Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways

* Ah, Big Brother. When I first watched this episode, I was an obsessive fan, having not missed an episode since I discovered it in the second week of the first series, five years earlier. Since then, my relationship with the show has changed somewhat, having spent seven years working on it – that’s why so many entries in this blog were posted at two or three o’clock in the morning during past Summers and Januaries. I’ve since moved on, but needless to say after seven years, it will always represent something very special and important to me, so revisiting the time that it crossed over with another big part of my life was a joy. I love Big Brother, and I love Doctor Who, and fuck anyone who sneers at either.

* Naturally, I’m somewhat of an expert on the format, and the depiction here is more or less perfect. The guard of honour for the evictee is a fantastic observation, and the subversion of “I’m coming to get you” becoming “we’re going to get you” is testament to both RTD’s more subtle talents and the cultural impact of Big Brother‘s iconography. It was glorious to hear the full Oakenfold mix of the theme again, but the pedant in me wishes to point out that tension beds and crowd noise would have been a more accurate portrayal of an eviction night. Oh, and hindsight tells us that “the one where they all walked out” was much earlier than Series 504.

* Interesting that Big Brother is the only survivor of the formats portrayed – The Weakest Link finished in 2011, and How What Not To Look Like bit the dust within two years of Bad Wolf. I love the Anne-Droid, by the way – her cruel and slightly-too-personal banter was spot-on. But I got to thinking about what shows would be used if this episode were made today. I doubt it would be Big Brother, because it doesn’t quite have the same hold on the public consciousness as it once did. Instead, The Doctor would be in the Bake Off Tent, with a demonic Paul Hollywood urging him to make cakes for his survival. Rose would find herself with The Osmonoid on Pointless, and Jack would perform for a panel of robotic judges on Bad Wolf’s Got Talent, hoping to avoid the dreaded buzzer-saws.

* Anyway, this story is doing the “consequences of a previous adventure” thing again, for the second time in a row. However, this is obviously on a much, much bigger scale than Boom Town. The Doctor causes “one hundred years of hell” after destroying the Jagrafess, and by the end of this adventure, despite Rose’s time vortex antics, a hell of a lot of people stay dead – the Daleks destroyed continents at a time. And poor old Lynda With A Y. She was lovely, but she was cursed to death the moment she asked The Doctor if she could join him, about twenty minutes into a two-parter.

* Guest cast spotting: The Johnson! The man who would soon be touted as a potential Doctor for every subsequent regeneration – he’s probably being touted as we speak. Jenna Russell! Now finding fame on Eastenders, but for a number of us she’ll always be the woman who sings the Red Dwarf theme.

* Fave lines that I’d previous forgotten: “They’ve had to cut back. It’s not what it was.” / “He’s a plant, they’ve only brought him in to stir things up.” (these two are comments I read thousands of times on Twitter over those seven years) / “Rodrigo. He owes me a favour. Don’t ask why.”

* The Doctor’s reaction to Rose seemingly being killed by Anne Robinson – shutting down with grief as the chaos around him fades down in the mix – has always stuck with me, and it still brings a tear to my eye. “And with that sentence you just lost the right to even talk to me” is another one that’s never left me, nor his rant at the Daleks at the end of the first ep, complete with another reference to Davina’s old catchphrase. This is so, so good.

* And the Daleks are just brilliant too. The familiar heartbeat we hear inside their spaceship. The POV shot closing in on Rose, echoing their first ever appearance. “THEY SURVIVED THROUGH ME”. “DO NOT BLASPHEME”. The silent “EXTERMINATE” as they kill Lynda With A Y. Shivers down my spine on all of these.

* Eccleston is awesome as The Oncoming Storm. I love the way the Daleks recoil from him – he knows his enemies so well, and just for a moment he seems to be all-powerful, all-knowing and unstoppable. Then he locks himself in the TARDIS and has a little moment to himself, thus remaining relatable as the flawed hero we know and love. Like all the very best Doctors, you sometimes don’t know which way he’ll go when faced with a dilemma, but the “coward every time” line really landed. Oh, Chris. You *were* fantastic.

