Rose, Season 1 Episode 1 (2005)
Written by, Russell T. Davies
Directed by, Keith Boak
Forget the propriety of having a teenager, two teachers and her grandfather taking off on an unknown adventure together. The New Who immediately puts us in the shoes of a 19 year old girl, Rose, who works in a department store. In some ways, it’s similar to An Unearthly Child because it does show life on earth for our main characters before setting off into space. However, instead of having to take off to find danger and adventure, it finds Rose in the store where she works. It’s trying to thwart this threat that the Doctor encounters Rose with what is a trademark command to, “Run!”
I cannot even begin to imagine what watching this live was like for long time Doctor Who fans. For me, my first experience watching this was difficult. In fact it took watching the first two episodes three times over a six month or more (I forget how long) time period before my husband and I were willing to keep trying with the series.
The Doctor is very alien in this first reboot episode. Talking about feeling the movement of the earth, hinting at his old age, talking down to a dressed down Jackie; add in random throw away lines, that come to mean more once people know about the Time War, are many of the complaints I heard from long time fans. For me, a novice, those were the very things that caught my interest. It hinted at Doctor Who’s rich history. There was so much I assumed that was part of Classic Who. I didn’t know the Time War was just as much of a mystery to “original fans.”
The supporting characters of Jackie and Mickey are very two dimensional. Jackie is the harpy mother. Mickey is the spineless boyfriend. He stays in a relationship with Rose because it’s comfortable. This narrow focus does create a payoff in later episodes. At the time I should have been insulted as a mother or annoyed by the lack of development. However, when I was first trying to watch the show I thought so little of them. They were there because they had to be. To me, it would be more unbelievable for someone to have no attachments to the world, at all. Once I saw, in later episodes, how they were brought back did I begin to think of the disservice to the characters when were introduced.
The place where Rose was employed, and she first met the Doctor, blows-up. Off the top of the action it was not expected. I did wonder about security guards and the like still being in there. Now, as a fan I can go back with head-canon that says, “Well the Doctor got them out or scared them away before getting Rose out.” Yes, I know that’s weak, but oh well.
Nestene being the demise of Doctor-stalker Clive continues to shock me. For some reason I always forget what happens to Clive. Then when it does I’m in full on surprise. I’ve watched this episode at least 7 times or more and yet *almost (not this last time) every time I forget about Clive’s fate.
Now, even the first time I watched Rose I knew that the Nestene were something more, or a call back to something. Perhaps it is just from inhaling random pop culture facts or over exposure to television. The second I even heard the title Terror of the Autons, I knew it was the living plastic just like the Nestene. It made the confirmation of my random knowledge feel like a victory. I probably have a biased love for TOTA that much more because of it.
I continually appreciate Russell T. Davies making Rose both the “man of action” as well as the general female companion, in one character. For so many Classic Who episodes there had to be a younger man who goes about saving the day. Here, Rose was able to save the day and the Doctor all at once. It also feeds into later stories and themes about the Doctor keeping his hands clean and the companions take on the role of killer, by design or accident.
Overall, it is a tidy introduction into the world of Doctor Who that kept me guessing and ready for more once I was ready to watch more DW. Now, as a fan, I can appreciate the nods to Classic Who while appreciating RTD’s attempts to modernize the show, while still tripping up in the representation department.
AND FOR THE RECORD: I think plastic Mickey is annoying but funny!
Episode Summary: Young shop girl meets a mysterious and odd older man who always happens to be in the right place and the right time. He speaks cryptically, talking about aliens, and fighting them. She’s willing to ditch her mother and boyfriend after his police box disappears and reappears in front of her.