Saturday, September 10, 2005


Now that I'm reaching the end of my look at this first new season of 'Doctor Who' since 1989, it's time to look back at the series up to this point as far as the phrase "Bad Wolf" is concerned.

The online info-lode Wikipedia has this run-down of all the mentions:

"The phrase has turned up in every story beginning with the second one, with one mention in each of the two-parters. The confirmed sightings of "Bad Wolf" are as follows:

The End of the World: The Moxx of Balhoon mentions in a half-heard conversation to the Face of Boe the "Bad Wolf scenario."

The Unquiet Dead: When the clairvoyant Gwyneth reads Rose's mind, she says, "The things you've seen... the darkness.. the Big Bad Wolf!"

Aliens of London/World War Three: A young boy spray-paints the graffiti BAD WOLF on the side of the TARDIS.

Dalek: The call sign for Henry van Statten's private helicopter is "Bad Wolf One"

The Long Game: One of the several thousand television channels being broadcast from Satellite Five is BAD WOLFTV.

Father's Day: A poster advertising a rave in 1987 has the words "BAD WOLF" defacing it.

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances: The bomb that Captain Jack rides at the end of the story is labelled "SCHLECHTER WOLF", which is roughly "Bad Wolf" (or "Worse Wolf") in German.

Boom Town: A nuclear power plant is dubbed the Blaidd Drwg project, which is Welsh for "Bad Wolf". The Doctor also noticed for the first time that the phrase had been following them around.

Bad Wolf: The corporation that runs the Game Station (formerly Satellite Five) is called the Badwolf Corporation."

Although they don't have it listed, there was another sighting in Parting Of The Ways - and I don't mean the melange of graffiti in the courtyard where Rose has her revelation.

While sitting with her Mum and Mickey in the chips shop, it can be seen written on a flyer hanging in the window right behind Rose's head.

(Check out the Wikipedia entry for "Bad Wolf". They also list the ancillary symbolic references to the term throughout the series.)

Being an adherent of this repeated meme (No, I'm NOT sorry for typing that!), I think the main problem in the end was that the pay-off was overwhelmed by the build-up. One reason so many 'Trek' shows fall back on "techno-babble" is that it's a safety net. If the audience doesn't fully understand what's going on, it's harder to feel let down by the splainin.

Still, it was a fun little puzzle and it might still have ramifications next season. And there is promise of a new puzzle dealing with an anagram that was heard this season. And for that, the prevailing rumor is that it was the word "Torchwood" as heard in the episode "Bad Wolf".



It's been my experience that every major disaster will eventually see itself dramatized in some way on TV. Sometimes a period of grace is observed, especially if there is a great loss of life which might have made the depiction of the disaster traumatic to the viewers. But it's hard to keep such stories safe from the producers who see the chance to earn a few quatloos in the re-telling.

Dr. Sam Beckett found himself plunked into the Gulf Coast just as Hurricane Camille struck in 1969 on an episode of 'Quantum Leap'. Two years after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, it was personalized and fictionalized for an episode of the flashback series 'My Life And Times'.

I remember a few days after the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers in the 9/11 attack that there was a letter to the editor of the New York Daily News that nobody better ever DARE make a movie about the tragedy. (I think the feeling was that it would be fictionalized with some kind of love story, a la "Titanic".)

Leslie Mooonves may have been slapped down with the suggested pilot about a couple who met because they both lost their spouse in 9/11. But for the established TV shows, it didn't take long to tie into the event in some way.
Especially with the dramatic series, plotlines were developed in which some connection was made to the events of 9/11. Cop shows investigated terrorist cells; lawyer shows defended and/or prosecuted people who might have had some link to such groups; and many characters lost family or friends in either the WTC or one of the other plane crashes.

Mac Taylor of 'CSI: NY' lost his wife in the tower collapse; Tommy Gavin of 'Rescue Me' lost his cousin and fellow firefighter. As with the Titanic, the roll call of the dead will swell with fictional characters in the future.

