Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Long Game

Well, obviously not every episode can be super-duper. If The Long Game constitutes a mid-series slump, then it fares worse by being squidged in between Dalek and Father's Day; in such company it will always disappoint.

It's not as if The Long Game is firing on all cylinders. Adam's subplot feels like a digression, not from the episode, but from the entire series. The main story suffers from being undermined by Bad Wolf: both the set up for Satelite 5 and the consequences of the Doctor's visit will be rewritten by that episode. What happens here counts for nothing. And again, the Doctor is shackled and helpless while one of the guest stars saves the day. This was where I began to roll my eyes a little back in 2005. It's somewhat unfair because at least this episode is about empowerment and helping humanity achieve its potential. When the Doctor stings Cathica into action at the end, it is entirely the right payoff for this story - it's just that, in the context of the whole series, it's beginning to feel like the Doctor is never going to take centre stage.

He seems content to spur others on though and his vicarious nature has never been more obvious. Watch his face when Rose starts reeling off the lines he's just fed her so she can show off to Adam - it's something more than pride. 

There is more to this than just filler and there are things to love. Christine Adams, Anna Maxwell-Martin, and the fabulous Tamsin Grieg are all excellent. Although Simon Pegg can't do much with the listless Editor, he does manage to find some mysterious idiosyncrasy that doesn't collapse into comedy even if it never quite achieves real menace. And the Doctor's abrasive manner is revealed to be an act, gently needling those around him into action. The episode's message (don't let the media do your thinking for you) is crucially important, perhaps even more now than it was then - but is it not a little subtle? Why not set this story in a modern day newspaper where the owner is a hideous alien distorting the news for his own ends? That would get The Sun squawking.  

Both the boys enjoyed this look into the future. Chris liked that it that Earth had gone wrong, but said it wasn't scary (even though he was definitely on edge as Suki crept through the skeletons). William liked the setting and how humans had been manipulated. He gave it an 8, and Chris said 9, so it's no Aliens of London.


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