BAD WOLF

Me: You saw this episode before I did.
Sue: What? Are you sure about that?
Me: Quite sure. I was at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire watching Tangerine Dream in concert. You texted a massive spoiler to me 15 minutes into the gig.
Sue: That doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I’d do. Surely I would have waited for you to come home first.
Me: That’s what I thought too. But you didn’t. You said you couldn’t wait. That’s when I knew the programme didn’t belong to me any more.
Sue: Oh. I feel really guilty now.
Me: It’s been 10 years, love. I’ve gotten over it. Just about.

The episode begins in a very familiar environment. And I’m not talking about Satellite Five.

Bad WolfSue: How did the BBC get away with this? Big Brother isn’t a BBC show. And this music sounds exactly like the real Big Brother theme. I’m surprised they didn’t sue.
Me: It is the Big Brother theme!
Sue: Eh? How the hell was that allowed to happen? Ooh, look, it’s Tanya off of EastEnders. And that sounds like Davina McCall… It’s a shame they couldn’t get the bloke who does the voiceovers (she means Marcus Bentley). Even we managed to get him.

The Doctor sinks into the diary room chair. Cue titles.

Sue: What a bizarre way to start an episode. I like it, though. It’s funny.
Me: Try imagining Jon Pertwee trapped on the set of Mrs and Mrs or The Golden Shot. Because I sure as hell can’t.
Sue: Yeah, but back then the media weren’t threatening to take over the whole world, stupid. Not like there are now, anyway. Don’t you know anything?

While the Doctor is left to play Big Brother, Rose winds up as a contestant on The Weakest Link.

Bad WolfSue: Is The Weakest Link still going?
Me: It was off the air for thousands of years before it finally came back. It was one hell of an Interregnum, but the fan fiction was spectacular. Anyway, The Weakest Link still feels fairly topical compared to these two. Can you remember their names? Because I can’t.
Sue: Yeah, it’s Trinny And Susannah.
Me Who?

Two robots – TRINE-E + ZU-ZANA (geddit?) – aren’t impressed with Captain Jack’s farm boy look so they give him a make-over.

Me: I think they removed Jack’s naked buttocks from this scene at the last-minute.
Sue: Did they suddenly remember that they were making a children’s television programme? Is that why Russell made Torchwood, so he could show John Barrowman’s bum without anyone complaining?
Me: It’s a good a reason as any, I suppose.

The Doctor adjusts to life as a Big Brother contestant.

Bad WolfSue: The American version of Big Brother is so much better. The British one went downhill after a while, but the American one just keeps getting better. None of this “Don’t discuss your nominations” bollocks – that’s all they ever do on the American version, and it’s brilliant.
Me: Do you think anyone will understand these cultural references 30 years from now?
Sue: Only geeks who are obsessed with old television programmes. People like you, Neil. So don’t worry about it.

Jack admires his new look.

Sue: He looks exactly the same! You can’t replace a T-shirt with the same coloured vest and call it a ****ing make-over. What a con!
Me: I’m just grateful that Russell didn’t set this sequence in the TV show that featured a mad woman examining your poo. We got off lightly.

One of the Big Brother contestants is about to be evicted. From existence. They don’t even get to pose naked for Nuts magazine first.

Me: You must admit, this is quite funny, Sue.
Sue: Funny? It’s horrific. But it’s really clever, too. Like The Hunger Games, but on a tighter budget. And Big Brother was still massive back then, so this would have been quite scathing at the time. I’m surprised Channel 4 agreed to go along with it.

Bad WolfJack removes a gun from his bum crack.

Sue: (Howling with laughter) Good luck explaining that to the kids!

And then Rose starts having Bad Wolf flashbacks.

Sue: She wasn’t even in that scene! What a load of bollocks.

Meanwhile, Doctor and Lynda are flirting with each other in a corridor.

Sue: Rose will be well jealous when she finds out about this. Actually, this makes the Doctor seem a bit creepy, if I’m honest.

The Doctor finally realises that he’s on Satellite Five (see The Long Game).

Sue: There’s a lot of recycling in this season, but I understand why. They probably didn’t have a lot of money at first, so this must have saved them a fortune. It’s a very clever way of stretching their resources.
Me: It’s Revenge of the Cybermen all over again.
Sue: Yeah, except this is good.

There are several game shows broadcasting from Satellite Five, all of them deadly.

Sue: Let’s see, you could have The Chase – that’s pretty self-explanatory: just replace the quiz experts with leopards. Survivor, obviously. Or Bullseye, where the contestants run around with bullseyes painted on them while archers shoot at them. Hey, I’d be really good at running an evil TV corporation. I know – what about Take Me Out, but with assassins?

