Our re-watch of Season 1 of Doctor Who ends with tears and fist pumps as Pete says goodbye to his first Doctor, Andy lists the best jokes from the season, and Pete shares whether or not the show has lived up to his expectations.
Episode 13: The Parting of the Ways
Andy: At long last, we’ve reached the end of our first season of Doctor Who. And with it comes the departure of our Ninth Doctor.
Pete: I’ve known since the beginning that the elegant Ser Eccleston would be leaving at the end of the season, so I thought I was prepared. But it turns out I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I didn’t expect to tear up at all.
Andy: They say that your first Doctor is the one who becomes your Doctor. What do you think?
Jack’s farewell to the Doctor and Rose was one of the sweeter on screen goodbyes that I have seen. It had all the bitter-sweetness I could have asked for. And while I can’t say I was surprised when Jack laid one on the Doctor, I sure didn’t see it coming and it was wonderful.
Andy: I loved their goodbye too. It was important that these three characters got to say goodbye to one another (since they are all going separate ways at the end of this episode) and I was glad the story found a way to incorporate that organically.
Less organic, perhaps, was the Doctor’s holographic goodbye to Rose, where his hologram somehow managed to look here in the eye and tell her to have a fantastic life. That moment punched you in the gut, not just because I guess the Doctor was able to see the future and where Rose would be standing, but because Rose was panicking, being ripped away both from the Doctor and from traveling.
And the Doctor sent her away. “For her own good.”
Pete: So we need to talk about this trope. Not only is it dumb, but it’s fucking everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved and do love people who I would sacrifice my life for without hesitation. But not against their will.
I can’t stress this enough: no matter how wrong or stupid or brash you think their choice is…it’s their choice. And you, Doctor, you chose poorly. Rose wanted to travel with you. She said it over and over again. Remember back on Downing Street, when Rose wanted the Doctor to blow up the Slitheens but he was reluctant because it might put her in danger?
Andy: Yes. Not only did the Doctor take Rose’s choice away from her, but if he had succeeded in keeping her away it would have broken her heart. Even though abandoning Jack and the Doctor to their grim fate was out of Rose’s control, can you imagine the kind of survivor’s guilt she would have suffered from? Did the Doctor not think of that?
Some things are worth fighting and dying for. In Rose’s shoes, I would have wanted to stay and make sure I’d done everything I can to prevent the tragedy.
Pete: Speaking of tragedy: that’s another difficult choice the Doctor had to make. The Daleks are going to invade. Nothing can stop this. Everyone will become Daleks. (Side note: Like human brains instead of little squishy aliens? I’m going with that.) Not only is that bugles for humanity but its potentially a foothold for the Daleks to get another universal extermination party going.
BUT, you have this weapon that can destroy the Daleks here and now. For good. (Probably. Debateable. They somehow managed to survive the Time War when the Doctor thought they all perished.) And this time, unlike in ‘Dalek’, killing the Dalek(s) isn’t about revenge. It’s about protecting the planet and the people on it. Would you do it?
I’d flip the switch.
Andy: I’m not so sure I would, for the same reason I’d stay and fight rather than flee. Death is so final. If I flipped that switch, I’d always wonder if I did the right thing. Because there has got to be another way! I have to believe that. As long as we keep fighting there’s hope, and I think I would choose to always keep that hope alive rather than have it all go down together.
Pete: Watching everyone die was kind of rough — the people from the reality show that I once again immediately became attached to, the people on floor 00, the volunteer defense squads…it was so tragic.
But then it was all okay because Rose was Bad Wolf! (And also might be a power on par with a god. Unclear at this time.) And Jack is back! While they don’t show it I’m going to go ahead and headcanon that everyone else is too.
Except…for the Doctor. It was so sad to watch Christopher Eccleston say goodbye. I didn’t expect to see the new Doctor, either, and I am too emotionally numb to process this right now.
Doctor Who Season 1 Retrospective
Andy: I still can’t believe we have now finished Season 1 of Doctor Who! I have been wanting you to watch this show for years, precisely because I knew it was right up your alley. Did it live up to the hype?
