Spearhead from Space

Story No. 161 Rose, and friend
Production Code Series One Episode One
Dates March 26, 2005

With Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper,
Camille Coduri, Noel Clarke
Written by Russell T. Davies. Directed by Keith Boak.
Executive Producers: Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, Mal Young.

Synopsis: A young woman's life is turned upside down when she meets a mysterious stranger called the Doctor.

Back to page one (the first twenty reviews)


'Hello. It's Rose' by Stuart Cottrell 29/8/09

I am ashamed to say that I was not one of the 10 million people who sat and watched Rose in March 2005; I think I got round to this episode sometime after the end of Series 2. I believe that this is the reason why my opinion on this episode differs to the majority. Maybe if it had been the first bit of Doctor Who I had ever seen, it would have thrilled me to bits. But it wasn't. And I found myself vaguely unimpressed.

It just seems a bit unfinished. It feels awkward watching it in some places. The long continued shot of the Doctor and Rose walking and talking is horrible; there's no flair or drama there at all, it feels dull. The domestic scenes are full of awkward laughter and shuffling about, feeling more like a Mike Leigh play than Doctor Who. And even when there are huge explosions going on, or the Doctor being menaced by Autons, the shots feel overlong and repetitive and unnecessary; it shoots the pace of the episode to bits. I abhor Murray Gold's score in this episode, it also feels awkward and inappropriate. Generally, the whole episode feels like it was made by a nervous, excited child, and judders and halts in the same way.

But there's no disguising the gems this episode holds. The opening 10 minutes are fantastic, creepy and exciting, creating tension and pace and real enjoyment. Our introduction to the Doctor is so quick and hectic that it leaves us feeling breathless and bewildered like Rose. The only problem is we slow right back down and never really build that same energy back again. Rose's entrance to the TARDIS is beautifully done, however; it's paced and scored well, and really feels like stepping into something new and exciting. The TARDIS interior is also fantastic, welcoming and warm whilst being completely alien and unknown. And, of course, the Autons themselves, who are astoundingly good. The brilliant creations of Robert Holmes are sinister when attacking Rose, and downright brutal and terrifying when they unleash in the shopping centre. The highlight of the episode is watching them smash through their glass and attack everything in sight; it's breathtaking to watch the destruction and the helplessness of everyone.

But the real gem of this episode is Rose herself. And really, this episode is all about Rose, it's only about Rose, its purpose is for the audience to meet Rose and for Rose to meet the Doctor. The character of Rose is crafted and presented to us is brilliant; she is the archetypal companion, and so she should be. She appears lost and bewildered for the first half hour, but she still acts bravely and honestly the whole way through. I'm on her side from the beginning. And there's no getting past it, Billie Piper is good, particularly good in this episode. She makes Rose very human and that makes her very endearing.

Christopher Eccleston is superb as the Doctor. He's a harsher Doctor, a much more isolated Doctor, and far harder to impress. If it had been Tennant, no doubt he would have gone out of his way to say how fantastic Rose was for noticing his shoelaces were undone or something, but Eccleston pushes Rose much harder, making both characters grow to a point where they quite conceivably can go and wander through time and space together, because they have the measure of each other. The chemistry between the two of them is excellent and Eccleston remains friendly yet enigmatically dark.

I am also a big fan of Jackie. I like her 1-dimension-ness in this episode; Camille Coduri plays her so well and she is great fun to watch. Mickey is rather annoying though. But then the two of them are supposed to be insubstantial, that's why Rose leaves them. Mark Benton as Clive provides the interest for me during those dull middle 15 minutes.

To me, this episode is a child, but that's only to be expected. It's a new series, finding its feet, struggling with production and tone, and all those things. There's minimal plot, the Nestene's naff, the music's irritating and I don't like the editing, but to be honest, so what? It introduces the Doctor, it introduces his world, it gives us the lovely Rose Tyler. It doesn't need to do anymore than that, but in places it does give more; comedic edge, threatening Autons. More importantly it makes us want even more, which is what a first episode should do.

Doctor. Check.
Rose. Check.
The start of something special. Check.

I am like everyone else then. I love it. And I love Doctor Who.

