Ladies Your Ratings Just Went Up

BadWolf

Episode 12, ?????Bad Wolf????? was a huge improvement on last week?????s effort. It felt like watching Who at it?????s best.

In my last posting I questioned if Russell T. Davies could write science fiction. In this episode I think that he has shown that he can. He has come up with an idea based on the extrapolation of an aspect of Reality TV and concludes that they may, one day, evolve into a form of gladiatorial entertainment as it becomes a contest of life and death.

He gives us three illustrations Big Brother, The Weakest Link and What Not To Wear (full marks for each of these shows and their stars for allowing themselves to be parodied) together with some amusing verbal references to others including ?????Call My Bluff?????, and ?????Ground Force?????.

The overt parody of Reality TV worked well, because only overt parody could when dealing with something so insidious and pervasive. What is slightly disappointing is the fact that he stops there. The implication of his story (the fact that a society can allow individuals to be ?????transmatted????? against their will into these shows and then [apparently] killed as a form of entertainment) are not addressed. Obviously humanity is in a state of terminal apathy (a little like our society is threatening to become he suggests), but what system of government is there? What is the basis of the legal system that could allow this (certainly not one based on the rights of the individual)?

Davies can be justified for not answering these and other questions given that the story has to progress in the limited time available, but he does have a slightly irritating habit of setting his ?????futuristic????? stories into humanities far future and making them seem exactly like people today, right down to the fashions and weapons (going by the trailer for next week). It?????s obvious he is actually writing about people today, that?????s all science fiction can do, but good science fiction reflects a little on what the results of its mind experiment (in this case gladiatorial quiz shows) will have on the human culture it is set in. Given this, why not just set it in the near future?

Let me say now that this is a small niggle and putting that aside we?????ve ended up with a cracking story and one that Davies has obviously been carefully working towards. He has taken the delight and wonder from his own childhood experience of watching classic ?????Who and the Daleks????? to produce a story that gives the current generation of children (including some of the older ones) the same experience.

The way that ‘Bad Wolf’ transports the TARDIS crew into the adventure using transmits is reminiscent of The Sontaran Experiment and The Genesis of The Daleks. They find themselves separated in a surreal, Alice in Wonderland, world where the trivial and banal suddenly becomes lethal and sinister in a way that is reminiscent of The Celestial Toymaker and The Mind Robber. Television now entertains by transmitting real pain and death in a way that was portrayed in Vengeance on Varos where a poverty-stricken populace is kept entertained by screenings of public torture from the Punishment Dome. Bread and Circuses indeed.

Finally we have the Daleks (created by Cardiff born writer Terry Nation) involved in a devious plot that appears truly worthy of them. With (it seems judging from the audio of the trailer for next week?????s episode) the reappearance of the Emperor Dalek we are taken back (well certainly those of us mature enough) to The Evil of The Daleks. This story has been sheer joy and it promises to get better!

By taking a single isolated Dalek in episode 6 and having it turn into something that is full of menace and malice Davies has manipulated the series to a point where he now whacks up the amplifier and we are faced with millions of these deadly creatures. He has in effect regenerated the Daleks as a potent enemy when they seemed to be in terminal decline looking for bit parts in TV adverts and comedy sketches.

In conversation with a ?????science fiction hating????? friend of mine I was amazed to hear her say that she was enjoying the series (though she did add that Boom Town seemed a bit slow). This is an incredible achievement to my mind and it has to be said that Russell T. Davies has produced a great Doctor Who climax and if he carries on this way I can forgive him the occasional duff episode.



4 comments


    Timothy Farr

    June 13, 2005

    My thoughts on this episode, from only a few minutes in, were: At last, Russell T Davies delivers! I’m not among those who suggested he couldn’t write. I have The Second Coming on shiny disc plus Dark Season and Century Falls on VHS. They are three of the reasons I’ve been holding his writing to such high standards all this time and until now, I suspected quality had been sacrificed to quantity. Last Saturday, however, had it all. All the contemporary relevance a modern tv viewer might want, the elements of surprise, suspense and danger that define the series and some brilliantly understated continuity for the fans. Come on, admit it, those of you who recognised the old Dalek control room sound effect couldn’t help but smile!
    To Peter’s list of twentieth century Who connections, a transmit beam that leaves a fine powder can be found in The Twin Dilemma (or at the very least, the novelisation of The Twin Dilemma).
    I’ve been invited to a birthday part at 6.00pm next Saturday and arrrgh! Torn by indecision!
    Fortunately, the birthday girl has since offered to put The Parting Of The Ways on during the party.

    John Campbell Rees

    June 13, 2005

    One of the things I liked about this episode was that despite the fact that it is supposed to be a new format for a new century, it could so easily be divided into two old style “Doctor Who” episodes. The first old style episode would have contained all the reality tv parodies and the second contained the Doctor’s search for the truth.
    In the past, an army of daleks has been portrayed as the same three castings going round in circles, or by the judicuous use of toys and miniture sets. It is slightly sad that the creator of the Daleks, Terry Nation never lived to see his creations visualised in such nightmarishly realistic way.

    Pete Grehan

    June 13, 2005

    “Come on, admit it, those of you who recognised the old Dalek control room sound effect couldn???t help but smile!”

    It’s staggering how a simple sound effect can feel like electricity running through me and in that split second trigger all sorts of memories and emotions. This is where RTD’s insight and knowledge as a fan wins out of course.

    Carnus

    June 13, 2005

    Its a Doctor Who love in! May I join with you?

    Yes, this latest episode was a far better effort from Mr T. Its
    about time someone took a decent knifing to the vacuous
    bullshit that nowadays passes for entertainment.

    Reality TV my arse; I blame Baudrillard.

    And another thing: Dr Grehan is doing a wonderful job as
    curator of this whacky blog of the weird and the wonderful.
    Where has everyone else gone??!! If it wasn’t for Dr Grehan and
    his Who Chronicles we’d have little else to report.

    Well done, man!

Leave a comment


Name

Email(will not be published)

Website

Your comment

Designed by Forte Web Solutions