I've just caught up with last night's Doctor Who episode Bad Wolf. For many years I've been a fan of the series, being (until this year) one of the last viewers who started watching it on Saturday evenings many years ago. (And before anyone asks, Colin Baker is my favourite Doctor.)
Bad Wolf was perhaps the most surreal entry into the series but surprisingly also one of the strongest. The preview and the teaser at the start of the episode initially filled me with uncertainty - the Doctor on Big Brother? And the reports of Rose on the Weakest Link and android versions of Anne Robinson and Trinny & Susannah filled many fans with a sense of horror. But instead we got something quite good.
(Obligatory spoiler warning.)
Of course it's by no means original. The idea of a spacestation which broadcasts a series of tacky gameshows in which the contestants don't get out alive has been done before, even in one of the Doctor Who novels from Virgin Publishing, Time of Your Life. But then the episode Dalek is openly a rehash of the audio play Jubilee and ultimately virtually all fiction conforms to one of only a handful of story structures. And Doctor Who has long been shameless in copying and parodying.
Nevertheless the episode was a great deal of fun to watch. However it reinforced the somewhat traditional view that the Doctor should only have one companion - there was little that Captain Jack contributed to the plot that could not have been performed by either the Doctor or one-off characters. Otherwise we were faced with a strong surreal mystery, tension when it was revealed that everything was more than a game and drama towards the end. The appearance of the Daleks could have been a real surprise, had it not been for leaks by the press (and the BBC including them in the trailer last week!). As for the identity of the mystery entity whom they survived in - well for those with large collections the voice is clearly the Emperor Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks. I guess that Adam (from the episode Dalek) is too obvious - maybe Mickey (Rose's boyfriend) or the Face of Boo (from the episode The End of the World - whom I don't think we've actually heard speak yet) for complete random guesses. In a week's time you can all laugh at what a silly guess this has turned out to be.
Anyway it was a good one and the climax next week looks like the current series is going out on a high. At some point I'll post my comments on the run as a whole.