Arabian (arabian) wrote,

Doctor Who 1x12 "Bad Wolf" rewatch-review

As I've stated elsewhere, once I finished season two of New Who, I was going to rewatch and review what I call my "Her Name was Rose" collection (click here for the full list of episodes).

Well, this was so much better than I remembered I can't even fully express that sentiment. I remember liking it on my first watch way back in 2006. And then when I rewatched it about six months ago, I thought it was okay, but wasn't impressed with the game show motif, too much Jack, I didn't like the Doctor flirting with Lynda, didn't like the very little Doctor/Rose interaction. It had its moments, but overall? Eh. WOW! What a difference a rewatch makes when (a) watching the show for more than just Doctor/Rose goodness, (b) somewhat appreciating Captain Jack, and most importantly, (c) because of the careful, analytical rewatch taking into account all plot and character continuity and threads carefully placed throughout the series.

Honestly, just ... WOW! This episode was absolutely stellar. I can not think of one single, solitary moment that did not ring right and true, that didn't provide the maximum punch, that didn't just freaking ROCK! This was just fantastic. As wonderful as I found "Boom Town," seeing this one after it, I can somewhat understand why in retrospect the former episode seemed less than ... and I thought that "Boom Town" was pretty incredible. Like in series four, Russell T Davies delivered a one-two punch. There he went from the fabulous "Midnight" to the equally, if not more fabulous "Turn Left." And here we go again, going from "Boom Town" to this. The plotting was tense and well-structured, the characterization of not only the three leads, but also the supporting characters introduced was spot-on, the direction by Joe Ahearne was superb with several shots and moments just brilliantly conceived and executed. A+ all-around for this one. Just, wow.

Breaking this down a bit, I want to concentrate on the character work -- always Rusty's forte, in my opinion. Firstly, the supporting characters introduced in this episode ... Lynda, Rodrick, and the male and female programmers. We must start with Lynda "with a y" Moss first, of course. Jo Joyner wasn't exceptionally stand-out, but she *was* sweet and quite adorable, and very similar in many ways to Rose which (along with some deeper, potentially delusional, dissection of the current state of the Doctor/Rose relationship) explains why the Doctor gloms onto her so quickly.

My favorite supporting character was not Lynda, though, but rather the nameless male and female programmers (well, the male is Davitch Pavale, but his name is heard only as part of a punchline and thus the name itself is rather unmemorable). I have fonder memories of the female programmer based more on my recall of her role in "The Parting of the Ways," but I did like Nisha Nayar's presence and delivery in her small moments here. However, in "Bad Wolf," the real winner in the supporting characters sweepstakes for me is Jo Stone-Fewings as the male programmer. Because his role seems similar to Simon Pegg as the Editor in "The Long Game," initially the viewer is led to believe he's one of the bad guys, but the cute, flirtation scene with the female programmer begins to lend doubt to that. And his interaction with the Doctor pretty much puts an end to it period. In fact, one of my favorite scenes is the initial one between the Doctor and the male programmer.

Number one, the fact that the Doctor so quickly trusts that the guy won't blow a hole in him tells me that the Doctor sees the good in him, but also that, my goodness, he's being pretty careless with his life again because what if the guy isn't good? Which is a callback to his nonchalance at his potential death in "Rose," and a set-up for Ten's dang-near chasing after death moments in series three. Why? Because the Doctor just found out that Rose is "dead" and there he goes being all careless about the possibility of death. Yes, here it was clear that he really didn't think male-programmer-dude would shoot, but still, it was a risk and a completely unnecessary one at that.

With regards to the male programmer and Stone-Fewings performance though, I loved his body language and the line delivery. It's just a light, somewhat comic moment in the middle of the drama. Russell T Davies offers several little pockets of these lighter moments to offer relief from and alternately rack up the dramatic tension. Nicely written by Davies, and nicely acted by Stone-Fewings.

Which leaves us with the leads. Yeah, I'm going there. I actually do consider and call Jack a lead in this episode. Such is the power of Rusty's writing when looked at closely. Anyone who's read me regularly knows that I am NOT a Jack Harkness/John Barrowman fan. Not by a long shot. However, I really liked him in this episode, not just on the comedic front, but also on the dramatic end which is where he generally falls short for me. Not so here. Obviously, the comic side of things was great. I think you'd have to truly loathe the character (and despite my lack of squee about him, I do not come even close to that level of dissatisfaction with Jack) to not find his "game show" scenes amusing as hell. His cocky confidence is hilarious, as is his calm destruction of the two "ladies."