Hurrah... the Timelord has returned to our screens at long last! by Nathan Mullins 8/10/10

Rose was an episode highly anticipated by fans, awaiting eagerly for the new series of their beloved television show, Doctor Who to start. When I was little, I had all the old episodes, and used to watch them, nearly all the time. Then, when it was announced that the show might return, I became a fully fledged fan of the show. But I had seen many episodes when I was at the age of four, especially those that had Daleks in them, as well as the Cybermen, and the Autons. I have vivid memories also of the giant maggots and BOSS. My two brothers had collected many videos from the olden days, back in the 80's. Now, the show has come back and I have my very own Doctor, or should I say Doctors, and seeing the show continue has made me very happy indeed. Before the show came back, I knew quite a lot about the old show, that started all the way back in 1963, up until the very last episode, Survival. I genuinely knew a lot about the show.

When I sat down with my mum and my brothers to watch Rose, I was genuinely impressed. The show had been brought into the 21st century terrifically. We were first introduced to the character of Rose. Her backstory was that she lived with her mum, Jackie Tyler, at a South London flat, somewhere in the Woolworth Rd, that she had a boyfriend called Mickey, and that she worked in central London. Then, we had the scene where she had to find Wilson, and instead found the Autons, where she then met the Doctor, who then blew the shop she worked in to smithereens. When I read in the Radio Times that Billie Piper had been cast as Rose Tyler, I did not know whether that would be a good thing or not. I had been told she had been a teen pop star, and that the records she had made were all right, but weren't great. Then, I read the Christopher Eccleston had been cast as the 9th Doctor, and then I sort of stopped worrying. He looked all right as the Doctor, in my eyes, though I had a few issues with him. But they came later.

The Autons looked a lot different. To be honest, I thought that when I first saw them in Spearhead from Space, they looked a lot more authentic. Looking at today's Autons, they look a lot less creepy, because their features aren't scary as those that were in both Terror of the Autons and Spearhead from Space.

Rose and her boyfriend Mickey at first have a 'nice' relationship, but, in later episodes, the relationship between them both has been ruined by the Doctor, who took Rose away with him. The Doctor (9th), is, for me, just above average. There were some things I didn't like about Christopher's Doctor, and that was that he smiled a hell of a lot and, most of the time, it wasn't necessary. But Rose carried half of the episode. Rose was about that one character and the Doctor was put on the sidelines, because Rose had to be introduced to a whole new audience. Mmany of the viewers who tuned in were not fans of the show, and so the show had to reintroduce the character of both the Doctor and his companion.

Other than what I have mentioned above, I rather liked the TARDIS, and that it had been given an update. It is supposed to look as though it were organic, which I quite like, however Russel T Davies put me off a little. His intentions for the updated version of the TARDIS were to have just the console room, and not have any other unusual rooms, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, a swimming pool, etc... Apparently, he wanted to move away from a 'living quarters' completely.

Rose is a fantastic episode! Many of the episodes that followed were great also, but Rose was something special. It reintroduced an old foe, and did so superbly. Having the show back, being made by superb showrunners, has made the show what it is: Saturday evening television viewing. Just what the public ordered!

Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life! by Evan Weston 25/2/13

And so Doctor Who was reborn. Not braving the horrors of some distant planet, or fighting its way through space and time, but meeting a down-on-her-luck shopgirl in 2005 London. Russell T. Davies tells us all we need to know about his version of Who right in this very first episode: it's not going to be all about plot, or even education. New Who is about character and emotion, and, going forward, that's a good thing. However, Rose itself isn't a particularly strong story, though a lot of that is just the show ironing out the kinks.

Let's get to the good stuff first. The best parts of Rose, by far, are the performances of Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. Eccleston doesn't get all that much to do in his debut as the Ninth Doctor, but he does give us glimpses of the brooding hero yet to come: his constant attempts to get rid of Rose and forgetting Mickey's death, though I suppose we can't blame him for that one. Piper, on the other hand, gets to carry the episode, and though the script doesn't do her any favors, she delivers a strong performance. She pulls off the strong-willed nature of the character nicely even in its infant stages, and in her quieter moments, she has the perfect expression to emphasize just how tired of life Rose really is.

We're also introduced to the supporting characters, who are a mixed bag here. Camille Coduri provides some nice comic relief as Jackie, though I'm not sure the character was the perfect choice to be put in the Autons' line of fire at the end. Still, she's funny enough, especially in her flirtatious scene with the Doctor (Eccleston's reaction to her pouting is arguably the funniest moment of the episode). Noel Clarke, however, is a disaster in this episode. I get that Mickey is supposed to be a little stiff in the beginning and scared at the end, but Clarke hams it up so much here that I wouldn't have minded if Mickey was just a one-off. His ridiculous mugging while waiting for Rose outside Clive's house is just silly, and the "stupid lump" he's reduced to at the end is embarrassing. Luckily, Clarke only gets better from here (or so I remember).

