The Doctor: Lynda, you’re sweet. From what I’ve seen of your world, do you think anybody votes for sweet?
Production Code: 1.12.
Doctor Who Season: S27 (Ep12).
Story Number: 166a.
After last week, another story which is a “sequel” to one earlier in the season…
While Boom Town took up the plot-threads of World War Three (and to a lesser extent The Unquiet Dead), with a recap of the earlier Slitheen story before the credits, this story recaps The Long Game – before a similar-to-last-week title-card, except it’s “100 years later” rather than “six months later”.
This weaving together of stories in a season was hardly the Doctor Who norm before 2005 – sometimes with The Key to Time or E-Space there was an ongoing plot but mainly it was hopping from adventure to adventure, “always moving on” as Margaret phrases it in Boom Town – “because you dare not look back” she continued.
So it’s not just the “sequel” aspect that harks back to the previous episode, but this theme of the Doctor leaving a mess behind he never has to clear up or think about again, usually – “your funny little happy-go-lucky life leaves devastation in its wake” suggests Margaret Slitheen – as the Doctor discovers as Lynda explains that the Earth began its descent to the state it’s in now exactly 100 years ago, after the Doctor’s intervention.
So the Doctor has to consider the consequences of his adventures in time and space for two stories in a row, two stories in a row are “sequels”, and also, two stories in a row mix up the mundane and fantastical. If the Boom Town way of doing this seemed a homage to Pertwee’s maxim about the Yeti in Tooting Bec, the mundane here – warped versions of Channel 4’s Big Brother, and of The Weakest Link and What Not to Wear are perhaps RTD’s way of easing a mass audience into a story that posits Sci-Fi Saucers filling the darkness of space to be Saturday Prime Time Entertainment.
Not that the emergence of the Daleks and their Saucers at the end of the first half of the story aren’t spectacular – they are – it’s just that for a decade before 2005 this sort of stuff filling the airwaves of BBC One on a Saturday evening would have been unthinkable. Science Fiction as popular entertainment? Of course now in 2011 Doctor Who is one of the BBC’s flagship shows, but it wasn’t quite yet in 2005 – after 2005 yes, but RTD and the rest of the production team has no idea whether the relaunch of this programme would continue beyond the first 13 episodes or not.
As well as certain parallels with the previous story, there’s a symmetry with the second episode of the season and this second-last one – Doctor and companion (whether Rose or almost-companion Lynda) gazing out from the space-platform to the Earth below – only this time it’s doom and gloom rather than wonder: there’s one more episode of the season still to go though, the second half of this story…