There is a long break before the next new episode of Doctor Who starts so I thought, why not a re-watch of the entire New Series beginning with “Rose?” I’m sure along the way that new thoughts will occur; and maybe even some of the episodes I didn’t love the first time around will make for a completely different experience.
I have always treasured rereading my favorite novels and re-watching my most loved series because there is always so much you miss with a first impression or even a second (admittedly, I’ve already re-watched a few episodes of series 1-4 with new people I’ve converted to the show since then) from lines you overlook and especially subtle themes that always stand out more when your mind can focus in on the details.
Looking for details and second impressions is what I plan to do here, starting with “Rose” (I’ve never watched Classic Who so that will be for another day). If you wish to re-watch with me, I plan on two episodes every Sunday (this first week, I am only looking at one). So join me as I look back to 2005 and the beginning of New Who.
It has been just about three years since I first tuned into “Rose” on my Amazon Prime account (I feel jipped I hadn’t tuned in sooner), in the midst of rising pressures and deadlines during my graduate degree (that semester was a nightmare). I didn’t realize then how much I needed the Doctor in my own life as a release from the real world. “Rose” fit me like a glove and I became spellbound by this strange alien called the Doctor and the character Rose. Rose was my way into this foreign story.
I could identify with that crap life existence (seemingly going nowhere) when suddenly this amazing man appears out of the blue to begin a life of adventure. I loved “Rose” from the moment the Doctor told Rose to “run” and I have been running with the Doctor ever since but what would I think about “Rose” now? Have my impressions changed at all?
The answer is no. I loved “Rose” almost as much as I did when I first watched it. I say almost because I can never relive that first feeling of the magic, that overpowering experience that overcame me with my first introduction of Doctor Who. Nonetheless, on re-watch, there is no doubt why “Rose” was the perfect gateway into the story. Russel T. Davies transformed the show into something new viewers could take part in, a start to the series where new fans were invited to be a part of this exciting world without feeling excluded from what came before. Rose became the eyes of the audience: as she learned about the Doctor so did I; the experience nothing short of extraordinary.
From the start of the episode, I was with Rose again: the boring existence, the nagging mother (I love Jackie), the dull boyfriend. Here was a character whose life wasn’t really going anywhere. There was nothing special about Rose other than she was an ordinary human with an ordinary and even bland existence. How wonderful to see such a great female character, a character that could just be human that is imperfect like the rest of us mere mortals. She wasn’t unrealistically strong and Rose wasn’t a damsel either. Rose was just real. I loved that and I realize I still love that about her. None of the future episodes have colored this character for me (even with the amount of online hate that still never fails to astound me).
Billie Piper has this amazing likable quality that draws you into her performance of Rose. I can see why I was originally so mesmerized by the character. For in all honesty, I am a character person. I cannot get into a show if I don’t connect with at least one of the characters. They need depth, even in the midst of an exciting action plot. I couldn’t have asked for anything more with Rose, and I completely agree with Davies’ decision to name the first episode after her. This was Rose’s story after all. In series 1 and 2, Rose is the protagonist even if the Doctor is the hero. Like I said earlier, she became the eyes of the audience and that worked and it still works. I’m not sure any other character could have so perfectly grabbed my attention.
Before this episode, I knew hardly anything of Doctor Who, other than a few whispers I heard on the internet so indeed I just thought Rose would be the protagonist forever. On re-watch, I can see now why I had this untrue perception of the show. For all intents and purposes, the new Doctor Who was all about the Doctor and Rose rather than just some assistant helping the Doctor. They were equals from the moment he grabs her hand. She was investigative, intelligent, and brave, all qualities that worked well off of Eccleston’s interpretation of the Doctor.
