on 22 April 2006
I was born in 1984 so I'm of that generation who really missed-out on "Doctor Who". I had no Doctor to call my own when I grew up, and little knowledge of the series outside of the cult symbols of the Daleks and the TARDIS. (When I was still at senior school we had a Christmas quiz one time and one of the questions was to name any of the actors who had played the Doctor - no one could answer, which proves the point.) But then the new series came along, and I, like many other people, became a convert. I'm a big "Star Wars" fan and I love the "Harry Potter" books as much as the next person, but forget "Revenge of the Sith" and "Half-Blood Prince" - "Doctor Who" was *the* event of 2005, without a doubt.
So, what made it work? Well, it's simple really: well-written stories, excellent casting with some superb actors, special effects better than what's usually seen in any British TV series, and a show that was as much about the characters as it was about the monsters and the spaceships. Though its eccentricity when compared to the likes of "Star Wars" and other sci-fis threw me off to begin with, I soon settled in to the show's wit and charm, and I love its ability to never take itself too seriously, which is the downfall of a lot of modern fantasy stuff. Also, the fact that it was thoroughly entertaining and accessible for both children and adults was a real bonus, especially since so many things - even "Harry Potter" - seem to be getting to that level at the moment where they're too dark for younger audiences to enjoy. How wonderful it is to safely be able to sit back with either young kids or your grandparents and still feel comfortable about watching something together!
The show's power for me lays in its characters, though, and every week, though I loved the monsters and the fantastical adventures, I wanted just as much to see what the next development might be in the relationship between the Doctor and Rose, or to see how Mickey and Jackie were getting along without them, if we had an adventure that took us back to present-day Earth. It just made it all feel so much more realistic, though it's ironically choc-full of the impossible!
Billie Piper is an absolute revelation as Rose - I had my doubts at first, but from the moment you set eyes on her in part 1, you know she's a gifted actress. Put her together with Christopher Eccleston, one of the most talented and gritty actors in Britain today, and you've got an absolutely electric combination. Talent ahoy! They're both extremely capable of bringing every aspect of the scripts - from the dry humour to heart-wrenching emotion - to life, and are the driving force behind what proves to be a very energetic, intelligent and moving drama series. Though some episodes prove to be superior to others, there's never a terrible one, and this box set is well worth the investment if you have the cash. The extra featurettes give the enthusiastic Whovian something to get their teeth into, and I guarentee you will never find some more hilarious audio commentaries than you do along to some of these episodes, which, as well as revealing the actor's thoughts, also reveal some incredibly funny asides and memoirs of the on-set hiccups.
Though there are some fans of the classic "Doctor Who" who dismiss the new series (like any fan who treasures the originals, I guess), no one can deny that the new "Who" was a huge hit and that it's an incredibly well-made drama/sci-fi series. Now showing in its second season on BBC in the UK, the first shall always be remembered as the one that set the benchmark for the rest to follow, with a Doctor of the likes that we've never seen before (I personally don't think we'll ever see another Doctor as great as Chris Eccleston, but we all have our favourites, don't we?).
So, just sit back with the whole family, relax, jump behind the sofa if you have to, and enjoy what is the best of British family drama. Thank you Russell T Davies - we owe you one.