THE LONG GAME

The Doctor and Rose have taken Adam to a space station in the year 200,000.

The Long GameSue: What a dump! It looks like a bloody garage. If Rose wants to impress Adam so she can shag him later, she should have taken him somewhere nice, not a shit hole like this. I think the Doctor is jealous and he did this on purpose.

When Adam is presented with a spectacular view of Earth, his slack-jawed expression says it all.

Sue: If I had a TARDIS, I’d do this all day, every day.
Me: You’d impress other people’s boyfriends?
Sue: I’d pick someone new up every day and then I’d do this to them, just to see the look on their face. And then I’d take them back home so I could do it again with somebody else. It’s the same feeling you get when you give somebody a Christmas present they weren’t expecting and they absolutely love it. It’s a great feeling, that.

Cue titles.

Sue: So is Adam a proper companion, then? I barely remember him, so I guess he can’t be.
Me: You barely remember Nyssa.

Satellite Five is suddenly transformed into a bustling promenade full of hungry people queuing next to burger vans.

Sue: It reminds me of the Bigg Market in Newcastle, only they’re wearing more clothes and nobody’s punched anybody yet.

The Long GameThe Doctor doesn’t understand why there aren’t any aliens on this space station.

Sue: It’s because you blew your alien make-up budget a couple of weeks ago, silly.

The Doctor meets two journalists – Suki and Cathica – who agree to show him around. They work for one of the many news channels which broadcast from the station, including Bad Wolf TV.

Sue: Did Rose actually see that? I bet she didn’t. What a massive waste of time. If her future-self is trying to get her past-selves’ attention, she should stop treating it like a game of Where’s Wally?

Satellite Five broadcasts 600 channels of content.

Sue: It’s basically Media City in space. And it reminds me of Brazil. The film, not the country.
Me: It’s nothing like Brazil.
Sue: Yes it is.
Me: Oh look, it’s Simon Pegg.
Sue: My doesn’t he look young.
Me: I wonder what happened to him.
The Long GameSue: Yeah, you don’t see Simon Pegg very much these days.
Me: I was joking, Sue. He’s Scotty in Star Trek!
Sue: Oh yeah. But apart from that.
Me: Well, he’s in the Mission Impossible movies and –
Sue: All right. Calm down. If you ask me, it’s all been downhill for him ever since Spaced. They should bring Spaced back. Or make a new one, like a British Big Bang Theory, only funny.

I tell her that RTD sent the basic idea for this episode to the Doctor Who production office in the 1980s, but it was rejected.

Sue: That doesn’t bode well. How bad could it have been? I’ve seen some of the crap they produced in the 1980s. I’m worried now.

The Doctor, Rose and Adam watch as Cathica broadcasts the news through a spike that’s been implanted in her head.

Sue: Ah yes, I remember this now. This is the episode that turns into Big Brother.

Simon Pegg’s Editor answers to a higher authority.

Sue: Am I supposed to understand a word of this conversation?
Me: No.
Sue: Good. Although I think they missed a trick here. They monster should have growled with an Australian accent. Cos it’s obviously supposed to be Rupert Murdoch.

Before I can ask Sue to demonstrate what this would actually sound like, Rose makes a fatal error.

Sue: Big mistake, girl! Never give a boy you hardly know the keys to your house. That’s how Neil moved in.

The Long GameWhen Suki arrives on Floor 500 to accept her promotion, she finds herself in a dark and deserted anteroom. Thankfully, she came prepared.

Sue: Who brings a torch to work with them when the walls are supposedly covered in gold? Who the **** does that?

Suki explores her frost-covered surroundings.

Sue: It isn’t the Cybermen, is it? Plastic curtains always remind me of the Cybermen.

Suki finds some desiccated corpses instead.

Sue: I don’t remember this episode at all. Have I actually even seen it? I could have sworn this had something to do with Big Brother.

Suki eventually confronts the Editor. But she isn’t really Suki – she’s actually a freedom fighter called Eva Saint Julienne!