Clarke isn't the main problem with this story, though. Rose's real issue is that it has so much to pull off: introduce all the characters convincingly, set the mood for the entire series, put all the pieces in place and still tell a good Who story. That's a lot of heavy lifting, and it almost never feels like the episode is having fun doing it. The story is told at a breakneck pace, which shatters any kind of suspense or excitement. For example, our first quiet moment is probably the scariest scene in the episode, when Rose is attacked by the Autons in the shop basement. Part of the effect is ruined by our knowledge that Billie Piper isn't going to die, and yet we know nothing about her character and can't feel for her when she inevitably is rescued. The episode continues like this, jumping from plot point to plot point with an extreme sense of urgency.

This isn't helped at all by two of Rose's core failings, neither of which I'm going to hold against it. Murray Gold's score is, quite comfortably, the worst he ever composed for Doctor Who, with its absurdly annoying techno bouncing whenever a character starts moving quickly (which is fairly often). Gold was just getting his feet wet with the series, and his work improves dramatically by the next episode, so I'm giving him a free pass here. The same goes for the CGI, which is terrible: the shop explosion and the Nestene Consciousness look particularly bad. This is pretty obviously due to the fact that the BBC hadn't yet granted Who the budget it needed to pull off effects like this, as the show was considered a major risk at the time.

What I can't forgive, however, is the weakness of the story. Yes, we're dragged through it and there's not much screen time for them, but the Autons are fairly weak here. Their best scene is their first, isolated down in the creepy basement with Rose. They do almost nothing else of significance the rest of the way, and they don't convince at all as really evil. The Nestene Consciousness isn't a very good main villain, either, and the MacGuffin used to kill it is so utterly lame that you know Davies just doesn't care about the plot. Anti-plastic, Russell? Seriously? The use of the London Eye was a nice touch, though.

Despite its shortcomings, though, Rose does what it has to do in order to set up the series. The best scenes are the ones in which Rose and the Doctor are just talking together, and Piper and Eccleston already show hints of the great chemistry that will define them down the line. We believe Rose would leave with the Doctor: there's nothing left for her in London, and the episode makes sure we know it. It's not close to perfect, and it might be the weakest story of Series 1, but Rose still does what it has to do. If getting through this story means we have the rest of this amazing show to look forward to, then so be it.


The unbearable absence of Paul McGann by Thomas Cookson 13/4/13

Despite Rose being fairly good (mainly because it's slick enough to avoid looking sloppy), it's unfortunately the seed from which grew the worst of the RTD era. Plenty of bad omens can be found here.

I think this story gets overrated because, firstly, it's the first TV Doctor Who in a decade and thus was inherently exciting. Secondly, the Auton fanservice. Thirdly, most significantly, it's elevated to greatness simply for not being the TV Movie.

The Ninth Doctor is a classic JNT-ism, defining a new Doctor solely by his stark contrast to his predecessor. Rather than creating a new character, instead taking the old character and inverting everything about them. McGann's Doctor was a romantic, posh, frock-coated, gentlemanly scholar. Eccleston's was a rough-tongued philistine thug in leather with a crewcut, speaking in cringeworthy bad English street slang. Essentially envisioning the new Doctor without any imagination. Rose's script had to work doubly hard to establish Eccleston as an alien. In fact, the one thing keeping either Dalek and The Empty Child from working as a jumping on point, is that to new eyes the idea of Eccleston being an alien from an advanced, enlightened civilization would be downright laughable.

There's a fanatical idea that the TV Movie's biggest mistake was starting with McCoy's regeneration, therefore alienating the non-fan audience by showing them how the Doctor can change into someone else. Of course, we mustn't alienate people with the show's central concept. Besides, Seven Keys To Doomsday started with a regeneration and it'd work fantastically as a pilot.

To my shame, I was once okay with RTD throwing McGann under the bus. It's easy to dismiss the TV Movie as a false start, and treat this as the more successful relaunch. I relished how being introduced to this Doctor fresh meant not only being able to pretend the TV Movie never happened, but also the entire JNT era too.