I wouldn't be surprised if, as happened with the Titanic, time travellers from some future TV shows end up visiting the WTC before its collapse. In the venue of cancelled Television, Tony Newman and Doug Phillips might have already materialized in the hallways of Cantor Fitzgerald.....

Another milieu that's always popular is the true-life crime story. The woman who used a helicopter to help her lover escape from jail; the celebrity cases of OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, Woody Allen, and the Menendez Brothers - all have been dramatized for TV.

'Law & Order' thrives on such stories "ripped from the headlines". Meredith Baxter Birney saw her portrayal of Betty Broderick (who killed her husband) spawn a sequel; while the "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fischer - who shot her older lover's wife in the back of the head, only to see her sruvive, - had her crime dramatized on three different networks in the span of mere months.

It's my feeling that with Hurricane Katrina (and the aftermath of damage from the flooding once the New Orleans levees were breached), we have a convergence of both types of stories. We've got the makings for a disaster movie made for Television and a crime story - to be found in the mismanagement and negligence by FEMA to get on top of the situation quickly.

I know that eventually we'll see dramatizations of the events leading up to - and during - the flooding of New Orleans. There will probably be movies of the week, and Sweeps month mini-series, and even individual episodes of such shows as 'CSI: Miami' which will tie into this great disaster.

I think there had to be at least one writer for David E. Kelley's 'Boston Legal' who saw the news story about evacuees being flown to Massachusetts who had to latch onto that for a story pitch.

And considering New Orleans' reputation for voodoo, thanks to the writings of Ann Rice, I wouldn't be surprised if such new shows as 'Supernatural' and 'The Ghost Whisperer' eventually find themselves down in the Delta.....

Many of these dramatizations will probably be about the noble spirit and heroic efforts of ordinary people as they tried to survive and as they tried to rescue not only their loved ones but their neighbors and even total strangers.

But I think the crime story of FEMA's ineptitude deserves to be dissected and displayed in a step-by-step dramatization of what they did wrong. And that lyin' weasel Michael Brown should be vilified in his portrayal. Personally, it would make me sick every time I saw him on TV trying to worm his way out of taking the blame, and I'm angered that he got kicked back home to a desk job in Washington instead of being fired outright for not only his incompetence but for the distortion of his qualifications on his resume.

Such a TV-movie will help the American people understand what happened behind the scenes better than just some talking head splainin it on the news channels. And perhaps it will raise their sense of outrage enough so that such blatant cronyism and patronage can never again prove to be so deadly.

I've got a suggestion for the title of a movie about that Weasel -

'Brownie: One Heck Of A Job'.

It might also give Timothy Bottoms a third opportunity for playing George W. Bush.

As for playing Michael Brown, I'm going to suggest comic actor Jeff Altman. Not only does he resemble the Weasel somewhat, but Altman has had his experience with disasters in the past.

After all, he survived 'Pink Lady And Jeff'.

Just sayin', is all.

At any rate, it's the reality of the situation that needs to be addressed right now. So if you haven't yet made some contribution yet to any of the various relief funds, then please do so. would be a good place to start.....


"I never knew the word 'George' could sound so obscene."
David Fischer
'Six Feet Under'

Monday, September 5, 2005


I found the "half-season finale" for 'Monk' to be fun; a charming outing in which we learned about Monk's "Wonder Years" in grade school. But that doesn't mean I didn't find a couple of quibbles with it.

There were two mysteries running in the episode, as his current case brought forward memories of Monk's solution to a bake sale robbery back in junior high. In the present, Monk helped his former classmate (the same girl framed for the bake sale robbery) when her housekeeper was murdered by home invaders during a burglary.

Have you ever noticed that almost every mystery on Television ends up involving a murder? Do the writers feel the stakes always have to be that high? In some series, sure, it always has to be a murder - 'Columbo' works as a homicide detective, after all; and Ellery Queen wasn't going to be called in for help by his Dad when he was stumped by just a jewel theft. But couldn't the home invasion, vandalism of the painting, and the attack on the housekeeper have been enough.