* For the record, Jack saying his goodbyes was the first time my lip wobbled during The Parting of the Ways tonight. Then it was the conversation about using the TARDIS to escape, and how it had never even occurred to Rose. Everything about Emergency Protocol One is just eternally sad, and by the time Rose was talking to Jackie about Pete, I was gone.

* The regeneration feels like an actual death, which is kind of the way it should be, but it hasn’t been since the Fifth Doctor carked it. After witnessing the various ways that regeneration manifested itself in the classic series, I like that this episode established the “arms stretched, explosion of energy” method as the way that regenerations work in the new era. A great moment to end a near-perfect series. It was enough to make me go from an interested observer to a devoted fan twelve years ago, and despite being in SD and some of the CGI starting to show its age, the stories, dialogue and performances are timeless, and still as enjoyable as ever.

RATING: 10

Ooh, it’s been a while since I did one of these:

SEASON AVERAGE RATING: 8.4

  • Seasons/Series watched: 27 of 35
  • Stories watched: 166 of 264
  • Individual episodes watched: 709 of 827
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Boom Town

* I’ve always been a staunch defender of Boom Town. It’s obviously nowhere near as exciting as the pair of two-parters either side, but if there’s one thing that this experiment shows, it’s that Doctor Who can be absolutely anything at any given time, and it certainly doesn’t require a minimum level of action or effects in order to remain entertaining for 45 minutes at a time.

* This is the new series doing what I like to call The Monoid Manoeuvre, exploring the aftermath of a previous adventure, Peladon style.  The emotional impact that being thwarted has on the monster is a new avenue, and it’s a psychological thriller at times, made possible by an excellent performance from Annette Badland. The dinner scene gets the drama and the comedy absolutely spot on.

* Ah look, it’s all the places I visited yesterday! We went to Cardiff for the weekend, primarily for the Doctor Who Experience, which was very good fun indeed. We also went to the Ianto Shrine, which is mental, and then to the very spot where the TARDIS lands in this episode, between the big watery monolith and the building with all the writing on it. I only wished I’d rewatched this episode before the trip, so that it would have occurred to me to go to the same restaurant as The Doctor and Margaret.

* It was fun to see the new series addressing the whole Police Box thing, and Mickey not knowing that such a thing was once a common sight in Britain. Sadly, that was about as good as Mickey got in this episode. I get that his role is to be resentful of Rose’s new life, but he goes beyond that to being completely unreasonable about it. Of course she’s going to run off to find The Doctor when Cardiff starts tearing itself apart – it’s not about you vs him, it’s her trying to save the world, you fucking plum.

* The bit where The Doctor finally notices “Bad Wolf” reminded me of how fun it was at the time to spot all the clues, explore the supplementary websites, and to speculate about what it all meant. Him dismissing it all as a big coincidence was very nicely done.

* Fave lines that I’d previously forgotten: “What are you captain of, the innuendo squad?” / “It was a very icy patch.” / “She’s climbing out of the window, isn’t she?”. There was probably more, but I stopped jotting them down halfway through, as it was all pretty fresh – it’s not one that you’d particularly make a point of revisiting, and I evidently haven’t all that much over the years, but it’s a nice little pit stop before the big finale.

RATING: 7

The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances

* Apologies for the delay – I watched the first episode on Monday, then I was busy for a couple of days. And naturally, I spent most of the time just watching, failing to make any meaningful notes. It’s so, so good, easily the best so far. The RTD years seemed to fall into a pattern of having a silly two-parter and a grown-up two-parter each series, and the latter was always better.

* Cheryl Fergison! I’d forgotten she was in this. I’ve met her several times through work, and she’s very nice indeed. Also, Richard Wilson! “I don’t believe it”, he says. He’s obviously excellent, but nobody could overshadow the brilliant performance of Florence Hoath. In the classic series, it would have been Nancy who became the new companion at the end.

* “Excellent bottom”. An absolutely perfect introduction to a character. Much was made at the time of Jack’s provocative, unashamedly all-encompassing sexuality, but as The Doctor points out, for me it’s always made perfect sense for a character from 3000 years in the future. It helps that John Barrowman’s confidence is utterly charming. Well, when he’s being Captain Jack, at least.

