Lurky McLurklurk (ionlylurkhere) wrote,
Lurky McLurklurk

S1 Rewatch: Intro Post

I seem to have spent quite a lot of time recently debating new school S1 and related topics on the anon meme. My overall opinion of S1 is low, for reasons mostly relating to Nine's "Time War damage" masking certain parts of the Doctor's personality that are very high up my list of "things that make the Doctor the Doctor", and partly to fandom itself and the way it treats it.

So I've decided to watch it all through again, properly, in order. I don't know how long this will take, it could be a few weeks if I race through them over Christmas, or it could be months. (You can tell I have decided that this is a definite plan, 'cos I've gone and got myself an icon specially. And I have maked a tag.)

But I thought first of all that I'd have a look at what I currently think before rewatching, to set a baseline (and to serve as fair warning about how much I don't like it). I'm going to split this up into "what I thought at the time" and "what I think now after three years of endless fandom arguments", though I'm not going to claim my ability to disentangle the two is perfect (though I am going to go to the OG archive to see whether it can shed any light).

I would not advise people who were involved in the making of S1 to read further, to be honest. (These things do happen in today's modern world of the internet.)


What I thought at the time: OK, that's a very well done reintroduction of the show for a new audience. Nice work. I really think they could have been a lot more sympathetic to Mickey at the end given what he's been through, but I can kinda see that maybe you need to establish Rose's companion characteristics by having someone to contrast her with. And: Oh dear, the action direction in the climactic scene was terrible, please tell me British TV as a whole hasn't forgotten how to do this sort of thing with too many years of kitchen sink stuff.

What I think now: The Mickey thing looms a lot larger, because it's the start of a long pattern that has disturbing racial elements as well (every main companion's intro has a "not good enough" person who happens to be of an arguably-more-disadvantaged racial group: Julia for Martha and Penny for Donna). And thank fuck it was just Keith Boak being shit.

The End of the World

What I thought at the time: My show's back, my show's back, my show's back in a swizzy modern form, my show's back, my show's back, my show's back! I loved it. I loved the Earth burning to Toxic. I loved Nine bopping to Tainted Love. I loved that Rose got to be properly freaked out by time travel like Ian and Barbara when they went to caveman times. I loved that they went to quite a bit of effort on the science and SFX sides, but that's only because the end of the Earth is a pet topic of mine. I loved Jabe. I loved Raffalo. I loved all the weird aliens. I loved Cassandra even if she's very broad satire. I loved Rose with Raffalo and with Cassandra. I loved the whole thing with Nine and Jabe and how it was used to do exposition. Even thinking about "Stop wasting time, Time Lord" still gives me chills up the spine. This is in fact the episode I have rewatched repeatedly. It's great.

What I think now: See above, really, with a side order of "why does everyone fixate on the last five minutes?"

The Unquiet Dead

What I thought at the time: I'll admit I had prejudged this quite harshly and was already dreading it before it appeared, because I already considered Gatiss to be on entirely the wrong side of rad/trad. About five minutes in, I could tell that the '70s-obsessed section of fandom were going to absolutely love it just because it was set in Victorian times. After about fifteen minutes or so (or whenever the Gelth start putting forth their arguemnts), I was dreading the sudden but inevitable betrayal and hoping against hope that it wouldn't happen. Particularly because I loved Nine's "it's just like having a donor card" bit and didn't want Rose's squick to be the right side. But then it did and I was somewhere between angry and eye-rolling. When Loz Miles posted his oh-so-controversial thing, I thought it was attributing too much intentionality but not too far off the mark overall. I did like the Remembrance shout out. I did like Simon Callow and the portrayal of late-period world-weary Dickens. I didn't think it was as scary as people seemed to think. (To be honest, I have never managed to watch this properly all the way through. First time round I was too grumpy to take the second half in properly and I've never managed to maintain my attention all the way through.)

What I think now: I've calmed down a bit, but I do think it's overrated by a factor of at least ten. Gwyneth sacrificing herself to sort out the plot is part of Nine not doing things for himself. I seem to remember Rose being quite good at standing up for herself in this one in a way that shouldn't be as notable as it is. I'm less keen on Nine's pro-Gelth morality now, because it ties into some of the new school Doctor's other issues that weren't so obvious at the time.

Aliens of London/World War Three

What I thought at the time: The "One Year Later" thing I thought was a brilliant way of complicating things. It was funny, but the overall plot and the Slitheen I thought were just a bit broad and silly (the "45 minutes" thing is the bad sort of satire) and I really, really didn't like "I could save the world but lose you". Even though it's perfectly in character for the Doctor to not sacrifice companions despite imminent Very Bad Things (my fave example is the Cybermen threatening Tegan in Earthshock), the way that was played came across a bit too petty. Also, Keith Boak really can't do action at all; that cliffhanger completely lacks any sense of pace or menace.

What I think now: I like the Slitheen a lot better after Blon in Boom Town. I like the fact that it's the start of Mickey proving himself (though he never had to prove himself to me). Overall, I'm fairly neutral on it, but I tend to judge people for disliking it more than I do for liking it.