Pete: More or less! I definitely got what I was promised: an alien of the week story with a fun but painfully slow developing romance. (Yes, I definitely read the Doctor and Rose as romantic.)
I wasn’t expecting to like the characters as much as I do, especially Rose! I didn’t know anything about either her or Doctor, but I had more things about him, so I just didn’t expect her to be the heart of the show. I identify with her character the most.
Andy: I have to agree that the characters are the heart of the show. I was very nervous during the first couple episodes that you’d give up on the show before it really h
ad a chance to shine. I stopped worrying after ‘Dalek’.
I don’t know how anyone could not love Rose. Rewatching the show with you also made me regret that Eccleston only got one season in the role. He definitely nailed the quirkiness inherent in all the incarnations, but Eccleston also had a depth to him that I don’t think we’ve seen since. (Which isn’t to say later Doctors don’t have depth, but that it reads differently.) Eccleston played the Doctor with his pain barely masked by his cheerful smiles. When he got angry, he wasn’t just intimidating, you got the sense that he’d completely lost control of himself. He was an emotional rollercoaster, and it was all leading up to the end of the season where he loses Rose, almost loses to the Daleks, and then is saved.
Plus, that face. Those ears!
Pete: The attention paid to the side characters also surprised me, as I’ve mentioned almost every episode. Most shows brush the small stories aside and don’t trouble to develop them, but on this show they seem to shine like a little light in a pool of darkness.
Andy: My favorite moments of the series are the triumphant crescendos, because I’m emotionally easy. I can’t get enough of the moments where “Everybody lives!” or Rose rants to her mother about how life with the Doctor is more fulfilling than anything she’d have on Earth.
But rewatching with you, I found that I had a new appreciation for the jokes. My favorite one liners of the season:
“Lots of planets have a North!” (‘Rose’)
“”In what way do you resemble a means of keeping yourself cool?” (‘The Unquiet Dead’)
“My mother is cooking.” “Good, put her on low heat and let her simmer.” (‘World War Three’)
“It’s brilliant. I’m not sure if it’s Marxism in action or a West End musical.” (‘The Empty Child’)
“Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks ‘ooh, this could be more sonic!’” “What, you’ve never been bored? Never had a long night and lots of cabinets to put up?” (‘The Doctor Dances’)
“You mind flirting outside?” “I was just saying hello!” “For you that’s flirting!” (‘Bad Wolf’)
Pete: After much deliberation (and some very difficult choices!) I’ve come to the conclusion that my very favorite scene of the show was the ending to “Dalek”. From the moment Cornelius asked Rose how sunlight felt, until his eventual suicide, it showcased how amazing and sympathetic Rose is. How damaged — but good! — the Doctor is. And of course, it made me feel for a genocidal robot. What more could you ask for?
Something you promised me was that eventually the show would become more serialized. I am so very much looking forward to that — the alien of the week recipe is fun but gets mildly agitating. I love stories that can’t be wrapped up in forty minutes and take years to reach the end. I think there is a lot of potential for rich stories here.
Specifically, I want to find out more about the Time War! I would love to see some of it and learn more about the Doctor’s people. That history seems to have had a big impact on the Doctor’s character and I don’t know nearly enough about it!
Pete’s Predicts Doctor Who Season 2…
The Doctor goes back to medical school because his medical license has his old picture on it! Hijinks ensue.
Rose takes the tardis for a joyride! She tries to go to Elizabethan England to meet William Shakespeare. But the Tardis takes her to an alien planet in the middle of a philosophical civil war. Hijinks ensue.
Captain Jack Harkness gets a job making instructional videos! His titles include bestsellers “How to Safely Store an Energy Weapon in Your Butt!” and “10 Things Not to do When You Are Gifted a Tardis Key!”
Mickey comes running! Jackie is mean to EVERYONE!
Tell us your favorite moments in Season 1, and join us next week when we start Season 2 and introduce Pete to Ten!
Images courtesy of the BBC and Fox.