Okay, so overall I loved the episode but it had a few eye-roll moments in it. I'm used to that because DW still occupies that odd space where it's a show aimed principally at a very young audience and airs at 7:15 on a Saturday night so it can't be too dark and has to be careful of the content. That's why I still get a giggle out of the fact that RTD is heading it up - the man who brought us Queer As Folk (the UK version was so much stronger than the sanitised version shot in the US - aired well after 10pm for a very good reason) and Casanova (the David Tennant version) which I've not seen all of but which also aired after 10 for a reason.
So anyway, back to DW. At the start of the episode there was something off about Rose and it took me reading a post by cantralian to put my finger on it:
I've been reading some of people's reaction to the first episode, and the consensus seems to be that the opening scenes on New Earth were RTD shoving the shippiness down the viewer's throats. I totally didn't see that. I spent most of that scene cringing, despite the visual cuteness of the two together, because it was just painful to me how much Rose was trying to compensate for her initial reaction to the Doctor. She was trying so incredibly hard to make sure he knew she wanted to stay with him. That whole, 'I love this, love travelling with you' bit made my heart hurt, because it was so sad that she was trying so hard, that she couldn't just let it go. And, for me, that was the emotion that resonated throughout the whole scene. A kind of giddy desperation that everything be just as it was. Which pushed the subtext into text, because Rose's desperate need to prove that she was completely fine with the new him couldn't risk leaving it as subtext, in case he missed it. For me, that whole scene carried it with a deep undercurrent of almost sadness. It gave the whole scene a touch of awkardness. Even though it made me a bit sad, I loved it, because it felt real. People who are unsure do try too hard, just like Rose was doing, and, to a far lesser extent, the Doctor.I could say more but I would just be repeating that statement so I won't. :)
There are still things with the episode that bother me - in the same way that Rose was trying too hard to show she was okay with the "New New Doctor", I think RTD was trying too hard to show he was good with the whole set up. The jump cuts just before swearing smack of a cheap trick. ("bitch" to "bit rich" and "talking out of your arse" to "ask not" - that last one was particularly cringe-worthy) and some of the dialogue was creaky.
On top of that the plot didn't make a whole lot of sense - especially the solution at the end. It has been said by others but it bears repeating. Taking a shower in a mixture of disinfectant and intravenous drugs cures them, how? That can probably be explained away by the whole "aimed at kids" thing, but time was Doctor Who actually was a science show, teaching kids about actual science in a Sci-Fi setting (honestly, it was). This was just using a simple solution which doesn't actually hold water when you get down to it.
Of course, listening to the commentary (which you could do live on the BBC Three repeat yesterday and which is available for download on the BBC site) we learn that RTD originally had the ending written as the Doctor killing all of the infected. (and hey, 28 Days Later just popped into my head when I typed 'infected'. Eccleston was in 28 Days Later. Huh, wonder if that's an intentional in-joke?) So with the changed ending - far more positive and forward thinking than perhaps 9 would have been - it's possibly forgiveable to have it be a not particularly satisfying end.
Last season I had issues with RTD's politics showing just a little strongly from time to time, and this season he seems to be doing the same thing. I'm not going to get into the moral and ethical arguments of animal testing for medical science, but RTD certainly did. With a Marti Noxon-esque metaphor mallet. Ease back a little Russell, 'kay?
So the good - which was very good - Billie Piper. Wow. That girl has some serious talent buried in there - almost enough to forgive "Honey to the B" and the marriage to Chris Evans (who continues to annoy me immensely). The homage to Zoe Wannamaker's Cassandra was just wonderful and (as was mentioned in the commentary) she completely steals the scene when the Doctor's ranting to the Novice about the ethics of the situation. All Billie's doing is mugging away in the background but she's so captivating that you find yourself watching her constantly.
The geek glasses. I don't know what it is but I love the Doctor in glasses. He just looks so... okay I'll say it - he's hot. :)
The *meep* expression and the crack in his voice after the Rose!Cassandra/Doctor kiss - if I hadn't already been a fan that look, the rumpled hair, the whole awww! of the whole scene would have hooked me straight in.
The self-fulfilling prophesy. "That was the last time anyone called me beautiful. After that, it just got to be such hard work." If the Doctor hadn't taken Chip!Cassandra back to that moment then those words would never have been spoken - with such intense feeling - and Cassandra might not have gone down that path. Wonderful stuff.
The Face of Bo (how is it you spell it anyway, I've seen Bo, Boe, Boh...) I agree with whoever it was that said this is the start of the season's Bad Wolf. Is the Doctor the Lonely God? I doubt it. I think that at the moment the Doctor thinks he is, and the comment about "no higher authority, it stops here" certainly shows he has a god cemplex right about now - as they say, pride comes before a fall. It will be very interesting to see if that's where RTD takes this, last season we saw the Doctor as something other than infallible - he made mistakes, his lack of clean up lead to the Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways arc. On the basis of New Earth, he seems to have learned from that, but maybe he's gone too far in the other direction - believing he can solve it all.
It'll be fun - and painful - to see the fall.
And next week, "it'll be Queen Victoria, a werewolf, and kung fu monks". I can't wait!