The TARDIS arrives in present-day Cardiff to refuel on
a dimensional rift that runs through the city. However, the
Doctor discovers that a member of the Slitheen family has
survived their previous encounter and is posing once again
as Margaret Blaine, now Cardiff's mayor...
Having spent ten episodes gradually introducing new viewers
to the essentials of the Doctor Who legend (that the
Doctor is a centuries-old alien, that his ship can travel
through space and time, that his arch enemies are the Daleks,
etc) and acquainting die-hard fans with the show's new mythology
(that the Doctor is the last of his race, his home planet
having been destroyed in the last great Time War against the
Daleks), writer/executive producer Russell T Davies evidently
felt that the time was right for the programme to begin revelling
in its own folklore.
Boom Town begins, exposition is rattled out at a rate
we haven't witnessed since the 1996
TV movie, with the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)
and Rose (Billie Piper) explaining to Mickey (Noel Clarke)
why the TARDIS resembles a police box. There's a slight dig
at the TV movie when Rose uses the Eighth Doctor's phrase
"cloaking device" and the Ninth Doctor corrects her by using
the term established in Logopolis: "chameleon circuit".
Fans who are so inclined are at liberty to assume that the
TARDIS' need to refuel is due to the absence of Gallifrey,
which used to power all Time Lord vessels via the Eye of Harmony.
Davies is also keen to prove that the new show has as vibrant
a mythology as the old one, and this episode is a demonstration
of how many pieces he has already set up on the board. Aside
from the return of Mickey, we revisit the site of the Rift,
last seen in The Unquiet Dead, and encounter the first
returning monster of the new era, the Slitheen known as Margaret
Blaine (Annette Badland). The writer also draws attention
to the words "bad wolf", which have been following the Doctor
and Rose throughout their travels.
and the next two instalments in the series are all about consequences.
As Margaret observes, the Doctor isn't used to hanging around
to witness the aftermath of his actions, but with the TARDIS
grounded, he is suddenly forced to do just that.
I'm not sure what is more remarkable about this character-driven
episode: the fact that Davies and Badland succeed in making
me feel sorry for a Slitheen, or the fact that Davies and
Clarke manage to make me feel sympathetic towards Mickey Smith.
I hated Mickey when he was introduced in the episode Rose,
considering him to be a shallow and unbelievable character,
present solely to provide cheap comic relief, and not even
very good at that. However, watching this episode, I entirely
agree that he is mistreated by Rose, who steps in and out
of his life, expecting his continual devotion but demonstrating
no fidelity on her own part.
from the usual minor RTD plot holes (such as why doesn't Margaret
activate her teleport device when she's in her office rather
than climbing out of the window first) and the revelation
of the Daleks during the teaser for the next instalment (shouldn't
have done that), there is little to fault this episode.
The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack awake separately, each
trapped inside a TV show with a lethal twist. The Doctor is
the new housemate on Big Brother, Rose is interrogated
by the mechanical Anne Droid on The Weakest Link, and
Jack is given a makeover by a couple of female fashion robots...
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't seen the two-parter Bad Wolf/The
Parting of the Ways before (why the heck not?) then you
might wish to stop reading now...
Wolf and The Parting of the Ways continue Russell
T Davies' well-deserved celebration of his new mythology,
bringing together elements that have been introduced throughout
the preceding season, including the Satellite 5 station from
Long Game, the extrapolator from Boom Town,
the Daleks, Mickey Smith, Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) and,
of course, an explanation (albeit a rather confusing one)
for the recurring words "bad wolf".
There are also more subtle allusions for long-term fans who
might happen to spot them. The clear casing that houses the
Emperor Dalek recalls the transparent shell of the Dalek leader
in David Whitaker's novelisation of the first Dalek story.
