By Will Barber – Taylor
When Rose Tyler meets a mysterious stranger called the Doctor, her life will never be the same again. Soon she realises that her mum, her boyfriend, and the whole of Earth are in danger. The only hope for salvation lies inside a strange blue box.
Exactly ten years after it was first aired, Rose still has the same power and sheer joy that it did when originally broadcast; something which few TV dramas can claim. It also does something which few TV dramas have ever done; reinvent one of TV’s greatest characters in a way that stays true to the original but manages to make it seem fresh and new.
From the opening shot of the story, Rose is all about the titular character. Like in the very first episode of the series, An Unearthly Child the future companion acts as our eyes and ears. It is through them that we are able to experience The Doctor’s very mysterious world. We identify with them because we, like them, are curious to find out what is going on and who this mysterious Doctor is. One of the mistakes the TV Movie did but which RTD steered away from was the humanisation of The Doctor. One of the appealing things about the series and An Unearthly Child in particular is the fact that The Doctor is so alien. He seems different and sometimes slightly threatening. By making The Doctor seem alien, RTD managed to make the audience intrigued not just by the mystery of the time traveller but also by how alien he is. By creating a barrier between us and the main character, RTD managed to give the show the edge that it lacked in the TV Movie. By making The Doctor seem sometimes familiar but at other times completely other worldly, this presented a certain unpredictability to both the programme and The Doctor himself. This helps with hooking the audience in because while we are excited to see the adventures she sets off to go on at the end of the episode, we are also concerned because we don’t know what The Doctor will do. These central elements are what makes Rose a dynamic piece of work. Of course, it isn’t Hamlet and the story is far from unflawed but as an audience because there are the interesting and intriguing themes mixed in with relatable and interesting characters we tend to overlook the shortcomings of the episode, while other stories ,like Deep Breath, which try to do similar things are criticised because the mix is wrong.
The two main leads, Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper both manage to bring something to the table. Piper manages to play the relatable ever-woman extremely well. She seems normal and realistic. While Rose at the start of the series isn’t the most rounded character (we don’t really get to see personality traits that she has aside from being “sassy” until Episode Two) she does work better than other companions such as Dodo or Clara because she seems realistic and not as forced as the above examples. This is partly down to Piper’s acting and partly to RTD’s writing but ultimately it is the combination of the two which mean that Rose is a great companion.
Eccleston plays the part of The Ninth Doctor well. While the events that led up to how The Ninth Doctor became the man he was have been explained, it is nice to forget all of that when re watching the episode. The whole series was designed to feature a mysterious Doctor and RTD manages to accomplish that well. Eccleston darts in and out of his early scenes with the sort of confidence that you would expect from a 900 year old Time Lord. Yet, throughout the early scenes you get a sense that his confidence is a mask to hide something else. Eccleston’s genius is that he can play both the quiet, contemplative scenes (the best example being the amazing “I can feel the Earth moving” speech) brilliantly while also being able to play the much louder, bombastic scenes fantastically. The combination of the two means that the audience isn’t certain of where the true Doctor lies on the spectrum. Is he the loud, bombastic hero or the dark, philosophical survivor? The fact that we don’t know means the character seems that so much more interesting.
Eccleston also manages to play up how alien The Doctor is. The way he shouts at Rose after losing the signal to find the Autons seems very alien. Rose had gone through a lot that day, having lost her job and seen her boyfriend Mickey replaced by an Auton duplicate, you would think that another human being wouldn’t snap at her. However, The Doctor does because he is more concerned with saving the world and this helps underline his otherness. He is thinking on a higher plane to us and this makes him seem dangerous as well as intriguing as a character. If he thinks on another plane of existence does this mean that he would consider doing things that we wouldn’t for the greater good? All these points help underline why the character is interesting and different.
Overall, why Rose isn’t the greatest story it does manage to do what few stories do. It brings a whole new audience to a programme while retaining the support of the original viewers. It is fast paced; brilliantly scripted; wonderfully acted; superbly directed and all round fantastic.