The Long Game by Russell T. Davies
Oh dear. The thing that’s kept Doctor Who going (on and off) for over 50 years is its variety – but unfortunately that means we occasionally get a real stinker of an episode. Every season of modern-who (excluding the most recent) has at least one sub-par episode. The Long Game is the nadir of series 1, it’s lowest point by a mile.
Russell T. Davies is the man who brought back Who in 2005 and I’m very grateful for that. But boy he can f**k up sometimes. The Long Game is set on another dreary space station (for budget reasons – they don’t even try to hide it) and the set design is really dull for the year 100,000. Worse, Russell takes the character of Adam (who wasn’t bad in Dalek) and ruins it to make a simple point – not everyone can travel with the Doctor. If you’re going to make a companion betray the Doctor, make it a companion we care about, like Clara, and do it for a decent reason. It doesn’t help half the audience doesn’t care about Adam and another quarter didn’t like him anyway, so devoting a third of an episode to his extremely dull plotline (and predictably its all about the money again – get some new bloody ideas Davies!!!! That’s Cassandra, the Slitheen and now Adam who have all become villains because of greed!).
Thank God for Simon Pegg. Playing a villain called the Editor, who uses Satellite 5 and its massive news network to manipulate the human race on behalf of a consortium of banks (f***ing money again?!!!), he is the only redeeming feature. Pegg puts in a creepy, slightly OTT performance that is far more frightening that the alien villain, the Jagrafess, which is more bad CGI and isn’t really too dissimilar to the Nestene consciousness in appearance and voice. Even Eccleston and Piper seem to be on autopilot the whole way through, though to be fair they have bugger all to do. The guest cast aren’t that memorable either.
Redeeming features? This episode’s concept of a human race being held back because of massive media manipulation isn’t a bad idea, and is a lot more interesting than the episode itself. It also introduces the idea of the Doctor inspiring ordinary people to be more curious and ask questions rather than just believe the system and keep living the same old lives. It’s an idea that Davies would come back to (in a much better way) in Journey’s End.
Overall the worst episode of series 1 and a major disappointment after the highs of Dalek, fortunately we now have 3 episodes without Davies and then he finally gets his act together late in the season for the final 3 episodes.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Next Time: A good episode where Rose’s changes history is slightly undermined by a few unconvincing CGI monsters…