Yes, it's true that if the housekeeper could have identified her attackers had she lived and there would have been no need for any input from Monk. But if I'm not mistaken, they probably sell ski masks at every sporting goods shop to be found in the San Francisco area. It shouldn't have been too hard for the props guy to supply the two burglars with ski masks....

I've been watching 'Over There' and it looks like the insurgents have no trouble in getting ski masks in the deserts of Iraq.

Besides, one of the burlgars left fingerprints behind on the wall. Maybe they were smudged, I don't know. And maybe I put too much faith in 'CSI" units nowadays, but I think nailing the identity of the burglars would have happened sooner than later.
My only other quibble with the episode was the time period for the back-story of Monk in junior high. He was supposed to be in 8th grade, and it was supposed to 1972. To me, they got the feel for that era right, especially with the clothing. (Monk's shirt was way too familiar!)

But here's the thing - it would have been perfect if we never knew who Monk grew up to be. See, I'm two years younger than Tony Shalhoub, and I know it's vain to say so, but I think I look it. And the same goes for comparisons with Adrian Monk. In 1972, I was in 11th grade, and there was no way I could buy into the idea that if Monk was in 8th grade, he was born in 1958 (the same age as my brother Bill).

For Monk to be believable as an eighth-grader (so that they could take advantage of a fantastic performance by Grant Rosenmeyer as young Adrian - the kid really caught the nuances of Monk's budding ticks), the episode would have had to have been set in 1968. And that was a quantum leap into the past for the culture, the wardrobe, etc. even though it was only six years earlier.

I'll concede that it's probably just me, basing it as I am on my own view of the character in relation to my own age. But still I found it troublesome, as was the need to murder the housekeeper.

A lot of shows would probably be happy for ust a "few" quibbles like these, but 'Monk' can be of such a high quality in its entertainment that I probably hold it to a higher standard than is warranted.


"That dreams and memories sometimes get confused,
Well, that's as it should be.
Because every kid deserves to be a hero.
Every kid already is."
Kevin Arnold
'The Wonder Years'

Sunday, September 4, 2005



With the 11th episode of the new 'Doctor Who' series ("Boom Town"), we were reintroduced to Blon Fel Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen.

I put the first two Slitheen episodes ("Aliens Of London" & "World War III") into an alternate TV dimension because of the destruction of Big Ben and Number 10 Downing Street, and the death of the British Prime Minister. When June of 2006 (when those episodes will take place) comes round and no other show set in Toobworld (especially Brit shows like 'Casualty' and 'EastEnders') mention such cataclysms as having occurred, then you'll see that I was right in moving them.

(Forget Toobworld! God help us if those events occur in the Real World!)

But now with "Boom Town", we just can't leave it over there in that alternate dimension, so we might as well ship our dramatis personae all back to the main TV Universe.

There really wasn't any choice in the decision; for no matter what dimension those first two Slitheen episodes are placed, there are too many constraints on the chronology for "Boom Town" to be kept in the same dimension.

The woman who was murdered so that Blon Slitheen could inhabit her skin was Margaret Blaine, an official/operative in MI-5. And yet six months after the bombing of Number 10 Downing Street, she was now the Lady Mayor of Cardiff, Wales. She had a pet project - a nuclear power plant in the center of the city! - near to completion.

And all that after just six months?

When did she find the time to campaign? And how did she do so without the Press snooping for scoop in her background? Surely news of her election would have reached Harriet Jones, backbencher for Flydale North, who knew only too well the dark secret of Margaret Blaine. After all, she saw the Raxacoricofallapatorian strip off the Margaret Blaine skin to strangle Indra Ganesh.

And wouldn't MI-5, as the former employers of "Margaret Blaine", have taken an interest in what one of their own was thinking when she decided to become Lady Mayor of Cardiff?

And then there's the nuclear power plant. Construction - even approval for the construction! - would have taken years.
Trying to squeeze all of that into the same dimension, same timeline, would be similar to squeezing a wet bar of soap in a slippery fist.

