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Doctor Who Retrospective #10 of 10 “Bad Wolf / The Parting Of the Ways”

Okay, it’s weeks late but at last it is here (and incongruously lumped in the middle of the ongoing reviews of Series Three)! This is the final installment of my Series One Retrospective of the new Doctor Who. I had been hoping to rattle all ten of these off during the build up to the new series but time (and idleness) got the better of me. It was the worst kept secret in Doctor Who circles (and pretty poorly kept in general public circles too) that, once the departure of Christopher Eccleston had been leaked on to the front pages of the papers, Series One of the relaunched show would conclude with a regeneration. Some may have speculated that the first Christmas Special would focus on the regeneration story but anyone who had kept a beady eye on CE’s various interviews around launch time would have known this was not to be the case. “I’ve already done the long haul” he bemoaned to everyone listening, suggesting no more of his incarnation would be forthcoming. It was a great ambition for production team to include a surprise regeneration as the ending but, perhaps it was to be one ambition too far.

The title of episode 12, “Bad Wolf” was kept from the public until very late in the day and one secret that was well kept was exactly how the references that had littered the previous eleven stories would be explained or revealed. On screen things started off a little shakily and I was begining to think that a turkey of Slitheen proportions was about to be served up. The Doctor, Jack and Rose were kidnapped from the TARDIS and each put into their own reality TV show: the Time Lord found himself in the Big Brother house where he met up with Lynda (“with a Y”), Jack was a fairly willing particpant on a Trinny and Susannah make-over show and Rose confronted the Ann-Droid (geddit?) on the Weakest Link. It was a fairly bleak vision of the future to think that these were the shows that would form the back-bone of human entertainment in the year 100,000. However, as soon as The Doctor and Jack managed to escape from their respective games, the story started to pick up at hugely entertaining pace.

Captain Jack was finally etched on the collective consciousness of the fan and casual viewer alike in this story. As he and The Doctor attempted to rescue Rose he began to come into his own and when she was vapourised by Anne-Droid, the look of horror on his face was a memorable moment. However, it was not so memorable as the cliffhanger. Rose had not been killed but instead had been kidnapped by a Dalek fleet and the much-vaunted Time War had one last battle left in it. I just love the passion imparted in the Doctor’s discussion with the Daleks at this point…..

The Doctor: No! ‘Cause this is what I’m going to do: 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 defenses! No plan!

The Doctor: Yeah! And doesn’t that scare you to death? Rose?

Rose: Yes, Doctor?

The Doctor: I’m coming to get you.

The use of a Big Brother catchphrase at this point was simply a brilliant piece of writing and delivered perfectly by the sparkling Christopher Eccleston. As if that wasn’t enough, the controversial “Next Time” trailer delivered a cliffhanger all of its own as well, “They survived through me” came the menacing voice from off-screen, that was later revealed as the Dalek Emperor.

The final episode was nigh-on perfect throughout. I suppose that the final Bad Wolf revelation was a bit of a let-down to some but it had a simplicity that I found refreshing. The Doctor dispatching Rose back home to save her from trouble and the subsequent “emergency hologram” speech was the first in a series of highly emotional scenes. Jack did his best to keep the Daleks at bay before his extermination and, just when I actually started to believe that all was lost the heart of the TARDIS merged with Rose to come to the rescue. Jack was brought back to life, the Daleks were atomised and the Doctor saved Rose from the enormous power of the time vortex by sacrificing himself. All quite… fantastic. And this led, inevitably, to that final scene. Anyone who ever doubts the prowess of Russell T Davies’s writing talent should just sit back and watch this last five minutes… absolutely perfect in every sense. All of a sudden, David Tennant was the Doctor, with new teeth and everything. Deep down I wish that Christoper Eccleston could have stayed on board for another year but that would have deprived us of one of the finest 45 minutes of TV that I’ve seen in the millennium.

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    • fazzinchi
    • May 26th, 2007

    Thanks for commenting, PR. I’ve got high hopes that “The Sound Of Drums” may be just as good in a few week’s time.

    • PR
    • May 26th, 2007

    You’ve done the episode due credit: Parting of the Ways was the “finest 45 minutes of TV” I’ve seen as well.

    I would have loved to have seen Eccleston do more, but you’re right, and I hadn’t thought of this way, but if he hadn’t left we would have never seen this. Perhaps better? Who knows.

  1. June 4th, 2007

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