However, his shining moment for me comes after Rose has been "disintegrated" (see clip below). As the music is growing louder and the focus is on the Doctor's pain, Barrowman does a fabulous job in showing Jack's sorrow and anger. Yelling at the guards to not touch the Doctor, the shot cuts to him surrounded by other guards and contestants, but he's oblivious to the danger to himself. There are unshed tears in his eyes, a look of pain wrapped up in confusion as he looks between the Doctor and the others, finally shouting, "you killed her, your stupid freaking game show killed her." Beautifully done by Barrowman and a wonderfully dramatic moment for Jack that felt real and earned.

Also beautifully done and wonderfully dramatic was so very much of Christopher Eccleston's work in this episode. I comment in almost every write-up that it's fairly unnecessary to mention how great Eccleston is because he just is ... he *always* is. But every other episode or so he's given stuff to work with that just allows his talent to blow me away anew. "Bad Wolf" presented many such moments, some just a few seconds long, others building to a crescendo. A few examples ...

The Doctor's reaction to finding out that it was (supposedly) his actions in "The Long Game" that led to this situation. At first, the realization was a quiet one, and then when we next saw him -- after Jack had found him, he was getting louder. He was more visibly angry and frustrated because not only had he caused all of the Game Station "deaths," the current state of the Earth, but it was hitting close to home with the appearance of Jack -- but not Rose -- that he had once again put her in danger and this time it had resulted in her "death."

Another scene was the brilliant "disintegration" of Rose -- already mentioned as a highlight for Barrowman, but we also had the still numbness of the Doctor as he was oblivious to any and everything but Rose's supposed death. Yes, the emotion of the scene was aided magnificently by the choice to remain mostly on an ever-tightening close-up of the Doctor's face, and the dimming and then completely drowning everything out with the score. However, the full power of the scene wouldn't have worked to the zenith as it did were it not for how still Eccleston kept his expression, how on the surface, he appeared emotionless but there were a million subtextual layers of agony beneath. Just ... wow. See?

(Watch it here via imeem or download it for better quality from mediafire.)

On a smaller scale, we had this teeny bit that was just so perfectly done as well where the Doctor was facing the Daleks, a whole fleet of them, for the first time since the Time War. The tightness and anxiety on display before giving way to false cheer was magnificent.

(Watch it here via imeem or download it for better quality from mediafire.)

And finally, THE scene of the episode -- heck, I consider it one of THE scenes of the series: The Doctor's "no" to the Daleks. The quiet and with shades of fear negative that grew stronger until the Doctor was all fierce, grinning mania as he declared that he was "gonna wipe every last stinkin' Dalek out of the sky!" Aside from the sheer talent on display, it was also really, really hot. I swear, each time I watch it I get shivers because he's so, so damn good.

(Watch it here via imeem or download it for better quality from mediafire.)

In other character news, Rose really didn't do much in this episode, but that's okay considering all that she does in part two. What we did get was typical Rose all-around, though. I adored her laughter during the first part of the game show when she just thought it was the silliest thing, and her attitude once again proved what I wrote about way back in my rewatch-review of The End of the World.
Rose and the immediate follow-up to her decision to join the Doctor. We saw her joy and enthusiasm, her curiosity and excitement. And then, and then as things settled a bit, as she was thrown into this crazy situation with aliens -- real-live-looking aliens! -- it all hit her. She was billions of years from anything she knew with a man that she'd known for about twenty-four hours. Practically a stranger. She had completely placed her life in his hands with barely a second thought. I loved how that realization hit her and how, while it carried through to the next scene with the Doctor, she was grounded somewhat by the appearance of a plumber. I loved that; it was such a small, but brilliant way of showing that Rose is good with this kind of life because she can grasp so quickly, so easily, so rightly that while everything changes, so much stays the same. The fundamentals stay the same. Five billion years in the future? We still have sanitary waste issues. Thus, plumbers. Same shit, different millennium. Literally.
So, not only is she able to grasp so quickly this important fact of traveling with the Doctor, she's also able to just accept that things happen -- often without logical explanation -- and just go with the flow. And that's exactly what she did here. She didn't know why she was there, she didn't know where the Doctor was, but since no one was (or so she thought) being harmed, she decided to just have fun with it: Play the game. So Rose (and really, Billie Piper has *the* most adorable laugh).

