Reboots and Reimaginings – Doctor Who: In which we learn lots of planets have a North.

 

First aired:17th March 2005

Cast:

Christopher Eccleston – The Doctor

Billie Piper – Rose Tyler

Camille Coduri – Jackie Tyler

Noel Clarke – Mickey Smith

Mark Benton – Clive

Nicholas Briggs – Voice of the Nestene

Reboot Specifics:

What and When was the Originial? Doctor Who (1963)

What did they keep? The name of the main character and the TARDIS.

What did they change? The main character has had some changes, but that wasn’t a new idea for this show.

Are here nods to the past? The villain is the same one from Spearhead from Space back in the 1970’s.

Does it stand on it’s own two feet or does it need the connection to the original? It is very much it’s own show, but it still connects to it’s past.

Plot: The planet Earth, the UK, London, the Powell Estate and an alarm clock goes off. Shop worker Rose Tyler leaves the flat she shares with her mum and goes to her job at Henricks department store in London. She works hard, has lunch with her boyfriend, Mickey Smith and goes back to work to end a routine sort of day. Just before she leaves, she heads down to the basement level to drop the lottery money off to chief electician Wilson. There’s no Wilson, there’s only empty corridors and mannekins. Rose hears a sound, unsure what it is and is becoming worried. She walks past the mannekins which start to move, several of them move menacingly towards here, backing her into a corner, she’s terrified and a hand grabs hers and she is told “Run”

Rose and her rescuer, a man in a leather jacket get to the lift and start talking. She’s convinced that it’s a prank or something, he appreciates her intelligence, but points out that she is wrong. He talks about living plastic and relays and then tells her to go home. He sees her outside, but then pops back out and asks her name, she tells him her name is Rose Tyler, he replies she’s The Doctor and tells her to fun for her life. By the time she is across the road, the top two floors explode and Henricks is engulfed in a huge fire. Later at home, Rose’s mum is all ‘compensation and publicity’ whilst Mickey arrives and is so grateful she is alive, but also wants to go to the pub to catch the last 5 mins of the match.An arm from one of the mannekins is inexplicibly there, but on his way out, Mickey is asked to throw it away.

The next morning, Rose’s alarm goes off, but she doesn’t have a job to go to now, with it having blown up. There is sound coming from the catflap that was there before Rose’s mum moved it and the nails that kept it shut have been pushed out of it, as Rose looks through the now open catflap, she is once more face to face with the Doctor. Rose brings him inside and the two talk, Rose to him and him to himself, not particularly impressed with what he alludes to his new face. The mannekin arm seems to come to life and attacks the pair, before The Doctor uses his ‘sonic screwdriver’ to block whatever signal  is animating it. He then leaves.

“You can’t just swan off?”

“Yes I can, this is me, swanning off”

Rose chases him own and wants answers. He doesn’t really answer, but it’s clear she is facinated by him, the pair part, with the Doctor heading towards a large blue box, there’s a strange noise and he is gone.

Still curious Rose uses Mickey’s computer to search for information, this search leads to a website run by affable family man and conspiracy theorist Clive. Mickey drives Rose to Clive’s house, convinced he is an internet axe murderer. Clive shows her pictures that date back to the Kennedy Assassination in 1963, the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, The Doctor was at each site. The same man is in each picture. Outside, an impatient Mickey is waiting, he sees a wheelie bin move on it’s own and he investigates it. The wheelie bin eats Mickey and when Rose gets back into the car, a a less than exact copy of her boyfriend is at the wheel and he drives her off to get some lunch. At lunch, FauxMickey asks questions about The Doctor, his imitation becoming less and less accurate until the subject of his questions arrives to once more, save Rose. He pulls the head off Faux Mickey, who is still able to run rampage-style through the pizzeria as the Doctor takes Rose into his blue box.

Inside the old school phone box is a huge cavernous room, full of coral beams and glowing portholes. At the centre of the room is what looks like a console, which The Doctor plugs FauxMickey’s head into. This vehicle is the TARDIS (Time & Relative Dimensions In Space) and  he explains that both he and it are alien. He is quite uninterested in Mickey being alive or not. Using the rapidly melting head, The Doctor is able to locate where the signals that animated him are coming from and that sound is heard again.

