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

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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