However, on the other end of the spectrum, once Rose believed that people were being harmed, suddenly it wasn't funny and that empathy and sense of justice for others kicked in. This wasn't surprising in regards to the character of Rose, but I thought it interesting that Davies chose to use this angle with Rose because it allowed another subtle similarity between Rose and Lynda to be on display.

Which segues into the Doctor and Lynda, and why the heck was he flirting so with her? The Doctor's interaction with Lynda makes absolutely perfect sense in light of the last three episodes, and in fact, taking aspects of the whole series as a whole. The Doctor has been traveling with this bright, young woman trying to impress her from day one:
Rose: You think you're so impressive.
The Doctor: I am so impressive!
Rose: You wish!
... and her response has been to roll her eyes good-naturedly and josh him a bit. Some don't see the same, but I (and most reading these reviews do) certainly believe that the Doctor is attracted to Rose at some base level and definitely wants her to be attracted to him, as referenced quite clearly in "The Doctor Dances" ...
Rose: Okay, so he's vanished into thin air. Why is it always the GREAT looking ones who do that?
The Doctor: I'm making an effort not to be insulted.
Rose: I mean ... men.
The Doctor: Okay. Thanks. That *really* helped.
And all the while Rose is standing there during this following conversation in "Boom Town" ...
Mickey: So, what're you doing in Cardiff? And who the hell's Jumping Jack Flash? I mean, I don't mind you hanging out with big-ears up there --
The Doctor: Oi!
Mickey: Look in the mirror. But this guy, I dunno, he's kinda ...
Jack: Handsome?
Mickey: More like cheesy.
Jack: Early 21st Century slang. Is cheesy good or bad?
Mickey: It's bad.
Jack: But bad means good, isn't that right?
The Doctor: Are you saying I'm not handsome?
Now here we have this bright, young woman who shares some similar traits with Rose, and she's impressed with him pretty early on; plus, she clearly finds him attractive.
Lynda: What, you were here a hundred years ago?
The Doctor: Yep!
Lynda: You're looking good on it ...
Of course, he's going to preen a bit, enjoy that attention and respond in turn. We've already seen that while he's no Ten in that department, Nine does know how to flirt (Jabe, moments with Rose here and there). So, if Rose can use Mickey (and Jack) as substitutes for the Doctor, as I concluded from "Boom Town" ...
She's essentially using him as a booty call, because think of it: The girl has needs, and the guy she really wants -- with whom she's been pretty much 24/7 for seven months -- is a 900-year old alien who looks like a bloke twenty years older than her, so let alone forget that her nineteen-year-old self thinks shallowly that she *shouldn't* be interested in him, there's also the fact that said 900-year old alien couldn't possibly be interested in her so what's a girl to do?

She tried to exercise some of that libido with Adam -- fail! -- then Jack -- fail!again! especially when Davies made it quite, quite clear in this outing that her attraction to Jack really is based on his resemblance to the Doctor. So Rose has been striking out in the 'get rid of this excess sexual tension that's floating around the TARDIS' area, so she calls good ole' Mickey; she knows he'll come running. And sure enough, that's exactly what he does.
... well, the Doctor can use Lynda with a "y" as a substitute for Rose.

And speaking of Mickey (and Jack), his interaction with Lynda makes even more sense when taking into account Rose's flirting with Jack in "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" and with what took place with Mickey in "Boom Town" from the Doctor's perspective. Think of it: In the last three episodes, Rose was sending off amorous signals, but the Doctor deflected any towards himself and instead jealously noticed when they were picked up upon by Jack and Mickey. In "Boom Town," Rose obviously came up with a flimsy pretext to see Mickey -- which the Doctor saw through -- and he likely figured (as did I) that Rose essentially called Mickey for a hook-up. The last time the Doctor saw her with Mickey was on the monitor when they're walking away, presumably to, well, hook-up. And then finally, we have her looking all emo because Mickey's gone. Sure, we know that nothing happened between them and that Rose is depressed because she and Mickey pretty much broke up, however, the Doctor doesn't know that. All he sees is that Rose just came back from spending some quality time with Mickey earlier that was cut short by their latest adventure, and then was bummed because Mickey was gone.

