Archive for the ‘Rose Tyler’ Tag
It is interesting to note that the three-episode arc of “Tooth and Claw,” “School Reunion,” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” has instigated more of my writing than anything else, anywhere, ever. (For example, this is the 4th post resulting from one conversation about one of the three episodes.) The reason for this I think is how much great character stuff happens in these three stories.
Across this arc we see the best and the worst of Rose. In “Tooth and Claw,” we see her compassion for the frightened maid, and her courage and leadership in helping the women escape the barn. But she’s also at her most callous in this story, provoking the Queen and joking with the Doctor in the face of others’ fear and grief. In “School Reunion” we see her petty jealousy, but we also see her overcome that jealousy for friendship and a unique bond with one of very few women who understands her experience. In “The Girl in the Fireplace,” we see the depths of her compassion and her commitment to help others, as she sets aside any feelings she may have about the Doctor in order to comfort and save Reinette.
This arc sets up Rose’s downfall. Rose spent S1 learning to trust the Doctor and herself, and expanding the boundaries of her own capability. In S2 she’s out to have a good time. She has stopped worrying about the risk, having perhaps too much faith in hers and the Doctor’s abilities. She never considers the real danger posed by the werewolf, and cares too little for Lady Isabel’s loss.
These three episodes are Rose’s last hurrah. Fans on rewatch can see the darkness gathering ahead. I don’t doubt the Doctor sees it too, though he’s happy to ignore it as long as he can. But not until “Rise of the Cybermen,” when she faces finding and losing her family all over again, when she loses Mickey, does Rose begin to understand the cost of her adventures. She’s young enough to think she’s invincible, and that the good times will last forever. After S1 she may even think she’s earned it. The balance of S2 serves as a nasty surprise.
Rose isn’t the only one who gets rearranged this season. “School Reunion” sees the Doctor face the consequences of his lifestyle. It sees Sarah Jane learn to accept what has happened to her, to see the good as well as the bad – setting her up for her own televised Adventures. “Reunion” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” set up Mickey’s final transition from idiot to savior of worlds. None of these characters is ever the same again.
There’s a quote from “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” that feels relevant here:
“Every time you see them happy, you remember how sad they’re going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.”
They’re going to be sad later.
As a combined result of visiting a recent Star Trek exhibit at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, and of listening to Verity! Podcast discuss “The Girl in the Fireplace,” I’ve been re-thinking what makes characters like Rose and Dr. McCoy my favorites. Earlier I theorized that it’s their courage and forthrightness that endears them to me. Now, though, I think it must at least equally be their compassion.
McCoy’s key trait on Star Trek is his humanity. His emotion balances Spock’s logic as the two help their Captain make his decisions. Caring for his patient comes first on his list every time, whether the patient is a friend, a Vulcan ambassador, or a lump of sentient rock. He risks his life to save others. He’s rough-edged, bombastic, sometimes unkind, but he is a doctor first in all things.
Rose, too, is defined by her humanity. Her first move in so many of her adventures with the Doctor is to comfort the fearful, from Gwyneth the maid to Toby the xenoarchaeologist. She allies herself with a damaged Dalek and the enslaved Ood. If she feels any jealously over the Doctor’s relationship with Reinette, she sets it aside in favor of saving a life. She is no more flawless than McCoy, but her heart is her dominant feature.
Compassion fatigue is a common problem. The modern world is full of suffering: there are so many causes to support, so many things to care about, that it’s easier for most people to just shut it off. It’s certainly a problem I have. To watch these characters fearlessly care is inspiring. It reminds me of the thousand starfish washed up on a beach: it’s true I can’t save them all, but maybe I can save *that* one.
And to that one, it makes all the difference.
It’s been several weeks since we gathered for “Father’s Day” and “Enemy of the World,” but here I am at last.
“Father’s Day” remains a favorite. Rose learns that her father is not who she thought he was; that her mother lied; that her parents are only human. That her parents are wonderful, fallible people who love her and each other. She faces the brutal consequences of a thoughtless act of love. The Doctor’s rage, while genuine, is only momentary; he is a man who makes mistakes, who thoughtlessly loves again and again in his life. He does everything he can to save Rose’s father for her – an ordinary man, the most important thing in the universe – and though he fails, his efforts bring them closer together.
Pete himself is outstanding. He is a failure, and he knows it. His marriage is on the brink. But he quickly figures out that he is the key to everything, and selflessly gives his life for the women he loves so dearly. His speech to Rose about all the extra hours he got is one of the most moving moments ever on television.
After that emotional wringer, “The Enemy of the World” is great fun. One of the two lost stories found recently in Nigeria, this six-parter features Patrick Troughton as both hero and villain. It’s silly in places – there’s a line about a disused yeti – and deadly serious in others, and though it’s among the longer serials it never lags. Troughton is a delight, well deserving of this showcase for his substantial talent. I’m reminded of Orphan Black, where one actress plays several characters who also play each other; the characters remain distinct, even when hiding in another’s skin.
Up next we’ll pass on a classic story in favor of two-parter “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances.” As Captain Jack just got his own Torchwood series on Big Finish, it’ll be great fun to see his origin again. Mostly, though, I’m looking forward to Nancy.
… here’s something I wrote for her way back when on my other blog:
I am the beginning and the ending
the start and finish of your life
the common thread.
Newborn you took my hand and ran
and what came after
was more than you knew
more than you believed
could ever be.
And now when things look black
as music fades and lights go dim
you return to me, reach out again
share a smile.
You tried so valiantly
to go on living
though you knew it couldn’t be
though you knew you’d had your time
the scant hope was worth the effort.
And in the end it seems
that final effort
that scant hope
was just what you needed
what it took
to save the world one last time
to complete your final adventure
to step bravely into death
accepting what must be
cherishing what came before.
And so dying you seek out that last smile
to warm you in the snow
cool you in the flame
as you close the chapter
pass the torch
conclude the verse
and let the song go on and on
For Billie Piper’s birthday, the Radio Times counted down Rose’s best moments from her time on Doctor Who. As any regular reader knows, Rose is my gal: my #1 companion, the one I want most to be, the one I’d want along if I were the Doctor – one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. An ordinary person with an ordinary life, she found in herself courage, compassion, a drive to do the right thing, a zest for the opportunity of life in the TARDIS. At the same time, she’s a flawed, authentic human being, with petty jealousies, unkind words, selfish moments. Like the best of us she strives to overcome these things, and it’s her struggle that makes her real.
Taking advantage of the Radio Times’ hard work, I’m going to comment on their entries one by one.
#10: Rose meets Sarah Jane Smith
At first blush this is not one of Rose’s better moments. The Doctor’s old companion puts her instantly on the defensive, and she skilfully shreds the older woman with her scorn. However, after a brief Mean Girls-style skirmish, Rose stops herself. She pushes her jealousy aside and opens herself up to friendship. Having more in common with one another than almost anyone else on Earth, the two women form a fast bond. The scene is a great example of Rose overcoming her faults, a model for us all to live up to.
#9: The Moment
This isn’t really Rose Tyler, though the Moment finds her face in the Doctor’s timeline and recognizes her significance. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Billie to expand as an actor and have a little fun. It’s also an acknowledgement of Rose and Billie’s impact on the success of the show. So while not a Rose Tyler moment, it’s a great Moment, and I understand why they chose to include it.
#8: The Reunion
In the closing seconds of ‘The Stolen Earth,’ Rose and the Doctor finally find each other – only to be torn apart again by a Dalek blast. This is one of those overhyped, melodramatic moments that I normally despise, but because I love these characters so much, I wasn’t bothered. I also saw it coming eight miles away – but somehow, Tennant’s era is full of things I saw coming and loved anyway. Anticipation isn’t always a bad thing.
#7: Captain Jack
I think Rose embodied most people’s first reaction to Captain Jack in this scene. Flirting is such an ingrained part of the show now, but here it’s still new and fresh: an interested woman and an interested man having a bit of safe, consensual fun. I kind of miss the relative innocence of their interaction; no one since has had John Barrowman’s charm.
#6: Father’s Day
This one is an absolute winner. She begins with a mistake, she defends her decision, she brushes off the Doctor’s rage. Then, as she realizes the impact of what she’s done, she experiences all the horror and remorse that go with that. Most of us won’t endanger the universe with our errors, but everyone knows the pain of unintended consequences.
On the plus side, she gets to know her dad, and to see him as the hero she always believed he could be. Rose matures a lot in this story, and takes her relationships – with herself, her family, the Doctor – to a new level.
#5: Making a stand
In ‘The Parting of the Ways,’ the Doctor sends his friend home for her own safety. However, she’s no longer willing to stay home safe while he gives his life for her people. She makes a stand; she says no. She has the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away. Even when she doesn’t know what to do.
