Sunday, 29 March 2009

Doctor Who: Bad Wolf (1).

Doctor: 'Rose.'
Rose: 'Yes, Doctor?'
Doctor: 'I'm coming to get you.'

I didn't see the trailer for this week's episode, so I was totally caught off guard by the re-emergence of the Daleks. So what started out as a fairly innocuous poke at popular British television, suddenly, and rather deliciously, transformed into something quite wonderful. I was chuffed at the prospect of seeing one Dalek this season—but to see half a million of them? I must be dreaming!

The first thing this episode did was give some much needed oomph to 'The Long Game', which felt decidedly weedy as a stand alone, but coupled with this episode—and undoubtedly the next—suddenly began to make sense. 'The Long Game' wasn't a crap episode after all, we just didn't know what it meant—until now.

Society has effectively collapsed as a direct result of the Doctor's interference a hundred years previous, and in the absence of information, mankind has stopped progressing and instead spends its time watching whatever game/reality show the Game Station pumps out. Which to be fair, isn't too far removed from modern life. So the Doctor was essentially to blame for their problems this week, which was a rather tasty consequence to what initially seemed to be an inferior earlier episode. I just wish they'd slotted 'The Long Game' in before 'Bad Wolf,' making it a three episode arc. It would have made a far better lead-in than 'Boom Town'.

And it was surely an inspired choice to have narcissist Captain Jack appear alongside futuristic robo-fashion advisers Trine-e and Zu-Zana. If ever a Who character was destined to get nekkid on national television, it's Jack. His clothes were off in a flash—disintegrated by a defabricator gun (well what else would it be used for?) And my, how shy John Barrowman looked. You saw that, right? No? Okay... I guess I was pushing reality a little there.

But the real meat of this week's episode was the return of the Daleks and the rise of the Dalek Emperor. Clearly he's not Davros, nor is he the Golden Emperor or that conical dude from Dalek City. Instead we have a refugee from the Time War, a self proclaimed God of the Daleks, who appears to have rebuilt the Dalek race from mutated human genetic material. The Emperor Dalek looked excellent—as did the Dalek army as they moved through space—so full marks to the visual effects team. My confidence in them has been somewhat restored.

Rose's 'death' was a bit of a shock to the system. When this episode originally aired, it was common knowledge that Chris would be leaving after just one season, and there were rumours that Billie would follow suit. So for one horrible moment I thought that the rumours had been confirmed. And then she came back. Dare I venture a quick hurrah!?

And after weeks of being virtually ineffectual, the Doctor finally came into his own. Finally he looked like the man he's supposed to be. Even in the face of an army of Daleks, he remained defiant. When he looked into the Big Brother camera and said, 'then I'm going to find you', before tapping the screen, I felt a twinge of excitement in my bones. And I have to admit to getting all misty eyed at his promise to Rose. Spoken like a true hero. All he needs to do now is come good on his promise.

Other Thoughts:

—Channel 44,000 was an allusion to UK television channel Channel 4; Anne Droid was voiced by Anne Robinson, host of UK quiz show The Weakest Link; Trine-e and Zu-Zana were played by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, fashion gurus from TV show What Not To Wear; and Davina Droid was played by Davina McCall, current host of Channel 4's Big Brother.

—Anne Robinson was just perfect as Anne Droid. It was so clever that I didn't even wince at the sheer silliness of it all. Well, maybe just a little.

—Why would there be a Groundforce show if no one has a garden any more?

—Earlier episode 'The Long Game' seems to have derived its name from a line of dialogue from this episode. The Doctor says 'someone's been playing the long game, controlling the human race from behind the scenes for generations.' See? I did remember to mention it!

—Anne Droid makes the first ever reference to Torchwood tonight. Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who.

Jack: 'Okay. Defabricator. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Am I naked in front of millions of viewers?'
Trinny and Susannah: 'Absolutely!'
Jack: 'Ladies, your viewing figures just went up.'

Anne Droid: 'Broff, the great cobalt pyramid is built on the remains of which famous old earth institute?'
Broff: 'Touchdown?'
Anne Droid: 'Torchwood.'

Lynda: 'You were here 100 years ago?'
Doctor: 'Yes.'
Lynda: 'You're looking good on it.'
Doctor: 'I moisturise.'

Captain Jack: 'Well ladies, the pleasure was all mine. Which is the only thing that matters in the end.'

Doctor: 'I'm going to rescue her. I'm going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet and then I'm going to save the Earth. And then, just to finish off, I'm going to wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky.'
Dalek: 'But you have no weapons. No defences. No plan.'
Doctor: 'Yeah, and doesn't that scare you to death?'


Bill Holdener said...

I've been disappointed with the watchability of a lot of the episodes from Tennant's era and was fully expecting to feel the same about season one. Not so. Apart from the farting aliens, season one is rock solid. Whatever the show had in its first season, it dissipated quickly.

Anonymous said...

Kind of like a Slitheen fart.