Season Commentary: New Doctor Who, Season One


I’ve caught up with new Doctor Who, and before I take the plunge into the thirty-some-odd years that came before, let’s talk about them.  We’ve got a good few months before Season Seven starts, so I’ve got some time to talk about it all, right?

I almost sorted this by Xth Doctor, Season X but I thought that might get confusing.  Hopefully by “New Doctor Who” most people will know what I’m talking about.  If you’re looking for the 7th Doctor, I apologize, but he’s not here.

Season One stars Billie Piper as Rose, with co-star Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor.  If you think it’s the other way around, it’s because you haven’t watched Season One.  Yeah, the Ninth Doctor was cool and all, but he was never the star of the show.  Part of this is because apparently Billie Piper was already some sort of celebrity in the UK.  Whatever.  When I watched this season I was too busy wondering why Rose and Mickey put an apostrophe after every “T” sound.  One thing Doct’or Who is teaching me is that there is more variet’y to Brit’ish accents than I would have thought, if you know what to look for.

One thing that seems odd to me is that it’s said Doct’or Who was only expect’ed to have one season when this season was writt’en.  Why does this surprise me?  Mainly because one, plot events are set into place that don’t resolve unt’il seasons lat’er, and two, because while between Doct’ors 10 and 11 a mult’it’ude of det’ails change (such as the TARDIS, the sonic screwdriver, the companions, the writ’er), between Doct’ors 9 and 10 it’s pretty much the same sett’ing, minus Chris Ecclest’on.

The first episode is named for Rose, once more emphasizing that hey, you should watch the show for this celebrit’y cast member, because that’s always the best way to sell a show.  Because Rihanna being in Batt’leship is sure to make it a good movie, right?  Rose discovers the Doct’or after nearly being killed at work, and when her boyfriend is almost killed, she helps him save the Earth.  She int’ends to st’ay with her injured boyfriend, Mickey, unt’il the Doct’or mentions that the TARDIS can time travel.  Her nat’ural response is fuck Mickey, he’ll keep, TIME TRAVEL!

Is it any wonder at all that Mickey is a whiny bitch for the first two seasons?

This season is rather sequential, as Doct’or Who seasons go.  This is largely because Rose and the Doct’or were doing some experiment’at’ion with companions.  As is nat’ural with a girl who leaves her injured boyfriend behind for OMG TIME TRAVEL, Rose has a penchant for picking up male companions and taking them into the TARDIS with her, something that the Doct’or wholly disapproves of but doesn’t actually stop, because he’s not the star of the show yet.

In Episode 4, a part time companion is set up in the form of Harriet Jones, because nobody realizes that repeatedly using the same surnames could potentially get confusing.  Well, it’s not until Season 3 that this comes into play, so I guess I shouldn’t blame Season 1 for that.

In episode 6, Rose picks up a boy who becomes a companion for a day.  If not for this, episode 6 would be a perfect episode, introducing the visage of the Cybermen to my generation, in addit’ion to the Daleks, the death of the Time Lords, and the Doct’or’s hat’red for the Daleks.  By episode 7, random boy has bet’rayed Rose and the Doct’or, so it’s off to home for him.

In episode 9, Rose can’t help but pick up another boy, in this case Cap’n Jack Harkness, who would go on to spend more time on television than Rose herself.  Jack would keep appearing on Doct’or Who unt’il 2008, in addit’ion to becoming one of the stars of Torchwood.

As for the plot itself, Episode 1 does nothing, Episode 2 sets up plots for Season 3, Episodes 4 and 5 set up Episode 11, Episode 6 ties into Episode 7 and introduces the main enemy of Episode 12, Episode 7 sets up Episode 12, and Episode 11 sets up Episode 13.  Taking into account that Episodes 4 and 5, 9 and 10, and 12 and 13 are two-parters, you have more than half of the Season tied into a solid narrative and the rest for character development.

That sounds confusing, so let me slow down a minute.

Episode 1 introduces the Doctor, Rose and Mickey.  And the TARDIS.  Duh.

Episode 2 introduces Time Travel, aliens, character development, and plot points that will resolve in Season 3.

Episode 3 introduces a plot device that ties into Episode 11, and mainly focuses on telling a story and showing us more about the Doctor Who premise.

Episode 4 is a two-parter with Episode 5.  These episodes introduce Harriet Jones, who will appear three more times, and the Slytheens, who will be the enemy again in Episode 11, which sets up a plot device for Episode 13, the Season Finale.

Episode 6 introduces the enemy for the Finale two-parter, and a companion who will be responsible for mayhem in Episode 7.

Episode 7 deals with problems caused by this companion, as well as setting up the Setting that the Finale two-parter takes place in.  This means that the past 4 episodes have all been tied into the last 3 so far.

Episode 8 is some character development for Rose.  I actually haven’t watched this Episode due to an error, but I know it has no lasting plot development.

Episodes 9 and 10 are a two-parter that set up an excellent story, in addition to bringing in Captain Jack, whom the BBC would very much need as he would appear up until the Season Finale in addition to returning in Season 3 for the finale and having his own show.

Episode 11 features villains from Episodes 4 and 5, and sets up a plot device needed for the Season Finale.  Jack from Episodes 9 and 10 is also here.

Episodes 12 and 13 are the two-part Season Finale that feature Rose and the Doctor from Episode 1, the villain from Episode 6, Captain Jack from Episodes 9 and 10, and the Time Vortex from Episode 11.  Also, Bad Wolf.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the Season Plot because I think that’s one of the great strengths of New Who: while each episode appears to be completely unrelated, almost every episode is in some way tied to the overall health of the Season.  The synergy here is excellent, and it really helps create a lasting bond with the show.  It’s the depth of writing here that excuses the shoddy writing involved in theDeus Ex Machinas that plague the Season Finales.  Almost all of them.

Until next time, friends!  Man in Black out.

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