The Controller is reminiscent of both the Emperor Dalek in
Evil of the Daleks (being connected to cables)
and the battle computer in Remembrance of the Daleks
(a human female slaved to a computer during childhood). The
Doctor's statement that he is going to: "wipe every last stinking
Dalek out of the sky" echoes the vow made by the comic strip
antihero Abslom Daak, to: "kill every damned, stinkin' Dalek
in the galaxy!" The Emperor's final words, "I cannot die,"
were also Davros' last words in Resurrection
of the Daleks, implying that the Emperor might
contain a vestige of the Daleks' ancient creator, who set
himself up as Emperor in Remembrance.
It's just a pity that RTD stopped short of including the phrase
"Ka Faraq Gatri", meaning "The Bringer of Darkness" or "Destroyer
of Worlds", the term by which the Daleks are said to know
the Doctor in several books and comic strips since Ben Aaronovitch's
novelisation of Remembrance. Instead, the Doctor describes
himself as "The Oncoming Storm", a title attributed by the
Draconians in Paul Cornell's New Adventures novel Love
and War. Still, I suppose that if "Ka Faraq Gatri" can
be translated into two such different phrases, then it could
also be taken to mean "The Oncoming Storm", since storms usually
bring darkness. Either that, or the Doctor is mixing up his
also seems a tad confused as to whether the Daleks are supposed
to feel emotions or not. However, even their creator, Terry
Nation, was prone to that failing - they have always exhibited
hatred towards creatures unlike themselves, except in Destiny
of the Daleks, where they are said to be emotionless and
motivated solely by logic, rather like the Cybermen.
other aspects of the plot also seem not to have been properly
thought through. In Bad Wolf, it appears that the Doctor
is responsible for millions, if not billions, of human deaths
as a result of his interference a century earlier. Then Jack
discovers that the game-show guns are not lethal but are in
fact transmat devices. So that's all right then. However,
The Parting of the Ways reveals that those teleported
humans have been dissected and harvested, with selected cells
being cultured into Daleks. So the Doctor is responsible for
a massacre after all. Yet he seems remarkably chipper as he
and Rose depart the station.
what about Captain Jack? We as viewers know that he has been
resurrected, but as far as the Doctor and Rose are concerned
he has been exterminated. So why aren't they in mourning for
him? Come to that, why do they just leave in the TARDIS without
at least searching for his body to confirm his fate?
sequence in which the Anne Droid takes on the Daleks is a
hoot, but when you think about it, those Daleks haven't actually
been killed, just transmatted to a Dalek ship. That is, unless
Jack fitted the droid with a proper weapon beforehand. In
any case, it puts the invaders out of action for a while at
of weapons, why does the TARDIS fly through space towards
the mother ship, making itself a target for the Daleks' missiles,
instead of simply materialising on board? Maybe the TARDIS
needs to be at relatively close range before it can cunningly
materialise around Rose, or perhaps the Doctor just wants
to show off his ship's new force field. Come to that, why
is the TARDIS dependent upon the extrapolator to generate
a force field, when it is usually capable of producing an
invulnerable field of its own. Maybe it was damaged by the
Rift's energies in Boom Town.
commentators have complained that the shows sent up in these
two episodes would have been long since forgotten by the year
200,100. However, I feel it's well worthwhile to assume that
there has been some kind of 21st-century retro revival, since
the participation of Davina McCall, Anne Robinson, Trinny
Woodall and Susannah Constantine in vocal roles, not to mention
the authentic theme tunes to Big Brother and The
Weakest Link, add up to a whole lot of fun.
finally, some critics were disappointed that RTD chose to
have the Doctor explain what regeneration was before the process
took place, rather than leave the transformation as more of
a cliffhanger for new viewers. However, whereas viewers only
had to wait one week to find out what had happened to the
Doctor following his first metamorphosis at the end of The
Tenth Planet, there was a gap of several months between
The Parting of the Ways and David Tennant's first episode,
The Christmas Invasion, so I think Davies got the balance
just right. Tennant's first few seconds in the role are sufficiently
exciting in their own right.
the end of the day, all the plot holes are easily forgotten
in the excitement as this truly spectacular series finale
unfolds. It may be flawed, but there's no denying it is great
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