Firstly, you may be wondering – What is this?
The Answer is A LIST! Don’t we love those? This is a very special list, well, to me it is. It’s a list of the top 50 stories that Doctor Who has produced over the past 49 years. So sit back and enjoy my opinions on these 50 fabulous stories that I will be watching and reviewing over the weeks leading up to the big day in November. Feel free to rant in the comments, these are solely my opinions and you have every right to argue against them.
Number 50: Rose
This is a fitting beginning to the top 50 who stories of all time. It’s a story which for me is very special, as it is to thousands of new series fans and classic fans alike – it’s the episode which brought our show back, and that gives it particular significance and resonance.
It’s hard not to like something which embodies all the emotions of the return of Doctor Who, back in 2005 when this was broadcast nobody knew whether the series was going to float, whether the Doctor would work in a modern universe, in a modern world. The answer, almost 10 years later is most defiantly yes, but when the titles opened on Rose we had no idea what we going to happen.
Rose was also for myself the first episode I watched live, even though it was 3 months later in Australia, it was the first episode I sat down to watch without knowing anything about it.
The story which Russell T Davies crafts isn’t a complex one, it isn’t amazing, nor is it particularly good. But what really works is how Davies treats the characters and the icons from who-lore. The TARDIS is mystical and ancient, the Doctor seemingly old and broken and the companion fresh and excited. Davies slowly introduces back into the show everything we hold dear and slowly but surely brings into the modern realm a show which had not seen a breath of fresh air since the 80’s. For this, Davies deserves all the credit in the world.
The story is told from the point of view of Rose, hence the title, which works well for Davies to introduce a new line of viewers to the Doctor and the ‘access point’ find out more about him. By the end of the episode we know all about the Doctor, we’ve discovered all that makes him, him. Perhaps the best way to sum up Davies’ writing of this episode is through the conversation between the Doctor and Rose as he heads back to the TARDIS, the now famous “I can feel the turn of the earth” speech. It’s like the old Time Lord is lost, wondering about the earth with no connection to humanity, just feeling the earth spin.
The Doctor is lost, and Rose helps him to rediscover himself.
It’s nice to see the Autons having real menace in this story. The shots of them crashing through the shop windows are properly freighting and are in a way what these enemies should have looked like in their debut, The Spearhead from Space way back in the 70’s. But really the Autons don’t get much of a show in the plot, mostly they just act as the monster of the week, but it seems fitting that it should be a classic series monster inhabiting the first modern story, like a bridge between the new and the old.
One thing that really stands out in this story is the production standards which, compared to the most recent series, are indicative of the budget that was given to the show’s revival series. The takes are long and the direction a little adventurous. The locations and lighting seem more sitcom than drama series which perhaps reflects the direction Davies was planning to take the show.
The CGI-ed Nestene Consciousness is symptomatic of the poor graphics and relative cheapness of the production.
Yet, the content of the story is still pleasing. A real highlight is Camille Coduri’s performance as Rose’s mum Jackie Tyler. The humour that is written for the role is perfectly pitched and does work really well. The scene with the Doctor standing outside Jackie’s bedroom door is brilliantly played by both Eccleston and Coduri.
Overall, Rose is probably, on it’s own, a lower 100’s Doctor Who story, yet because of the emotional resonance it brings, because of what it is, it ranks much higher in my personal scale of significant and memorable Doctor Who stories.
FACT: In the 2009 DWM Mighty 200 poll, Rose came in at Number 63.
Next Time coming in at Number 49: It’s the other beginning…