* If we believe the theory that dancing literally = shagging (as in not just the characters using it as a metaphor within the dialogue, but that every time we see character’s dancing within the show, they’re actually shagging but we see it as dancing), Jack and Rose just did it on top of a spaceship in front of Big Ben. Fair enough, but it also means The Doctor and Rose did at least some awkward heavy petting whilst waiting for Jack to rescue them. And best not to think about what Ecclestone’s up to when he starts dancing on his own in front of Rose and Jack.

* Fave lines that I’d previously forgotten? So many, but then it’s Moffat. “You’re not even in focus.” / “Those would have been terrible last words.” / “Well, I’ve got a banana and at a pinch you could put up some shelves.” / “Rose, I’m trying to resonate concrete.” / “Who said I’m not? Red bicycle when you were twelve.”

* I’ve always found Richard Wilson’s bit about being a father and a grandfather to be one of the most memorable moments of the first series. The Doctor’s response indicates that Susan has become the first companion to die off-screen that we know of, or perhaps not, given Day of the Doctor. Anyway, Victor Meldrew’s transformation into a gasmask monster shortly afterwards is amazing too.

* Bananas are good. Good source of potassium. I wonder how many times those words have been exchanged within my group of friends? Basically every time anyone’s ever eaten or even mentioned a banana in front of any of the others in the last twelve years.

* The conversation between Rose and Nancy about how there really is a future after all, even if it doesn’t seem like there will be, really resonates now that the world has gone to complete shit again. Twelve years ago, I was the Rose in that dynamic, now I’m with Nancy, and I really needed that little chat, and the reminder slightly later that what followed the last attempted fascist uprising was the establishment of the welfare state.

* So yes, obviously I cried at the end. It’s perfect. Yes, there can be a day where everybody lives, and yes, The Doctor fucking deserves to have one of those days, even on the evidence of this series, let alone the previous seven hundred episodes. It’s absolutely beautiful, and then Richard Wilson pops up again to steal the show. “There is a war on; is it possible you’ve miscounted?” Faultless.

RATING: 10

* Back to the present day, and I was slightly saddened but not remotely surprised that Capaldi has called it a day. It makes sense for him to go at the same time as Moffat – though it’s a shame that there’s one less reason to be optimistic about the Chibnall era, taking the total reasons down to zero – and three series is the average. The Twelfth Doctor is/was one of the best of all time, but I’ll get on to that in due course.

* Now, however, there’ll be a short gap before I join the Ninth Doctor on his trip to Cardiff, because I’m going on a trip to Cardiff, to see the Doctor Who Experience this weekend. Looking forward to it, and to seeing if the Ianto Shrine is still there.

Father’s Day

* I didn’t manage to write down many notes – I was too busy just watching. And crying. I adore this episode, and I remember being astonished back in 2005 that this silly little sci-fi show was powerful enough to elicit such a strong emotional response. It doesn’t surprise me any more, but after Rose showed me how much fun the series could be, and Dalek showed me how thrilling, Father’s Day was the one that established this whole other side, and cemented Doctor Who‘s place in my heart.

* Following on from the possible foreshadowing a few episodes back, I’m still not sure whether or not Rose planned this all from the start. I think the evidence points to the pre-credits scene here being her finally plucking up the courage to ask The Doctor for this favour that’s been on her mind for a while, but that at this stage, she only wants to be there for him. I think you can pinpoint the moment it occurs to her that she can save him – after she watches him getting hit by the car, and realises that he’s already dead, she decides she wants to go back again and change things. So it wasn’t *completely* spur of the moment, but she certainly hadn’t been planning to save his life since the moment she heard “time machine”, IMO.

* The Doctor disowning Rose is harsh and shocking, but can you see where he’s coming from. Much like with her motives, there’s a certain ambiguity as to whether he would genuinely have left her there if it wasn’t for the emergency. I kind of think he would – he feels like he’s been conned, just as he was learning to trust someone again, and since the Time War he has zero time for that shit.

* The TARDIS interior disappearing is a great moment of shock. I love the little indications that the world of 1987 is breaking down, although it’s a sobering thought to consider that Don’t Mug Yourself is almost as old now as Never Gonna Give You Up was in 2005.

* Fave lines that I’d previously forgotten: “The past is another country. 1987’s just the Isle of Wight.” / “Sometimes a duffel coat is just a duffel coat.” / “Now now Rose, you’re not going to bring about the end of the world, are you?”

