worse, was Colin Baker and we've seen the impact that such a dramatic departure from previous norms can have. Much more needs to be made of the Doctor's darker side and the humour needs to be toned down or the series will lose it's 'hide behind the sofa' appeal - the very thing that drew children into it back in 1963. 

Perhaps the biggest problem with Rose however is not the portrayal of the Doctor, which may evolve over time, but the limitations of the 45 minute format; we were presented with a very rushed serial that gave little to no explanation of the Auton threat or the antiplastic used to counter it. Despite the short duration however, the scenes involving the Doctor being held captive still somehow managed to feel overblown. While future serials won't need to introduce new characters, Rose didn't feel like 5/10 minutes short of being a complete story - it felt some way off.

As it stands, I believe the show is quite firmly in the last chance saloon and the Doctor may have encountered a threat that even he cannot prevail over. The possibility that there might be no more incarnations of the Doctor seems feasible if the problems of slapstick humour, a dislikeable Doctor and rushed feel are all not addressed quickly.

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"Rose" is wonderful. A fine first episode with huge potential for the rest of the season. RTD's script is fun, witty, hugely imaginative, iconic in part and most interestingly heavily satirical. There are a number of references to the 'compensation culture' which produce some good gags from Rose's mum Jackie. Plenty of in jokes for fans and even a gag about the relative scarcity of female Who fans. I also especially enjoyed the way that RTD subverted the role of the 'male' within the drama. Just look at Mickey, who is effectivly the damsel in distress. I think some people have so far missed the point completly with Mickey's character, which is a shame, but I look forward to seeing more of him and Jackie during the course of the season. Jackie is clearly heavily reliant on Rose, and I look forward to seeing more of there relationship....... It's gonna be fun to see the Doctor interact with them.

The performances from Chris and Billie are just so enjoyable, the childlike wonder and passion of the ninth Doctor and the sassy energy from Rose are really exciting. It's obvious that here are two actors having great fun together........ I know I really enjoyed seeing them spark of each other, a stand out moment being the Doctors facial reaction (profound disappointment) on being turned down by Rose, when intially offering her the chance to go with him in the TARDIS. It genuinely moved me that moment, quite beautifully played by both actors.

Murray Gold's incidental music is also worthy of mention, its brave and for the most part atmospheric. The new remix of the theme tune is magnificent. I look forward to a soundtrack CD from Murray sooner rather than later! 

The plot of 'Rose' is significantly more substantial that some people have given Russell credit for, this is character driven driven drama for everyone, as it should be!!!..... Indeed he has clearly sowen the seeds for some returning characters and ideas.....It's the insightful, contemporary, satirical wit that shines. 

Above all it serves as a fine introduction to the series, wonderful to see the Autons back (living plastic). I've always liked them. I am now fully invigorated with the lust for life that Russell and the team so clearly want us to have! You would have to be incredibly curmudgingly not to have really liked the first episode. A strong start, however I suspect that the best is yet to come, and I for one can't wait!

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We need to review the Who

In ways more than two!!

Would it frighten the 2005 child

And with fright send them sofa bound, eyes wild?

Auton dummies were unnervingly scary,

Menace spoilt by the bleed through 'fairy'!!

More scenes of plastic destruction to build up alien danger

And less perhaps of Grace Bros, Mr Grainger,

With 'corny' hand grabs the neck frivolity

Stopping the creepiness from escalating properly.

But shade and light calms the fright

Giving release from terrors being remembered into the night

By the young 6 year old who now keeps on the light.

Frighten the nippers too soon

And parents will not allow them to return to the room.

Rose was good, and pacily introduced with English buses red

Plotlines zipped along and never slowed to lead.

Roller coaster riding with an 'odd' sequence by a pit

With the good Dr doing nought whilst Rose's Mum had a fit.

Nice to contrast Cardiff's (sorry London's) plight 

With the inter-cut Doctor's fight

But too long the camera dwelled 

On our good Dr, by dummies held

Weak and ineffectual he appeared- too slow..

More snappy editing would have moulded our hero!!

Wheely bins were just the 'familiar' object to send a shiver

Up my spine when next I deposit my litter!!

Boyfriends to be eaten was an obvious story-line

Only tempored by the sticky sequence with effects so fine,

Until the actor turned around -and then 'oh dear'

We could see the creaky effects, expensive and dear.

And alarm bells start ringing with a clang

For this is one reason why the series went 'BANG'

All the good acting, effects, and work can be undone

By one misplaced and gremlin air brush or CGI gun.

Romantic memories of wobbly sets and scenic flaws

Either pleases fans or is manna for detractors.

Don't take this rhyming rubbish as a moan or complaint,

More a worry and concern for series TWO - reality fient?

Preview clips promise aliens and themes enjoyably scary

But images appear pasted on - be wary!!

They should look part of the background-involved-real

Not a CGI effect of fire in a department floor- surreal

Why not blow out an old stores' floor? 

But whoa- I should not whinge - there's more in store

I have not seen, and judgement should wait.

There is hope and more to praise than berate.

So a quirky, at times glib, and Dr - maybe antagonising 

With a defined excellent sidekick will have their fling.

Kids will see for the first time elements of what fans know

That writers and co have lovingly recreated 'our' show.

But the biggest blunder by the BBC- we need a rolling neck-

Was to play viewer battles with Ant and Dec!!

Why make the same mistake as they did with McCOY

And so possible lower ratings is another argument to employ

By those in power who want only one series.

Please Beeb give it a chance - be proud please.

Program carefully, help the young fans you want access the Who

And then fans, old and young alike will get Series Two!!!

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7pm, Saturday 26th March 2005. If you count from the end of the television series, it’s over 15 years since the Doctor left our screens. It’s nine years since the TV movie. For me, it’s been just over five years since I’ve been enough of a Doctor Who fan to dream of the show’s return to television. It’s been 18 months since the announcement that Doctor Who was, finally, being regenerated for a new series. However you count it, we’ve waited a long time for this moment. But at last, it’s time…

One of the first things to strike me was the sheer breathless pace and energy of the story. The first few scenes quickly show us Rose’s life in a nutshell, though it then settles down to a more sensible speed. It’s still a million times zippier than the frequently slow plod of the long stories of Doctor Who from years gone by, and is quite an adjustment to make.

It’s been observed that the TV movie was a blend of Spearhead from Space, the story that saw both the debut of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and of the sinister Autons, The Deadly Assassin, where the Doctor returned to his home planet to battle his old enemy the Master, and a bit of original material thrown in as well. But while the TV movie borrowed the Doctor’s alien physiology being discovered as he is treated in hospital, Rose takes the other, more exciting plotline that the TV movie left alone - the invasion of Earth by the delightfully scary Autons. Russell T Davies wisely chooses to define the Doctor by what he does - fight the monsters and save the world, rather than dull discoveries of two hearts and an odd body temperature.

Rose also jettisons any Gallifrey-bound backstory while popping in fun little moments that remind us that this is the very same Doctor and the very same show. Some hints about a new backstory are dropped, too. The references to a war in which the Doctor fought and planets which he was unable save are blatant signposts for the fans shouting “Start speculating here!” Robert Holmes, who created the Autons, had a knack of sketching in intriguing pointers to a wider universe, and Russell T Davies borrows this trick with intriguing and very cool sounding details such as the War and the Shadow Convention.

The actual invasion plot is rather slight, and there are some unexplained gaps in the plot, but part of the point of the story is to show events from the outside. For most people who encounter him, the Doctor is a mysterious figure who appears and disappears amid the confusion of bizarre and dangerous events. But through her curiosity and persistence, Rose manages to make her way into the Doctor’s world.

This sense of looking in from the outside is the point of the character of Clive. I loved the scenes with him. Just look at Russell’s other works like Dark Season and The Second Coming and you’ll see he does this apocalyptic style of dialogue so well, and Mark Benton pulls it off wonderfully. I thought the makers perhaps missed a trick by not craftily foreshadowing some of the later episodes set in the past. I was also half expecting Clive to produce a picture showing Rose accompanying the Doctor, which would have been an interesting complication. I think it also appealed because it was one of the few parts of the story which hadn’t been given away through spoilers or informed speculation, nor lifted from the Autons’ previous outings. It’s also a fun comment on the Internet-savvy age of the Fan. 

Speaking of fun, one of the best things about the show is the delicious sense of humour. I’d seen the clip from the wonderful wheelie-bin scene on Blue Peter on Monday. It had me in stitches then, and it was probably the single thing that most convinced me that the new series was going to be fun. It’s even better in the context of the story, being both hilariously funny and creepily disturbing. It’s not popular with those who think Doctor Who should be dark and serious and adult, but can you really imagine a show like that gripping the hearts and imaginations of children and adults up and down the country? I can’t, but the show as it is seems perfectly pitched to do just that.

Much of the magic lies in the two leads, the Doctor and Rose Tyler. Any concerns I might have had about Billie Piper just disappeared away as if they’d never existed, and I was too caught up in the story to be distracted by thoughts of her past career as a pop star. And as for the Doctor: Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor is energetic, funny, eccentric and scary, rather like the show itself. Russell T Davies’ interesting drama The Second Coming now seems like a dress rehearsal for the new series of Doctor Who, since it shares both writer, lead actor and composer. But although Eccleston’s turn as the Son of God had its light-hearted moments, as the Doctor he brings both the manic intensity and a much greater levity to the role. The structure of the story is more like a romance than anything else, and by the end I was desperately rooting for the Doctor and Rose to “get together” by her joining him on his journeys through time and space!

The TARDIS set is beautiful and impressive, and when Rose came in and the camera swung up and round to reveal it all to us, I wished I had a bigger television. It felt like watching cinematic spectacle on the small screen. The organic feel gives the impression of some alien force or creature with the merest crumbling veneer of technology. I’m not sure I like the way it enters directly into the control room - it makes the inside seem more exposed, more vulnerable. That’s probably a good thing, but it takes some getting used to.

Some people have slated the special effects, but if you want super-impressive (and super-expensive) effects, then Doctor Who is probably not the best place to look. They were just the job to tell the story, and didn’t need to be photorealistic to do this. They were of a good enough level not to detract at all, and to try and make them match the movies or American productions wouldn’t really have made the episode any better. It would simply have been a way for the BBC to shout “Look how much money we’re spending!” If people are put off because the show isn’t flaunting a big budget in this way, then I don’t think they’re much of a loss to fandom. Another prime target for criticism is the incidental music. I thought it was pretty good, myself, though for the most time I didn’t particularly notice it, which seems to me to be a good indicator of being unintrusive. 

The Autons themselves were suitably scary. I didn’t hide behind the sofa - it’s right back against the wall, and though my family discussed moving it forward to give us room, we didn’t get round to it. But I was hiding myself in my jumper as they began their attack, peeping out from between my fingers!

All my family watched the new show, and all of them enjoyed it. This includes my Dad, who doesn’t really like science fiction or fantasy type stuff, and my younger sisters aged 14 and 17. My younger sister usually considers herself too cool for things like Doctor Who. Her boyfriend loved it, so she’s now having to face the horrifying prospect that he might become a Doctor Who fan! The buzz from those I’ve talked to, in real life and over the Internet in various places, is one of genuine enjoyment and excitement. As the credits rolled, I grinned a big happy grin, knowing that up and down the country, a whole new generation had been enjoying Doctor Who for the first time.

Rose wasn’t the greatest piece of television in the world, which may disappoint some overexcited fans, but will probably please those doom-mongers who have convinced themselves the new series can never match the old. But it was one of the most exciting, energetic, confident and just plain enjoyable programmes on TV, and has all the humour, excitement and thrills for all the family to enjoy it. There’s nothing else like it on television, and it’s great to have Doctor Who back

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So, after so long, so many novellos, audio adventures and hiatus, the Eight Doctor whose first adventure involved a motorcycle chase through San Fransisco and shouting in a cupboard for 30 minutes has arrived in modern day London with a very different appearance and a very different dynamic ethos. Welcome to Doctor Number 9, Christopher Eccleston. 

Of course, with all the older episodes and nostalgic look backs during the lead-up, it is inevitable that comparing "Ghost Light" and "City of Death" and "Dragonfire" with "Rose" is like comparing apples with pears. This is glossy and modern, with the investment and computer technology that all previous Doctors so desparately needed. "Rose" is just as much a Doctor Who experience as any previous serial, but this looked and behaved as any 40 minute drama serial would; short, sharp and sexy. A new era indeed. And when this episode was over, apart from feeling giddy and exhausted, the feeling was of relief that finally Doctor Who has all the right elements together to make a new series work. 

Christopher Eccleston is perfectly cast, and acts fantastically, as the Ninth regeneration. Almost everything he did seemed right on the nail, with perfect interaction with Rose and flawless behaviour within the well realised story. There will be countless reviews which suggest that Eccleston has elements of each and every Doctor before him; they are right. You can sense all from Hartnell to McGann in the eccentricities, humour and stature. The "regeneration mirror shot" - such a small little tradition - was done with great humour. 

Billie Piper is the natural sucessor to Sophie Aldred; Ace is now Rose and there are so many possibilities for Rose's character it is a certain bet that novello writers are already penning idea for her. She was able to put across the stunned bemusement and attracted curiousness in good measure, and distanced herself from the "scream and gleam" companions along whom she strides as a confident and classy young woman. 

As those who saw the TV Movie will testifty, narrative is all. Good actors can try all they can but a narrative has to be a sound structure. The return of the Autons and the conclusion was breathlessly rapid; perhaps a little too short and sweet. The "anti-plastic" solution seemed to be introduced and executed quickly with an element of "fake tension" between cutting shots that didn't quite have the desired effect. As an introduction to the two main characters, the story did work well. Rose was very quickly in a situation she could not control, the Doctor was very quickly introduced and importantly did not automatically sweep the shop assistant of her feet and into the TARDIS. With time to develop, the relationship seems more real and the script really helped here. How many times are we going to see quoted "Nice to meet you Rose, now run for your life!". 

Maybe die-hard 'Whovians' are going to groan at the idea of a glossy, CGI-aided version of Doctor Who. But with all the possibilities that the new era holds, this new series could be the start of a relationship taking the concept well into the 21st Century. Paul McGann's Doctor could have been everything and more Christopher Eccleston is promising; let us take the journey with him and find out.

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It was somehow appropriate that Rose was transmitted over the Easter weekend. Because of this timing I am staying at my parents house and therefore watched the first new Doctor Who series in over 15 years in the same location where I watched the old series for a decade, in my parents’ living room on a large Grundig telly. 

What of the episode itself? My first feeling was pretty much “my goodness, it is really here and now”. The first impression was that RTD’s Doctor Who isn’t quite like “classic” Who. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the old series would not quite work on today’s audiences and even the biggest fan has to accept that. There were certainly scenes that were very much like traditional Doctor Who, and if the scene in Rose’s home felt out of place most of the rest seemed to fit.

Plot wise the only real problem I have is with the lack of explanation for “anti-plastic”. The Doctor produces it without telling us how he came by it or how it works, even some Baker or Pertwee technobabble would have been better than nothing. Otherwise, given that the story had to fit into 45 minutes the plot and script are pretty good. What we missed was any real build-up of tension, I would prefer to see more two parters in the future. It also appeared that the Doctor knew the problem and how to solve it before he arrived, something missing was the way in which he used to use logic to solve problems. But perhaps, with character introductions done with, we shall see some of that in later stories.

And what of the characters? Having seen some of Eccleston’s film work I thought him potentially a very good Doctor. He still seems to be settling into the role but shows bags of promise. I can imagine by the third or fourth episode he’ll have made the role his own even though there are echoes of his former incarnations in some of the phrases he uses and in his mood swings. One could identify Hartnell, Baker and Pertwee in there with a touch of Davison. Not bad at all! And Bille Piper’s Rose was better than I could have hoped. We have her in the role of cipher, a young woman who is there to ask the Doctor questions we are itching to ask. But we also have a bored, bright girl who yearns for excitement and seems to relish danger, and who has the common sense and strength to be able to get the Doctor out of scrapes when necessary.

Special effects were generally of a high standard, be they CGI or the Auton’s plastic heads and arms. I like the TARDIS interior (not sure about coral growing out of water though) but am lukewarm about the console. Incidental music seemed intrusive at times but I have to remind myself that this is early days. Small problems such as the music can always be addressed in future episodes and series – assuming we get another series next year!

I enjoyed “Rose”, though it has minor faults as a slice of Doctor Who it does succeed as modern family drama and did feel like Doctor Who at times. What of the people I watched with? Well as tradition demanded my mother gave up after five minutes announcing “this is crap” and went to wash the dishes. Bear in mind that she feels anything not a soap or game show is crap. My father (a fan since Hartnell) really enjoyed it and felt it to be some of the best television he’s seen in years as well as genuine Doctor Who. My Wife, who is American and who saw some 4th and 5th Doctor stories on PBS as a child, put down her crossword about 10 minutes in and seemed to enjoy the episode though she feels it doesn’t feel quite like the old series. She’s right, but I feel if she was excited enough to watch then hopefully so will other people who are not die-hard fans.

Over all a good start but perhaps not destined to be an all time favourite. The twin purposes of this episode were surely to keep old fans happy while introducing the whole concept of Doctor Who to a new audience who haven’t seen much of it. In my opinion it has achieved these aims and promises to be a springboard to exciting adventures. Will the viewing public agree? Only time will tell…

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Rose always had an impossible task - introducing the whole concept of Doctor Who to a new audience, introducing a new Doctor and a new companion, and establishing a relationship between them, as well as telling an exciting adventure to hook that whole new audience.

On the establishing side of things, I think 'Rose' did a very good job. Both Rose and the Doctor are very likeable and very easy to empathise with, and their relationship is set up with the minimum amount of fuss, and develops well through the forty-five minutes. Both characters are given moments to demonstrate their characters (I love the moment when the Doctor rejects Mrs Tyler's clumsy advances) and they are well acted too.

The series' concept is effortlessly painted in. No Gallifrey, no regeneration (though it is alluded to), no pointless continuity references (strangely not even to the Autons, which was refreshing) and none of the unnecessary baggage that so hamptered the TV Movie.

The exciting story part is where the episode suffers, I think. Setting up the above points so well means there's precious little time for a plot, and the whole thing seemed rushed and lacking in genuine danger and excitement. There are no plot twists, and the whole story feels rather shallow and one-dimensional. That the Doctor has a phial of anti-plastic would be fine if it didn't work or he didn't get a chance to use it, but for him to produce this gimmick and then use that gimmick to resolve the plot is frankly poor story-telling.

The element of danger and atmosphere was undercut throughout, first by Graham Norton feeding in from BBC3 (!), then by scenes being played for (I assume) comedy - the arm, the burping wheelie bin, the plasticised Mickey (couldn't Rose tell the difference?!), and the plasticised Mickey losing his head and growing big comedy hammers (which reminded me of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit', though it was curiously less disturbing than similar moments in this film).

I hope this doesn't matter. I hope the audience will fall in love with the concept and the characters and the relationship between them. I hope with all the exposition out of the way, the series can settle down now to tell real stories filled with real danger, real atmosphere and real excitement.

I liked Rose. Despite its vacuity and slender, brainless plotting, I liked it a lot. The rest of the series should be better, though. Roll on episode 2...

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

‘Rose’ and its introduction of a very new style of Who seems to me to have overdone the modernisation of the programme, seeming like a disturbing parallel to the Blairite transformation of Labour: slick, soundbite-ish and full of spin (i.e. the trailers and RTD’s almost Stalinist grip on the series’ protocol and commercial representation). But I suppose, like New Labour, New Who still inevitably retains at least some vague traces of its Old ideology: chiefly a central character who – give or take a bit of pugilism here and a bit of unsubstantiated gadgetry there – still stands for brain over brawn. But in this first episode, this wasn’t enough. Eccleston presented us with a – fresh or blustery – break with past interpretations of the role with his ordinariness of appearance and very contemporary, Joe average vernacular. Yes, he displayed welcome eccentricity and Troughtonesque impishness, especially regarding his waving “Hello” when Rose repeated his name to him as they walked down a street. Eccleston retains some of the alienness of Tom Baker too. However, whilst an essentially working-class style Doctor with a pronounced – nay, even exaggerated – Northern accent is arguably a belated evolution of the character from his more middle-class, dilettante past selves, it is at least ostensibly nothing new: McCoy, the last substantial TV Doctor, pioneered this with his blatant, consonant-trammelling Scottish accent. I say ostensibly as McCoy did not in turn play on this as some sort of subtle inverted-snobbishness when up against aliens with received pronunciation: his occasional stumbling on lines was more to do with his own peculiar style of speech which was arguably a slight impediment. Eccleston’s Doctor seems to revel in his regional accent to such an extent that his articulation sounds sometimes a little lazy and self-consciously t-dropping which to me seems pointless and – whether we woolly-headed liberals like it or not – almost implausible, especially for a Gallifreyan (and I used to suspend disbelief with Drax’s cockney accent in Armageddon Factor). We can only assume the ninth Doctor has spent much time up north before coming to London – although he has also apparently recently regenerated (“well, could have been worse”; “look at the ears” etc.), quite muddling considering the revelations of his web-tracer that he has appeared in photographs from various times and places in the past and future in this incarnation!). His retort to Rose that “most planets have a north” in no way explains his blatant regional accent does it? Are we to assume that Northerners on Gallifrey, by some strange quirk of parallel linguistic evolution, developed Salford accents? To me this is just whimsical and sloppy scripting. The need for his accent to be picked up on in the narrative invites these sorts of criticisms when no believable explanation is forthcoming – again it seems simply symptomatic of the terrestrialisation of the show, which is needless.

As for the Doctor’s ‘look’. Whilst the toning down of previously embarrassing costumes (Colin Baker’s in particular; hideously self-parodying question mark accoutrements etc.) into a battered black leather jacket is welcome, the low-cut v-neck t-shirt is a big mistake in my opinion: it just puts too much emphasis on Eccleston’s neck and doesn’t look right, especially when coupled with his ludicrously short crew cut – frankly he looks like a Navvy on a night out. Toning the Doctor’s clothes down was good, refusing to keep him in a ‘costume’ JNT-style was also good (as although each Doctor prior JNT had a look, they did frequently change clothes while retaining the look – Pertwee wore variously different coloured smoking jackets etc. – and this really detracted from the believability of the JNT Doctors). But a v-neck t-shirt!? That was quite simply slack and absurdly ‘casual’ of the costume designer – why not a jumper or a shirt?

