Thoughts on Doctor Who: Rose

It’s time… to go back… to the past. That sounded so much cooler when Marty McFly said it.

Yes, as promised, because there’s no “new” Doctor Who this year, I’m going all the way back.

Not quite to 1963 — that’s maybe a task for another time — but to have a swing through the history of “new” Who. Hey, it’s all just Doctor Who to me.

This whole thing got started when I did stream-of-consciousness posts for Jodie Whittaker’s first season as The Doctor, which you can read on this very site!

But as is traditional, a little spoiler space, just in case you’re not up to date with the 2005 series.

Dammit. No, wait, that doesn’t work back in 2005, now does it.

I need something… more appropriate.

Ah, that’s better. MUCH better.

And now, on with Rose!

  • Diddly dum, diddly dumm.. straight into the credits. And Christopher Eccleston in that big, bold font! I still think he’s under-rated as a Doctor. I really do.
  • An opening shot of the planet earth. I actually don’t recall this. Been a long time since I watched Rose.
  • Ah yes, the waking up scene. It’s all coming back to me now. This was not, I’ll be honest, how I envisaged Doctor Who in the 21st century looking.
  • Some very fancy bits of Cardiff-for-London substitution going on. I was there a month or so ago, getting my Who-tourism (Who-rism? Sounds akward) on. I’m surprised at how much of it I can mentally place, too!
  • That shot of Mickey and Rose “in London” on an very obvious green screen is terrible. The Blu-Ray only makes it worse.
  • The pace really is non-stop, right up until Rose goes downstairs. There’s probably a janitor down there. Maybe some rats.
  • H.P Wilson, the janitor. Poor H.P Wilson. The first person to die in New Who! That’s not a great claim, is it? I mean, nobody’s inviting H.P Wilson to Doctor Who conventions, and the bar for those can be pretty low.
  • Do department stores really have half-empty racks of clothes lurking down at the basement level? If so, why? I mean, I kinda get why you’d have broken mannequins and stuff like that down there, but Rose walks past a bunch of what seem to be perfectly serviceable clothes!
  • The first Auton… actually looks better than I remember the effects in this episode looking. The benefit of practical effects, I guess. If I remember correctly, they’ll look ropey again before long.
  • “Run!” — the first words of the Eccleston Doctor, and the first entry of really-loud Murray Gold music. Mind you, it works pretty nicely here, so I’ll give it a pass.
  • “Wilson’s dead.” The thing I like about Christopher is that he gets the “alien” nature of the Doctor across within his first half-dozen lines.
  • “Nice to meet you Rose. Run for your life!” — I can’t imagine Tennant or Smith delivering that line with quite the same quantity of menace. Capaldi… yeah, that I could see.
  • Yeah, the green screen overlays in this are done NO favours by Blu-Ray. I originally watched this on an SD TV (it was the style at the time back in 2005), where its flaws weren’t quite so evident.
  • Does Rose know that her boyfriend is also a traitor to Starfleet?
  • Camille Coduri (sp?) also nails it immediately; she’s funny (because she’s meant to be), but she’s not a walking caricature.
  • I still don’t quite get the right vibe between Mickey and Rose though. They act like friends, not lovers, but that’s what they’re meant to be.
  • Rose wakes up the next morning — and looks way better than anyone who’s just waking up would. I mean, I don’t even have long blonde locks, and I know that!
  • The bit with the catflap and the Doctor has a proper old-school Doctor Who musical sting to it. Straight out of a Moog.
  • “I’m in my dressing gown”
  • “Yes you are”
  • “There’s a strange man in my bedroom”
  • “Yes, there is.”
  • “Anything could happen.”
  • (pause)
  • “No.”
  • Love it. Love it to bits. Jackie is brilliant.
  • I remember not liking the gurning-strangling-with-the-auton-arm bit at the time. And it hasn’t aged well.
  • Why is Jackie drying her already dry hair, beyond the fact that she needs to not hear The Doctor and Rose struggling in the living room?
  • “Hold on, you cant just go swanning off.”
  • “Yes I can. This is me, swanning off.”
  • Again, it’s the small matter of how Christopher Eccleston delivers the line that makes it work so very well. At this stage, it does still look a bit… well… CBBC if you know what I mean… but the performance takes it to a better level than that.
  • One hell of a long tracking shot while The Doctor tells Rose about the Autons. I cannot imagine they’d be able to film anywhere that long know. But of course, back then, Doctor Who was a moribund brand that few cared about. I did, of course.
  • Is it wrong that 14 years on, I still want Eccleston’s coat?
  • And now, that amazing speech about the world turning. Nice writing from Russell T Davies, made better by the performance and the music too. It’s the highlight of the episode, easily.