The Doctor offers Lynda a ride in his TARDIS.

Bad WolfSue: Lynda would be a great companion. She’s lovely. I don’t understand why the Doctor doesn’t take her with him. Unless…

And then the penny drops.

Sue: Oh no. They ****ing kill her, don’t they? They must do. Rose doesn’t kill her because she’s jealous, does she? I think I would have remembered that.

The Doctor realises that he inadvertently created this mess when he interfered with Satellite Five 100 years ago.

Sue: How ****ing clever is that? And he can’t go back and fix it, because that would break the rules of time. Which means loads of people have died. Thanks to him, everybody died.

The Doctor suspects that someone has been playing games with him.

Sue: When you first saw this, did you think it was the Master?
Me: Yes.
Sue: Good.

The subtle references to The Web Planet and the Virgin New Adventures sail over Sue’s head, and she isn’t thrilled when I stop the episode to point them out to her, mainly because she’s trying to answer the questions posed by the Anne-Droid, even the ones she can’t possibly get right.

Sue: Damn it. I would have said ‘Shoes’ as well.

The Anne-Droid is just as scary as the real thing.

Sue: Anne Robinson will end up with the same number of facial expressions as this robot if she doesn’t lay off the Botox soon. Just saying.

Rose loses the game and is disintegrated. Sue puts a hand over her mouth and gasps.

Bad WolfMe: Why are you surprised? You know Rose doesn’t die.
Sue: I know. I just got caught up in the story. I barely remember this at all, but it’s making me feel nostalgic.
Me: Well, you definitely saw it because this is where you texted me during the Tangerine Dream gig.
Sue: What did I say?
Me: ROSE IS DEAD. Followed by three kisses.
Sue: Did I? Shit. Sorry.

The Doctor, Lynda and Jack are arrested and jailed for breaking into a TV studio, although it doesn’t take them long to escape.

Me: I remember the good old days when a jailbreak like that would have taken a whole episode. God, I miss those days.
Sue: I worry about you sometimes, Neil. And I’ll tell you what’s really clever about this – you actually believe that Rose is dead because the Doctor’s already found himself a replacement.

The TARDIS has been squirreled away in the satellite’s archives.

Sue: I can’t believe Jack has a key to the TARDIS. I’m surprised the Doctor trusts him not to break it, what with his track record.

Rose is still alive. Sue didn’t bother texting that part to me, so I spent the entire concert believing they’d done an Adric on me, which was distracting to put it mildly.

Sue: Christopher Eccleston is really good in this episode. He should have stayed a bit longer. He’s finally getting into the swing of it now. What a shame.

Someone has been manipulating Earth for hundreds of years. But who could it possibly be?

Sue: Is it the Murdochs?

Close but no cigar. It’s the Daleks.

Bad WolfMe: You also sent me a text saying there were loads of Daleks in this episode. But it didn’t matter because I’d already knew about that.
Sue: Were you reading the Doctor Who forums?
Me: (Sighing) No, I saw the BBC trailer.
Sue: Surely the Doctor knows that he’s completely wrong now. About killing all the Daleks and the Time Lords, I mean. It’s pretty bloody obvious now, isn’t it?

Rose is taken hostage by the Daleks and the episode concludes with the Doctor promising to rescue her.

Sue: I bloody loved that. And next week looks great, too. Who’s speaking at the end of the trailer, with the deep voice? I know it isn’t the Master, but I can’t remember who it is, either. Is it Davros?
Me: My money’s on Adam.

 

Next Time

 

30

Comments

  1. Nick Mays  June 11, 2015

    Oh, so many great comments from Sue, but I think these two make it for me this time:

    Me: Do you think anyone will understand these cultural references 30 years from now?

    Sue: Only geeks who are obsessed with old television programmes. People like you, Neil. So don’t worry about it.

    Sue: Anne Robinson will end up with the same number of facial expressions as this robot if she doesn’t lay off the Botox soon. Just saying.

    Great episode, still pretty topical even ten years later, with reality TV shows getting ever more bizarre and dangerous.

    Nick

  2. David Cole  June 11, 2015

    “Is it the Murdochs?” and the Anne Robinson Botox line are priceless. Has Sue ever considered doing stand-up?

    • John Miller  June 11, 2015

      Yes, but she was heckled by John Levene.

      • Nick Mays  June 12, 2015

        *@%!!* You’ve killed it now!

