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First UK Transmission Date (BBC1)Scheduled TXViewers
7th May 200519:008.01m

Cast: Simon Pegg (The Editor), Tamsin Greig (The Nurse), Bruno Langley (Adam Mitchell), Colin Prockter (Head Chef), Judy Holt (Sandra), Christine Adams (Cath), Anna Maxwell Martin (Suki)

Writer: Russel T Davies, Director: Brian Grant

Synopsis: - On a space station above Earth in the year 200,000, the Doctor, Rose and shifty "companion" Adam witness the wonders of the human empire. All news is channelled cerebrally to and from the far reaches of the galaxy, but as our hero puts it, "This society's the wrong shape - even the technology." But there are no complaints from Adam, who hooks up with an accommodating neurosurgeon (Tamsin Greig). When he meets the Editor, a wryly villainous turn from Simon Pegg, the Doctor realises that an alien is in overall control.

'The Long Game' Background and Summary: - Whoever had been charged with reviving Doctor Who would probably have had a fairly similar template for the first half of the season: A story to introduce the companion, a story in the past, a story in the future, an alien invasion story and a Dalek story. From that point onwards the direct of the series is open. The result of this mid-season uncertainty is The Long Game, a story which at face value has no right to fill one of the thirteen slots which are each a precious opportunity to tell a brand new Doctor Who story on television.

What Russell T Davies brought to the screen is certainly the most traditional Doctor Who adventure of the new series. Whilst the structure of Dalek followed many of the same basic laws of the series, it still managed to exceed expectations. The Long Game not only rigidly stuck to the classic template but borrowed heavily from numerous old stories. Russell T Davies said this script had been written for 20 years which, if true, means it preceeded only one of the stories that it strongly resembled: Dragonfire. Knowing the origin of this script begs the question of whether Adam was introduced in the previous story in order to fulfill the requirements of a script with two companions. Certainly he is not the strongest of additions to the TARDIS crew and he was rapidly branded "The New Adric" but, beyond the character himself, the concept of a rejected companion was a fascinating one. Never before has the Doctor given a trial-run to someone who turned out to be wholly unsuitable to be aboard the TARDIS, even though any time-traveller in their right mind would have ejected the likes of Dodo, Mel, Adric and Turlough after five minutes.

Like all the stories which came before, and all those to come, the story had two things: A reference to the Bad Wolf and a plot revolving around a threat to Earth. A coincidence? Surely not. In this instance it was clearly stated that the The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe should not have been there and it distrupted the time line to the tune of ninety years. However the real significant of this alien menace was brought out in a comment by Russell T Davies in this episodes companion Documentary Doctor Who Confidential, in which he said that it would eventually be revealed who had put the Jarafess in place. This revelation is almost all that gives this episode any merit because it forms part of a bigger picture in which Earth is being repeatedly endangered. Unfortunately this arc story is gently done so as not to unsettle the casual audience, so after this adventure in space it leaves the viewer wondering why one precious slot of the new series was wasted telling a story about aliens invading television.

Overall, The Long Game presented a mixed bag. A superb performance from Simon Pegg, a nice cameo from Tamsin Greig and an excellent monster weighed against a light-weight and derivative plot, the medeocre Adam, and a fairly inconsequential story. Although branded by some as 'the worst episode so far' and 'the mid-season duffer', the main feeling associated with this story is apathy. In a poll of 2300, more fans voted this episode "average" than any other - 40%. Whist "good" or "excellent" only accounted for 48% of votes, a fairly significant 11.7% expressed dislike, which made this clearly the least popular episode so far. It seems strange that this should be the case give that its certainly the episode which most strongly resembled 'classic' Doctor Who. It no doubt demonstrates that a modern audience expects a little more than an old-style runaround however this episode can be looked upon as a break between the exhausting Dalek and the emotionally charged Father's Day that was to follow.

Classic Series Influences and References:

  • The Sunmakers featured a parasitic alien business manipulating and enslaving humanity and also shows the Doctor stealing from a "cash point".
  • Carnival of Monsters also features the use of "credit chips".
  • Paradise Towers depicted a run-down future, ordinary people with the ambition of reaching an inaccessible top floor paradise, and a monstrous alien running an operation through his human (guest-star) puppet.
  • The Krotons had a plot in which people clammered for the chance to be "promoted", unaware that they were going to have their physical resources exploited and then die at the hands of an alien who was manipulating and stifling the culture. The Krotons also used the plot device by which the menace is defeated, whereby the Doctor very obviously explains the weakness of the enemey to someone in who can then act to help defeat it.
  • The Doctor's line "I'll hug anybody" would appear to be a tribute to the Doctor's line in Robot in which he says "I'll talk to anybody".
  • Dragonfire featured a space-outpost, harbouring an alien enemy who required low temperatures to live, and it also depicted a futurist canteen which saw its customers thrown into anarchy at the end.
  • An alien menace lifting the TARDIS key telepathically from the pocket of an unconcious TARDIS-traveller was previously seen in Pyramids of Mars.

Buy the Complete First Series

This is an absolutely must for anyone who remotely enjoyed the new series of Doctor Who. Unlikely the previous individual releases of episodes, the box set has extras coming out of its ears. And whereas some box sets just have extras on the final disc, this brilliant package has a selection of extras on each disk, plus the entire set of Doctor Who confidential (cut down) on another disk.

Nothing much needs saying about the episodes themselves but commentaries on certain episodes are almost worth the price alone. The commentaries of Rose, The Unquiet Dead and Dalek are of particular note and the video diaries of certain members of the team are very interesting and fun. The TARDIS container is a nice package and overall, believe me this set of DVDs is well worth the asking price, or probably more!


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