For me the strongest element of ‘Rose’ was the internet character and his photographic revelations about the Doctor which could – and should – have been further developed throughout the series. Instead he is killed off by a Top Shop manikin masquerading as an Auton. The incidental music makes Keff McCullouch’s almost bearable by comparison. In true Doctor Who tradition – and in spite, this time, of sufficient money and technology to do it justice – the Nestene Consciousness was, for the third time in the series, insubstantially and unimpressively manifest! Other than the admittedly topical and polemical line from the Doctor about the Nestene liking the planet for its pollutants, no other explanation was given for the Auton’s third invasion. Whatever explanation might have been given was conveniently disguised in indecipherable alien gurgles which the Doctor chose not to translate for us (obviously he had yet to install the TARDIS’s new translating mechanism revealed in the next episode) and we were meant to piece together some sort of background story from his very worrying mention of ‘the war’ which he ‘fought in’. This climax was extremely disappointing and frankly unforgivable for a series famed for its tying up of loose ends in each story (bar one or two McCoy Sapphire and Steel-esque outings). In fact, ‘Rose’ has no story whatsoever and is largely like a 45 minute trailer. Where RTD does succeed is in the dialogue between Doctor and companion, which is, on the whole, pretty good. But characters cannot totally replace storyline. Even Unearthly Child managed to weave a story together, in the first ever episode alone!

Other criticisms: the inexcusable whimsy of the burping dustbin which would have inspired death threats in the JN-T days – this scene makes the sight of an old lady’s slipper peeping out from a Cleaner in Paradise Towers comparatively tame. Similarly pantomime-esque was the Doctor’s frantic struggle with the Auton arm while Rose blithely boiled the kettle in the foreground. His comment on a couple not lasting due to one being gay and one an alien while leafing through HEAT magazine was again needlessly contemporaneous and not even funny. Satire is good and welcome in the new series, polemic and political/social comment, but I hope cultural comment will not only be limited to the philistine popular sham whose protagonists try to convince themselves is ‘culture’, and which most people likely to watch Doctor Who desperately wish to switch off from. Isn’t that the point of escapism?

There seems to be a popular unanimity as to the near untouchable writing credentials of RTD. With exception to parts of the equally overly contemporaneous and highly camp Casanova, I can only ask, why? Not only was The Second Coming a very obvious sort of idea, it was, I felt, implausibly realised and actually very boring. Much as I was – and still am – an admirer of Eccleston’s outstanding acting talents (particularly in Jude and Our Friends in the North), I literally could not muster enough interest to finish watching the first episode of this 'acclaimed series', let alone tuning in for the second instalment. In my opinion, it was simply ordinary, when it could have been quite extraordinary given the theme. I have therefore, unlike most fans, been dreading the return of Doctor Who – as well as excitedly anticipating it on a purely superficial basis – and although I feel this Doctor has much potential, I am disappointed as to the weak writing of this first episode, the complete lack of any storyline (arguably for the first time ever in the show’s history) and a dramatically undermining attention to contemporary trendiness which is ultimately pervading and dogging RTD’s other TV output, Casanova. I feel RTD is imposing his own tastes too much and too early on, and that these tastes and stylistic trademarks of his are in essence geared towards two-dimensional, one-off viewing; a sort of gimmicky, ‘let’s not take things too seriously’ approach. Ring any bells from the past?

Another note is that I really think the new Who production team’s Stalinistic closed shop policy (i.e. not allowing any external scripts or ideas to be considered presently) will be the Achilees’ Heel of this reinvented programme: just look at the completely unimaginative episode titles for one – these writers need urgent help with their titles!!!

A few other moans: people keep talking of how unusual it is to have a feisty, independent-minded female assistant – so what was Ace then? The first non-RP Doctor – what about McCoy (and arguably even McGann with his slight Liverpudlian accent)? Later in the series: Daleks who fly! Does no one remember Remembrance? A new, bigger TARDIS set – the McGann one was bigger and far more interestingly designed (for what was admittedly an appalling film). A future story involving blue-faced zombies in dress of different periods emerging from smoke in the Second World War? Just a hint of Curse of Fenric there do you think?

But back to ‘Rose’ and my overall criticism: every single episode ever of Doctor Who before has been worthy of taping and re-watching at least three or four times over the years (even the clangers). I have decided on having watched Rose for a second time on video that it is not made for re-watching like the old stories: it simply doesn’t have enough meat to its threadbare script, there is nothing to get your teeth into or any subtexts to reinvestigate as in past stories (bar the internet man’s scene and the Doctor’s soliloquy about the Earth moving). Rose is still ultimately typical modern TV: superficial with pale flashes of depth here and there but not enough to warrant returning to after a second viewing. This is, sadly, the first Who story I can say this about, and I am not happy about that. I sincerely hope things improve and we finally get a story worthy of the canon.

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Rose represents a very powerful beginning to the new Doctor Who series. There are lots of strong elements present, but I have also some misgivings, which I think, after viewing the second story, The End Of The World, are justified and will perhaps be entrenched within the series.

First, though, the good bits.

The pace of the story works incredibly well for what the serial set out to achieve. Essentially, this is a story introducing the Doctor and Rose, and giving the audience a taste of what the world of Doctor Who involves. In this it succeeds admirably, and so to quibble about a less than detailed subplot involving the Nestene invasion is really irrelevant. I’m actually quite surprised that some aspect of a story was told behind this introduction. It was clever of Russell T. Davies to involve the audience towards the end of the Nestene plot (and choosing a relatively straightforward invasion plan too), and we manage to get some semblance of a story with the impression that it has been going on for some time. For this story the pace worked brilliantly because of its aims, but I feel future episodes that are centred around story-telling rather than characters will suffer from the 43-or-so minute format.

The atmosphere built around the Nestene invasion and the mysteriousness of the Doctor was very effective. The initial sequence of Rose in department store’s basement is chilling; Clive’s elaboration on the Doctor slightly sinister and apocalyptic; and the denouement taking place in the Nestene base as well as the attack by Autons in the department store desperately exciting. That the Autons manage to pose a threat and gun down shoppers without a massive body count or gore being shown is a credit to the director.

The special effects are superb. Never has Doctor Who reached this height – and what a height! They’re so good, I’m not surprised the viewers that know Doctor Who of old don’t go dizzy for a bit wondering if this is still the same show. The Auton design is very realistic and their movements threatening, inhuman and still managing to convey the sense of being alive… yet not quite alive. The CGI rubbish bin has a great liquid quality and the Nestene Consciousness looks far better than the hairy tentacle monster from Spearhead From Space.

The inside of the TARDIS is magnificent in its scale. It has a creepy dark green glow that is perhaps more suited to the Master than the Doctor, and one has to wonder how he can see anything in there! I think the general design of the TARDIS is spot on, but its atmosphere has to be lightened somewhat – the Doctor isn’t a creepy alien who likes to skulk about in the dark and brood. At least, I hope not! The TARDIS, I believe, should have a homely feel, which is well lit and inviting. When Ace calls the TARDIS "home" in Survival, she isn't talking about anything that looks or feels like the new TARDIS design. The telemovie TARDIS, while less alien with the wood panelling and very Welsian, carries a more accurate spirit of what the interior should be like, even if the current design is better.

As for the characters, Rose shines as inspired, both actress and character meld beautifully together and she is really the star of the show. I shan’t go on about how good Billie Piper is as Rose – everyone else is saying that already, and rightly so! Hopefully she will continue as such a strong character throughout the series, and I’m glad she’s coming back for the second series.

Rose’s mother is wonderfully stereotypical and has some great lines about compensation and “skin like an old Bible”. Mickey is fairly lame and hopefully a character we don’t get to see again. Clive is well used for what he is there for. I must say his demise was rather touching, not emotionally, but in the sense that it gave a real presence of threat to the Autons.

Now to the Doctor. I both like and dislike him. This is appropriate for the character of the alien Time Lord, who is not one of us and should not always be seen as someone we can approve of continually, being far more complex than Superman. But unfortunately I think I dislike him for the wrong reasons. There are times when you can’t help but dislike or even loathe Hartnell’s, Colin Baker’s or even McCoy’s Doctor, but usually this is because of your human response to their seemingly inhuman actions: they act selfishly, or see the bigger picture and not the individual, or are dubious in their intentions, making them seem slightly evil. As an alien not part of the human species and foreign to human culture, this is all well and good. Yet this is not why I dislike Eccleston’s Doctor so much. I actually thought the scenes where he apparently forgot or disregarded Mickey because he was focused on the bigger picture were great. His alien aloofness too is depicted well. 

What I’m not liking about Doctor number nine – and from the look of the second story, what we are going to be stuck with – is that he seems to be a manic buffoon who wears broad, inane grins for no apparent reason and both makes and laughs at the lamest of jokes. Most of the attempts at comedy by Eccleston and Davies are misplaced: the slapstick with the Auton arm, the truly appalling “armless” joke (couldn’t they have come up with something both original and witty, like Tom Baker’s, “What a wonderful butler, he’s so violent!”?), the price war joke, etc. There are times when the silliness works: the mucking about with the cards, the Doctor’s child-like zeal at the prospect of danger when he pulls off Auton Mickey’s head, the “fantastic” line, etc. But there are other times when one has to wonder what the director or actor were thinking. It’s okay for the Doctor to crack jokes, laugh and be silly (and silly looking) but these actions should fit a relevant context (such as putting off an enemy) not just be put in here or there to make him look alien. Ultimately it makes him look laughable and ridiculous. (One reviewer rightly pointed out that one problem with Eccleston's approach is his attempting to show all the lust for life the Doctor has but doing so by shoving it down your throat even second.)

This Doctor’s total disgust with humanity is also very strange (he disparages humans three or four times in the episode). This may be only a trait he retains for this first episode, just to show that he isn’t “one of us”. Let’s hope so. I don’t mind a Doctor who occasionally puts humans in their place, but to constantly denigrate the species, well… one wonders why some with that attitude even bothers to help anyone. His thanks to Rose at the end of the story seems to suggest that his dislike for humanity is only temporary. (Indeed in The End Of The World, the Doctor only makes one jibe against human beings.)

I don’t have any problems with the Doctor’s northern accent. The colloquialisms and slang are fine, but a bit overused (too much “ya” instead of “yes”, etc.) and instead of being a medium through which the richness and beauty of the English language is explored (something a great writer like Robert Holmes handled only too well), Doctor Who now seems to be on the same level of pedestrian and unartistic dialogue that most shows on telly inhabit today. The sign of a lazy writer, Mr Davies. Perhaps most people won’t have a problem with this point; it’s probably the English teacher in me that is annoyed by it. Yet there is another issue that is more of a problem. The Doctor now has a northern accent because the actor playing him is from Manchester. Fine. But highlighting this difference in the story was a huge mistake. Invariably what the Doctor sounds like, as well as what he looks like, is going to be different all the time because of the different actors playing the role. There should be little differentiation, however, between the character based on the attributes of the actor. When you write the role of the Doctor you write it based on the character of the Doctor, not if the actor has a northern accent, is short, has gingivitis, etc. No character ever asked the Seventh Doctor why he sounded slightly Scots. In the telemovie the mistake was made:

Grace [trying to excuse the Doctor’s eccentric behaviour to the policeman]: “He’s British.”

Doctor: “Yes, I suppose I am.”

What crap. He only sounds British because he is being played by a British actor and for an American audience, which should be irrelevant. That is the universality of Doctor Who, that anyone can play the character. Similarly, if the Doctor regenerates into a woman, the fact shouldn’t be emphasised. That the new series made the same mistake when Rose asked the Doctor why he sounded like he came from the north suggests they haven’t really got a grip on things. Either that, or it was another attempt to score a cheap, lame joke. At least the “lots of planets have a north” was funny. (I’m getting the impression that this Doctor Who series is going to delight in cheap jokes – as Rose tells the Doctor in the second story when he says something - I think it was a joke! - about the “Deep South”.)

In fact, Russell T. Davies seems to introduce a lot of lewd or sexual dialogue into his stories. Rose has more than it’s fair share: Mickey’s “any excuse to get you into the bedroom”, Rose’s mother trying to pick up the Doctor, the Doctor’s “his gay and she’s an alien”, the mention of breast implants, etc. While the world we live in is obviously sex obsessed to the point of ludicrousness, the world of Doctor Who should be relatively free from such tripe. I call it tripe because it is used cheaply, as either a poor joke or an attempt to seem “contemporary” and “relevant”. Some sexual jokes can work really well but only if they are in character and not forced. Thinking ahead to The End Of The World, it seems this trend continues however.

Regardless of these criticisms, Eccleston’s approach to the Doctor is fresh and full of energy. His intensity and sudden changes of expression from hardness to softness (for example, during the wonderful “world revolving” speech) add a lot to the character. The way the Doctor is introduced is perfect and the mystery as to his identity is kept up throughout the story. The Ninth Doctor’s ability for quick thinking is superb and while this might leave the audience in the dark for some time – since he doesn’t seem to explain anything he does, for example, what the sonic screwdriver is (which he uses way too much for my liking) – it adds tremendously to the intelligence of the character. It’s a real shame that Eccleston won’t be around for much longer as the Doctor because his character has real potential to be one of the best.

Apart from some misgivings to do with the Doctor’s character, dialogue and length of the episode, Rose begins the new series in style. It is atmospheric, exciting and effective in its intentions. Welcome back Doctor Who! 7.5/10

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As a longtime viewer who’s been involved with organized DW fandom since 1976, I have to admit to being a bit disappointed. I recognize that the show needs to appeal to contemporary audiences, that times have moved on, and that the 45 minute format necessitates different story structure to the old episodic one. Within these confines the show was acceptable. But it could have been so much better.

The main problem is it was too broadly comedic – it didn’t take itself seriously enough. Doctor Who has always had some comedy element, which peaked really with Tom Baker around season 17 (and went too far) – but at its heart it should be a drama. A lighthearted drama perhaps, but a drama nonetheless. The scene of the Doctor grappling with the Auton arm in Rose’s apartment was obviously played for comedy. So was the belching trash container. So was the Autonised Mickey. And there was too much of it. The show needs to take itself more seriously.

The script itself was also something of a letdown. Admittedly the first episode had a lot to achieve: reintroduce the Doctor, introduce Rose AND have a self contained “defeat the monster” plot. But it didn’t really succeed as it should have. It was fast-paced, but at the expense of character development. Russell T Davies has been emphasizing in interviews for the past 12 months how important it is for the new series to focus on character: so where was this focus? Despite the episode being titled ‘Rose’, we learnt virtually nothing about Rose’s character. We know she has a boyfriend and lives with her mum in a flat, we know she didn’t do well at school and once won a gymnastics medal. That’s it. That’s not character development. In contrast, the 45-minute Smallville pilot told us a helluva lot more about its regulars (and there are more of them!) while STILL telling a story.

The sequence with the internet geek who had a website on the Doctor could easily have been dropped from the story entirely with no consequence to the plot. It was a waste of space and seemed designed as an injoke, the geek a thinly (sic) disguised Ian Levine. The sole point seemed to set up the mystery of the Doctor, but this could have been far better achieved in a scene between the Doctor himself and Rose, preferably in the TARDIS – which didn’t get nearly enough attention. In contrast, the 1996 TVM with Paul McGann did much better at establishing the other worldliness of the TARDIS (by giving it more screentime). The whole internet geek thing seemed an excuse to introduce the net as a topical reference – labored.

I would have much preferred a simpler, lower key intro story (without the “foiling a major invasion” business, there simply wasn’t the time to treat this properly), with more emphasis on characterisation – more Doctor/Rose scenes.

On the plus side: the acting was fine. The FX were pretty good (a few were hokey, but that’s inevitable with the budget as is). The Doctor himself was, unfortunately, not quite alien enough. There were two nice bits: when he answered Rose’s question of who he was, and his obvious longing at the end for her to join him on his travels (which hearked back to Pertwee and Baker both of whom exhibited the same quality). But for the most part the Doctor was too damn human. It’s bad enough he is dressed to blend in rather than stand out, but his speech had too many contemporary colloquialisms and contractions – which he wouldn’t know unless he’d spent a lot of time hanging around contemporary London, and that’s out of character for him, he should be off exploring the universe. The Doctor is and always should be “the outsider”, the mystery: there was a hearkening to this at places, but there was not ENOUGH of it. He was too familiar and everyday.

The title sequence was wonderful, the new theme arrangement was wonderful, and I was relieved to see the character credited once again as ‘Doctor Who’ - crediting him as 'the Doctor' is too literalist, it loses both the poetry of the former credit as well as the link between the character and the name of the program! The Doctor he may be, but the credit should be and thankfully once more is ‘Doctor Who’ (? As in yes, it is a question!)

In summary: it was not a bad start, but it could have been better. The writing needs more depth, more characterisation. It doesn’t need to move at this breakneck speed ALL the time. The show can sustain both fast moving sequences AND more considered character-driven scenes, and the latter is what this first episode really lacked, and what it NEEDED. If the program is trying to compete with stuff like SMALLVILLE, it needs to go a long way to do it – cos that show is frankly (and as a committed DW fan I hate to say it) more entertaining.

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For me, 'Rose' has a number of tributes: firstly, to Jon Pertwee (the Autons, two if you count the 'mickey head off' scene! (Worzel Gummidge!). Secondly, to Dead Ringers, with the use of the London Eye as a source of alien activity and thirdly, to the fans (Clive).

However, this dosen't take anything away from the episode. What with Rose's disbelief at both the Autons (although not named as such), and the Doctor's TARDIS (did anyone else notice the Time And Relative DIMENSION In Space?), it all seemed rather believable, with Billie Piper giving a more than adequate performance as Rose. (I still can't forgive her for 'Because We Want To!')

Chris Eccleston proved to be an inspired choice, although I fail to see anything 'fey' about his performance. (By the way, I am writing this after his announcement, and also apologies for the number of brackets in this review.).

The performance of Noel Clarke as Mickey has received mixed reviews, but surely the willing suspension of disbelief must still apply, or there's no point in remaking the programme in the firat place. Mind you, saying that, the belching wheelie bin was a bit too Light Comedy for my tastes!

Well, that's it really, just sit back, have a cup of tea (or coffee), and enjoy Doctor Who on Saturday nights at seven o' clock. Believe me, you won't regret it!

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So it’s finally arrived? Is it any good? Well, it’s certainly not like any other Doctor Who I’ve seen and that’s definitely for the better…

Lets get the Bad points out of the way first, such as they are. The music was a bit poor, leaning towards Keff McCulloch rather than Dudley Simpson. Some of the action was rather too fast and hectic. Some of the effects were superb, others not so and I’m still undecided on the Auton wheely bin, especially the burp!

Good points? The rest of the show basically. 

Initially I was a bit unsure of Christopher Eccleston, with him coming over rather too jokey to begin with. But my fears disappeared as the on-screen rapport with his new companion developed into something special and yet so traditional. He is definitely recognisable as the Doctor and has the right mix of humour, seriousness and mystery.

The revelation was Billie Piper. Never has a companion seemed so assured and real. Vulnerable but not wimpy, Billie’s performance was the focal point of the episode, dealing as it did with discovering the Doctor from her point of view and she nailed it right from the word go! Like the DWM interviewer, I am smitten…

And did you notice when swinging into action to save the Doctor, Rose says she’s got the gymnastics bronze. In shows like Star Trek, she would have to have had won the gold. Fortunately, this is Doctor Who, where even a robot can be told that even though he’s failed, it doesn’t matter because failures one of the basic freedoms. With Rose we can rejoice in a character who seems to know she isn’t perfect but isn’t bothered by it. Just like the Doctor himself. I thought that was a nice touch and perfectly in keeping with one of the series more human ethics; Do your best and don’t worry…

Making Rose the focal point of the episode was pure genius, as new viewers would be just as in the dark about the Doctor as she was, while us old fans could delight in her discovery of the character of the Doctor.

While the actual plot was a bit thin, the script was real, witty and fast. The supporting characters well-drawn, especially Mark Benton as Clive, a role which could have descended into the obvious caricature of a nerdy Doctor Who fan.

The reaction to the new series has been unbelievable. The series is fast becoming water-cooler TV and everyone but everyone has an opinion on it for me, largely positive as well.

All in all though, an enthralling start to the new series.

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‘Hello, Rose. I’m the Doctor. Now run for your life!’ And so with those words, a new chapter in the Doctor Who canon begins. Almost a decade ago, when the TV movie aired and Paul McGann similarly declared that he was the Doctor, I boasted in a fanzine editorial that Doctor Who was back, bigger, better and bolder. Of course, the TV gods conspired to put Doctor Who back to rest before that somewhat idle boast could ever be validated!

I’m more mature now and less inclined to exaggerate, but after seeing Rose (and also The End of the World), I feel optimistic about the new program and its future beyond this year. It appears that Russell T Davies and the production team were very conscious of the importance of introducing the Doctor, Rose and the TARDIS in the first episode without alienating average television viewers (who after all are critical to the program’s success) and were not prepared to repeat some of the fundamental mistakes of the TV movie.

As much as I adored the drama and stylish direction of the TV movie, not to mention Paul McGann’s performance, it is easy to say in retrospect that perhaps the film's greatest failing was that it commenced with the assumption that the audience was already familiar with the characters of the Doctor, the Master and the TARDIS, not to mention the concept of regeneration and the overall mythos of the Time Lords. Nine years later, it seems the new Doctor Who production team has heeded the lesson. Rose tells the story largely from Rose Tyler’s perspective and it is a great introduction not only to the Doctor, but also a fantastic way of introducing friends or colleagues to the program without overloading their senses with the program's mythos.

