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A New Who Review, from a Yank's Point of View
on 21 May 2005
Having barely seen an episode or two on PBS in my youth, I really got into the series after seeing the 1997 US TV movie. I quickly snatched up every VHS tape, and found every other missing episode and unreleased story on bootleg videos, to obsessively have every inch of existing Doctor Who known to man. I preferred Jon Pertwee's Doc the best, with Troughton and T. Baker next. No need to get into the original classic series, so on with the new one.
Right from the start, I really enjoy Eccleston's portrayal of the Doctor. It seems he really did his homework and seems to have found just the right combination of wit and intellect that made so many previous doctors a success. His quick tongue seems to keep up to the fast new pace of the show. While the longer episode, vintage shows had more time for character development and interaction, in today's fast paced world of 32x fast forward speed DVD capability, you can't have 4 to 6 part episodes and expect to keep people's attention to that one storyline. It worked in the 70's, but certainly wouldn't work now.
Vintage Doctor Who always had great supporting casts and guest stars, and the new series is no different. Rose's boyfriend and mom keep up nicely to the pace and plotting of the show. Simon Callow and the actor in "Rose" who also played in Davies' The Second Coming were both excellent in their guest star turns.
As for the 3 storylines on this DVD, the opener, Rose, sweeps us back into the whirlwind world of Doctor Who that we all know and love. It seems like it nearly skipped a beat since 1989, with only the surroundings and special effects being updated. It also offers enough info to keep a new viewer interested. The opener is very action packed, much more than most vintage Who stories, and I think it has to be in some way to cater to the thrill-a-minute new millenium that we are all now fully accustomed to.
I had seen some sneak preview photos of the Autons before the show aired, and I thought they looked a little awkward and feared they might come across a bit cheesy in live action, however they threw me for a loop after watching Rose, as they looked incredibly lifelike and menacing. Bravo for the special effects wizards who worked on them as they looked brilliant. A superb opening episode to bring us all back into Who!
The 2nd episode kept Eccleston's sharp tongue going, and flew us into an alien space station, complete with just about every new concoction of an alien species one can concoct. Actually, the oddest looking species was the human!! A murderous metallic set of spiders is unleashed on a group of interplanetary oglers, wanting to witness the last moments of Earth. The always fashionably-late-in-saving-the-day Doctor has to come to Rose and everyone else's rescue.
The final story takes us to familiar Who territory, a period piece on planet Earth. 1869 to be exact, and Charles Dickens is giving a Christmas Eve performance of A Christmas Carol that gets rudely interrupted by a gas powered, walking corpse. The sets and costumes are superb, and this 19th century Cardiff set story is a real treat.
There really isn't anything bad I can say about the opening 3 stories, other than the fact that maybe he uses his Sonic Screwdriver one too many times, and the BBC sticks it's big logo over the opening sequence which kind of messes with the nice visual aesthetics. That's it. It is entirely above my expectations and I am extremely sorry to have read that Eccleston is not returning for Season 2. That is a shame, because his Doctor is extremely well played. The BBC must be mad or Eccleston must be mad. Whichever one caused this loss should have their head examined by a real doctor!!!
Can't wait for the second release DVD!!!!!