I now feel slightly sick that I went along with it. Back then, I hadn't heard McGann's Big Finish audios. But after listening to Chimes of Midnight and Terror Firma, he quickly became my favourite Doctor. So the decision to not have him in the show at all, when he's still eager to play the part again, and less likely to jump ship than Eccleston was, is just odd and incomprehensible. There's no single reason McGann wouldn't work as a 2005 Doctor. What's more, fans saying this was the right approach strikes me now as incredibly snidey. No fan ever congratulated Michael Grade for throwing Colin Baker under the bus unceremoniously, so why praise RTD for doing the same to McGann?

McGann's Doctor as envisioned was disciplined, shrewd, upstanding and smart. A hero you'd be wise and proud to emulate. With RTD's Doctors we got two really obnoxious belligerent kids. Everything respectable about the character pruned and jettisoned, leaving a volatile, mindless mess who the writer contrives ways to magically bail out. All progress undone.

I'm bitter about this mainly because RTD threw most of the past under the bus, eliminating any prospect of the Doctor meeting the much beloved Romana or the Brigadier again. Now we've come to a point where it's too late. So making the decision to exclude them suddenly seems far more cliquey and downright cavalier.

Also it set up a domino effect that subverted the very concept of regeneration. Andrew Rilstone pointed out regenerations should be saved only for an emergency. The viewer shouldn't be too conscious at any time about the Doctor's ability to cheat death, otherwise there's no tension. But RTD completely trivialised the regeneration concept, very quickly. Starting with making McGann's regeneration so trivialised and irrelevant it isn't even shown. But when Eccleston proves to be difficult behind the scenes he gets quickly thrown under the bus too, and we have a rush regeneration after only thirteen episodes (The Empty Child prepared newbies well to alien means of changing physical form as 'nature's way of keeping meat fresh'). After that, new viewers just take it for granted that the Doctor can cheat death like that. It was too soon.

Resultantly, RTD went with the idea of the Tenth Doctor as indestructible God, and rather nauseatingly decided to draw tension instead out of threatening to spoil his heart-throb good looks in The Sound of Drums' and The Stolen Earth's cliffhangers. Finally, when it came time to regenerate Tennant, Russell was forced to overcompensate by making Tennant's transformation into a new guy the worst, most tragic thing ever, to the point of having the Doctor whine and throw tantrums at how unfair it is.

That's why RTD's dismissal of McGann's regeneration is suddenly so much more offensive, because of the 'who cares about that Doctor, when mine is so much more important?' attitude.

And Russell still wasn't done destroying the regeneration concept (see Death of the Doctor).

Oh, but there's one reason McGann had to be absent. Because of this 'Time War' bollocks, and how unbelievable it'd be if the Doctor survived such a conflict that wiped out his own people, if he didn't lose at least one past life in the duration. Well The End of Time exposed the whole Time War nonsense as just some playground secret that Russell bragged about being the only one who knew. Under RTD, we lost far more from the show than we gained, and the Time War gained us absolutely nothing.

RTD removed so much from the show's lore and ethos that for me it sorely questioned the point of even bringing the show back at all. Frankly, it makes it look like RTD was just leeching off Doctor Who's name for the sake of his own success. Had he done the same stories but called the show something else and changed the names and characters, it wouldn't be half as successful. Fans may praise him for the revival, but to me he brought Doctor Who back in name only. A version of Who with no respect for itself. Only his better guest writers gave us Doctor Who in spirit. Until anyone can find any example of him showing an ounce of good will towards the fans, I'll show little good will to him.

Like I said, part of the reason this story works is the Autons' presence. I didn't know at the time just how well this did a good job of filling the void in RTD's depressing dearth of imagination. It works as a substitute and fills a hole in the story.

There are other bad omens here. The big one being the Doctor's first action in this story. Blowing up a public building. Here RTD was clearly going for shock controversy by presenting our hero as a terrorist bomber. The same shock tactic approach that gave us Aliens of London's reprehensible 9/11 jokes, fellatio and concrete, and the Master as a wife-beater. RTD's not only leeched off other successes, but also off the iconography of national tragedies and real life evil acts, to boost his profile.

Then there's Jackie Tyler. She just about works as light comic relief here, but nothing more. She really doesn't have anything worth revisiting about her. She's a cipher stereotype. And at the time, I didn't mind her, naively believing we wouldn't need to see her again.

