Shiny Shelf

Doctor Who: The Long Game

By Eddie Robson on 07 May 2005

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

It was no surprise to learn (from the edition of ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ which followed this episode) that ‘The Long Game’ was designed to give Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper a few days off in the middle of an arduous production schedule. The episode suffers slightly from their reduced presence, but fortunately Simon Pegg, Tamsin Grieg and Bruno Langley pick up the slack.

The lack of Doctor/Rose action isn’t the problem with this episode. It’s that it falls a little short visually. We’re talking about an episode which concerns the absolute manipulation of a vast Earth empire through its media in the year 200,000: that’s pretty huge-scale stuff and difficult to communicate, even with the resources afforded this new ‘Doctor Who’. Given that it’s set on a news satellite, the episode could have benefited from more glimpses of the stories as they zing around the office.

In addition, this is the year 200,000. Now, I imagine that the year 20,000 will be almost unrecognisable from now, so I expect 200,000 to seem as mad as tin pie. Information passing along wires? No, surely it’ll be transported through quasi-sentient bubblegum or something. There are some nice aspects to the production design and some top-notch CGI, but overall it’s not a massive imaginative leap.

That said, the opening-up of new (short-lived?) companion Adam’s head is well achieved and the ramifications well conveyed, in another example of Russell T Davies setting down a few ground rules for ‘Doctor Who’. The temptation of Adam and his subsequent comeuppance are a fine example of the kind of character-based material that Davies does so well.

It’s also solidly plotted, being the first time in this series that we’ve seen the Doctor work his way to the heart of a problem step by step, armed only with his inquisitive nature and improvisational skill. And, of course, Pegg is ace. He obviously relishes every second of playing a ‘Doctor Who’ villain and, if they ever decide to bring back the Master, he should be the first man they ask.

Not a spectacular episode (although after ‘Dalek’ anything would seem a bit low-key), but try watching it again after the season is over – I strongly suspect there’s more going on here than you might initially notice…

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By Eddie Robson

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