* Tiny Mickey’s mum got eaten by The Reapers. No wonder the man’s a fucking mess. I know it all gets undone in the end, but it’s a grim story at times – the cuts to empty prams and child’s shoes in the street are Threads levels of dark.

* While I’ll never not find it weird that he shares his name with a friend of mine – especially considering said friend actually worked on this series – I love Pete Tyler. He drives this story by always being a step ahead of everyone else from 1987. The moment when he figured out who she is was the first time I welled up.

* Then, after the Doctor is gone, Pete figuring out what he had to do is when I stopped welling up and starting welling out. Doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen this episode, the story of a man sacrificing his life to save the world, and his daughter having to stand back and let him, is always going to make me cry when it’s this well written and performed.

RATING: 10

The Long Game

* Midway through the series, this is the episode so far that most closely resembles a classic serial – turn up at a place, meet the locals, examine the society for a bit, then realise there’s an alien behind everything. However, because there’s only 45 minutes to play with, it skips from the set-up to the resolution within a couple of scenes, missing out all the exciting peril in the middle. The episode really takes its time to build an intriguing story, and then rushes to finish it off; it’s incredibly unbalanced and it makes for a unsatisfying and ultimately unremarkable viewing experience.

* FAKE NEWS. Satellite 5 is a failing piece of garbage. Sad! Somehow the themes of this episode seem more relevant in 2017 than they did in 2005. There’s even lines about immigration being tightened up due to fear of attacks, and the powers that be creating a climate of fear in order to keep the borders closed. Fuck’s sake, Doctor Who is usually a much-needed respite from the terrifying injustices of the real world. Give me a break!

* The companion subplot is handled much better than the monster-of-the-week element. It’s enjoyable spotting the early warning signs that Adam’s a shit. It’s a speciality of Bruno Langley’s; Adam works in the exact same way as Todd Grimshaw, in that you want to believe he’s a good guy deep down, but you just know that there’s always some sort of twisted gameplan. I’m aware that previous drafts revealed that Adam was doing it all to find a cure for his ill father, but as it stands his only motivation is that he’s a bit of a twat.

* Tamsin Greig! I’d forgotten she was in this. Bit of a waste to use such a great actor in such a small part really, and it’s the same with Simon Pegg. They’re both great here – Pegg’s really on his home territory as a character that switches between being a billy-big-bollocks a shameless lickspittle – but I wish they’d been cast in much more substantial roles at some point instead.

* We end with Adam becoming the first ever companion to be kicked out of the TARDIS for being a compete dick, although Dodo and Adric came pretty close to getting there first at times. The failed companion is a great idea from Russell, but in hindsight it’s a shame that – with Captain Jack coming along in a couple of episodes – there’s so few stories where it’s just Rose and The Ninth Doctor, as they’re such a special pairing.

RATING: 5

Nothing to do with this episode, but I can’t let today pass without saying: RIP Sir John Hurt. Kane, Quentin Crisp, Winston Smith, The Elephant Man, Caligula, The War Doctor. Any one of these would have been career-defining for most actors. What an honour for Doctor Who to have been graced by him.

Dalek

* This near-future episode is now so old that it is in fact set in the past. Therefore the President that Van Statten wants replaced must be Obama – 2012 was the year of his second election victory. He says he wants a Democrat next, but of course the next President after Obama is categorically not that. Given that Van Statten was taken away and effectively killed before his orders were fulfilled, is it his former assistant’s fault that we’ve got fucking Trump?

* Top Trivia Fact: The stock footage of Bad Wolf One descending is used in The West Wing‘s opening titles.

* I started watching Coronation Street regularly in 2010, and so when Todd Grimshaw returned to the cobbles a few years later, I was eternally amused that Adam Mitchell had ended up in Weatherfield. Now, having watched several hundred episodes of Corrie since I last watched Dalek, it’s completely the other way round, and Todd Grimshaw has somehow shown up a secret facility in Utah.

* Eccleston’s finest moments so far come in his initial scene with the Dalek. He’s just incredible, and while there are other Doctors before or since that could have done wonderful things with this material, I can’t picture anyone else doing it in quite this way, with so much venom and rawness. Soon afterwards, the Doctor is essentially depicted as Christ, but after that scene, it’s earned.

