Doctor Who Review | Series 1

Hey guys! I was writing some WIP work and I basically wanted to rewatch Doctor Who, and see if it really does decline the further we go (kinda like The Simpsons). So here we go, starting from the first series of the revival. While I would love to go back and review everything, a lot of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton episodes are partially or completely missing. However, I may go back later and cover some of the complete episodes.


It’s important to note that the 2005 revival allowed a lot of us to experience Doctor Who for the first time – myself included. While my mum had been raised on Tom Baker-era Who (best Doctor in my opinion), I was born after the initial run ended. I will admit I had no real interest initially, but alas, here we are!

I do feel that Christopher Ecclestone was the perfect Doctor to bring the revivial forward, and while I think a lot of people were questioning Billie Piper’s capability as a main character, the casting was spot on, and I usually forget that Billie Piper ever sung music. So as I was writing this, I decided to listen to Because We Want To – because why not?


Rose

What a way to start off the series by blowing up a shop! For real, this is an intense episode that sets us in 2005, which is very dated now (me just realising that 2005 was 16 years ago), and while some of the graphics were a bit shit, you can’t deny that they looked good compared to the ones from the original run, especially back in the day. The episode introduces Rose and the Doctor in a London setting (because why not) and Rose goes on an information hunt about the Doctor. It culminates in a tussle against the Nestene Consciousness, which is responsible for the shop mannequins coming to life as Autons.

Honestly though, Mickey is just not the kind of boyfriend I’d want, and if I had someone like that and I was offered a trip in a TARDIS, I’d take the sodding trip! And that’s not even talking about the Auton version of Mickey. I mean, Mickey gets eaten by a bin that burps…also how did Mickey get out of the bin and into the Nestene lair? Auton bin men? I dunno…

As for the Doctor, there’s a lot of ambiguity concerning his regeneration from the Paul McGann incarnation – no regeneration sequence was filmed, and not much was explained about how it came to be. We wouldn’t actually get that closure until 2013, where it all gets tied together at least.

Then we get Jackie, Rose’s mum, telling her to go get a job literally the day after her last job literally blew up like Jesus woman, Rose went through trauma, give her a week! Also poor Clive – trying to find as much information on the Doctor as possible and ends up getting killed by an Auton. And then Rose literally just ups and leaves Mickey, dissing him in the process, and not even giving her mum a goodbye.

Overall, a solid first episode that introduces the revival really well to new audiences, while still keeping the interest of the original audience.


The End of the World

This is an episode that focuses on the natural death of the world, before the other apocalyptic episodes that we’ll inevitably get later.

Zoe Wanamaker was brilliant in the role of Cassandra, being nothing more than a trampoline made from human skin. I will admit they missed an opportunity to play one of Billie Piper’s songs, and instead opted for the “classical” Tainted Love and the “traditional ballad” Toxic, which was fitting considering the present day, and the fact it was played on a massive jukebox called an ‘iPod’.

This episode was mostly to focus on the introduction of the concept of alien species, and introducing the Face of Boe as well. We also got the first reference to the overarching Bad Wolf arc.

The episode also introduces a bit more to the Last Great Time War, now asserting The Doctor as the last of the Time Lords, which for the main new viewer isn’t a big deal, but it’s a huge deal for the older viewers that had seen the older series. The tension there is broken up by chips, which yeah, makes sense, and gives us more need for that lost period information.

Overall I really like this episode. It’s a strong episode that doesn’t rely on too much fanfare, and isn’t overly-complicated either. The make-up department is spot-on, and will always will be.


The Unquiet Dead

This was actually my first Doctor Who episode, and I kinda watched it but didn’t really pay full attention. It takes us back into the 19th Century with the focal historical figure being Charles Dickens.

There’s never really much for me to talk about for this one, but I liked the interactions with Charles Dickens, and the ‘biggest fan’ exchange always makes me smile. I think the whole Gelth possessing dead bodies for ‘recycling’ purposes is a bit creepy, and I’m not a huge fan of that. Overall though the Gelth are pretty forgettable in the grand scheme of things.

I did feel for Gwyneth, she was a great character, and also references Bad Wolf in Rose’s present-day.

Overall this is a great episode that sets up the concept of the Rift in time and space in Cardiff, which kinda gave them an in-story reason for filming a lot of the stuff in Cardiff, I suppose.


