TV Club: Bad Wolf & The Parting of the Ways

TV Club reaches the end of Series 1 and the end of the Eccleston era in the very first RTD grand finale! What are your thoughts on this epic Dalek confrontation and explosive regeneration?

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4 Likes

I go back and forth on the whole Bad Wolf situation. On the one hand it is seeded throughout the whole season, on the other hand it still feels incredibly Deus Ex Machina. But then again we have the whole “Coward, every time” and the TARDIS saving the Doctor by using Rose as a vessel (that’s how I read it anyways :slightly_smiling_face:), but that again leaves us with that ridiculous kiss between the Doctor and Rose. But then again it leaves us with Captain Jack Harkness, Immortal Extraordinaire and Torchwood which is really good, but on the other hand it wastes so much time on the stupid game shows (popular culture that is super aged by this point).
It does gives us Billie Piper’s absolutely best performance later on in Doctor Who as the Moment though, but also her worst when she says “Emperor” in that ridiculous way in the series 2 finale.

Still it is the best of the RTD finales in my book, it has a good narrative structure.
Overall I give this story 3/5 :star: , those bombastic RTD finales are just not my jam, and stuffing our screens with thousands of CGI Daleks just makes them less scary as a villain.

Enough of my inconclusive train of thought, let’s hear from someone who really enjoys this story instead :wink:

8 Likes

The fact this finalise is set in the future is a big part of why it works for me

Even more than any other finale until seasons 9/10 the stakes just feel real, you believe the doctor could die, you believe that Jack’s dead, you believe that Rose’s life is at stake and all of that just works for me

10 Likes

I mean, Parting of the Ways is just the perfect finale, isn’t it?

Bad Wolf is alright - that cliffhanger alone makes the episode worth it, even if the next time trailer spoiled it - but the choices of outdated gameshows mean the episode really doesn’t age well.

But then comes The Parting of the Ways and RTD has been chasing the high of this finale for years now.

When people talk about how the Daleks were scariest in Dalek, I simply point them to this episode later the same season. Massive, war mongering, actually incredibly deadly, the Daleks here really feel like the dominating force of evil they were written to be and the god complex the Emperor gains doesn’t exactly help.

The relationship between the Doctor and Rose is utter perfection here, the scene where the Doctor sends her away is utterly beautiful and her insistence on returning to save his life is the perfect culmination to the character’s relationship in the first series.

And this is up there with Heaven Sent for best episodes surrounding the Doctor’s character, it’s this finale and specifically the “coward or killer?” scene that make Eccleston my favourite Doctor from the revival. How RTD managed to write such a concise, tight and close ended character arc is beyond me considering some of his later efforts. The PTSD ridden veteran finally discovering empathy and compassion again after years of trauma, it’s utterly beautiful.

The whole Bad Wolf thing is a little strange, I think everybody agrees it’s not the best way to end that arc but I like that it’s a deus ex machina that the show forced to have consequences since Eccleston left. Imagine if he didn’t, this would be one of the worst endings in the show.

The kiss was pretty bad though, they probably should’ve taken that out.

But then it’s followed by Nine’s regeneration, which is easily the greatest regeneration scene in the show: the dialogue, the acting, the way RTD manages to explain it so well to the audience and to Rose, this is miles beyond “I don’t want to go” and “I’ll always remember when the Doctor was me” in my opinion, Nine’s last lines are my favourite of any Doctor.

So yeah, I like Parting of the Ways just a little bit. The Bad Wolf stuff got a little corny but, easy 10/10

(Oh yeah, and Bad Wolf is like a 7/10, but the episode’s a package deal so it doesn’t matter)

9 Likes

I strongly agree with what you said. Personally I am giving the Deus Ex Machina a pass, since it’s the first season.
When I watched it for the first time the Bad Wolf thing blowed my mind and I still love it. What I don’t like is that it feels like a lot of the season arcs since then feel like they are trying to do something similar… just a lot more lazy?
I think I could give the kiss a pass too if it wasn’t for all the Rose/tenth Doctor stuff that followed. Which is honestly hard for me to bare.

10 Likes

While I rather enjoy Bad Wolf, The Parting of the Ways doesn’t do a lot for me. Yeah, they seeded Bad Wolf/Heart of the TARDIS previously, but it just becomes a ‘Magic saves the day’ situation, which I’m not a fan of.

That being said, I do like that it does tie up a lot of what had happened earlier in the series, such as Satellite 5, Bad Wolf, Daleks return etc.

All in all, I give this a 3.5/5 (7/10) due to the mixed nature of it for me. Good, but with flaws.

My rating system

5.0 Perfect/Fav
4.5 Excellent/Fav
4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fine
2.5 Meh
2.0 Bad
1.0 Very Bad

8 Likes

Literally took the words out of my mouth. Watched these with some friends (them for the first time) last night and spent a long time trying to remember this phrase, but it is a classic RTD deus ex machina. Especially in light of the newest series it made it painfully obvious how repetitive the new series was…

But to the episode in hand. I do adore this story. I think a lot of it is nostalgia to me - I was obsessed with this series at such a fundemental part of my life that the magic then really did do it for me. And despite now being an adult and some of the beats working less for me than they used to, ‘have a fantastic life’ never ever fails to get me.