Sue: What is she waiting for? SHOOT HIM IN THE HEAD! What kind of terrorist is she? How on Earth did she last this long?

Suki is killed by the unseen creature who lives in the rafters.

Sue: Oh no. I really liked her. That’s a bit of a downer.

Adam, meanwhile, has sloped off to acquire as much knowledge as he can about this era’s computer technology so he can make a quick buck in the past.

Sue: Why not ask for a list of winning lottery numbers instead? Wouldn’t that be a lot less chew?

The Long GameAdam is sent to Floor 16, where he meets a friendly nurse played by Tamsin Greig.

Sue: Oh, I love her. She’s brilliant. She should be the next Doctor. I’m serious – she’d be perfect. I’ve been saying it for years.

The nurse persuades Adam to have a spike implanted in his head.

Sue: I don’t blame him. I’d have done the same thing in his shoes. Although it’s going to a complete waste of time when they leave this place in a couple of hours time. It’d be like getting a tattoo of Hawaii on your arse during a thirty-minute stopover. Only worse.

Whatever it is that resides in the space station’s roof, it isn’t very happy.

Sue: It sounds like a pissed off Klingon.

The Doctor decides to investigate Satellite Five’s central heating system. “Never underestimate plumbing,” he says. “Plumbing is very important.”

Sue: I told you this was like Brazil, Neil, but you wouldn’t listen.

The Editor is told to promote another “non-entity”.

Me: Okay, maybe it is a little bit like Brazil.
Sue: And you call yourself a fan.

Adam learns how to activate his new info spike.

Sue: I wish I could turn myself on by clicking my fingers like that.
Me: You and me both, love.

The Long GameAnd then Sue gets her first look at the mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe. Or Max for short.

Sue: That’s pretty scary, actually. It looks like something you’d see in Aliens. Although I’m surprised they didn’t notice it sooner, what with the dribbling. They should be drenched in slaver by now.

Me: It looks like a vagina dentata.
Sue: You say that about everything, Neil.

Adam has a cunning plan to become the next Bill Gates. All he needs is a mobile phone, an answering machine and a huge leap of faith.

Sue: This makes no sense at all. I thought the Doctor said they forget everything after they’ve been through this process. I’m confused. And the lottery numbers would have been easier, surely?

The Editor, who has successfully captured Rose and the Doctor, represents a consortium of bankers.

Sue: Why am I not surprised? It’s always the ****ing bankers!
Me: And this episode was made before everything went tits up in 2008.
Sue: Russell knew the score. It’s very political, this. It’s warning us about the power of the media, the bankers, and how you shouldn’t let yourself become a mindless slave.
Me: Yeah, and a fat lot of good it did.

Thanks to Adam’s stupidity, the bad guys learn that the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords.

Sue: How the hell does Adam even know that? I thought they’d only just met? Does the Doctor tell everyone he meets that he committed genocide? Even though he didn’t.

Sue’s patience with Adam has finally run out.

Sue: He may be very easy on the eye, but he’s ****ing useless. He makes Mickey look good.

This leads to an action-packed denouement.

The Long GameSue: It’s really good, this. It was a bit slow to get going, but it’s really exciting now.

Cathica does something really clever and the Jagrafess explodes (like Mr Creosote after too many wafer-thin mints).

Sue: The Doctor didn’t do very much.
Me: He inspired her to rise up against her alien overlord. That’s what the Doctor does. He’s basically an intergalactic Russell Brand.
Sue: I quite like that aspect to it, I suppose. It’s clever. But I still wanted him to headbutt Simon Pegg.

The Doctor takes Adam home.

Sue: He can’t leave him like that, can he?

I tell her that some fans were half-expecting Adam to take his revenge on the Doctor later in the series for leaving him like this.

Me: A few people even thought he was Davros. You know, because he has a third-eye in the middle of his forehead.
Sue: (Laughing) Really? The ****ing idiots.

