Thursday 26 March 2015

703 Rose

TRANSMITTED: Saturday 26 March 2005
WRITER: Russell T Davies
DIRECTOR: Keith Boak
PRODUCER: Phil Collinson
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner & Mal Young
RATINGS: 10.81 million viewers
DVD: Doctor Who: Series 1 - Volume 1: Rose, The End of the World & The Unquiet Dead / Doctor Who - The Complete BBC Series 1 Box Set

"Nice to meet you Rose, run for your life!"

Rose Tyler goes about her day normally, waking at 7:30, going to her job at Henricks department store, meeting her boyfriend Mickey Smith for lunch in Trafalgar square. But as she searches for Wilson the store electrician in the basement she is menaced by a number of shop mannequins that suddenly come to life. She is rescued by a leather jacket clad stranger who tells her that he is the Doctor before returning to destroy the shop, the mannequins and the transmitter on the roof. The next day the Doctor shows up at her house where he is attacked by a shop dummy arm that Rose had brought home with her. He deactivates and tells Rose to forget about him before walking down the street and disappearing. Rose searches the internet for information on this Doctor leading her to Clive, a man who has been tracking him through appearances at the Kennedy assassination, the Titanic and Krakatoa. While she is in Clive's house, Mickey, who is waiting outside, is attacked by a wheelie bin and swallowed up, replaced by a duplicate. The duplicate Mickey, who is acting strangely, takes Rose out for dinner, but starts interrogating her about the Doctor. The Doctor arrives and deactivates the Mickey duplicate removing his head. He takes Rose and the head to the Tardis and uses the head to track the rough location of the force controlling it to central London. Materialising on the Embankment he starts hunting for a transmitter dish but Rose suggests the Millennium wheel. Underneath they find a base being used by the Nestene Conciousness which intends to take over the Earth controlling the plastic Manquins. The Doctor negotiates with it but it refuses to cooperate having in it's possesion the Tardis. It sends out a signal activating shop maniquins all over the country which burst through windows and start killing the population. Rose saves the Doctor, held captive, by knocking the anti plastic solution he prepared into the Nestene conciousness. She, the Doctor & Mickey escape in the Tardis as the base is consumed in an explosion. Mickey is disturbed by what he has seen and experienced, with the inside of the Tardis being the last straw. The Doctor offers to take Rose with him to explore the universe but she refuses so he leaves, returning a moment later and telling her the Tardis also travels in time. Rose kisses Mickey goodbye and runs off towards the Tardis......

The first episode of the new series was an important one to get right and I think Rose delivers in spades. But where the 1996 Movie starts by focusing on the Doctor and the Tardis and the unusual this time round we focus on an ordinary girl living an oprdinary life..... until things start going wrong. Here the choice of monster for the episode is crucial: The Autons (never mentioned by name) are fabulous for just hiding there in plain site until they suddenly start moving. They're a great choice for an old series monster to bring back here, instead of a bigger name, for that very reason. And into this there's our new Doctor doing what he does best: saving the companion and defeating the monster. And that's just the first 10-15 minutes. But that intiail sequence is just done so well. Yes there's some missteps after that: the cgi and the burping on the Mickey being eaten by the wheelie bin sequence, the plastic looking fake Mickey and Noel Clarke's acting as the fake Mickey, all of which look liked failed attempts at humour (see also Aliens of London & World War Three filmed at the same time) And for me I think the ending has trouble: It's Rose who points out to the doctor the Millennium Wheel and then saves him from the Autons which just feels wrong somehow. But Rose is our identification figure here and must be shown to be the hero....

The story hommages the Auton's previous TV appearances in a big way: we get a remake of the famous scene with Autons coming to life and bursting through shop windows from Spearhead from Space with the Millennium Wheel serving as a reference to the Radar Dish extensively seen in Terror of the Autons. The Nestene Conciousness also gives us the first appearance of this season's linking theme when it utters the words Bad Wolf. However the original version of this episode has the audio for this sequence and the audio level is raised in the DVD version.

There's also a nice nod to the Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide, a publication examining all the original Doctor Who stories. In it there's a section that tries to work out what day of the week the school segments of an Unearthly Child take place on. So here we get Rose collecting the money to buy lottery tickets at work..... which means it has to be a Wednesday or Saturday.... but Rose would have gone to work at the same time the next day so that points to it being a Wednesday .....

The main creative force behind this revival of Doctor Who is Russell T Davies, listed as writer & executive producer on this episode, but effectively filling the US "show runner" role. Davies worked in children's television at the BBC, including Why Don't You? and a one off presenting job on Play School alongside Chloe Ashcroft (Laird in Resurrection of the Daleks). He made his name as a writer on the children's series Dark Season, Century Falls & Children's Ward, producing a Virgin New Adventures novel Damaged Goods before moving into adult drama with Revelations, Springhill & The Grand. The ground breaking Queer as Folk brought him public recognition and critical acclaim before he went on to work create Bob & Rose & The Second Coming. He was lured to the BBC where he wrote Casanova, a production he'd started for fellow executive producer Julie Gardner while she was still at LWT. Casanova starred young actor David Tennant in his first major starring role (We will hear much more of him later) and started airing not much before Doctor Who did.

