The Long GameBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 16 August 2005 - Reviewed by Richard Radcliffe

I have to confess that this was the episode I was least looking forward to out of the whole season of new 2005 Doctor Who. We didn’t know too much about it, and the Big Brother News type set-up didn’t appeal initially. Then I remembered the wonderfully different Big Finish Audio, Natural History of Fear – and I had felt the same about that too – and how brilliant was that! Would this then be like that, or a Ratings War debacle?

Actually it’s nothing like Natural History of Fear, or Ratings War – it’s somewhere in the middle of those BF offerings in terms of quality, but it does have its plus points.

With the addition of Adam into the TARDIS it’s fascinating to see Rose put him through the exact same acceptance routine (mobile phone to home, futuristic space station overlooking the Earth) as the Doctor did with her. It’s as if Russell T is showing us that Adam isn’t going to measure up to the wonder of Rose. I liked Adam in Dalek, but this was a story too far, so it was good to see him dismissed so quickly. Funny how the Doctor is so trusting though, then so dismissive at the end – rather extreme reactions – but then there’s a lot of that with this Doctor.

My immediate thoughts were that this was rather similar in tone to End of the World, it being the far future and all that. I began even to look for similarities between Satellite Five and Platform One. There seems to be a far more connecting arc running through this Series (that Russell T alluded to in Confidential) than initially suspected. I rather enjoyed Satellite Five. The mystery of Floor 500 dominated all – and like some bizarre department store you just wanted to get up there and explore as soon as possible.

Adams descent into the Dark side seemed to serve only to accentuate Rose’s glory – so that’s enough about that character. The Doctor was his excitable self – but getting captured and tied up in 2 episodes on the trot seems rather clumsy. Again too it is other people who bail him out. I don’t recall even the 5th Doctor being this vulnerable. Rose lost out somewhat because of Adams presence – and that’s a great shame – but maybe it was just mid term holidays for Billie Piper.

Of the Supporting Players it is the Editor, Suki and Cathica who stand out. I found them both likeable in very different ways. The delightful Sukis story was most surprising, and for my money she got the best scene when she arrived at the 500th Floor. Cathica seemed sensible enough too, thankfully for the Doctor and Rose.

The stand out was The Editor, as Simon Pegg joins the exultant ranks of Doctor Who Villainy. He lit up every scene he was in and looked splendid. Russell T very poignantally observed in Confidential that without him the scenes on the 500th Floor would have been rather dull! He certainly played the part with relish – and was the best part of the episode. What that thing on the ceiling was doing there though I have no idea – though again answers are promised later.

Didn’t care for the information dump sub-plot, including vomit-freeze unnecessary perks, or clicking of fingers holes in the head – but there were some wry observations about the media in general. Contemporary Who indeed.

The Long Game isn’t likely to be many peoples high point of the season – but it is, to use another Beautiful Games parlance, mid table respectability – and that’s okay. 7/10