Monday, November 25, 2013

Doctor Who: 2005

Episode 697: Rose
First broadcast 7 pm, Saturday 26 March 2005
<< back to 2004

Rose enters the TARDIS for the first time
It's a brilliant scene. Rose and her new friend the Doctor are being chased by a monster. They're stuck in a back yard and the gates are locked. But the Doctor doesn't seem worried, he just strides into a tall blue box. Rose, baffled, follows him into the police box and stops short - just inside the doors. We don't see what she's seen. Then she runs back out again, and runs around the outside of the police box, checking it's not a trick. She runs back inside and the camera pulls back, the music swells, and we see the vast interior, the new TARDIS control room.

It's a brilliant scene but totally ruined by the trailers and publicity pictures released the week before broadcast showing the new TARDIS set.

Publicity is tricky: how much do you show to grab an audience but not spoil the surprises? As Gary Gillatt said of Day of the Doctor this weekend:

Wise words from Gary Gillatt
Perhaps that could only work a show that's already established a popular following, and Rose needed all the attention it could get. That original trailer for the return of Doctor Who is amazing, too. But how much better would the experience of watching Rose for the first time have been if we'd not known what the TARDIS interior looked like until Rose did?

I know the answer to that, because I first watched Rose more than two weeks before it was broadcast, before the TARDIS set had been seen. An early cut of the episode had found its way on to the internet, which I had manfully not downloaded (partly due to it being wrong, mostly due to be not knowing how). But then an evil friend I won't name handed me a copy burned onto a disc, and I was too weak to resist. On Wednesday 9 March, the Dr and I watched it together. Here's what I wrote at the time...
"I just loved it ... [The Dr] watched it too (though she was more excited by the prospect of new episodes of 24, and she's keener on Casanova than she is on Droo). She said she'd not hesitate to dump her boyfriend for the bloke with the time machine, so she could go see the Parthenon ...

The TARDIS looks great; a nice mix of stuff. There's a certain Jules Verne-ness to it, but also various Dr Who elements. The time rotor is from the TV movie, the interior doors from the Cushing films, etc. I love the inclusiveness of that. It's all Dr Who....

In fact, the TV movie has several influences: the rollicking TARDIS-in-vortex shots, the swirl of air when the TARDIS dematerialises... More importantly, that sense of the 'epic'. Old Dr Who was often up-close and intimate, with the Radiophonic Workshop famously speaking of 'inner turmoil'. The TV movie was much more 'Da daaa!' and orchestral. The use of human voices is part of that, but there's also the stings as scenes change. Does that make sense?

Talking to [another friend who'd seen it] last night, we agreed the direction is a bit flat. I loved the Doctor shouting 'leg it' to Rose, but when they're racing from the Autons in that first scene together, or across Dalek Bridge in Westminster, you don't really get a sense of urgency. They're running, yes, but not for their lives. Peter Davison is still best at Urgent Running. Also, as has been said, that spotting-the-transmitter needed one less frame...

[In the broadcast episode, there was indeed one less shot of the Doctor's bafflement before recognising the London Eye.]

But there are some nicely iconic moments: the wedding-dressed Autons, Mickey's head coming off, even the wheelie bin. I think it's a really funny idea, a wheelie bin eating someone. And is Billie's line about breast implants a nod to SynthespiansTM? I hope so.

I like the silliness. I really like the silliness. I will not repeat my views on the difference between stupidity and silliness ...

Rose getting into the car with Mickey and not knowing he's an Auton is cool. We know something is up, even though she doesn't. That's suspense. But it also means we believe in the Doctor before she does.

We get a staggering amount on information: the war, the Nestenes, the TARDIS (the disguise!), the Doctor, the sonic screwdriver, time travel, aliens, diplomacy... And Rose has got family and a life! Bloody hell, she's really got a life back home that matters. It means something. It's still boggling just how much of a departure that is.

Shame that Clive's stash of Who stuff didn't include pictures of Other Doctors - even in a spot-them-if-you-can-in-the-background way. I assumed, too, that all those pictures of the Doctor in the past are from his future. (I like the idea, for example, that he and Rose can visit Krakatoa now, and she'll know he washes up on Sumatra.)

The Doctor looking in the mirror is definitely for the first time - he doesn't know what he looks like, and the 'ears' gag (perfect for Eccles) is a steal from Robot. So, is this his regeneration story, but we've just come in mid-way through?

Not too worried about the 'vanillaness' of the episode [a complaint others had made]. It's pretty straightforward a beginning, but with plenty of room to move afterwards. I think J Morris once said that the TV movie didn't feel like a new beginning, but [in my opinion] Rose does. I want desperately to see more."
Next episode: 2006 

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