Rose nevertheless crams in a lot for a first episode of Doctor Who: a new Doctor, a new companion, a revamped TARDIS and, for the first time since the 1970s, the Nestene Consciousness and the Autons. In someone else’s hands, this could have been a disaster, but by telling the story from Rose Tyler’s perspective, we first and foremost get an entertaining episode of television. Russell T Davies knows when to inject the right moments of quirkiness and humour (for instance, the attack of the disembodied Auton arm!), when to introduce elements of mystery and fascination (Clive’s conspiracy theory that this mythic Doctor has been seen throughout the centuries) and when to project menace and a sense of impending doom (the recreation of that classic Seventies moment when the Autons, disguised as shop window dummies, spring to life).

Although the episode is titled Rose and the bulk of the story and the action is seen from Rose’s eyes, it is also a great introduction to the new Doctor. Christopher Eccleston took absolutely no convincing that he was the Doctor. His contemporary look in production photos (compared to the Doctor’s traditional taste for Edwardian finery) initially threw me some months ago, but that is more than made up for in his performance. He manages to perfectly convey many contradictory features of the Doctor’s character: his sense of mischief (posing as a waiter in the restaurant scene between Rose and the ersatz Mickey), his naivety and innocence (failing to recognise the flirtatious advances of Rose’s mother!) and his timelessness (his speech about how he can feel the Earth’s rotation through the solar system and how insignificant one’s place can almost be to the size of the cosmic forces surrounding them was a gem of a speech). Russell T Davies clearly deserves some credit here for writing such a great part for Eccleston (particularly for the latter speech), but it is Eccleston who brings Davies’ dialogue to life and has us hooked from the moment the Doctor first appears. It is just such a great pity that Eccleston has already decided to move on!

Billie Piper also is a pleasant surprise as Rose. When she was first announced as the companion, I felt the same scepticism that many fans once felt about Bonnie Langford’s casting as Melanie. In Billie’s case, her past as a Britney wannabe seemed all the more ominous. However, to her credit, Billie has defied those expectations. She plays the part with zest and attitude, just what we would expect of a strong-minded 18-year old woman who is a little down on her luck in terms of her career aspirations (and with such an insipid boyfriend to boot!). She is easily identifiable amongst younger viewers and there is no doubt that for even older viewers, she symbolises our own desire to escape the shackles of our menial lives and take a trip around the galaxy in the TARDIS. It helps Billie enormously that Davies wrote her character to be independent and streetwise from the outset, but no amount of good writing can disguise the on-screen chemistry that Billie develops with Christopher Eccleston almost immediately; their banter and exchanges as the Doctor and Rose is delightful to watch.

It is a little difficult to judge the new program’s production values on the viewing of one episode (especially as the events of Rose are set in contemporary times), but the direction of Rose is slick and tightly edited, and the series looks great on film. It has a more natural, organic feel, compared to the combination of film and video sequences which Doctor Who was traditionally renowned for. The visual effects provided by the Mill (both for the title sequence and for the Nestene Consciousness) are so good that you really take them for granted (a good sign really because in a series such as this the effects should be never be so impressive Star Wars-style that they distract the viewer from the intrigue of the storytelling). It will be interesting to see, though, how the Mill realises the program’s demands when the Doctor and Rose travel to other worlds (although we see some promising signs in the subsequent episode The End of the World).

However, if the TARDIS interior is a sign of what we might expect to see of alien environments and possible futures, then again there is good cause for optimism. The design of the console and interior seems to pay homage to all the TARDIS sets that have gone before. Most notably, the design echoes the feel of the grand TARDIS set from the TV movie, but the interior police box double doors are also strongly reminiscent of the double doors used for the TARDIS interior in Peter Cushing’s Doctor Who and the Daleks as well. The metallic walls peppered with the customary TARDIS roundels also remind me of a TARDIS design that Doctor Who Magazine adopted in its comic strip for a time during the Nineties (which perhaps isn’t a surprise either as one of the men behind the concept drawings for the TARDIS interior is Bryan Hitch, an award-winning comic book artist on DC’s The Authority. Perhaps the interior is also a homage to fellow artist Lee Sullivan’s work on the DWM comic strip!).

That’s enough about the bells and whistles ... ‘What about the story?’ (or lack thereof) I hear you ask. I suspect that ‘older’ hardcore Doctor Who fans will pick holes in the storyline and bemoan the series’ new 45-minute, single-episode format (to the traditional 25-minute, four part tales of old). I can foresee some of the older fans accusing the series of being more ‘Doctor Who-lite’ in terms of storytelling and whinging that the latest Auton invasion is so secondary to the plot that they could almost have been any generic monster. Some fans are also likely to ask all sorts of mind-boggling silly questions like ‘Why was the Nestene Consciousness hiding in a sewer under the Thames?’ – in effect attempting to put things into context when it isn’t necessary! It really doesn’t matter. The episode is entertaining enough to hold its own without going into these finer details and as an introductory episode to a brand new series, it shouldn’t be expected to. It’s likely that the storylines will get more sophisticated as Rose, ‘our Earth point of view in space’, becomes more acquainted with the Doctor’s world. What most works about the episode is its quirkiness. Davies works a lot of humour into the drama very successfully (for instance, witness Rose’s reaction when she first enters the TARDIS while escaping the Auton replica of her boyfriend!) but not at the expense of the drama itself.

I also personally don’t think that the series’ new format will limit the potential for innovative stories and broader characterisation (as more cynical fans will attest). The single-episode stories (such as Rose) are more likely to be character-driven tales, while the double-episode stories (such as Aliens of London/World War Three) will be more action-orientated (although Rose also has its fair share of action for one episode, as we see with the opening sequence in the department store!). Indeed, some of the best examples in the runs of other series such as the various Star Trek and Stargate series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Smallville and even Who’s one-time stablemate Blake’s 7 have been character-driven single episode stories. I doubt Doctor Who will be an exception.

Doctor Who is at least back for the time being. Bigger, bolder, better? I’m not prepared to make an audacious statement at this early stage, but I think I have better reason to be optimistic about the good Doctor’s future exploits now than I ever had any reason to when Paul McGann's Doctor briefly graced our TV screens. Let’s hope the average viewer will embrace the new Doctor as warmly as Rose does in the episode and as the fans undoubtedly have.

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Being a casual, rather than devoted, Who fan, I was unperturbed by rumours of a new series, the McGann movie came and went but by March 26 2005 I was excited beyond belief by the prospect of a new series. It’s funny that in 2005 Star Trek dying (regenerating if you're an optimist!) doesn't seem as bad as it should and the most exciting return of a sci fi icon is a 900 year old time traveler, as opposed to a Jedi gone bad. We live in interesting times but did series premier Rose live up to expectations?

The TARDIS, SFX, theme and title sequence were all present and correct, the new TARDIS interior being suitably alien and yet reminiscent of previous incarnations. Chris Eccleston combined grinning maniac with sensitive elder admirably and his Doctor, despite his protestations, was reminiscent of previous incarnations. Billie Piper shut a few people up convincing us of Rose's dichotomy of perplexed and spunky. Mickey on the other hand seemed to need an Atomic Thunderbuster to get him going with enough kid friendly elements in the script acting like this week's Chuckle Brothers guest star is not enough. 

The pace was frenetic and the story was patchy and full of more holes than Mrs. Tyler's knickers drawer, if you were expecting traditional Who that is. However the title of the episode is Rose and from that we must take our cue. This story is not about the Nestene Consciousness, the hinted at war it is simply 'council estate girl meets time traveling alien' in that context plot holes and a lack of exposition fall by the wayside and we can forgive any quibbles. 

The Internet man was a genuine revelation a loving and fun poking way of getting over a load of exposition whilst giving a thumbs up to everyone out there on sites like this. The Autons moving menacingly at the episode's beginning were scary enough and apart from Mickey's transformation from wooden to plastic the individual scenes worked well. The incidental music was a bit Byker but we can't have everything can we? 

Overall this was exciting stuff, welcome back Doctor, I fear for the 45 minute format but with Star Trek, X Files, 24 and a host of others (heck the Simpsons does it in 20!) all managing to produce quality multilayered storytelling in that amount of time (with mini advert cliffhangers) then there is no reason Who can’t do the same.

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Tuning in to the first episode of the BBC’s new Doctor Who series you may have been a little overwhelmed – I know I was. After the opening titles we hurtle from space down onto a CGI representation of Britain; we see a montage of shop girl Rose waking up, getting up, leaving home, working, eating; a speeded-up recording of London life flickers by. Music pumps noisily in the foreground all the while. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as it comes from the pen of the ebullient Russell T Davies, it is hyperactive television – bright, noisy, unfocussed and occasionally slightly incoherent. This is certainly Doctor Who for a new generation of kids: it is absolutely buzzing with e-numbers!

Yes, ‘Rose’, and probably any 1-part episode of 45-50 minutes’ duration, is too short to tell stories of Doctor Who’s traditional scale and length. Nevertheless, it makes sense and holds together as a story very well – but the only way for it to do this is to scrimp on the explanations. How did the Nestene Consciousness get there and get established under London? How did it know to copy Mickey and how did the real one get to its secret lair? How did the mannequins (never once referred to as Autons) get to all those different places – didn’t the Doctor blow them up? And how come they had guns inside, who made them?

Watching ‘Rose’ is a rewarding and fairly enjoyable experience, but very frustrating. Frustrating because it has been spoilered so heavily; frustrating because for every great scene (such as the Doctor’s confrontation with the Consciousness) there is a stupid one (the replica Mickey – and yes, I know it’s all a joke on how shallow his personality is anyway); frustrating because for every laugh-out-loud scene (Rose’s chav mother catching on about half a minute later than the other shoppers that the Autons are slaughtering everyone!) there is a crude and annoying one (such as that dustbin burping – it hasn’t got a digestive tract, for heaven’s sake!) And it is frustrating because actually, it is not the old Doctor Who that we all love, but something tantalisingly close to it.

Basically, ‘Rose’ is ‘alright’. Chris is alright, Billie is okay, the Autons are rather poor, the CGI is rather excellent, the guest cast are pretty good, the TARDIS is fine, the plot and humour are mostly great but sometimes dodgy. The atmosphere is non-existent. There were two bits that I absolutely loved; Mickey trying to look hard in his clapped-out yellow Beetle; and everything featuring Clive, an allegory of you and me (and a surprisingly flattering one when you consider Light and Bellboy!)

The Doctor himself can get rather lost in all this, which is unfortunate. Whether or not the uninitiated would be enthralled and hooked by this portrayal of the Doctor I honestly don’t know, as I can’t step outside myself enough to see. The idea is clearly that he has very recently regenerated, perhaps while in the course of setting his pre-existing plan to defeat the Autons in motion – perhaps the Eighth Doctor had a run-in with the Autonised managerial team of Henrik’s store? This explains his baffling mood swings, which are initially engaging and funny but become disconcerting. He is alternately nice and callous. If we assume that the former characteristic is the remnant of the Eighth Doctor’s personality slipping away (getting a bit fannish with the theorising here), then maybe the callousness is this Doctor’s true underlying persona beginning to coagulate? It can be rather shocking, particularly his lack of care for Rose’s boyfriend on the Embankment. And while the Seventh Doctor was hammily evil in an enjoyable way, even Tom Baker in his worst moods never actually seemed dangerous to his friends. 

Finally, Russell, in the TARDIS’ five-second sojourn towards the episode’s end, has generously and far-sightedly provided us with the first new series ‘gap’ for solo adventures, which the forthcoming novels and audios can exploit forever!!

Seven out of ten.

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I remember watching Doctor Who when I was a little kid. It was years ago, but I still remember hiding under the quilt on the couch watching “Planet of Evil”. The red outlined antimatter creatures scared the crap out of me. Even the opening music scared me. But I’d hold my ground and watch because the stories were really great — some of the most innovative science fiction ever on the television.

Although I wouldn’t classify myself as a hardcore fan, I’ve been watching Doctor Who for a long time. It was one of the original three sci-fi shows that got me hooked on the genre (the others being “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica”). As television shows go, Doctor Who was somewhat ahead of it’s time, with strange stories about robots and aliens at a time when most fans still got their science fiction fix from cheap paperbacks and comics. The Classic Series became a cult hit after a while and ultimately played for a whopping 26 seasons.

Since I was totally into the creepy stories, I didn’t really notice at first the episodes I was watching were already some ten years old and the special effects were. . . well. . . kinda old. Lots of cheesy Chromakey stuff and guys in rubber suits. Pretty typical of British sci-fi and horror from that era I suppose.

Doctor Who had been off the air for around fifteen years and I had fairly low expectations of the new stuff, especially after seeing some of the saucy promotions. I’m not even sure why I formulated that opinion, since Russell T. Davies was responsible for the outstanding series “Queer as Folk”. Guess I figured that he was too much of a contemporary writer for sci-fi. And I must admit, another thing that crossed my mind was: Wow. Billie Piper. Kind of like a British Britney Spears. They must have hired her ‘cause she’s easy on the eyes. Christopher Eccleston got my interest up though — he’s a well known, serious actor. The last thing I saw him in was “28 Days Later…”, where he did outstanding job as the slightly crazy Major West.

Unlike the new Battlestar Galactica, which got to build up it’s season with a mini-series, the new Doctor Who must rely on it’s first episode, “Rose”, to serve as the introduction for the entire new series. In the minds of the audience, it sets the tone for the rest of the series and it will be the episode that hopefully brings in the viewers for more. And if that’s not enough, it has 26 years of previous material to live up to.

While it’s not perfect, I was surprised with just well “Rose” succeeded in introducing the new series. Pilot episodes are usually kind of boring, but “Rose” was actually quite entertaining. The storytelling is contemporary, light and fast, and it does a competent job of presenting the new versions of the main characters. The monsters in this one — it isn’t Doctor Who without monsters — are none other than the Autons, the animated mannequins featured in the classic episode “Spearhead From Space”. This tip of the hat to the classic series amused me greatly.

We have us now a contemporary, modern Doctor Who. Although I don’t have a good frame of reference for it, I never got the impression that previous Doctor Who seasons really cared if they were contemporary or not. This Doctor Who is very preoccupied with being current, from the way it is shot, to the curious, peppy music, to the snappy way that dialog is delivered. This is modern television, and every attempt has been made to make it accessible to new fans, something which will no doubt anger the hardcore ones. The half-hour mulit-part cliffhangers are now replaced with one hour stories (though apparently there will be multi-part ones).

Even though I suspect the producers knew it was going to be widely distributed outside of Britain, every attempt seems to have been made to deliver contemporary, almost trendy, British language and humour. North Americans like me are left to figure out the odd bit of it on our own, and that’s the way it should be. Doctor Who is a British hero, after all.

Unlike previous seasons, this new Doctor Who is a lot lighter in tone and this doesn’t come without a price. Certain technical details are overlooked in favour of this lightness, such as Rose’s inability to notice that her boyfriend is all of a sudden acting funny and looks kind of plastic. About half-way in I was reminded of “Shawn of the Dead”. Adopting this levity is to no doubt soften up the image of the show and appeal to a greater audience. Some of the humour is pretty silly, like the Doctor’s explanation that a deactivated Auton arm is now “armless”, but some of it is downright hysterical. They even fancifully explain Eccleston’s Lancashire accent:

Rose: So if you are an Alien, how come you sound like you come from the North?

Doctor: Lots of planets have a North.

Eccleston plays a more modern Doctor Who in this more modern show. Unlike Doctors before him, the Ninth Doctor has no long scarf, no funny hat, no question marks, and no velvet jacket. He’s got a black leather car-coat, Doc Martens and a buzzcut. In “Rose”, he’s energetic, almost manic. If anything, Eccleston plays it too manic. I’ll only be able to stand him saying, “Fantastic!” once per show. The Doctors before him tended to be whimsical, aloof, stiff upper lip and all that. This Doctor is in your face. He’s a man of ACTION. He doesn’t just walk places, he runs.

In fact, all of the supporting characters are a bit on the wacky side, almost like they were caricatures. On comedic characters like Rose’s useless boyfriend Mickey, or her scatty mum, this works. Mickey annoyed the hell out me, just as the writer had hoped. But for some reason I found that this didn’t translate quite as well to the Doctor himself. I wanted more from Eccleston’s performance, like he was holding back or something. You get little bits of it here or there. His frustrations with humanity’s lack of awareness brim over occasionally. He snaps at Rose: “If I did forgot some kid called Mickey it’s because I’m trying to save the life of every stupid ape blundering about on top of this planet, alright?” He insults humans a lot, actually.

And despite the manicness, every now and again there is an earnesty to Eccleston’s performance. He pleads with the Nestene Consciousness to do the right thing: “That’s not true. I should know, I was there. I fought in the War. I wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t save your world, I couldn’t save any of them!” He’s forcing it out a bit, to be sure, but I’m not cringing, either. There’s some interesting history to this character.

But the real story here is Billie Piper. Her performance as Rose is, frankly, brilliant. I expected so little from the companion character but was given so much more. Of all the characters hers is the most normal, yet the most interesting. She completely nails the twenty-year-old, directionless working girl. Her bored, post-high school look barely conceals a curiosity and intelligence on par with the Doctor’s. The wackiness of the rest of the supporting cast plays well against her straightforward, honest portrayal.

Never once during the show did I not buy into her performance. When called upon, her comedic timing is right on, and her grasp of her character is clearly evident. She even gets to be smug:

Rose: You were useless in there! You’d be dead if it weren’t for me.

Doctor: Yes, I would. Thank you.

Really, Piper steals nearly every scene that she’s in. And, well. . . she is easy on the eyes, too.

So I’m thinking that the hardcore fans aren’t going to be all that impressed because the pace, the tone and the characters deviate somewhat from the classic series. But these are the same folks who filled the forums with jive when they found out that the new Starbuck in the new Battlestar Galactica was going to be a girl. But all of the basic Doctor Who elements are still there: The Doctor is still odd, the companion is still down to earth, the monsters are still weird, and the TARDIS is still bigger on the inside, than it is on the outside. So the rest of us more “casual” fans can relax and enjoy Russell T. Davies’ modern, fast, humorous and thoroughly entertaining take on a classic British science fiction series.

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(Note: Yes, this is my real birth name! No relation to my namesake!)

At last the start of new Doctor Who! The wait is finally over! I loved the opening and closing themes and sequences. They were very similar to the classic series and yet noticeably updated.

For an introductory story Rose is quite good. It introduces the characters and situation at a manic pace and given the time constraints it needs to. Other "first" stories such as An Unearthly Child, Robot, The Twin Dilemma & Time and the Rani were not nearly as entertaining and they had twice the length of time to do so. That being said, I wish the story had been done in two parts because I feel it would have been even better if time had been given to flesh the characters and situation out more. I'm a little unsure if the one episode format is really the best choice but we'll see if the future episodes manage it a little better since they don't have the requirement of introducing the main characters.

The opening is presented in a very music video montage style which is typical of much of today's films and television, and yet it manages to actually convey the necessary information which is something that most films and tv shows fail to do when utilizing this style.

It's nice to see the Autons return along with the Nestene Consciousness. For old fans it was a nice nod and it was also a fine choice of returning foes which needed little back story to get new viewers up to speed.

Christopher Eccleston is a fine Doctor bringing many of the old familiar elements to the character as well as some of his own added quirks. I know some people are bothered by his grinning all the time, but I find it refreshing. It makes him seem more approachable than many of the other Doctors. I found his performance to be excellent.

Billie Piper was quite the pleasant surprise with her acting ability. She is also one of the most attractive companions ever and yet the producers have so far managed to avoid some of the sexism and helplessness attributed to most of the female companions of the past.

Noel Clarke was fine as Mickey and I especially liked his portrayal as an Auton. The only downside is that I could see many U.S. TV stations frowning upon having a minority character portrayed as flawed as he is. It could make it a tough sell over here in the states where we're really sensitive to negative portrayals of minority characters. On the plus side he was in a relationship with Rose which was very progressive for Doctor Who.

I also enjoyed Camille Coduri as Rose's mum. She reminded me of so many mothers I've known that it was an amazing job.

The special effects were great! Not as nice as the TV movie, but so much better than the old TV series! The only scene I didn't feel worked entirely was the trash bin scene. It looked too fake. Also the burp was a little too over the top. It was very humorous, but it felt really out of place with the rest of the atmosphere of the scene.

Most of the humor worked really well. I loved The Doctor wrestling with the Auton arm and many of the one liners. Again the only bit I felt didn't work was the trash bin scene.

The resolution was a bit rushed and the anti-plastic a bit convenient but I'm sure that was do to the new time constraints.

So overall, a fine start and a really nice episode. Really good performances, a nice mixture of humor and drama and the return of classic foes along with old friends. I have confidence that they will be able to smooth out the few rough spots. My main complaint would be the limited time to establish the plot and characters.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Does it work for the 21st century? Will it engage a new audience? Does enough happen? Is it just Hollyoaks with a TARDIS? A lot of accusations have been thrown at the new Dr Who series, a few of them justly so. But do any of them hit the heart?

Viewed as a Doctor Who story, 'Rose' is certainly very odd. The enemy gets barely any introduction, still less explanation, not much screen time and no lines. The plot, as far as this invasion is concerned, is little more than "the Doctor turns up and stops it", which of course is what a lot of people were dreading would happen once stories were cut from four half-hour episodes to a single 45 minuter. However, this isn't quite fair.

'Rose' isn't a Doctor Who story, any more than the first episode of the classic series was. Both are stories of ordinary people becoming inadvertently entwined in a world far outside theirs, and meeting a strange man who they, and we, will soon come to know as the Doctor. 'An Unearthly Child' is a story about two teachers investigating a suspicious student. It's very odd, because after the first episode it suddenly lurches off into a lot of tosh about cavemen, which is when Doctor Who proper starts, but for that first one it's creepy, mysterious, character-driven, explorative, and features no monsters whatsoever.

Similarly, 'Rose' is a story about... well, Rose. She doesn't investigate a suspicious incident so much as become one, but the idea is the same: she falls randomly into the Doctor's world, and we see the story of how it affects her. When she first meets the Doctor, he's practically at the end of what you'd think of as a classic Who story - he knows what the enemy is, how to defeat it, how to find it and what to do when he gets there. That isn't Rose's story; it's just background. Her story, like 'An Unearthly Child', is about someone ordinary colliding with an extraordinary world. It's very odd, because after the first five minutes it suddenly introduces a lot of tosh about shop dummies, which is when Doctor Who proper starts, but it still somehow manages to be mysterious, character-driven and exciting... and has monsters.

