Watching Doctor Who 1.1, Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

As I began watching the first episode in the new series, simply titled “Rose,” I wondered how they would ease a new audience into the Doctor Who universe. The storytelling possibilities are so varied and wild that it is easy to dive into the most dramatic of stories to open the series. Yet, instead we get “living” manequins, Rose, London, and a Doctor that only seems vaguely interested in our episodes namesake.

Billie Piper does an amazing job as Rose. Along with her mother and Mickey, her boyfriend, Rose creates an immediate link for the modern viewer.  Rose is a  contemporary woman with an oblivious mother, fine boyfriend, retail job, living in London during contemporary times, who early on is seen delivering the lottery winnings in the basement of the retail shop.  If only there had been some time traveller who might have given her the winning numbers.

Along with centering the episode around Rose and her family, the episode is set firmly in contemporary London.  The myriad complexities of The Doctor and time wars and time changes, aliens and alien planets, is all put aside so we can focus on the characters.  We can learn who Rose is, and who The Doctor is, without all the baggage that comes from introducing the unknown.  Once a story introduces wild, unfamiliar elements it needs to explain them.  It needs to place them firmly in the world and define how they interact with the aspects of the world as we know it. By placing the episode in a contemporary setting and titling the episode “Rose,” they ease the viewer into the universe of Doctor Who.

That said, there are times where I felt the episode could have been more serious.  The mannequin villains are slow and look a bit silly at times.  They murder Wilson, whom Rose was delivering the lottery winnings, yet seem to bumble after Rose and the Doctor (one of their arms popping off as the elevator doors close).  Then came the very silly scene where Mickey is gobbled up by the cartoonish waste bin.  The scene reminded me of Cookie Monster chomping down some chocolate chip cookies. Soon after, upon seeing the plastic version of Mickey, Rose believes he is dead. Wait.  Am I supposed to think Mickey getting swallowed up by a cartoonish waste bin was funny or sad?

Overall, the episode was a good introduction to the new series.  I particularly enjoyed the focus spent on creating a full life for Rose.  She is not simply plucked out of air, but instead is lured out of an average, yet full, life. She might drop her perfectly fine boyfriend a bit too quickly to run off with The Doctor, but at least we have an understanding of who she is, where she comes from, and what she is leaving.

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