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The casual viewer might be forgiven for assuming that he's ingested the wrong substances and is hallucinating a Doctor Who/Big Brother crossover, but no -- the Doctor really has landed in the Big Brother house. Of the 2002nd century. He's as confused about it as the casual viewer.
Rose, meanwhile, has ended up in a futuristic Doctor Who/The Weakest Link crossover; and Jack Harkness in a Doctor Who/What Not to Wear crossover staffed by naked robots (whom Jack flirts with). The casual viewer may be forgiven for thinking that this is all rather strange...
But no: it's a Massive Multiplayer Crossover. All three have in fact landed in the Game Station, which the Doctor and Rose visited back when it was called Satellite Five. The Doctor expected history to get back on course once the Jagrafess was removed, but is horrified to learn that the power vacuum caused human civilisation to collapse instead. It's 100 years later, and the giant space station is now a home for more lethal versions of 21st-century reality TV . (Hmm... that sounds familiar...) Anyone on Earth can be selected as a contestant and transmatted into a game with no warning, but the Doctor realises that any transmat beam capable of pulling him out of the TARDIS had to be far, far more powerful. Someone wants him here, and he's going to find out who.
The Doctor and Jack escape from their crossovers; the Doctor by realizing he's too important for the system to kill, and Jack by... well, let's not dwell on where he pulled that gun from. The Doctor also takes a girl named Lynda along as a future companion. They all rejoin Doctor Who, but Rose is still stuck inside her game, and she's losing. In fact, she's lost, and the host robot vaporizes her. Christopher Eccleston conveys more hurt and loss with his eyes than most actors can even on a steady diet of scenery.
The Doctor, Jack and Lynda (whom Jack flirts with) are informed that they will be taken to a lunar penal colony to be held without trial or appeal. They respond by breaking out in about five seconds and making their way to floor 500 -- still not made of gold -- where the Doctor demands to know who's in charge and who just killed his friend. Unfortunately, the Controller -- the human supercomputer in charge of the satellite, who was installed at the age of 5 -- can only communicate with members of staff. One such staff member (whom Jack flirts with), however, has been keeping a log of mysterious encrypted signals and unauthorised transmissions, and he agrees with the Doctor's theory that this is just a cover for something else.
The TARDIS turns up in one of the storage bays, but the Doctor's mood doesn't improve until Jack shows him that Rose wasn't disintegrated, merely transported (hug time!).
A solar flare interrupts transmissions long enough for the Controller to explain that she brought them all there, and that she knows who's been behind everything in this period but cannot speak their name. All she can tell him is that they fear him.
Then Rose wakes up, face to eyestalk with a Dalek. This doesn't really improve her situation.
The Doctor's going to be having one of those Mood Whiplash days, though, because the Daleks come through on the comm system and the Doctor sees what he's up against.
- Arc Words: Bad Wolf reappears once more, as the corporation that runs the Game Station.
- The Arc Word for Season 2 also pops-up in the Weakest Link segment.
- And, you know, the episode name.
- Ask a Stupid Question: Jack's response to one of the technicians protest.
Technician: You're not allowed in there, Archive Six is out of bounds!
Jack *holds up his gun* Do I look like an out of bounds kinda guy?
- Badass Boast: Or it would be, if the Doctor actually did what he threatened to do. He doesn't actually save the Earth, and ROSE ends up wiping every last stinking Dalek out of the sky.
The Doctor: This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to rescue her. I'm going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet, and THEN I'm going to save the Earth, and THEN, JUST TO FINISH UP, I'M GOING TO WIPE EVERY LAST STINKING DALEK OUT OF THE SKY!
Dalek: But you have no defences, no weapons, no plan!
The Doctor: Yeah, and doesn't that just scare you to death? Rose?
Rose: Yes Doctor?
The Doctor: I'm coming to get you.
- Call Back: This isn't the first time we've seen a character named "the Controller" turn against his Dalek masters and make a Heroic Sacrifice to help the Doctor defeat them.
- Bonus Call Forward, for sounding so familiar...
- The Doctor once again claims that nothing just gets into his TARDIS, and his horrified reaction that whatever can is definitely not anything good.
