Sunday, March 19, 2006

So, sometime in the last ten years, the Doctor Who Magazine ran an article about “Magic Moments” in the history of the series, moments when you know you’re watching the greatest TV show ever made.

With the arrival of the show on SciFi, I’ve decided to make a list of my own magic moments from the new series.


The moment when the Doctor introduces himself to Rose, then tells her to run for her life, always brings a smile to my face. That’s the point at which I knew that Christopher Eccleston was playing the Doctor that I had grown up with and loved. Just about every other telefantasy series--or everything else, for that matter--features characters who do what they do because it’s their job. The Doctor has such a passion for doing the right thing, fighting the monsters of the universe, and Eccleston’s grin captures that so perfectly.

Then there’s the Rose/Doctor walk-&-talk, after they’ve fought the Auton arm in her flat. The bit where he talks about how he can feel the earth spinning beneath their feet is mesmerizing, but the part that really sticks with me is much more subtle. It’s when he’s telling her about the Auton invasion, then stops and asks if she’s all right. That moment, so brief, so natural, so human, shows the emotional depth that this show has, that so many others don’t.

It comes up again when Rose enters the TARDIS again, which is part of why that’s another favorite scene. But really, that whole sequence is handled so well. Maybe it was the overfamiliarity you get when a show has been on for decades, but the original series didn’t treat the reveal of the TARDIS interior to newcomers as anything special. Certainly in the last ten years of its history, the whole “It’s bigger inside than outside” became something so quickly brush past. This new series understands just what a big deal it is for Rose to go inside the ship, and her dialogue with the Doctor shows that he understands it, too.

End of the World

One of my favorite episodes overall, but three bits really stick out for me:

I love the whole precredits sequence, starting with Rose’s first trip through time all the way through the Doctor’s short speech about humanity surviving. The time-travelling bit is fantastic, capturing all the excitement and energy that Rose is doubtless feeling. The previous series had made TARDIS travel seem about as exciting as an elevator ride. And then, the Doctor’s speech... Too often, the most reflection anyone does on traveling into the future on TV is, “Ooh, look! Air cars!” In an increasingly uncertain world, the true wonders of the future are probably less the bright and shiny things, and more the notion that there is a future at all. The Doctor captures that, oh so poetically, and I always feel a lump in my chest when I hear it.

Then there’s the cell phone scene, when Rose calls back in time, five billion years, to speak to her mother. Not only has Doctor Who rarely had such emotional content in the past, neither have many shows. Here, we get a gentle, quiet reminder that despite the alien wonders of the future, what’s really important are family and loved ones. The show should be applauded for taking the time for this character moment.

And then there’s the final scene, with the Doctor and Rose on a crowded street, where he tells her about his past. Again, if this were Buffy or Angel or Stargate, this would be treated with tremendous portent, because any sort of big character revelation could only be setup for some big mythology-based story in the future. Here, it’s treated just as the Doctor sharing something of himself. It’s a big moment, yeah, but a big character moment, not a plot one. And, again, Chris Eccleston and Billie Piper totally sell it.

No comments: