I really enjoyed this one. A fairly functional plot was used as a jumping off point for all manner of interesting, witty and imaginative ideas and images.
After a slightly surreal but otherwise grounded first episode, the production immediately ramped-up to Farscape-levels of visual and conceptual weirdness. It was pervaded with a sense of “fun” without ever quite crossing the line from satire into parody. Or to put it another way, although some of the ideas were cheeky-verging-on-silly, Mr Davies demonstrated an immensely well-judged sense of where to draw the line. Likewise there was a very nicely-pitched level of jeopardy, with the Doctor’s breezy unconcern and Deus Ex Machina rescues being offset by moments of seriousness. I especially liked his little “zen” moment of stepping though the fan. The fan itself is a good example of just how narrowly the episode walked the line between “fun” and “ridiculous”. In some ways the programme relied on the audience’s goodwill, but since it generated vast reserves of the stuff from the moment it began, it had plenty to spare.
The two central characters remained completely three dimensional (or should that be four dimensional..?) with Rose’s reactions to being spirited away in the Tardis seeming far more psychologically real and believable than any companion I can think of. Her relationship with the Doctor continues to be flirtatious, but not quite actively romantic. Certainly their relationship is much more along those lines than most previous companions. I enjoyed Rose’s delight at the Doctor’s cockiness early on, and the emotional rollercoaster ride this episode took her on. Once again, Billie Piper’s performance actively impressed me.
Needless to say Christopher Eccleston is a god among men. 🙂 The new revelation of the Doctor’s tragic past is the kind of thing that seems so exactly right you wonder why it was never done before. As soon as I caught on to where this was headed, I was actively willing them to go through with it. And they did.
Lastly, I must give a nod to the effects which ranged from the merely very pretty to genuinely stunning. There were a couple of exterior shots of the station that didn’t quite convince, but broadly speaking this was an incredibly rich and visually polished episode. The little metal critters were extremely well done, as was the last human.
Overall, the dialogue was snappy (the phone bill, the “retro” air conditioning, etc.), the tone light but with substance, and the overall feel was exactly right for the show. I found the whole thing hugely, hugely entertaining.
(Oh, and Meme! Meme!)