TV Ramblings 10a – Doctor Who (series 1)

As promised here, a detailed post about Doctor Who.

FIRST SERIES

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!

My introduction to the Doctor began with the rebooted series and his Ninth incarnation. It took some time before I was completely charmed by the character (being rude to Mickey and Jackie didn’t win him points), but I was very sad to see him go at the end of the first season. He really had so little on-screen time compared to other Doctors, but he’ll forever hold a special place in my heart for being the one who made me love this series.

Christopher Eccleston did a wonderful job portraying a Time Lord riddled with survival’s guilt, which gave the otherwise very powerful man certain vulnerability, made him more human than he really is. We got a first hint of that in the very beginning of the series and several alien beings mentioned the cataclysmic Time War throughout the season. Even though he found so many things entertaining and funny, deep down we could always sense darkness in him, a deeply rooted pain of a man who lost everyone and everything.

Ninth Doctor

Rose Tyler

I think that drove him to desperate measures to save as many people and aliens as he could – that is why his reaction to the Dalek in the episode of the same name was such a shock to a new viewer. We could see that the words: “You would make a good Dalek,” hit far too close to home for Doctor’s peace of mind. His mask slipped and we saw the extensive damage inside. In a way we could now understand his over-confidence, the jokes, the cheesy lines… all of it was just a front of a scared man who was floundering about who he truly was. Was he a monster for killing his people or did he do the right thing? What qualified him to decide what was good and what bad? He was unsure, but he soldiered on alone. He never really confided in Rose since he wasn’t sure she would accept him damage and all, yet in a way her being there was enough. I loved her for bringing joy to his life.

The episode ‘Dalek’ gives us one of the finest moments of his companion – calming his rage and reminding him of his compassion, making him move beyond the hurt simmering inside was the high point of Rose. He was still in dire need of healing – one act of kindness could hardly undo the years of damage – yet that required some serious time spent in peace and quiet, which the doctor is patently incapable of.  He runs away from his own problems and demons, and he never stops to look back, which ultimately comes around to bite him in the ass. We love him anyway despite his inflated ego and bouts of thoughtlessness – in the end he’s just an alien trying to live his life the best he can.

Jackie Tyler

Now, as much as I like certain aspects of his companion Rose Tyler (portrayed by Billie Piper), I don’t think she ever understood the dark part of him. She was simply too young and inexperienced to fully grasp the reality of such a long life and hard fate, and be the best companion to a wounded man. Yes, she was young and lively, adventurous and really brave, but was that really all he needed? She is not my favourite character though I really liked her in some episodes; it’s just that she’s so thoughtless sometimes, and selfish.

Rose (quite understandably for her young age) made mistakes – we all would – but sometimes they were just too big to overlook or explain away. I was deeply frustrated with her and mystified why the Doctor didn’t take her back home for good like he did with the boy they picked up – Adam Mitchell. Remember him and the mess he put the Doctor in by being greedy in The Long Game? I certainly do and it was a sobering experience for the flirty girl and I think we saw some improvement.

Adam Mitchell

However, there’s still what happened in Father’s Day – the episode where she saved her dad from dying; the one thing the Doctor warned her about not doing. I was so mad at her for this stunt after being told they couldn’t change history. If she had run to her dad and held his hand as he died – yes, harrowing for a girl who never knew her dad, but less dangerous than destroying the universe by rewriting time. It would have made more sense if she had convinced the Doctor to travel further into the past so she could see her parents get married or something, get to know her father as he was without changing the past, but not outright defying the expert time-traveller on what they could and could not do. Doctor Who does play around with time and the order of events (and older Whovians have made it clear that far more timelines were crossed and rewritten back in the day than in the NuWho), it is implied though that the Time War made it far more dangerous.

Cassandra – the last Earth-born human

If the episode was supposed to win her points for caring so much for her father (the man she really didn’t know) that she would disregard common sense and the warnings Doctor gave her several times, it did the opposite with me. I liked her father more than her by the end of the episode. And I was right to be weary of her actions from this point on.