* The Daleks – or rather, the Dalek – are/is genuinely better than ever. The writing is on a par with the finest Dalek stories of the old series, even before they take it into a whole new direction, and Nick Briggs is easily up there with Hawkins and Skelton. Their physical depiction is what raises the game – the beautiful construction job by Mike Tucker and team, and their newfound abilities. They can sucker people to death, dissolve bullets, rotate every section independently, and properly fly; some of these abilities have been implied before, and I’d never detract from the last bit of Dalek/stairs action, but it’s such a treat to actually see it all in such glorious detail.

* There are so many great moments – The Doctor with the Cyberman head, the Dalek setting off the fire alarm and in order to electrocute everyone, Rose saying goodbye when she was trapped behind the bulkhead. The Dalek is undoubtedly the star of this show (and as much as I love Davros, it’s nice to see them centre-stage without him), but Rose is a close second – the only human who can understand and reason with both the Dalek and the Time Lord. This episode is utterly, utterly perfect.

RATING: 10

Aliens of London / World War Three

* You don’t get recaps of important plot-related information at the start of a story these days, do you? Recapping a cliffhanger, yes, but I don’t think the show would feel the need to remind viewers of the companion’s backstory today. It’s a common criticism that it makes the Moffat era inaccessible to the casual viewer, but why should I give a fuck about them?

* I love the way the episode explores the aftermath of Rose’s departure, something the show’s never done before. Of course she’d be declared missing, and of course her mother would be distraught, and of course everyone would blame the boyfriend. Also, I’d forgotten that the whole RTD era is consequently always set one year in the future. So many things that would later become recurring are set up in this episode. I debated whether to bother including Trinity Wells in my ever-expanding list of tags, but in for a penny.

* Erm, Rose says to The Doctor “you’re so gay” at one point. Are we OK with that? I guess RTD has those privileges, but still, it felt weird coming from her mouth. Has the world changed so much in twelve years that I’ve already found something that I don’t think would be included these days? If so, good, because I didn’t like it.

* Tosh! Actually the actual Tosh from Torchwood, not just a different character played by the same actor. I remember my reaction to her being announced as being part of the cast for Torchwood, and it’s the same as it is now: still no idea why anyone would say “ooh, we should get her back”.

* Yeah, the farting isn’t brilliant, and it gets old pretty quickly. It’s a shame, because the Slitheen could have been great – the central concept of faking an invasion as a cover-up for the aliens already being there is lovely – but the execution lets them down. Also, some of the CGI as they’re shedding their skin suits doesn’t quite stand up on the upscaled Bluray.

* Something that I hadn’t twigged before: Jackie finding out about The Doctor is a parallel for humans making first contact with aliens. And favourite lines that I’d forgotten about this time include: “Mainly because everyone thinks I murdered you”; “You’re a very violent young woman”; and “Oh, boll…”

* It’s a good episode for making you go “ohh, it’s whatsisname”. Kurt from Teachers! That big Welsh man from Rovers and shitloads of other things! Big Meat from a shit episode of Red Dwarf! Either Rupert or Hubert from Mr. Bean’s New Years Eve party! Andrew Marr!

* If you’re going to do a cliffhanger with everyone in danger, don’t immediately cut to a “next time” preview of them all escaping. Jesus, I know that they fixed this problem from the very next two-parter onwards, but surely it should have been thought about before transmission.

* Massive Weapons of Destruction, deployed in 45 seconds. I see what you did there. It’s not terribly subtle as a piece of satire, but how amazing to have such a subversive line in a Saturday teatime family show. I also liked Rose’s earlier line about having no idea who the Prime Minister was due to having been away for a year – at the time probably a reference to the upcoming general election, but in hindsight possibly also to do with the Blair/Brown power struggle. The guy in the cupboard was blatantly supposed to be Blair, if anyone specific.

* It’s probably the weakest story of the series so far overall, but there’s still some great moments, particularly towards the end when The Doctor admits he’s putting Rose in danger, and Harriet Jones stands up and takes control. It’s not a shit episode by any means; as always with RTD, there’s a lot of heart. This isn’t a story about an alien invasion, it’s about how the alien invasion affects Rose and her family, and I’m totally on board with that.