So taking all of that into account, it makes perfect sense why the Doctor is suddenly being all Flirty McFlirterson with someone not Rose. Again, if she can find a stand-in for the Doctor because she doesn't think either (a) that he's interested or (b) she's still on the 'I really *shouldn't* be interested in a 900-year-old alien who looks old enough to be my father in human years' and is in denial about it still, then the Doctor can surely find a stand-in for Rose. Of course, losing Rose and then finding out he hadn't actually done so rather pushed Lynda (and pretty much everything else) out of his mind.

Finally on the Doctor/Rose front, a bunch of random comments ...

- When Rose was being transmatted from the TARDIS, I love how she was looking at and reaching towards the Doctor. Awww.

- I loved how both Rose and the Doctor ordered a variation of "stop the game" right before Rose was "disintegrated." It was a nice little moment that highlighted how alike in the pursuit of what is right they can be.

- Speaking of that scene, I didn't notice this during any earlier watches of this episode, but as the Doctor is running towards Rose, Rose shouted out a warning and then took off in his direction to protect *him* from the Ann droid. No seriously, awww. (Check it out in the clip above, it's right at the beginning.)

- And more on that scene, I mentioned above how well Eccleston played it, but I absolutely loved how it was scripted by Davies and directed by Ahearne to really highlight the Doctor's devastation over what he believes is Rose's death. Everything else fades away, nothing and no one else matters. It's all about Rose. He's kneeling there, watching the very last bit of Rose slip through his fingers, and even as he's essentially expressionless, there is so much going on beneath the surface -- and telegraphed, again, through the dimming of the score, the close-up of his face -- that it just sells so completely how very much the Doctor is affected by this loss. He just stops functioning. And that lack of function continues through the capture and interrogation. It's only when it's time to make a break that he snaps out of it. Yes, he'd likely been waiting for that moment, but it was also clear that for much of it he was just in full shut-down mode.

- Hmm, so when Jack entered the TARDIS, he noticed Rose's *jacket* slung over the pillar. Hmm, jacket? That makes so much more sense in indicating a non-sexual relationship than say, would a top. Brings to mind my list o' reasons why I believe the Doctor and Rose were doing the deed in the latter half of series two as opined in this post:
Rose's top in the TARDIS console room in "The Runaway Bride." Yes, the point was that it was supposed to show Donna that there had been another female there giving rise to her kidnapping women fear, and keep the Dotor's angst alive and kicking. But ... her top? Why not a hoodie, or a brush, or some other female accoutrement that didn't scream, 'Hi! I undress in the TARDIS console room where the Doctor and I shag like bunnies!' Okay, okay, fine it doesn't scream that ... BUT, her top?!?! You don't leave your top casually slung about (other than in your bedroom) when you live with someone you don't have an intimate relationship with. So why would Rose's TOP be casually laying about the console room like that unless either she or the Doctor had pulled it off before shagging like bunnies?!?!?! See, just another small piece that fits.
Just thought I'd point out the difference in the choice of a clothing item to indicate the loss of Rose between the close of series one and shortly after the close of series two.

- An interesting thing I noticed was Rose's continued insistence that the Doctor wouldn't leave her. She mentioned it two or three times in separate scenes. I liked its inclusion because it adds weight to her determination in the next episode to not leave the Doctor ... because he would never leave her.

- Sigh, and ending this section on a blissful note, I adore, adore, *adored* the Doctor telling Rose he was going to get her ... see?

(Watch it here via imeem or download it for better quality from mediafire.)

But even better than that was Rose's expression when the Doctor first spoke of rescuing her in his declaration to the Daleks. Oh, that look of pride and love on her face in response is just beautiful. *Double sigh*

Phew, onto random thoughts and then I'm done with this bad boy!

- I loved the opening with the circling camera on the Doctor's crouched form in the closet. Dynamic and unexpected opening to an excellent episode.

