Quickie review: The Long Game

I didn’t mind The Long Game. It was exciting and had intrigue, plot and creepiness. It wasn’t a wonderful episode by any means, but it was an enjoyable and gripping tale nonetheless. I found the plot generally well-conceived and interesting. It was obviously an allusion to dystopian 1984-type scenarios, a subjugated and manipulated population in thrall to a nefarious, shadowy power of whose inner workings and true purpose they have no idea. The way in which this was presented, i.e. the way the people were shown to be controlled via the manipulation of news and media, is a very pertinent comment upon the very real capacity for populations to be controlled through their media and their access to information. When a totalitarian power is establishing itself, of course, one of the first things to go is the freedom of the press and free access to information. Thus the population of unthinking, unquestioning drones that had been created in Satellite 5. That the population of Satellite 5 are enslaved to keep alive a great, writhing beast is a good sci-fi twist on the standard “dystopian totalitarian society” genre. However, I was less impressed by the revelation that the Editor represented a “consortium of banks” colluding with the Jagrafess as some kind of financial investment. The tired and lazy “evil, scheming, malignant bankers are behind it all” trope is rarely, if ever, used well, and here is no exception, mainly because, as here, it is invariably employed by writers with warped left-wing assumptions about the motivations of business people.

Although the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxaroedenfoe is possibly the most brilliant name for a Doctor Who monster ever, the Jagrafess (“Max”) was actually a bit of a rubbish monster. They could at least have designed it better — a giant, shapeless, snarling creature of sentient sludge is just slightly comical. The Editor, on the other hand, was an excellent character, brilliantly played by Simon Pegg. Pegg looked like he was having great, rollicking fun playing the Editor, making for a performance that was a genuine pleasure to watch. Christie Adams and Ann Maxwell-Martin were also both good as Cathica and Suki, respectively. Christopher Eccleston keeps reminding me of how fantastic his Doctor was, in particular here when he and Rose had confronted the Editor:

“Is a slave a slave if he doesn’t know he’s enslaved?”
“Yes.”
“Oh. I was hoping for a philosophical debate. Is that all I’m going to get? Yes?”
“Yes.”
“You’re no fun.”
“Let me out of these manacles. You’ll find out how much fun I am.”

Overall, not the best story of Series 1, but not bad by any means. I enjoyed it.

Rating: 7/10.

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