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New Who Openers In Perspective: Rose

In the build-up to Deep Breath, Mark McCullough begins a series looking at past New Who openers.

rose-tyler-billie-piper-2005

As we approach the last few days of our wait for Deep Breath, it seems as if the series is further away than ever. In anticipation of the Series Eight we have decided to write a collection of ‘In Perspectives’ for the other series openers.

If we think our wait of a mammoth 241 days was tough, spare a thought for those fans that had to wait over thirteen times that (3225 days). Whilst our reward is Deep Breath, theirs’ was Rose and the return of one of their favourite shows after a very long hiatus.

In 2005 headed by the amazing Russell T Davies (whose role is currently being fulfilled by the equally brilliant Steven Moffat) Doctor Who returned to our screens. Rose was the episode handed the task of reintroducing a show which was remembered only in the hearts of fans. To appease long standing fans whilst simultaneously appealing to a new audience was no easy feat, but one which the episode managed to accomplish.

“It’s an invasion, plain and simple. Don’t talk about constitutional rights.”

RoseThe narrative focussed on the story of Rose Tyler, opening with a snapshot of her daily life. We are given a glimpse of a typical day (Which was intentionally designed to be relatable to): waking up early to an alarm, lunch with a significant other followed by back to work. Rose’s daily routine is used as a surrogate for the audience to ease them into the story in a manner which was comfortable to them. RTD uses his knack of creating moments that feel real and grounded to set up an encounter with the Doctor. The scene is excellently portrayed using the contrast between the Doctor and Rose’s attitudes to the situation.

Things quickly escalate as the encounter ends with Rose running for her life as her work gets blown up. The next day she encounters the Doctor again as he searches for the signal which the Auton’s arm is producing. This piques her interest in the Doctor as she seeks out Clive to explain to her who exactly this mysterious man is. Whilst she is inside Mickey falls victims to the Autons and is replaced by an Auton copy. This leaves Rose in a position where she requires the Doctor to save her (again). From here the threat reaches a global level as the full invasion begins. The Doctor is unable to resolve the situation without Rose’s help, both in locating the Nestene Consciousness and destroying it. As a reward for her efforts, the Doctor offers her the opportunity to travel with him in the TARDIS.

“I’m in my dressing gown… There’s a strange man in my bedroom… Well, anything could happen…”

rose-mickey-piper-clarke-2005Rose is a very strong character; she is presented as an ordinary young woman who has her flaws and her strengths. Her courage and ability to help the Doctor is a particular high, although her treatment of Mickey shows her in a bad but realistic light. The extension of the cast to include her family and friends offers Doctor Who a new dimension which it never had before. Jackie comes across as a loving mother, we see at times that her relationship with Rose is far from perfect, but there are signs at how strong their bond is. Mickey is presented as the loving boyfriend, so it is rather sad to see Rose be so dismissive of his value at the end of the episode. Her treatment of him just because he was scared, which is a natural human reaction in those circumstances, especially after being kidnapped. The inclusion of far from perfect relationships serves to ground the show and is an example of one of the main strengths of Russell T Davies’ writing.

“I’m the Doctor, by the way.”

eccleston-doctor-cards-rose-2005The Doctor is the main character of the show. That is fact. The classic series had always placed the Doctor at the fore of the adventure. Rose however relegated him to a somewhat lesser role. For once the story was about the companion and their life. We only saw the Doctor when he crossed paths with Rose. In some ways this was a huge risk, but one that paid off. Not only did it produce a more rounded and realistic companion, something which is a major factor in the continued success of the revived series, but it also helped the Doctor’s character.

The most obvious benefit was the sense of mystery and intrigue which it created about him. We are presented with a powerful and mysterious man who has a majestic spaceship with which he travels through time and space. This fact is cleverly withheld until the end of the episode, until then, it is teased by the studies of Clive who has charted several of the Doctor’s off screen adventures. The sense of danger around the character is established from the off, he first scene involves death and blowing up a shop. Despite this, the character still comes off as likable and someone who the audience becomes invested in immediately. This is exactly what was required by the first episode of a brand new series. It is also worth mentioning that information is held back, and things such as the Time War are teased which gives the viewer good reason to come back for the next instalment.