Fans insist otherwise and have praised how RTD finally addressed that neglected question of what impact the companions' disappearance has on their families. Apparently 'who cares? this is supposed to be an adventure show, not a soap' wasn't a worthy answer anymore. Now there are examples of family sci-fi that did family domestics on the side which I loved as a child. Flight of the Navigator, which was about an alien abductee child being returned home unaged whilst the Earth had gone on eight years without him, and the devastating impact this has on his family. It is fantastically scripted and performed. Or The Girl From Tomorrow which seemed very Who-inspired (the show looked exactly like a 90's Doctor Who would have), taking the An Unearthly Child concept of a girl from the future stranded in our time, who becomes adopted by a contemporary family. Here's where I think fan myopicness comes in, as RTD was praised for doing something unprecedented for Doctor Who, but which has been done far better elsewhere. Fans who disliked the domestic approach were accused of being socially and emotionally repressed and out of touch with people. But I was, and remain a fan of The Girl From Tomorrow, and the mother character there was far more prominent than Jackie Tyler. The difference is the mother Irene, in Girl From Tomorrow was likeable. Jackie was barely tolerable. Irene had a matriarchal sternness that commands fear and respect, but which also emphasised how fiercely protective and nurturing she is, and how hard she tries to make this single parent family work. By extension, one instinctively cares when she becomes frantic about her kids, and even devastated on her behalf when the finale sees her daughter hurt badly and having to be taken away from her into the future.

In fact, feeling sympathy and concern for a struggling single mother is usually instinctive. Like in Survival, when Sergeant Patterson has a go at Ace for the way she's made her mother worry. By rights I should be equally disgusted at Rose for the way she's treated Jackie. Yet I can't stand anything about Jackie. She's too irresponsible to take seriously, yet too belligerent and unpleasant to be any fun to be around. She endears no respect or fondness. She's just vile. Like Tegan, her character has no function or place in the stories, so she can only become prominent by fighting her way through and basically being a loudmouth, obnoxious pest. Tegan was always the character surplus to requirements when really Adric and Nyssa could have worked better as a companion duo. In fact, given the hints of potential romance between them in The Keeper of Traken, Tegan was pretty much a gooseberry. But at least Tegan was tempered by contrasting moments of being calm and, well, apathetic. But also by stories like Snakedance, which saw actual character growth, or at least character validation. This never happened with Jackie. Even with her unlikeable character, there's potential for the kind of growth an audience could respond to. One where Jackie realises that her irresponsible non-aspirational nature caused Rose to flee the nest, and so she works to redeem herself and become a better mother. Instead, the Jackie we meet here is no different than the Jackie of Journey's End. Rise of the Cybermen demonstrates this wasted potential, with its unpleasant, alternative Jackie. The writer didn't try to force us to like her and actually wrote her far more honestly. Also, this version of Jackie has developed. She's aspired to something, achieving her dream of being rich, famous and married. And there's genuine pathos and poignancy in how ultimately it never made her happy. That's what happens when even reprehensible characters develop. But Jackie wasn't introduced to develop. Only to appeal to a certain soap-watching demographic, and to provide cringeworthy comic relief. She was everpresent just to be there. By the end of RTD's era, almost nothing about the domestic focus made me feel the show had missed anything without it, except Father's Day and the character of Wilf.

But that's in the future. At the time, everything here seemed promising. Back then, I had a good feeling about the show after enjoying this. I somehow didn't see just how the final scene utterly killed the show's spirit out of sheer spite. Where the Doctor goads Rose into ditching Mickey, just to make our new Doctor look 'cool' at someone else's expense and humiliation, and in the process making our hero an unlikeable arsehole. Back then, I put it down to the Doctor responding badly to Mickey's prejudice against him for being 'an alien'. About the Doctor rejecting our narrow-minded, quick to judge fear-culture.

I cringe at my younger self's naivety sometimes.

The Trip of a Lifetime by Jason A. Miller 16/1/21

I'll never forget the first time I saw Rose. As an incomplete bootleg episode, three weeks before it premiered.

You remember that bootleg. The Canadian copy that got released to the Internets (as President George W. Bush had called them the previous summer) on a Sunday in early March 2005. With the Classic Series seasons 11 through 17 theme arrangement superimposed over the snazzy new opening credits. I had to learn how to use BitTorrent that very day, over my mother's next-door-neighbor's unsecured WiFi. I'd never used (or heard) of BitTorrent before, and it was a very slow download. By the time I gave up and went to bed six hours later, it was 2 AM, and I wasn't even 75% of the way done with the modest 350 mB file size. I woke up early the next morning before work -- the thing had miraculously completed by then -- and watched the first 120 seconds before I had to run and catch my train. And then had to impatiently get through an entire work day before getting home to watch the whole thing that night.

In fact, I watched Rose exclusively through that bootleg download for the next several years. Doctor Who was over a year away from actually airing on broadcast TV in the US, and back then all we got were the heavily edited SciFi Channel transmissions a year later. After that I bought the DVDs, too, but between my bootleg download, later BBC America reruns, and the eventual availability of the New Series on Netflix and Amazon Prime, come to find out, I never actually opened those DVDs. Until now.

So now I've pulled the still shrink-wrapped Series 1 DVDs off my shelf to rewatch Rose. My biggest fear was that the thing just wouldn't hold up, not after 14 years. I was afraid that it would have become hopelessly dated and embarrassing to watch. 14 years is an eternity, in TV speak. When I first started watching Doctor Who in late 1984, 14 years ago would have been the Day-Glo monstrosity of The Claws of Axos. When Rose was scripted, 14 years ago was the painfully cheesy visuals and micro-budget feel of Battlefield.

But, come to find out, holy mackerel, does Rose ever hold up well.

Keith Boak's directing style took a pounding in fandom back in 2005. I've read suggestions that his on-set demeanor contributed to Eccleston's premature departure from the title role, and he certainly was never invited back after the initial 2005 season. So I don't know how much of Rose's smashing success is due to him, or due to RTD's idiot-proof scripting. But the opening of this episode sails by in an exhilarating way -- in a completely opposite manner to the relatively stodgy and lifeless opening of, say, The Woman Who Fell to Earth.

The opening pan through space is a direct homage to Spearhead from Space (of which Rose is a thematic remake, anyway), for those of you who loved the classic series, and it looks terrific as a visual to those new fans who's never heard of Jon Pertwee. The crash-zoom to Earth blends into a bouncy synth-pop montage of Rose Tyler's day in fast-forward. Then Rose is cornered in her department store's basement by creepy mannequins, and the Doctor rescues her from behind, with his first word, "Run!" And all this is barely within five minutes. There's tremendous confidence on display here. Absolutely no reason to look away from your TV.

But the flashy style does not mask a lack of substance. RTD's script expertly balances the needs of 21st-century TV with the ethos of 1960s through '80s Doctor Who. Rose is the first Who episode to feature overlapping dialogue and overt references to sex and female anatomy. Jackie's clumsy attempts to seduce the Doctor are met with hilarious indifference by Eccleston, and the latter's leafing through a celebrity magazine, murmuring that it'll never last, he's gay and she's an alien (surely a reference to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), are also signal flares that we're not in 1975 anymore. And yet, the first reveals of the TARDIS, the dematerialization sound, and the blink-and-you-miss-it recycling of the "'Armless" pun (from The Hand of Fear, also about a disembodied alien arm), and you are happy to realize that RTD really digs his classic Who. This means that Rose appeals easily and effortlessly to old and new viewers alike.

And, my, how this episode thrives with a miniscule cast. You have basically four regulars, and Clive (the one-off guest star), and that's about it, minus extras. 75 of the first 100 words in the script are "Wilson!", who's already dead by the time Rose gets trapped in the department store basement. The biggest surprise is that "Bad Wolf" would become Series 1's recurring phrase and not "Wilson"; poor dead Wilson's name gets uttered so many times in the first ten minutes that, knowing what we know now about RTD's penchant for seeding clues a dozen scripts in advance, it's shocking that Wilson never eventually returns as the Big Bad. But, absent Wilson, again, that's it, a teeny cast, and everyone hits their marks, even Clive.

Some of the humor is over-broad (burping garbage can, I'm looking at you), but RTD was trying to appeal to everybody in this first episode. Bring 'em in first, and then weed out disinterested viewers later. Clive is there to reassure the old-time fans that this is a show with an endless history and a penchant for a good continuity-reference bath. Admirable. But Burpy McRubbishBin is there for a different purpose -- to lure in the less discriminating 8-year-old. And those 8-year-olds are now 22 and dressing up as Jodie Whittaker or Ker-Blam! delivery bots at conventions in 2019, so that worked out. You're welcome, burps McRubbish.

