Review of Doctor Who ‘Rose’ (Series 27)

Neela Debnath

doctor2 300x225 Review of Doctor Who Rose (Series 27)In the run up to the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ in November 2013, Neela Debnath with the help of BBC DVD, will be reviewing one story from each of the previous 31 series of the show. Each review will offer readers a snapshot from every series of ‘Doctor Who’ and celebrate the longest-running science fiction television programme in the world.

It all started at a party. Writer Russell T. Davies had a brief conversation with television executive Jane Tranter about resurrecting Doctor Who. Davies had been campaigning for years to get Doctor Who back on the box and finally here was his chance. Taking the best bits from the past 40 years and updating the show, Davies pitched his vision for Doctor Who to the BBC.

After some discussion, the show went into production and then in March 2005 Doctor Who made its long-awaited comeback. The news that Doctor Who was returning sounded slightly farcical because it had been off the air for so long. If anything, it had ended up being a guilty pleasure for many towards the end of the Eighties.

On top of that former teen pop sensation Billie Piper was going to be the Doctor’s new companion Rose Tyler. She was best known for her pop anthem Because We Want To rather than her acting skills. It all smacked of spoof and parody. However, after watching Rose any misgivings disappeared and Doctor Who was finally back for good.

The regenerated series helmed by Davies saw the ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) battling with Autons (think homicidal shop mannequins) animated by a race known as the Nestene Consciousness. The aliens had come to Earth to feed off the abundance of plastics and toxins after their home planet was destroyed.

Rose provides a strong introduction to Doctor Who for new viewers and sets the tone of the show for the 21st Century. The production values were of a high calibre, the companion had a more important role to play, a lot of the action would be based on Earth, and much of the mythology surrounding the Time Lords and Gallifrey were dispensed of.

We never see the regeneration between the eighth and ninth incarnations but in Rose it is suggested that it is fairly recently, judging by the Doctor’s comments about his ears. No doubt we will see more of this mystery in the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor in November.

We get a sense of the Doctor’s alien and otherness when he first visits Rose’s house. Eccleston’s Doctor is more edgy than his previous incarnations. He has a northern accent and a leather jacket all of which makes his version of the Time Lord much more gritty. The ninth Doctor detaches from the traditional view of the cravat-wearing Doctor speaking in Received Pronunciation. It was a refreshing and necessary way to re-launch Doctor Who in a new age.

Piper’s companion is a conduit for the audience and asks questions on their behalf. She is also a feisty young woman who challenges the Doctor and doesn’t take his first answer as gospel. In the resurrected series more importance is placed on the role of the companion. It is Rose who saves the Doctor and not the other way round. Even though Rose may not be academic she is streetwise and smart in other ways.

Noel Clarke serves as another assistant of sorts as Rose’s hapless boyfriend Mickey Smith. Clarke is great in this comedic role, the young man who is always dismissed by the Doctor but is wonderful in his own way. He is also important because he builds upon Rose’s life and world.

Doctor Who was now a 45 minute adrenaline ride and gave the audience a different story each week, with an overarching story arc that would only come into fruition at the climax of the series. The popularity of Nu-Who led to the birth of two spin off shows The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood. It was a new era for the show.

DVD & image credit: BBC

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  • EowynRohan01

    We clearly sympathise for the time that you have been required to waste…. unfortunately, Billie Piper is the contemporary example of Bonnie Langford.

  • Bob Bell in hell

    No true fan would have written in praise of RTD’s parody remake of DW. New Who is the sf equivalent of New Labour: appropriating the iconography of the true cause in order to push a quite different, reactionary agenda.

  • Ed Walter

    Blimey, Community comments here were a tad terse. 47 years of watching DOCTOR WHO and I have to say the re-launch was perfect. RTD didn’t present a parody of the CLASSIC SERIES and to equate it to a political re-branding is puerile and attention-seeking.
    The NEW SERIES inherited the very DNA that made the drama series so popular. He acknowledged the heritage – as all series producers have done/taken advantage of throughout the decades – and took the best elements and wrote them into a fast-paced, witty and dramatic episode. As for Billie Piper being Bonnie Langford (Mel). No. The community contributor probably “Googled” for the worst DOCTOR WHO companion ever and her name cropped up. Rose Tyler is more akin to Jo Grant than Mel.
    Overall, ROSE was a triumph and so watchable (more so than many of Matt Smith’s episodes. Nothing against that superb actor but it was just the plotting and scripting that failed to gel) even 8 years on.

  • reverend61

    Oh, Neela. You had to use the word ‘feisty’, didn’t you?

  • Smithian

    At the time I was mixed-negative on “Rose.” I recognized it was not my “Doctor Who,” nor should it be, but appreciated the nods to the past and Eccleston and Piper’s characters and acting. This truly is a smart, modern and savvy introduction and vision for the series. Noel Clarke is largely embarrassing here, he doesn’t grow into his role until the end of this season or even the next. The script is too jokey and adolescent, relying on lazy gags even seasons 17 or 24 of the old show wouldn’t stoop to. The production values were exemplary for “Doctor Who,” if not comparable to more expensive American contemporary shows (basically the one thing the TV Movie had going for it besides Paul McGann – nice sets and expensive FX), though the cinematography looked cheap like a gauzy soap opera, something adjusted for season 2 and totally overhauled for season 5. Keith Boak’s direction is the worst offender though, actors like Clarke and Camille Coduri are prodded to overract, moments of terror are played for laughs and shot without suspense or drama and Murray Gold is encouraged to emphasize the campiness of it all. It’s no surprise Boak was never asked back.
    I think if RTD had known Eccleston was going to leave he would have focused a little more on the Doctor in season 1, but he would have changed little or nothing about “Rose,” which made a compelling companion the focus of the show and highlighted the surprising acting talents of Billie Piper. All in all, it was a bumpy but good debut.

  • Cody Messick

    I’ve watched old who after new who. I appreciate it, but honestly I’m just not a huge fan of 60s-80s television. The stories are enjoyable though. What you don’t want to admit is it’s the same show but adapted for the new times. It couldn’t be done in the same style, it never would’ve survived. So if you don’t like it, that’s fine, but don’t be a condescending hipster to the millions of new fans.

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