Hotly debated in the run up to production was who would be cast as the Doctor & his companion. Many names were bandied around including Comic Relief Doctor Hugh Grant, former Davies collaborator Alan Davies (whose Jonathan Creek is widely seen as one of the longest auditions for the role of Doctor Who ever!) and popular film actor Bill Nighy, who the Daily Mail famously announced as the Doctor in early editions of their paper on the day the news that Christopher Eccleston had been cast broke. Ecclestone was known to television viewers from Cracker & Our Friends in the North (where the producer's secretary was a young Julie Gardner) as well as the films Let Him Have It & Shallow Grave. He'd previously worked with Davies as the lead role in Second Coming which also features Mark Benton appearing here as Clive. Meanwhile the role of companion went to former pop star Billie Piper to some consternation. However Piper had attended Stage School prior to her pop career and had recently featured in the BBC's modern adaptation of The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale to good notices from all who saw it.

This episode introduces two supporting cast members who'll feature on and off over the next couple of years Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler and Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith. But there's also a few people here who we'll be seeing or hearing a lot of in different roles. Nicholas Briggs, who'd made his name as a voice artist for fan productions and then more recently for Big Finish makes his debut as the voice of the Nestene Consciousness. He'll return as the Dalek voices in Dalek, Bad Wolf, The Parting of the Ways, Army of Ghosts, Doomsday, Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks, The Stolen Earth, Journey's End, Victory of the Daleks, The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang & The Wedding of River Song, Cybermen voices in Rise of the Cybermen, The Age of Steel, Army of Ghosts, Doomsday, The Next Doctor, The Pandorica Opens, A Good Man Goes to War & Closing Time, Judoon voices in Smith & Jones, The Stolen Earth, The End of Time & The Pandorica Opens as well as in the The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Prisoner of the Judoon where he's also Captain Tybo's voice, plus the Jagrafess voice in The Long Game and National Museum Pandorica video narrator in The Big Bang. He's even got an in front of camera appearance as Rick Yates in Torchwood Children of Earth: Day Four. His Dalek work here led to him providing the replacement Dalek voices on the Doctor Who - Day of the Daleks Special Edition DVD. In front of camera this is the first appearance of Paul Kasey who becomes the King of the Monster Actors in New Doctor Who appearing as (very deep breath) Coffa in The End of the World, Jocrassa Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen and Sip Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen in Aliens of London / World War Three, Zu-Zana in Bad Wolf, Clockwork Droid in The Girl in the Fireplace, Cyberman, Cyber-Leader and Cyber-Controller in Rise of the Cybermen, The Age of Steel, Army of Ghosts, Doomsday & The Next Doctor, Ood in The Impossible Planet, The Satan Pit & Planet of the Ood, Hoix in Love & Monsters, Robot Santas in The Christmas Invasion & The Runaway Bride, Judoon captain in Smith and Jones, The Stolen Earth & The Pandorica Opens, Pig slave in Evolution of the Daleks, Host in Voyage of the Damned, Ood Sigma in Planet of the Ood, The Waters of Mars & The End of Time, Hath Peck in The Doctor's Daughter, Sorvin in Planet of the Dead, Nephew in The Doctor's Wife, Albert Einstein Ood in Death is the Only Answer, and the Wooden Queen in The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe. He's in Torchwood as various Weevils, the Blowfish and another appearance as the Hoix, plus a host of appearances as Slitheen and other aliens in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Alan Ruscoe, the Lead Auton, also repeatedly appears in the first series featuring in The End of the World as Lute, Aliens of London & World War Three as Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen, in Bad Wolf as Trine-E and Bad Wolf & The Parting of the Ways as the Anne Droid. He returns in The Waters of Mars as Andy Stone and has also appeared as Daultay Dofine, Lott Dod and Plo Koon in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. David Sant, another Auton, also returns as Slitheen in the Doctor Who stories Aliens of London and World War Three which were filmed in the same recording block as this episode.

The location filming for this episode took place in Cardiff, near to the production's BBC Wales base, and in London for some authentic London shots. It was in London that things went very wrong, the details of which have never been fully revealed by rumours circulate of arguments on set. Russell T Davies speaks in his book Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter (we'll be referring to this a lot, it's one of our text book references for the new series so buy a copy) of how producer Phil Collinson rang Executive Producer Julie Gardner at the end of the first week in tears: the production was in so much trouble that they were already 3 weeks behind. Julie Gardner sent Production Manager Tracie Simpson to London who got the production back on track. Davies credits Simpson as one of the unsung heroes of the program. It should be noted that the director of this first recording block, Keith Boak, didn't work on the series again after this and the other two episode in the block, Aliens of London & World War Three, were completed.