  3. Dave Sanders  June 11, 2015

    If this first-half episode was a videogame, it would be Final Fantasy VII – cutting edge at the time, so up-to-date it was razor-sharp, loads more money splashed at it than ever seemed conceivable before, calculated (almost cynically) to appeal to the masses, and if it was your first exposure to the series you’d have swore blind it was the best thing ever. But it’s nowhere near as clever or deep as it thought it was at the time, and anyone used to the charms of the old series could tell this one was going to become just as dated, just as quickly, for just about the same reasons.

    And the end sequence following the final boss will make bugger all sense as well. 😛

    • Dave Sanders  June 12, 2015

      I’m sure the reason I find this dated is that I tire easily of Russell’s need to ground even the most outlandish or futuristic setting within contemporary Britain in the most overt way possible for fear his audience won’t get it, when Blakes 7: Deathwatch proved you don’t need to do that. But it does make the first forty minutes look like an unrelated piece of self-indulgence until the Daleks make their presence known and the Doctor makes his stand, at which point we all collectively turn into Rob Shearman.

      • encyclops  June 13, 2015

        I find myself wondering if it’s not that he’s trying to make sure the audience gets it, so much as that he really wanted to parody those shows and the future setting is what allowed him to do it. That is, it’s not that he wanted to do a futuristic episode so he used Big Brother to do it, it’s that he wanted to do Big Brother so he set it in the future.

  4. Derek Handley  June 11, 2015

    This was such an excellent episode. I was lucky enough not to have anything spoiled – I never watched the trailers – and it all came as a shock to me when the Daleks came back. Just like Sue, I thought Rose had died because the Doctor had already met someone else who might go with him – which just goes to show how much the show kept me guessing back then!

    I really loved the consequences of the Doctor ‘saving the day’ in “The Long Game” but not considering that there might be more to the situation. It was really well done – not overwrought but strongly done enough to tie into RTD’s vision of the Doctor as not always the force for good he thinks he is.

    Great blog post, as always. Reading your and Sue’s comments remains one of the high points of the week – hard to believe it’s almost over (again)!

  5. Antti Björklund  June 11, 2015

    “Sue: Let’s see, you could have The Chase – that’s pretty self-explanatory: just replace the quiz experts with leopards. Survivor, obviously. Or Bullseye, where the contestants run around with bullseyes painted on them while archers shoot at them. Hey, I’d be really good at running an evil TV corporation. I know – what about Take Me Out, but with assassins?”

    Umm… I think you’ve been thinking about this a bit too much, Sue…

    “The subtle references to The Web Planet and the Virgin New Adventures sail over Sue’s head, and she isn’t thrilled when I stop the episode to point them out to her, mainly because she’s trying to answer the questions posed by the Anne-Droid, even the ones she can’t possibly get right.”‘

    Ok, I must admit…I’ve missed them too.

    • Anonymous  June 11, 2015

      Me, also. Dish.

    • Richard Lyth  June 12, 2015

      The planet Lucifer from the New Adventures novel Lucifer Rising is mentioned in one question, and the Face of Boe is stated to come from the Isop galaxy which is also where The Web Planet was set. (I did have to check Wikipedia for that second one,,,)

      • Anonymous  June 14, 2015

        Ah thanks.

  6. Lorcan  June 11, 2015

    So who do you thinks gonna win big brother?

    • Dave Sanders  June 11, 2015

      Gary.

      • Nick Mays  June 12, 2015

        I cherish my ignorance on the subject. 🙂

        • Dave Sanders  June 13, 2015

          No no no, *Sue’s* Gary. 🙂

  7. KatieC  June 11, 2015

    I love this two-parter, 10/10 for me.
    I still have one of Trinny and Susannah’s books. When is wearing dresses over trousers coming back into fashion? I liked that look, made me look taller. And all these skinny and tapered jeans around at the moment are a big no-no, no one should be wearing those. At least Rose wears bootleg…

  8. Sean Alexander  June 11, 2015

    From the kinetic opening, with Eccleston’s ‘You’ve GOT to be kidding’ as he slumps into the BB diary chair to the punch-the-ain’t moment when a thousand Daleks rise up to answer the Doctor’s Absalom Daak call to arms, this is brilliant TV. You even accept that a TV station in 200,100AD will still be adapting reality and game shows that ten years later seem a little anachronistic in 2015.

    Great direction by Joe Ahearne too (what a shame he was never tempted back) especially the opening overhead shot as the Doctor wakes up and his later reaction to Rose’s apparent death.

