Doctor Who
Bad Wolf (1)

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Jacob Clifton: A | 1 USERS: A+
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Lynda comes close to tears, and the Doctor calls back indolently over the back of the sofa that it's just a game show, and that Crosbie will make a fortune on the outside. Lynda reacts like he just said that to an American Idol fan: "What the fuck do you mean by that?" Only, you know, sweet. Crosbie trembles, still not through the door. Lynda and Strood dash back and crouch on the edge of the sofa, watching in fear. The Doctor sighs and stretches, and they watch Crosbie stand, terrified, in the white room. "Well, what are they waiting for?" the Doctor laughs. "Why don't they just let her go?" Lynda begs him to stop: "It's not funny." Big Brother counts down the "eviction," and a bolt of energy zaps Crosbie on her feet. ZZZAP! (Here's a list I made on a piece of scratch paper: "Hardy, Josh and Chiara, Man-Troll, Nathan, Robert, Scott and Jase, Diane, Cappy and Fucking Ivette." Try and figure out what it's a list for!) Strood explains to the Doctor that it was, Excellently enough, a disintegrator beam, and the Doctor's thrown for a loop. Lynda describes it, somewhat dramatically, as eviction "...from LIFE!"

The two programmers head onto Floor 500. The male programmer says, "No one programmed the transmat, no one selected the new contestants.. it's exactly like those stories." Lady programmer begs him not to start up, and tells him that he needs a vacation, and he flirts that he'll take it if she comes with. "And don't start that again either," she says. The male programmer is says that "the rumors go back decades," and that there's something "hidden" up on Floor 500,"underneath the transmissions." Lady programmer adds that "the Controller" would know, that she "watches everything." The Editor is now the Controller. But who's the new Demiurge? Not the Jagrafess, he got splodey. THE male programmer says that maybe the Controller is missing it -- "gotta allow for human error" -- and lady programmer says that explains it: "I don't think she's been human for years." Which is funny and cute if you don't know the details of the poor Controller, but once you see her, they're not hard to deduce. Borg Queen by way of La Virgen De Guadalupe -- all wires and strung up in a web, pale and bald and small and lovely, breathing and whispering and monitoring transmission.

The Doctor paces around the house yelling at Lynda and Strood for just stepping "right into the disintegrator" when requested: "Is it that important, getting your face on the telly? Is it worth dying for?" Lynda tells the Doctor that they don't have the choice, and Strood informs him they haven't used an application process for centuries. Not since Series 7 did so well on DVD, I'd imagine. "The transmat beam picks you out at random, and it's non-stop: there are sixty Big Brother houses running all at once." The Doctor's shocked, and Strood clucks almost sadly: "They've had to cut back. It's not what it was." The Doctor shrieks that it's a "charnel house" and asks what, if the losers get blown to carbon, the winners get. "They get to live," says Lynda, pointing out that, given the shittiness of the situation, it's a pretty great prize. It takes him five seconds of being horrified and superior to flip to the next card in his mental Rolodex: "Rose is out there. She got caught in the transmat. She's a contestant. Time I got out." He confirms -- as a camera zooms in for us -- that Linda with an "I" was evicted for damaging property, and then sonics the camera, destroying it. I won't go to the broken-camera place again exactly, except: when we line up every week to watch these people die -- when one single episode where nobody dies is reason to dance -- isn't the difference that they're something fictional? And wouldn't Strood's blasé reply tell you that this is the same thing? I don't want to be trite, but I do feel like there's a point to routing every third angle through the surveillance cameras. Number one being that in a surveillance culture, everyone's a star, but also: if Rose died, wouldn't that make you sad? Sadder than if Lynda with a "Y" died, for example? And when people die on the news, how sad is that? You can't feel every death like it's your grandma, but the horror here compared to that is not across a gap; it's just a matter of degree. I'm not taking a moral stand, just saying the exaggeration in this story isn't located precisely where I thought it was, because the truth still stands that if you're not tasting your entertainment with your whole tongue, you're starving and it's your own fault.

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Doctor Who

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