Opinion Piece: Time and Rose Tyler – Russell’s biggest problem

I recently wrote an article essentially slamming David Tennant’s Doctor for his out-of-character moments that really throw me off the Ten-love bandwagon, and I stand by everything that I said in that rant. However, I feel like there is another aspect to his era of Doctor Who that actually makes me dislike Russell’s era even more, and that is the character of Rose Tyler.
Again, I would like to reiterate that I’m not writing these articles with the intent of being a hater – quite the opposite in fact. I merely want to balance the books, so to speak, in that there are a hugely disproportionate number of people who seem to view Tennant’s era as the best era Doctor Who has to offer, and I firmly believe that this attitude is damaging to Doctor Who as a whole. There is so much more to Doctor Who than the years 2005-2010, and I know that a lot of Tennant fans do know this – there is nothing wrong with liking Tennant’s era, I grew up with Tennant as ‘My Doctor’, and his era will always hold a special nostalgic place in my heart as a result, but unlike a lot of sickening Doctor/Rose shippers I am not blind to the facts, and here they are.

Rose was an awful person and she had a terrible influence on the Doctor.

First of all, let’s discuss Mickey for a bit, remember him? The guy who probably had to buy a special brand of soap just to account for the amount of shitty ends of sticks he was handed throughout the course of Russell’s era? Rose essentially dumps him in the very first episode, despite the fact that he did absolutely nothing wrong, and proceeds to ruin his life. Yes, she does.
When Rose left with the Doctor at the end of the first episode, ‘Rose’, (seriously, Davies?) a quirk in the TARDIS navigation system causes her to be returned to her estate one year after she left, and in the meantime, things had gone sour for poor old Mickey. He was blamed for her disappearance, he was questioned by police on no less than 4 occasions, and Jackie even organised a hate campaign against him (no, I’m serious, look it up) and this is never properly explained, Rose never apologises, and she continues to act like Mickey is still her annoying baggage even after he proves his worth and helps save the day at the end of the Parting of the Ways. Just look at her reaction to Mickey asking to join the TARDIS crew at the end of School Reunion, she strops like a spoiled child when realistically she should be paying Mickey back for the year of hell that she put him through. No wonder he decides to stay in another universe.

But now we have to turn to the character of Rose herself. And whilst her initial development with the Ninth Doctor was interesting, particularly with the recurring theme of the Doctor showing her a better way of looking at the world and her learning how to deal with problems as a result, the long story short is that after Series 1 Rose gets no positive character development at all during her time as a companion. In fact, it seems as though she actually degenerates as a character throughout Series 2, although there are some odd little bits about her character from Series 1 that could be overlooked at the time, but now with hindsight seem to be signs of what was to come. Let us never forget that the massacre of the 200 or more GeoComTex staff in Dalek was Rose’s fault. The Dalek itself actually says this to her, and yet she seemingly feels no remorse for what has happened despite the fact that she instigated the whole thing, and the Doctor seems to completely overlook this. And, to be honest, I overlook this too. After all, she only helped the Dalek out of mercy, something that the Doctor would appreciate, and for the most part she had no idea what was going on and so therefore can’t be blamed. Series 1 era Rose gets a free pass as far as I’m concerned.

But then we get to Series 2, and all the charming, likeable traits of Rose rot and drop off revealing the narcissistic and selfish creature beneath. For a start, let’s address the elephant in the room and get that out of the way, and that is the Doctor and Rose’s romance that plagued Series 2 and most of Russell’s era from the minute it was first hinted at. I’m going to be brutally honest here and say that their relationship is frankly disturbing, particularly since she is only meant to be 19, and he is over 900, and I question why the Doctor reciprocates her feelings for him, especially since all of this occurs when Rose is at her absolute worst as a character. She drops everything else in her life for the Doctor, even her own mother, to the extent that in Army of Ghosts Jackie predicts that after 20 or 30 years traveling with the Doctor, Rose would have become a totally unrecognisable person. This is not healthy, and it certainly isn’t something the Doctor would condone, but he genuinely seems to love Rose back and I dread to think what the show would have become if they’d have actually carried out this idea. The character of the Doctor was almost totally derailed as a result of this romance, and he continues to mention Rose throughout Series 3 to the extent that she totally overshadows Martha, a character who is much more likeable at this stage.

And then we get to how Rose treats other characters in the show. We’ve already discussed Mickey, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The episode that really hammers home the extent to which Rose has deteriorated as a character is School Reunion. To say that I have a love-hate relationship with this episode is an understatement, I’d argue that it’s one of the few Doctor Who episodes that I cannot rank, because there are elements of this episode that are totally amazing (i.e. K-9, Anthony Head, Liz Sladen), and then other elements (i.e. nonsensical plot, child acting, and Rose) that make it almost impossible for me to watch nowadays without biting down on a wet flannel. Here’s my working:
When Sarah Jane Smith left the Doctor in The Hand of Fear, it was not entirely on her own terms. She was essentially booted out of the TARDIS due to an important errand the Doctor had to go on for the Time Lords, and this meant that she would have to be returned home. Although Sarah Jane had threatened to leave the TARDIS prior due to poor living conditions, she never expected the Doctor to actually make good of her threat and so she is, understandably, rather taken aback – but she takes it in her stride, because she is a strong and forward-thinking character, and leaves with a heartwarming farewell, only to find that the Doctor has dropped her miles from home, which she laughs off as she walks off into, presumably, a new life where she can put what she has learned through her time with the Doctor to good use to make the world a better place.
Except no, according to School Reunion, she actually then goes off to mope over the Doctor for 30 years over how he ruined her life and how nothing can ever top travelling with him so she might as well just give up and live as a hermit. (What? This isn’t Rose we’re talking about here Russell, did you get those two mixed up?)