- The answer to one of the questions in The Weakest Link is "The Face of Boe". Rose gets it right because she met the Face of Boe before.
- Come with Me If You Want to Live: The Doctor to Lynda after he breaks out of the Big Brother room.
- Deadly Game: Just about all the game shows in the episode except that the "disintegrator ray" is actually a teleporter. Not that it's much better than getting disintegrated when they're being processed into Daleks.
- Disintegrator Ray: The evictions and declarations of the weakest link appear to be this at first, but it's actually a harvesting tool for the Daleks.
- Epiphanic Prison: The same one from The Long Game, except it's grown even worse.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Defabricator. Invoked by name by Jack.
- Facing the Bullets One-Liner: "Oh, my masters. You can kill me...for I've brought your destruction."
- Fridge Brilliance: Why, two hundred thousand years in the future, are there recreations of game shows from one specific time period? Simple: they pulled them out of Adam's mind last time we were here.
- Heroic BSOD: The Doctor after Rose (apparently) gets disintegrated. He snaps out of it in time to lead a jailbreak.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The Controller, who gives the Doctor the last few numbers in the Daleks' co-ordinates even though the solar flares are no longer blocking transmissions. The Daleks promptly transmat her aboard and shoot her dead, but she's satisfied.
- Hypocritical Humor: The Doctor, on reality TV. "The human race. Brainless sheep, being fed on a diet of -- mind you, have they still got that program where three people have to live with a bear?"
- I Kiss Your Hand: Jack and Lynda, immediately after he claimed he was "just saying hello".
- Just Following Orders
The Doctor: "That's the same staff who execute hundreds of contestants every day."
Staff member: "That's not our fault, we're just doing our jobs."
The Doctor: "And with that sentence, you just lost the right to even talk to me."
- Let's Get Dangerous: The Doctor is rendered practically catatonic when he thinks Rose is dead. The first thing he does upon coming to his senses is turn to Jack, tells him, "Let's do it" and then proceeds to take down all of the guards.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Daleks are behind all of Satellite Five's doings.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: With The Weakest Link, Big Brother and What Not to Wear.
- Mood Whiplash: The Big Brother eviction.
- Mythology Gag: The Doctor's Badass Boast above sounds similar to Doctor Who Expanded Universe character Abslon Daak's Catch Phrase, "I'm gonna kill every last stinking Dalek in the galaxy!"
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Turns out shutting down Satellite Five in "The Long Game" simply created a power vacuum, eventually giving rise to an even worse television-based regime as opposed to reinstating the Fourth Great Human Empire.
- The Nudifier: De-fabricator, which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. "Ladies, your viewing figures just went up!"
- This Is Gonna Suck: The Doctor and Jack's reaction to seeing the 200-ship fleet of the Daleks.
- Oh Crap: Davitch after the Doctor's jailbreak.
"Oh my God, now we're in trouble. Clear the floor! He's on his way up here - with a GUN!"
- Even before the viewer sees the Daleks, we get to hear several beats of the loud electronic heartbeat that is associated with their ships.
- Older Than They Think: Doctor Who with dangerous reality TV? That's already been done in 1985's Vengeance on Varos.
- Ominous Hebrew Chanting: What is heard as the camera pans down from the Dalek flagship to show the entire fleet.
- One Steve Limit: There's a Lynda on Big Brother, and there used to be a Linda, but she was evicted for damaging the camera.
- Ontological Mystery
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Controller, who was installed when she was five years old.
- Punny Name
Rose: The android....(stunned) the Anne-droid.
- Running Gag: Captain Jack Harkness hitting on every single character.
- Separated by a Common Language: ...wait, why is the American calling a tank top a "vest"?
- Trailers Always Spoil: The reveal of the Daleks appears in this episode's trailer.
- Teleporters and Transporters: The mysterious transmat
- Title Drop: For the episode, and also for "The Long Game", providing the context for that title.
- Xanatos Roulette: As the Doctor put it, he was being manipulated his entire life. Or his entire Ninth life, anyway.
- ↑ Such as "Call my Bluff" with real guns, "Stars in Their Eyes" (literally -- if you don't sing, you get blinded), "Wipeout" (speaks for itself)...