The Doc robs a cash machine; Rose drinks a cup of beef; and Adam proves he’s a prick by getting a hole drilled into his forehead.
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The 9th Doctor, Rose and whatshisface (annoying, token English guy – Adam. That’s right.) materialise aboard a news broadcasting satellite at the peak of the 4th Great and Bountiful Human Empire, only to find that everything seems to be about 90 years off.
Journalists have plugholes in their foreheads to transmit news straight from the brain; there are no aliens around; and the only thing on anybody’s mind, except for ‘Kronk burgers’ and the aforementioned plugs, is being promoted up to the satellite’s auspicious Floor 500, where the walls are made of gold.
The editor in chief is watching them, though, as is his adjutant (played masterfully by Simon Pegg).
Time for Doc & Friends to stop the presses.
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The Long Game is the first example of modern-Who’s reach exceeding its grasp. Every story so far has been faithful to it’s core ideals. Rose is the companion intro. episode, The End of the World the ‘future’ adventure episode for the new companion, the pseudo-historical of The Unquiet Dead, and political satire of Aliens of London/World War Three (whether it’s misjudged or not is debatable). Dalek is, well, Dalek, the perfect episode re-introducing the Doctor’s worst enemy. The Long Game is…the one on the space-station? The one with alien overlords of the human race? The satire of how information is consumed in the modern age? The rejection of a companion?
It’s difficult to pin down. At the heart of it, this story feels akin to the 1980 C.Baker, McCoy stories such as Vengeance on Varos, The Happiness Patrol, and Paradise Towers. The rulers of information, the Jagrafess and The Editor (Simon Pegg’s potential here as an actor very much wasted) must be overthrown as their grip of society is wrong. I don’t disagree with the message, neither do I in the 80’s stories, but it is all very political. The problem lies in the overload of themes and ideas in one story. The brief outline I gave earlier highlights most of them. For example, we have the heating system of the station and the mysterious floor 500, plenty to go on here for an episode. We have the info-spike technology, shall we explore that some more? Nope, too busy, political allegories to get through and new companions to sort out. Russell T Davies bit off more than he could chew here, resulting in a muddle of an episode that never fulfills any of it’s key themes.
I like to look back on the episode as the one that exemplifies how not to be a companion. DON’T try and use time travel to selfishly benefit yourself. DON’T leave the Doctor to investigate things himself while you don’t even have the decency to get captured and turn up at the end. DON’T stick a big hole in your head, you berk!
Honestly, a lot of these things are fair-game but at the same time I find it hard to criticise Adam. Rose can be just as selfish, if not as self-serving, as Adam by ignoring Mickey and swanning off with with the Doc, particularly when we enter the 10th Doctor territory. Why then do we criticise Adam? His knowledge of the future will change future events, true. But The Doctor does this all the time! In the Myth Makers he’s the reason Troy is sacked, in the Romans he burns down Rome, not to mention all the fluctuations of events in numerous stories like The Sun Makers and Frontios. This is taken to the extreme in Waters of Mars as the Time-Lord Victorious decided to directly intervene in set events. In Bad Wolf this comes to bite the Doctor in the arse, he states that the Earth history is ‘wrong’, he openly admits ‘I created this world’ polluted and dependent on reality TV under Dalek rule. His meddling in the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe’s own meddlin! g leads to Dalek rule over Earth! Who the hell is he to reject Adam seeking further knowledge!?
Oh dear, I think this just went Biblical. Lets step back. The Doctor to his companions is essentially God, the Doctor to the lives of those he intervenes in is God; we see this so much in Doctor Who, in A Good Man Goes to War with Lorna Bucket, Amy Pond’s adoration of the Raggedy-man, and so on. In Bad Wolf, The Doctor’s God-like decision making in The Long Game proves how fallible he really is. Who’s to say Adam’s use of the info. gained in this world wouldn’t help humanity? The Doctor says this of course, and the Doctor is God so we agree with him. Just like a good companion should…
The Long Game gets a 2.8