New Who: The Story Thus Far – Series 1 (Episodes 7-13)
John Hussey continues his series analysing the revival, with the second half of Series 1.
‘The Long Game’
Series One continued to move Doctor Who back into the swing of things with the seventh episode of the revived series, ‘The Long Game’. The story started the build-up towards the first finale (though at the time this wasn’t known to viewers) with the introduction of Satellite Five and the mysterious activities of human manipulation of the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. The function of Satellite Five was to produce and broadcast news to the entire Empire on Earth below but the news was manipulated by the Editor (Simon Pegg) and his boss the Jagrafess (who were later revealed in the series to be pawns for a greater game).
‘The Long Game’ was unique in the sense it actually saw the Ninth Doctor eject a companion from his TARDIS on the account of them misbehaving. This idea was good, but it didn’t really do anything for the plot and wasted a perfectly good character (who was, in my opinion, deliberately written badly solely for this purpose and to demonstrate Rose’s reasoning for being chosen as a companion by the Time Lord – she was the best). Had the story gone a different way and the character was treated differently Adam Mitchell could’ve been a very different and perhaps improved. Unfortunately, he never got a chance to shine or gain any real development and will forever be looked upon by many fans as the companion they wish to forget and received one of the shortest lengths aboard the TARDIS (rivalling Katarina and Sara Kingdom). The ‘Bad Wolf arc’ was given a further reference by having one of Satellite Five’s broadcasting channels called ‘Bad Wolf TV’.
With ‘Father’s Day’ we delved further into Rose Tyler’s character and it really gave her more depth and emotion. Her character tackled a natural human impulse: to use time travel to their own advantage. Unlike the selfish attitude Adam took in ‘The Long Game,’ Rose wanted to do something that would help another, i.e. her father Pete Tyler (Shaun Dingwall). He had died when Rose was a baby and by using time travel she had hoped to cheat death by rescuing him from a hit-and-run incident. The story also incorporated the possibilities of ‘paradoxes’ and ‘fixed points in time’ within the narrative of the new series. The paradoxes shown included having more than one set of the Ninth Doctor and Rose witnessing both Pete’s death and also his rescue by Rose. The second was Rose touching her younger self. The fixed point in time displayed was Pete’s death and it was established as much by the Ninth Doctor (which angered Rose as she wanted nothing else but to see him alive and well instead of being horribly taken from her before she could get to know him). This situation led to the Ninth Doctor and Rose falling out (something that hadn’t happened since their earlier adventures) but after the long emotional journey, it in fact brought them even closer together within their relationship.
Rose’s actions obviously had clear consequences with the unleashing of the Reapers who attempted to cleanse the tears in time by devouring everyone in sight. The Reapers appearance also made the interior of the TARDIS disappear, which shocked the Doctor when he unlocked his TARDIS doors to find it was nothing but an ordinary police box. The last fatal consequence was the Doctor actually being killed; devoured by one of the Reapers that entered the church due to a further blunder on Rose’s part. The miracle of the story was allowing Rose to spend time with her deceased father with him actually acknowledging the fact she was his daughter from the future. The heartbreaking conclusion saw Pete’s sacrifice in order to revert time back to normal (with everyone who had been killed being brought back to life). Rose was granted her wish of being with her father at the point of death so he wasn’t alone. The ‘Bad Wolf arc’ got another mention with it being written upon an Energizer poster.
‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’
The second set of two-parters introduced viewers to the mind of Steven Moffat (who would, like Mark Gatiss, become very involved within the future of the show). ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’ took the Ninth Doctor and Rose to Blitz London where, amongst the bombardment of the Nazis in the skies, we also had the trouble of a mysterious object (later revealed to be a Chula Warship) crash landing in the centre of this, along with the dark after affects it left behind. The whole idea of a child being the main villain of a story was unthought of within Doctor Who and gave this narrative an extra edge of creepiness and suspense. Children are found to be quite creepy within some genres (especially in horror) and the sweet innocent voice of the little boy Jamie (Albert Valentine, voice by Noah Johnson) just created a tense atmosphere. You wanted to pity the boy and yet be afraid of him knowing the consequences of touching him; you’d become like him, a gas-mask zombie with the mind of a child who craves only to seek out his mother.
‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’ was responsible for the introduction of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). Like Adam in ‘The Long Game,’ Jack’s introduction as a companion wasn’t straightforward. He had to prove himself worthy to rise to the occasion of hero. It wasn’t clear at first whether or not he was on the side of good or bad. Jack was simply a con-man trying to gain a personal bit of vengeance on the Time Agency he once worked for after they erased two years worth of memory. The Chula Warship was discovered to be his property and the Ninth Doctor was angered by him due to the fact he was careless and allowed the monstrosity of the gas-mask zombie plague to begin in the first place. This reveal gave Jack the kick he needed and ultimately allowed him to be accepted by the Doctor and allowed onboard the TARDIS as his companion.