In the weeks leading up to the episode's broadcast it was extensively publicised and trailed by the BBC but what probably helped it the most (although I'm sure the BBC don't see it that way) was when an unfinished copy escaped onto torrent sites on the internet. It doesn't have the correct version of the titles and is missing some effects but die hard Doctor Who fans got to see it a few days early and by the day of broadcast the word of mouth concerning the new production was very good leading to huge viewing figure for the BBC.

Transmission of the episode itself was slightly spoilt for viewers when the audio feed for Strictly Dance Fever hosted by Graham Norton was played over a crucial early scene.

Rose was released on DVD with the following 2 episodes The End of the World & The Unquiet Dead as Doctor Who: Series 1 - Volume 1 on 16th May 2005 and in the Doctor Who - The Complete BBC Series 1 Box Set on 21st November 2005.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Interregnum 2

Although the Movie was a one off event and Paul McGann's only TV appearance as Doctor Who it had a big impact on the media associated with the show. When the videos resumed, with a commemorative edition of the Green Death following the death of Third Doctor Jon Pertwee they sported a redesigned cover layout which included the logo used for the movie as opposed the the Tom Baker diamond logo which had been on the range almost since the beginning (The early initial releases of Revenge of the Cybermen and the Five Doctors used the Peter Davison neon logo).

Sylvester McCoy remained the Doctor until the penultimate New Adventures, Lungbarrow, was released in March 1997. Lungbarrow, written by television author Marc Platt, was an unused storyline for the television series tying up many of the loose ends about the Doctor's origin presented as part of the "Cartmel Masterplan" and at some points flatly contradicting the Movie. The final New Adventure, The Dying Days by Lance Parkin, was the only Virgin book to feature the Paul McGann 8th Doctor. Both these books now command a pretty penny on the secondary market. They were available as PDF download on the BBC site, and thus usable in eBook readers, but are now gone. However if you search the web....

The end of the Virgin New Adventures Doctor Who line was caused by BBC deciding to bring the Doctor Who book fiction range in house at BBC books where they immediately started their own range of Eighth Doctor & Past Doctor novels. Essentially for book readers it was more of the same as many familiar authors from the Virgin ranges continued to write for the BBC.

In 1998 Big Finish Productions won a licence from the BBC to produce original Doctor Who audio plays. Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor), Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor) & Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor) all reprised their television roles alongside their companions, later to be joined by first Paul McGann and, recently, Tom Baker. The people behind Big Finish included both former Doctor Who magazine editor Gary Russell and Nicholas Briggs, who had previously worked on the unlicensed fan produced Audio Visuals stories - see Justyce Served - A Small Start with a Big Finish for more details.

Meanwhile the BBC itself had resurrected audio releases of missing Doctor Who stories in 1999 starting with (IIRC) The Massacre and embraced a new format for releasing stories with the DVD of the Five Doctors.

In 1999 Comic Relief decided to do a humorous Doctor Who special as part of the Red Nose Day night of programming. Producing the show was Sue Vertue, a comedy producer and the daughter of Beryl Vertue, the agent who negotiated Terry Nation's deal which retained his rights to the Daleks. Sue got her husband, Steven Moffat. the writer of acclaimed Children's show Press Gang, to write the story. Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson was cast as the Doctor with former Press Gang actress Julia Sawalha, who'd since found public recognition as Saffy in AbFab playing the companion Emma. Jonathan Pryce played the Master and actual Doctor Who series veteran Roy Skelton returned for a final outing as the Dalek Voice. The show plays on many Doctor Who tropes including, as the Doctor quickly uses up his remaining regenerations becoming, in order, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and finally Joanna Lumley, aping the much repeated rumour that the Doctor would regenerate into a woman. Yes it's humorous show, yes it's got no place with the rest of Doctor Who but somehow they hit the style and the feel dead on. The Console & Daleks for this show were sourced from fan productions and the music from older Doctor Who shows including Logopolis and The Five Doctors. I've got the VHS which also contains a decent (and humorous) making of as well as three other Doctor Who sketches from various shows and it's well worth a look.

Over the next few years new productions of Doctor Who fell into the hands of the BBC website producing in 2001 Death Comes to Time with Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy & companion Ace played by Sophie Aldred. The following year they produced Real Time featuring sixth Doctor Colin Baker and then the year after attempted a new adaptation of Shada starring Paul McGann and The Scream of the Shalka, featuring Richard E Grant again as well as a young David Tennant in a minor role, which was intended to be an official continuation of the series....

.... but in September of 2003, BBC 1 Controller Lorraine Heggessey announced that Doctor Who would return to television screens in 2005.