Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S01E01 – Rose

In the first episode (of Doctor #9) of Doctor Who, a new group of people (myself included) are introduced to the bizarre world of the Doctor, an alien who battles…well, I’m not sure what. But he’s saving the world, guys! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

I have to say, as someone who only knew that a TARDIS was a phone booth that traveled through time, this was a fine introduction to the world of Doctor Who.

Aside from that detail, like most things I decide to tackle, I seriously don’t know much at all. I know Matt Smith wears a cute as hell bowtie and David Tennant did that weird tongue thing during Goblet of Fire. There are things called Daleks and Autons and I don’t know what they are or what they do. And Matt Smith’s companion is like the cutest being in all of existence.

That’s it. That’s all I know.

I wanted to do Doctor Who because I admired the challenge it would be to watch a show that’s been on since before I was born and I also wanted to do something that wasn’t centric to America. And…well, let’s be honest. I have seen about half of this show already through the sheer virtue of the GIFs you guys used during Mark Reads Harry Potter. I needed to see what all the fuss was about!

So, a bit more about how this is going to go down. I realize that this is the newest incarnation of the series and, despite being an introduction to the show at large, is still smack dab in the middle of everything. I’m sure for those of you following the older parts of the series, nearly everything that is confusing to me is perfectly logical for you. This was brought to my attention by quite a few of you, so for Doctor Who, we will have a slightly modified spoiler guide this time around. Please see the Official Spoiler Guide first, and here’s what we’re going to change:

  • Anything from a future episode is considered a spoiler. ANYTHING. Don’t do it.
  • However, in order to explain certain aspects of the current series, it’s going to be inevitable that you will need to reference past episodes so that I don’t do something stupid and hate a plot twist or character development out of ignorance.
  • If you feel compelled to explain something to me (and most times I will outright ask you to), please give me the most minimal information possible. I am going to watch older episodes/arcs each week and I don’t want them outright spoiled. But if I say, for example, “What is a TARDIS? I don’t get it,” you can provide what the acronym stands for and what it does. I don’t want you to like…provide the plot summary of the episode that deals with the origin of the TARDIS.

Make sense? Additionally, later today, I’ll put up the post with instructions on how we will nominate and vote for “old” episodes to be watched! Weeeeee!

I think I’ll stick with the labeling convention at the top, as long as it’s understood that “Season One” implies this is the first season of the “new” series. Or would it be better if I labeled it by Doctor? CONFUSED.

I sense that all Doctors have a companion and the companion is female. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) I enjoyed that the episode opened with her point of view instead of introducing us to the Doctor outright. Rose is portrayed as ordinary as possible, a working class woman who enjoys shopping, lives with a well-meaning, if decidedly awkward mother, and is employed at a local department store. It doesn’t take long for things to take a much darker turn as one of my worst fears is realized on screen: the mannequins in the back room come alive and begin to surround her.

NO. NO THANK YOU. FOREVER. I already find mannequins to be unsettling and have since I was a child; I always appreciate it when a store uses the ones without creepy heads and faces, but here, they’re the full-bodied ones, complete with blank faces. (Can I also say that those costumes look horrifically uncomfortable to wear? How did the actors playing them see out of them?)

It’s at this point that the Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleson, shows up at the very last minute to save her, right before one of them was going to karate chop her to death. The scenes are certainly played for their eeriness, but the sci-fi elements are ultimately more campy than they are frightening. That’s not a criticism, though, because right after this is when it becomes clear what the actual driving force is going to be for this show: the unbelievably witty, fast-paced dialogue.

When I was watching Firefly (oh god, why is it over sadness forever), I would take notes each episode and jot down quotes I particularly liked. Here, however, I kept missing them because they were spoken so quickly; after one particularly biting line from the Doctor that had me smiling, I’d already be laughing at something that Rose said. Most of it wasn’t necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, but that’s not also to say it wasn’t humorous.

I felt like the Doctor was taking new fans to task in a way. Here we have Rose, who has just witnessed something completely absurd to her understanding of the universe. Of course she’s going to quiz this man incessantly about all the details of his life and what just happened, just like I was doing while watching the episode. The Doctor uses wit to flippantly dismiss as much of what she’s saying as possible, but I was also surprised that he did nothing to contain her or what had happened. In fact, throughout the episode, the Doctor seems to work right out in the open without much attempt to be subtle or inconspicuous. I wonder why. (Don’t answer that.)