So after that bombshell, Sarah Jane goes on to try and make amends with the Doctor but her attempts are confounded by Rose and her bitchy attitude to an ‘old girlfriend’ of the Doctor’s showing up to cramp her style. The Doctor even has to take Rose outside and explain the entire concept of the pantheon of companions to her like she is a six year old child, and she still doesn’t understand or accept the fact that other people are important in the Doctor’s life aside from her. This is a recurring theme in Series 2 for Rose – she reacts with childish jealousy to any other woman that the Doctor even looks at. Madame de Pompadour, Sarah Jane, even a random waitress at Parallel Pete’s party, all played for laughs even though it does irreparable damage to her character. Rose seems to think that she is the centre of the Doctor’s universe, and the worst thing is, he lets her keep thinking that. Rose has a terrible influence on the Doctor as a character, essentially derailing any chance David Tennant had at redeeming his performance after already turning him into a lovesick megalomaniac. And why does he even like her so much anyway? When Adam Mitchell got booted off the TARDIS in The Long Game, the Doctor says ‘I only take the best, like Rose’. But in the very next episode, Rose nearly rips time apart by selfishly ignoring the Doctor’s instructions and attempting to save Pete from a predetermined death, which almost ends up with both the Doctor and the TARDIS being wiped from existence, and that’s okay? Alright, sorry Series 1 era Rose, no free pass for you.

So then we get to Doomsday, and Rose’s inevitable departure. Rather than redeeming her character by letting her put everything she has learned with the Doctor to use in some big heroic sacrifice as she does in Series 1, she gets ejected into a parallel universe after messing up what should be the simplest thing ever, pulling a lever. And this leaves the Doctor to mope over her for an entire series after burning up a sun, an entire stellar body, just so he can almost say ‘I love you’. (Russell, I don’t know what fanfiction you think you’re writing here, but I’ve read Doctor/Davros ship stories that do the character of the Doctor more justice than this tripe). Speaking of fanfiction, why do so many people think that the ultimate point of Doctor Who is that the Doctor needs to go back for Rose? Not content with leaving, she managed to come back in The Stolen Earth only to be subsequently abandoned (again) with a… human version of the Tenth Doctor that she can just be with forever. (Russell, are you ill? Is this a cry for help?) Rose gets to be one of the few companions in the history of the show to get a big dramatic comeback, isn’t that enough? And the worst thing is, everyone still loves her. She was even once voted the greatest woman in the entire show. Sorry Romana, sorry Zoe, sorry Sarah Jane, sorry Donna – guess even after all fantastic things you have all done for the show as positive role models for women, the fact that Rose weely wuvs the Doctor supersedes any positive traits you could possess.

So overall, that’s Rose Tyler for you. And yes, of course, I’m talking in huge generalisations here – as is the nature of Doctor Who, there are plenty of episodes in which Rose is great as a character and as a companion (most of them being episodes that weren’t written by Russell, I might add) but overall her character is, to sum it up in one word, overrated. If she had left at the end of Series 1 after her Bad Wolf arc was completed then I would have nothing but fond memories of her but, as is the case with a more recent narcissistic control-freak of a companion that I could mention, she definitely overstayed her welcome. Fight me, Doctor/Rose shippers.

Author: Cameron Walker

A writer and Dalek collector from Merseyside, I am a huge fan of Doctor Who, Halo, Star Trek and Star Wars and I enjoy watching classic Doctor Who episodes, customising Dalek figures, replaying games like Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy from the early 2000s on my original Xbox and going for strolls through Sefton Park.

2 thoughts on “Opinion Piece: Time and Rose Tyler – Russell’s biggest problem”

  1. I have so many mixed feelings about Rose Tyler, it’s not even funny.

    When you watch “Doctor Who”, it’s clear that the Doctor and Rose were just what each other needed in Series 1. The Doctor needed to get out of his depressed funk and start enjoying saving the world again, and Rose needed someone to come along and change her outlook on life. But there’s something fundamentally problematic about the idea of ‘needing someone’ isn’t there? That kind of thought leads to really codependent places really fast, and that’s what eventually happened with the Doctor and Rose.

    On top of Rose’s self-involved nature, which had been a character flaw since day one, by the second half of Series 2, Rose had come to resent her old life and built so much of her happiness around the Doctor that she couldn’t live without him in her life. She even tried to ditch all of her friends and family in an alternate universe forever so she wouldn’t have to say goodbye to him. By the end of “Doomsday”, it feels like RTD intended for Rose to be a cautionary tale about why you shouldn’t make one person the center of your world, because it will only lead to your heart being broken. But if that’s the case, then Rose’s return in Series 4 is really baffling. In “The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End”, we learn Rose has not even tried to move on, she’s spent the last few years trying to think of ways to get back to the Doctor (remember that time moves faster in Pete’s world, so it’s been a good long while since “Doomsday”), and when the Daleks almost destroy the universe Rose leaps at the chance to jump universes so she can try to find the Doctor. She’s rewarded with a clone Doctor that can grow old forever with her, and in a deleted scene she was going to receive a TARDIS so they can go traveling. So I guess the real moral here is that if you cling to someone hard enough, and never ever let go, eventually you’ll get everything you ever wanted and more.

    I dunno, it feels like RTD went out of his way to make Rose problematic to an annoying level * for an entire season, but still gave her a happy ending anyway because she was just that awesome.

    * Which isn’t to say that Ten wasn’t just as much of a prat in Series 2, because he was.

    Liked by 1 person

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