TV Review: (Nu) Doctor Who Series 1 Review (Spoilers)

As I mentioned in my Guide to watching Nu “Doctor Who”, I only decided to take the deep dive in a year or two ago. After being presented with “Blink” (S3E10), I knew that this was my cup of tea, and dove right in from the very beginning, with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), and the very first episode of the reboot, “Rose”.

Admittedly, the first time I watched “Doctor Who”, I was in a rush to watch everything, and so even though I loved what I was seeing, I don’t think I was really able to fully appreciate Christopher Eccleston’s short run as the Doctor. However, with my second watch, I was able to spend a little bit more time getting to know Nine a little bit more, and truly appreciate what Eccleston, Billie Piper, and Russell T. Davies (the show’s showrunner until series four) gave us.

Nine traveled in his TARDIS along with Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), an ordinary nineteen year old girl who was given the chance to experience the universe, and later on with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), a character that is near and dear to every Whovian on this planet (and others as well). Rounding up the cast was Camille Coduri, who played Rose’s mother Jackie, and Rose’s boyfriend, Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke).

Of course, the most significant thing about the first series is that Russell T. Davies was able to revive a series that had been put on the shelf for many years, and introduced it to a whole new generation of viewers. Sure, their budget wasn’t nearly as big as it is now, but they were able to do wonderful things with what they had to work with. Aside from that, series one also introduced the pattern of having a keyword throughline or recurring theme  that would all come together in the series finale; introduced us to Steven Moffat, who wrote “The Empty Child” & “The Doctor Dances”, and is currently the showrunner of the show (he will, however, make his exit, and hand over the reins to Chris Chibnall at the end of the current series); and introduced us to Mark Gatiss, who wrote “The Unquiet Dead” (one of my favorite episodes of his), who  also would go on to help out Steven Moffat not only with “Doctor Who” from series five to present, but with “Sherlock” as well.

The first series in the revived “Doctor Who” or NuWho, as Whovians like to call it, boasted great stories, great acting, and memorable characters that would go on to reprise their roles in subsequent series or seasons. This series also is the beginning of the “Davies Era” of “Doctor Who”, which lasted until series 4 and the 2008-2010 specials. (Series 5 to the currently ongoing series 10 is referred to as the “Moffat Era”).

Upon watching everything again, I discovered that almost every story (yes, even “Aliens of London”, “World World War III”, “The Long Game” and “Boom Town”) were strong and enjoyable to watch. Because of this, I realized that I liked 12.5 out of the thirteen episodes they gave us.

This season was very different from the old Classic Who stuff, as it took the time it needed to explore its main characters, and in particular, the companion. Aside from this, there was an effort to make the new companion a relatable and realistic character with a lot of potential for character growth. However, just as the companion also grows, so does the Doctor, as each of his companions does teach him things as he teaches them.

It also introduced a major Classic Who villain and introduced to other concepts in a simple manner so that someone watching “Doctor Who” for the first time would have an easy time getting acclimated with everything.

Now, if you want the quickest route, refer to my guide, but be aware that this season’s recurring theme is present in every single episode, although you may also opt to go back to watch the other episodes after everything.

Before we head into a deeper analysis of the Ninth Doctor, his relationship with Rose, and to my favorite episodes, please be warned that there will be spoilers!

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Watching this a second time, I discovered that I found each episode to be strong, even with the episodes that I didn’t really think were strong during my first watch. I couldn’t make up my mind, however, about “The Long Game”, as I didn’t really like the alien antagonist, but appreciated the underlying message that it was trying to convey.

My all time favorite episodes in this series were “End of the World”, “Dalek”, “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, “Father’s Day” and, of course, “Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways”. I believe these episodes were their best, and it also showed off the acting skills of both Piper and Eccleston.

Writing wise, majority of the episodes were written by Russell T. Davies, with some few exceptions, such as Paul Cornell, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, and Robert Shearman, all names that many Whovians will recognize for all the work that they’ve done for revived series. In fact, Steven Moffat’s “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” is a favorite of mine, as well as Mark Gatiss’ “The Unquiet Dead” (which, also, is one of my favorite Gatiss episodes in all of “Doctor Who”).

Directing wise, we had Keith Boak, Brian Grant, Joe Ahearne, James Hawes, and of course, Euros Lyn. Lyn did a lot of work for NuWho, especially during what we call the “Davies” era.