I have to bring up Mickey because sometimes it is easy to forget what a wimp he was in the first episode. So many ‘fans’ like to go off about what a ‘horrible’ person Rose is for being mean to her boyfriend. Yes, Rose has her wonderfully selfish moments (thank you once again Russel T. Davies for making Rose have flaws and therefore real) but Mickey really was a bit of a dumbbell in the beginning. It is amazing to look back at Mickey and know how much he grows in his future, to recognize what it is the Doctor does for him in making Mickey better too. Mickey is not without flaws. For instance, what does he really do for Rose? After her work gets blown up, he is more concerned about the game in the pub. Then there is that ‘questionable’ reveal (blink and you may miss it) of Mickey telling Rose not to go through his emails… What was that about? What were in his emails? I guess we’ll never know but needless to say, Mickey was no prince and Rose had every right to walk away when a better life is presented to her. It isn’t like they were married or even engaged. I would have run after the Doctor too…
Furthermore, Mickey is a wimp in the first episode, something he overcomes and becomes a man, but here he is such a fool and doesn’t try to protect Rose at all. When the Nestene Consciousness are trying to take over the human race, he tells Rose to leave the Doctor while he hangs on to the Tardis. Not much of a hero just yet and that’s fine because I love Mickey and his story. I love that he can change and grow as a character. Still, it is kind of funny to look back and see what Mickey was like in the beginning. It also really puts Rose and Mickey’s relationship into perspective for me and that is a good thing.
It has been a LONG time since Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor and sometimes, I think we forget just how good he actually was. Looking back, I adored him and the way he scorned humanity, while trying to save them at the same time (“ape” almost became endearing for me). On re-watch, I like the 9th Doctor even more because I appreciate him more than I did the first time around. Eccleston’s portrayal of the character is spot on and believable from his first entrance. He’s cheesy with his one-liners, dark (the eyes and the emotions when he speaks to the Nestene about the War is incredibly well acted), and romantic. Yes, I find the 9th Doctor romantic in the classic sense. The way he says “Rose Tyler” for the first time, the way he grabs her hand and they run together, and the vulnerability he reveals when he asks Rose to come with him all come together beautifully by the end of “Rose.” Even though he isn’t conventionally handsome and is much older than Piper, I didn’t care. I believed them and I felt the chemistry.
The look of disappointment he exposes when she first turns him down is great. But what I love best about the 9th Doctor (outside of his leather jacket) is that he comes across as a real man. He’s rude (the whole anti-domestic spiel he had going), feels alien, and just seems like he could kick someone’s butt. This is a character I truly believe just returned from a horrible War. Nine as the Doctor on second watch may actually be the best Doctor of all (this coming from someone who adores the 10th Doctor).
I loved everything about “Rose” even the second time around. The lines were funny and well written, the characters (particularly Rose and the Doctor) were well developed, and I even liked the alien threat of the week. Yes, the effects were cheesy (particularly with Mickey and the trash bin):
But that doesn’t really bother me because they had a lower budget and not the same production values they have today. Russel T. Davies had to sell this rebooted Doctor Who with the story and the characters, while at the same time not coming across TOO campy. I say, he definitely succeeded for a first episode.
My Favorite Quotes
JACKIE: There’s a strange man in my bedroom.
DOCTOR: Yes, there is.
JACKIE: Well, anything could happen.
DOCTOR: Do you know like we were saying about the Earth revolving? It’s like when you were a kid. The first time they tell you the world’s turning and you just can’t quite believe it because everything looks like it’s standing still. 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 hurtling round the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour, and I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go. That’s who I am. Now, forget me, Rose Tyler. Go home.
ROSE: If you are an alien, how comes you sound like you’re from the North?
DOCTOR: Lots of planets have a north.
Questions and Thoughts
How dark was it when one of the Plastics shot Clive, the Doctor conspiracy theorist in front of his family?
Who else loved the flirtatious look the Doctor gave Jackie before he turned her down? A great reminder of why she is so against him…
On re-watch, does anyone believe that time was rewritten in “The Day of the Doctor” and THIS Doctor really did end the Time War? I know that’s how I have to see it. I don’t buy the Doctor just forgot that he didn’t destroy the Time Lords, not based on Eccleston’s performance…
What was your favorite moment of “Rose?” Sound off below…
Check out my other posts in the Doctor Who Diaries, including a theory on why Bad Wolf WAS the Moment and a romantic music video about the Doctor and Rose.