This episode also deals with a heavy amount of exposition. Once Rose tells her boyfriends about this strange Doctor, she finds a conspiracy-laden site about him and decides to visit the man responsible for it. I laughed at the seething rage Mickey displayed while she went inside Clive’s house; he’s clearly trying to act like the tough, protective boyfriend, but Rose has a sort of confidence about her. She doesn’t really need him to act that way.

Clive is a great character and I was a bit disappointment that his appearance is so brief, since he is later killed by one of the mannequins. The idea that a man who ran a conspiracy theory website was just an unassuming father and husband was such a fantastic detail to add to his character, right? The trope usually involves a single man with no social skills and a lack of bathing, but here, Russell T Davies (who wrote this episode) chose a much different route.

RIP Clive. 🙁 🙁

A point of criticism: HOW ON EARTH DID ROSE NOT NOTICE THAT HER BOYFRIEND HAD BEEN TURNED INTO A PLASTIC REPLICANT. Like, seriously, he looked completely different than before.

Just a thought. It’s never really explained exactly what these plastic things are, except that the Doctor explains they were activated by something called the Nestene Consciousness. I have not the slightest idea what this thing is, but it can apparently “replace” people who can turn their hands into chopping things. And it’s trying to take over the world.

We get to see inside the TARDIS (first time for me, that is), and I actually didn’t expect it to be like that. I always assumed the TARDIS just transported the Doctor to whatever place he used as his headquarters, but nope. Totally wrong. He explains more to Rose about what he’s doing (trying to disable the Nestene Consciousness with an “anti-plastic” solution) and also outright confirms he’s an alien. Oh. So the Doctor is an alien??? I didn’t know that. I just assumed he was some strange human who had to assume a new identity over and over again. But no, not a human. ALL MY PERCEPTIONS ARE BEING SHATTERED.

The actual battle with the Nestene Consciousness isn’t that good, but the dialogue is far more interesting. There’s a reference to the home planet of the NC being destroy during something called “The Time War.” (I don’t know if that is supposed to be capitalized, but I’M STICKING WITH IT.) NC’s anger at this causes it to activate all the mannequins inside the Queens Arcade, which kills shoppers, including Clive. (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO).

The resolution isn’t that exciting, but it was nice to see Rose basically go FUCK IT, WHO CARES and attempt to save the Doctor. It was certainly the strangest couple of days in her life and what did she have to lose? There was a nice contrast between the opening scenes of London and her life, and with these moments beneath the London Eye. In comparison, the life Rose has lived has simply been…well, uninteresting. Why not take a chance?

And so we are thrust into this story when Rose finally accepts the Doctor’s offer to become his companion. She is sold with the promise of only one thing: time travel. That would also be the selling point for myself because, as I stated during my read of Prisoner of Azkaban, I love time travel more than most things.

In short, I enjoyed this episode quite a bit; it wasn’t groundbreaking television for me, but I laughed a lot. I think I’m going to like Doctor Who a lot.


  • When Clive was providing exposition for the Doctor, explaining how long he’d been showing up in history and that he seemed to change appearance, I couldn’t help but smile. I really love when shows/literature proposes theories for explaining gaps, mysteries, or events in history. I immediately thought of one particular season of The X-Files (season four), where the show’s mythology tackles Roswell, the JFK murder, and the MLK assassination in “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man” and the Tunguska explosion in the double episode of “Tunguska / Terma.” (They did it with quite a few things over the course of nine seasons, but those two episodes popped into my head. I’m also catching up on a season and a half of Fringe that I missed and the episode “August” also suggests a similar bout of explanation to The Observer. I don’t really know why I enjoy it so much; maybe because the “answer” these shows propose is so interesting, I want it to be real.
  • Rose’s mom IS THE BEST THING EVER. When she hits on the Doctor, my heart warmed with laughter. I hope we see more of her.
  • “Well, you said it. Why students?” I would want the Doctor on my side of an argument. Just saying’.
  • “I know she is Greek, but that’s not the point.”
  • “Huh. That won’t last. He’s gay and she’s an alien.” HAHAAHA BLESS YOU.
  • “That’s exactly what a lunatic Internet murdered would say?”
  • “If you’re an alien, how come you sound like you’re from the North?” “LOTS OF PLANETS HAVE A NORTH!” Best line in the whole episode.
  • FUCK YEAH. This is going to be fun. GIFS AWAY, MY FRIENDS.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Doctor Who and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

