I've been meaning to write about the new (as of 2005) Doctor Who for months. I was never that big a fan of the classic Doctor Who: I watched quite a lot of it for a year or so in the late '80s when I was dating a hardcore fan, but in the intervening years was perfectly happy to watch it (or at least watch Tom Baker episodes; the other Doctors never appealed to me) if I noticed it was on or someone else wanted to, but certainly didn't go out of my way to.
About ten months ago I joined Netflix, and decided to check out a few of the things my friends had been buzzing about, so I put DVDs of the 2005 season of Doctor Who into my queue — though without much in the way of expectations: Years of listening to my friends gush about The X Files, which I found unwatchable, had left me leery of assuming I would like the things my friends did.
The DVD arrived; I put it in the player — and watched the first three episodes straight through. Logged on to netflix, put the rest of the season 1 set at the top of my queue, and watched what I had again.
In my book, the new Doctor Who is the best thing on TV.1 Especially the first two seasons. If you haven't seen those two seasons, I suggest you go right out and rent the DVDs from your local netflix equivalent. The rest of this post will make no sense whatsoever if you haven't seen them. (It might also contain spoilers.)
I loved Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor from the moment I saw him, but was initially not very keen on Billie Piper as Rose. Or rather, not very keen on Rose, the character. Why on earth had they paired The Doctor with this brassy bottle-blonde loser from the projects, whose accent bordered on impenetrable?
But she grew on me. By the end of the first episode, after she swung to the rescue, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. By the time I'd watched the first three episodes the second time, I'd developed an ear for her accent: no longer impenetrable, I decided it was actually quite charming. By episode 5, Dalek, I realized that the Doctor Who team was trying, with Rose2, to do the toughest thing in television: to have a character genuinely grow over the course of a series — and by episode 8, Father's Day, I knew Billie Piper was a good enough actress to pull it off.
At the end of the second season, when The Doctor loses her, I cried.
I just ran across this music video, constructed out of clips from the first two seasons (or possibly just the final episode of season 2, including flashbacks), and pairing them with a lovely, haunting song. I loved it.
1 Not, mind you, that I actually watch it on TV.
2 And not only Rose: I think Noel Clark, in the role of Mickey Smith, did an absolutely masterful job, He believably takes his character loser to hero, with really very little screen time.