Something's gotta give. So I'm moving the main players back over to the main TV Universe.

I'm not just doing this arbitrarily. Don't worry, I've got splainins for all of it.

I'll start with Mickey. The Mickey of the first two Slitheen episodes was the Mickey who always lived in the alternate universe. He had a Rose and the Doctor in his life, so when they showed up again after being missing for nearly a year, he never questioned that they might have been doppelgangers from another dimension. Why should he? Such an idea would have been outside the realm of possibilities for him.

The Earth Prime-Time Mickey never had any experience with the Slitheen family, and for him, Big Ben never exploded. His first exposure to that earlier adventure would have been when the Doctor saw Margaret Blaine's photo on the front page of the Western Mail. What we never got to see was the scene where the Doctor gave the full recap not only to Captain Jack but to this Mickey as well.

(Actually he probably gave the recap only for Jack's benefit and never realized this was not the Mickey he previously praised for his help in defeating the Slitheens. Like I said before, the Doctor could be pretty clueless at times as to where/when he actually arrived in the TARDIS.)

Jack was already travelling with the Doctor and Rose by the time of "Boom Town" and he met them in the main TV Universe. As for Rose and the Doctor, they crossed back over via the TARDIS soon after escaping the destruction of Number 10 Downing Street in that alternate TV dimension.

That just leaves Margaret Blaine aka Blon Slitheen. And it's an easy splainin for her, really: she escaped via her extrapolator "surfboard". Blon used it to escape the fate of her brothers, riding the shockwave of the blast away from the devastation. But when she also used her personal teleport device (which she would use again in "Boom Town") in conjunction with the extrapolator and the explosion, the combined energies thrust her through the dimensional vortex into a new Toobworld.

She probably figured this out for herself soon enough. Once she got her bearings, it might not have taken long to find out that there was already a Margaret Blaine living in this world.... And that would mean having to dispatch her as well in order to maintain the identity.

Margaret Blaine..... In the alternate dimension, she had been working for MI-5 Intelligence. But in the main Toobworld, I think she was instead the Lady Mayor of Cardiff and already holding that office, serving her first term. The construction of the nuclear power plant had been approved and nearly finished long before, perhaps even during a previous administration.

Basically Blon Slitheen was joining 'The Margaret Blaine Show' already in progress.

Once she learned of this other Margaret, Blon would have quickly dispatched her just like she did the first one. (She probably appropriated her skin as well, since the original might have become a little... seedy, after all it had been through.)

And once she learned about the the possible escape the nuclear power plant could offer her, she began her campaign to eliminate all of those who might cause the project to be abandoned before completion.

For all I know, the Margaret Blaine who had been Mayor of Cardiff might have been in agreement to shut down the power plant. But she was killed by Blon before she could sign off on the deal.

With this splainin, we have plenty of time now between the last known sighting of Blon Slitheen in "World War III" and her return to the series in "Boom Town".

Like I said, the Doctor would have been clueless to all of this back-story. Why should he have known? One dimension is pretty much the same as another to him after all this time. And it's been well-established that he never bothers to hang around long after his adventures for the "tidying-up". So he probably never looked into the fact that this world's Big Ben and Number 10 Downing Street never "blowed up real good", and he probably took it in stride that "Rickey" might have been clueless when it came to who Margaret Blaine really was. ("Don't you even know your own name?")

As for Harriet Jones, back-bencher from Flydale North, there could have been alternate reasons as to why she would one day be elevated to the position of Prime Minister in this dimension. And again, it would be the kind of detail the Doctor would probably have ignored once they met again - which they are slated to do in "The Christmas Invasion" tentatively scheduled to air in the UK on December 26th. (If she acts as though she already knows the both of them, then I'll keep that simple: it happened during an unrecorded adventure.)

Of course, if the events of the first two Slitheen episodes do get mentioned during "The Christmas Invasion", then I'll have to start from scratch......

I hope that splainin helps smooth out the kinks in the timeline for 2006! If not, I'd love to hear what you might come up with. I'm always ready to test-drive new theories......