There are faults, of course. The incidental music feels a bit Remembrance of the Daleks, very disco military, with no thematic evolution from Working In A Shop to Saving The World. The editing in the climax isn't pacy enough. The humour is a bit strong. Micky can't act. Christopher Eccleston walks funny. But really, who's counting?

The point is, it feels like Dr Who. Overwhelmingly so, and infinitely more than the '96 tv movie, which we can finally all admit to having hated now we've got something else to fill the void. Christopher Eccleston is enormously engaging - friendly, fun, enthusiastic, and (his key character note) tremendously alive. Billie Piper is a revelation, utterly alive and believable as a real-life girl next door. The design work is excellent - even the semi-organic TARDIS, which made me sob when I first saw it because it's going to be such a bastard to build cgi models of, is great - and the sets huge, well shot and evocatively lit. The script by Russell T Davies is, needless to say, faultlessly structured, pulsing with life and astonishingly funny. The direction is rapid, clever, pacy and alive. I've even changed my mind about the coat.

And there's a reason for this. The first thing Russell T wrote for the series was a 15 page document explaining what the show was about. Not regeneration, not police boxes and sonic screwdrivers, but what it's REALLY about. The reason the new TARDIS works is that it's built from ideas up: it's not a home, it's a VW camper van - an old hippy's stolen jalopy, jury-rigged to be operated by a single pilot and repaired on the road with whatever technology was available. The Doctor isn't a an exile, an alien or a player of chess upon a thousand boards: he's a traveller, alone and homeless until he finds someone who can complete him. Rose doesn't join him because she wanders in off the street; she comes because she knows if she says no she'll regret it the rest of her life, and because the Doctor is everything her life isn't. Because he's alive. He doesn't save worlds and rescue aliens because he's a hero, or a pinko communist liberal. He does it because life is short, and every moment precious, whether you're a Time Lord, a shop assistant, a TARDIS or the Moxx of Balhoon.

Russell's final summary of the Doctor's moral code, and Christopher's, is "Live life". I may not have agreed with everything about 'Rose', but that's something I can't help but embrace wholeheartedly. And if the series has a heart as strong as that - two hearts, indeed, for a resurrected Time Lord - then the critics can whinge as much as they like. The Doctor's in safe hands.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

After over 15 years of waiting, Doctor Who returns to our screens in a burst of creative ideas, visual effects, and a firm foundation into the 21st Century.

'Rose' is one of the band of Doctor Who stories that really needs a second viewing in order to really get into it. The initial shock of how different the series relates to the stories of yesteryear takes some getting used to, but upon second viewing, one can really appreciate the programme as a whole.

'Rose' follows Rose Tyler’s journey as she faces walking shop dummies, and a mysterious stranger known as the Doctor, who isn't all that he seems.

The acting of the episode is top notch, but the portrayal of Mickey just doesn't seem to fit in. He represents the clown, and, apart from giving Rose a purpose in helping the Doctor, serves little to the plot.

The humour of the episode is very strongly played, and is digestible with an open mind, but the burping wheelie bin gag is just too OTT in order to be accepted. The plastic Mickey is a good concept, but has clownish faults, which detract from the possible drama of the episode.

The Autons are a welcome return to the series, but the invasion at the climax to the programme suffers from being over-shadowed by its predecessors of Spearhead From Space and Terror of the Autons. However, the sequence does work well, as do the scenes with the Nestene Consciousness, which (albeit possibly intentional) is inaudible, a factor that detracts from the piece yet does abolish the stereotypical Doctor Who ideology that all Aliens appear to speak English (which is further picked up by the next episode) 

In all 'Rose' is a good story, but not a great one, but in all it is fair to lament that it is Doctor Who and it is back.

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My review of this and the next two episodes will be more retrospective than the following episodes as I started reviewing from Aliens of London onwards. These episodes have been reviewed upon rewatching them on DVD. So my comments will be based on my memories of the first time I watched this story and new observations in light of the series to date. I hope you bare with me.

I am a massive fan of the Who theme tune and can listen to it in any form (excluding season 23). I even quite like the McGann movie version. So I was thrilled that the new theme is spot on and could listen to it repeatedly (in fact I have the menu screen of the dvd playing in the background - where is the BBC produced single ?) The time tunnel raphic sequence is enjoyable (if that can be the case for title sequences) and I really like the TARDIS switching between the two tunnels midway.

So, to the episode. The point of Earth view was a good touch to start yet I remember initially suddenly feeling like I was in a program I didn't recognise. Watching the fast cut, speeded up opening shots reminded me first I was watching a Russel T Davies show like Queer as Folk or Casanova, much, much faster than ANY Doctor Who has ever been. But it didn't take me long to settle in.

The opening scenes, again fast paced but actually quite eery and menacing when the Autons first encounter Rose. Then the Doctor uttering probably one of the, if not the most iconic words in his 42 year history "Run". A quick run through some corridors and then a proper introduction before we see the first special effect of the new series, not quite perfect but an idea of what's to come. Terrific start.

After some Eccleston baiting in later reviews, looking back on this episode I found him to be quite entertaining, charming and not as grating as I remember. I do think however his insane grinning was more prolific in other episodes. This episode could end up being the most quotable. I can see all the Ninth Doctor T-shirts emblazened with "FANTASTIC". But a tour de force for this opening show. Billie Piper as Rose hits the ground running right from the start. Again it's become common to praise her performance through the series but it's well deserved praise. Noel Clarke however, is just plain bad in this. But he will improve.

Being an opening episode (aka pilot) there is a lot of information to take in so is pretty much a fast paced episode. It is never drowned with exposition. This is cleverly left to snippets of data throughout the season. Yet all the Doctor Who icons are handled well and often with humour. Particular reference is made to Rose's first encounter with the TARDIS. The Auton invasion unfortunately, although well played is left to be the B plot and I do think they should have a better episode. But the point is to introduce the Doctor and Rose and the new format so this can be forgiven.

It did beg the question would the format be too much for a 45 minute episode but, again after seeing more of the series, 45 minutes will be enough.

I liked the plastic Mickey (as opposed to the wooden one) and the wheelie bin ( but didn't understand why that particular one was activated)

The effects off the nestene was briliant and much better effect than its been credited for. Again a throwaway quick fix but that is the nature of the episode. Best bit of the episode, and the series has got to be the Doctor and Rose in front of the Eye.

One continuity error I noticed, watch the gun-hands on the three Auton "brides". They are already open.

So to recap. A pretty first rate opening episode acted well by all (except one) and enough to whet my appetite for the rest of the season. It's still WHO and it's still FANTASTIC!

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Rose is an OK introduction, suffering from a paper-thin plot and the need to re-introduce a sense of mystery and danger to the character of The Doctor. The special effects were hardly ground-breaking, and suffered a lot in places from being too 'obvious' (e.g. the signal emanating from a famous London landmark). The Nestene Consciousness was better realised than in Spearhead From Space (which could be interpreted as being damned with faint praise), and it was good to see The Doctor at least trying to interact with it rather than destroy it straight away. 

The main problem I feel is that the story blasts on through at 200mph. The forty-five minutes allotted passed in seemingly half that time, with nary a pause for breath. The few character moments we had ("I can feel the Earth turning in Space" and "There's a strange man in my bedroom") were good, but too few and far between. Rose would have benefited from another 15 minutes to give the plot more meat and the characters more room to breath. 

But there is plenty which is good: Eccleston's first outing shows promise, The Doctor being less certain of himself and more distant at times. When Rose chides him for not telling her that Mickey might be OK, we realise that this isn't the Doctor we're used to: not Jon, who would have had consoling words for Jo, nor Peter who would have tried to buck up Tegan with 'Brave Heart.' This is a more alien Doctor, one hurt and de-sensitised by the events of the War he has fought in. Eccleston has put a lot into creating this part, and it shows in his performance. From his first speech (“Run!”), he makes the part his own, in a way no incoming actor has done before. Only Hartnell, the original, showed such confidence and presence as The Doctor from the word go. 

Billie Piper as Rose is a revelation. She can act. Not only that, she can act well, and makes one believe in the part. She is a shop-girl with a nose for trouble, she is a humanising influence on The Doctor, she could be our new best friend. Giving Rose the limelight for the first story was a bold decision, but it worked. For the first time since An Unearthly Child we get to meet The Doctor through the eyes of a real person, one not used to Time Travel and alien invasions. It was a masterstroke, and one we should applaud Russell T Davies for. 

The Auton dummies are reasonably well realised, and we finally get to see them smash out from the windows in which they are displayed. What was missing was the “first part” of the story, showing how the Autons were made (I’m assuming there is a factory somewhere in Kent where the owner has been supplanted by an Auton duplicate) and insinuated into so many shop windows in such a casual fashion.

Indeed, when Rose (we) get into the story, the adventure is half over. The Doctor is in the process of making Henrik’s department store ‘safe’ and has (presumably) dealt with other Auton outposts. There is something unsatisfying in this, a sense that there is more to be told, that we don’t have all the facts. 

Who does have all the facts? Clive doesn’t, but he has a lot of them. He’s the 21st-Century Doctor Who fan, all internet-savvy and anal retentive geeky. Why is he obsessive about The Doctor? We aren’t really told. But he has amassed lots of information and sightings about the Ninth Doctor (without ever really picking up on the trail left by his predecessors) and shows Rose that this is someone special. There are a couple of nice in-jokes there, including his presence at the Kennedy Assassination (22nd November 1963, of course) and more of these are included on the website (unpromoted) which the BBC have set up. It can be accessed via the BBC Doctor Who site, and is a clever piece of fluff to demonstrate how the series has moved into the Computer Age. 

The rest of Rose’s life is well detailed, from her slightly flirty mother to her deadbeat boyfriend. Noel Clarke plays the part well, and it is easy to see why Rose, given the choice of staying with him or travelling with The Doctor, would jump into the TARDIS. It’s a nice touch that Rose is stronger than Mickey, and shows both how capable she is and how much of a foil for The Doctor she will be. 

No review of Rose would be complete without mention of the infamous ‘wheelie-bin’ scene. Suffice to say that, as a tension-breaker for the little ones (who might not have ventured near bins ever again if traumatised by the shot) it worked well. It wasn’t overdone (as the farting was to some extent in Aliens of London), and there could be a plausible reason why the burp occurred (which I’ll leave out in the spoiler-free environment we still have). One scene does not deserve to be held up to ridicule this show, when there were entire stories in the 1980’s with more childish stupidity than in the two seconds of television shown here. Deriding the entire show because of this is truly clutching at straws. 

If this is Doctor Who for the 21st Century, then I like it. It is bold it is witty , it has great special effects and it is able to attract great actors to appear in it. Despite the shortcomings in the plot and structure of Rose, its sheer bravado carries it above much of the lacklustre, by-the numbers episodes of Doctor Who seen in its declining years. 

Overall: bold and beautiful.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

I must admit that my heart was racing as we fast approached a brand new series of 'Doctor Who', all the way through Graham Norton's dire 'Strictly Dance Fever' and even through to the opening credits I was terribly excited! What a fantastic moment when the theme tune kicked in coupled with the lovely visuals of the Tardis in flight. This new slant on the theme tune is very good, but I did prefer the 'TV Movie' version, just because it felt more dramatic and had more louder musical punches through it. 

The opening shot of the moon then the Earth hurtling towards the screen as we entered through the atmosphere was a perfect intial shot. But it did take a while to adjust to this new 21st century version of 'Doctor Who'. We see Rose herself first climbing out of bed, then seing her mum, going to work at 'Henricks', meeting and fooling around with her boyfriend, and then back at 'Henricks' again at closing time in the space of one minute, whilst in the middle of all this, the rest of London is in super-fast mode, and the incidental music feels overdone. Things do start to pick up and yet slow down a bit in pace when Rose goes to the basement, and we see spare shop dummies moving, this feels more like 'Doctor Who' now. 

Although, blink and you would have missed Christopher Eccleston's first appearance and word as the Doctor...I did! His hand pops out from nowhere grabs Rose's hand as the shop dummies draw closer, and says "Run", and then we see them running down a corridor being pursued by the nasties, something very much a running theme within past 'Doctor Who' adventures, so nice to see that legacy continued.

Eccleston does take a while to get used to, certain traits are identifiable as Doctorish, although others such as how he reacts to Rose's mum are certainly very different to the norm, as indeed they must, otherwise it would get laughed off the screen. I did find Noel Clarke's acting as Mickey to be a bit questionable, although when he got swallowed up by the bin I found that to be highly ammusing and visually well achieved even if it did look computerised. Billie Piper though is the star of the opening episode, as Rose she really makes her a very strong believable character, and as the episode is named after her that is rightfully the case.

Doctor Who fan Clive was an interesting feature, but it was a shame to see him written out of the series so soon, as he had the makings of being a good returning character. Although that particular scene was the highlight of the episode seeing the shop dummies come to life in the shopping precinct and wreaking havoc, however, this didn't last too long and was over far to quick in my view. Nice scene at the end though with the Doctor giving Rose the chance to travel with him, and then having a brief preview of next weeks episode tagged on at the end was a nice new feature and very welcoming.

Overall then I would say this was a reasonable start to new 'Doctor Who' , I don't think it could be much else, with so much hype, and so many introductions having to be made in the first episode, it's surprising that there was any sort of coherent story at all. Yes, the plot is fairly straight forward and yes the anti-plastic thingy is very convenient, but you couldn't really have it any other way. After several more viewings the story has grown on me, and it must be noted that rarely has 'Doctor Who' visually looked so impressive. There are a number of classic moments that stand out, inparticular the shop being blown up near the start of the episode, the Doctor's 'Earth spining' monolgue, and as stated the Autons (brief) invasion.

One thing I did greatly miss was the regeneration, I can understand why it clearly wasn't there, as it would have meant being another extra explanation to have been squeezed into the action-packed forty five minutes, and also it would have probably not made any sense to a new audience, and yet so much was introduced to the audience in the first few minutes that I don't think it would have mattered if we had seen the Doctor's distorting and changing face thrown into the mix anyway! I still feel that the Doctor's first introduction to the audience did feel a bit rushed and a bit low-key. Maybe a dramatic regeneration would have been a more startling and visually stunning opening, I think you could even have got round it by not even re-hiring Paul McGann! Russell T Davies is certinly a good and intelligent enough writer that he could have pulled it off and still kept nostalgic fans and new fans happy and none the wiser. Rose stumbling across the Doctor convulsing in mid-regeneration would have been much more of a dramatic and disturbing opening!

Anyhow 'Rose' as it ended up was a fairly good episode, and Eccleston looks like he's going to become a great Doctor, so all in all things look pretty rosy...if you pardon the pun! 7/10

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This is the first time I've felt completely undecided over the critical success of a film / television production. Whilst far from perfect, this opening episode is a quirky romp that reenergizes a previously-waning series. The seemingly relentless 45-minute format is welcome, although this suggests little consideration for character development in the near-future.

Christopher Eccleston provides what may transpire to be the most intense Doctor, although he plays second-fiddle to Billie Piper’s unexpectedly well-acted Rose – who effectively ‘saves the day’. The superficial Auton plot succeeds in introducing the protagonists, although the situations and scenarios are somewhat so-so. Camille Coduri and Noel Clarke’s respective acting leaves much to be desired. Mark Benton’s Clive and the site could be deemed cringe-worthy – was this aspect necessary? Likewise, some of the more self-demeaning moments: Auton Mickey’s ‘double take’ and the Auton wheelie-bin’s belch. 

The opening and closing theme is excellent homage to the Delia Derbyshire/Ron Grainer original, although Murray Gold’s incidental music is all wrong. Additionally, Russell T. Davies’ dialogue requires strengthening, although there are admittedly some chirpy one-liners. Keith Boak’s direction does the job. 

Overall, this entry radiates an underlying ‘getting on with it’ attitude, with which it succeeds, unlike the contrasting Doctor Who (1996) tele-movie – which introduced the new Doctor at about the half-way point. This new Doctor's simplistic and less dandified choice of attire emphasizes this new cutting-to-the-chase approach. The Autons are never referred to by name, suggesting that references to the past will be minimized and used only where necessary – these stories will stand on their own. The new Doctor shows promise, although Billie Piper may well threaten to upstage him [again?]. Bottom-line: he’s back…, and it’s certainly about time! – just take it lightheartedly and not too seriously.

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I’ve been reading some of the reviews here and decided it was time to re-watch the series and offer my take, for what it’s worth. First and foremost, the opening music is electrifying, catching the audience without preamble. This is followed by 2-3 minutes of a day in the life of Rose Tyler. The “desperate soap opera” creates a backdrop to what is otherwise a very ordinary life for a fairly ordinary girl. She has a job, a dip-stick of a boyfriend (if anything can be said by the way he eats a sandwich or dances in the street!) but ultimately she is down to earth and lives like so many other people her age. The fact is brought further to light when Rose is in the basement with the Autons and does not even think there’s anything unearthly going on as mannequins start walking towards her. My only gripe here is that, when she initially thinks she gets locked in the basement, she doesn’t take out her phone to contact help before everyone leaves! Oh, well… bad reception, no doubt!

The Doctor’s arrival is as well-timed as any Time Lord could be. His brief introduction to Rose (“I’m the Doctor… run for your life”) is typical of his age old eccentricity. When next we see him, he is chasing an arm through a cat-flap. Where I take the greatest issues with the episode are here: 1) The Doctor is seen to kneel on the couch to see if Rose has a cat – take careful note fellow Whovians, the couch is against the wall when the Doctor kneels on it: how is there enough of a gap for the arm to come rocketing out? Clearly when the arm comes out, the couch is NOT against the wall; did The Doctor shift the couch in an off-camera moment when he gets up? 2) The Doctor finds a mirror (just before the arm incident) and comments on his ears. This leads us to believe the latest regeneration has happened relatively recently; but according to Clive he has been in that form long enough to get on the Titanic, to visit JFK (an awesome reference to the day that Doctor Who premiered in ‘63), and elsewhere. Now, while in Clive’s past, this could still take place in the Doctor’s future, and unless a book is written, for those who watched the whole of the 2005 season, we know that it doesn’t happen in the televised stories… so this means that the Doctor never got around to looking himself in a mirror since the last regeneration or someone wasn’t paying attention to details. Ho hum…

Incidentally, the pictures Clive had should have been used to reaffirm the series that came before: pictures should have indicated other Doctors (McCoy, McGann, Bakers, etc). That would have been a neat thing for the long time fans and an item of mystery for the newer ones. Moving on…

Jumping forward, who puts an empty garbage bin out on garbage day? But even the dolt who does this, doesn’t think a rubbish bin is more frightening than a daffodil, does he? Back during Terror of the Autons, we had some truly scary notions: frankly, the trash bin was not scary; in fact, courtesy of a “lowest common denominator” moment, the bin becomes a symbol of idiocy. Why did we need a burp? In this day and age, I would think parents would want to discourage such grotesque behavior… It was a ploy to be funny for the kids, no doubt, but it worked against the whole. 

Those moments that best capture the episode, and the show on a whole, are the moment when Rose enters the TARDIS and the dialog that follows: “… are you alien?” coupled with the music. Why they have not released a soundtrack is anyone’s guess, but the music in this moment, and the earlier talk when the Doctor explains who he is (“Now forget me Rose Tyler…”) is just, to coin a phrase, FANTASTIC. Chris maybe inadvertently flashes back to Tom Bakers “What’s the use in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes…” outside the TARDIS thus once again showing the alien-ness of the Doctor. (Don’t get me started on the McGann episode!) His moods are not like our own. His excited, Baker-eqsue “Fantastic” when he finally realizes the wheel is the transmitter… he is a product of his past! The Davison-esque “I’m not here to kill it…” mentality once again gives long time fans a chance to see the other Doctor’s still present in this incarnation. 

Lastly, the departure with Rose at the end has sent a chill through my spine since the first time I’ve watched it. This episode is not perfect. But it does lay the groundwork: it sets the players on the board. It needs polishing in some areas while others could not have been better. Eccleston is fantastic. Even his attire, which I was initially against as it lacks the eccentricity of his former selves, eventually grew on me. Piper is amazing. I love the fact that when she hugs Mickey, she does not look stick thin; she’s REAL! The chemistry between the two rivals that of McCoy and Aldred, Baker and Liz Sladen… it’s amazing! Perhaps 5 stars is a little lofty, but how can you not give it high marks when the last image is of Rose in a slow motion dash for the TARDIS, with a gigantic smile beaming all the way???? 

Welcome back, Doctor!

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I’ve reviewed a couple films and CDs here and there on the internet, but not like I intend to endeavor to do for Dr. Who’s “27th” season. Certainly these episodes are already reviewed more than the “classic” series, but having been such a fan of the classic series, I wanted to show both my enthusiasm in the new series while being mindful and respectful of the old. Also, as I am an American (for shame!) I thought it might benefit or tickle a few people who enjoy reading reviews, as I do. I’ve read a few various reviews, then latched on to Paul Clarke’s reviews, since he seems to be the only chap to have reviewed ALL the episodes, and I like his writing and more or less (but not always) agree with his views.

This self-introduction notwithstanding, I intend to keep my reviews relatively short. I’ll assume someone reading my review isn’t looking for the plot to be revealed, I won’t present my reviews to reveal every moment of the story. Instead, based on the notes I jotted down (something I NEVER did before) while watching the season for the second time, I’ll take a critical approach of the things that bothered me, like incontinuity or lack of logic, and pose them as questions as if perhaps I simply missed something and maybe a viewed (or maker) or the show knows the answer, or else has to say “oops!” I just don’t want to lavish praise on the show and expect that to be a great read.

