Last week Doctor Who returned to the airwaves and while it was exciting to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate renewing their chemistry from last year’s Christmas Special Runaway Bride, the real surprise came at the end of the episode where a certain blond woman was seen, Rose Tyler. With popular actress Bille Piper returning to the series that made her a star, the Internet is ablaze with controversy and theory about what this could mean.
An innovative program begun in 1963, Doctor Who is a television production that is surrounded with majesty and magic alike. With stories by Robert Holmes, David Whittaker, John Luccarotti and many more told ground breaking tales of human history and psyche. Special effects that may seem simplistic and silly today but in reality paved the way for many a science fiction spectacle that we take for granted today. Stage actors and TV mavericks united in producing the most loved TV program of its like.
When Doctor Who returned to cathode ray tubes across the globe back in 2005, the first episode of this 21st Century version of the British institution was entitled simply ‘Rose.’ The focus of the first season was not so much on the star (The Doctor), but on the relationship between the Timelord and his unlikely human assistant Rose Tyler. A simple shop girl who went on to visit other planets and the end of human history itself, she even merged with the energy of the Doctor‘s ship itself and rewrote all of time to spell doom for the Daleks.
While the Doctor‘s sacrifice of one incarnation to make way for another at first unsettled Rose (and viewers!), in time she grew to understand this aspect of her strange traveling friend. A burgeoning romance bloomed between the two adventurers who ran unscathed through the fires of Hell and alien laser fire… until the inevitable caught up with them. A barrier a thousand worlds wide separated the time travelers that can never be bridged.
Until now, that is.
Producer Russel T Davies tackled Doctor Who in much the same way any other creator working on a project with such a massive legacy would. He created a device many call a ‘Mary Sue.’ His companion Rose Tyler was in many ways himself doting on his childhood hero and gushing at the wonders of his/her adventures. The ascension from companion to hero is a wish fulfillment that any fan would have and the devastating separation also a kind of inevitable turn of events. Even when Rose is not in the show, she is in the the show. With head writer Russel T Davies pulling the strings, all plot threads lead to Rose Tyler (if you’ll excuse the painfully mixed metaphor) and her importance to Doctor Who.
Despite all of this the Doctor and Rose cannot end up happily ever after.
Throughout season two of the series the Doctor and Rose are told that they will pay the price for the invulnerability to danger. In the season finale Doomsday, this comes to pass. Throughout season three the Doctor pines and pouts about Rose, the woman he once loved. Rose appears again in season four, but so far is a strange spectral image that fades into mystery.
2008 marks the 45th anniversary of the longest running science fiction series on television. It will also mark the end of producer Russel T Davies involvement. Despite many attempts to inform the public that he has been ‘convinced to stay,’ the producer has revealed in interviews that he is anxious to move on to other programs. This means that all of the toys must go back in the box that spawned them, including Rose Tyler. The three part season finale ending in a story entitled ‘Journey’s End’ will feature every companion (and likely monster/villain) ever in this new version of Doctor Who in a mighty stand off, ending in the only way that it can, death.
The death of Rose Tyler and this lovesick version of the Doctor will pave the way for a new life of the program that another producer and cast will take up. Much in the same way that Peter Bryant gave way to Barry Letts in 1970, 2008 will be the end of an era.
In 2009, Doctor Who will return as a series of specials that will no doubt honor the history of the program as the new production team huddles together to make the program anew. And what will come?
Only time will tell.