Saturday, 26 October 2013

Rose / The End of the World / The Unquiet Dead


Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor.
As we move into the modern series, my reviews may from necessity get a little shorter! After nearly 16 years and only one TV movie to show for it, Doctor Who burst back onto the television screens of millions with ‘Rose’. Russel T Davies helmed the new series as ‘show-runner’, chief writer and many other things, and achieved great success.
Mickey (Noel Clarke) and Rose.
This opening episode is pretty much everything it needed to be. It was a little light-on for plot, which it needed to be, because it introduced the Doctor and the TARDIS to a new audience through the eyes of new companion, Rose. In many ways it was the exact opposite of the TV Movie, a story where none to little prior knowledge was required to understand the story. It saw the return of the Autons, a pretty good choice all told, and we are introduced to our new Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, who it has to be said was an inspired choice to play the role.
He is great in this episode, a wonderful mix of humour and crotchetiness. Not to the same extent as William Hartnell, but his disdain for the mundane shines through and appears to be one of the main characteristics of the ninth Doctor. Even Billie Piper as Rose was a good choice. It was great to see the show return to its roots and see the Doctor through the companion’s eyes. Rose is central to the plot and that’s great, rather like Barbara and Ian were in the very first episode in 1963.
Billie Piper as Rose
The effects are now of course CGI, and for the most part, it’s a slick production although some of the shots of the Nestene Consciousness weren’t great. The show also has a more ‘domestic’ feel to it with Rose’s mother, Jackie Tyler (Camila Coduri) playing a role in the story as well as her boyfriend, fantastically play by Noel Clarke, Mickey. It will be interesting to see what role they play in the rest of the series.
In a nutshell this is a wonderfully basic story which focuses on the introduction of the Doctor and Rose, to set the basis for the rest of the series and the new series as a whole. They got a lot right in this one.

The End of the World

Presenting... Cassandra (Zoe Wannamaker)

We move from modern (2005) times to the far future for the second episode of ‘NuWho’. Russel T Davies also penned this episode, which includes a myriad of aliens from different world and looks pretty spectacular at times. It’s an enjoyable episode, a simple story told well, and that’s all you can ask in 45 minutes to be fair.
Jabe (Yasmin Bannerman)
It has some wonderful ideas in it, I love the idea of trees being a species that evolves to a point where it can walk and talk. Jabe (Yasmin Bannerman) is a great character played with a lot of heart. The Face of Boe is a lovely creation well realised by the effects team, and all the blue people look rather good too. This is the tip of the iceberg because there are many more creatures, and clearly one of the aims of the episode was to ‘Wow’ the audience with what could be achieved.
We have a basic plot line involving the last human, Cassandra (Zoe Wanamaker) who is in fact a piece of skin stretched out with a face in the middle. She plans to mastermind a hostage situation for money. So it’s not that intricate but nevertheless all that was required and we see that the Doctor and Rose can travel into the far future and meet weird and wonderful creatures.
We get a glimpse into the Doctor’s more recent past – between the show’s incarnations if you will. The Time Lords, in this reality at least (and I didn’t get the memo so it must be in my future!) have all been destroyed along with Gallifrey in a great war. As Gallifrey stories kept getting worse and worse in the original series, perhaps that’s for the best and it’s a good starting point. Eccleston continues to impress, and Billie Piper’s sudden realisation (as Rose) that she knows nothing about the Doctor and wonders what the hell she is doing is well written and played, and a moment that seems perfectly natural and something we never saw from previous companions save perhaps Tegan Jovanka. The new series appears to be on a solid footing!

The Unquiet Dead

Mark Gatiss’s first episode for the series (he has been a lifelong fan) is a solid continuation of where the new series had started. We started in present day, went to the future so logically the past is the next place to explore, not just for Rose but for the audience too. We travel back to 1869, although that’s not strictly where the Doctor was aiming, and the Doctor and Rose are quickly embroiled in a ghost story which is naturally really an alien invasion!
Christopher Eccleston.
Simon Callow as Dickens.
The show is being made in Cardiff, so naturally they wanted to set a story there, and here we are! It’s a solid story involving ghosts that inhabit gas and are invading the bodies of the dead, taking them out to the theatre to see… Charles Dickens! Simon Callow guest stars brilliantly as Dickens which was very well written by Gatiss. It’s another way of introducing the audience to the parameters of the series, going back in time and meeting well-known figures from the past.
It seems to wane a bit 30 minutes in, but the set up is strong and the eventual resolution is also good. We have Gwen, the servant, who is the key to it and there’s some wonderful dialogue between her and Rose as Rose realises slowly attitudes towards many things were different back in time. Eve Myles plays Gwen, and does a particularly good job. Her death is very moving and sad.
The production is near faultless too, the BBC still do period extremely
Gwen (Eve Myles) talks with Rose.
well. My only criticism of the story is it’s not as exciting as the first two. Generally, as great as the series has been thus far, it also misses the build up over 90-odd minutes plus that the original series had. You look for more twists than there is feasibly time to put into a 45 minute story. But that’s just me getting used to the format.


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