Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Doctor Who - Series One



They say everybody remembers their first Doctor. You never forget who your first exposure to was, whether it be the First or Tenth Doctor. Mine has the dubious honour of being the Eighth Doctor, of the FOX tv-movie fame. Yuck. I remember not being terribly impressed with Paul McGann or anything about that particular thing. It's not like I know nothing of Doctor Who. I'm familiar with the set-up, and the basic gist of the series. When I heard all the accolades being lavished upon the revival, I took notice and got my hands on the first series.

I approached the revival series with trepidation. I wasn't sure what I was going to get. The only non-Star Trek:TNG show in the sci-fi genre that I've watched more than one episode of was the revival of Battlestar Galactica, which I didn't much care for (but I hear that the show gets better as it goes on... maybe I'll give it another try)

But, Series One of Doctor Who took me by surprise. It was equal parts inclusive of new audience member, and drippping with references to previous continuity. The whole premise of Doctor Who is conducive to attracting new fans, and that's exactly what this show did.



Both the leads are stand out. Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor was a mixture of sorrow, self-deprecating humour, unbearable smugness, and a desire for a happy ending. Meeting Rose, played by Billie Piper, you get the sense that he was lonely til she accompanied him. However, Rose is the real star of this show. The whole thing unravels from her point of view as she's the audience surrogate.

Rose is the more multi-textured character of the series. At the beginning of the show, she selfishly leaves her mother and boyfriend behind on a whim, going into the TARDIS with the Doctor. As the show progresses, and Rose learns more and more of the universe, she also learns more of herself, as she has hurt the ones she loves. Rose comes to realize that her family is important and that a healthy balance must be met between the present day and her adventures with the Doctor.

In those adventures, she and the Doctor encountered all sorts of creatures, in the future (the Face of Boe), in the past (the Gelth), in the present (Slitheen, Autons), and everywhere in between. Everywhere they go, both of them see this phrase "Bad Wolf" repeated over and over. What is the Big Bad Wolf? Who knows?

Along the way, Rose and the Doctor meet Captain Jack Harkness, a time-travelling con-man from the 51st century. Jack might be my favourite character from the show. His mixture of reluctant heroism, his charm and his arrogance make him extremely entertaining. He also represents the first character in Doctor Who history who isn't strictly heterosexual. In the 51st century, it's explained, sexuality is much more fluid. It's an interesting more modern take on the realities of the possible future.

The whole series comes to a head with the last two episodes, in which the Bad Wolf is revealed, the big bad is revealed (not the same, apparently...) and a huge moment in the relationship between the Doctor and Rose happens.



It's almost a shame that Eccleston didn't want to continue with a second series, seeing as how he's fun hilarious and interesting, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. In a heartwrenching scene, the Doctor regenerates, and we're left with David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, and we're left with a cliffhanger.

All in all, I was immensely entertained. There was time travel, strange creatures, exciting action, and carefully plotted character arcs. Add to that the serial style of storytelling, and I'm please. I eagerly await the chance to keep watching with the second series, starring Rose and the Tenth Doctor. I also am looking forward to Torchwood, the spin-off starring Captain Jack Harkness. Excellent series and highly recommended.

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