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Dec 20, 2005

Just a tweak of President Schwarzenegger

Watching this episode for the nth time what strikes me most is the oddly Kubrickesque direction. There are loads of arty shots and it works with the “futuristic” feel. The pace is unrelenting as all three stories are established.

Once you get past the time, (it doesn’t really matter, does it?) which is totally wrong, there’s lots to enjoy in the opening quarter. Inevitably, the Doctor is the first to escape, from Big Brother, and Jack follows having had a great time with the Trinny and Susanna of 200,000. Rose, meanwhile is trapped with the Anne-droid. There’s a little plug for the upcoming Torchwood in one of the questions. I can’t help thinking she would have been better off in another Big Brother. If the controller was behind this, why did she drop one of the Doctor’s companions in probably the most dangerous game?

The music throughout ranges from excellence, (the cheery muzak in the What Not to Wear department) to the wrong-but-right , (schmaltzy strings as the Doctor asks Lynda to escape with him) and the utterly intrusive, (the otherwise ominous shot as the Anne-droid turns to disintegrate Groff). Murray Gold’s work is starting to make some sense but there’s still a lot of bull.

I had a picture of a bunch of writers sitting round a table, each armed with his clever, creepy Dalek reveal and then RTD reaching a compromise whereby each one is used, thus killing most of the clever creepiness.

As the tension builds the Doctor delivers a set of speeches presumably designed to make us at home feel bad. We just sit at home watching telly then writing about it on the internet... The moment when the Doctor realises Rose has died is one of the best in the whole series. It is brilliantly acted out and for once the music is right, blocking out Cptn. Jack’s contrasting reaction. Their arrest and interrogation is suitably non-essential so we can think, “What’s going to happen?! Help, it can’t end here!” Another deft criticism of Guantanamo Bay style detention “without trial” is fitted in.

As the Daleks are cleverly and creepily revealed, again and again, I had a picture of a bunch of writers sitting round a table, each armed with his clever, creepy Dalek reveal and then RTD reaching a compromise whereby each one is used, thus killing most of the clever creepiness. Individually they were all very good techniques; the reflection in the wall as one of the pepper-pots crept up was probably the most effective.

Christopher Ecclestone’s performance while addressing the Daleks is, well, fantastic. He has to act like a timelord acting brave while really being s*** scared. The little details are what make it; the gradual disappearance of bravado, the visible decision making and the final line, “Rose,” “Yes Doctor?” “I’m coming to get you!”.

Only 5 days to go – almost 5 days anyway – until we’re on the first real new Doctor Who in a while. I have high hopes for David Tennant but watching Christopher Eccleston in this has made me wish even more he had stayed on for a second series, at least. He was wonderful in the role and gave it real depth. Still, Parting of the Ways still to go.

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