The underlying plot is a bit generic. The Buffy-demon incarnation of the Nestene Consciousness is fairly limp, although the recycled Auton shop dummies are still cool. The chaos of the Nestene invasion is brought to life on the smallest possible scale (which RTD broadened considerably in his novelization). But even this silly alien menace is important, because it's to the Buffy-demon Nestene to which the Doctor first mentions the Time War and the Shadow Proclamation. That'll be important later -- much later -- and it shows that RTD was able to master the broad-scale story-arc vision that an Andrew Cartmel teased but never quite pulled off or with which Philip Hinchcliffe never even bothered.

And, oh boy, aren't Piper and Eccleston grand? Rose is the script's hero, and Piper shows us why, matching the Doctor riposte for riposte and swinging about on the chains as if she were still a six-year-old in gymnastics class. And Eccleston is magnetic, with his abrupt mood swings, razor-sharp asides, some comic pratfalls and his ability to deliver speeches both with quiet, dark undertones and manic bombast. Eccleston and Piper have to play many different types of scenes: comical, serious, flirting, portentous and metaphorical, tragic and euphoric. Astonishing range. In just 44 minutes, Eccleston IS the Doctor, and Piper makes you wonder why we ever doubted her casting in the first place.

So the DVDs go back on the shelf, and this time I'm fairly confident that, if I revisit them in another 14 years, Rose will be just as fresh. Rose was the perfect pilot for the new series; I can't envision, even with 14 years of hindsight, anyone having ever produced a better return for Doctor Who than this.

Mannequin Mania by Noe Geric 6/9/21

After 16 years without a proper season, Doctor Who was back on our screens with the episode Rose. Supposed to be the beginning of a new era, it has the complicated duty of explaining 26 years of Doctor Who history, adding the Time War stuff and presenting to a new generation of viewers what the show was in only 45-minutes. Russell T Davies created a brand-new version of Doctor Who with that episode, it's obvious. But is it any good?

In the first three minutes, we are introduced to Rose, her family and her everyday life through a little sequence. Quick and effective, it introduces us to the new companion in a way never seen in Doctor Who before. The Doctor appears out of nowhere, he is present throughout the whole episode, and the end leaves us with the satisfying feeling of wanting to see more of his adventures with Rose. Characterization has never been as good as this, exposition doesn't feel forced. Eccleston IS the Doctor. From the first minute he appears on screen, he shows all his acting talents. Playing the comedic and lunatic sides of the Doctor, and being perfect at playing the oncoming storm. He's still one of the best actors to have taken up the role. His alchemy with Billie Piper and Noel Clark is perfect. Jackie Tyler is also one of the highlights of the story: Camille Corduri doesn't play Jackie, she is Jackie! And all that bunch of marvellous characters find themselves in a battle against the Auton and the Nestene Consciousness...

And even if Rose is a good pilot, the story itself is quite weird. There's a lot of comedy in it, trying to be funny and scary at the same time. But I had the feeling, particularly in the scene where the plastic arm attack the Doctor in Rose's flat, that I was watching the beginning of a bad porn movie. The humour was nice but looked also ludicrous. I wondered if I was really watching the right Doctor Who show. Throughout the episode, the scenes featuring the Autons all feel strange, I laughed a lot of time but for some reason, I felt uncomfortable watching this as a proper Doctor Who episode.

The special effects are cheap too. Mickey being attacked by the bin and turned into an Auton are some of the worst CGI I've ever seen. Noel Clark is excellent in his role, but he should've been given something better to play than a curious plastic guy talking through jump-cut. The scene in which the Doctor throws a champagne cork into his head is perhaps the worst effect of the show. I know there wasn't a really high budget, but that doesn't excuse the fact that it spoils the effect it is supposed to have on the audience.

Rose is perhaps the best pilot episode I've ever seen. Managing to introduce Doctor Who to a brand-new world, and if I watch it only as a pilot, I should be tempted to give it a 10/10. But the bad production, terrible humour and weird feeling of watching the beginning of a porn show can't make me enjoy the episode. I think Rose is a classic, I've watched it countless of times, but I can't see it as one of the best episodes of Doctor Who because of all these irritating little things that manage to spoil the episode. 7/10, at least because lots of people now know Doctor Who because this episode exists. But I don't know if it's wise to show that episode to someone who doesn't know what Doctor Who is about...