I’ll get it out of the way now: the new series is wonderful! I applaud Davies for bringing it back, am glad everyone’s heart appears to be in it and am relived it went over well in England (whether it will see the light of day in America is another issue). The stories are (mostly) complex and interesting, the introduction and theme is faithful, the performances are solid, convincing, and more than ever before, highly emotional and believable, and the effects - well, this isn’t your father’s Doctor Who. The show benefits greatly by the new look (production-wise) and, for the first time, not drawing attention to itself through the notoriously bad sets, props, costumes and effects used in the show so often pointed out by non-fans. Of course, we fans have totally suspended our disbelief, care for the characters, and find charm in the cheapness and camp of the show, as we wallow in the pure fantasy and imaginative escapism of the show while chuckling at the tongue-in-cheek wit often on display and the general fun everyone seems to be having on-screen.

Okay okay, so where’s my review of "Rose"? It is coming very soon. Let me wrap up my opening monologue by stating a few things I didn’t find so wonderful: Despite the new effects, one must keep in mind that these effects are within the realm of most studios worldwide with half a budget and a computer, so although they are a huge leap from the show’s past, they are not necessarily the best in the industry or breaking new ground. After all, when we can spot an obvious (albeit “awesome”) CGI animated monster, is that nothing more that a modern-day version of spotting, in their days, obvious (albeit “cool/groovy/smashing/wicked”) puppets, models, costumes or stop-motion clay/animation? The show’s music is the best since the Hinchcliffe era (a composer am I myself) especially after the WORST of the McCoy era, though there are a couple cringy spots of cheesy orchestra hits and, as one put it “jiggy-jiggy” music. The fast cutting and 21st century-savvy awareness is a bit jarring (like the repeated mention or inclusion of gays, now that we are sensitive of them and accepting of them, seems odd given that there have been gays throughout history unmentioned in the show previously, despite the high degree of camp going on then). The character threads throughout the season, especially with Rose’s mother and boyfriend, are a nice touch, but steal screen time on characters the old series would have said goodbye with and moved on. I mention screen time, because aside from the three virtual 2-parters, the show’s format of 45 minutes (as the whole story, not just one of four episodes in a story) really does jeopardize the ability to develop characters (beyond those reappearing throughout the season), plot twists or intrigue, or any of the epic feel generated by some of the old 6+ parters (or, heck, even the 4-parters). I guess this effectively helps eliminate senseless padding and routine captures and recaptures of the old series, and the fast editing, though annoyingly modern, does serve to keep the story moving along in the shorter format.

Okay, so now for “Rose”. Overall, it is in retrospect one of the weakest episodes of the season, but given it is is reintroducing a new companion (Rose Tyler is wonderful and easily one of the best assistants AND actresses of the show on par with Sarah Jane Smith), a new Doctor (the best since Davison, and among the more sensibly dressed, well acted and “usually” charmingly eccentric), an old enemy, and heck, a brand new series. So, in concurrence with other reviews, I forgive the episode those shortcomings. Oh dear - I can go on and on. I SWEAR my other reviews will be shorter. I better get on to my “things to make you go ‘hmm...’”

1. Clive shows Rose only photos of Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor. I was expecting to see the others shown, not only as a nod to the show’s past, but to be logically consistent with continuity. After all, in Rose’s home The Doctor sees his face and reacts to it as his predecessors did after they saw it for the first time because they just regenerated. I find it hard to believe that, as we learn later, presumably just saw his race die along with the Daleks, forcing him to regenerate, that he would immediately spirit off to earth to deal with a minor threat without even taking a look in the mirror! Anyway, if he DID just regenerate, then HOW did he get to appear in those other photos? One could argue that these photos of “the past” are actually in Eccleston’s future (existing in novel form only perhaps), but then why isn’t Rose present in the photos also? It doesn’t make sense. All the earth-encounters the Doctor had that WE know were all different personifications, so why weren’t they represented? Perhaps Clive found them but discounted them thinking they were false leads on other individuals not knowing about regenerations. I shouldn’t have to make this many excuses for the show. I do it with love, in hopes that the producers are more careful in the future.

2. Why does the TARDIS materializing/dematerializing suddenly cause hair to blow? Is there a new unseen exhaust pipe venting off the solar winds of the space-time vortex? I know the interior has changed over the show’s history (remember Tom Baker’s wood panels?) and think the new look is okay, if a bit dirtied up, but suddenly the interior doors are the same as the exterior. Hmm...

3. Why does the Nestene consciousness show preference to mannequins? Is it their utility in being able to “walk” or to help their realization by allowing actors to portray them (they do look great, incidentally, and though not as creepy as in “Spearhead from Space,” they are more realistic as dummies)? They don’t fool humans to be real people. Mention is made of all plastic being susceptible (nod to “Terror of the Autons”) - including breast implants - but we never see this aside from the trash bin. Besides, the true Nestene form is not humanoid. What happened to the Nestene’s true squid-like form? Why is it a “face” in a CGI version of the molten metal Schwartzenegger is lowered into in Terminator 2?

4. What of the spheres that transported the Nestene consciousness to earth? When did it arrive? Is it a leftover from the 1970’s? Who helped “install” it?

5. Why doesn’t the Nestene consciousness (or the Doctor) seem to be aware of the previous two encounters involving attempted earth take-over and subsequent defeat during Pertwee’s tenure?

6. How do the Autons have guns? Originally they were manufactured in special factories, but here they are simply the extant mannequins being controlled telepathically, so the guns don’t make sense. Besides, are all mannequins made with plastic anyway? 

7. The sonic screwdriver reappears since “The Visitation” - any reason except for unexplained nostalgia?

All in all a great show, but I think somebody should (preferably Davies or his script-writers or continuity consultants - if there are any - as were hired for Star Trek TNG) to make the show the BEST it can be. I mean, addressing/fixing/explaining these issues is the EASY part, the hard part (resurrecting and realizing and producing the series) is over. Davies said that this is the SAME Doctor we’ve seen before fighting the Drahvins, etc., so more attention should be paid to continuity.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Before any retrospective of the opening episode of “Series One” of “Doctor Who” can take place, it’s important to realise that, traditionally, the first adventure of ANY new Doctor’s tenure usually leaves a lot to be desired.

For instance, had “An Unearthly Child” not been followed by an iconic serial such as “The Dead Planet”, would the series ever have caught the public’s imagination in the first place? Are there many weaker Pertwee serials than “Spearhead From Space”? How out of place was “Robot” in arguably the best season in the show’s history? Did anyone really understand “Castrovalva” apart from its esteemed writer? And how hard were “The Twin Dilemma” and “Time and the Rani” to love? Also, if this theory holds true, what a big problem for Paul McGann, who needed his first episode to buck that trend to even have a second episode. And, of course, it didn’t . . . although I believe McGann could have been (and still could be) a great Doctor.

So, despite my delight at the end of the nine-year wait for the return of the legend, I did wonder if “Rose” would follow in this rather-inglorious tradition? And you could say it did – but only in comparison with a series which must have exceeded everyone’s expectations. Mr Russell T Davies did “exactly what he said on the tin” – and masterminded a 21st-century “Doctor Who”, sitting comfortably alongside the classic series, while creating a dynamic new era of its own. And perhaps the latter is more significant, which is why it should call itself “Series One” rather than “Season 27”.

And, if “Rose” won’t be many people’s favourite episode from “Series One”, that doesn’t mean it was without appeal. Far from it. There was so much to pack into that 45 minutes to ensure enough viewers were hooked enough to come back the following weeks, there was always a chance it could be accused of being “style over substance”.

However, who wants to dwell on that suggestion when there were so many positives to accentuate? Pre-“Rose”, the “givens” for me would be the quality of Davies’s writing and Mr Christopher Eccleston being a wonderful choice as The Doctor. And those predictions were quickly realised. Davies’s opening story structure – and indeed his treatment for the whole series – was excellent, and his dialogue of the highest order, executed superbly by the cast, headed by Eccleston. At the risk of being ungracious, one expected nothing less from a writer of Davies’s calibre.

Even from the pre-series teaser trailers, Eccleston was, for me, The Doctor. Romantics may – and I’m sure have – suggested that, within “Rose”, he wove elements of all his predecessors into his characterisation, and I’m sure he paid more than a cursory glance to those who came before, but he was more his own man, or Time Lord. He grasped the nettle of what was required in the role from his opening scene and grasped the viewer at the same time as he grasped Rose’s hand and took her away from the pursuing Autons. This was a character worth getting to know, full of dynamism, full of intrigue, full of humour, full of life.

And talking of dynamism, intrigue, humour and life brings me to Rose herself. I have to say I wasn’t too familiar with Ms Billie Piper’s acting work – but she more than lived up to the daunting challenge of playing a character who actually had such an important episode named after her.

I think Davies wrote an amazing part for a young actress, but Piper’s the one who breathed life into Rose, and how impressively she did just that.

I don’t quite hold with the view that The Doctor having an intelligent and “ballsy” companion is a new concept. What was Ace? Peri? Tegan? Leela? Sarah? Hardly shrinking violets – and I think Rose follows in the tradition of good companions rather than being out on her own.

Admittedly, Davies gives her a bigger piece of the action than her predecessors – saving The Doctor and the world in her first episode is quite a starting point (but, as we discover in Episode 13, you ain’t seen nuffin’ yet!) and, even at this early stage, Rose and the Doctor are more of a pair than the teacher/pupil relationships favoured by the past.

But the relationship worked from the off. Love at first sight? Of sorts. We won’t find out, and we shouldn’t find out where it could go. Davies had a great unrequited love story between his two principal characters in “Queer as Folk”, and elements of the depth of Stuart and Vince’s unspoken affections are there in Rose and The Doctor – if you look closely enough! And if you want to.

Having to establish Rose and The Doctor – plus the TARDIS (just one of the many stunning special effects which really marked this show as being from the 21st century) in this opening episode did mean the plot would almost have to take a back seat. This was always the problem of the two-episode (in old money) serials in the past. Pleasant enough, but no-one ever marks them down as classics (there is an exception to this rule and it’s called Episode Six of Series One!).

And, in “Rose”, destroying a creature which controls all things plastic with a phial of anti-plastic does rather confirm the assertion that plot was of secondary importance. It was just a bit too convenient. But understandable. And probably unavoidable. Poor old Nestene Consciousness, I didn’t think it got much of a deal plot-wise in “Spearhead From Space” either!

But minor gripe about the actual story aside (and it did hang together quite well) there’s no doubt “Rose” marked a triumphant return for the series. It was well-written. The lead characters were quickly established as being worthy of the importance attached to them. The back-up characters were also beautifully crafted by writer and actors (I really enjoyed Clive – but you know characters like him have to die!). The effects were stunning throughout, and now I know what the phrase “high production values” means – you splash the cash, and the rewards are there for all to see. And the whole thing crackled along at a breakneck pace, enhanced by the ever-excellent incidental music.

“Rose” did what it had to do – established “Doctor Who” was back, and was back for good. And, as I know now, it was the tasty hors d’oeuvres for the feast to come.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, no? It is so easy to now say that there was never any doubt that Series One of ‘Doctor Who’ would be as successful as many of the previous Seasons. Looking back now after the thirteen Episodes have been and gone, I feel now is the best time to review them; the trouble with going ahead and reviewing them smack bang after transmission is that you are not giving yourself enough time to calm down after the excitement of watching new ‘Who’ on television (it feels so good to be able to type that), but now that Series One has been and gone, it is time to reflect on what was transmitted, and of course the best place to begin is at the beginning. 

‘Rose’. The first story of the new series was wonderful, brilliant and exhilarating back when it was first transmitted, but now, with the remainder of Eccleston’s tenure as The Doctor known to the world, does it still stand up? Thankfully, the answer to this is yes. Perhaps it’s the way that everything seems so innocent throughout, but ‘Rose’ succeeds in making the world of ‘Doctor Who’ every bit as enjoyable as we know it to be. From the frankly terrific opening shot of a camera hurtling towards the planet Earth, only to reach an alarm clock, to the ending with Rose running towards the TARDIS in slow motion, everything here stinks of excitement. For a forty-five minute long piece of television the pace is exhausting, rushing as it does from one scene to another, from one life-threatening scene to yet another one. One of the main successes with ‘Rose’ though is not its pace or its directing- more on that later- but its sheer number of iconic moments. We have (among others) the explosion of a Department Store, a killer Wheelie Bin, Rose entering the TARDIS for the first time, murderous Shop Window dummies and an evil Plastic Mickey. Many ‘Doctor Who’ stories struggle to have one defining moment; ‘Rose’ has several.

So, on to the actual plot: is it any good? Well, yes, again, it is. ‘Rose’ decides to focus upon, well, Rose, rather than The Doctor or the Nestene Consciousness, and it is much better due to this. By following Rose and her reactions to everything that is happening, we are thus introduced to all the elements of ‘Doctor Who’- the TARDIS is bigger in the inside than on the outside; The Doctor is an alien who saves the day, fighting injustice and alien beings up to no good; you can go anywhere in time or space when you join him. We are also given the main points which need to be known concerning Rose- she lives on an Estate; she has a boyfriend named Mickey; she has a Mother, who she still lives with, but there is no sign of a Father; and she has left school with, as we are told directly, no A-Levels. The score as it were is set up for us to take a liking or disliking to.

The main story- aliens invade, and it’s up to The Doctor and Rose to save the world- plays second fiddle to setting up the premise of ‘Doctor Who’, but the very threat is always lurking around the corner, and by directly involving Rose it pulls off its subservient position with aplomb.

Russell T. Davies’ writing here is above and beyond great; from throwaway one-liners, such as the attack of the breast implants, to the death of Clive, everything here gels. In fact, the decision to not show any on screen deaths was a great one. It eases the viewer into the world of The Doctor without being unnecessarily gratuitous about the destruction he leaves in his path; later scenes in Series One that show death on a wider and more horrific scale would have undoubtedly lost much of their impact if such slaughter was witnessed on-screen from the word go. As it stands, the later deaths are shocking due to their visual depiction, and full credit must go to Davies for being daring enough to attempt this.

The directing by Keith Boak is very impressive; from the chaotic swinging to and fro in moments of confusion (the explosion of Hendrick’s being a prime example of this) to the shot of The Doctor and Rose simply walking forward and talking to one another, Boak has given ‘Rose’ a certain visual flair which compliments the excitement of the actual story.

The incidental music by Murray Gold has come under a lot of criticism but again I must say that I felt it complimented the visuals perfectly- it was nippy, exciting and fast, just as everything else was.

Visually, the story was great too, really making a good impression for ‘Doctor Who’ in terms of putting a stamp on its overall look for the New Series. The dark is moody and sinister, the light is bright and friendly; everything is as it should be.

The acting throughout ‘Rose’ is superb, with only Noel Clarke’s turn as Mickey leaving a bit of a sour taste in the mouth. That is not to say that he is bad, on the contrary he is not, but her appears to be somewhat finding his feet throughout and does not give as good a performance as that which he turns in during later Episodes. Mark Benton as Clive is simply incredible, and the shock and sorrow felt when he is killed is a tribute to both his acting and Davies’ writing. Camille Coduri as Rose’s Mum also impresses, and her failed seduction of The Doctor provides ‘Rose’ with its biggest and best laugh out loud moment.

Christopher Eccleston instantly shines as The Doctor, and his on-screen chemistry with Billie Piper- who plays Rose was such ease that it is impossible to imagine anyone else doing so- is a thrill to watch. More so here than in any other Episode in Series One, Eccleston appears to be like the eccentric, fun-loving and adventurous Time Lord from the past; whilst I immensely enjoyed his turn as The Doctor, he was less eccentric than pervious incarnations have been, harkening back more to William Hartnell than anyone else, but here, for one night only, he played it odd, quirky and a bit unsettling.

So, what are the flaws then? Well, I suppose the never-named Autons could have been given more screen presence- certainly, their threat is never seen to be too huge as they start invading only minutes before ‘Rose’ is due to conclude. Also, the capture of The Doctor by two Autons whilst the invasion is going on is arguably a little too long, and it makes The Doctor look less heroic and more useless, but this is meant to be the case as ‘Rose’ has to prove that not only is The Doctor vulnerable, but that Rose herself is a worthy companion for his travels. For me though, the biggest flaw of all is the truly awful continuity error with the Killer Brides and there hands- first we see three brides; then one hand open, then three, then two… hang on a moment, who can’t count? Seriously, it’s a small moment but one which, once noticed, forever grates.

Overall though, ‘Rose’ is superb as an introduction to Series One and the whole format of ‘Doctor Who’, and it also succeeds in being a great story in its own right. Things here seem innocent- people die, but you do not see it, but not for too long; there are threats abound but they may not be real, but not for too long; The Doctor is relatively happy, with only the passing reference to a War threatening to show us otherwise, but not for too long. On March 26th, the theme tune and title sequence to ‘Doctor Who’ blasted out of my widescreen television and I shed a tear or two; looking back now, I know they were worth shedding.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Ten years after ‘Doctor Who’ disappointed legions of fans, Doctor Who finally returned to our screens in a blaze of publicity that is almost unnerving. With Queer as Folk writer and Doctor Who fan Russell T. Davies at the helm, I was hugely optimistic about the new series for the eighteen month period between the announcement of the series return and the broadcast of the first episode, especially having read Davies’ New Adventure ‘Damaged Goods’. Nevertheless, I found myself wracked with doubt and worry about viewing figures, press reaction, public opinion, whether or not there would be a second series, whether or not the associated merchandise would be any good, what impact the series would have on the regular range of Doctor Who novels, and perhaps most importantly, whether or not it would be shite. My excitement built once more when casting news was revealed, clips started getting aired on television and I started to see photographs of amusing blue monsters with bitch tits, but ultimately it wasn’t until I sat down and watched ‘Rose’, the first episode of the new series that I was finally able to decide what I thought about the new series.

‘Rose’ is visually one of the most striking episodes of Doctor Who I have ever seen. This is largely due to director Keith Boak, who provides a narrative pace many times faster than any previous Doctor Whoepisode, a stark reminder that the series hasn’t been made by the BBC for sixteen years and that television is not what it used to be. A lot of character interaction happens during forty-five minutes, and there are numerous fast cuts between scenes, as well as various showy camera shots. The opening shot of a star field before the camera zooms in on Earth and then rushes down into London grabs the attention immediately, by dint of being rather dizzying, especially when the image on the screen comes to rest on Rose’s bedside clock. This is followed by speeded-up footage of London during the evening rush hour, none of which is new to television, but all of which is new to Doctor Who. Mercifully however, Boak has enough restraint that the episode doesn’t suffer unduly from the bane of modern television drama, very short scenes. The scene in which Rose follows the Doctor out of her house and pesters him for answers sees the pair walking towards a retreating camera, but the scene is a complete piece of work, with the pair talking throughout and no sudden cuts to other characters in different situations. We get this later of course, but the focus of the story is on the fledgling relationship between the pair and everything else remains secondary, and the direction reflects this. Also worthy of note is the early scene in which Rose finds herself surrounded by Autons in the basement, which manages to be compellingly creepy. Incidentally, it is rather ironic that given the budget spent upon the series, the Autons lookexactly like modern shop manikins and thus less alien and somehow cheaper than they used to. In time honored tradition, the episode also benefits from some nice location work, with the shots of the London Eye being especially effective in creating the much vaunted British feel for which the series is known. My only real criticism of the actual production is the often intrusive incidental score, which isn’t anywhere near as bad as the excesses of Keff McCulloch, but is still irritating. 

But what of the actual story? I would discuss the plot of ‘Rose’ at this point, except that amusingly it hasn’t got one. This isn’t a criticism as such, because the episode has another agenda upon which it concentrates, but for an episode that has an incredibly fast pace by the standards of the old series, bugger all actually happens. For the second time in the series history, an invasion of Earth by the Nestene Consciousness is used to provide a back drop for introducing a new incarnation of the Doctor, and the premise is largely identical to that of ‘Spearhead from Space’, right down to killer shop window dummies coming to life. It’s worth pointing out that the premature ejaculation of the episode onto the internet has resulted in its widespread dissection even prior to transmission, and one major criticism seems to be the deus ex machina ending involving the anti-plastic. Which can be interpreted as a nod to the deus ex machina ending of ‘Spearhead from Space’ involving the UHF transmitter; the observant will notice that in both stories, the Doctor provides the means of defeating the Nestene Consciousness, but ends up being restrained and is dependent upon the plucky new companion to intervene and save his life. 

What Davies realizes, and what Philip Segal et al sadly failed to realize, is that the best way to appeal to a new audience is to assume that the viewers no nothing. Whereas ‘Doctor Who’ opened with a strange little man in a police box flying through space reading self-indulgently ironic literature, ‘Rose’ opens with the titular (no pun intended) Ms. Tyler finding the everyday and mundane world around her slowly giving way to the weird and disturbing. Davies uses Rose in the traditional companion manner, and she is very much the point of audience recognition. And this is the primary function of the slightly plotted ‘Rose’, as the audience is introduced to the Doctor via a character rooted in reality. Rose works extremely well; bearing in mind that the last proper companion that the Doctor had on television was the spectacularly unconvincing Ace, Rose is a thoroughly believable character, a working class London shop assistant, with a rough old slapper for a mother and a uninspiring relationship with her boyfriend. Davies could quite easily have made her more eccentric or iconoclastic, but this would have missed the point; she’s deliberately ordinary, because it makes her juxtaposition with the Doctor all the more striking. On the other hand, she’s also likeable and strong enough to cope in a crisis, and contrasts nicely with boyfriend Mickey who is reduced to cowering in abject terror when faced with the Nestene Consciousness. 