The Doctor leaves Adam to deal with his now thoroughly useless augmentation.

The Long GameSue: He needs that like he needs a hole in the head.

And then Adam’s mother inadvertently triggers her son’s orifice.

Sue: I knew that was going to happen. Still funny, though.

 

The Score

Sue: Well, that certainly wasn’t as good as some of the other episodes we’ve seen recently. Still pretty good, though. I liked the episode’s politics, the performances were excellent and the special effects looked great, even now. It didn’t leave an impression on me the first time, though. I barely remembered any of that. And I’ll probably forget it again tomorrow.

7/10

Sue: Ooh, I definitely remember next week’s episode. I’d better stock up on tissues, just in case. You’re bound to cry, Neil.

 

Next Time

 

45

Comments

  1. Roy Watson-Davis  May 7, 2015

    At the time I thought it was Doctor Who lite-thin plot, not much of a performance from Eccleston, fake looking monster, cheap looking set, oddly uninteresting character and performance from Pegg, and a 100% cardboard performance from whoever played Adam. Second viewing, it was worse than I remembered. Right up there with Fear Her as the worst of the new Who.

  2. Anniew  May 7, 2015

    extremely funny this week. Best blog of the series. I don’t remember the end of this episode at all, or indeed Adam. My mind must have dissolved at some point as I emember the vagina with teeth ( who wouldn’t) . So boring ( the end) it has been wiped completely from my mind.

  3. Dave Sanders  May 7, 2015

    But what are they expected to do once they come home, Sue? Where do you go from there? The present wouldn’t be broken on Boxing Day, *they* would.

    The majority of 80s viewers could barely remember Nyssa, it must be said.

    • Chris-Too-Old-To-Watch  May 8, 2015

      I remember Nyssa. Lovely velvet frock.

      • Nick Mays  May 9, 2015

        Nice silky underwear too, as I recall…

        • Chris-Too-Old-To-Watch  May 11, 2015

          I wouldn’t know anything about that…(Pouts and minces off….)

  4. Mike  May 7, 2015

    Not one of my favourite episodes of this series, but it IS at least an improvement on the Slitheen two-parter. It also suffers being sandwiched between two fabulous stories, which were/are for me highpoints of the season. I’m glad that they got rid of Adam as I never took to his character and Sue’s right about him making Mickey look good. Simon Pegg was rather underwhelming and Eccleston not as engaging as in the previous stories. I think by this point Billie Piper had become the reason I was tuning in each week (if not, she was most definitely the reason by the conclusion of next week’s episode). The score is a little high for me. In a generous mood I’d have given it a 6. But loving the blog being back and being able to actually comment on it this time. Well done guys!!

  5. Dave Sanders  May 7, 2015

    The one and only interesting thing about Adam is what the comics eventually did with him for the 50th anniversary. I still can’t quite make up my mind as to whether that was inspired genius or just spite.

    Less embarrassing than Big Finish’s The Boy That Time Forgot, mind.

    • Andy Luke  May 11, 2015

      Can you elaborate on the comics bit Dave? Which ones should I be looking out for?

      • Dave Sanders  May 11, 2015

        The 50th Anniversary graphic anthology (also published as four seperate comic-sized volumes) that had one story for each Doctor, dovetailing into an connecting plot arc that’s resolved at the very end.

        • Andy Luke  May 15, 2015

          Thanks!

  6. Lorcan  May 7, 2015

    I thought sue would have given a lower score than that good on ya girl

  7. Chris Reynolds  May 7, 2015

    I think the idea of a red herring companion who proves to be not fit for the position is a sound one. It was something we hadn’t seen before, and makes a good contrast with genuine companions, highlighting the qualities they need. Unfortunately it was handled badly, with Adam just coming across as sneaky and useless.