Aliens of London / World War Three

These are the first episodes that I properly watched, and back in my teen years I’d be humoured by the Slitheen farting. As an adult it’s a bit weird now, a bit grotesque, but there are some funny moments to these episodes that don’t involve farts. A portion of the story focuses on how Rose has been declared missing for twelve months instead of twelve hours, and then a spaceship crashes into Big Ben. I feel so bad for Mickey,

We also get the very iconic Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North (yes, we know who she is), and Jackie’s iconic line ‘It’s him! It’s the thing! It’s the Slickeen!‘, mispronouncing the Slitheen just gives us the proper comic relief that we needed, rather than the farting.

Overall though, these are solid episodes, toying with the idea of a secret invasion with the aliens disguising themselves as Members of Parliament and other humans of high authority, such as Margaret Blaine. The mutated pig kinda gets swept under the rug, even though it’s basically a decoy.

Try saying the Slitheen family’s home planet, Raxacoricofallapatorius. I dare you!


Dalek

This is the first episode that I ended up properly watching, knowing that the Dalek is the enemy to watch for Doctor Who. It’s the episode that made me want to watch more of the show in the first place, and looking back it’s definitely not my favourite of the series, but it’s by no means a good episode.

Henry van Statten serves as a kind of antagonist in some aspects, collecting alien artefacts and claiming to be owning the internet. He has a Dalek that he has one of his employees torture to speak. In the meantime we also get to see the Doctor stripped to the waist and chained up (imagine if this was the David Tennant era, oof).

The introduction of Adam Mitchell lends itself to romantic tension between him and Rose (no wonder Mickey has issues, if Rose is like this). It’s funny really, apparently at the time of broadcast the episode got criticised over van Statten’s use of the word “spoon”, which was possibly in a sexual context, which was really strange to think of.

Overall, it’s a great way to reintroduce the terror of the Daleks, even if it’s only just one Dalek (that admittedly killed a lot of people) but wanted to see the sun. The most memorable and haunting feature was that the Dalek could levitate, after everyone thought it couldn’t. This isn’t the first instance in which a Dalek could levitate to climb stairs – this honour goes to the Seventh Doctor serial Remembrance of the Daleks, where a Dalek was seen levitating up a staircase on-screen.


The Long Game

They definitely played the ‘long game’ with this title, and it takes a few more episodes to realise why. It seems like a filler episode at first, but of course it isn’t really, not in the long run. Satellite 5 is a space station serving the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire, which is a bit of a mouthful – could have been Human Empire IV. The workers on Satellite 5 act as processors for the overall computer system which broadcasts news to keep humanity docile. The ambition for these workers was to get to Floor 500 as a promotion. Of course, all of this is not without its caveats, as you have the Jagrafess and The Editor (nice Simon Pegg casting there) working underneath.

The initial romantic tension between Rose and Adam still makes me cringe, considering Rose is still with Mickey. And as it turns out, Adam Mitchell turns into a bit of a dick after this episode (in the comics, anyway). Nice work, Rose!

I think that if the episode wasn’t sequelled later on, I’d class it as dismissable filler.


Father’s Day

This episode makes me sad every time, and it features the only instance of the Reaper actually cleansing the paradox – sadly it’s not utilised after this episode, but the main focus is on Rose saving her dad Pete’s life when he should have died. Of course, the change in the course of history angers the Doctor, because time and paradox stuff. It can’t be helped, he literally just kicked out Adam in the previous episode for messing around with time travel.

This whole episode is basically paradox and emotions, and I was there for the emotional rollercoaster. I almost always cry at this episode, and even with the simplicity of the setting and solution, it remains my favourite of the series. Plus I always forget we get a Rickroll here in this episode too!


The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances

Fun fact: World War II was my favourite History topic at school! Plus kids can be creepy as heck, which is why this two-parter is right up my alley. I feel for the homeless children in this, having to scavenge for food during the Blitz, while being terrorised by a kid in a gas mask and repeating “are you my mummy?” over and over. The “are you my mummy?” phrase does get brought up later on in David Tennant’s era, which I find a great callback.

Once again, we see Rose flirting with the newly-introduced Captain Jack Harkness, and I mean come on, she implies that she has a boyfriend but is “very available”, I find it harder and harder to sympathise with Rose through all of this man drama. Reminds me of the girls back from school, eyeing up the next conquests.