Back to the plot and the Nestene Consciousness wants Earth, with it’s plastics and pollution and is somewhere in London, by a huge transmitter. When Rose and The Doctor step out of the box, it is now near the London Eye, which based on what The Doctor has told her what they are looking for a large circular thing, oblivious to the fact that the London Eye is just that. From there they are able to find the Nestene base and The Doctor goes in with Rose armed with a test tube full of ‘ani-plastic’, but he has to give the give the Nestene a chance. Fearful of The Doctor and his advanced technology, the Nestene activate a signal, animating all the mannekins and bringing angry life to a multitude of plastic items. At a local shopping centre, mannekins step out of shop windows and start killing bystanders, including Clive and his family. Jackie is also being menaced by these plastic soldiers. Back at the hidden base, the Nestene orders mannekins to hold The Doctor in place, whilst Mickey cowers, Rose swings on a chain to knock one of the mannekins into the Nestene, this mannekin had taken the ‘anti-plastic’ and the Nestene dies, destroying the base, but The Doctor, Rose and Mickey escape in the TARDIS.

The threat over and the world safe, The Doctor prepares to leave, but offers to take Rose with him, anywhere she would want to go. Frightened and worried about leaving Mickey, she declines and the TARDIS disappears. It’s clear Rose regrets this choice, so when the TARDIS reappears seconds later and The Doctor points out that it’s also a time machine, Rose smiles and then delivers the HARSHEST break up I have ever seen on television.

“Thanks” she says to Mickey.

“For what?”

“Exactly.” then a peck on the cheek before she runs into the TARDIS which vanishes.

Notes: It would be hard to underplay the cultural importance of Doctor Who to my generation and mostly likely the ones either side of mine. This show was huge in it’s scope, impact and in how much loved it was. The premise was and is beautifully simple. There is a man from another world, he has two hearts and time/space machine. He can go anywhere, or anywhen and takes a human being or two with him and when he arrives wherever he goes, there is trouble and he either helps out, or saves the day. That’s it, no more no less. Everything else is open to change. Eccleston is the 8th man to play the Time-Lord from Gallifrey (not including Dalek movies in the 60’s) and this is maybe the 4th iteration of the TARDIS console (thought I am sure I can easliy bein um’actuallied on this) and like each of the other 7 is probably someone’s favourite. Now the hokiness of the story and the not-aged-wellness of the effects is nothing new, this new focus on character makes the stars of the show the actors and not the monsters as often was in the show as it was. Billie Piper is a former pop star and wasn’t expected to be any good. I had seen her in other things and was a little more optimistic. Rose is more along the lines of Sarah Jane Smith and is a match for The Doctor, saving him at the end of the show, a fact she points out and he pleasantly confirms. Eccleston himself, well that’s a different story. Most of the people who played this character have been of a very particular type, having a southern English voice and mannerisms, often being near Victorian in that manner, even as the costuming became more outlandish, that voice was still doing all it could to avoid being regional. This Doctor however is dressed in jeans, teeshirt and a black leather coat. He is also conspicuously nothern. He stands out from anyone who has taken the job before him and his northern accent is even addressed.

“If you’re an alien, howcome you sound like you’re from the North?” asks Rose.

“Lots of planets have a north.” comes the reply.

He’s a departure at first glance, but is he though? He is resolute that he wants to save the Earth, even brining a weapon that could do the job, but he is more interested in talking this out. He’s compassionate, his first on screen act is saving Rose, even if he doesn’t really bother about Mickey. His chemistry with Rose is clear from the start and yet it doesn’t have the will they/won’t they forced sexual tension that many shows shove in. The direction is good, shifting from horror, to comedy to action quite seemlessly and the episodes writer Russell T Davies gives us a good plot, whose flaws are papered over by great characterisation and sparkling dialogue. This episode proved that the concept of Doctor Who was solid and still had a place on television. Since Eccleston we have have 4 more Doctor’s, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and a couple of new generations can have their own Doctor. This show brough a property back from the dead, reinserted it’s soul and drove it to new heights. I was excited when this show came back and now just as then, I was not disappointed.

Verdict:

Does it work? Yes, there was a reason that the original run of Doctor Who lasted for 25 years.

Does much need fixing? Not really, this seems a solid show that starts off strong.

Does it stand up? Yes, this is maybe my fourth time watching this and it’s pretty good.

Do I want to watch the next one? Not really, but have done so several times before now.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, it’s a fun return for a much loved character.

Overall: 4 out of 5. A great start to a show works as either a continuation, or a ground up reboot that does both equally well.

 

Published by Munky

Liverpool based family man and unrepentant geek, trying to understand what's going on in my own head, which is not always being a good place to be. Remember always, we live in a world of wonders.

One thought on “Reboots and Reimaginings – Doctor Who: In which we learn lots of planets have a North.

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