Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: Bad Wolf

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Someone’s been playing a long game. Controlling the human race from behind the scenes for generations.

Ah.

Bad Wolf.

I’m feeling rather sort of nostalgic actually. Bad Wolf was the first episode of Doctor Who I ever watched, more or less. (I’m not 100% sure, more like 90%, but this is the episode I consider to have been my first one). Nine years ago today, give or take an hour, I started watching Doctor Who. I’ve passed a point where Doctor Who has now been a part of my life longer than it hasn’t been. That’s just mad to think about.

And, as first episodes go, it was one hell of an episode, wasn’t it?

So, Bad Wolf opens with the Doctor in the Big Brother house. It’s a very funny opening, and it works really well. The Doctor, in a way he doesn’t tend to, acts like the viewer would. He asks pertinent questions, he mocks the game, he finds it all very ridiculous. It carries through to Rose as well, as she laughs about being on The Weakest Link. I loved that actually, it really suited the tone of it. Of course you’d laugh at something like that- it’s totally absurd. (Actually what I found hilarious is how Jack got swept along with it, the only really willing participant – “I have to find the Doc- what do you mean you need to change my look?”)

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What I also liked about this was the very creepy, almost insidious build up of threat. It was rather interesting to watch back actually, because I didn’t really remember it all that well it turns out. I’d just sort of assumed, probably because I already knew, that the whole killer game show thing was obvious from the outset, but it wasn’t. It’s very slowly revealed, pared back bit by bit – until we start seeing people die, and it begins to kick in. As a reveal, I think it’s rather well done. (It’s good enough for me to forgive them the Daleks, who I wouldn’t have revealed until the very, very last seconds. Ah well.)

Another rather stand out aspect which I liked was the characterisation. It’s something I don’t really mention often, and that’s kinda a shame – there’s always really great characters in Doctor Who, always deftly created and well acted. (Or maybe I just love everything and I’m looking at it all through rose tinted glasses!)

Lynda (with a ‘y’) was a really great character. The first companion who could’ve been, I think. I do wonder, perhaps, if she would have been a companion had Christopher Eccleston stayed on? Probably not. I think she was always created to die, which is… nice, in a way. Dramatically I mean.

Once again, I loved seeing the interactions between Jack and the Doctor. They’re a great, really comfortable team. It’s a shame we never did get a season with Jack as a companion. (Incidentally, one of my favourite Doctor Who books, The Stealers of Dreams, has Jack in quite a prominent role, and it’s really fantastic. Recommended)

The final cliffhanger then… ooh, that’s very nice. The game show aspect is more or less dispensed with, and we get down to setting up the plot for next week. The Big Bad. The Big Bad Wolf, even. Our overarching enemies, who’re here for the ultimate showdown…

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Well, it was hardly going to be the Face of Boe, was it?

It’s a really great episode this one. And I’m not just saying that! There’s so many great elements here, I only got to touch on a few of them. I’ll give it a 9/10, because it really is that great – the only thing that, perhaps, I’m sad about is that the game show aspect wasn’t developed more, or given more attention. Seems almost like a lost opportunity.

It’s an odd one that, having TV on TV. Doctor Who doing TV. At the start of this review, I was talking about how Doctor Who has been a part of my life for such a long time… and then, we’ve recently had the 50th Anniversary… at the minute, I’m writing an essay for my English class about the influence of TV…

Doctor Who?

Well, it was never just a TV show, was it?

Related:

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor Reviews

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