Writer: Russell T. Davies
Director: Keith Boak
Producer: Phil Collinson
Companions: Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) (Note: as far as I’m concerned, although Noel was never given top billing, I still feel his character counts as a companion. He’s a big help in many stories)
Summary: Rose Tyler is an ordinary girl with an ordinary boyfriend named Mickey, an overbearing mother named Jackie, and an ordinary job at a department store named Hendrick’s. One day, she’s closing up shop when she’s suddenly surrounded by Autons. That’s when the Doctor shows up, telling her “Nice to meet you Rose, run for your life!” As she runs out of the building, it explodes. She comes home with an Auton’s arm and Mickey consoles her. Then Mickey is asked to take the arm home but he drops it off in the trash instead.
Next morning, the Doctor shows up, having tracked the arm’s signal. He’s then strangled by the arm it flies for Rose’s neck as well. The Doctor deactivates it and rushes out. Rose follows him and the doctor tells her the Autons’ plan before leaving in the TARDIS. Rose decides to find out more with the Internet and discovers a conspiracy nut who tells her the Doctor is an alien. Mickey is kidnapped and made into an Auton. When the Doctor saves her from the Auton, Rose follows him into the TARDIS. The Doctor tells her that the Autons are associated with the Nestene Consciousness and it needs a round satellite. Rose realizes that the London Eye is just what the Nestene needs and they head there, where it’s discovered that it’s become an underground base. As the Doctor tries to negotiate with the Nestene, it discovers his last resort–the vial of anti-plastic. Rose frees a rope and swings down, freeing the Doctor and Mickey, but also knocking the vial into the Nestene. The Doctor takes Rose and Mickey into the TARDIS and to safety. Then the Doctor offers to make Rose his new companion, but she initially refuses. A split-second later, he returns and reminds her that the TARDIS is also a time machine. This is all Rose needs to change her mind. She runs inside the TARDIS and our show begins anew!
Reviw: Now this, this is a pilot episode done right, not like the Eighth Doctor’s first story. We’re given just enough info to understand the set-up and a fresh start for those who didn’t watch the old show.
Billie Piper is great as Rose. I think it’s a stroke of great writing that the entire story told her eyes. This is what the companion is for. Christopher Eccleston displays this Doctor as someone who’s lost everything–his people, his friends, his sense of purpose. He’s questioning his life as a lone wanderer and the consequences of his actions. Rose comes in and he’s back in the right frame of mind. If you’re curious about Doctor Who and are unsure where to start, I recommend starting with this episode.
Continuity: The Doctor invokes the Shadow Proclamation, which is also invoked (erroneously) by Rose in “The Christmas Invasion” and again by the Tenth Doctor in “Partners in Crime” and we finally see its purpose in “The Stolen Earth.” According to Clive, the Doctor was a witness to the JFK assassination. He was actually accused of it in the audio drama Zagreus. He shows his ability to speed read, a trait that was used by the Fourth Doctor in “City of Death”, the Eighth Doctor in Invaders from Mars, and the Eleventh Doctor in “The Time of Angels”. Rose’s final episode is with the Tenth Doctor in “Doomsday”, but she returns in “Partners in Crime” to begin the series 4 arc. The Doctor mentions an encounter with Genghis Khan, which the Sixth Doctor also mentions in the audio drama City of Spires. The Doctor’s ability to sense the Earth’s movement also occurs in “The Hungry Earth”. The Doctor’s disappointment in his new ears was referenced in “Day of the Doctor.”
Trivia: This episode bears a strong resemblance to Jon Pertwee’s first episode “Spearhead From Space.” Nicholas Briggs makes his first appearance on Doctor Who, as the voice of the Nestene. (He’s the founder and show-runner at Big Finish). Davies is the first writer on Doctor Who to have written a spin-off novel, Damaged Goods. This was the first episode to have a Companion’s name in the title.