The casting of Billie Piper in the role worried me immensely when I first heard about it, mainly because I’d only seen her in The Canterbury Tales, which was admittedly quite promising but wasn’t enough to stop memories of her execrable pop career making me feel queasy. In fact, she’s perfectly cast as Rose; she conveys the characters initial confusion at her encounter with Autons and Doctor in the basement of the department store in which she works, and continues to express a convincing amount of bewilderment as the Doctor continues to intrude into her life dropping bombshells of information about living plastic and dimensionally transcendental vehicles. But she isn’t stupid either; she has the intelligence to find out more about the Doctor via the internet, and despite initially dismissing Clive as a “nutter”, she doesn’t wallow in denial for long, especially as the Doctor quickly reappears, rips her ersatz boyfriend’s head off, and then whisks her into the TARDIS. There is an especially nice moment when the Doctor quickly ushers her into asking the obvious questions, and then when she chokes back a sob he gently tells her, “That’s OK. Culture shock. Happens to the best of us.” This is followed by a great moment, in which both Rose and the audience are reminded that the Doctor doesn’t automatically react like a human would, as he forgets Mickey, to Rose’s fury. Piper gets just the right amount of emotion into the line, “I’ll have to tell his mother he’s dead, and you just forgot him, again.” Crucially however, for all of the death and destruction that she either witnesses or unwillingly flirts with, Rose seems to be enjoying herself; the scene in which she swings to the rescue on a length of chain like a blonde Mrs. Peel demonstrates that she’s brave enough to fight the inevitable monsters (again, compare with Mickey, who is scratching at the TARDIS doors), and the final shot of the episode as she runs grinning in slow motion towards the TARDIS doors is marvelous. 

Of course the question remains, what about the Doctor? I was no more expecting Christopher Eccleston to be cast as the Ninth Doctor than I was Paul McGann to be cast as the Eighth back in 1996, but whereas I could immediately see McGann in the role, I couldn’t begin to imagine how Eccleston would step into the role. The answer it seems is in rather manic style; the Ninth Doctor is barking mad. From the moment that he offhandedly pulls Rose to safely, casually tells her, “Wilson’s dead”, and then plants a bomb in the middle of London, he grabs the attention. There are one or two moment during the episode when Eccleston is slightly too mannered (his delivery of “Run for your life” sounds extremely self-conscious), but he seems to become increasingly comfortable with the role as the episode progresses. At times he has enormous charisma, so that when he says to Rose, “They want to overthrow the human race and destroy you. Do you believe me?” she replies “No” and he points out, “But you’re still listening”, it’s easy to understand why. Eccleston’s grasp of comedy is also surprisingly good given his dramatic background; he does a better-than-should-be-possible job of attacking himself with a plastic hand, and delivers the line about the transmitter in a deadpan enough fashion that it makes the looming presence of the Millennium Wheel in the background genuinely amusing. In addition, Eccleston’s Doctor is undoubtedly one of the most manic, energetic to date, typified by Eccleston’s mad grin such as when Rose asks him “Is it always this dangerous?” and he cheerfully replies, “Yes it is.” Davies’ script gives us a Doctor whose mania is also punctuated by moments of real passion, and Eccleston conveys this well also; his impassioned defense to the Nestene Consciousness’ accusations is that of a man who is haunted by guilt (“I fought in the war! It wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t save your world, I couldn’t save any of them!”). The Doctor’s arrogance is also worth mentioning; he seems to delight in baffling Rose, firing rapid explanations at her and knowing full well that she won’t be expecting them (“Is that alright?”), and patronizing humanity on several occasions. I also like the fact that he says of the unarguably hostile Nestene Consciousness, “I’m not here to kill it, I have to give it a chance”, suggesting that whatever it might have done, he would at least like to try and find a peaceful solution. He is also utterly dismissive of the realistically traumatized Mickey (“He’s not invited”). At the end of the episode however, we see a more welcoming side to him; when Rose points out, “You were useless in there, you’d be dead without me”, he admits, “Yes I would. Thank you” and he has the air of a hopeful little boy seeking a playmate when he invites her to join him. There is a hint in ‘Rose’ for the long term fan that the Doctor has recently regenerated, as he inspects his face in a mirror in Rose’s house; if this is the case, it might be that the Ninth Doctor calms down as the series progresses, but as things stand, he’s at least as fast-paced as the direction. Nevertheless, he’s a captivating character. 

Of the other aspects of ‘Rose’, a few things should be mentioned. There is a seam of what is often described as post-modernism running throughout the episode, from the media awareness of the Doctor’s “He’s gay and she’s an alien” line to the nod to compensation culture, with Rose’s mum trying to persuade her to make a claim for trauma. Perhaps the most obvious sign that ‘Rose’ is set in the twenty-first century is the fact that she immediately searches for information about the Doctor on the internet (and Clive’s wife’s surprise that one of the readers of his website is female did not go unnoticed Russell!), and the use of the Doctor as a semi-mythical figure in human history is something that has previously been used with some success in the novels. Criticism has been leveled at the burping wheelie bin and the disembodied hand, but both of these raised a chuckle. Rather less forgivable is the Auton Mickey, largely due to the execution; it beggars belief that Rose takes so long to notice that Mickey is acting oddly when she returns to the car, especially as he looks like he’s been smeared with Vaseline and is grinning like an imbecile. This in turn leads to the restaurant scene, and whilst I love the Doctor posing as the waiter, the rest of the scene doesn’t hold up to scrutiny; if the Auton wants the Doctor dead, why doesn’t it use it’s wrist gun, and if not, why not? And why does it become so disorientated when the Doctor rips its head off, given that it’s a solid lump of plastic and none of the other Autons have proper eyes anyway? Mention of Mickey brings me to the guest cast; I enjoyed Mark Benton’s likeable performance as Clive, and he brought a sufficient amount of gravitas to the memorable line, “He has one constant companion… death”. As Rose’s Mum, Camille Coduri is adequate if unspectacular and she does get an inherently irritating role anyway (and why is she using a hairdryer when her hair looks dry already?). But the real weak link is Noel Clarke, who is utterly appalling as Mickey for at least the first half of the episode. He gets a bit better once Rose finds Mickey gibbering in the lair of the Nestene Consciousness, but for the most part his delivery is rather, as it were, plastic. 

Overall then, ‘Rose’ is flawed, but an interesting start to the new series, and one that has tremendous promise. Mention of the mysterious War, in which the Doctor apparently fought, smells to me like an intriguing plot thread to be picked up again in future episodes. And although I wasn’t wild about the idea of having a pre-end credits teaser for the following episode, it certainly whet my appetite for the next episode...

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Rose had a difficult task to achieve. While to many fans the series needs to be a continuation of the classic series, for the new viewers the show needed to re-establish elements of Doctor Who and the characters and essential ideology.

Russell T Davies' first episode managed to perfectly balance both these aspects well. But, for once, this was the Companion's episode and not the Doctor's - this is Rose's journey - we learn about Rose and her life and ultimately her motivation for stepping into the iconic Police Public Call Box. The Doctor (and i think rightfully) takes second place so we can identify with Rose - after all, can we really identify with a 900 year old alien?

The choice of enemy (which is well reported) is interesting. The Autons provide an established enemy (which we've not seen for decades) but also root the episode in our familiar world - children can easily identify with Shop Mannequins and wheelie bins. Since much of the episode is re-establishing the characters and paraphernalia, whatever enemy were included would look a little redundant - and unfortunately, The Autons do not provide the threat (or the scares) which they are capable of. Perhaps, like many Pilot shows, this episode would have been better being 'feature length' 90 minute extravaganza?

Direction is adequate, but nothing is done with the flare or style other BBC Dramas have (Hussle, Spooks). The BBC is also using their damned light saturation technique (I’m sure it has a technical name but for the life of me, i can't be bothered to research its name - for more horrendous examples of this technique watch recent Casualty episodes!) - the technique seems to overpower any visual with a blurred light, from a window for example and is used to create a "cinematic effect" although frankly its far from cinematic. This effect is not the worst case I’ve seen on the BBC, but its existence is noticeable.

Murray Gold's theme is perfect for the show. Its been reported that its very much based on the 70's theme, which is no bad move at all (anything after Tom Baker's era seemed to techno). The instrumental music doesn't feel dramatic but its accomplished and interesting.

A quick note on the two leads. Based on Rose, Christopher Eccleston is as quirky as any of his predecessors - but without the usual costumes seems more approachable and amiable. Chris falls much more in line with Tom Baker's philosophy than more modern Doctors - which is no bad thing (its a very different performance to Tom's mind you). Writing this after Chris' refusing a second series, i think its a shame that Chris felt he couldn’t do Series Two, he's that good in the role! While Piper has been reported to be amazing in the press, she's not. She's good - much better than expected - but she's not amazing. Its a good, solid performance and worthy of praise, but its not amazing or a revelation! 

Overall, I’m impressed. This episode is not without its faults (like many Doctor Who episodes) but these seem to be due to production and post-production techniques. Davies' writing is astonishing and to a certain degree you can excuse many of the faults since its an absorbing story. Its very, very British - probably more so than the original series and based on this episode, is probably the reason the US has not had any news on broadcast. Judging by Rose, i can't see a major US network picking it up for some time. This is impressive story-telling and really deserves a broadcast, but US execs may feel its too British (us Brits get an awful lot of US stuff, which is VERY American but we enjoy it!).

A worthy addition to Doctor Who. 7/10.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

There are a tonne of expectations hanging on this story, and the man behind it is more than aware of this. And that's what makes it such an outright success. 

Of course, the ones with the highest expectations are the hardcore fans such as myself. We've been "heartbroken" by the cancellation of our all-time favourite television show over 16 years ago, "strung along" by novels, comics and audio productions that were all nice but still not quite "real Who" and then even "teased" by the 96 telemovie that made us think we might finally get our favourite thing in the whole world back and then have it yanked away from us again. It has been a very bumpy ride for the hardcore fan for well over a decade and it's going to be toughest to please us. But because the writer/producer is as devoted to the series as we are, he can completely empathise with us and give us a lot of what we wanted without totally alienating the casual viewer that's going to tune in to see "what all the fuss is about". 

Let me start by actually making the one valid critical point about "Rose". The plot, at best, is threadbare. The Doctor's looking for the Nestene Consciousness to stop it from invading the Earth. If the Nestene doesn't listen to him and leave, he'll be forced to kill it. That's the story. That's it. It could be told in four minutes if it needed to be. But, because we also need to re-introduce the mythos, those other 40 or so minutes are full of atmosphere, charm and fun. Which is exactly what the new series needed to get off the ground. 

We see right from the start that Russell T. Davies has a very definite vision of where to take the series. Yes, his plot his weak - but it needs to be secondary right now. We need to re-encounter the Doctor because most of the world has forgotten who he is. And that is accomplished with such magnificient style that we're more than happy to let plot take a bit of a back seat. 

Chris is great as the Doctor. For us Canadians who don't get to watch the episodes til two weeks after they've been transmitted in England, we'd already heard in the press that he's leaving so it's actually painful for us to watch this first episode because we know not to get too attached to him. But it's so hard not to. Like McGann before him, Eccleston settles quite naturally into the role and gives it both incredible intensity and whimsey in all the right places. Because of his magnificient portrayal (I, personally, like the Northern accent and goofy grins), we love him right away as the new Doctor, even though he's not wearing "a proper costume"! 

Rose is an equally awesome companion too. We can see already that she wants to challenge the Doctor and that she has higher aspirations for herself than to just "eat chips and watch the telly" like the rest of the human race. It's also her that ends up saving the day - which makes her cooler than the average "screamer" companion we got in so much of the old series. 

And that's what we needed more than anything in this first story. A good establishing of the two central characters. Everything else is only somewhat important. We can have more contrived stories (which we get immediately in "End of the World") further down the road. Right now, we need to meet the Doctor and Rose and, of course, beat a bad guy. And bringing back a classic villain like the Autons was another damned smart move. To put in the Daleks or Cybermen or perhaps even the Sontarans (oh how I want to see how the new series will handle the "potatoe heads"!) in this story would have been too obvious of an attempt to draw an audience. And such big villains would've stolen too much attention away from establishing the protagonists. But an old villain that's been around a few times and lives quite vividly in the memory of a certain generation of fans was another excellent move on Davies' part. He reminds me vaguely of Andrew Cartmel in the way he approaches the series in that we can see that he definitely has a "masterplan" going on. And that's what we need right now in our favourite show: a very definite sense of direction. 

So, complain all you want about silly wheelie bins or Doctor Who websites - as far as I'm concerned, you missed the real point of this episode if you're pissed about this. And you're ignoring such great moments too that more than make up for any of the flaws. Like Rose's trip down the elavator to the basement where we get a sense that her life is about to take a drastic turn. Or Mickey's head talking to the Doctor after it's been removed. Or the Doctor having to turn around over and over to notice the "big wheel" he's looking for. Or the way the Doctor re-states his ethos by insisting on confronting the Nestene first and giving it an alternative to leave rather than just killing it outright with "anti-plastic". Or the genuine regret in his voice when he explains he was unable to save the Nestenes "feeder" planets during the wars that destroyed them. And so many other moments that would take too long to enumerate here. 

This story serves its purpose well and also manages to throw in tonnes of really magical moments without getting too pantomime about the whole thing. Basically, it brings back the new series with tremendous style and just an adequate amount of substance. 

Of course, as a hardcore Who geek - I feel I must also congratulate the production team on giving us some nice nods to the past that only we would notice. Firstly, "Rose" blends in quite nicely with the 96 telemovie (even if we don't get a McGann/Eccleston regeneration scene) in terms of "film quality" production values and even the blend of symphonic and contemporary scores as incidental music. And, like the telemovie, the actual plot is only so important. But the truly obscure references to the old show are there if you're willing to really "strain the geek eyes". The very first Auton story also opened with a shot of the Earth hanging in space and being approached in a slow camera pan. It also had a gorgeous "tracking shot" in it where the camera followed two characters as they walked for a somewhat extended period of time together. And, of course, most splendid of all, we get the same sound effect the Auton gun makes as the hand drops away and fires (I wonder how much digging around in various archives they had to do to get that one?). These little touches really warmed my geek heart and re-assured me that this might be a very new and different series - but it was still Doctor Who. 

So, as the ending credits rolled, I was not only more than satisfied with what I'd gotten, I was excited to see what would happen next! Which was, to me, what the first story needed to accomplish. If every story was going to be like this, of course, I would be upset. But this is exactly what we needed for a first story. And Davies delivered it better than I expected.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

I don’t need to tell you how I was feeling in the weeks and days approaching March 26th. I’ve been following Doctor Who since I was old enough to see its magic (I was 6 in 1974). I adored the show for all kinds of reasons – first and foremost for it’s imagination stretching format. I jumped aboard in the Golden Era of Hinchcliffe. I despaired as it wasn’t allowed to continue on TV in 1989. Books, comics and Audios more than made up for the lack of Who in the 90s and last few years – but I so much wanted the real thing - TV.

I love the Audios particularly – you can quote me on the fact that I believe them superior to the original TV show. Really though I just love Doctor Who – and I was as excited as the next active enthusiast (that’s what we are now apparently to distinguish us from the general public! I kind of like the label!) with the Official TV Return.

I went for a cozy approach on the night of the 26th. DW was mostly a solitary, or one-on-one pursuit for me – and I watched it with my better half (she sat fascinated throughout – but then she’s quite a fan herself).

After the initial frown at the jiggy-jiggy music, as Rose flitted about the Department Store, I am reliably informed I had a silly, stupid grin on my face throughout. As Rose went down to the basement so the marvellous secret, scary places of the imagination were upturned again. As the Mannequins moved the Monsters returned. As Christopher Eccleston appeared charging down corridors, I knew the Doctor was back.

It all went extremely quickly, but then modern TV is like that – and this is great modern TV. I really can’t remember being ever this engrossed in Who, yet I have pretty much sampled it all. No doubt I was caught up in the new, exciting novelty of a new series – but it really is rather brilliant. I find it marvellous that my expectations (which are always high for something with Doctor Who emblazoned on it) were exceeded. That really is quite amazing – and I would like to shake Russell T Davies by the hand (and his amazing helpers) and heartily congratulate him.

I knew Russell T Davies Doctor Who would be the genuine article – you just could tell from his mass of interviews, and the reports coming from the Recording. All the tingle-down-the-spine sound effects are present and correct. This really is the old show we all grew to adore – and it is fantastic to see it represented so well.

I was extremely impressed with the reality grounding that Rose and her home represented. Her homely yet normal house, her wonderfully dizzy mother, and her ordinary boyfriend. That marvellous scene where the Doctor and Rose are tracked past the garages back to the TARDIS. Pizza for dinner, lie-ins – this was the real world – and the magic of Who, as a contrast, has rarely been so better emphasized.

Chirstopher Eccleston is amazing. There’s something intrinsically Doctorish about him right from the start – yet there’s also a man-in-the-street about him too. Billie Piper is excellent too – and this was arguably her episode more than the anyones. We follow the story through her – and her character is so enchanting as to make that fascinating. The story for me was all about Rose and the Doctor – and there’s not one scene they are together that doesn’t sparkle with originality and energy. Special mention too, the new TARDIS Console Room is wonderful. To me it seemed Farscape/Cardassian inspired – and I really like that.

On the Monday night after the original screening we went to my friends house (EZ) – also a big Who fan. We watched it again, with his wife Nealm and his 6 year old daughter Nikita. I spent just as much time watching 6 year old Nikita as watching the TV Screen! It was fascinating to see her reactions. She laughed when the Doctor sent the playing cards everywhere. She laughed again and jumped up and down when the Mannequin Hand was attacking the Doctor, but then stopped suddenly when it fixed on Rose. She rushed to her Mum when the Wheelie Bin started attacking Mickey, but then giggled when it burped. She snuggled up to her Auntie (my wife) when the Nestene Monster was shouting at the Doctor. She gave it 10/10 when we asked around the room what our ratings were (we do this whenever we watch something!). Truly marvellous to see Doctor Who fascinate a small child, as I was fascinated all those years ago. Incidentally the ratings from the 4 over 35 adults were 10, 8, 9 and 9.

I am loathe to put any kind of criticism in my review, but I suppose I should balance things out a little. The story. With all the introductions, explanations of the Nestene threat seemed hazy. Of course it’s essentially the same threat and motivation as Spearhead From Space (well done DWM giving it an article in the latest Mag). The Internet guy was pretty good (complete with jokes about the male domination of fandom), but it would have been nice to see other Doctors on his walls – but I see why they didn’t too – focus had to be on the new Doctor.

The new Doctor Who is glorious, and judging from its beginning, this series will be probably the best we have ever had. Coming into work on Tuesday morning I was met with cheers from my fellow workers. I had come out of the closet as a Who fan a few months before, and they knew just how much I was looking forward to the new series. What I find marvellous is that they all loved it too. For the first time in my life I’m cool – absolutely amazing! 9/10

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

Doctor Who works well when it emphasizes the contrast between our everyday world and the Doctor’s bizarre existence. “Rose” nails this contrast nicely in its opening shot; we begin with the vastness of space, zoom in on Earth, and run straight into a bleeping alarm clock. It’s time for Rose Tyler, ordinary teenager, to go to her boring retail job. We see that the universe is a vast place, but not for her—at least, not yet. 

The following montage establishes that Rose’s life is okay, but not exactly fulfilling. Her boyfriend Mickey is affectionate, and he does funny dances, but he’s not enough to compensate for the tedium of her daily routine. Rose’s mother Jackie, seen lounging on the couch in sweats and dialing up her gossipy friends, is not much of an inspiration either.

It’s a great way to introduce a new companion, at least in theory; Russell T. Davies is preparing us for Rose’s decision to abandon everything (and everyone) and run off in the TARDIS. But right from the start, Davies holds back and compromises his attempts at deeper characterization and drama; we get a hint of what Rose’s life is like, but only a hint. Jackie and Mickey are to become vital parts of the storyline, but they leave no impression here, with rushed and largely silent introductions. Clips of the bored Rose are unwisely paired with sped-up shots of London and Murray Gold’s cheerful music, which undermine the feeling of stagnation that the sequence is trying to create. 

I want more. Since Rose’s domestic life is so central to the series, it needs to be explored in greater detail here, before the aliens show up.

That said, the aliens get a great introduction. I have a poor overall impression of Keith Boak’s directing, but he nails the moment when the Autons emerge from the shadows to attack Rose. It’s a good horror scene—and, frankly, it’s also the first scene that feels like “proper” Doctor Who rather than a music video. The creaking plastic sound effects are a nice touch, and help to make the Autons seem more real.

The Doctor’s introduction is also perfect. He grabs Rose at the last moment, leads her in a flight down a corridor, and starts merrily spouting techno-babble as soon as they reach safety. It’s like the original series was never gone. Christopher Eccleston and Davies have modernized the character’s costume and speech, but, for now, this is still the heroic and wacky and brilliant Doctor of old. Though there is a glibness and artificiality to his rapid-fire exchanges with Rose, they are genuinely clever (I like the students routine), and thankfully they stay on the topic of Autons; in future episodes, Rose becomes so jaded that she flirts with the Doctor and makes stupid jokes in the midst of mortal peril, which is of course ridiculous.

After Rose escapes and returns home, we learn more about her mother, who has the Triple Crown of unpleasant traits—vanity, cupidity, and stupidity. Davies seems to have fun patronizing this character, yet later on he grants her enormous importance. Again, I’m not sure that he’s using the best methods to reach his goals—am I actually supposed to like someone as self-absorbed and shrill as Jackie Tyler? At best she’s a funny sideshow, but that’s not good enough if I’m supposed to feel genuine sympathy for her.

I do smile, however, during the scene when Jackie tries to seduce the Doctor. It works because it’s a new kind of humor for the show. Unfortunately, Davies overplays his hand in future episodes and goes overboard on the juvenile innuendo. In fact, he has a tendency to repeat all of his jokes, good or bad. But they’re fine in “Rose” because they’re still fresh. I don’t even mind the deliberate camp when the Doctor is attacked by a plastic arm. I went along with it on a first viewing because, again, it was something new, and it’s actually a funny bit of business. Little did I realize that Davies was establishing the silly and decidedly non-threatening tone that would poison the bulk of his episodes.

With the arm defeated, the Doctor and Rose start talking exposition again. It’s odd that I initially considered this episode too fast-paced because, during this particular stretch, it’s more leisurely than most episodes of the original series. There are interesting elements to this scene, though, particularly the Doctor’s condemnation of humans as TV-watching slugs who are ignorant of the war raging around them. He could mean the Time War, but I think Davies is slipping in an oblique reference to the War on Terror. In fact, I think he’s making fun of us all for sitting around on our backsides and watching Doctor Who while the world burns (a theme he returns to in “The End of the World”). I’m not sure what to make of this, but it’s fun to speculate about it. Notice how Gold is trying much too hard to make this scene exciting with his inappropriate “thump-thump-thump-thump” music.

