The Long Game

Home Forums Episodes The Ninth Doctor The Long Game

This topic contains 11 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  tardigrade 3 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #26539
    Craig @craig
    Emperor

    The Doctor, Rose and Adam arrive on a space station that transmits TV programmes to Earth. They soon discover that any worker promoted to a position on level 500 never returns.

    The Doctor and Rose attempt to find out what is happening. Adam investigates part of the station himself and makes a decision he’s going to regret for the rest of his life.

    #26558
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Actually, it’s interesting watching this episode after just watching the Time Meddler, and remembering the resistance some have to the transient nature of the Universe the Doctor inhabits (largely of the opinion that time couldn’t/shouldn’t be re-written).

    Here, the Doctor materialises in the future, but it’s clearly not the future he knows and was expecting. “It’s the wrong shape”. The technology, the attitude of the humans to other species, it’s all wrong. I actually quite like this episode (which I’m led to believe from a long time on the internet may put me in a minority), but I think the satire in it works for me because its not so forced, and it benefits from a great turn from Simon Pegg, who is particularly odious as the Editor. He’s odd and disquieting, and the performance reminds me of some of the sketches of a weird show he was in called Big Train.

    I saw hours of testimony in the Leveson enquiry where they pontificated on the power of the media, but I don’t think anyone approached the simplicity of this line, and its simple truth:

    Create a climate of fear and it’s easy to keep the borders closed. It’s just a matter of emphasis. The right word in the right broadcast repeated often enough can destabilize an economy, invent an enemy, change a vote.

    It’s that repetition and setting the tone of the topical agenda that can have an accrued effect. The Proprietor (The Jagrafess) expelling his hot air while the Editor tailors the news towards “informing” the public with that message.

    Nice to see Tamsin Greig in Doctor Who. It’s just a small part, so here’s hoping she gets another turn in the future. With Capaldi as the Doctor, perhaps they could have a Neverwhere reunion? (OK – their characters never met in that, but what the hell).

    I think the idea of a companion who couldn’t cut the mustard was an interesting one to explore, but I’m not convinced by how it was executed. It seems really rushed considering we only met Adam in the previous episode, Dalek. There really isn’t enough time to know or care about him, so it actually doesn’t have much impact when the Doctor abandons him to who knows what fate. I think I read somewhere that the original intention was to have Adam stealing the knowledge because his father was terminally ill and he hoped to find a cure. I’m not sure how that would have played out on screen. It would be interesting to look again at the idea of a Companion who travelled with the Doctor for their own ends, but hiding it from him for a longer period.

    I’d completely forgot that the Face of Boe had been reported as being pregnant in this one, so that raised a chuckle bearing in mind the “revelation” at the end of Series 3.

    #26561
    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift – I haven’t re-watched this one yet (maybe tomorrow) but in regard to your comment about the Face of Boe, in the pilot episode for Torchwood, Jack’s talks about the oestrogen in the rain and says “At least I won’t get pregnant. Not doing that again!”. Seems he changed his mind 🙂

    #26563
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @fatmaninabox

    Ahh.. Your knowledge of Torchwood does you proud. The mental image that came to mind that provoked the chuckle was along these lines:

    “For Gods sake – someone get me an epidural”

    #26564
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    I never really counted Adam as a companion, so the ‘companion doesn’t cut the mustard’ didn’t work at all for me. For one thing, they had Mickey, who started out not cutting the mustard and then slowly grew up into someone who was capable of being a companion.

    For another, it’s obvious at the beginning of the episode (when Adam faints) that this isn’t going to work. Not nowadays, not when the Doctor can control the TARDIS well enough to take Adam back home.

    But again, we have to remember that this is Series 1 of the reboot; I suppose we needed a demonstration for all those very new viewers of ‘the Doctor doesn’t just take anyone’.

    The special effect for the datastream; now very reminiscent of the dalekised humanoids, with the eye coming out of their foreheads.