“They’re made of plastic. Living plastic creatures.”

autons-roseThe monsters of choice for the episode were the Autons, a monster which would have been familiar to long term fans of the show. Not just this but they also represent a large part of our commercial lives, the shop window dummy. This made them a very sensible choice for the return of the show as they brought appeal to both groups which the show was aiming to please. In the scenes where they attack the shoppers, you get a sense of threat, that there will be consequences. What worked even more in the favour of the narrative was that it was realistic.

The Autons themselves were expanded upon by the revelation that they were controlled by the Nestene Consciousness using the London Eye as transmitter. The fear factor of the Autons is increased too by the fact that they can be anything plastic (as shown by the bin) and can still be functional even if the plastic does not remain intact (the arm). Bearing in mind that we live in an age where nearly everything is plastic, the thought of it all becoming sentient is unsettling to say the least. Unfortunately their demise is a little bit too easy as anti-plastic poured into the Nestene Consciousness is enough to defeat them.

Conclusion

Rose is a very simple story which focuses more its characters than most episodes would. In all it achieved what it set out to do, which in a sense has allowed us to be here today. Rose is a beginning, a return, but something completely new. As such I suspect that it is a story which holds a special place in many fans hearts despite the fact that it may not be a strong as some of the other episodes. I shall conclude by saying, if you are trying to get someone into Doctor Who, look no further than Rose.

Rating

Throughout this series of In Perspective articles we are going to provide a rating for the episode to allow for some comparisons and to see what elements are actually important to making a good opener. The criteria we have chosen are as follows:

Episode Rating: What it says on the tin, how the episode fares in reviewers’ opinion

Effectiveness as an Opener: The opening episode of a series is one of the most important. It needs to appeal to new viewers and give them something which attracts their attention and makes them watch the rest of the series. It is also important for fans that the opener is strong as it is usually the episode they have waited the longest for. Most openers also tend to introduce new characters, either a new companion or even a new Doctor.

Monster Rating: Several things make a good monster: fear factor, how they are used, are they memorable and do they fit the story. A good monster does not necessarily make a good episode, but as such an iconic part of we felt they deserved a rating.

Character Rating: Whether it be introducing new characters or developing pre-existing ones, it is important that the episode gets its characters right.

The following ratings were produced by taking the individual ratings of five contributors (David Selby, Jack Hudson, Lewis Hurst, Simon Mitchell and Tomas Edwards). These ratings were then averaged to provide a number which should be relatively free of individual bias.

The results are as follows:

  • Episode Rating: 8.1/10
  • Effectiveness as an Opener: 9.4/10
  • Monster Rating: 8.0/10
  • Character Rating: 8.5/10

This gives the episode a total score of 34/40

Step back in time...

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81 comments
The Finn
The Finn

Great idea for a series!

Silurian53
Silurian53

Every time I want to get a new friend into Doctor Who I start them at Rose, mainly because when they get to Day of the Doctor, it will be a much bigger pay off, even though they haven't seen the classic series etc. Anyway, I always have to pause it at the moment when the bin burps and explain that Doctor Who isn't always that cheesey. As for Aliens of London/World War Three, I just skip it all together when showing friends. I like the idea of the story but I just hate Russell's joke with the farting...

The8thDoctor
The8thDoctor

Far too "Soapy"  I thought at the time and my opinion has not changed.

TheCosmicHobo2
TheCosmicHobo2

Definitely the strongest series opener of the RTD era, to be honest it's the only one I like but it's not without it's flaws.

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

i rewatched this recently and the one thing i really disliked was the bin, especially as it burped after it ate Mickey. alien bodily gases were a blight that plagued the 1st half of series 1. but all in all it must have done something right as the new series is a massive success.

Zakk Williams
Zakk Williams

I don't like this episode, though I love series 1 overall. 


alexiusp21
alexiusp21

I loved the humour segments: 1. Doctor vs the plastic hand while Rose was in the kitchen; and (2) the trash bin swallowing Mickey. My 7 year old (at the time) was laughing his pants off.