And, of course, the music was composed by the brilliant Murray Gold, but I think that his stuff got better in the latter part of series 2, and found its footing and balance with series 3.

Interestingly enough, Nine and Rose didn’t really travel so much through space as much as they did through time.  Most of the series was set on Earth and in space stations orbiting Earth, and in different time periods. I think this was done so that they could ease viewers into the show, and instead of bombarding them with different time periods and planets, they decided to stick with the familiar- Earth.

However, there were many aliens featured in this series, such as the Nestene Consciousness, Autons, the Face of Boe, the Moxx of Balhoon, actual living trees from the Forest of Cheem, the Gelth, the Jagrafess, and of course, the Daleks.

This series also saw the beginning of a recurring major theme for a particular series. For this one, the major keyword was “Bad Wolf”. Later on, it became clearer that they were starting to try to weave the Daleks as the big bad for the season, but it did come as a surprise because aside from the lone Dalek in “Dalek”, it wasn’t seeded properly all throughout. “The Long Game” should have started to begin to seed it in, but wasn’t able to do so properly. However, that element of surprise that I had when it was revealed that the Daleks were indeed the big bad at the end was great and very, very effective.

The CGI and special effects in this series were nowhere near how slick and smooth it became starting series 5, but this was understandable as they really didn’t have much of a budget back then, and this was done during 2005 to 2006. However, I believe that they were pretty much successful in their efforts. I was really impressed, actually, with how they were able to make the Daleks, and Lady Cassandra (Zoe Wannamaker), especially as Lady Cassandra was very much a CGI character.

Aside from the whole novelty of a show focusing on travelling through time and space, it was interesting how each episode made you think, whether it be about the underlying message that the episode wanted to say, to moral dilemmas that the characters, no matter how secondary they are, have to face.

Eccleston was definitely a “fantastic” Doctor. He was the Doctor that was born out of the ravages of war, so his Doctor was a little bit rude, no nonsense, a man of action rather than words, and was one with signs of PTSD and was very emotionally closed off.

In fact, he only began opening up thanks to Rose, who, during the series, served as his moral compass, and who showed him that humanity is definitely worth fighting for.

Because of this, it is no wonder that when he regenerated, he regenerated into a Doctor that loves humanity and who does love this simple human girl who taught him how to be human and revel in his emotions again.

Aside from Rose and Nine, there was also Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), Rose’s boyfriend, and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), everyone’s favorite rogue Time Agent.

Mickey was very underutilized in this series, but what I do like is the fact that instead of being “the one who was left behind” and doing nothing, it spurred him into action. He ended up being their “tech support” (he’s good with computers), and actively did research about the who the Doctor was.  He also showed such strength of character when he began to let Rose go as a romantic interest. That took a lot of strength and guts, and I salute him for that. (I think that this is also why his character journey, and how they paid it off in “End of Time Pt. II”, was very satisfying.)

Captain Jack is a character near and dear to every Whovian, and he went on to appear in series three, the end of series four, and even headlined a spin-off called “Torchwood”. Jack is every bit of the rogue that he is, and his addition to the TARDIS crew was very much welcome indeed, and it allowed the Doctor to have someone to riff off with, especially when it came to alien or future technology.

Together, they were one family, which is why I particularly LOVE that scene in “Boom Town”, in which all four of them were having fun, eating lunch, and swapping stories together, with no one feeling left out.

However, as I said earlier, this season was really strong, and even though they aren’t my all time favorites, I love that these episodes, and “Doctor Who” in particular, manages to make me think about things, and their real world applications, in every episode.

Next up, I’ll be posting my first in my “Doctor Who Character Guide” (or something like that) series, starting with a more in depth look at the Ninth Doctor. I’ll be doing this every time a particular character arc ends for a major character within the show. So, I’ll actually be releasing posts on the Tenth Doctor, Rose, Martha Jones and Donna Noble AFTER I review the 2008-2010 Specials. (And the same logic applies to all the other major characters in NuWho).

How did you like this series or season? What was your favorite episode of series 1? What did you think about the Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith and Captain Jack Harkness? Feel free to discuss in the comments below, just remember to warn people first if you will be posting a spoiler warning in  your comments first if you will delve into spoiler territory, and be polite and respectful to everyone.

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “TV Review: (Nu) Doctor Who Series 1 Review (Spoilers)

  1. I thought Eccleston was for a lack of a better word, Fantastic. For as goofy as he could be I always felt an aura of mystery around him. More so than with the other new Doctors.

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