    Nice makeup for Simon Pegg; very creepy. All white and red, like a reanimated corpse.

    It’s interesting that RTD’s original idea for Adam was that he’d have a decent motive for stealing this information. But they were right to drop it; it wouldn’t have worked. This early on, everyone would simply have expected the Doctor to cure Adam’s Dad.

    As it is though, Adam comes across so badly in this episode. I think that was why he never registered as ‘companion’ in my mind. He was manipulative, he lacked physical courage, he was quite happy to freeload and he wasn’t even naturally adventurous. There was never anything about him that said ‘companion’.

    The closest equivalent to Adam was, I think, Turlough. And even Turlough had a reasonable justification for being a treacherous git.

    No, Adam didn’t so much not cut the mustard as never had the mustard passed to him in the first place. He probably doesn’t even like mustard. 😉

    Getting back to the plot, why the hell would a space station need to channel heat downwards? Wouldn’t a loop cooling system be better? @phaseshift, any idea?

    Christopher Eccleston is so much better when he’s being serious, I’m beginning to like his Doctor when he’s serious. Ooh, I can start saying I like Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, even if only sometimes. That’s a vast improvement for me. Yay, @fatmaninabox, for insisting on the RTD retrospective. 😀

    Oh, dear, those manacles. The rest of the set design is very nice, but those manacles are almost as embarrassing to wear as the optical brain-reading thingy in Quatermass and the Pit.

    Yup, fairly straightforward denoument. As soon as you know Max needs to be kept cool, you know how to kill him. And given that he’s in the middle of a room full of zombie corpses, the Doctor’s probably not feeling like negotiating.

    But PhaseShift is right – the whole story – especially the Adam part – seems really rushed. Series 5 did this sort of thing much better, giving us several episodes to get used to Rory before he was abruptly removed from the scene. Then we had another set of episodes to get used to him not being there.

    But Series 5 had the luxury of time. By then, they knew that – even if Matt Smith, or Karen Gillan or Arthur Darville hadn’t worked out – the success of Eccleston and Piper and Tennant meant that the BBC could simply have replaced the actor concerned. Moffat knew he had three series to set up his long game for the Fiftieth.

    Here, there’s an undercurrent of ‘we have to rush, we have to try everything – because we may never get another chance.’ They barely made it to episode 13, and that because RTD wrote eight of the episodes himself.

    Okay, next up is Boom Town, which I also didn’t watch on broadcast. I probably thought something along the lines of ‘Not more farting aliens!’. 😈

    #26566
    janetteB @janetteb

    I am in agreement with you on this episode @phaseshift. I rather liked this episode, a dose of astute politics, (good depiction of Murdoch as a roof hugging monster), cameo performances from Tamsin Greig and Simon Pegg and a lovely performance from Anna Maxwell Martin. There was a lot to like though I also agree with @bluesqueakpip that it did feel rushed and Adam’s role has always confused me. He was never a likeable character and I was relieved when he was written out so quickly but there felt little point in including him at all. Maybe “Bluey” is right in that he was there purely to demonstrate that not everyone is up to being a companion. At this stage RTD is still establishing the rules for a new generation of viewers.

    Cheers

    Janette

    #26567
    The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman

    I really don’t like this episode. For me it’s probably the worst story of series 1. Others have mentioned Adam, but I also don’t think the satire works. The episode depicts the media being bias and controlling information, which we all know happens in real life. The problem is that the characters are completely ignorant of this and it seems like the audience is supposed to be shocked when they find out. Maybe it is a surprise for children (which is admittedly what a lot of the audience watching was made up of) but for someone older like myself, it really isn’t.

    #26569
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip

    It’s interesting that RTD’s original idea for Adam was that he’d have a decent motive for stealing this information. But they were right to drop it; it wouldn’t have worked. This early on, everyone would simply have expected the Doctor to cure Adam’s Dad.

