Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: Rose

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I can feel it… the turn of the earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world. And, if we let go…

That’s who I am.

Today, March 26th, marks 9 years since the Ninth Doctor (as played by Christopher Eccleston) appeared on our screens. That day was nine years since new Doctor Who had appeared on TV.

The Ninth Doctor is, for me, a bit of an oddity. He was the first Doctor I ever saw, true, but I only caught the very end of his tenure – Bad Wolf was my first episode, and then a week later the Doctor regenerated. So, I’ve not exactly got a big emotional connection to him.

As well as that, I don’t tend to watch his episodes very often, so I’m not all that familiar with them – I know the basic plot and sequence of events, but there’s lots of little things that surprised me when watching Rose for this review.

That, coupled with his relatively short run, means I’m just not quite sure about him – sure, he’s a good Doctor, but how good? If I were to one day rank the Doctors, where would he stand on that list?

Hence this rewatch…

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Rose is a bit of a weird episode in and of itself really. There’s a lot being relied upon here – it was this episode that had to launch Doctor Who to a whole new public. Capture the hearts of a whole new generation of children, as it were.

It’s quite interesting to see actually how little the Doctor is really in this episode – a brief internet search doesn’t reveal any statistics, but it’s clear throughout the episode that the Doctor isn’t quite the focus here. (Well, duh, look at the title)

There’s a lot of people who think that this isn’t the right way to do things, and that the companion should be much more of a peripheral character… I’m going to have to say I disagree. Way back in 1963, it was Ian and Barbara who got the focus in An Unearthly Child. It’s fair to say, perhaps, that it was their story for the first few years, not the Doctor’s. They were our entrance into this world, not the Doctor. They were our audience surrogate.

Just like Rose is here.

I think it’s fair to say then that this is a pretty good relaunch episode. The use of the Autons too is a great choice; there is, to use a big word, a juxtaposition of the normal and the surreal, which Doctor Who does really well.

Actually it’s quite clear that a lot of the choices here are specifically to relaunch Doctor Who – as you’d expect really. Rose an audience surrogate, Autons for disbelief, and a thin plot to focus on character moments. Generally, I’d say that’s pretty clever – all the right choices are being made there.

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It’s about… here.

Finally, a word on the Doctor, since he’s the important part here. Christopher Eccleston gives a really, really great performance. It’s quite unlike both of his successors, and indeed his predecessors. Still, it’s very good, and an interesting interpretation of the character. There’s some subtle nuances to the acting here too (some of which I’ve noticed in wake of The Day of the Doctor; there’s a point just before his excellent “turn of the Earth” speech where Rose addresses him as the Doctor, and he gives a wry smile, as though he’s pleased – pleased to be able to call himself the Doctor again, the first time someone else has called him that since before the war?)

In the end, I liked the episode. It’s a solid 45 minutes or so of entertainment, and it was generally pretty good. I don’t think, however, I’m ever likely to sit down and think “Hey, I really want to watch Rose now, I’m really in the mood to watch that episode” – in short, I think I’d only rewatch it as part of something like this, rather than the episodes own qualities.

So, let’s say… 7/10, that sounds about right.

Related:

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor Reviews

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