The ability to travel in all of time and space - what a fantastic concept for a show!
I didn't grow up with Doctor Who as the 'old' series ended in 1989, so it wasn't until the re-boot in 2005 that I got my first taste of the mad man in a blue box. The very first episode I watched was the first of the two-part series finale, 'Bad Wolf', and from then on I was hooked and went back to watch the rest of the season.
The first series will always hold a special place in my heart, as will my first Doctor - the Ninth Doctor played by Christopher Eccleston. He was the last of his kind, the survivor of a war that had left him hardened, a tad grim and intense. You don't mess with The Doctor, the Oncoming Storm. But he also showed a side of himself that was full of compassion, joy and laughter. I always found it incredible watching him switch from being intensely serious to grinning like a maniac in a split second. Christopher Eccleston bore the responsibility as the main protagonist of bringing Doctor Who back from obscurity and he did a fantastic job. Fantastic! The 21st Century needed this kind of Doctor. Having only one series (it was heartbreaking to watch him go) I think he's incredibly underrated.
The first series is one of my favourites, having in general very good storylines that weave together the alien with the familiar. Rose was the perfect character/companion to introduce us to the Doctor's world. Young and brave, she wasn't afraid to give the Doctor a piece of her mind but her compassion for people around her and her determination to do the right thing made her a brilliant companion. She's one of the few companions in the new series with a deeper backstory, as her family appears in quite a number of episodes. She was real.
It was the perfect start to travelling the universe ...
Episode 1 - Rose
The very first episode in the Doctor Who reboot. This wasn't the first episode I saw (that went to Bad Wolf) but watching it, I can see it was a great introduction to the world of Doctor Who. Having not seen any of the old Classic episodes, I didn't really have any expectations. But having a rather massive fan base built over several decades, the production team had their work cut out bringing in a new generation into the programme while still keeping it true to the original. It helped that the creators of the new series were massive fans themselves, so the show was in safe hands.
Firstly, the choice of The Doctor. A lot of pressure would have been on Christopher Eccleston's shoulders after the rather gimmicky Doctors towards the end in the 80s and the failed reboot in 2000. The silliness meant that the show wasn't taken very seriously. For the show to make an impact they needed someone with presence. Christopher Eccleston was the right choice for the 21st Century. He was in a word, northern. And that's the kind of Doctor we needed. He was rough and hard and serious and you didn't mess with him in his leather jacket. But he was also so much fun and saw joy in life and got excited by the smallest things. His ability to bounce between the two extremes showed the depth and breadth of Christopher Eccleston's acting abilities and he to this date is still my favourite Doctor.
Every Doctor needs a companion. The Doctor is an alien genius but the companions are our link to the Doctor's world and Billie Piper's Rose Tyler was a companion we could relate to. She grew up on the tough estates with her single mother, not having finished school and stuck in a boring job. She was an ordinary girl about to go on an extraordinary adventure. And along with Rose we got her mother Jackie, boyfriend Mickey and eventually her dad Pete as well. Rose grew so much as a companion over the years and she and her family grounded the Doctor in our lives. She also wasn't afraid to stand up to the Doctor when she thought he was wrong and do what is necessary, even in the face of danger.
The danger this week - living plastic. The nestene consciousness (a giant blob) turns shop window dummies into autons, moving plastic that ends up roboting around shooting people. The Doctor is investigating and in the process blows up Rose's work and saves her life. Then he tells her to forget him. She investigates 'the Doctor' and finds out that he's popped up throughout history. Poor Mickey gets taken by the plastic and Rose takes a quick trip in the TARDIS after the Doctor rips plastic-Mickey's head off. The two track down the nestene consciousness and Rose saves the day with her gymnastic skillz. The Doctor invites her to explore space which she refuses but when he leaves then returns telling her about time...we end with her running into the TARDIS and beginning her journey as a proper companion.
This episode set the scene and for Classic fans, simplified things by removing the other Time Lords from the equation (due to the Time War which happened some period of time before this reboot and after the movie). The Doctor is the last of his kind.
Looking back 10 years on, I still have fond memories of the epsiode that started it all.
Episode 2 - The End of the World
To be completed
Episode 3 - The Unquiet Dead
To be completed
Episode 4 - Aliens of London
To be completed
Episode 5 - World War Three
To be completed
Episode 6 - Dalek
To be completed
Episode 7 - The Long Game
To be completed
Episode 8 - Father's Day
If you could go back in time and save someone, would you?
Rose never knew her father as he died when she was a baby, so it's only natural that she would want to see him when he was alive. That's what time machines are for right? The Doctor obliges by taking her to her parent's wedding, where Pete Tyler gets Jackie's name wrong (it's pretty funny). But then Rose ups the ante by wanting to see her father on the day he died. He died alone, the victim of a hit and run and Rose wants to be there for him so he doesn't have to die alone.
Can't see any trouble brewing right? Well Rose can't just stand idly by and watch him die so she saves him. The Doctor is furious. One ordinary man who was dead is now alive. There's a wound in time, and the reapers (CGI winged breasts) have come to sterilise the wound by killing everyone in the world. Rose of course questions this because they travel the universe and save people all the time but the Doctor knows what can and can't be changed (this is delved into in the Series 4 Special 'The Waters of Mars' when The Doctor meddles with a fixed point).
Seeing Rose's parents (Pete and Jackie) interact was loads of fun. Jackie's 80's hair and mouthy attitude is in full force, after all, her husband has just turned up with a much younger blonde! Witnessing her parents fighting and realising that her father wasn't a successful businessman was an eye opening experience for Rose and she realised that her parent's marriage was no fairytale.