RATING: 7

The Unquiet Dead

* Ah yes, it’s Gwen but in the past! Gwyneth is a much more interesting character, unencumbered by the need to repeatedly shout “Jaaaack” in a state of distress, and Eve Myles is great. Also on the Torchwood front, I’d completely forgotten that The Rift had been established this early into proceedings.

* Rose talking about how The Doctor can revisit days that are long gone made me think of Father’s Day. No idea whether this was intentional, but when The Doctor accuses her of deliberately engineering the situation in that episode, perhaps it’s true, and this is the moment when she got the idea. Gwyneth does later say that she’s been thinking about her dad a lot recently.

* It’s Christmas, but it’s not a Christmas special. I suppose had they known that setting an episode at this time of year would soon become a regular, annual event, they might not have picked it. But then again – Dickens. Simon Callow is superb, by the way.

* Favourite lines that I didn’t remember and so made me laugh once more: “What the Shakespeare is going on?” and “I love a happy medium”.

* The scene of Rose and Gwyneth giggling together as they wash up is the highlight of the episode. I love how naughty Gwyneth feels about talking that way, and how she’s so shocked at the mentions of boys and bums. However, given that she dies soon after, how come she has a descendant in modern day Cardiff? Maybe it was all an act, and the butcher’s boy is Gwen’s great-great-great-grandfather.

* The line I always remember from this episode is the Bad Wolf reference, but it’s the first bit that’s more memorable to me. “The things you’ve seen… The Darkness…” I always picture Rose and Mickey at Brixton Academy, headbanging to I Believe In A Thing Called Love.

* The snow falling from the departing TARDIS is absolutely lovely. It’s an episode that’s full of heart and atmosphere, even if the plot seems a little slow to get going, and then rushed in the resolution. But I like it a lot, and unfortunately I don’t think Gatiss has topped it since, although I will of course be re-evaluating in the coming months.

RATING: 8

Oh, and I got a notification earlier saying that this blog is two years old today. The experiment started a couple of months earlier, of course, but still – hooray!

The End of the World

* The ultimate destruction of Earth is an odd choice for Rose’s first trip – you’d think the Doctor would want to ease her in a little more gently, or maybe it was a test to see how she’d cope. The Ninth Doctor seems more thoughtless and insensitive than most of his successors, but he could well be moulding Rose like McCoy did with Ace.

* The psychic paper makes so much sense as a narrative device that when I first saw this episode, I’d assumed that it was something that had been carried over from the original series. Now that the average story has to be told in 45 minutes rather than 4×25, it really is a necessity.

* So much stuff is introduced in this episode; it totally makes sense that RTD wanted it to go out in a double bill with Rose. We learn about the TARDIS translation circuits, and The Doctor supercharges Rose’s phone, which makes for a neat little scene with Jackie to re-emphasise that this fantastical adventure is happening to a real, everyday person. After 26 years, the original show took its situation for granted – one of RTD’s best moves was to point out that a mad man in a box, taking people on adventures in time and space, is something truly remarkable.

* The parade of weird and wonderful aliens really felt like a statement of intent for the series. As did the Doctor flirting with a tree. The use of contemporary pop culture references is established in style, not only with the brilliantly fun appearances of Tainted Love and Toxic, but with the superb throwaway reference to Newsround Extra, of all things.

* I’d forgotten that Cassandra was a big old racist, none too subtly analogising human/alien hybrids with interracial relationships. I’m not a huge fan of the character – she’s well performed, but a bit dull, and I think the basic idea is a little too on-the-nose.

* Yes, that really is a stupid place to put an important “fix everything” switch, isn’t it? It’s a complete contrivance in order to serve the drama, but kind of worth it considering the results are so well done. As is Jabe, bless her.

* Lots of people die and stay dead – this isn’t the light and fluffy getting-to-know-you adventure I remembered. The Doctor basically executes Cassandra at the end, complete with Rose pleading him to stop.

* That final scene back on Earth is brilliant – absolutely vital that The Doctor opens up to Rose at this stage, to cement their relationship. It only takes a few lines to kick off the whole Time War backstory, which would fuel so many key moments over the next eight years.

