Bad Wolf

Bad Wolf
In every truly good episode of Doctor Who, the series will, without any visibly guiding hand, comment upon itself. Exhibit A.
In every truly good episode of Doctor Who, the series will, without any visibly guiding hand, comment upon itself. Exhibit A.
Season: 1
Episode: 12
Vital statistics
Air date 11 June 2005
Written by Russell T. Davies
Directed by Joe Ahearne
Episode guide
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Boom Town The Parting of the Ways
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Bad Wolf is the penultimate episode of Series 1. It marks the moment when the audience as a whole realized that maybe Russell T. Davies hadn't been taking his meds lately, a hypothesis confirmed by next season's Love and Monsters.

Plot

Oh yeah, Doc, you totally won the Time War.

Do you know a lot about Big Brother? How about What Not To Wear, or The Weakest Link? No? Well, fucked if I know how to explain what's going on here.

Aliens have secretly been controlling earth for centuries, and now they're doing it with terrible reality television. The VNAs get a namedrop, and Torchwood gets its first mention, so with such dark and edgy fare on its mind, what does this episode give us? Cap'n Jack pulling a gun literally from his rectum, Rose's slack-jawed look of dumbfoundment upon seeing the, ugh, "Anne-droid" disintegrate someone, and the Doctor sulking in the Big Brother house for ages.

Seriously, this episode's fucked up. Moffat says that Journey's End is "peak Davies", but I think the true example is right here. This must be what it's like inside RTD's brain at all times.

David Tennant, watching the episode at home for the first time.

So, it turns out that this is all courtesy of the "Bad Wolf Corporation", which gets Rose to flashback to all the times she's seen it. And then, for her trouble, she gets disintegrated because the only Icelandic city she knows the name of is Reykjavik, which, to be fair, which of us could name any others? The Doctor and Jack get thrown in prison with Lynda-with-a-Y, where some really unsavory things take place, namely the most flaccid fight scene the series has summoned up since Warriors of the Deep.

The new trio head to the control center of the Game Station, formerly known as Satellite 5 and before that as BBC Television Centre, where they encounter some adorable side characters who are all surely doomed. Because it turns out that not only was Rose not disintegrated (darn!), but the mysterious masters in charge of the Game Station? It's the Krotons!

Nah, it's the Daleks, and they reveal that they totally survived the Time War, lol, and then the shit hits the fan.

Reception

Ultimately, Bad Wolf has been regarded as the lesser half of the finale by most butthurt internet spergin' virgins, on account of it being a silly and whimsical lead-in to a violent and bloody regeneration story with one of the highest body counts in the series. Despite this, it's inarguable that murderous reality TV is indeed something the new series needed to tackle, and bridging it to the epic regeneration finale with daleks makes a crude kind of sense in retrospect.