The true beauty of this story was the fact it held a lot of revelations on an emotional level and the fact the Doctor finally received a well-earned reward of happiness. The reveal that Nancy (Florence Hoath) wasn’t in fact the child’s sister but actually his mother was a real shock for both the audience and Jamie. She had lied to both the world and her son due to the shame of being an underage, unmarried woman with a child. The secret finally being revealed gave the unanswered question of “Are you my Mummy?” closure and allowed the plague to end once and for all. The Nanogenes that had been released from the Chula Warship (the tiny micro robots whose job was to heal mankind in a case of injury within battle) finally discovered what humanity was really meant to look like through the DNA of the Empty Child’s own mother and their twisted ideas of how humanity should look like finally ended. This result ended with the Ninth Doctor having a conclusion where everybody was alive. All of the victims to the Nanogenes were reverted back to their original selves. This really began the Ninth Doctor’s long road to redemption from his guilt over the after-effects of the Last Great Time War. It even resulted in the Doctor having a dance onboard the TARDIS with his companion (something that had never been seen before in Doctor Who). Yet again the ‘Bad Wolf arc’ gained another appearance in the form of the German bomb that was meant to destroy the Chula Warship. It had the words “Schlecter Wolf” written on the side of it which is German for ‘Bad Wolf’.
For the first and last time in the Russell T Davies era, a newly-designed monster was brought back for a second full-on appearance as a villain. ‘Boom Town’ saw the return and conclusion story for the Slitheen Family who had first appeared in ‘Aliens of London/World War Three’. It’s arguable that this story wasn’t as good as their first appearance and in many ways could’ve been tackled better or just not have been written in the first place in favour of a better penultimate story. At the same time ‘Boom Town’ does hold a lot of meaning, especially towards the consequences of the Doctor’s life on the people around him and also on the character of the Ninth Doctor himself.
Margaret Blaine (Annette Badland), better known as Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen, was revealed to have survived her death and she was now Major of Cardiff. In an attempt to gain both vengeance and escape over Earth for her past defeat (and the loss of her family) Margaret planned to build a nuclear power-station at the centre of Cardiff which was set to meltdown and open the Rift. This would in turn grant her transport away from the planet through her Tribophysical Waveform Macro-Kinetic Extrapolator whilst also bringing about the destruction of Earth. The Rift had first appeared in ‘The Unquiet Dead’ and was now again at the centre of attention within the narrative, along with seeding the spin-off show, Torchwood.
The Ninth Doctor was tested, being confronted by Margaret by the means of dining with the enemy. She made him face his dangerous lifestyle and the consequences it holds. One of the main points she made was the fact the Doctor constantly kept moving without ever daring to look back due to fear. Another thing she pointed out was the fact the Time Lord was near enough as bad as her enemies due to all the blood on his hands and his constant actions that resulted in the death of those who wronged his way of thinking. This scene was very powerful and really put the Doctor in perspective to both the audience and himself. ‘Boom Town’ was very much about redemption from the wrongs one had committed in their lives. This implied heavily on both Margaret and the Doctor. In the end, all Margaret wanted was to start afresh and was eventually granted her wish after looking into the Heart of the TARDIS and was regressed to an egg.
Mickey Smith made a return and joined the newly formed trio within the TARDIS on their holiday in Cardiff whilst the TARDIS refuelled using the Rift. During this time Rose learnt the hard way of the cruel acts she had put Mickey through by abandoning him harshly at the end of ‘Rose’ (which is one of the flaws of her character – she was selfish and too dependent on the Doctor). Rose was saddened by what she had done and even thought upon the ideas of redemption during the closing scene. ‘Boom Town’ may not have been anything special but it was important in putting the ‘Bad Wolf arc’ into the centre stage by having the Ninth Doctor acknowledge (after discovering that Margaret’s power-plant project was named “Blaidd Drwg” which was Welsh for ‘Bad Wolf’) the repeated occurrences of the word being seen throughout their journey’s in time and space.
‘Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways’
Series One came to its end with ‘Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways’ which brought about a conclusion to the ‘Bad Wolf arc’, the mysteries behind Satellite Five and of course the regret and sadness bearing on the shoulders of the Ninth Doctor. The reappearance of Satellite Five opened the doors to many revelations that shocked and near enough haunted the Ninth Doctor. It was established that the Doctor’s victory at the end of ‘The Long Game’ resulted in a terrible defeat as he discovered the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire was reduced to chaos after the news broadcasts were stopped. The Editor and the Jagrafess were but pawns in a long game that resulted in the return of the Doctor’s greatest enemy: the Daleks.
