Doctor Who: Season One Review

Posted on 11/03/2012

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As some of you will be aware, because I live commentated every episode, last year I watched six years worth of Doctor Who in a month or so. A brief explanation may be necessary. Brief, because I don’t want to repeat myself and also because I don’t want to bore you. My previous job didn’t allow me to watch very much television because of the hours I worked. So now, I’m catching up on shows of the last fourteen years via DVD box sets. Good, I’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk Who.

My Doctor is Four, the incomparable Tom Baker. Not only was he my first, he was also the best. I was so obsessed with him as a kid, that I cut a picture out of a magazine and made my Gran knit me his scarf. I wore that thing everywhere, and so often, that it fell apart. I loved the Doctors who came after him, but he is mine. I’m gradually seeing more of William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, but it’s a slow process. Of those three, I much prefer Patrick Troughton.

Of the continuation of this series, some explanation is also required, well, I think it is. I watched it slightly out of order. I saw the first half of season six, followed by seasons one, through to season five, then the second half of season six. I knew a little about the show beforehand however, as I’d listened to some episodes of various podcasts, notably the Admirals Table episodes of Starbase 66. I knew of the one season duration of Nine, the drawn out ending of Ten, and a little of the episodes in between. There is an elephant in the room, but I’ll cover that later. So, without further ado, here we go. The plan is to review each season at the end, with a separate review of the Christmas specials, then a wrap up at the end.

I was worried about whether or not I would like the continuation. Those worries we’re unfounded. The second I heard the different, yet comfortingly familiar theme tune, I was hooked. I thought to myself ” Fantastic “, and I was right. Other characters first. Billie Piper didn’t have to earn my trust, she just seemed right as a companion, and this was before The Doctor appeared. I sort of had an idea that she was moderately famous, but I wasn’t really sure what for. She conveyed very well a sense of dissatisfaction with her lot in life, and yearning for something better.

Mickey ? Ugh ! I understand Rose has to have a boyfriend, but Mickey ? Noel Clarke can’t act and in my opinion the character of Mickey wasn’t written very well.
I like Jackie. She’s rough as guts, something of a gold digger, but her hearts in the right place. Very well portrayed by Camille Coduri.
The Doctor ? The first thing I need to say is, Christopher Ecclestone is my Doctor. Now, I knew before I started watching that he had only one season, but from the moment you see his hand grasp that of Rose, and he speaks his first words, glanced his first glance, Nine was my Doctor. He portrays so much with just a glance, his stance and posture, his tone and volume of voice. I am quite comfortable in saying that Christopher Ecclestone is equal with Tom Baker as the best Doctor. Ever.

Episode one, Rose, was a solid opener. The performances on the whole were good. Except, funnily enough, mannequin Mickey was more convincing than human Mickey. Go figure.

Episode two, The End Of The World felt more like a filler episode. The one good thing was the deepening friendship/relationship between Rose and The Doctor.

Episode three, The Unquiet Dead, was genuinely unsettling. It had great banter between the two main characters. It had a great performance by Simon Callow as Charles Dickens, seriously, that man could read a shopping list and I’d melt. It had a great race of villian in the Gelth. It also bought us Eve Myles. Now, I know the character isn’t Gwen, but in a relatively small role, we were introduced to a fine actress.

Episodes four and five, Aliens Of London and World War Three were, unfortunately, weak in comparison to the rest of the season. Two reasonable episodes reduced to mediocrity by wobbly, farting aliens with fat arses. Ugh ! But again, some fine guest performances.

Episode six, Dalek, was one of the stronger episodes of the season. Christopher Ecclestones performance was stellar. The look on his face when told by the Dalek that he would have made a good Dalek was priceless. It conveyed so much shock, sadness, disgust and contempt, that I shivered.

Episode seven, The Long Game, had a terrible plot, but again, at the risk of sounding repetitive, was saved by a brilliant guest performance by Simon Pegg as The Editor.

Episode eight, Fathers Day, could have been something brilliant. It had a fantastic story, brilliant ideas, well written dialogue, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get pass the performance of Shaun Dingwall as Pete Tyler. It didn’t sit well with me and that took me out of the story. His portrayal in the last few minutes was good, but it couldn’t redeem the episode for me.

Episodes nine and ten, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances were far and away the best episodes of the season, and among the best since the show returned to our screens in 2005. It was genuinely creepy. It scared the absolute fuck out of me. Even now, I can’t stand my boys calling my wife mummy. I hear that child’s voice instead. The performances were superb all round. Florence Hoath as Nancy conveyed the right mix of vulnerability and determination. The Doctors personality really shone. His desire for something, anything, to go right, to be fair, was palpable. There is one other factor that made these episodes great. They introduced us to the awesomely brilliant, charismatic, Captain Jack Harkness.

Episode eleven, Boom Town was one I found quite enjoyable, despite the presence of Mickey. It felt like Annette Badland was given better dialogue to develop the character of Margaret to the point where she became sympathetic. The Doctor found a way to stay true to himself and to please Rose and to help Margaret. A good strong episode.

Episodes twelve and thirteen, Bad Wolf and The Parting Of The Ways, were an epic and fitting end to the season. I was sad when characters died, my heart stirred when The Doctor declared his intent to rescue Rose, and I absolutely blubbered like a baby when my Doctor gave his farewell speech. You know what, he WAS brilliant. That’s how you regenerate.

Well, there’s my review of season one. In my opinion, it is one if the strongest first seasons of any show I’ve ever watched. It definitely hit the ground running. I hope you enjoyed it and weren’t bored to much. Any feedback or comments would be appreciated. Thank you for reading.

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