HitchcockWhovian
HitchcockWhovian

I agree - I love this episode. Even plastic Mickey. And the goofy conspiracy theories. It's so effortlessly entertaining; very old school, whilst at the same time introducing that modern, slick edge to the show. Underrated. I reckon I'd give it a 9/10 - or something like 35/40.



Oodkind
Oodkind

While it isn't my favorite episode, it was a brilliant way to start the show. The first episode of a show shouldn't be a big complex, timey-wimey story, no matter how epic those are. It needs to start simple, develop characters, and engage the audience. I think Rose did that perfectly.

I rated it 8/10 (average of all episodes is 5.2, so that is quite good). It's my 4th favorite opener, and my favorite from the RTD era.

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

A very good episode that explains the basics of who the Doctor is, and both Chris and Billie are wonderful in their roles, I just hate plastic Mickey so much. 

Unibot
Unibot

The Autons are a GREAT monster and were an excellent choice to relaunch Doctor Who with - I just don't think they were executed well here in "Rose" with the cheesy Plastic Mickey. The opening of "Rose" is pure magic, however. Deconstructing The Doctor and his mythology however, to make it easier to digest for new viewers was a great idea and executed well. 

ahunter8056
ahunter8056

Right, time to do my scores.

  • Episode Rating8.5/10
  • Effectiveness as an Opener: 10/10
  • Monster Rating: 8/10
  • Character Rating: 8.5/10

This gives the episode a total score of 35/40


DaftDalek is Ceter Papaldi
DaftDalek is Ceter Papaldi

A great episode, despite not having aged very well. I think we all have a soft spot for it in spite of its flaws. What's more, has anyone noted the similarities between Rose and An Unearthly Child? Both named after the companions, centred around them and the Doctor being a mystery. I'm sure RTD got lots of inspiration from Anthony Coburn's story!

Don't Blink
Don't Blink

Mickey turning into plastic was a bit...strange. For some reason, "Rose" always feels really weird to me, like it's not like any other episode. I think that is just the nature of it - the fact it's "Who" coming back after such an enormous break. It's an event piece as much as it is a "Doctor Who" episode, of course. And do you know what, if I hadn't enjoyed that episode back in 2005, I wouldn't be here on this forum.

Who better than RTD to bring back the best show in the universe!

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I really liked Chris as the doctor it is a shame he didnt stay longer

sontaran17
sontaran17

Not the Strongest Episode, but a pretty great one when we factor in the enormous duty it had to kick start a series - 


  • Episode Rating: 7.5/10
  • Effectiveness as an Opener: 8/10
  • Monster Rating: 6.5/10
  • Character Rating: 9/10  -- ALL UP 31/40

Huknar
Huknar

Yep I agree entirely with this article. Rose is a very solid episode.

Baker Street is taking a Deep Breath
Baker Street is taking a Deep Breath

Episode Rating: 10/10

Effectiveness as an Opener: 9.5/10

Monster Rating: 8/10 (the first scene when the Autons move gets a 10/10, it gave me a still-vivid nightmare).

Character Rating: 9/10

Total Score: 36.5/40

One of my favourite episodes, and I think it was brilliant at reintroducing the show to a new generation (myself included).

Looking forward to the rest of this series!

Polyphase
Polyphase

Great article. Rose is far from my favorite character but it was a worthy opener for the new series. I thought plastic Mickey was fantastic, Very creepy and very funny at the same time :)

LGwalchmai95
LGwalchmai95

The Doctor: I'm the Doctor by the way. What's your name?

Rose: Rose.

The Doctor: Nice to meet you Rose. Run for your life!

