Thoughts on Doctor Who: The Long Game

Doctor Who The Long Game

An episode all about the media and editors? Is Doctor Who having a go at me personally?

My on-again, off-again trek through the first season of the “new” Doctor Who continues, although I’m not at all convinced that anything is likely to top Dalek for a while.

As a reminder, I have (rather obviously) seen all of these episodes before, but in some cases not for quite a while, and this is all just stream-of-consciousness stuff as I watch the episode in question.

And just in case you haven’t seen The Long Game, my traditional spoiler space filler is below. Scroll below at your own peril.

  • I have reasonably fond memories of this one, if only because of the primary guest star. That doesn’t count as a spoiler when he’s in the lead image, does it?
  • We open with Adam exiting the Tardis for the first time.
  • Adam is rather startstruck… spacestruck? I’ve no idea.
  • I’ll admit, I’d have the same dead fish look if this happened to me, although of course we’re not really meant to identify with Adam.
  • Adam promptly faints.
  • “He’s your boyfriend”
  • “Not any more
  • OK, so the laugh count is at 1, and we’re only at the opening credits!
  • My daughter, who is watching with me, says that Rose’s jacket is hideous. She’s probably right.
  • The middle of this spaceship is…. well, it’s basically Walthamstow Markets, isn’t it? And instantly, I’m earwormed with a certain theme tune (and not the obvious diddly dum, diddly dum one!)
Still one of the finest earworms ever written.
  • Christopher is in fine form, even though he’s very much being a dick to Adam. Which, while keeping him “alien” is slightly out of character for The Doctor.
  • On floor 500, the walls are made of gold. That’s going to be… soft. Slippers would be advised.
  • And now, of course, we get to the other star of the show.
  • It’s Simon Pegg! With a seriously creepy beard!
  • Like, really creepy. Of course it’s glued on, and a bit obviously so, but it makes him far more menacing than… well, anything else I can think of with Simon Pegg in it, really.
  • Also, to save time, you can insert the Star Trek jokes here yourself, people. I’m a bit tired.
  • Sign this was made in 2005, again: Rose is rocking a candybar Nokia phone. And it’s still time-charged, and can call back 198000 years. I dread to think about the mobile costs.
  • Even Adam’s family dog is a dick to Adam. I’m sensing a theme here.
  • The head tube information feed thingy is a very fake looking effect — and it was even back then — but damned if it isn’t also creepy as heck. Doctor Who in 2005 might not have had the budget of similar US-based series in the same timeframe, but it knew how to set a mood.
  • The Doctor has found trouble — and he likes it. Now, it’s very by the numbers this episode, but it works because Pegg is good at being a creep, and the Doctor is being… the Doctor. Except to Adam. Who probably deserves it.
  • Suki is going up to floor 500. Where you “never come back”. And the Murray Gold Music has gone very Jon Pertwee with lots of crashing chords, just in case we didn’t get that this was a bad, bad thing.
  • On floor 500, the ground is covered with snow. Or, given it’s the executive floor, maybe it’s cocaine? Definitely not gold, though. I’m starting to think that something bad is going to happen.
  • Ice zombies! I still don’t quite get why, especially in a cold environment like this, the flesh is gone.
  • Suki is Eva, an anarchist — but she’s in serious trouble here. Not even song can save her.
Although the similarity here to Simon Pegg should not be ignored.
  • “I’m merely a humble slave — I answer to the editor in chief”
  • I must remember to use that line in my day-to-day work.
  • “Mum, dad, keep this message, don’t erase it
  • So of course, the dog hangs up. 
  • Yeah, the dog is a dick. But it’s a funny dog, so I’ll forgive it.
  • Tamsin Greig appears! Now, I can line up the Black Books AND the Spaced references!
Although Evan is fairly creepy.
  • The full info spike— that’s a terrible marketing name.
  • The Doctor “doesn’t exist.” And neither does Rose. Also, the bright blue contacts on The Editor work very well indeed.
  • They’ve totally abandoned Adam in a way that’s not very Doctor Who at all.
  • Adam doesn’t want nanotermites. Hmm. I don’t want nanotermites either. Whatever else the editor has done, he’s not done a good job of coming up with marketing names. I suppose if your entire staff are flesh rotting zombies, the creativity will suffer a touch.
  • The Jagrafess is a better effect than the Nestene in episode 1. And of course, WAY better than the Slitheen. Given it’s just a toothy pink blob, that’s quite the claim.
  • Adam is running the Back tothe Future 2 gambit, with the info spike, more or less.
  • The dog, quite rightly, does not like the glowing answering machine. Probably because Adam is on the other end of it.
  • Adam, ultimately, dooms the Doctor. So while they ignored him, he’s at fault.
  • The heat is reversed and the Jagrafess is cooking alive. Which seems somewhat fitting — nasty Doctor Who villian and all that, but…
  • The Doctor is a bit too keen on the Jagrafess cooking. Usually, he’d offer some kind of clemency, or way out. Instead, he just runs and lets it expire.
  • We never actually see The Editor die, so I still have hope for a reappearance of Simon Pegg on Doctor Who. I’m probably the only one, mind.
  • With the peril wrapped up, Adam is dumped back at home, where he should have been.
  • Mind you, he still has the infospike terminal stuck in his head, so he’s basically doomed.
  • He can never go rhythm dancing, use those sound-activated lights, and trips to the parts of Africa where they speak in tongue clicks are right out.

Final Thoughts:

This is a pretty slender story, but the execution is very good, even if Adam isn’t. The interplay between Pegg and Eccleston shines, as you’d imagine it would, and the effects, while very 2005, are perfectly fine. Not quite Dalek level quality, to be sure, but something of a hidden gem in this season.

And with that in mind, it’s time to…

Rank the episodes of Series 1

  1. Dalek
  2. Rose
  3. The Long Game
  4. The Unquiet Dead
  5. The End of the World
  6. Aliens of London
  7. World War 3

This was closer than you might think. The Long Game is a tighter and more focused story than Rose is, and I almost gave it second billing so far. However, Rose has a lot more groundwork to do, and while the burping bin is still a low point, that fabulous speech about spinning planets puts it ahead by the tiniest of margins.

Next time: Father’s Day! Hey, I’m a father. This will turn out well for me, right?

Author: Alex

1 thought on “Thoughts on Doctor Who: The Long Game

  1. The plot is definitely done by the numbers. But the inclusion of Adam and the world building attention to detail really raises this above the usual DW fare.

    Other than the praise given in this article/stream-of-consciousness, I thought the (light) social commentary of the news cycle and the tenancy to miss the big picture in the details was deftly handled. Kathica was brilliant as the small minded, misguided journalist.

    I think Adam’s arch this episode works a lot better in comparison to Rose’s in ‘The End of the World’. In ‘Dalek’ he’s more a version of the Doctor for Rose to fancy.

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