As if the prospect of Dalek invasion was not frightening
enough, RTD offers us the potentially more nightmarish scenario that reality
television will be around for the next two hundred thousand years. With shows
like ‘Big Brother’ and ‘The Weakest Link’ set to run for the next few geological
eras, enslavement by the Daleks looks positively benign in comparison.
Someone has been playing the ‘long game’ indeed, as the Doctor and his companions
find to their cost when they are whisked away from the TARDIS by a transmat
beam after completing another off-screen adventure in 13th Century Japan.
The Doctor ends up in the Big Brother house, whilst Rose and Captain Jack
find themselves on ‘The Weakest Link’ and ‘What Not To Wear’ respectively.
Pretty soon they realise that these versions of the shows are not quite what
they seem, as homicidal androids and disintegrating beams are deployed on
The idea of reality TV gone wrong is of course older than reality TV itself;
1968’s ‘The Year of the Sex Olympics’ is probably one of the earliest examples.
The satire in this episode also seems to owe a lot to ‘Judge Dredd’ (the comic
strip and not that naff film with Sly Stallone), particularly one adventure
where Dredd’s house robot tunes into illegal pirate TV broadcasts.
Talking of robots there’s a fair few of them on this episode, with voices
provided by the people they are mimicking. I don’t know how well this will
go down in the states and other places where they may not have heard of Davina
McCool, Trinny and Suzanna and Anne Robinson. Over here it was a hoot.
The robots have more than a little bit of Dalek about them, the Anne Robinson
droid being fitted with a death ray that shoots from her mouth. But of course
it isn’t quite what it seems, as the Doctor as the others realise later on.
Amongst the non-celebrity supporting cast Lynda (Jo Joyner) seems to be
one to watch, as well as having the honour of being one of the few people
the Doctor has openly flirted with, she also seems potential companion material.
Martha Cope also puts in a good performance as the Controller, an unfortunate
human female who has been wired up to a computer since the age of five. This
seems like a nod in the direction of ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ where a young
girl was connected to the Dalek battle computer. It seems that it was she
who transmatted the Doctor and his companions to the Game Station (Satellite
5 a century after ‘The Long Game’), where she hid them in the stations continual
out put of deadly game shows. Apparently the Daleks don’t watch reality TV,
something very much in their favour it has to be said.
This episode, as one would expect, helps to tie up a number of loose ends
from previous episodes, particularly the aforementioned Episode 7. We are
also given a flashback sequence for the eponymous Bad Wolf references in a
scene that owes a lot to the Brigadier regaining his memory in ‘Mawdryn Undead’.
However we are still none the wiser as to the true nature of the Bad Wolf,
something that Davies et al have teased us with since ‘The End of the World’.
What we do learn is that Bad Wolf is the name of a network (something we
already knew from ‘The Long Game’) that now specialises in reality TV, which
it broadcasts to the stupefied population of Earth.
All of this of course is a cunning plan by the Daleks, who are lurking at
the edge of the solar system in a giant fleet of saucers. These were very
similar in design to the saucers on the rejigged scenes in Dalek Invasion
of Earth DVD. Other nods towards past Who were also present in the way in
which the Daleks were not revealed until near the end of the show, in true
Terry Nation fashion. As if that wasn’t enough we had Rose being menaced by
a sucker arm in a Dalek POV shot straight out of their first appearance four
decades ago. The Daleks’ Master Plan is now their ‘stratagem’ and they concluded
the episode with a traditional chant of ‘exterminate, exterminate.’
However this wasn’t the real cliffhanger, which was provided in the previews
for next week, which gave us a mysterious voice telling the Doctor, the Daleks
‘survived through me.’
So who does this voice belong to? With Who fans being warned to stay away
from the Internet this week and a press screening set for Wednesday, its going
to be hard not to find out one way or the other before the episode airs next
Saturday. Almost everyone from the Master to Davros by way of the Dalek Emperor
has been postulated as Bad Wolf. I have my own theories about this and my
general feeling is that it will be someone from the continuity established
during this series. However, only time will tell…