We see how much The Doctor cares about Rose because he realises fairly early on how he can save the world, but at the cost of Pete Tyler's life. The Doctor won't put Rose through it again so he does everything he can to find another way. But when the Doctor's plans go south, Pete steps up to set things back the way they should be, by running out into the path of the car that should have killed him. It's tragic, but this time Rose manages to be with him before he dies.
This story focused heavily on Rose's backstory and her family and is one of my favourites - the human connection, the great dialogue and interaction between the characters, I feel it really grounds the series. Because how many times do we think....oh if only I could go back in time and change this or that? Sure, we would love to explore the unknown, watch history unfold before us, but I think we'd also be sorely tempted to change our own past. And this episode investigates the dangers and consequences of that.
Episode 9 - The Empty Child
The second two-parter in this series is set during the height of the London Blitz when the Nazis are dropping bombs on London. But something else has fallen from the sky, a Chula (medical) warship that the Doctor and Rose has followed through time and space. This episode introduces us to Captain Jack Harness, an ex-Time Agent turned con-man from the 51st Century. His plan - find a piece of junk, try to sell it and demand upfront payment, then destroy it before the buyer realises he's bought a dud. But this time, his piece of junk carries a deadly cargo with it. Captain Jack is a fantastic character - he's capable withh technology and a tremendous flirt, the type of person able to talk himself out of any situation. He brings a different dynamic to the group.
As in many horror movies, unnatural children are some of the most scary beings you can come across, and this is no exception. This child, with a gas mask fused into his face is slowly creating an army of gas masked zombies. The CGI of people growing gas masks out of their faces is really creepy. The child is roaming the streets, looking for his mummy, projecting his voice onto any audio device and constantly asking "Are you my mummy?"
Nobody seems to know what is going on or who the child is except one girl - Nancy. Nancy lives on the streets and goes house to house during the air raids to find food for other street kids. Although she tells the Doctor that the child is her brother, I think it's not too difficult to see that she's more than likely the child's mother. Having children out of wedlock and especially so young was deeply frowned upon in those days.
The Doctor and Rose are split up for most of the episode and Rose is saved by Captain Jack who with his high tech devices and spaceship, is much more Spock. The three finally meet up in a hospital next to the crash site and the Doctor begins to get an inkling that the mutations are all Jack's fault. After all, the problem started right where his alien spaceship is. The episode ends with the trio surrounded by gas masked zombies who have awaken and are slowly plodding towards them.
How will they escape?
Episode 10 - The Doctor Dances
The episode begins right where we left off, with The Doctor, Rose and Jack surrounded in a hospital ward by gas masked zombies. The Doctor, realising that it's a hive mind controlled by the child, rather humorously tells them "go to your room". He speaks to them as he would an angry parent to a child and the group obeys, slowly trundling back to their beds. The trio make their way to the room of patient zero only to later realise....the Doctor just sent the child to his room! Next begins a funny chase scene as Captain Jack with his super sonic device and The Doctor with his rather pitiful-in-comparison sonic screwdriver attempt to sonic their way to a safe spot.
It's been clear in the series that The Doctor and Rose do not see themselves as boyfriend/girlfriend, as much as everyone else calls them a couple. He's a 900 year old Time Lord who's still recovering from war and she's a 19 year old shop-girl who still sort of has a boyfriend in Mickey. But the introduction of Captain Jack throws a bit of a spanner in the works and The Doctor is not entirely pleased with the attention Rose is giving to him. Compared to Mickey and Adam, Jack is competition. And the Doctor makes it quite clear to Jack that Rose is off limits at the end of the episode when The Doctor 'remembers' how to dance and refuses to let Jack cut in on his dancing with Rose. It's kinda cute really.
It's an interesting episode because there were no real bad guys. The nanogenes in the crashed Chula warship had never encountered a human before and therefore when they 'healed' the child they assumed the gas mask was part of his form. Reuniting Nancy and the child in the presence of the nanogenes allows them to recognise the mother DNA as the superior and correct form. The nanogenes heal the child and other gas masked zombies back to the correct human form. As the Doctor ecstatically proclaims "Everybody lives Rose. Just this once, EVERYBODY LIVES." Of course, the nanogenes heal everything including, missing limbs, which leads to a funny exchange between a patient and the hospital doctor.
It was a great two-part epsiode - a creepy mystery, a happy ending and a new addition to the TARDIS family.
Episode 11 - Boom Town
To be completed
Episode 12 - Bad Wolf
Bad Wolf. The very first Doctor Who episode I watched way back in 2005 and the episode that got me hooked on Doctor Who. This is also the first in the two-part series finale farewelling Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor (who was absolutely fantastic this series). In a clever melding of reality with fantasy, the episode featured The Doctor, Rose and Jack trapped in different reality TV shows (Big Brother, The Weakest Link and some fashion show that I guess we didn't have in Australia). In a funny coincidence the host of The Weakest Link in the UK was Anne Robinson and so they had an Anne-droid (android...get it?!) as the host of the show.
The three were mysteriously teleported from the TARDIS into the reality Tv shows by unknown entities and have a lark in the games until they realise that the stakes of losing are much higher...death. Only the winners get to live. The Doctor and Jack manage to escape but Rose gets zapped right infront of them. Which puts them in a right state and hell hath no fury like the Doctor who's just lost a companion. Thankfully though, Jack figures out that the disintegrator beam that zaps contestants doesn't actually turn people to atoms but transports them. It's a teleport beam!
But where are they being teleported and who's behind it all? Rose wakes up and we find out that she's on a dalek ship, sitting in the middle of an entire dalek fleet. They've been hiding in the dark edges of space growing and building and manipulating the Earth's history. The Doctor is incredulous and scared but he's going to do anything he can to save Rose.
My first episode had Earth in the future, space, a space station, daleks, reality TV, the Doctor, Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness. What a fantastic introduction to Doctor Who!
Episode 13 - The Parting of the Ways
To be completed