I like the idea of the nanogenes not necessarily being an enemy, but more confused than anything else. They just created the masked zombies because they didn’t know better, and just went off on the idea that that was how humans looked, and soon ended up converting other humans into masked creatures. I kinda want to insert an anti-mask jibe here for the present day, but I’ll let it slide for now.

The reunion of Nancy and Jamie, the Empty Child, was heartwarming and bittersweet, owing to the taboo of having an illegitimate child at such a young age. Plus you also get the idea of the Doctor ‘dancing’ as a metaphor for sex, because of course it is – yet people had issues with the word “spoon” and its meaning earlier on in the series, I don’t get it.


Boom Town

I always forgot this episode existed, and it serves as a sequel to Aliens of London and World War Three. Margaret the Slitheen is now the Mayor of Cardiff, and going ahead with a plan to build a nuclear power plant, dubbed “Blaidd Drwg”, or “Bad Wolf”, which is now more prominent considering the Doctor has observed in his adventures with Rose.

The majority of the episode focuses around Margaret, or Blon as her (say it with me) Raxacoricofallapatorian name is, and her plan to basically mess up the entire planet just to escape and also to kill the Doctor, who casually brushes off the assassination attempts.

I call this a filler episode purely because it doesn’t really lend itself to much. Rose and Mickey’s argument about their relationship, and their ‘separation’ and Mickey’s dating another woman doesn’t really get brought up again. Heck, he even leaves before Rose could find him again in this episode, and that doesn’t really get brought up. Can we once again bring up just why we’re meant to sympathise with Rose here, when she flirted with both Adam and Jack, and then expects Mickey to come crawling. Mickey’s better off without, clearly!

It’s not the best filler, it’s skippable at best. The only thing worth taking away is the acknowledgmenet of the Rift, as well as the extrapolator that’s used as a plot device later in multiple instances.


Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways

In the last two-parter of the series, we come to find out why The Long Game wasn’t classed as a filler earlier in my review. You can tell how dated this series is, with callbacks to Big Brother, The Weakest Link and What Not To Wear, three iconic shows that we used to watch, but don’t anymore. I wonder if this episode was made now, would we have RuPaul’s Drag Race where the contestants literally have to lip sync for their lives? Or The Chase, where the Chasers chase you down and kill you? I don’t know, and the morbid curiosity in me wants to find out. But looking back, we are filled with pure nostalgia, even though Big Brother did end a couple of years or so ago now, its initial several seasons were its peak.

Of course the Game Station is run by Bad Wolf Corporation, because what else would it be called in the run-up to the end of this series? We also got the first mention of Torchwood at least, which will come to the forefront next series.

Rose, do you really have to give Lynda the stink-eye because she’s a woman that gets along with the Doctor? Sod it, I could have shipped the Doctor and Lynda out of pure spite at this point. I don’t care. In all honesty, I would have loved to have seen Lynda as a companion.

Okay, I gotta say that even with all of the Bad Wolf stuff going on, the Doctor didn’t even need to kiss Rose. I mean, he could have done some mind stuff, but I suppose it’s a way to shoe-horn in some ship material before David Tennant landed.


The Christmas Invasion

We get the first Christmas special, and the first episode with David Tennant, and it kinda serves as a semi-Doctor-lite episode in this regard, with the Doctor still going through regeneration, to the point where he ends up regrowing his hand after losing it to the Sycorax attack. It also seems that this current Doctor also has a better relationship with Jackie and Mickey from the off, with Mickey actually being called Mickey (instead of Ricky), and Jackie taking to him better than she did the Ninth.

I like the use of the blood as a control mechanism, and it makes it seem more dangerous than it turned out. But damn, imagine waking up on Christmas morning to find your husband/wife/lover was being controlled by aliens, damn.

Rose saying that her Doctor’s gone…oh my God, he’s literally right there, just…not well, clearly. But I have strong feelings about Rose that I may or may not address later in a different post.


Overall, it’s a great series to start off with. But I had to stop myself from getting heated every once in a while with Rose’s behaviour. It’s easy to write Mickey off as the possessive boyfriend, but actually I do feel bad for him more than anything after this rewatch. We also have the first instance of the Doctor kissing his companions, which more often than not doesn’t even need to happen.

The Bad Wolf Easter Egg trick was played well, with some instances being a ‘blink and you miss it’, while others stare you in the face. It’s not the end of the Bad Wolf though, as we’ll find out later!