    I think you’ve just articulated why I think it would be problematic. If he’d declined to do something about it, it would be hugely unsympathetic even with a complete knob like Adam. Because we’re skipping Fathers Day (which followed this), I also think it was a bit too near Roses position in that episode – a desire to use the potential for time travel to save a father. It would have seemed a bit curious to compare the treatment of the two – while he berated Rose in that episode for her actions, there is forgiveness and a certain amount of understanding at the end.

    Getting back to the plot, why the hell would a space station need to channel heat downwards? Wouldn’t a loop cooling system be better?

    I think it’s said that Max lives at the Penhouse (notional top) of the station, so “downwards” is the way to go. Effectively, orbital constructs are pretty well insulated because they have to deal with temperature extremes (hulls vary between 150 – minus 150oC depending on whether you’re in the sun or shadow of the Earth). So I’d imagine that, in the sun, they channel heat to the lower decks , and the when in shade try to dissipate it through the hull. A more difficult question is just how much it eats to have a metabolism like that though – an astronomical amount of calories. 🙂

    @janetteb

    Heh – I can’t help thinking the Jagrafess is a good deal more cuddlier than Murdoch. And Desmond. And Black… God, the list does go on, doesn’t it?

    @thekrynoidman

    The News is a curious phenomenon – most people who read it seem to suggest they suspect an awful lot of it is bollocks, and it’s written with a distinct bias. It doesn’t stop academic studies demonstrating that certain things from their paper of choice, which are bollocks, seem to stop in the memory over time, and settle in the consciousness as “things we know”. Even unmitigated bollocks seems to take root over time in a surly “well, there’s no smoke without fire” way. I’ve always thought it useful to have an occasional reminder for the grown-ups, as well as introducing the fact to Children at an early age.

    #26607
    PhantomTollbooth @thephantomtollbooth

    The News is a curious phenomenon – most people who read it seem to suggest they suspect an awful lot of it is bollocks, and it’s written with a distinct bias. It doesn’t stop academic studies demonstrating that certain things from their paper of choice, which are bollocks, seem to stop in the memory over time, and settle in the consciousness as “things we know”.

    This reminds me of something from 1984:

    “If all the records told the same tale- then the lie passed into history and became truth.”-George Orwell

     

    #26608
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @phaseshift, @thephantomtollbooth

    These reflections are one of the reasons that this site is the only site that I subscribe to.

     

    #41894
    Cath Annabel @cathannabel

    I enjoyed this.  Simon Pegg, Tamsin Greig, Anna Maxwell Martin and Agent Weaver from SHIELD – lots to enjoy.  The satire is, as @thekrynoidman says, not exactly subtle and the adult audience will be sceptical from the outset.  But the line that @phaseshift quoted is a damn good one, and worth wheeling out on a regular basis.  We know, as grown-ups, that the media and governments may be distorting the truth, or being highly selective, or simply lying – but we are influenced nonetheless.  The endless repetition of the rhetoric of ‘hardworking families’ versus skivers for example, or the way in which the current refugee situation is reported, or the reporting of the Hillsborough disaster …   It does its work.

    Yes the manacles were very silly.  And also (if one is going to quibble, and I think one is, a bit), how did Adam have so much info on the Doc, when he’d only met him so recently, and when both the Doc and Rose were still being fairly cagey about what they told him?  When did Adam learn that the Doctor was the last of the time lords?  Hmmm.

    But enjoyable nonetheless.

    Next up is Fathers Day.  That was the first episode in new Who through which I wept pretty much non-stop. (It wasn’t the last.)

    #51148
    tardigrade @tardigrade

    I don’t have that much to say about this one. Reasonably solid story, even with the satire laid on with a trowel. It was perhaps the first time that I thought the Doctor’s character was falling into a pattern recognisable to long-time viewers, so while this wasn’t a stand-out episode by any means, it did feel like it was returning towards something I could feel was “my Dr Who”. Simon Pegg was brilliant, but I found myself wishing that Tamsin Greig had more to do.

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