510 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S01E01 – Rose

  1. keepthepunkrock says:

    LOTS OF PLANETS HAVE A NORTH <333333333333

    omg so excite for this ILU also <3 MICKEY <3

  2. echinodermata says:

    I'm on vacation and thus way later to the party than usual, but I rewatched the first seven episodes in advance and pre-made comments so I can just copypaste some of my own comments.
    ANYWAY, I'm glad you like this episode! It's super camp and not a favorite, so I was ready to be all IT GETS BETTER; NO REALLY IT DOES.

    One thing I think is interesting is that Rose isn't really dressed in a flattering way. I mean, it's realistic, but I'm so used to absolutely gorgeous women dressed as flattering as possible on TV, so it just seems…different and noticeable, though not necessarily bad.

    QUESTION, and sorry if it's be answered before: Mark, are you watching the next-on bits for the next episode at the end?

    Last comment: I love the theme music so much, and think in general it's a really well-scored show.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I am watching them at the end!

    • Openattheclose says:

      I really love the theme music and I agree with you about the way they dress Rose. She's supposed to be a dropout living on an Estate, she shouldn't be dressing like a super model.

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  4. potterologist says:

    I'm so excite! I just started Who, I'm on Series Two with David Tennant, who my Whovian (I guess thats what they're called according to other comments) and I've been sort of confused about it, I think I like it a lot because I keep watching, but I'm not sure if I love it yet, it's no Firefly. I like Rose but I do think the later episodes of this series are more enjoyable. This is going to be fun Mark!

  5. Karen says:

    As I previously whined about in your Hunger Games post, I am incredibly bitter about being so late to the party due to the fact that London can't handle snow and I was trapped in a travel nightmare for the better part of day. And since this is one of my favorite TV shows of all time and Rose Tyler is one of my favorite fictional characters EVER, I am going to say my piece here too.

    I'm always a bit wary of showing people this episode when I want to introduce them to Doctor Who. It's a bit hokey (lol the scene with Mickey and the trashcan) in spots and there is a lot of exposition going on in order to orient new viewers and it can all feel a bit weird. But I will always like this episode because it introduced me to the wonderful Rose Tyler, so I'm really glad that you enjoyed it.

    Something that I absolutely adore about Rose is that she is essentially a high school drop out. In her conversation with Mickey at the pizza place, she mentions maybe going back to school and getting her A-levels which is sort of the British equivalent of finishing high school (they're what NEWTs in Harry Potter are based on). She's 19 year's old and seems to have no future. She's working class, living on a council estate with her mother. But in spite of all these things about her that make her seem like nothing special, she IS special. She uses what she does know how to do to save the day. Rose is also a good counterpoint to the Doctor who is so into the bigger picture that he misses that Mickey could actually be dead and that means something. He's a real person and his death would matter.

    HOW ON EARTH DID ROSE NOT NOTICE THAT HER BOYFRIEND HAD BEEN TURNED INTO A PLASTIC REPLICANT. Like, seriously, he looked completely different than before.
    To answer this question, I think Rose while being a person who cares deeply about others… also has a bit of a selfish streak. See also: how she just runs out on Mickey and the end of the episode to go traveling with the Doctor. So I think she can be a bit self-involved and maybe wouldn't notice that something was off about Mickey. Or… you know. It was convenient to the plot.

    Rose’s mom IS THE BEST THING EVER. When she hits on the Doctor, my heart warmed with laughter. I hope we see more of her.