What a brilliant way to introduce the Doctor to us this was! Just casually saving a young woman's life, escorting her out, then telling her that you're going back in to blow the building up and probably kill yourself in the process! This scene was brilliant; it may very well be the last conversation he'll ever have, and he's so nonchalant and calm and just gives us a big smile! I can't help but smile when he says that line, Eccleston delivers it expertly and it's a truly memorable scene in my opinion. :)

ahunter8056
ahunter8056

Ah cool, a nice little series to keep us going until Saturday. Personally I love 'Rose'. Not just because it was the first episode I ever watched of Doctor Who, but it's a very strong episode by itself. There are no flaws whatsoever with it. It's well acted, well written. The only negative is that the effects look dated by now, but in 2005 to an 8 year old they looked fantastic! If you're ever looking to get someone into Doctor Who, 'Rose' is the only episode you'll need. It's perfect in that regard.





LlamaWho
LlamaWho

I thought Rose was a great opener as it focused more on the companion and so became much more relatable as then all the questions Rose was asking were ones that us, the viewers, were asking as well. Russell T Davies was just a genius and thank god he was!

I also thought that the idea of the moving plastic shop dummies was fantastic as I have only just been able to get over my fear of them! Unlike my 16 year old sister who is still terrified walking past them!

Mikeyboss182
Mikeyboss182

Rose is a great start to the new series. What I love about it is that it's told completly from the perspective of Rose herself, she's the main character and that makes the Doctor more of a mystery just like in An Unearthly Child when the story was told from the perspective of Ian and Barbara. This is something I want Doctor Who to go back to, I want Deep Breath and the rest of Series 8 to be told as Clara's story, the Doctor may be the hero but the companion is the main character. 

Jenna Coleslaw
Jenna Coleslaw

When I first saw Rose I really didn't know what to make of it. It certainly wasn't designed to hook me personally. But looking back, it does just about everything right. It's incredibly funny and the way the Doctor is introduced is handled beautifully, the same goes for the TARDIS, first only seen in the background and then used brilliantly in the bigger on the inside reveal. 


Although I really enjoy the burping trash bin and Auton Mickey now, I can't help but think that those overly silly elements would've been better suited for later episodes, as I to this day have to convince people that it's not all like this after they've watched the first episode and absolutely don't get what all the fuzz is about. The Eleventh Hour does the job a lot better.

Ivegotkidneys is in a Dalek
Ivegotkidneys is in a Dalek

Mickeys not all perfect Rose could've died in that building all he wanted to do is go down the pub to watch football

MrRazza, General Rogue Timelord Identifier
MrRazza, General Rogue Timelord Identifier

I agree entirely. It sets out what it wants to achieve and setup, and it does it well. It isn't a standout amazing plot or episode, but makes a very effective and memorable opener. It was my first, and it got me hooked.

On a note with Mickey though, I think it's meant to be established a bit more that he isn't actually a perfect, loving boyfriend. And as far as Rose is aware, she could be returning the next morning from Mickey's perspective, it's not meant to be abandoning. 

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I still liked Rose even though she wasnt terribly nice to her boyfriend, maybe she was that way because she was so young, and just an ordinary girl from a shop

 Notsosmartguy  the dalek of Jersey
Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey

Rose is a great new start to the franchise. I've often said series 1 was my favorite series and while I still highly recommend people start with the eleventh hour this is my other choice. Rose Tyler is a character I feel went from pretty good to really obnoxious in series 2 onward but in series 1 she was pretty ok (even if she totally ends up treating Mickey like crap throughout the series) and she and the 9th Doctor had great chemistry.Speaking of the good old Doc Chris does a really great stuff with his doctor even being my favorite of the revived with his perfect balance of angst charm and humor. I give this episode a 9/10.

HitchcockWhovian
HitchcockWhovian

Though, I have to say, the old autons are creepier. I dunno what it is - maybe that Spearhead From Spacewas shot on film, or that they were decidedly more brutal - but those 70s mannequins give me the shivers. 

 Notsosmartguy  the dalek of Jersey
Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey

@Mercy Reborn2 look at it this way if Chris hadn't left we might have gotten the 10th Doctor. While I'm not nearly as fond of him as a lot of other people he really hit a cord with a lot of people and help elevate the show's popularity.

