Wednesday, March 13, 2024

New Doctor Who Review - Season 1. Episode 1: "Rose"

 Rating: 4.5/5

"Rose," being the introduction to Doctor Who's new series, shares competencies with the classic Doctor Who's first episode "An Unearthly Child." Rather than introducing the audience to concepts like the TARDIS, the Doctor, Timelords, or aliens right away, it takes a more grounded approach. "Rose" is told through the eyes of a relatable, human character. 

We are introduced to the character of Rose, a 19-year-old, working-class woman from London. She works in a shop, has a boyfriend, and lives with her mum. There's nothing exceptional about her. This is much like Ian and Barbra, who were the perspective characters in "An Unearthly Child." 

This is a great approach. Rather than assuming that the audience knows anything about Doctor Who, the series eases newcomers in, which is probably why many fans only watch the new series, rather than feeling the need to go back to the classics. 

Rose has her life turned upside down when she meets The Doctor. In this story, The Doctor battles a returning alien from the classics - the Nestene Consciousness and its Autons. 

While the monster of this story may be returning from the classics, the story itself is not bogged down in lore. The audience need not have watched "Spearhead From Space," nor "Terror Of the Autons" to know what's going on here. The monsters are elegantly introduced, with just enough information to make them both mysterious and understandable. 

The crux of the story is not its monsters, though, it's Rose learning about The Doctor. 

I absolutely love how The Doctor is framed in this story. He's treated like something of an urban legend. There are in-universe websites dedicated to archiving sightings of The Doctor throughout history, much like there are websites about Bigfoot. Next to The Doctor's original introduction in 1963, 2005's "Rose" has the best framing of The Doctor yet. 

There's enough mystique built up around The Doctor; Rose is a relatable enough person with a solid character arch; and the monsters are threatening enough to make this pilot episode truly engaging and exciting. 

"Rose" also acts as a good pitch for the pacing and tone of the new series. While old Doctor Who was slow and cerebral, this new take on the series is fast and exciting. Several short, well-made action scenes move the plot along at an engaging pace. There are, too, funny moments, which keep the episode fairly light-hearted. That said, the episode balances out its lightheartedness with some series moments (i.e. The Doctor's monologue, Rose entering the TARDIS for the first time). 

I will say that some of the humor didn't land for me. Specifically, the moment where Mickey gets eaten by a trashcan - that felt kind of stupid. That said, these moments are negligible compared to the episode's overall excellence. 

I love "Rose." It was probably the best way to reintroduce Doctor Who to a new audience. It has all the established Doctor Who lore, while freshly introducing all the old material. After watching this episode, I was excited to continue series. 

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