    I think my favorite part of the whole episode is this scene:

    Rose Tyler: Really though, Doctor. Tell me. Who are you?
    The Doctor: Do you know like we were saying, about the earth revolving? It's like when you're a kid, the first time they tell you that the world is turning and you just can't quite believe it 'cause everything looks like it's standing still. I can feel it…
    [he takes her hand]
    The Doctor: – the turn of the earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. The entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour. And I can feel it. We're falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world. And, if we let go…
    [He releases her hand]
    The Doctor: That's who I am. Now forget me, Rose Tyler. Go home.

    Such a brilliant introduction to the Doctor.

    And who doesn't love that grin on Rose's face when she decides to go with the Doctor?

    • Starsea28 says:

      I love Jackie, too:

      "I'm in my dressing gown."
      "Yes, I know."
      "There's a strange man in my living room."
      "Yes, there is."
      "Well, anything could happen…"
      *patronising smile* "No."

  6. Openattheclose says:

    The first episode of Doctor Who aired on the day of the JFK assassination so the Doctor being there was kind of a neat little detail.

  7. swimmingtrunks says:

    Wooo-whooo! Fantastic!

    I commend you for starting with Rose, sir. I don't think it's aged well, and for a lot of people that's a tough hurdle to get over. (I'm not sure what's up with that soft-focus thing going on. It's not very pretty, cinematically, and definitely makes it look a good ten years older than it is.) Then again, if you're really going to break into Who fandom, badly aged, campy production can't be a deterrent! =)

    I discovered Doctor Who about two and a half years ago, myself. Apparently, when my first run-through ended I declared the first series my favorite. I feel a LOT differently now than I did then, which makes me excited to go back and watch these again along with the blog, actually. MRHP was great for living that first time read again vicariously, but MW(DW) is going to have me re-evaluating my original opinions, and my current opinions, simultaneously jaded and rose-colored, along with seeing the whole thing with a pair of fresh eyes. I am excite. =)

    Rose must have been good enough to lure me in the first time around. I'm a sucker for witty dialogue too, so that must have helped (as well as the ferris wheel gag), but I think the idea of the show as a whole appealed to me enough to keep me going past cheesy special effects and a few places where logic is stretched thin. Even though the whole thing is nearly 50 years old, my American ass found it pretty damn novel. I liked that the audience stand-in is a female, and a fleshed-out one bursting with agency and drive to boot. I liked the Doctor- no brooding male lead (at least initially. It can't be a spoiler to say that at some point, the Doctor will brood, can it?), no smart but slacking man-child who just kind of wants to get the girl– male, yes, but not so much a man as an alien- a manic, adventure-loving, life-loving alien who blows stuff up while simultaneously asking that we all calm down and keep things peaceable. A box that is bigger on the inside! What's not to like?

    I agree with the other commenters who say "Rose" isn't the best of the bunch, but it certainly isn't a bad place to start. (…Unless you're a few people that I've tried to convert who will remain nameless- then proceed right to "The Eleventh Hour" and come back when you're a little more forgiving.)

    • Starsea28 says:

      (…Unless you're a few people that I've tried to convert who will remain nameless- then proceed right to "The Eleventh Hour" and come back when you're a little more forgiving.)

      Gotta love TEH. That's all I'll say at this point.

  8. rin says:

    I don't know how you do it, Mark, but your reviews are such fun and make me EXCITE for things I thought I'd gotten blase about. NOW WATCH THE NEXT EPISODE.

  9. buyn says:

    Alrighty then, I checked and this episode doesn't have a fear forecast. So I'll start those with one of the future episodes. Basically, BBC hired a family with four kids to watch the episodes early, so they could have serious opinions on how scary things are. So, after each rated episode, I figure people might want to know how scary it rated. Neh.

    Rose isn't one of my favorites, but there's a slick reference which most people overlook. There's a picture of Nine at the Kennedy assassination. That day, was the first day DW aired.

  10. niamheryoumind says:


    "I would want the Doctor on my side of an argument" Wouldn't have it any other way.

  11. Andrew says:

    I've only ever watched Doctor Who from this episode onwards and I don't really think that I am missing anything in the way of plot information etc.

  12. Albion says:

    OMG yes so happy you've started Doctor Who!

  13. Hotaru-hime says:

    Doctor Who is full of nightmare creatures, Mark. There is a reason why "hiding behind the couch" is a common phrase in Britain.

