This story is remembered to me for two reasons. The first is that it’s revealed that the Timelords are gone. There was a war and “we lost” says the Doctor. Nothing more is made of this but it was a huge bombshell for someone like me who was hoping that the Timelords would pop up in a future episodes. For new fans who are watching only their second ever episode, this line will mean nothing. The second is the introduction of the Psychic paper. Its been used with all three Doctors now and its such a simple creation that its perhaps on par with the sonic screwdriver in that it gets the Doctor out of a sticky situation.
What I think works about this is that whilst Rose is trying to get use to all the different aliens so is the viewer and this is almost crashers cause into 21st century sci-fi. There was a nice moment when Rose phones her mom. I thought it was nicely acted by both Billie Piper and Camile Coduri. I could see why people were making the comparison between Ace and Rose. The scene where Rose has a go at Cassandra because of all the plastic surgery she has showed Rose as feisty and argumentative. The creation of Cassandra is very well realised. It’s a cheeky nod at people who go overboard on plastic surgery. Cassandra is just a sheet of skin and is the last human. Zoe Wannaker does a good job lending a very sinister voice to this character. I like her in the BBC comedy My Family and so think she’s a very good actress.
I can’t believe that I gone this long without mentioning the elephant in the room. The Special Effects in this episode alone were fantastic. Its not hard to have the best effects but this was the episode where my argument because clear. It’s shows what a great show Doctor Who can be when the money is put into it. As showed in pretty much every episode of Doctor Who since the special effects made by The Mill are some of the highlights of this new era. Apparently there are more special effects shots in this episode than in the Ridley Scott film Gladiator (2000).
Christopher Eccleston is very good in this. There is a lot of drama and a few comedic moments. Unfortunately I’m not sold on Eccleston’s comedy moments. Matt Smith gets away with it and Tennant always pulled it off to almost Tom Baker levels. But with Eccleston I’m not entirely sold on it. After seeing him in stuff like the Second Coming and Cracker it’s hard to see him do light hearted stuff. Billie Piper (despite all the eye rolling that will come from people reading this) was very good in this. She does the classic companion thing of being knocked out and locked up requiring rescue whilst the main drama is going on. Piper WAS a good companion and anything anyone else says is wrong or at least not 100% right.
Also this is a funny point. The Ninth Doctor saw the Earth blow up in this episode and in twenty-six episodes time in The Runaway Bride. The Tenth Doctor would see the Earth formed.