Davies’ silly sense of humor returns in full force with the introduction of Clive, a spoof of tubby Doctor Who fans who obsess too much about the series. There’s something annoying about this kind of in-joke; surely Davies qualifies as a Doctor Who obsessive himself, and, like a nasty troll on an Internet message board, he seems all the more pathetic for declaring his superiority to other fans. But I’m just talking trash now, because I actually like Clive. He serves his purpose of building up an aura of mystery around the Doctor. Some of his lines are heavy-handed and melodramatic, but that’s what Doctor Who is all about. Hands up everybody who wanted him to show Rose photos of previous Doctors…

Clive’s monologue about the Doctor as a harbinger of death is cleverly intercut with Mickey’s deadly struggle against the trashcan. Since I’m a Doctor Who nerd, though, I’m obliged to compare this scene to the one that inspired it—the infamous Auton couch murder from “Terror of the Autons.” That scene is played straight, and it’s fairly harrowing in its depiction of a nice character’s brutal death. In “Rose,” by way of contrast, we get a goofy Auton trash bin that belches after gobbling up its prey. While I don’t hate the burping bin as much as some fans, I don’t respect it either. It’s a bit funny and mildly creepy, but when the original series was at its best (as in both Auton episodes), it could be exceptionally creepy.

Once Mickey has been digested by the bin, he reappears as an obvious Auton duplicate. Why doesn’t Rose notice? On this point, I have no trouble suspending my disbelief. Mickey’s Auton makeup is exaggerated for effect, which is fine, and there’s really no reason why Rose should suspect he’s been replaced by a plastic clone. I also have no problem with the subsequent hi-jinks in the restaurant. Here, I think, Davies’ humor works; the short-circuiting Mickey and the Doctor’s fiddling with the champagne bottle are genuinely funny. I particularly love the moment when the Doctor, grinning like a maniac, holds out Mickey’s talking, disembodied head to a pair of clearly horrified witnesses. The Doctor is reveling in the freakishness of it all, and so am I.

The episode takes another downturn, though, when Rose enters the TARDIS. Producer Phil Collinson claimed that the new TARDIS interior would eclipse the obvious studio sets featured in the original series, but I’m afraid he was bragging without foundation. The new TARDIS still looks like a set, and it’s an ugly set to boot. I was intrigued by rumors that the interior would have an organic look (it was even suggested that it would be coral), but ultimately the production team went with a traditional metallic design, twisted into shapes that merely resemble something organic. I hate it. The console and its surrounding columns are like some freakish octopus-thing. And the color scheme is horrible—black, green, and orange? Paul McGann’s TARDIS set, though overdone, had a warmth and grandeur that this TARDIS can’t begin to approach. And, since the new TARDIS is obviously smaller than McGann’s, it hammers home that the 2005 series is a lower-budget production than the TV Movie. Terribly disappointing, I’m afraid, and we’re likely to be stuck with it for a long while.

On the subject of bragging, Davies said that Rose’s first look at the TARDIS was one of his favorite scenes in the series. While I can appreciate why he said this—her stunned reaction is dramatic—the scene is definitely too rushed to have the impact he attaches to it.

Fortunately, there’s another upswing in quality once the TARDIS lands on Tower Bridge. Eccleston plays the character with authority here, and even on a first viewing I was able to laugh at anti-plastic because I intuited that Davies was having fun with his little plot contrivance. I never believed, for a moment, that he would produce such tidy solutions to all of the Doctor’s future conflicts. In such a hectic episode as this, the anti-plastic is just a necessary step to keep things moving. One could hope for something better, of course, but then again the Doctor never comes up with a compelling or credible way to defeat the Autons, does he?

The Doctor and Rose descend into the Auton base, clearly one of Doctor Who’s most impressive locations. I’m not so enamored of the Nestene Consciousness, however, which is portrayed as a CGI lava face. Davies seems to have a fondness for CGI villains, but I don’t think they work. The Autons, like other rubber Doctor Who monsters, come across best with a human spokesperson as their leader, not a visual effect. It certainly doesn’t help that the Nestene’s dialogue is gibberish. I get the feeling that Davies was cutting corners here, saving himself the trouble of writing hardcore science fiction dialogue. All we hear is the Doctor’s end of the conversation, and much of what he says—some guff about warp shunt technology and constitutional rights—falls flat. How many of these lines are actually that interesting?

Negotiations with the Nestene Consciousness break down so quickly that the Doctor looks foolish for trusting it. He also looks ill prepared for the confrontation, as he is quickly incapacitated by just two Autons. I must admit, though, that it’s exciting when the Nestene sends out the invasion signal. The electrified Ferris wheel is a great image, right up there with the best surreal visuals from the original series.

Commence the Auton rampage. It’s a decent sequence, but again I have trouble with Gold’s music, which is catchy but over-the-top. Clive’s death has impact since he’s likable, and because it’s wonderfully ironic that the one man who was smart enough to notice the danger is the first to die when the aliens attack. Once he’s gone, though, it’s hard to care about what happens in or outside the mall. Boak does all right when he shows the mannequins smashing windows, but once they’re free, he resorts to fast cutting to conceal the fact that they’re not doing anything interesting. No one is shown being killed (not even Clive) and nothing really impressive is destroyed. And Jackie Tyler, that least sympathetic of characters, keeps screaming in close-up until you start rooting for the Autons to get her. Again, I’m forced to conclude that the parallel segment in the original series is much better—it’s better directed, better scored, more violent and more effective. I also don’t see much of a difference in budget between the original and the new series, since in both stories we only see the Autons on the march in a single location.

The Doctor continues to fare poorly as Boak cuts to him struggling vainly against the Autons—several times. Eccleston looks weak and desperate, which is not how I want to see the Doctor portrayed, even in a situation like this (especially in a situation like this, I should say). He is made to look impotent, of course, so Rose can become an action heroine and save the day herself. This is very reminiscent of the TV Movie, when Grace averts the end of the world by fiddling with wires as the Doctor bugs out under a blue spotlight. It’s bad writing in both cases, since neither resolution is satisfying. The trouble is that companions—including Rose—are not impressive or capable when compared to the Doctor, so it’s hard to contrive a way for them to excel. Here, we get Rose swinging on a chain like she’s Tarzan’s mate and knocking a couple of Autons into a vat of molten plastic. Like the anti-plastic contrivance, it’s fine, but not actually good.

The final scene sees Mickey, freshly rescued from the Nestenes, cringing at Rose’s feet like a dog. It’s one of many indignities the character must suffer; in later episodes, he can’t even walk down the street without tripping over his own feet. That’s a shame, because he’s infinitely more sympathetic than Jackie, and he deserves better treatment. Rose spurns him rather cruelly, essentially telling him “thanks for nothing” before she vanishes back into the TARDIS. It’s not a pleasant scene, despite her huge smile and dramatic slow-mo dash into the Doctor’s world. But, you know, I respect it—Davies allows me to feel uncomfortable at Rose’s treatment of Mickey and her mother, and I like that. Uncomfortable is definitely a new feeling for Doctor Who, and it’s good for the drama.

But there’s a lot going on here that’s not so good for the drama. Ultimately, “Rose” is too silly and rushed to succeed on a human-interest level. It works only as a fast-paced and fun introduction to some basic Doctor Who concepts and equally basic characters. Future episodes do build on its foundation, but not effectively; in fact, the problems with “Rose” only get worse, as the regular characters become gradually more developed but far less likeable. Still, for an action pilot, this hits close to mark. It’s not my idea of Doctor Who, but it is a reasonably good idea of Doctor Who. It’s just a shame that the rest of the season doesn’t live up to its promise.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

First of all, I am not reviewing this as a fan. I was a fan of the old series, but I will not let this cloud my judgement.

One of the biggest problems of die - hard fans is that when reviewing they are apt to forget things like how good the storyline is, the plot, even the suspense. The more extreme the fan, the more these things are forgotten.

Firstly, as an episode it absolutly failed. RTD clearly did not know how to inroduce a series in a 45 minute episode. It is always hard introducing a new series, this is why a lot new 45 minute episode series start with a double episode rather than a single one. But with something as important as this series it was almost suicude. Luckily, the series has now found its feet, but it must have been close. The Plotline was almost nonexistant. Everyone I know who watched the series as a kid agreed with this. You simply can't use the excuse that its for modern times. Episodes 6,7,8,9; were modernised and it worked. But for modern TV standerds this was bad.

Secondly: The Pace. When I first watched it I didn't know quite what to think of the actors because they were hardly given time to breath before their next lines. (Luckily Eccleston and Piper were able to pove themselves in later pisodes). The Pace was so rushed that It was a laugh. There was no suspense, no buildup, no climax worth considering. The Only part that interested me was rose's meeting with clive.

Thirdly: The music. Why on earth have that type of music. It completely wrecked any action worth seeing. Murray Gold isn't a bad composer, but he should have come up with something much better than that.

Overall a bad beginning to a series that would eventually right itself. 3/10

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television

After 10 long years, Doctor Who has at last finally returned to Australian television screens – and it's about time.

The updated time vortex is a nice nostalgic touch for those of us who remember it. After over a year, the new Doctor Who logo still looks far too “photoshopped” for my tastes. The new theme tune is a wonderful combination of the old Delia Darbyshire melody, overlaid with a symphonic score. It's a big improvement on the pompous bombastic John Debney version from the TV movie. And light-years better than the chintzy cheesy version used during the Sylvester McCoy years. The opening shot immediately catches your attention – a wideshot of the earth and moon, then zooming into Rose's alarm clock. Clearly showing that this series will explore the unknown, but will be returning to Earth from time to time.

Murray Gold's new theme tune is excellent – his incidental music is not so excellent. The inspired-by-department-store melody was perfectly appropriate for the first five minutes, but I don't believe it was particularly appropriate for repeated use throughout the entire episode.

Rose's mother Jackie very much reminds me of my own mother. Especially her overprotectiveness of her daughter, not to mention her tendency to natter over the phone with her friends. As a result, I find the character of Jackie annoying for all the right reasons – as a reflection of the bland and uninspiring life that Rose will soon leave behind. Mickey is your typical faithful boyfriend. Like most males of his ilk, he's not a particularly articulate or refined fellow, but its clear that he does love Rose, in his own hamfisted way. I find Mickey to be an immensly annoying character for the same reasons as Jackie. And that's fine – as a Doctor Who fan gunning for Rose to leave in the TARDIS, I'm meant to.

In a breathtaking forty-five minutes, Christopher Eccleston has redefined the role of Doctor Who for the 21st Century. Other actors who have played the role, have sometimes taken the larger-than-life eccentric approach. For past episodes in a more innocent time, this has worked exceedingly well. Ecclestone's Doctor is truly alien, without taking the overly bombastic approach that some past actors have. For me, the “Earth turning” speech was when I truly believed that he was the Doctor.

Billie Piper's character of Rose is an even bigger revelation than the Doctor himself. Rose is a fully- fleshed out character, and the fact we see this adventure from her point-of-view only emphasises this. She's a fully-rounded person with a family who loves her, who's then flung into the most extraordinary situation imaginable.Billie Piper plays the role with charm and verve, without ever descending into maudlin histrionics.

The most interesting aspect of the episode (from a continuity) perspective, is the war that the Doctor refers to in his confrontation with the Nestene consciousness. Just what exactly has the Doctor been up to in the past few years since we've seen him? It appears that RTD is setting up a large arc for the Doctor – hopefully it will work. I enjoyed the Doctor and Rose's confrontation/conversation next to the London Eye. In addition to quickly establishing their relationship, it also brings new viewers up to date – what is the TARDIS? Why is it bigger on the inside than the outside? Just who IS the Doctor? Essentially, RTD has to sum up the forty-year premise of the show in forty-five fast-paced minutes. It's quite a challenge, and RTD mostly pulls it off.

Rose is by no means a perfect Doctor Who episode – how could it be? This new series needs to respect forty years of past history, as well as forge a new and viable future for an attention-deficit viewing audience. In that regard, the debut episode builds a solid foundation from which to improve upon.

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Does it work for the 21st century? Will it engage a new audience? Does enough happen? Is it just Hollyoaks with a TARDIS? A lot of accusations have been thrown at the new Dr Who series, a few of them justly so. But do any of them hit the heart?

Viewed as a Doctor Who story, 'Rose' is certainly very odd. The enemy gets barely any introduction, still less explanation, not much screen time and no lines. The plot, as far as this invasion is concerned, is little more than "the Doctor turns up and stops it", which of course is what a lot of people were dreading would happen once stories were cut from four half-hour episodes to a single 45 minuter. However, this isn't quite fair.

'Rose' isn't a Doctor Who story, any more than the first episode of the classic series was. Both are stories of ordinary people becoming inadvertently entwined in a world far outside theirs, and meeting a strange man who they, and we, will soon come to know as the Doctor. 'An Unearthly Child' is a story about two teachers investigating a suspicious student. It's very odd, because after the first episode it suddenly lurches off into a lot of tosh about cavemen, which is when Doctor Who proper starts, but for that first one it's creepy, mysterious, character-driven, explorative, and features no monsters whatsoever.

Similarly, 'Rose' is a story about... well, Rose. She doesn't investigate a suspicious incident so much as become one, but the idea is the same: she falls randomly into the Doctor's world, and we see the story of how it affects her. When she first meets the Doctor, he's practically at the end of what you'd think of as a classic Who story - he knows what the enemy is, how to defeat it, how to find it and what to do when he gets there. That isn't Rose's story; it's just background. Her story, like 'An Unearthly Child', is about someone ordinary colliding with an extraordinary world. It's very odd, because after the first five minutes it suddenly introduces a lot of tosh about shop dummies, which is when Doctor Who proper starts, but it still somehow manages to be mysterious, character-driven and exciting... and has monsters.

There are faults, of course. The incidental music feels a bit Remembrance of the Daleks, very disco military, with no thematic evolution from Working In A Shop to Saving The World. The editing in the climax isn't pacy enough. The humour is a bit strong. Micky can't act. Christopher Eccleston walks funny. But really, who's counting?

The point is, it feels like Dr Who. Overwhelmingly so, and infinitely more than the '96 tv movie, which we can finally all admit to having hated now we've got something else to fill the void. Christopher Eccleston is enormously engaging - friendly, fun, enthusiastic, and (his key character note) tremendously alive. Billie Piper is a revelation, utterly alive and believable as a real-life girl next door. The design work is excellent - even the semi-organic TARDIS, which made me sob when I first saw it because it's going to be such a bastard to build cgi models of, is great - and the sets huge, well shot and evocatively lit. The script by Russell T Davies is, needless to say, faultlessly structured, pulsing with life and astonishingly funny. The direction is rapid, clever, pacy and alive. I've even changed my mind about the coat.

And there's a reason for this. The first thing Russell T wrote for the series was a 15 page document explaining what the show was about. Not regeneration, not police boxes and sonic screwdrivers, but what it's REALLY about. The reason the new TARDIS works is that it's built from ideas up: it's not a home, it's a VW camper van - an old hippy's stolen jalopy, jury-rigged to be operated by a single pilot and repaired on the road with whatever technology was available. The Doctor isn't a an exile, an alien or a player of chess upon a thousand boards: he's a traveller, alone and homeless until he finds someone who can complete him. Rose doesn't join him because she wanders in off the street; she comes because she knows if she says no she'll regret it the rest of her life, and because the Doctor is everything her life isn't. Because he's alive. He doesn't save worlds and rescue aliens because he's a hero, or a pinko communist liberal. He does it because life is short, and every moment precious, whether you're a Time Lord, a shop assistant, a TARDIS or the Moxx of Balhoon.

Russell's final summary of the Doctor's moral code, and Christopher's, is "Live life". I may not have agreed with everything about 'Rose', but that's something I can't help but embrace wholeheartedly. And if the series has a heart as strong as that - two hearts, indeed, for a resurrected Time Lord - then the critics can whinge as much as they like. The Doctor's in safe hands.

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After over 15 years of waiting, Doctor Who returns to our screens in a burst of creative ideas, visual effects, and a firm foundation into the 21st Century.

'Rose' is one of the band of Doctor Who stories that really needs a second viewing in order to really get into it. The initial shock of how different the series relates to the stories of yesteryear takes some getting used to, but upon second viewing, one can really appreciate the programme as a whole.

'Rose' follows Rose Tyler’s journey as she faces walking shop dummies, and a mysterious stranger known as the Doctor, who isn't all that he seems.

The acting of the episode is top notch, but the portrayal of Mickey just doesn't seem to fit in. He represents the clown, and, apart from giving Rose a purpose in helping the Doctor, serves little to the plot.

The humour of the episode is very strongly played, and is digestible with an open mind, but the burping wheelie bin gag is just too OTT in order to be accepted. The plastic Mickey is a good concept, but has clownish faults, which detract from the possible drama of the episode.

The Autons are a welcome return to the series, but the invasion at the climax to the programme suffers from being over-shadowed by its predecessors of Spearhead From Space and Terror of the Autons. However, the sequence does work well, as do the scenes with the Nestene Consciousness, which (albeit possibly intentional) is inaudible, a factor that detracts from the piece yet does abolish the stereotypical Doctor Who ideology that all Aliens appear to speak English (which is further picked up by the next episode) 

In all 'Rose' is a good story, but not a great one, but in all it is fair to lament that it is Doctor Who and it is back.

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My review of this and the next two episodes will be more retrospective than the following episodes as I started reviewing from Aliens of London onwards. These episodes have been reviewed upon rewatching them on DVD. So my comments will be based on my memories of the first time I watched this story and new observations in light of the series to date. I hope you bare with me.

I am a massive fan of the Who theme tune and can listen to it in any form (excluding season 23). I even quite like the McGann movie version. So I was thrilled that the new theme is spot on and could listen to it repeatedly (in fact I have the menu screen of the dvd playing in the background - where is the BBC produced single ?) The time tunnel raphic sequence is enjoyable (if that can be the case for title sequences) and I really like the TARDIS switching between the two tunnels midway.

So, to the episode. The point of Earth view was a good touch to start yet I remember initially suddenly feeling like I was in a program I didn't recognise. Watching the fast cut, speeded up opening shots reminded me first I was watching a Russel T Davies show like Queer as Folk or Casanova, much, much faster than ANY Doctor Who has ever been. But it didn't take me long to settle in.

The opening scenes, again fast paced but actually quite eery and menacing when the Autons first encounter Rose. Then the Doctor uttering probably one of the, if not the most iconic words in his 42 year history "Run". A quick run through some corridors and then a proper introduction before we see the first special effect of the new series, not quite perfect but an idea of what's to come. Terrific start.

After some Eccleston baiting in later reviews, looking back on this episode I found him to be quite entertaining, charming and not as grating as I remember. I do think however his insane grinning was more prolific in other episodes. This episode could end up being the most quotable. I can see all the Ninth Doctor T-shirts emblazoned with "FANTASTIC". But a tour de force for this opening show. Billie Piper as Rose hits the ground running right from the start. Again it's become common to praise her performance through the series but it's well deserved praise. Noel Clarke however, is just plain bad in this. But he will improve.

Being an opening episode (aka pilot) there is a lot of information to take in so is pretty much a fast paced episode. It is never drowned with exposition. This is cleverly left to snippets of data throughout the season. Yet all the Doctor Who icons are handled well and often with humour. Particular reference is made to Rose's first encounter with the TARDIS. The Auton invasion unfortunately, although well played is left to be the B plot and I do think they should have a better episode. But the pointis to introduce the Doctor and Rose and the new format so this can be forgiven.

It did beg the question would the format be too much for a 45 minute episode but, again after seeing more of the series, 45 minutes will be enough.

I liked the plastic Mickey (as opposed to the wooden one) and the wheelie bin ( but didn't understand why that particular one was activated)

The effects off the nestene was brilliant and much better effect than its been credited for. Again a throwaway quick fix but that is the nature of the episode. Best bit of the episode, and the series has got to be the Doctor and Rose in front of the Eye.

One continuity error I noticed, watch the gun-hands on the three Auton "brides". They are already open.

So to recap. A pretty first rate opening episode acted well by all (except one) and enough to whet my appetite for the rest of the season. It's still WHO and it's still FANTASTIC!

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Rose is an OK introduction, suffering from a paper-thin plot and the need to re-introduce a sense of mystery and danger to the character of The Doctor. The special effects were hardly ground-breaking, and suffered a lot in places from being too 'obvious' (e.g. the signal emanating from a famous London landmark). The Nestene Consciousness was better realised than in Spearhead From Space (which could be interpreted as being damned with faint praise), and it was good to see The Doctor at least trying to interact with it rather than destroy it straight away. 

The main problem I feel is that the story blasts on through at 200mph. The forty-five minutes allotted passed in seemingly half that time, with nary a pause for breath. The few character moments we had ("I can feel the Earth turning in Space" and "There's a strange man in my bedroom") were good, but too few and far between. Rose would have benefited from another 15 minutes to give the plot more meat and the characters more room to breath. 

But there is plenty which is good: Eccleston's first outing shows promise, The Doctor being less certain of himself and more distant at times. When Rose chides him for not telling her that Mickey might be OK, we realise that this isn't the Doctor we're used to: not Jon, who would have had consoling words for Jo, nor Peter who would have tried to buck up Tegan with 'Brave Heart.' This is a more alien Doctor, one hurt and de-sensitised by the events of the War he has fought in. Eccleston has put a lot into creating this part, and it shows in his performance. From his first speech (“Run!”), he makes the part his own, in a way no incoming actor has done before. Only Hartnell, the original, showed such confidence and presence as The Doctor from the word go. 

Billie Piper as Rose is a revelation. She can act. Not only that, she can act well, and makes one believe in the part. She is a shop-girl with a nose for trouble, she is a humanising influence on The Doctor, she could be our new best friend. Giving Rose the limelight for the first story was a bold decision, but it worked. For the first time since An Unearthly Child we get to meet The Doctor through the eyes of a real person, one not used to Time Travel and alien invasions. It was a masterstroke, and one we should applaud Russell T Davies for. 

