Bad Wolf and The Parting Of The Ways
Series One, Episodes Twelve and Thirteen
Talk about a game of two halves. The Series One finale starts out as a sequel to The Long Game, and to be honest it's not much of an improvement. By the end, though, things have escalated to epic proportions. The second episode juggles emotional highs as if they were satsumas, and ends the Ninth Doctor's brief era in triumph. Blimey. Where did that come from?
|Surprise! It's not as crap as it looks!|
Onto the plot. The Doctor, Rose and Jack find themselves teleported into Big Brother, The Weakest Link and What Not To Wear, but not as we know them. 100 years on from The Long Game, the shows are running en masse, and the losers are executed. You'd have to be a newly-arrived alien toddler to think this was a brand new idea, and the sheer imagination fail goes all the way down. Okay, gameshows that kill you. Dumb idea, and we don't need to see it three times in the same episode, but it could work. But... literally Big Brother, with the same theme music and everything? Hundreds of thousands of years in the future, and we're still watching the same TV shows, albeit with different outcomes, with the same presenters, albeit as robots? We're even wearing the same clothes. Much of that isn't the case now, seven years later, let alone in the distant future.
The worst thing isn't just the total absence of imagination on the part of the writer: it's the suggestion that our feeble brains just couldn't handle anything else. Going to the future? Better make it all exactly the same, or our heads might explode with confusion! Give us some credit. (I know they do this to avoid dressing people up in tin foil and making random guesses at how technology will work, but there has to be a middle ground between that and just not doing anything at all.)
It might work if it made any kind of satirical point, but none of it adds up. There are some shows where you don't even die, like Stars In Their Eyes (hey kids, who remembers Stars In Their Eyes? Don't all jump at once...), where you get blinded. Then there's the contestants: The Weakest Link bunch are terrified, apart from one who's coldly bent on self-preservation, whereas the Big Brother morons seem to have almost no problem with any of it, acting exactly like contestants from the present day. Meanwhile on Earth, people watch this stuff for fun, even though contestants are picked at random and anyone could be next. Huh? As for the Doctor opening their eyes to how this is A Bad Thing, well thanks for that, Captain Obvious.
It's not all bad. It's fun to hit the ground running for once, and the Doctor's immediate dark suspicions that something deeper is going on nearly renders all that buffoonish Anne-droid stuff quite exciting. (Though seriously, Anne-droid? Y'know, some jokes take all of five seconds to come up with because they're no damn good.) The Doctor's scenes with Lynda are a nice repeat of the Doctor-meets-companion process, and a timely reminder that there's more to the companioniverse than just Rose. (Not that she's especially glad to hear it, and not that we can keep her while we've still got Blondie. Still, it's perfectly valid seeing that sometimes it doesn't work out.) Also, it's great seeing what happens when the Doctor affects history in a bad way, all of this being arguably his fault. Shame we can't really examine what that means, but hey, the consequences are dire, so he certainly pays for it.
|Can we keep he...oh, forget it.|