BAD WOLF– 11th Jun
Written by Russell T. Davies.
Review and Commetary by Andrew Panero
As if the prospect of Dalek invasion was not frightening enough, RTD offers us the potentially more nightmarish scenario that reality television will be around for the next two hundred thousand years. With shows like ‘Big Brother’ and ‘The Weakest Link’ set to run for the next few geological eras, enslavement by the Daleks looks positively benign in comparison.
Someone has been playing the ‘long game’ indeed, as the Doctor and his companions find to their cost when they are whisked away from the TARDIS by a transmat beam after completing another off-screen adventure in 13th Century Japan. The Doctor ends up in the Big Brother house, whilst Rose and Captain Jack find themselves on ‘The Weakest Link’ and ‘What Not To Wear’ respectively. Pretty soon they realise that these versions of the shows are not quite what they seem, as homicidal androids and disintegrating beams are deployed on the contestants.
The idea of reality TV gone wrong is of course older than reality TV itself; 1968’s ‘The Year of the Sex Olympics’ is probably one of the earliest examples. The satire in this episode also seems to owe a lot to ‘Judge Dredd’ (the comic strip and not that naff film with Sly Stallone), particularly one adventure where Dredd’s house robot tunes into illegal pirate TV broadcasts.
Talking of robots there’s a fair few of them on this episode, with voices provided by the people they are mimicking. I don’t know how well this will go down in the states and other places where they may not have heard of Davina McCool, Trinny and Suzanna and Anne Robinson. Over here it was a hoot.
The robots have more than a little bit of Dalek about them, the Anne Robinson droid being fitted with a death ray that shoots from her mouth. But of course it isn’t quite what it seems, as the Doctor as the others realise later on.
Amongst the non-celebrity supporting cast Lynda (Jo Joyner) seems to be one to watch, as well as having the honour of being one of the few people the Doctor has openly flirted with, she also seems potential companion material. Martha Cope also puts in a good performance as the Controller, an unfortunate human female who has been wired up to a computer since the age of five. This seems like a nod in the direction of ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ where a young girl was connected to the Dalek battle computer. It seems that it was she who transmatted the Doctor and his companions to the Game Station (Satellite 5 a century after ‘The Long Game’), where she hid them in the stations continual out put of deadly game shows. Apparently the Daleks don’t watch reality TV, something very much in their favour it has to be said.
This episode, as one would expect, helps to tie up a number of loose ends from previous episodes, particularly the aforementioned Episode 7. We are also given a flashback sequence for the eponymous Bad Wolf references in a scene that owes a lot to the Brigadier regaining his memory in ‘Mawdryn Undead’. However we are still none the wiser as to the true nature of the Bad Wolf, something that Davies et al have teased us with since ‘The End of the World’.
What we do learn is that Bad Wolf is the name of a network (something we already knew from ‘The Long Game’) that now specialises in reality TV, which it broadcasts to the stupefied population of Earth.
All of this of course is a cunning plan by the Daleks, who are lurking at the edge of the solar system in a giant fleet of saucers. These were very similar in design to the saucers on the rejigged scenes in Dalek Invasion of Earth DVD. Other nods towards past Who were also present in the way in which the Daleks were not revealed until near the end of the show, in true Terry Nation fashion. As if that wasn’t enough we had Rose being menaced by a sucker arm in a Dalek POV shot straight out of their first appearance four decades ago. The Daleks’ Master Plan is now their ‘stratagem’ and they concluded the episode with a traditional chant of ‘exterminate, exterminate.’
However this wasn’t the real cliffhanger, which was provided in the previews for next week, which gave us a mysterious voice telling the Doctor, the Daleks ‘survived through me.’
So who does this voice belong to? With Who fans being warned to stay away from the Internet this week and a press screening set for Wednesday, its going to be hard not to find out one way or the other before the episode airs next Saturday. Almost everyone from the Master to Davros by way of the Dalek Emperor has been postulated as Bad Wolf. I have my own theories about this and my general feeling is that it will be someone from the continuity established during this series. However, only time will tell…