    That sort of sums up this whole episode – some good ideas that were bungled and buried in a badly written and generic tale about rebels fighting an evil alien who’s controlling everything. I wouldn’t rate this episode higher than a 4/10, and it looks even worse because it comes between two amazing episodes. I’d rate AoL/WW3 over this, because it had a better pace and was a lot more interesting and memorable.

  8. encyclops  May 7, 2015

    I’ll speak up for this one being underrated — I really like all of RTD’s far-future stuff, because even though it’s uneven in terms of the overall plot being enjoyable to watch, the characters and ideas and moments make up for it in my book. To me this exemplifies one of the things Doctor Who is about — political satire, revolutionary spirit, waking up from a robotic existence. When he was political, RTD was scathing, and it’s one of the things I really miss in Moffat’s version of the show. I liked parts of “The Beast Below,” but it’s just not the same.

    • encyclops  May 7, 2015

      Underrated by fans, I should clarify, not by Sue. I think 7/10 is more than fair.

  9. Mike Bond  May 7, 2015

    The story of ‘not everyone can be a companion’ is not necessarily one worth telling. I think it’s a case of the audience being ahead of the writer, in that we already assume not everyone would cope. And as DWM’s Time Team pointed out at the time, the Doctor actively encourages Adam to go off unsupervised on his first trip, which is something he’s trying to avoid 99% of the time! Adam tries to make this point (“You were in charge…”) as he’s pushed into the TARDIS. Perhaps the Doctor was always looking for an excuse to get rid of him! Either way, the whole storyline is very heavy-handed compared to the relatively leniency of Rose (i.e – give me a hug and all is forgiven).

    • encyclops  May 7, 2015

      Very well said, Mike — I think you’re spot-on with all of that.

      What kind of irritates me about the whole setup, especially given that RTD kicked it off, is that it’s the modern precedent for a weirdly heterocentric arrangement on the TARDIS that’s persisted to the present day. The female companions are all wonderful and perfect, but the male ones are all secondary, unreliable, and treated with contempt initially and with only grudging respect later on. Mickey, Adam, and Jack all get this treatment before the secondary male companion vanishes altogether for two seasons and a raft of specials. Then we get Rory, who has to die and live for 2000 years as plastic before he gets any love, and the heavy-handed “P.E.” dismissals of Danny.

      On the one hand, it’s good for the female character to have top billing along with the Doctor. I wouldn’t change that. And “we all get along perfectly” isn’t exactly the recipe for good TV. But it wouldn’t be a terrible thing for the dynamic, just once, not to start with “who’s this boy on my TARDIS? you’re mine, get rid of him” but to allow the Doctor to be secure enough to have another male on board without freaking out. The last time this happened was Jamie. Every male companion since — Harry Sullivan, Adric, Turlough — has been either “an imbecile” or untrustworthy or both.

      • Derek Handley  May 8, 2015

        I have to admit that I had never noticed the pattern but I can’t dispute it. While Rory does get invited on board by the Doctor rather than by Amy, the ‘main duo’ aren’t very nice to him until his second season.

        Mickey receives the worst treatment of any of the male characters in the first two seasons. He really deserves better – and it’s only on re-watching it that I see how awful Rose and the Doctor are to Mickey.

        • encyclops  May 8, 2015

          I feel funny complaining about it, like one of those guys who gets all upset when “MEN are being DISCRIMINATED against,” but it’s not exactly that that bothers me. It’s more that, at least on the new series, it’s inevitably and often explicitly two men locking antlers over a female. With Mickey, Adam, and Jack, it’s rivalry for Rose; with Rory, it’s over Amy (though it dissipates relatively quickly after the events of “Vampires of Venice”); with Danny, it’s over Clara. I wouldn’t mind as much if it were just a dispute over values, as it was with Adric and Turlough.

          • Derek Handley  May 8, 2015

            You’ve put your finger on it. I think one of the reasons I like season four best of the new series is that Donna and the Doctor were clearly good friends and there was never any rivalry or tension of that sort. There wasn’t a man ‘threatening’ the relationship with Donna; and Donna wasn’t ‘threatened’ by River or Martha.

