Over the next few weeks I will be rewatching all of the modern series and reviewing over 100 episodes. Each post will review three or four episodes and will start from Rose and go right through until The Husbands of River Song. I’ll take two/three part stories and review each part individually and review all specials too. Enjoy!
Episode 1 – ROSE
After a sixteen year hiatus, this was a triumphant return for the show. Yes, we had a TV movie in 1996, but the series format was back and what a job Russell T. Davies did. From the moment the Doctor grasped Rose’s hand and uttered “run”, the show was truly rebooted, it was a fantastic moment. The Autons/Nestene Consciousness were great first villains. They looked sinister and it was good we actually saw them on a killing spree and showed that they deserved to be feared. I enjoyed the scene where Rose visited Clive, the man who was tracking the Doctor. It was a shame he died without finding out the truth because the little speech he gave about who he thought the Doctor could be was terrific. Mickey Smith debuted and he too was excellent, adding some welcome comic relief during the episode. Murray Gold produced a stunning first attempt at composing music for Doctor Who. He got the audio spot on for all of the humourous, dramatic and emotional scenes. The reveal of the redesigned TARDIS was another standout scene, it was built up slowly throughout the episode, as we got brief glimpses of the blue box. When we finally saw inside it was amazing and for me, that was the best moment of the episode. The only slight negative in my opinion was the way the Nestene Consciousness was defeated. It was a bit simplistic. An “anti-plastic” did keep the episode straighforward and easy to understand but it did seem a bit easy to defeat them. Overall though, Russell T. Davies brought the show back in style. 9/10
Episode 2 – THE END OF THE WORLD
The intention of this episode was to show off what the show could do now, 16 years on. Technology had progressed so a lot more could be achieved with special effects and what better way to show that off than the Earth being destroyed by the sun? We met a lot of good characters, The Face of Boe and Lady Cassandra both made their first appearances in this episode. We also met the Moxx of Balhoon, who sadly died but I’d love to see more of his race in the show, he had some great comic lines. We got the first tease about what’d happened to the Doctor in the intervening years. Although the Time War isn’t mentioned, we find out the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords and we see the first signs of his emotions shining through. He refuses to tell Rose where he’s from, as he’s clearly upset about the (unknown to the viewer at the time) loss of Gallifrey. Lady Cassandra isn’t the most physically imposing villain, in fact she’s quite the opposite but she possesses an enjoyable “love to hate” persona that makes her quite a pantomime enemy. Not for the first time in the series, money is the motive for the villain as Cassandra plots to destroy the ship, seeking compensation. It’s not the scariest or most imaginative plot but it’s tidy enough and makes the story enjoyable. The Doctor’s refusal to save Cassandra is the starting point for Rose helping to heal him from the Time War. It’s a series long development I really like between the ninth Doctor and his companion. This is an episode that often gets overlooked but I really enjoyed it. The setting and lots of the characters make it a good watch. 7/10
Episode 3 – THE UNQUIET DEAD
Mark Gatiss produced his best piece of Doctor Who writing here as we met the terrifying looking Gelth. Definitely up there with the scariest monsters of the series, the Gelth posed a serious threat and added to the 19th Century atmosphere. It was a good combination, I couldn’t see the Gelth being as imposing in a futuristic setting. As good as they looked, at the end of the episode there was a bit of a zombie apocolyspe feel that I didn’t think quite worked. Rose’s and Charles Dickins’ costumes were also brilliant and made the setting seem even more realistic. One thing I didn’t understand about the episode was the appearance of Charles Dickens. His character could have literally been anyone. I usually really like historical figures and events in Doctor Who, but Dickens’ inclusion seemed rather pointless. We didn’t learn as much about him as we did others. For example, Vincent Van Gogh’s and William Shakespeare’s appearances taught us a lot about each respective character. Having said that, the script was good and it all made sense. The Gelth double crossing the Doctor was a great twist and did lead to an exciting finale despite the previously mentioned zombie apocolyspe feel. I enjoyed the seeds we were fed about Gwyneth having psychic powers, it was a clever little arc that worked very well. It’s an episode that brought a lot of the fear factor back after episode two and continued the strong start to the revival. 7/10