Binge: Doctor Who S1

The Binge Watch: Doctor Who - Series 1

By: Dave Clark

In order to decide my next show for my Binge Watch column I took to Twitter. I asked you all to decide for me and it was an extremely close race between Doctor Who and Supernatural. In the end Doctor Who won out, but since it was so close, after I finish all the seasons of Doctor Who, I will move on to all ten released seasons of Supernatural. I will at that point, go to Twitter to decide the next series I watch and review! Without further delay, here's my review of Doctor Who Season One!

The first series, which is actually the debut of the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, debuted back in 2005. I first got addicted to the show back when it was on Netflix for the first time and I was hooked ever since. Eccleston's Doctor is very hard and straight-forward. He has a secret, his past, and he's very protective of creatures and people who are innocent victims, even to a fault as seen in the third episode "The Unquiet Dead" when he attempts to save a dying race from extinction only to have been fooled. The Doctor does not travel alone and his main companion throughout the first series is Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper. She's a reluctant yet eager companion for the Doctor through his adventures. She fears leaving behind her life and mother Jackie (Camille Coduri) and boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke) but she wants to find something with some more excitement. And she finds that and more with The Doctor.

The character Captain Jack Harkness becomes a companion for The Doctor and for Rose as well. As soon as he's introduced he's immediately beloved. At least by this writer. I'm a big fan of John Barrowman, and his portrayal of Captain Jack has always been one of my favorite characters on television. He's a mystery when we meet him, piloting an invisible space craft with a very cool wristband gadget that allows him to do all sorts of things. He's got an instant attraction to Rose...and The Doctor. Over the final few episodes his character gets a chance to really shine and we're left uncertain about his future with the Doctor.

Each episode takes The Doctor and Rose to a new and interesting time or planet or area of space as the two travel in the TARDIS. It's a time machine, and then it's so much more. It's disguised to look like a London Police Box, but as stated dozens of times in the show's lengthy run, it's much bigger on the inside. The name TARDIS is actually an acronym for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. The Doctor himself is the last of his kind at 900 years old. He's the lone survivor of a race called the Time Lords and a lot of his adventures slowly tell us the story of The Time War between the Time Lords and the Daleks. The Daleks are one of The Doctor's historic villains, arguably his worst nemesis in the show's long run. 

Another occurring theme for the series is a sort of Monster of the Week formula. When Russell T. Davies took over for the show, it was heavily influenced by shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Any fan of that series will recognize the formula of a new monster each week, with an overarching storyline highlighted throughout each episode that flows through the full season. Doctor Who is no different. Along Rose's travels with The Doctor she meets and fights the Gelth, the Slitheen, the Daleks, the Jagrafess, Reapers, nanogenes, and more. The main arc throughout the series revolves around something called Bad Wolf. These two words seemingly follow The Doctor and Rose wherever they go in space and in time. The reveal of the meaning to these words finally pays off in the finale in a terrifically dramatic way. Also throughout the season we see Rose's struggles with explaining her secret life with The Doctor and her desire to travel through space and time and that life of adventure. 

Part of the charm of the original series was that the production value was so low. The effects were bad. Costumes were equally bad. The show relied heavily on the content. The stories were told so very well. That's what's happening in season one as this new series begins to find it's way. The CGI is not great. The creature costumes are nothing to brag about. But the writing is fantastic. You care about the characters. You care about the situations. You feel for the people and the events they've found themselves forced into.

I'm going to introduce something new to my Binge Watch articles. I'm borrowing it, of course, from our friends over at The Geekly Planet. Here's what I liked, and what I didn't like from season one of Doctor Who:

What I Liked:

  • Mickey: His character kind of starts off whiney and off-putting when it comes to his failed relationship efforts with Rose. But as the season progresses you do start to feel for him as he's essentially left behind and told he's really not worth Rose sticking around. She chooses The Doctor over him. Also, he starts to show his bravery which will play heavily in future seasons.
  • Lynda with a Y: She seems like just another side character to provide some exposition when The Doctor arrives on the set of Big Brother...that's right, The Doctor becomes a housemate on Big Brother. But she kinda intrigued me as a sort of love interest for the Doctor perhaps. She almost feels like the Companion that wasn't.
  • The emotions: The Doctor's fate and the ending of this season was met with such high emotion. We spent twelve episodes getting to know Rose and this Doctor and it all comes down to the final moments for both of them. We get to witness Rose watching her father's death, her father who died when she was only a baby. She gets to meet him and gets to know the father who was taken from her far too soon. The storytelling in the first season of this new series is done masterfully.

What I Didn't Like:

  • Momma Rose: She really irritated me in season one. She's worried for her daughter, I think everyone can understand that feeling. Your daughter disappears for long periods of time with a man you've never seen before. You'd be worried too. But she does some things that kind of have you ripping your hair out and it drove me crazy at times.
  • Adam Mitchell: Rose and The Doctor meet Adam when they end up  in America. He works for a man who collects all sorts of alien technology. When The Doctor takes Adam with them, on Rose's request, he really shows how selfish he can be. It also showed that some people are not Companion material. Adam didn't stack up, and he was just frustratingly self-centered for me.

Cast:

  • The Doctor: Christopher Eccleston
  • Rose Tyler: Billie Piper
  • Jackie Tyler: Camille Coduri
  • Mickey Smith: Noel Clarke
  • Captain Jack Harkness: John Barrowman

Stay tuned for my look at Season Two of Doctor Who....