Revisiting Doctor Who: Series 1, Episodes 11-13

Here we are, the run-down the the climax of the first season. The Lad is nagging me incessantly to let him watch Doctor Who now, but I only let him watch it with me (for his own benefit, you understand).
Episode 11: Boom Town
The Doctor, Jack and Rose meet up with Mickey in Cardiff, six months after the events of World War Three, only to discover one of the Slitheen had not only escaped the destruction of 10 Downing Street, but has set herself up as Lord Mayor and has plans that put the whole planet in danger (again).
I didn’t have high expectations of this one, I just didn’t remember it being as good as it actually is. Some very funny dialogue, finely tuned performances and real psychological drama make this episode an understated success. The Rift, introduced in the last Cardiff episode (The Unquiet Dead) makes another appearance, in a 21st century setting, getting ready for its central role inTorchwood. The Doctor and Rose finally get suspicious about the “Bad Wolf” phrase following them around time and space, and we glimpse the mysterious, reality-altering force that dwells at the heart of the TARDIS.
The Lad quite liked it but it was a bit too “quiet” for him. And I tell you what, I was really annoyed when the BBC yet again gave away the nature of the bad guys in the two-part season finale that follows… Though the Lad was ludicrously excited when he saw them
Episode 12: Bad Wolf
The Doctor, Rose and Jack are snatched from the TARDIS by an extremely powerful transmat beam and find themselves in futuristic versions of early-21st century reality TV shows and game shows, amusingly hosted by clunky robot versions of the shows’ original compères (and voiced by the real things I think – I didn’t check the credits but they sounded good!). The opening set-piece of this episode amused me as much this time around as it did when I first saw it in 2005, but the Lad didn’t get the references (thank heavens for that).
Our trio soon work out that they are on Satellite 5, 90 years after The Long Game, but history is still off course. Because Max was only a puppet. The real masters of Satellite 5, and by extension the whole of humanity, are… wait for it… [SPOILER ALERT]
The Daleks! A new breed of them, created from human beings by the Dalek Emperor, who managed to escape the Time War but at the cost of its sanity. This episode ends with a rousing, high-tension cliff-hanger that had the Lad jumping on the bed. He had to watch the next one immediately!!!
Great stuff.
Episode 13: The Parting of the Ways
A terrific, near-flawless showdown with more psychological warfare between Time Lord and Dalek, some excellent special effects, and a genuinely nail-biting climax. The direction of this episode is superb, ratcheting up the tension with skill, and the denouement, though arguably a deux ex machina of sorts, is really quite effective when you look at how the ground had been laid for it in previous episodes.
We also get an important event for the setting of Torchwood, and of course, what the Lad was waiting for, a regeneration (and boy, have they pimped up regenerations! They didn’t spout fireworks like that in my day!). Bye bye Chris, it was too short a run, but thank you for ensuring the revival of Doctor Who was such a success.
Bring on the Christmas Special and Series 2!

About Mark Winter

Dark Fantasy novelist (INFERNAL PREY). Blogging on politics and current affairs (GibberLog), science and history (BlatherLog), sci-fi, fantasy & horror (WittlerLog), business, product development & start-ups (MutterLog). View all posts by Mark Winter

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