This episode showcases Rose’s compassion like no other. The Doctor sees only a killing machine: Rose sees a creature in pain, that only wants a chance to feel the sunlight.
#3: The Sycorax
Here, Rose’s courage takes center stage. The Doctor lies sleeping, out of reach. The Earth is under attack. Her home, her family, everything she knows is in danger. She wants to hide – she tries to hide – but when circumstances require a hero, she steps up. She overcomes her fear and acts anyway. She doesn’t know what to do, she knows she’ll probably be killed, and she doesn’t let it stop her.
#2: Bad Wolf
As the Doctor says later, “Everything she did was so human.” Gaining godlike powers from the Vortex, she uses them to save her friends and the Earth below, with no thought for her own safety.
Rose’s first goodbye is everyone’s favorite moment. It’s melodrama, but decently executed, and the acting is beyond compare. (A later reviewer of a stage play of Billie’s commented that “no one can cry more convincingly” than she can.) I wouldn’t have ranked it #1 – I’d give that spot to ‘Father’s Day’ or ‘Dalek’ – but for Rose Tyler, it’s a pretty definitive scene.
I can understand why the Radio Times left this one out, as it’s more the Doctor’s moment than Rose’s. However, it so beautifully embodies who she is – for him and for herself – that the list feels incomplete without it.
“I bet you’re going to have a really great year.”
Happy Birthday, Billie Piper, and thank you for Rose Tyler.
Two modern companions have witnessed a regeneration first-hand.
The regenerations each occur at the end of an episode. In each case, the companion knows something is up: Rose’s Doctor warns her that he’s about to change, while Clara, having met several prior incarnations, is familiar with the process. The Doctor changes, makes a nonsensical remark to his startled friend, and crashes his ship as credits roll.
We witnessed the Tenth Doctor’s first minutes in the Children in Need special ‘Born Again.’ However, each new incarnation’s first official appearance begins at the start of the following episode, with the Doctor staggering out of the battered TARDIS. Ten recognizes Mickey and Jackie, though they have no idea who he is, and he has time for little more than “hello” before fainting dead away. Twelve only vaguely recalls his old friends, and stomps around quite a bit before he faceplants in the dirt.
Rose emerges from the TARDIS into present-day London and her family. Mickey and Jackie love her; they’ll do anything she asks, they’ll look after her, and even if everything goes wrong, even if she loses the Doctor and the TARDIS forever, at least she’s home. Clara finds herself in Victorian London. She knows Vastra and Jenny, but they’re not her family; if the Doctor leaves her, she’s lost, far from home with no way back.
When the trouble begins, Rose is on her own. Though Mickey and Jackie have her back, she is the resident alien expert; when the Sycorax drive one-third of the population to rooftops and ledges, she knows she’s out of her depth, and all she can do is hide. Clara, on the other hand, is not alone. She discovers the underlying evil while in the Doctor’s company, and even though she no longer trusts him, she has the Paternoster Gang to back her up. At no point is she solely responsible for her own safety or that of the people she loves.
When Rose faces the enemy, as far as she knows she’s the only chance her planet has.
In each case, of course, the Doctor returns in the nick of time. Rose’s Doctor is all charm, offering a smile and a wink to her and a challenge to the invader. Gallantry follows, a swordfight in pajamas, and Rose is quickly convinced. Clara’s Doctor saves her, as she expects, then quickly dashes off again, leaving the Gang to fight off androids while he engages in philosophy, and running away with the TARDIS before they return. When Clara sees him next, she has yet to regain any of her faith in him.
In the end each Doctor asks his companion to join him again. Rose needs only to know that he still wants her; their shared enthusiasm for adventure is undimmed. Clara, however, says no – until she gets a phone call, and a familiar voice asks her to see her old friend in this new face.
Rose requires almost no time to rebuild her trust. This “new new Doctor” is playful and charming and clearly values her. By the end of his very first episode, she is ready to run away with him again. Clara, however, finds little of her kind friend in this harsh new form. Resolutely she keeps one foot on Earth, with her home and job and new relationship, and keeps up traveling in the TARDIS only on her terms. Her relationship with Twelve remains prickly and uncertain all season, and only now, in S9, might she finally get the chance to enjoy herself the way Rose did in Series 2.
We can only hope this season is as much fun as that one.