Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 1x07: "The Long Game"

Written by Russell T Davies
Directed by Brian Grant

If there’s one thing I’m beginning to realise about the new Doctor Who, it’s the fact that this show likes to be able to push certain social and political issues in a way that akin to the likes of Buffy (Whedon’s fun metaphorical slant) and also in a rather confrontational manner.

If last week’s stunner of an episode played with bigotry and intolerance, then this hour’s take on the cutthroat world of media, is, well rather unique.

Okay, to be honest it’s hardly State Of Play but points to Russell for showing ambition in this series, even if his fifth scripted episode out of seven episodes is easily his weakest so far to date. This isn’t a personal favourite of mine.

The Doctor, Rose and new boy Adam land on the mysterious Satellite Five in the year 200,000 in a light and breezy opening sequence which kind of indicated a less serious tone than last week. We’re soon introduced to a world where no aliens are on board and the workers in question distribute the news in how they see fit, thanks to a chip and spike upgrade in their heads.

They are literally computers so to speak but do not retain the mass amount of knowledge they package. The two workers who we meet and are only explored are Cathica and Suki, both women on the opposite side of the spectrum in the principals of Satellite Five.

For when she gets promoted to Floor 500, we soon learn that Suki is really an anarchist out to find out about Satellite Five’s real operations. No surprise then to learn that this media distributing factory is really corrupt and lead by The Editor (played nearly to perfection by Simon Pegg) and a disgusting roof creature named the Jagrafess.

Suki’s attempts of putting things right only end up with her being made into a mindless operator. Hardly the promotion of a lifetime, is it? This episode in itself is all about how destructive and beneficial certain knowledge can be but the pacing in a lot of places however is either sloppy or rather dull to be honest.

With Suki almost too quickly dispatched the focus on Cathica is thankfully a little more rewarding. At first she bored me senseless with her constant whining about not breaking protocol and her reluctance to ask questions or even be the tiniest bit curious about Satellite Five, which is uncharacteristic for a journalist.

That got emphasised during the scene with The Doctor and Rose attempting to override the codes to get up to Floor 500. It’s a bloody good job then they did a 360 with Cathica shortly afterwards.

Relegating The Doctor and Rose from The Editor and Jagrafess until the final act should’ve been advantageous to their face off but sadly the one we got on display lacked bite. Some sarcasm between The Editor and The Doctor is amusing but over too quickly and a rather simplistic argument between them about slavery, though funny confused me a bit.

For an episode that looked to be striving to be debatable, a deeper set of theories from The Doctor on freedom and choice would’ve been interesting. It also didn’t do this episode any favours by having the Jagrafess easily dispatched, turning The Editor into a wuss at the end and having Cathica saving the day instead of The Doctor and Rose.

However this episode wasn’t an entire failure as Adam’s quest for knowledge took a surprising turn. After Rose’s encouragement of phoning home, Adam ended getting the same upload as Satellite Five employees (watch out for an amusing appearance from Tamsin Gregg as a nurse) and nearly cost The Doctor and Rose their lives.

I wish I could’ve sympathised with the guy a little more but in light of the danger he caused and the experiences he’s had of his own, I think The Doctor forcing him to live a normal life back home was a fair punishment. It’s just a shame we only had him for two episodes. Even Rose didn’t put up much of an argument to get The Doctor to change his mind.

Not that Adam’s disownment is a total shocker. After all, The Doctor and Rose spent a large amount of time together in this episode without him and again the strength of their relationship was explored during scene with both Cathica and Floor 500.

Adam also went out of his way to note that even he couldn’t get in between them too. I wonder if part of his quest to be much smarter had been down to jealousy or trying to be an intellectual equal to The Doctor? I guess we won’t be finding anytime soon.

Also in “The Long Game”

Satellite Five news: 200 dead on Venus, the Face of Boe is pregnant and one of the TV stations was called “Bad Wolf”. I’m beginning to wonder that “Bad Wolf” might have something to Rose and not The Doctor as such.

The Doctor (re Adam): “He’s your boyfriend.”
Rose: “Not anymore.”

On Satellite Five you were either classed as ladies, gentlemen, multi-sex, undecided and robot.

Suki: “You’re my lucky charm.”
The Doctor: “I’ll hug anyone.”

Suki’s lies were that she was born on the 199/9/89; she was from the Independent Republic of Morocco and had joined Satellite Five for financial reasons. The truth is her is name is Eve San Julian, a self declared anarchist and last survivor of Freedom 15.

Cathica: “You’re not management, are you?”
The Doctor: “At last, she’s clever.”

Reasons for no aliens on Satellite Five were due to emigration threats and the price of space walk doubling. Cathica didn’t go into detail over the minor reasons.

Adam: “I’m going to be sick.”
Nurse: “Special offer, we installed a vomit-o-matic at the same time.”

Type 1 of the fancy headwear has a 100 credits and no scarring while Type 2 has full intro spike and 10,000 credits. Adam chose the latter.

The Editor: “I was hoping for a philosophical debate. Is that all I’m gonna get, yes?”
The Doctor: “Yes.”

How much knowledge did The Doctor give to Adam? The Editor acquired quite a lot of it, didn’t he?

Cathica (to The Editor): “Oh no you don’t. You should’ve promoted me years back.”

Adam: “But I want to come with you.”
The Doctor: “I only take the best. I’ve got Rose.”

Adam’s been away from home for six months. Did he tell his parents the truth or fob them off with a travelling story?

With such a phenomenal episode last week, I was kind of expecting “The Long Game” not to be as impressive but there was a lot of stuff that didn’t just gel with me. We got way too much plodding around the place during certain and the amount of techno babble was kind of excessive. It’s an interesting idea, deterred by disappointing execution, thereby making this the weakest episode of the season.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

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