No, this post is not about Rose Tyler (who I do love a lot and wrote a A-Z post about a couple of years ago), it’s about the episode “Rose” – the first episode of the first series aka the episode that started it all.
I enjoyed “Rose” when I first watched it back in 2005 and watching it again years later I probably love it even more now. It’s such a great introduction to the world of Doctor Who and having it focus on Rose Tyler and her everyday mundane life with her mum and boyfriend was a great choice. As the viewer you’re right alongside her trying to figure out who this man is that took her hand and told her to run, what was going on with the mannequins and how can she just carry on as normal when she’s learnt there’s so much more out there in the universe.
“Rose” also shows the dangers of being a part of the Doctor’s world, even briefly. Clive, the man who’d researched the Doctor and told Rose all he knew, saw the chaos first-hand before being killed. Straightaway the audiences learns that characters will die, and it won’t just be the bad guys. Nice, normal, everyday people who don’t do anything wrong can still get hurt or killed when the Doctor is around.
There’s so much great character work for a first episode. You immediately can see and believe the dynamics between Rose and her mum and her boyfriend Mickey, as well as her home being so incredibly normal and lived in. With hindsight as you can see the character choices laid out and see how these connections will evolve over time – especially Rose and the Doctor’s. From the outset Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper had such great chemistry and a really interesting dynamic.
One of my favourite scenes is where Rose convinces the Doctor to tell her what’s going on. Not only is it a cool sequence as it’s a couple of long takes with the two of them walking and talking, but over the course of the conversation, Rose impresses the Doctor with her questions and he starts being honest with her. They already can laugh and joke but she is also ready to listen even if she’s not 100% sure she believes what he’s saying. When the Doctor takes her hand and explains how he can feel the Earth move, Christopher Eccleston feels ancient in that moment. You truly believe he’s an otherworldly creature that has seen so much, perhaps too much, and his life isn’t anything like Rose’s. Also, that sequence highlights Murray Gold’s score which has echoes of motifs that we’ll end up hearing across the series and instantly connect with characters.
“Rose” does everything you want a first episode of a “new” series to do. It introduces new characters, it has a mystery that you’re trying to solve along with the characters, and it’s still funny. It blends the drama and the outlandishness so well, and even moments that are kind of corny work because that has always been a part of Doctor Who’s charm.