The Doctor takes Rose on her first trip through time to the year five billion, where they join a group of alien delegates preparing to watch the Earth being consumed by the sun. But there’s a traitor on board who’s prepared to kill them all.
A new Doctor, a new production, a new face and companion and most of all a new feel. Same old Earth though, ‘just’ five billion years in the future. It’s a huge concept to open the show proper with and one that is pulled off wonderfully with the right amount of emotion and humour.
After the first introductory episode which introduced or (reintroduced) us to and explained who and what everything and everyone was, it is this second episode that really gets things going. Aliens, future times, humour, feelings and the setting out of key character elements which will push the show on all coalesce to give a strong second episode.
Rose, the latest companion is the story’s main focus here, her being pulled way out of her comfort zone by a guy she has just met and taken to witness the end of the world is a chilling thought. The concept of witnessing the end of something huge that we take for granted is something that can chime with each of us.
It is Rose’s challenge that fuels the Doctor’s desire to impress her, his lack of thought as well as his vanity are just two of the many flaws that our hero demonstrates. Coupled with the almost casual mention of past events which regard the gap between his eighth incarnation and this latest are dealt with so off-handedly as to almost not be a matter of import. although later these storylines will flesh themselves out nicely.
In amongst all this seriousness is a nice vein of comedy that runs through the story and keeps things light, as well as satirising the vanity of humans and our need to be perfect, no matter the cost or how ridiculous we look to saner minded folks. It’s a mix like this that keeps the show finely balanced and accessible to all age groups.
The best bit of all though, is the ending, which endears the characters to us more than a dramatic action sequence would do, with the simple device of pointing out that the best things are the things we often don’t notice or just seem so familiar to us. It is the perfect ending after such a dramatic first TARDIS ride.