Don't Blink
Don't Blink

@Mercy Reborn2 Me too, me too. On the bright side, the new audience got introduced to regeneration right from series 1, which is great. It re-introduced yet another important part of the show, and got that out of the way as soon as possible (plus keeping "Doctor Who" publicity and hype really high as not only were people talking about the new show, but now the regeneration, too). I was gutted when I found out back in 2005, but at least it got me somewhat familiar with regeneration as soon as possible.


And Chris has that moreorless perfect run of 13 episodes. Fantastic. Short and sweet, and great. Maybe another 13 would have lessened the average quality of his episodes. As it is, that short 13 run is great quality.


And of course, lovely to see Rose deal with the Doctor change JUST as she's getting used to him...


Thought of one more thing too. If he'd stayed only one more series, along with Billie Piper, then there would've been no companion to ease the Doctor change. So he'd have to stay for at least three. seeing as the companion was really needed to make the transition for the new audience. Do you see? I think honestly that his decision worked out well in the end, however annoying it is for his fans (myself included).


TheNightmareChild redecorated (You better like it)
TheNightmareChild redecorated (You better like it)

@HitchcockWhovian Might be because the 'Spearhead from Space' Autons had slightly more defined facial features and (sort of) eyes.  Kinda' made it almost approach uncanny valley territory.  Also contributing to that is that they moved in a less stiff way which made them seem less robotic than the 'Rose' ones.



ahunter8056
ahunter8056

@ Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey @Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd Personally I disagree. Until 'The Age Of Steel', Mickey's character was a total loser. He was hiding emails from his girlfriend, would rather go down to the pub and drink than comfort his girlfriend who had just been in a potentially traumatising situation. Mickey's character was awesome in 'The Age Of Steel', 'Army Of Ghosts' and 'Doomsday, but before that, he was a total loser. A similar situation to Rory in Series 5 before the finale.

jamesanash101
jamesanash101

@supermoff  @ Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey Everyone here knows I ADORE Rose but one thing really bugged me in Series 4 ... giant hoop earrings to fight the Daleks? 'Right I'm off to fight the Daleks and save the world ... but first I have to look fabulous!'... Really?

jamesanash101
jamesanash101

@supermoff  @ Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey I imagine them spending ages in the TARDIS wardrobe saying, 'well these shoes are cute, but can I run away from a Zygon in them?' ... Does anyone else really want to see more of the Doctor and companion when they're not fighting for their lives? And no I'm not resorting to fanfiction...

ahunter8056
ahunter8056

@TheNightmareChild sees into your soul! @Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd  @supermoff  @ Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey I don't understand it either. I'm probably too biased, but I think Rose/Ten was and still is the best TARDIS team. They had great chemistry together, and were just lovely to watch, and the best of friends (and more). Sure Rose got selfish at times, but she's only human after all. We've all got flaws. That's one of the many things I like about Rose, that she was written like a real person, rather than being too perfect. 

Jenna Coleslaw
Jenna Coleslaw

@TheNightmareChild sees into your soul! @Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd  @supermoff  @ Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey Because they look and behave exactly like a teenage couple. Now, I don't mind them, but there were times when I really wouldn't have minded them being a little less lovey-dovey with each other - and I presume many fans of the classic series who were used to quite distant Doctor-companion relationships were even unhappier with that. Because, let's be honest, even though it's a lot of fun to be teenage couple, you don't really like to watch and listen to them, do you?

 Notsosmartguy  the dalek of Jersey
Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey

@stargazer0118 @ Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey @TheNightmareChild redecorated (You better like it) @Ivegotnewkidneys on the 23rd  @supermoff I'm sorry I just feel they were kinda annoying like those irritating cool kids at every high school. Then because he couldn't get over rose 10 treated Martha unfairly bad most of the time (still love series 3 though) like she was just some rebound girl. I know I have the unpopular opinion but I feel the romance aspect in the earlier series was more of a crutch than in recent series. I feel the whole "doctor romance" aspect thing worked better with River and Clara because River in a lot of ways she was probably the kind of woman I could see the Doctor having a relationship with and Clara because she's smart enough to know it would never work out. That's just my 2 cents though