  • And of course, it’s on YouTube by itself. You should still watch the whole episode, but I cannot resist embedding it.
https://youtu.be/gvXDD2shejg
  • Mickey’s computer has a CRT monitor! And what looks like a ball mouse! And Rose is using a generic search engine, because of course she is! And the web looks… well, actually, it looks more 2000 than 2005, but still, it’s definitely of its time.
  • Oh god. The bin bit. We’ve gone from easily the best bit of the episode… to the worst. Although I will pay the little kid with the call of “Dad! It’s one of your nutters!”
  • Also “You made a website about the Doctor. She’s… a she?” from Clive’s wife– could I stretch that and call it foreshadowing of Jodie Whittaker? Sure, I can do that. You can’t stop me.
  • That’s some BAD photoshopping of Christopher Eccleston into the Kennedy shots. Like, properly awful. I know the Beeb didn’t have a good budget by Sci-Fi standards, and obviously Clive is at least meant to be a bit of a pisstake of long-term Who fans like myself, but any half-decent graphic designer could have done better.
  • And now, a bin will eat Mickey the Idiot. Frankly, he deserves it. And the effects are no better than the infamous Auton plastic chair from more than 30 years prior!
  • The burp still wasn’t necessary.
  • Plastic Mickey. I guess it beats Metal Mickey.
Where’s the reboot of this timeless classic, eh? Boogie boogie.
  • Mickey as an auton double agent is a ridiculous plot. Really, really awful. It’s not funny, and it makes little difference to the overall plot anyway. Also, why does he talk, but other autons are mute? Is Mickey actually a Nestene by himself? So many questions, all unanswered in favour of a daft champagne cork comedy bit.
  • Billie Piper’s TARDIS double take is… perfection. Very, very well acted and timed. Although I am left wondering how a plastic Mickey can dent a solid metal door, given a champagne cork can penetrate his very head. How dense is his construction?
  • The Eccleston control room’s smaller than those of his successors. I think I like it like that, but then I’m a big fan of the roundels. No, not even The Doctor knows what the round things are for. Doesn’t matter. The round things are awesome.
  • “Lots of planets have a north” — see, that’s how you do well timed comedy.
  • The Nestene food stock was destroyed “in the war”. That will be relevant later on in the series, of course. Oops. That’s kind of a spoiler, I guess.
  • Good to see that the London Eye is good for something. Plus the first “Fantastic!” of the new series.
  • Hmm. Auton breast implants. Why… would they?
  • “I’m not here to kill it. I’ve got to give it a chance.” That’s the Doctor I know. Although this business of the Shadow Proclamation still sounds awkwardly forced to my ear.
  • Mickey appears to have been held here by… no force at all? Given Plastic Mickey melted, why didn’t he either walk out or get killed?
  • The blob nestene isn’t a great effect.
  • “I. AM. TALKING!” Eccleston needed to stamp his authority on the role, and he managed it nicely.
  • “I fought in the war. It wasn’t my fault.” — well, now… as far as The Doctor knows in that moment, this is a bald-faced lie. It pretty much IS his fault… or at least he thinks it it.
  • Ah, 2005 flip mobile phones. I remember them well. Weird to think that I’m going to spend a fair bit of 2019 writing about their successors, foldable phones. The more things change, and all that…
  • Also, Queen’s Arcade, Cardiff. I walked in there when I was in Cardiff recently and I never even realised it was a stop on my Who-tourism tour!
  • The autons breaking out is, of course, Russel T calling all the way back to Spearhead in Space. If you haven’t seen it, you’re really missing out.
  • Alas, poor Clive. Too slow to outrun a plastic dummy.
  • “I got no A-levels. No job. No future. But I tell you what I have got. Jericho Street Junior School’s under-sevens gymnastics team. I won the bronze.
  • If Rose misses that swing, this whole episode ends up very differently. As does the world. I can’t quite see The Doctor’s way out of this without Rose, in fact.
  • Some pretty poor CGI explosions… and that’s all she wrote for the Nestenes. Does that mean that, technically speaking, Rose is guilty of genocide?
  • Poor, lonely Doctor just wants a friend. Again, the interplay between Piper and Eccleston makes this work.
  • The trailer includes the Face Of Boe. I’m sure he’ll be a one note character, right?

Time to rank the episodes of Series 1!

Which is going to be a bit weird. Partly because of course I have watched them all before, albeit not for some time.

But mostly because right now, I can only rank Rose in one possible place:

Doctor Who Series 1 episode rankings

  1. Rose

Go on. Argue with my placement of that based on watching a single episode. I dare you.

Next time: The End of The World. Well, if that’s true, this is going to be a shorter series than I remember!

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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