Monday, March 7, 2005

Rose

The first episode of the new Who series bodes well. It's got some of the little clunks you expect in a premiere, even though it's already firmly in a context. The main thing is: it's true enough to what was good about about the original series without being crushed under the weight of 25+ years of baggage -- no mean feat. It retains a certain childish charm, yet is smart enough for the older set to enjoy.

Eccleston as the Doctor is quite good, as expected. There's no transition from McGann (is Richard Grant officially part of the continuity?) but we are given to believe he is newly regenerated. If there's an axis of the Who archetypes, he plots nearest Pertwee and Tom Baker, but Eccleston has definitely made the role his own. He's got a bit of Colin Baker's arrogance and a touch of Troughton's playfulness, just enough to feel like the Doctor, but not too much of any to come off as apeing.

Billie Piper is excellent as Rose. She's the focal point of the episode and carries it off quite well. I get the sense the show is every bit as much Rose's as the Doctor's, a refreshing shift in focus.

The Tardis hits and misses for me. It looks just different enough from the outside to look like a fake, but that'll pass. The inside I felt was a little too cluttered and bat-cavey. The old console in the middle of a bare floor made no sense, but this seems a bit too much of an overcompesation. I loved the touch of being able to see into the inside from outside, something that never happened in the old show. Later though, I found myself missing the idea there could be an antechamber between the outside door and the interior. This way it looks like poor design, as if someone could chuck a rock in and hit the central console.

The opening music and title sequence are a perfect update. The dematerialisation sound effect is comfortably familiar. Davies & Co. are clearly sending the message to fans of the old show that this is still Doctor Who. Whatever may come, it's the same continuity.

The Autons were a curious choice for debut villains. Without giving anything away, good use was made of their inherent creepiness. On the other hand, I wished they'd not brought back the hand that opens up to a gun; it just doesn't make sense. And, if they cand do they do the T3-type morphing late in the show, why don't they earlier?

The humor is maybe a hair broader and scattershot than it needed to be. I'm condfident that's a kink they'll work out though. The Auton Garbage Pail didn't need to belch after flytrapping Rose's boyfriend (who by the way, was the only sketchy actor of the lot) -- I told myself "it's a kid's show and that would make my nephew laugh," but I knew it would be the clangingly wrong note that'd stick with me.

I've forced myself to try to be objective and not gush, but I really need to cut loose and admit that, as a fanboy, I was in geek heaven watching this. What's great is I don't feel like this is going to be a guilty pleasure. This should appeal to the Buffy/Angel/Firefly and Farscape crowd. The writing and acting are every bit as good as we've been conditioned to expect by Whedon and this time the fx don't condemn the show to easy dismissal by those unwilling to make allowances.

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