‘Love saves the day’ is an annoying and trite trope but this is a rare occassion where I think it does in fact work because Rose has spent all series getting more and more obssessed with the Doctor, so the extreme of her ripping open the TARDIS doesn’t feel like RTD pulled it completely out of his arse.

The Daleks here don’t do anything too too interesting but the idea that they’ve been quietly grooming the human race in order to steal people away and turn them into a new breed of Dalek is quite horrifying. I suppose with so much going on in the episode, trying to dig deeper into that would have bloated things immensely, and it probably is scarier to just have that going on in the background anyway. Certainly not the most boring and formulaic use of them anyway.

And of course the Annedroid is still hilarious.

13 Likes

I’m a little surprised, nay disappointed, that there are 6 posts in this thread and nary one mention of poor, tragic Lynda with a Y.

Is there anything more heart-rending than her final scene?

10 Likes

:scream::scream::scream:

Lynda with a Y! The greatest should-have-been companion since Ray!

8 Likes

You really know the way to a man’s heart, don’t you! :heart_eyes:

6 Likes

I mean, just look at them :grin::blush:


tumblr_n9uzemuYiq1qlk4meo5_250

7 Likes

I absolutely adore this finale. Fun opening set piece, the 9/Rose/Jack trio are as strong as ever, Lynda with a Y is great and you have to wonder what it’d be like in an alternate world where Eccleston stayed and Billie Piper left, making 9 and Lynda the team for series 2!

Bad Wolf ends on a really strong cliffhanger and Parting of the Ways lives up to all the buildup, the Daleks are a really oppressive force, Eccleston plays every scene brilliantly, I love the scenes with the Emperor, the hologram scene is heartbreaking and the regeneration manages to double down on it.

And it’s such good storytelling to make the climax of the story a recreation of the circumstances of the last day of the Time War, “coward, any day”/“maybe it’s time” are character defining and the perfect closure for the Doctor who’s defined by his process of healing from the war.

This story makes me wish that RTD wasn’t showrunner right now, so that he’d hopefully have the time to write a novelisation of this two-parter! It’s the revival novelisation I’d like to read most for sure.

11 Likes

I’ve never praised this finale as others have, don’t get me wrong it is some really solid Doctor Who.

I’ve never really been a fan of Rose which certainly hinders this finale. The Deus Ex Machina is something that always bugs me in a finale too but I do enjoy how it creates the character of Jack Harkness into Torchwood Jack. I also enjoy all the interaction with the Doctor and the Daleks especially the Emperor

Overall solid but not the best by any means for me.

9 Likes

19 years and a few more RTD finales on and I think this was not only RTD’s best finale, but one of the best of New Who too. Yes it is a bit Deus ex Machina, but I find it less extreme than a lot that will come. This is such a dark story, almost an “everybody dies” of a story. The daleks are genuinely threatening, an unstoppable force moving through the station. Rose is a shining beacon of hope.

I do wonder how different we’d view this story if Eccleston hadn’t left the role in this episode. If this was just another adventure and not his regeneration. Regardless this is a tremendous send off for his Doctor and a nice conclusion of his character.

10 Likes

The best season finale of Nu Who. A great set-up to a thrilling conclusion, some of the pop culture references have of course dated but it’s all so damn entertaining. The quiet character moments, especially those between the Doctor & Rose in The Parting of the Ways. Far more emotionally impactful to me than the more traditional romance between her & 10. Eccleston realising the Daleks have survived, first masking his feelings with comedy. The action & that finale! I could go on & on. What an incredible return for Doctor Who this was.

Sadly it was so successful that I feel subsequent seasons felt the need to replicate the seeding of an arc throughout, often to the shows detriment & also the go bigger everything & the kitchen sink finale.

10 Likes

A fantastic end to a great season. I think that this sums everything up in a fantastic way and it was a great choice to have this set in the future and make the stakes feel more real.

10 Likes

I appreciate this point even more after the most recent final.

8 Likes

I love this finale. The scene with rose as bad wolf is probably my most researched scene in all of doctor who, with the music, the acting, I just adore it.

I think the game shows are a bit cheesy but actually terrifying, and so are the daleks. I think it helps that we haven’t seen them very often in the new series at this point, they don’t feel like a gimmick yet.

What really makes this story work are once again the characters. Just, every death feels real, the doctor is so emotional and hurting and loving, Jack is being Jack and Rose is just wonderful. It’s beautiful to see how much she cares for the doctor.

What I wish we could have seen is only some repercussions for Rose becoming Bad Wolf, I think that would have helped it be a little less out of nowhere (though I don’t really mind it).

12 Likes