            I think repetitive romantic rivalry can get very old in a series. I remember feeling that was the weakest element of “School Reunion” – especially because I never felt Rose had the right to behave that way given how she had been treating Mickey since the beginning. When it seemed like it would ALSO be central to “The Girl in the Fireplace”, it set my teeth on edge…

            As you say, it’s only with Rory and Amy that it dissipates quickly.

    • Nick Mays  May 9, 2015

      Spot on comments there guys. Okay, maybe not all companions match up, but was Adam actually given a chance? Nope. The Doctor was down on him from the moment he clapped eyes on him in ‘Dalek’ (“What you gonna do – throw your A levels at them?”)

      I’d say that, arguably, there hasn’t been a decent male companion – treated with respect – since Jamie.

    • Andy Luke  May 11, 2015

      Adam’s excuse of ‘needing some time alone on the observation deck’ did nicely echo Rose’s jaunt in episode 2. The sneaky sausage!

  10. Derek Handley  May 7, 2015

    I actually really love this one. I know it doesn’t have a great reputation, but I love the ideas, the performances and the commentary. I even like the meta title. It’s coherent and enjoyable and one of my favorite in season 1.

    It’s fun how different episodes are memorable to different people. This stands out for me in season 1, but for Sue and for many other people I know, it’s forgettable filler.

    Loving re-visiting season 1 with you!

  11. Sean Alexander  May 7, 2015

    This suffers from being sandwiched between two bona fide classics, but it certainly isn’t without merit. It’s clever sci-fi again and was broadcast at a time when the role of the media and the power of journalism was under increasing scrutiny – as with Dalek current affairs were saturated with both the war on terror and the fallout from David Kelly’s suicide. These were dark days indeed, both politically and globally.

    You can tell though that this was a reheated draft from the slush pile on Eric Saward’s desk – with Adam as (your choice) either Adric or Turlough. The fact the Doctor once again relies on someone else to save the day (for about the fourth or fifth time running, depending on how you see Jabe’s role in The End of the World) is either evidence to support the view that this ninth incarnation is a bit useless, or that this new slant is more about empowering the companion and/or supporting characters – and by extension the viewer.

    One thing I do have very happy memories of The Long Game for is the rather manic (and drunken) podcast I had the pleasure of performing with both Neil and later Who extra, John Paul Green. My Eccleston impression went down in folklore (though looking back probably not for the right reasons).

    Another excellent Neil & Sue version of Gogglebox – you truly are the Statler and Waldorf of fandom…

    • Dave Sanders  May 8, 2015

      This is one of those episodes that works against the forty-five minute format – not enough meat on the main plot to justify the entire runtime, but not enough left over to develop the angle that would have lifted it out of the ordinary. But even with more emphasis placed on the companion, you’d still have a McCoy three-parter that was done more effectively and imaginatively then.

  12. scribbles  May 8, 2015

    Can’t blame Sue for forgetting this one. It’s pretty standard issue for the new series. It’s very watchable, with some great ideas, but it isn’t quite the classic that the preceding and two following stories are.

  13. KatieC  May 8, 2015

    It’s interesting that Sue said “Max” should speak with an Australian accent because he (or it) actually looks like a giant witchetty grub.

  14. Matt Blanchette  May 8, 2015

    I feel like Sue is just giving high ratings across the board because of the production values, at this point. If this episode had been done with, say, ’60s or ’70s production values, she’d have given it (and some of the other ones thus far) a much lower score.

    I think the closer we get to modern-day, the generally higher Sue’s scores will trend…

    • encyclops  May 8, 2015

      Which I think is legit: even the lamest episodes of the new show typically have an extremely high baseline of watchability and enjoyability. It’s not just the production values but the pacing, the performances, the writing, and everything else that goes into making TV in the 21st century. If I had to normalize my scores across the whole of Doctor Who (and please don’t ever make me do that), I think maybe a tiny handful of New Who episodes would dip below 5/10. It’s just a much more consistently watchable show, even if individual stories that leap out as tremendously interesting are a little rarer as a result.