Her Bad Wolf persona, after she ripped open the TARDIS and consumed the time vortex inside it in the season finale, was even less rational – she had the power over time and space and she chose to destroy the Daleks. I really believed she would turn back the time for them, change them back into the race they were before the genetic manipulation – she was portrayed as a kind person after all – but she committed genocide (albeit of morally bankrupt creatures – as if that made it better!) on beings who could not change what they were. Imagine my disappointment.

Complete Bad Wolf Speech:

The Doctor clearly told her he lost everyone, was riddled with guilt when were forced to kill, and she acted with no guilt or remorse whatsoever. For a person lauded for her kindness she was very, very cold. I can understand that she was scared of the Daleks (I would be bloody terrified), and that the Doctor’s attitude towards them coloured her perception, but I really hoped she would turn out to be a force of ultimate good. The mystery behind the words Bad Wolf was great though and I enjoyed how it followed them throughout the season. The final scene gets me every time, it’s still a bloody disappointment what they’ve done with her.

A future Prime Minister Harriet Jones

Mickey Smith

Then there’s the relationship Rose and Doctor have with Rose’s boyfriend Mickey Smith (portrayed by Noel Clarke) – it was painful to watch her disappoint him time and time again since it made her appear really shallow and cruel, but the Doctor’s attitude and actions were no better. I was so angry at them both for that – would it hurt anyone to be polite?! Mickey was good for favours, but not for a real relationship. Yes, he was afraid of the things those two got up to, but he was right to be a bit more careful. In a way he was the only one besides Jackie (Rose’s mum) to see that the Doctor has limits and flaws, which Rose did not understand.

I loved her friendship with the Doctor and the shenanigans they pulled off, and nobody can deny that they had crazy on-screen chemistry, but somehow her flaws made it clear in my mind that the Doctor needed someone more mature to be truly happy and behave better towards other people. She was really depended on him – I wished she’d shown more incentive to grow as a person, to have accomplishments of her own and not run away from problems. I was not to see this until season 3.

The enigmatic Face of Boe

Rose was such a brat about the Doctor’s regeneration in the Christmas special that I had a feeling I was looking at a different character altogether. The man literally died for her and she felt like he let her down for being too ill to wake up post-regeneration. I was heartbroken for the character and what they did to her, but we always saw her selfish side in the way she treated Mickey and her mother. I liked the Doctor for his selflessness and loyalty to his companion in saving her, but I hoped to see him teach her a few lessons for that abominable behaviour and be better about his own behaviour as well.

Complaining about Rose aside, the first season gave us some amazing characters: I loved Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and his flirty ways. You could always count on him to say something mildly or widely suggestive that cracked you up. He was such a fun person and I was always happy to see him around. He’s a competent time-traveller, a resourceful person, a con artist, but also a character that showed clear personal growth.  Just remember the way he chose to sacrifice himself in episodes The Doctor Dances, The Parting of the Ways. I was really happy to see more of him in Torchwood, though he made some fishy calls there that I did not particularly like. Still, being turned immortal had to affect him deeply, so I can understand that he developed a different world-view – I believe he was looking more at the whole picture than focusing on individuals. It hurts less, I think, when you can cling to the fact that you saved the world and not focus on the lives lost in the process.

First meeting of Rose and Captain Jack

Rose, the Doctor and Captain Jack

Nine was fantastic – I liked him immensely and needed some time to get used to Ten and his far more cheerful personality. Nine was striking, quick to anger, a healthy dose of crazy, and really close-mouthed about himself. Despite his rather brash personality I loved him, and laughed and cried with him. I also clearly felt the undercurrent of romance with Rose (roselove), but was not particularly enamoured of the idea, especially considering their age difference and the few comments he made about visiting her in the past. I felt this was a bit too much stalker-like for my peace of mind. 

Top doctor moments:

All in all, this was a fantastic first season, and Rose remains one of the best liked companions of the rebooted series, though Nine is not as well liked as he deserves. I hope this post made you remember the fun we had with him and awoke in you a craving for a series 1 marathon. It certainly did it for me.

A post about series 2 will be up in 2 week’s time. Stay tuned. 😀

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