What I thought at the time: Oh wow. More of the manipulative Jubilee-Dalek stuff would have been even better, but wow. I can see why Rose stopped the Doctor but I kinda don't think she should've. I couldn't for the life of me understand the people who thought that the Dalek killed itself to stop itself from doing any more harm, rather than because it was becoming un-Daleky.

What I think now: To be totally honest, mostly I desperately want to know the details of what happened behind the scenes such that Rob Shearman was apparently very unhappy with the end product. It's another one that's got a tiny bit that's become fixated on by fandom ("the woman you loooooove"). And I kinda have issues related to Adam but they're really because of the next ep.

The Long Game

What I thought at the time: I really enjoyed this one. It's got good satire (or satire at a target that I don't mind how bad it is, possibly) and the structure of the plot works with Nine's catalysing-the-humans-into-taking-action thing for once. Simon Pegg's fun. So is Tamsin Greig/Grieg/I can never remember how you spell her name and am too lazy to find out even though typing this explanation is taking me longer than doing so. Nine and Rose work much better with someone else in the mix, but I find the smug "only take the best" thing at the end very, very hard to digest, especially the finger-snapping thing. Oh god.

What I think now: I still don't get why fandom has such a huge downer on it, and so tend to defend it more than I like it for the sake of balance to the unremitting negativity about it.

Father's Day

What I thought at the time: OK, this is the final piece of the puzzle in terms of explicating the show's premise. If you're going to do time travel with today's SF-savvy audience, you need to explore these ideas. But do you have to do it so badly? It felt manipulative rather than genuinely emotional, and the whole entire plot hinges on Rose deciding to do something stupid and the Doctor letting her, not once but twice. Also it makes very little sense and has a monster for the sake of having a monster (I did spend a lot of time trying to fit Reapers and what happened during the car accident and the Sapphire-and-Steel-ish "Time tries to fix itself" magic reappearing car in with Blinovitch and Chronovores and such, and I did get to a point where I can wave my hands in a way that I think puts it all in one self-consistent framework, but it's not one that I'd call anything like elegant).

What I think now: I honestly find it very difficult to understand how it is so loved. The problems seem so glaring to me. This is probably the one I hate on most now, whereas at the time it was Unquiet Dead.

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

What I thought at the time: Great fun. A bit scary, more so than anything else in S1. Loved Jack. Nice understated handling of the Doctor/Rose relationship.

What I think now: I can't work out what I think about it now. Really. This story more than any other has been buried under the extremely dull Moff arguments that are not in fact about it in the slightest. The retconning people have done to their own opinions about it is staggering.

Boom Town

What I thought at the time: Really good. Nice team dynamic. The dinner scene is an excellent exploration of some worthwhile moral questions, and leads up to the ending which I saw as a lovely redemptive thing. Rose's attitude to Mickey did not endear her to me, so I was glad to see Mickey sticking up for himself a bit.

What I think now: As above, really, except that the ending strikes me as more the beginning of Rusty's magic plot resolutions than a nice moment of hope.

Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways

What I thought at the time: I liked the TV satire in Bad Wolf. A lot. I LOVED the movie-style Dalek stuff and the general big spectacle elements and the Daleks getting religion. I was not keen on the fact that Nine disdained responsibility for saving the entire universe from the greatest evil there's ever been when backed into a corner that was explicitly portrayed as a simple choice between "Earth and Daleks dead" and "Daleks kill Earth so it's dead anyway, and then conquer the rest of the universe". I did like Bad Wolf as a bit of non-linear plotting, and saw it as very obviously a union of Rose and the TARDIS's sentience. I thought the regeneration scene was very well done. Also, there was Jack kissing the Doctor. I remember enjoying that, both from the "let's watch the Gay Agenda people's heads explode" and "hawt" perspectives.

What I think now: Whenever I think of this, I think of Nine's failure to push the button and the fact that I'm basically of the opinion that he deserved to die for it. It has kind of drowned out all the rest of it, which was mostly good now that I come to write that. Also, it reminds me of the tedious "Bad Wolf: Rose, TARDIS or what?" and dictionary-definitions-at-twenty paces "deus ex machina" wanks. (My opinion, which despite my professing to find them tedious I feel the need to tell you: It's not a deus ex machina. It is a cop out. Not all cop outs are DEMs.)

Actually, revisiting the OG archive is mostly making me feel smug that I was right about various things, like Buffy being the main model for the new format rather than B5, the destruction of Gallifrey being nothing to do with TAC, and the plotting not being some convoluted Adam-is-Davros-is-Bad-Wolf nonsense. Oh, the debates we had. I think at one point I did allow myself to entertain the hope that Fenric was going to turn out to be the Big Bad. LOL. (Also, I used to go along with the Mickey-bashing far too much. I'm 99% certain I'm not retconning having liked him from early on.)
Tags: doctor who, s1 rewatch

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  • Another thing about EoT ...

    Pinning down the Doctor's age at 906 in that conversation with Wilf annoyed me. OK, so he lies all the time and this whole 900 thing is nonsense…

  • End of Time pt 2: immediate reaction

    I am bloody unhappy about the companions in this, even though no one died: The Martha/Mickey spoiler was true, then. BAH. That makes me…

  • End of Time spec

    Does anyone else think we're going to get a trial of the Doctor by the Timeys? It's one of the major old school tropes the new series hasn't been…