    • Neil Perryman  May 8, 2015

      Just to reiterate, we are only going as far as Eccleston. We have no plans to blog Tennant. For obvious reasons.

      • Chris-Too-Old-To-Watch  May 8, 2015

        Now Neil, I want to look at this watch I’m dangling in front of your eyes. Look how nicely it swings. Left and right, left and right, left and right. So pretty and shiny. Left and right, left and right. Breathe deeply and gently. You’re feeling sleepy….now repeat after me….”We’re going to carry on until Matt Smith”. That’s right……..

      • Nick Mays  May 9, 2015

        Bain’t obvious to me, Gaffer! Can ‘ee explain, loike?

      • Angel  May 11, 2015

        I appreciate you don’t want your wonderful blog to turn into an extension of the David Tennant fandom sites, but I for one promise to keep the *squee* to a minimum if you do continue…

      • Neal  May 15, 2015

        Disappointing to hear, because I’d love to hear her thoughts on Capaldi.

      • Mrs Jo Smith  May 24, 2015

        Aw but why, I want you both to go right through to Capaldi.

  15. Chris-Too-Old-To-Watch  May 8, 2015

    Disliked this intensely at first watching, and distance doesn’t lend enchantment. I can’t help but think that the finale of the season and the cross-over with this explains the good response to the story. As for Simon (“I’m Scotty in Star Trek you know”) Pegg and Adam (The Gay from Coronation Street), playing stereotypical “master-who-turns-into-servant” and “dickhead” respectively, I daren’t even comment. I doubt I’d go above a 3/10 as a standalone story, possibly ranking up to 5/10 for where it sits in the season as a whole.
    Oh, and I’d forgotten how much I hate Bad Wolf as well…….

  16. Richard Lyth  May 8, 2015

    This was RTD’s first attempt at doing 2000AD-style futuristic satire, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as later episodes like Gridlock, it’s all rather obvious and heavy-handed stuff. The Adam storyline is much more interesting, but the actor who plays him is rather wet – they should have got Simon Pegg to play that part instead, it would have suited him a lot more. The female guest cast are very strong though, and it’s quite entertaining overall, but easily one of the weakest of the season.

  17. Tom Keller  May 9, 2015

    Biggest laugh of the season: “I only travel with the best,” and then looks at Rose!

    Especially considering the mass murder she’s going to be responsible for the next week.

    • Matt Blanchette  May 13, 2015

      …I assume you’re part of the reason why Neil will refrain from doing the Tennant years.

    • Nicole Mazza  June 1, 2015

      Tom — I agree so much with you! I laugh at that part every time. And yes, for me the thing that makes the whole Adam story so hard to swallow is not only did the Doctor set him up to fail, but Rose nearly destroys all of existence in the VERY NEXT EPISODE and that’s ultimately no big deal. Adam got kicked off the TARDIS for less. :/ #definitelynotarosefan

  18. Roy Watson-Davis  May 10, 2015

    You should get Sue to watch and comment on the original series of Survivors, a great 70’s programme.

  19. CH  May 10, 2015

    Just now realising you’ve started the new series. Thankyou for honouring my favourite era of my favourite programe. I’ll be back every week.

  20. Andy Luke  May 11, 2015

    I think this was one of the first Nu Who I saw, so I’ve a soft spot for it. Observations:
    When we see lobotimised Suki in the edit suite there’s a guy beside her looks just like Zammo.
    Adam’s frozen puke would come in handy if he had the flu. Or for going OTT on a booze binge; as long as he remembers to aim his chuck away from the glass.
    The Doctor took care of the answering machine, but that dog is gonna be a real newshound. Trombone!

  21. Dave Sanders  May 11, 2015

    (LittleKuriboh voice) ADAM ROOOOOOOOSE!

    Adam. Rooooose.

    Coat.