* However, the one thing that I’ve always remembered above everything else from this story is the way Billie Piper says “I want chips” right at the end. I say it every time I have chips. AH WANT CHAAAPS.

RATING: 7

Rose

Oh yes, I’ve made it all the way back to where my love of Doctor Who began. I was 18, living away from home for the first time, and busy forging the friendships that would shape my adult life. Many of these precious people – one with whom I’ve now been running a website for fourteen years, one I lived with for seven years, one whose daughter I’m now godfather to – seemed incredibly excited about this old show coming back, so I found myself getting excited too. Thankfully, I loved the new episode as much as they did, and the new series has been a huge and important constant in all of our lives since.

Back then, my first experience was via a crappily-encoded leaked version that I’d downloaded from Kazaa or some shit. Today, I watched it upscaled on a Bluray (which, if you ask me, has got the dialogue way too low in the sound mix). Then, now, and all the many times I’ve rewatched it in between, Rose always has me hooked, tingly and very very happy. It’s an absolute masterpiece in how to introduce an outlandish concept to an extremely large and diverse audience – I even gave a presentation about it in my second year of uni. I was given a first for that component, but then I was aware that my lecturer was a massive Who fan.

Anyway, I’m waffling because I bloody love this episode, and I can’t express that enough. But you don’t really me to tell you how good or bad each episode of the new series is – we’ve all got our opinions, this is Doctor Who and we’re on the internet. Partly because of this, and partly because of the new necessity for me to write a post almost every night (I’m sticking to one post per *story*, so it’ll sometimes be every other night), the format of this blog needs to change slightly.

Basically, it’s now notes rather than articles – as well as the fact that I don’t have hours to spare every night, we’re now at a point where I’m rewatching Who, rather than discovering each story for the first time. You’ll still be getting a few hundred words per entry, but it’s now going to be things that I’d not noticed before, things that I’ve realised with hindsight, memories from the time, and any reappraisals of my opinions that take place. There may be exceptions if I feel like it at any point, but for now, here’s the tale of tonight’s rewatch of Rose, as it occurred to me:

* It’s a curious mixture of still feeling ultra modern – especially in the context of what I’ve been watching recently – and yet now being over a decade old, and so it’s no longer the present day. The production values and pace still stand up, but this isn’t our world, it’s one where the hairstyles and clothes are slightly different, where people watch 4:3 CRTs, own flip phones and have to go round somebody’s house to “use the computer”.

* Some of this dialogue is now totally iconic. “Nice to meet you Rose – RUN FOR YER LIFE”. The Doctor turning Jackie down. “Lots of planets have a north”. I love RTD’s writing so much, and every choice he makes here is spot on.

* The scene in the flat is the PERFECT introduction to a new Doctor. He establishes everything about his own personality and the show’s tone in a series of tiny moments, all while Rose isn’t paying him the slightest bit of attention.

* God, Mickey’s a complete tit here, isn’t he? My memory tells me that he got better as time went on, but I’d forgotten how pathetic and unlikable he is in this episode. I guess it was necessary that Rose’s boyfriend be someone that she’s quite right to leave behind.

* Also, how did she not notice he was made of shiny plastic straight away? This is the only bit of the episode that doesn’t quite stand up. I think they’d have got away with having him being eaten by a bin, were it not for the burp. Totally on board with all the other humour in the episode though.

* I had a huge grin on my face as Rose took in the TARDIS, even all this time later. It’s such a smart move to do absolutely everything from her point of view – not just waiting to show us the interior, but the fact that we don’t see the ship take off. We don’t find out that it travels until she walks out the door and she’s somewhere else. I hadn’t realised quite how much it breaks with convention until now, after watching 26 years’ worth of episodes where we’re almost always watching the process from the outside.

* God, I love Clive. The look on his face as he’s about to be shot has always stuck with me – so much is expressed in barely a second. “Oh my god, I was right. I knew it. Oh fuck.”

* The Next Time trailer is so crap, with its slow and baggy edits. It feels like an afterthought, and it nearly spoils the mood after Rose’s triumphant run towards the TARDIS, which should be the image we’re left with.

RATING: 10