- Likewise, the Doctor in his black leather sprawled in the red chair against the black background, GREAT visual ...

... telling the camera (and thus the audience) "You've got to be kidding me," was a fabulous close to the teaser.

- I don't like Rose's hair in this episode (and "The Parting of the Ways"), just something about the way it frames her face I find mildly unflattering. I just don't like it. And you know, I've never been a fan of the ultra-heavy eye make-up Rose wears, but I know it's part of the character in series 1 and 2, but this is the first episode where I was almost distracted by it. Billie Piper is so damn lovely, too much mascara, make-up people. Just too much. The girl's eyes pop on their own, they don't need all of that gunk.

Still, she's so pretty!! See?

- Hah, I laughed at how they hid Jack's nudity here:

Methinks someone had possibly watched Austin Powers not long before writing and/or directing this episode.

- Not a big deal, but I was amused with how the Doctor was just lolling about on the couch while the eviction notice and the goodbyes took place.

- Jack hiding the weapon in his bum was one thing, but my issue with that was when/how did he get it out so seamlessly? Uh huh. Seriously? Hmm, I take back one what I said above about not one single, solitary thing not being off. Eh, okay, it *was* rolling-your-eyes-amusing, in my book, so yeah, my earlier sentiment remains intact.

- I mentioned above the Doctor and Jack scene where they take out the guards and escape but that was when I was waxing poetic about the Doctor's grief over "losing" Rose. Here I'm diving into the shallow end. Why is it so frickin' hot when Eccleston portrays Nine going all physically bad-ass? I don't know why, but it is.

(Watch it here via imeem or download it for better quality from mediafire.)

Jack is in front, kicking ass without taking names, while the Doctor just stands back, and then when one of the guards comes rushing into the fray, without pausing or thought, the Doctor casually grabs and slams him against the wall and then carries on with his business. H-O-T!

- Speaking of Christopher Eccleston and hot, he was looking pretty good overall throughout this episode. Sometimes it's just hard to believe that he was 41 when he filmed this because he looks so much younger (and hot, did I mention hot?).


- I mentioned above how the male programmer's name was mentioned briefly and only as a part of a punchline. That punchline would be the beginning of the Doctor's accusation that for Jack, even a greeting is flirtation. Heh.

- I didn't realize until this rewatch -- because I'd missed the Jagrafess line ...
Female Programmer: Are you saying this entire set-up's been a disguise all along?
The Doctor: Going way back. Installing the Jagrafess a hundred years ago. Someone's been playing a long game. Controlling the Human Race from behind the scenes for generations.
-- that the Doctor is made aware before episode's end that he wasn't responsible for all that happened, but rather that someone had set this in motion WITH the Mighty Jagrafess. It wasn't his play in "The Long Game" that led to what was happening now, that was all a part of someone's evil plan. I liked that; the guy has enough guilt to deal with.

- Speaking of, I thought the explanation for episode seven's episode title -- "The Long Game" was subtly woven into the dialogue above. Nice.

- I can't help but be amused by this bit of the Dalek dialogue at the end:
Dalek: You will obey or she will be exterminated.
The Doctor: No.
Dalek: Explain yourself.
The Doctor: I said no.
Dalek: What is the meaning of this negative?
The Daleks so get that they can use a person's emotional attachment to another to get what they want, and because of this are so damn perplexed when said person doesn't logically react to their threat against that other person. I know I shouldn't, but damn, I love the Daleks. They're a hoot, that's what they are.

- Along with the above that doesn't ever not make me snicker just the slightest, I also love that in the middle of this ultra-dramatic scene we have the perfectly-timed double-take response from all of those watching the monitor with the Doctor after he says, "no." In perfect unison, they all turn sharply to look at him. Really, really great direction by Ahearne.

Finally, handporn! time: Or rather, not. {{sniff, sniff}} No handporn. :( But considering they were separated during the entire episode but for a few brief seconds in the flashback to what happened, that rather makes sense. Oh well.

Still, it doesn't take away a bit just how fantabulous this episode was. Go, Rusty! Kick-ass!

  • Click the image for previous episode rewatch-reviews:

  • Tags: christopher eccleston, doctor who, doctor/rose, rewatch-review, tv

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