    After three months back on TV Doctor Who had become appointment TV – those water cooler moments must have been in their hundreds of thousands that following week.

  9. John Williams  June 11, 2015

    “Rose – I’m coming to get you.” Easily one of Russell T. Davies’s best lines – brilliant knowing gag and a heroic moment for the Doctor. I love this episode.

    • Neil  June 17, 2015

      Ok, I never got the gag part of that line until right now!

      • encyclops  June 18, 2015

        I guess I still don’t get it…

  10. Anniew  June 12, 2015

    My memories of this episode are that I suffered a severe sense of humour failure after half an hour of pretending to myself that it was topical and cool. I hated Captain Jack and Big Brother and stopped being a regular viewer right about then. Well after the next one. I was also fed up about Chris Ecclestone leaving just as I’d got used to him.
    Thank God for the blog though. Just caught myself eating soup like my aged mum used to and needed a lot of cheering up – which it provided.

  11. Anniew  June 12, 2015

    I’d have paid good money to see Sue’s game shows though.

  12. Neal  June 13, 2015

    Okay Neil, can you explain the references to the Web Planer and Virgin New Adventures, because I don’t remember any at all!

    • John Miller  June 13, 2015

      The Weakest link reference to the Isop Galaxy is The Web Planet, and Captain Jack pulling something out of his arse is the reference to the Virgin New Adventures.

  13. Andy Luke  June 16, 2015

    Not nearly as awful as I remember it being. Jo Joyner as Lynda with a ‘y’ is incredibly memorable with what isn’t all that unique a role. Eccleston is sheer brilliant in the gripping final act.

  14. Roy Watson-Davis  June 18, 2015

    The point at which I knew the brave new Who was going to turn into the same old Who. ‘Dalek’ had been extraordinary in the same way that ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ had been extraordinary, with the killing off of the main character. But they just couldn’t avoid the cheap and clichéd trick of bringing back a villain. Every such resurrection devalues the original story- so it wasn’t the last Dalek, so Davros wasn’t killed, oh look the Master is back etc. This story is just ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ without the dreadlocks.

    • Jordan  June 19, 2015

      I find this a bit suprising. The Daleks are iconic and are a huge part of Who – there was no way that they were going to be gone for good. You want that excitment with older viewers in seeing these staples of their childhood revisited time and time again and sharing that experience with their kids 🙂

      • Roy Watson-Davis  June 20, 2015

        Iconic in the old series (so can happily be rewatched) how much more dramatic and brave would it have been to actually have killed them off in the new series? ‘Dalek’ was absolutely superb at first viewing, and really undermined by later ones. If the writers aren’t careful we will soon be ankle deep in resurrected Time Lords, the Master, more Daleks and Cybermen if they are not careful, and we will end up with a pastiche of the old series rather than a new dynamic programme bravely striding away from its roots…..ah.
        I am always minded of the current Deep Purple line up tour shows when I watch some of the new Who. The shows are essentially the same set lists from 1971/2 from the bands heights and the odd song from a recent cd. Nostalgia is a nice feeling, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

        • Jordan  June 21, 2015

          Hmmm, good point, although I strongly disagree.

          In any other series, maybe, but Doctor Who is a family show. Having The Daleks and Cybermen in the series brings back those older viewers, waiting to see those hallmarks of their childhood brought back to life and to experience it with their kids. It’s playing into that audience, although particularly since Moffatt took over, does so with considerable moderation. I have faith that Moffatt will continue this balance as long as he’s showrunner. It’s a huge part of the show’s appeal as it currently stands. Both Davies and Moffatt have made considerable contributions to the Doctor Who universe to bring things forward (River Song, Judoon, Weeping Angels, Twelve’s distance from humans due to his experiences on Trenzelore, Trenzlore, The Time War the emphasis on companion’s stories) without looking back too and sticking to the core of the series: time and space each week, the core of The Doctor’s character and scary, scary monsters. I doubt the revival will ever become a pastiche of the original series. Keeping The Daleks and Cybermen fresh each time, of course, is the challenge, but a neccessary one and I think the fandom would be somewhat lost without them 🙂

          As for The Time Lords, Moffatt knows they aren’t the show and I doubt we’ll be overrun with them. I have confidience that the search for Galifery plotline will be resolved with not too much baggage on things being time and space each week. (Maybe The Time Lords are ready to combat new threats to their supremency of time and The Doctor has to leave them trapped in that pocket dimension forever, with if the revival series ever decides to stop, him finding a way to bring the good Time Lords back into the universe?)