Review: Bad Wolf

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005

Episode Twelve: Bad Wolf, by Russell T Davies

After watching Bad Wolf on Saturday night I was ecstatic that Doctor Who was back on the telly as I'd just witnessed some truly iconic moments in the programme's history. Brilliantly directed throughout by Joe Ahearne, this episode ended with some of the best Dalek images of all time and thank goodness, no redesign of the classic monsters.

We've all seen the Daleks not looking their best and I worried that thousands of CGI pepper pots would just look terrible but I have to admit it, I was wrong about The Mill again! Their effects are simply superb and the result of their hard work is cinematic Doctor Who on an epic scale. I suspect that it will date badly and quickly but for now it's fab.

The first section of the programme was equally iconic but for different reasons. Seeing the Doctor sit in the Big Brother Diary Room, Rose meet the Anne Droid and Jack get defabricated by Trinny and Susannah shows how Russell T Davies has reinvented Doctor Who so effectively. Such scenes could have been cheesy and camp for all the wrong reasons but these were moments that the audience could simply indulge in before the really serious stuff began. Cheesy and camp in RTDs Doctor Who is to be applauded because he know how to keep the audience within the scene and not left on the outside looking in.

The serious stuff: Rose's 'death' scene wasn't very hard hitting for us fans because we know she's coming back for season 2 (or 28 in old money) but the casual audience may not have known this. Either way the powerful acting of Chris Eccleston showed just how much this meant to the Doctor. Murray Gold's music was great throughout the episode but in this scene it was utterly overpowering (a problem also during the Big Brother section and the cliffhanger).

The highlights for me in this episode were cantered around the reintroduction of those hordes of Daleks (a nice touch considering the earlier episode 'Dalek' had just one of the monsters and it caused massive destruction - what on Earth are they up to and how did they survive?). The scene in which Rose is revealed to be alive on the Dalek ship was magnificent and my personal requirements were met by the production team due to them using that special Dalek heartbeat sound effect (a small but significant detail - just for me). Then there was that wonderful shot of the Dalek in reflection which has been done so many times before but never so brilliantly. And finally the cliffhanger itself and the following hours of intrigue in my house about what might happen next - great moments and now great memories. This episode was the clinching proof for me that there has never been a better time to be a fan than right now. Anybody just getting into Doctor Who is in for a real treat, past, present and future.

But. Well there had to be one. The reality telly section of the show was slightly strange. It was both strange in pace and strange in story (why would the Daleks want the Doctor to play Big Brother? Perhaps we'll find out next week but I doubt it.) The truth is this was a Saturday night gimmick to draw people in and provide some light relief before the ultra serious end of episode. It was also slightly unnerving to see our heroes separated and without a plan after the super time team we saw in Boom Town but that was a good touch to keep the viewers on their toes.

Of course, this episode was a follow up to The Long Game which was a poor episode without a satisfactory resolution. Nothing in this episode changed my view of The Long Game which seemed to suffer more than most from being part of this 'Bad Wolf' intrigue by being neither a stand alone episode nor part of a structured series of episodes.

All in all this was a good, well written episode that boasted a reality telly gimmick and thousands of Daleks. When it comes to nostalgia programmes about TV, Doctor Who features quite prominently and you can be sure that clips from this episode will be shown on such shows for decades to come.

Jonathan Bigger

  • Read Jon's review of episode eleven, Boom Town, the conclusion to the series, The Parting of the Ways.