The Auton dummies are reasonably well realised, and we finally get to see them smash out from the windows in which they are displayed. What was missing was the “first part” of the story, showing how the Autons were made (I’m assuming there is a factory somewhere in Kent where the owner has been supplanted by an Auton duplicate) and insinuated into so many shop windows in such a casual fashion.

Indeed, when Rose (we) get into the story, the adventure is half over. The Doctor is in the process of making Henrik’s department store ‘safe’ and has (presumably) dealt with other Auton outposts. There is something unsatisfying in this, a sense that there is more to be told, that we don’t have all the facts. 

Who does have all the facts? Clive doesn’t, but he has a lot of them. He’s the 21st-Century Doctor Who fan, all internet-savvy and anal retentive geeky. Why is he obsessive about The Doctor? We aren’t really told. But he has amassed lots of information and sightings about the Ninth Doctor (without ever really picking up on the trail left by his predecessors) and shows Rose that this is someone special. There are a couple of nice in-jokes there, including his presence at the Kennedy Assassination (22nd November 1963, of course) and more of these are included on the website (unpromoted) which the BBC have set up. It can be accessed via the BBC Doctor Who site, and is a clever piece of fluff to demonstrate how the series has moved into the Computer Age. 

The rest of Rose’s life is well detailed, from her slightly flirty mother to her deadbeat boyfriend. Noel Clarke plays the part well, and it is easy to see why Rose, given the choice of staying with him or travelling with The Doctor, would jump into the TARDIS. It’s a nice touch that Rose is stronger than Mickey, and shows both how capable she is and how much of a foil for The Doctor she will be. 

No review of Rose would be complete without mention of the infamous ‘wheelie-bin’ scene. Suffice to say that, as a tension-breaker for the little ones (who might not have ventured near bins ever again if traumatised by the shot) it worked well. It wasn’t overdone (as the farting was to some extent in Aliens of London), and there could be a plausible reason why the burp occurred (which I’ll leave out in the spoiler-free environment we still have). One scene does not deserve to be held up to ridicule this show, when there were entire stories in the 1980’s with more childish stupidity than in the two seconds of television shown here. Deriding the entire show because of this is truly clutching at straws. 

If this is Doctor Who for the 21st Century, then I like it. It is bold it is witty , it has great special effects and it is able to attract great actors to appear in it. Despite the shortcomings in the plot and structure of Rose, its sheer bravado carries it above much of the lacklustre, by-the numbers episodes of Doctor Who seen in its declining years. 

Overall: bold and beautiful.

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Rose Tyler is just your ordinary shop assistant, working in the London branch of Henricks. As she is finishing work one day, she heads down to the shop's basement to deliver the week's lottery money to a fellow worker. Unable to find him, she discovers she is not alone in the basement. Before too long, however, she is being attacked by shop dummies which seem to be alive. Thankfully, she is saved by a guy in a scummy leather coat, who then proceeds to blow up her place of work. Who is this mysterious Doctor that saved her life? Just why are ordinary shop dummies coming to life? And why is it that anywhere Rose sees this Doctor fellow, there's a strange looking blue box on a nearby street corner? Before too long, the Doctor and Rose will be thrown together in one of the most bizarre occurrences to ever face the human race, and this is one that will have dire consequences for humanity...

As you can see, the new series gets off to a flying start, with none of the 1996 TV Movie's introspection and useless continuity. The episode starts with action, and ends with action. In fact, there's quite a lot of fast-paced action going on right throughout the episode, but is nicely balanced with some really rather sedate moments. Russel T Davies' script is perfect material for a pilot episode, and watching this makes one wonder what the 1996 TV Movie might have been like if it's first 45 minutes were like this.

The first thing you realise when watching this episode is just how expensive everything looks. This is a million miles away from the original series, which always had that air of "cheap & cheerful" about it. Well, this new episode is definitely cheerful, but there's nothing cheap about it. The visuals we are greeted with are nicely filmed, with a great style to them which is very cinematic. You can all rest assured that visually this series certainly cuts the mustard.

The second thing you notice about this series is Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. They both have an amazing chemistry together, which works wonderfully. Christopher absolutely relishes the chance to play the Doctor, and this shows on screen. One minute he's cracking jokes about "armless" Autons, and the next he's deeply depressed about the fate of the human race. Similarly, Rose Tyler comes across as believeable - a young woman thrown into the Doc's crazy land.

The supporting cast all do terrific work, with Noel Clarke playing Mickey with just the right level of comic timing to ensure he never becomes too much like a smart-arse. Camille Coduri does really well as Rose's mum, and she shares a wonderful scene with Chris Eccleston as she tries to seduce the Doctor into bed. His reaction is priceless! Mark Benton has a great cameo appearance as Clive, the Max Eddison of the new series. All up, the cast seem to enjoy their job.

I suppose really the next thing I need to talk about is the new TARDIS console room. To be honest, it's gonna take some getting used to. It's a very different design to what we've seen previously, but in a good way. It'a a heck of a lot closer to the original description (not depiction) from 1963, and has a lot of alien charm about it. In terms of size, it's on par with the Hartnell console room, which is good. Oh, and everyone's favourite hat stand is back!

The special effects are pretty good for the most part, with physical effects and stunt work coming off best. The CGI work, while impressive, looks somewhat naff in places (the blowing up on Henrick's department store is a case in point). While the stand-out CGI creation has to be the Nestene itself (voiced by Nick "Big Finish" Briggs, no less!), the other CGI elements are on par with the sort of stuff we've seen in the better Star Wars fan films on the Internet.

Another stand-out element has to be Murray Gold's incidental score, which is absolutely fantastic. In fact, musically this series is superb, with a variety of styles used in a variety of different ways, but all to great effect. We even get to retain the original Delia theme tune, although it has presumably been re-scored and re-jigged by Gold. The incidental score is the best we've ever had on the series, and instantly ensures you get sucked right into what's happening on screen.

Overall, I have to admit that 'Rose' is a triumph for small-screen "Doctor Who", and sets this new run of adventures off in just the right direction. The Doctor and Rose are going to make a fantastic team, and I look forward to joining them each week on their adventures. We're certainly going to be in for one hell of a ride, that's for sure. With this production team at the healm, anything can happen - and I am somehow sure it will. Watch out monsters - the Doctor's back!

Overall Score: 5 / 5 (Very Good)

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Almost a year after the new Doctor Who series aired in the UK, I’ve purchased the newly-released Canadian DVD box set so that I can finally have a look at this new take on the old Doctor. I’ve tried to avoid too much spoiler information, but it’s impossible to avoid all details if you spend any time on this website, which of course I do. Consequently, while I was looking forward to the new series, I was prepared to be disappointed as well. I’ve read about the Doctor swearing, the flatulent aliens, the same-sex kiss, the Doctor having romantic inclinations towards Rose, the belching trash bin, etc., all of which are things the original series never delved into, and are not necessary to make Doctor Who fresh and successful. So I wondered whether the show would be worth watching and whether my favorite show had become another failed modern remake, bereft of the charm of the original series, despite the high ratings and generally good reviews. 

Does it hit all the right notes? The answer is: mostly. As I opined to my wife after having seen the first seven episodes, the new show is generally good with objectionable bits. Obviously I like it well enough to have watched the episodes, and to watch the rest in time, but I can give few episodes gushing enthusiasm. It’s more of a restrained enjoyment for me. There's a lot of room for improvement on the show. I do think the new theme arrangement is outstanding, probably the best since the Troughton/Pertwee/Baker version. The special effects, while not 100% convincing in some cases, are light-years ahead of the original series. The music is generally good, though it overwhelms the dialogue sometimes and ought to be a bit more restrained. The 45 minute format seems to work quite well, and we get an occasional two-parter, so we’ve not lost cliffhangers entirely. 

Getting down to the story at hand, I have to say that “Rose” is generally quite good. I’ve watched it twice now, and it holds up well. It’s a pretty straightforward story. The Nestenes, having evidently lost their planet in the time war, are intent on taking the Earth for their own. The Doctor is trying to track them down and stop them. Rose Tyler gets dragged into events and like so many before her, ends up becoming involved in the Doctor’s life and travelling with him. 

I’ve read a lot of ‘there’s no plot’ comments about “Rose”. The introduction of Rose is the plot, is it not? The Autons are important, but they dominate the last third of the story rather than the whole episode. We skip the Doctor’s discovery of the threat and the way he works out how to defeat said threat, but admittedly we’ve seen that before, many times. As viewers, we can get straight to the business of defeating the Autons, or we can take a fresh approach and join Rose as she continues to encounter and learn about the Doctor while he’s on the hunt for the hidden Nestene Consciousness. I’d rather take the latter journey. The notorious plot contrivance of ‘anti-plastic’ is admittedly a quick way to finish things off, but dropping it on the consciousness is the equivalent of poisoning someone. As such, it’s a concept that’s sci-fi in name only. 

There are a number of good things about this episode. Showing us events from Rose’s point of view is exactly the right way to go about things. The quick view of her home/job/boyfriend/general daily routine is a very nice encapsulated display of her very ordinary life. Then we see the disruption of that life by the Autons and the plot gathers pace from there. This allows us as viewers to see events unfold from the outside along with Rose and identify with her rather than being thrown right away into the Doctor’s world. It’s not only appropriate to relaunch the series with a back to basics approach, but it doesn’t assume knowledge of prior stories. Both old and new viewers can follow along. Other nice touches in “Rose” include the use of Autons as the enemy of the week. Their use ties the new series in with the old right from the start, as do familiar sound effects like the TARDIS takeoff/landing sound and the Auton handguns. Rose’s use of the internet to gather information about the Doctor is a nice modern touch. Rose herself is a strong character, who gets scared, angry and confused, but also has it within herself to show some heroism when pushed. Billie Piper is quite good in the part. 

Some not so nice touches include over-use of domestic life, which starts to get ‘soap-opera’-like at times. It’s restrained here in the first episode, and even somewhat appropriate given the need to show the ordinary life that Rose will (sort-of) leave behind, but it becomes intrusive later on in “Aliens of London”. Admittedly it is something new that we haven’t seen with prior companions, but I’m not sure I want to see too much more of it. If you’re going to travel, go travel for goodness sake! Enough with Jackie’s gossipy friends and Mickey’s goofiness. Why waste time on that when we could be seeing the universe? I watch Doctor Who for imagination and escapism. not fictionalized depictions of ordinary life. 

Along those lines, the attempted seduction of the Doctor by Jackie was just silly. Introducing sex is an another attempt to make the show more ‘relevant’ and ‘adult’, much like Eric Saward’s tendencies towards including violence and high body counts were meant to make the show more ‘adult’. Both approaches come across as juvenile rather than serious. As do the flatulent aliens later on, but I’ll get to that nonsense when I review “Aliens of London”. The belch from the Auton trash bin is just as lowbrow and unwelcome. 

Moving along, all of the plot and supporting characters are meaningless without a good Doctor, so how does Christopher Eccleston stack up with all of the other Doctors? 

He’s a good actor, and very energetic. He’s a bit more cruel than past Doctors though. He’s very dismissive of humans in general, who have gone from ‘quite my favorite species’ (Ark in Space) to “stupid apes”. While the Doctor has criticized humanity in general in the past, this is certainly a harsher generalization and seems odd for the character. He does have character traits from past Doctors, reminding me of Pertwee on a bad day with his cutting remarks to several people and general short-temperedness. Skipping ahead a bit to “the Long Game”, his abandonment of Adam with the chip in Adam’s head seems especially cruel. Hartnell in the early days might have abandoned companions to their fate (as he suggests in "The Daleks"), but at least he had the excuse of trying to protect Susan. The Doctor grew out of that behavior trait, but seems to have regressed somewhat. 

Eccleston’s Doctor does have the manic grin of Tom Baker’s version, though his take to the character is miles from Tom’s approach. Eccleston’s Doctor takes the ‘big picture’ view of history or a threat that reminds one of Hartnell or Tom Baker. The way he forgets Mickey reminds me of the fourth Doctor’s seeming disregard for Laurence Scarman’s death in Pyramids of Mars, where the good of the race is so paramount in the Doctor’s mind that individual deaths can’t be dwelt upon. However, in contrast to his seeming callousness, the 9th Doctor is still willing to risk his life for others, which says a lot for the selfless side of his nature. In short, I think Eccleston is generally playing the same character as all the others, with many of the same character traits, but with much less patience and likability. I presume a lot of his short temper is due to his losses in the Time War, which is clearly the backstory to just about every episode so far. He has survivor’s guilt and a lot of anger perhaps. 

To wrap things up, “Rose” is a decent episode and a good start to the new series. It’s an improvement on the last few years of the original series, but does not hit the heights that the best serials of the old Doctor Who attained.

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As I prepared to view the very first episode of the new Doctor Who series, my mind raced back to the late eighties. I still have fond memories of watching the original show with my Mom when I was young, and the show was on PBS. The excitement, thrills, and humor of the classic series will always fill my mind with times of joy. 

With that being said, the excitement I had for a new episode when I was five came back to this young man of 21. 

Questions began to pop up as well: Will it be as good as the original? 

Will Christopher Eccleston, the star of films such as "28 Days Later" and "The Others," bring the same spirit to the Doctor as his predecessors? 

Will the companion be of much help, or useless as usual?

But those questions and more were answered with an enthusiastic YES! The first episode, "Rose," is a fantastic beginning to the new series. From the very outset, it didn't feel like a new show, but a continuation of the original. The spirit of the classic series is still there, while also having a fresh style. The storytelling is also there; Davies' wrtiting is on par with some of the best in Sci-Fi, from Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica.

Eccleston is brilliant in the role. He brings to the role the excitement and humor that were trademarks of Tom Baker's era, while also bringing new dimensions to the role. Billie Piper is great as Rose Tyler. Finally, a companion who doesn't scream every five seconds, and is actually able to help every once in a while. Other cast members, from Camille Coduri to Noel Clarke, do fine jobs in their roles.

Of course, one of the most exciting things about "Rose" is that instead of inventing a new enemy to begin with, the creators brought back an old nemesis: The Autons, as controlled by the Nestene Consciousness. As with the original Doctor Who adventures "Spearhead from Space" and "Terror of the Autons," the Autons are still frightening, and the wonders of CGI render the Nestene Consciousness as a truly terrifying creature. 

As the episode ended, I sat back in true astonishment. The Doctor was back, and I couldn't wait for the next episode. The cast and crew have done a fantastic job of bringing a new dimension to Doctor Who, while still keeping the spirit of the original series. And with most modern sci-fi shows being too dark and humorless, it's great to have a show come along that doesn't take itself too seriously, and is suitable for younger children as well.


Grade: A (On a scale of A+ to F)

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Rose (Credit: BBC Books)
Author: Russell T Davies
Publisher: BBC Books
Released: April 2018
Paperback: 197 pages

Target is back!  The Target novelisations of televised stories were the mainstay of Doctor Who fans in the pre-VHS and DVD days – the only way to find out about adventures of Doctors you didn’t know existed.  And for collectors, these books were also an essential archive of the show’s past in their own right

Rose is a logical choice to include in the relaunch of the series – it’s not necessarily a fantastic episode (though it is pretty good and holds up well) but it did play such an important role in introducing the show to a new audience.

Like most of the previous Target novelisations, Rose, by Russell T Davies (the showrunner for the TV series as well as writer of this episode), tells the story pretty much as it was broadcast, primarily recounting the story of Rose Tyler and her introduction into the world of the Doctor as they battle the Nestene Consciousness and its army of killer Autons.  As in past books what this novelisation does is add extra depth and background to the characters.  Here, Rose and her boyfriend Mickey’s circle of friends is expanded upon with Mickey’s life story a particularly moving addition.  Extra depth is also provided on Clive Finch and his family, making the resolution of his story here more poignant and even a little threatening.

Another added feature to this novelisation is the generous sprinkling of continuity, not only from the Doctor’s past but also his future.  RTD takes the opportunity to draw on the show’s 13-year extended history, including Rose’s encounter with a strange man on New Year’s Day and the mention of a future companion.  Both of these additions make the interesting point that companions may already have unknowingly been caught up in the Doctor’s world before we get to meet them.  Extra mentions for Bad Wolf and Torchwood, and more obscure references for the eagle-eyed, including plastic daffodils, give the eager fan plenty to look out for – a kind of Doctor Who I –Spy.

As we would expect from RTD the story features plenty of humour, particularly when writing for Rose’s mum Jackie.  There are also knowing references to the episode’s broadcast – most notably a reference to Graham Norton whose voice was erroneously broadcast at a critical point of the episode.  The book also doesn’t try to avoid more mature themes, discretely hinting at the misbehaviour of Bernie Wilson and portraying a modern attitude to sexual difference that the show hasn’t hidden from.

Perhaps the most obvious place where extra material is provided is the climactic battle between the Doctor and the Nestene Consciousness – including an unexpected bluff involving Mickey – but most spectacularly the final battle with the Autons across London, with RTD taking the opportunity to wash MPs away as Parliament is flooded in the aftermath of the battle!  This battle is also more deliciously violent than we see on-screen with some gruesome comeuppances for some of the extra characters.  A significant improvement on the TV story is also, for me, the departure of Rose to travel with the Doctor which is handled more sensitively here.

All in all the story rattles on at a breath-taking pace, despite the extra details, and manages to evoke the spirit and novelty of the revived show but also the comfort and familiarity of the Target range.  The book also features one of the most vivid descriptions of the TARDIS dematerialisation I’ve read. 

The book cover is decorated with an illustration by Anthony Dry who evokes the classic designs of Chris Achilleos and so these books sit nicely, though not identically, alongside the recent classic series re-releases.  With three other titles from the new series also just published I’m hoping (as a reader and a completist collector) that there will be further additions to this range.

Filters: BBC Books Ninth Doctor Target
Rose (Credit: BBC Audio)
Written by: Russell T Davies
Read by: Camille Coduri
Cover by: Anthony Dry
Duration: 4hrs 14mins
Publisher: BBC Audio
Originally Released June 2018

When Doctor Who returned with Rose in 2005 its necromancer in chief, Russell T Davies, was understandably nervous of going too far too soon. Both in terms of keeping the new mystery at the heart of show a mysterious tease (War? What war did he fight in? What planets couldn’t he save?) and in keeping the show’s past at arm’s length. Let the public learn to love the show again first, then introduce them to the potentially embarrassing extended family. Don’t scare them off straight away.

But Davies’ affection for the show he grew up with pure and true, and it makes this Target novelization a unique case across the hundreds of titles to carry the Target logo. It’s not remotely unusual for Target books to deepen and expand on the original script. But this is the only case I can think of where the author is indulging himself with all the back references and fan service he couldn’t the first time around. The job is done. The crown has been passed on. Now it’s time to play.

And so Clive’s history is greatly developed. Not only does his collection feature more than just Christopher Eccleston’s face staring out of historical events, but all the Doctors past and present, from Hartnell to Whittaker and even beyond have their own files on the shelves of the shed. And the origins of his obsession are revealed as being his own father’s presence during the events of Remembrance of the Daleks. But this book looks forward too. Davies has said he considers this itch scratched now, and being able to say that he wrong one entry in the beloved range of novelizations is enough for him. Nothing he’s said could be more convincing of that than the way he approaches this take on the Doctor and Rose. In a move that feels almost slightly greedy, he reaches into his own show’s future to plunder it for character beats that, on TV, were spun out for much longer. So, in this text-based universe, Rose and the Doctor have their discussion about his world having been destroyed and being the only survivor here rather than in The End of the World. A lot of the material about the Tyler family finds it way here from its original placement in Father’s Day and similarly, Mickey’s backstory from Rise of the Cybermen is included and expanded here. Indeed, Mickey overall is given far more sympathetic treatment here than in the televised episode. Another suggestion of Davies seeing this as his one shot at the character in prose, with no future installments over which to develop Mickey's good points.

That will make for an interesting puzzle for future writers if the range ever gets around to novelizing such episodes – but if the Doctor winds up revealing the death of his people in the Time War to Rose twice, well, such continuity issues are almost a Target tradition going right the way back to Ian and Barbara’s multiple choice origin stories. In fact, even within this initial set of four releases, there’s an element of that – Davies’ Rose introducing a whole supporting cast for his version of Mickey (who, in another universe perhaps, would be the star of his own single-camera Channel 4 sitcom about a loveable ne’erdowell and his mates), all of whom have apparently evaporated by Colgan’s The Christmas Invasion, which notes that Mickey’s a bit of a loner who doesn’t make friends easily.

There's a lot of brand new material in Davies’ book, too, both in fleshing out the bones of the plot and in the way Ian Marter famously used to with his novelizations – pushing the violence and horror well beyond anything that could have been gotten away with on television. The more in depth look at the characters is a delight. As soon as the passing line of “Wilson’s dead,” in the television script becomes an entire chapter of Wilson’s history at Henrick’s down the decades it’s clear we’re in for something special.  The increase in the violence isn’t quite as successful. There are scenes where the Autons utilizing bladed arms and so on are ingenious and clever, but at other times the detailed descriptions of people being hacked to pieces, or having the back of their heads blown off by Auton guns seems to sit badly with the general tone of the book and to be included just for their own sake.

As with The Christmas Invasion, Jackie Tyler herself, Camille Coduri, takes on narration duties. The sheer pace of storytelling here leaves her less room to inject her own breezy reading style, and she seemed more at home approximating David Tennant’s mockney than dealing with Christopher Eccleston’s Salford tones (which here wind up more generically ‘Northern’). However, her recapturing of the Tyler matriarch is as perfect as ever (and she clearly relishes some of Jackie’s new lines like “Rose Tyler. You tart.”) And she again matches Billie Piper’s Rose so well that at times you’d be forgiven for thinking Piper had shown up in person. Coduri’s reading of the various tragic backstories of characters like Clive and Mickey is nicely sympathetic too, with a tangible sense of sitting across a kitchen table from her as she tells a new neighbour all the sad, sad stories of the locals right after they’ve left the room.

Having Russell T Davies back on anything Doctor Who is always a massive treat and his revised take on Rose is no exception. Matching his prose with as warm and engaging a reader as Camille Coduri, it makes the audiobook a shot of pure nostalgia and a wonderful way to take listeners back to where it all began (again).


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