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Archive for the Category "Doctor Who Reviews"

“Did I mention it also travels in time?” Mar 29

A review, then. Contains spoilers.

The music starts, then time tunnel titles appear. You get a tingle.

And then a day of Rose Tyler’s life, compressed into a minute or so. High-paced, quickly establishing the character and those around her. She heads off to the basement of Henrik’s, the shop where she works (played in the show by Howell’s department store, Cardiff), to look for Wilson (which I like to think, probably erroneously, is a reference to Donald Wilson, oversaw the creation of the series in the 60s). The music stops and the eeriest scene of the show begins. A red sofa sits quietly in the corner of the screen, inviting us to take cover. (This episode features the highest count of sofas in any Doctor Who story.)

The Doctor appears, introduced in exactly the right way. Rose runs from the building and passes a blue box on the street. Another tingle and an excellent way to introduce the TARDIS.

Now at home, Rose’s life is fantastically real. Her mum (a performance that seems to have divided fans) could be straight out of EastEnders, which in some respects is damning with faints praise. But Rose, her mum and Rose’s boyfriend Mickey speak like real people, with the little comedy gems coming naturally from the characters (“I know she is Greek but that’s not the point”). The store blaze is on BBC News 24 (which calls Henrik’s “Henrick’s” in its strap).

I didn’t catch first time, although on watching again it was quite clear, that the dismembered arm has got back in through the catflap (note for the geeks: Catflap was a working title for Survival, the last episode of the original series).

Then a wonderful single tracking shot, following Rose and the Doctor’s conversation as they walk from outside her flat. Lovely interaction, gentle humour – Eccleston hits the spot as the Doctor here. At the end of the scene, he tells Rose to go home but clearly already wants her to come with him. He hasn’t got over his tendency to abduct young women.

Rose track the Doctor down online (using TV world search engine and meets Clive, who’s been tracking the Doctor on his website (“She? She’s been looking at a website about the Doctor and she’s a she?” asks his wife). I’ve read other reviews that questioned Clive’s inclusion but his inclusion works on several levels. Apart from poking a bit of fun at fans, he also helps to imbue the Doctor with more mystery and, at the end of the scene, he succeeds in making the Doctor’s travels sound scary. The dramatic irony, of course, is that it is Clive who dies, and this is his other role: to show that in this new series likeable characters will die. Without Clive, extras and an unseen electrician would have been the Autons’ only victims.

Mark Benton, who played Clive, appeared in Russell T. Davies’s Second Coming, playing a character with the surname Tyler.

On second viewing, the pace didn’t seem quite so fast. Indeed, the underground denouement seemed very slightly slow. But the end, turning on its head the finale of the 1996 TV movie (the McGann Doctor invites Grace to join him and she says no, but he doesn’t come back and convince her), is great. The “please, sir, can I have some more?” feeling that comes with the best TV is absolutely there.

Billie Piper, on screen throughout, carries the episode unlike any Who companion since Ian and Barbara. Christopher Eccleston strikes the right, eccentric balance between toughness and cheeriness. Rose does everything the new series’ first needed and shows why Russell T. Davies is considered one of the best TV writers in the country. It has set a high standard for the rest of the series and I can’t wait.

Eccleston Close: I walked past here today