  14. Lina says:

    Dr. Who in my humble opinion is about wit and camaraderie. It's a fun show. You don't have to worry too much about not having watched before season 9. With each change of Doctor, and each change of companion, I thought I would never get over the previous person. Guess what, I always do. It is amazing how spot on their casting is and how delightfuol their actors are. This is my 8 year olds favorite show and has been since he was three or four. It is campy at times and serious when it needs to be. Great television.

  15. FlameRaven says:

    To answer your question (sort of) the Doctor is an alien who fights everything. Everything. Other aliens, mythical creatures, monsters, ghosts, evil robots, dinosaurs, insane computers… it really doesn't matter. At some point, the Doctor has probably run into almost everything. Which is not to say that he WILL fight all those things, just that he is the Doctor, and that is how he rolls.

  16. Starsea28 says:

    All the Doctors have companions but not all companions are female.

    I love Christopher Eccleston's Doctor. "Nice to meet you, Rose Tyler – RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!" I love Rose in this episode. She's the right mixture of curious and bolshy and vulnerable. You sympathise with her boredom and her frustration and you cheer when she runs into the TARDIS.

  17. kitish says:

    Hi, Mark! Err, I've kinda been lurking since Half Blood Prince. I was trying to catch up but umm it took a while and then I followed Firefly and I've finally decided to crawl out of my cave and comment. So, I've really enjoyed your reviews and am so glad that you loved Harry Potter and Firefly and now are liking Doctor Who. Nine was my first doctor so I love him and his snark a great deal. I can't wait to see how you like the next episodes. I think the phrase is "Mark, you are not prepared!" Enjoy! Aaaand I will try to, you know, participate in the conversation for once.

  18. Yay! So glad you're watching this. Like you, I discovered the series late in the game. (April 2009) and I watched the 4 series' of "New Who" in about 2 months. It was a great immersion into the series.

    Like you, I knew very little about the show going into it, and actually the only reason I watched "Rose" at all was because I made a deal with a friend. I was hooked within the first five minutes!

    I love your questions and ponderings here because they're very similar to what I remember feeling when I first watched it. In fact, I'm tempted to go back and read my first impression commentary ( of this episode.

    The dialog was one of the things that drew me in too. In particular, I love that conversation they have in the street in this episode where The Doctor tells Rose about how he can feel the world spinning.

    I'm so glad you mentioned Jackie because I also loved her in this episode and wanted more! I think I had to pause after she hit on him because I was laughing too hard. Oh dear Jackie, she does amuse me so.

    Your reaction to the Manequins made me laugh aloud because I feel the same way. In fact I recall telling my friend in email that the show was creating new fears for me! I still look at manequins wearily when I have to walk past them in the shops.

    HAHAHAHAHA! I love that you thought the Tardis would take him to his actual time machine, and that you didn't know he was an alien. I had no clue what the TARDIS was other than it was a "blue box" so I was picturing a blue square box, not a telephone box. Also, I don't think I knew he was an alien either.

    Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this! I'm totally looking forward to reading your thoughts on the rest of the series.

    BTW – has someone warned you about things like mini-eps and christmas eps that fit in between the main season? I have some friends who didn't know about these when they watched the series and missed them as a result. Not something you really have to worry about until the end of series one, but there is a 7minute episode made for Children in need that comes after the S1 finale and a Christmas Episode that comes after that. If you're watching on the DVD's I think both are on the S2 set because of when they were released.

    I haven't seen any "Classic Who" yet so I just might have to watch with you if I can get ahold of the right episodes! Good luck with the rest of the rewatch, cant' wait to read more.

  19. Sierra says:

    "Oh. So the Doctor is an alien???"


  20. vermillioncity says:


  21. sablize says:


    -is hyperventilating with excitement-

    This is brilliant. I just started watching Doctor Who in May and finished with the fifth series in June. It's still my favorite show on the entire planet, and Chris happens to be my favorite Doctor and Rose is still my favorite companion. Seriously, there are no words for how much I love this show.

    ASDFGHJKLKJHGFDS THIS IS SO EXCITING. I'm going to read the rest now 😀

  22. qwopisinthemailbox says:


  23. Emmy says:

    Doctor Who is basically campy alien fun with some cracking dialogue.

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