Bad Wolf & The Parting of the Ways (Joint review)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 22 June 2005 - Reviewed by John Byatt

Having been rendered a gibbering wreck by the absolute wonder and awesome quality of "Bad Wolf", I have somehow got my brain to function after being absolutely blown away by "Parting of the Ways".

Where does one start with something of this quality?

I want to begin by saying that the last thirteen weeks have been a revelation. Who would have thought that after the "death" that Doctor Who died in television terms back in the 1980s, that anyone at all could bring it back to life, let alone recreate it in the form of the magnificent piece of drama that it has now become in such a short time?

For this, Thank You Russell T. Davies, and everylast one involved in making Doctor Who. You have warmed the hearts of many fans in many places, and it's not over yet.

Who would have thought that an actor like Christopher Eccleston would not only play the part of the Doctor very well indeed, but would put such power into the part that he would leave people in wonder, in awe, in fear, missing heartbeats in utter delectation, week after week, so that he would become the best Doctor Who ever? And as for Chris leaving so as not to be typecast, well, that is already done. To many fans and even casual watchers alike, Chris Eccleston IS Doctor Who... And as for those who think "that's it," that Chris's Doctor is gone for good; think back at what has been done before, The Three Doctors? The Five Doctors?

So, Russell (T. Davies), Chris (Eccleston), writers, all those involved; please say you'll think about it! The possibilities are endless.

But now to this great finale of what has been arguably the best story of the whole series, and certainly the best RTD written one.

I was rendered largely speechless by the deep exploration into emotions in "Bad Wolf", yet did not write a review for it, so I suppose this is for the whole story.

I am one of those who was initially sceptical at the use of the reality television strands in this story, as like some, I cannot stand Big Brother, (and yes I have watched it), but I like The Weakest Link, partly because I like general knowledge quizzes anyway. Anyway, I thought Anne Robinson was a brilliant sport to voice this episode, and in the end the result was very credible. The concept of some "unknown" alien force exploiting the human trait for watching reality TV, in order to get the better of them in some way was a brilliant idea, (I loved seeing Trine-e and Zu-zana's heads blown off) and it worked totally.

One thing in particular that has impressed me about this series from the beginning is the high quality of acting by all involved, and especially the facial expressions that convey things like fear, anger, joy, bewilderment, disappointment, confusion, utter devastation, and so on. These have been so convincing as to be able to take the viewer along with those feelings to the point where they seem real.

The almost twin look of grief/anger on the Doctor's face as he witnesses Rose's "death" at the disintigrator beam of "Anne Droid" was a priceless moment that will live on in the hearts of fans everywhere.

The look on the faces of Captain Jack, Lynda (with a y), and the other Sattelite Five operators as the Doctor told the Daleks "No." was just as gobsmacking as the corresponding look on Rose's face, which was a ruddy picture. The Doctor said he was coming for Rose, and he didn't waste time either, landing the Tardis so that Rose was inside it, but also with one Dalek which was quickly "exterminated" by Jack.

"Let's go and meet the neighbours!" What an entry! So, the Dalek Emperor survived, and I must admit I never though of that; for some reason I was half expecting to see a trans-mutated-insane-alien-human-hybrid or-something-or-other in the form of Bruno Langley.

The concept of blasphemy, and of the Dalek Emperor being worshipped as some sort of immortal or god, was indeed weird, but fantastic.

Where did they learn these concepts from? My theory is that the lone Dalek in episode six - which downloaded the entire Internet - did not destroy itself. Instead, perhaps it lied to the Doctor when it said it had found nothing in the skies. Did it sort of "beam up" somewhere where this knowledge was imparted to the remainder of the Dalek race?

Had they perhaps driven themselves insane, not only by hiding away for hundreds of years, but by hiding away for hundreds of years poring over the Internet, which as most of us know consists of some good stuff, a lot of mediocre stuff, and a lot of decidedly dodgy stuff as well?

Of course, in science fiction anything is possible.

The force field was brilliant. Force fields in science fiction are such a common occurrence, that they can be overdone or else be too obvious. But this one augmented the Doctor's character so well, so that his seeming "extermination" stopped four feet in front of him, making his "Is that it?" with a wide grin and open hands an absolute masterpiece of dark humour. It was done so well, you "could not see the join", so to speak.

The next part I have to comment on is Rose being "sent home" and told by a hologram of the Doctor to let the Tardis die and have a fantastic life. Here again we come to those beautifully done expressions, this time on the faces of the Doctor, as he reluctantly sends the Tardis on what he thinks will be a one way final journey with his friend inside; then Mickey, as he struggles with the happiness at seeing Rose, but with her turbulent emotions at not only being separated from the Doctor, but also being powerless to help him; thirdly, Jackie Tyler as she tells Rose that although she "hates that man", at the moment she loves him because he sent Rose back home safely.

Finally, Rose herself, as she tries to convey to her Mum and Mickey just how angry, helpless, frightened, and almost grieving she feels at this seemingly hopeless circumstance... In these scenes, we saw - in my opinion - the best acting from these four of the whole series, bar none.

Then, when Rose is sat on this bench talking to Mickey, probably just beginning to think that she might have to accept the situation, - along comes "BAD WOLF" emblazoned on the playground in front of them, right before their very eyes... Not a warning! A message?

Well is it? Rose is suddenly galvanised into action. It means a link. A way back! A way to help the Doctor after all he had done for her! Surely! And yes, but What a way. After an abortive attempt in Mickey's car, (I see he's got rid of the yellow VW from episode One), and Jackie Tyler rolls up with a breakdown truck. Brilliant!

Some heaving and pulling, some shouting by Jackie, this brilliant white light, the Tardis doors slam shut, and Rose is off for a ride in the Tardis that would have a greater effect than anyone would have thought possible. The Doctor's kiss with Rose - if it ever was going to happen at all - had to be something more significant than a mere snog, and this was done excellently, with the Doctor having a clear reason for doing this that would help save Rose from the absolutely mega power of the Tardis, to close its heart, and allow him to continue after this completely discumknockerating and unexpected ending for the Daleks.

So Rose's actions ended the Daleks threat to the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. But they also brought life, to some at least.

Or at least to Captain Jack, who had definitely been "exterminated" by the Daleks. So, what of the others on board Sattelite Five, (Lynda with a y), the rest of life on Earth? Presumably the latter, surely!

So, we come to the regeneration, the final seconds of the Doctor (as played by Chris Eccleston), and to the first seconds of the "new" Doctor (as played by David Tennant). How many different ways of regenerating the Doctor had been thought out before landing on this one? Well, whether it was one or a thousand, it could not be better. And to have the Doctor regenerate in the Tardis with Rose there to witness it! I am running out of ways to say "Brilliant", "Awesome", or as the Doctor would say "Fantastic". I dare say some will be sceptical, because there is no doubt that Christopher Eccleston has been a "Fantastic" Doctor, and one might say, he has left a hard act to follow. But I'll wager this; David can do it. And the Doctor and Rose will be more awesome than this. But there's only one way to find out; materialise in front of the telly at Christmas. Fantastic. (Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways, 12/10)

(The Whole Series, 10/10)