Satellite Five had been turned into the deadly Game Station which had the losers of the twisted game-shows apparently killed via disintegration. As it turned out all the losers were actually transported to a secret Dalek fleet hidden by the Game Station and turned into Daleks. These insane hybrids were ruled by the Dalek Emperor (who somehow managed to survive the Last Great Time War) who rebuilt the Dalek Empire and deemed himself the ‘God of the Daleks’. The Ninth Doctor was near enough frozen by this discovery. He believed his enemy were all destroyed at the conclusion of ‘Dalek’ but now seeing them reborn and stronger than ever filled him with fear. Nonetheless his warrior instincts (developed within the hells of the Time War) kicked in and he devised a way to destroy his enemy once and for but with a price: humanity would also be destroyed in the process.
The Ninth Doctor showed off his true feelings for Rose by first sending her back home in order to protect her from death. During this deadly battle that left everyone onboard the Game Station exterminated by the Daleks (including poor Lynda who was so close to becoming the Ninth Doctor’s latest companion – which was sad really because she was a sweet young girl with high spirits) the Ninth Doctor finally reached his redemption. He threw away what he had become in the Time War (which was later greatly explained within ‘The Day of the Doctor’) and regained his name and meaning as ‘the Doctor’. Instead of once again taking the path of destroying an innocent race at the cost of killing the enemy, the Ninth Doctor decided to become the coward in order to keep his sense of right and wrong (or in many ways his soul) and chose to accept his fate of death.
Rose, on the other hand, went through a massive journey to complete the meaning of the ‘Bad Wolf arc’. After being sent back in time she realised upon seeing those words in her time (and of course recalling the Game Station was run by the Bad Wolf Corporation) that this meant there was a link between her and the Doctor. Mickey also really redeemed himself after his outburst of sadness and anger in ‘Boom Town’. He actually became a hero and aided Rose in rescuing the Ninth Doctor. Even Jackie gave a helping hand, now becoming one with the new life her daughter led. Another character who was granted some well deserved character development was Captain Jack who really rose to the occasion of a hero after being a coward within ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’. He fought to the death against the Daleks in order to give the Ninth Doctor the time he needed to build his Delta Wave and kill the Daleks (even when knowing it would kill him as well).
Mickey and Jackie aided Rose in unlocking the Heart of the TARDIS and the young companion became the ‘Bad Wolf’ to save her Doctor. She used these newfound god-like powers to destroy the Daleks and their insane Emperor (which was thought to have finally brought the Last Great Time War to its conclusion). Rose brought Captain Jack back from the dead after he was cornered and killed by the Daleks. The Ninth Doctor realised these powers were of his own doing and he decided to save Rose before they killed her. He, again, showed his true feelings to her through a passionate kiss which soaked up the Heart of the TARDIS and returned it to its rightful place. This of course led to the Ninth Doctor regenerating due to absorbing all of the Time Vortex into his body which caused every cell in his body to die.
The Ninth Doctor had truly come to a full sense of redemption and went out appreciating himself in his final words as he said his goodbyes to Rose Tyler. Before her eyes the Ninth Doctor burst into a flame of regeneration energy and morphed into a younger man: the Tenth Doctor. His cheeky little smile and his new dashing looks (along with his observation of new teeth and his promise to their trip to the planet Barcelona – as promised by the Ninth Doctor) it marked the beginning of a whole new era within the newly established new series with a cliff-hanger that left the audience shocked and wanting more.
Top Three Best Moments
3. The Ninth Doctor’s brilliant reward of witnessing everyone surviving near the end of ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’.
It was a beautiful moment to witness because the Ninth Doctor was filled with joy (something we rarely saw within his incarnation due to the deep sadness he bore from the Time War) and it gave him hope that he could do something right again.
2. The Ninth Doctor confronting the Dalek Emperor and deciding to become the coward in ‘Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways’.
It was the moment where the Ninth Doctor finally received his redemption and became the Doctor again. He had finally stepped away from the dark choices of the Last Great Time Lord and decided to make the right choice this time round.
1. The Ninth Doctor saying his farewell speech before his regeneration at the conclusion of ‘Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways’.
It was a fitting final scene for the Ninth Doctor and made me really sad to see him go. I had grown very attached to his incarnation and in many ways he was my true first Doctor (having been the first incarnation I watched from start to finish rather than watching one off episodes during his time off-screen between 1989-2005) so it served as a very emotional scene and one that allowed the Ninth Doctor to go out with a smile in wake of his replacement.
My verdict on the second half of Series 1
- ‘The Long Game’ – 8/10
- ‘Father’s Day’ – 10/10
- ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’ – 10/10
- ‘Boom Town’ – 7/10
- ‘Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways’ – 10/10