Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S01E07 – The Long Game

In the seventh episode of the first series of Doctor Who, the Doctor travels with Rose and their new companion, Adam, to the year 200,000. Experiencing life during the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire, the Doctor realizes something has been holding life back from progression. Oh, and SIMON PEGG!!!! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

Do people really not like this episode? Perhaps it’s part of a larger picture and I’ll understand it as I watch more Doctor Who, but this episode was fun, exciting, and had a great self-contained story. Also SIMON PEGG. Thank you for not spoiling that he was a guest star on an episode. I didn’t actually recognize him at first and once I did, the episode became even greater to me.

What I’m coming to love about Doctor Who is the show’s capacity for satire that is both funny and educational. I know quite a few of you have mentioned in the comments that this show was created as a way to be an educational program for families to watch. It’s still a strange thought that it’s still considered a family show. I mean, if I had a family, I would certainly let them all watch Doctor Who, but I also live in America, where family entertainment is usually puerile. This show is definitely not that.

So, “The Long Game.” Here, Russell T Davies tackles quite a few things at the same time and does so effortlessly, weaving the story of Adam’s first experience traveling through time, the future of media communications, and an unbelievably frightening alien. What is immediately jarring about the human experience in the year 200,000 is that things really aren’t quite as different as they should be. I didn’t realize that it was so strange because the Doctor knew the future. I thought it was so weird that there was still news and fast food. I mean….fast food. I love a good hamburger (vegan, of course!), but that food cart seemed to have progressed maybe a year or two into the future.

Using that amazing ID card, the Doctor tricks two employees into believing he is upper management. Eager to get a promotion, Cathica (played by the gorgeous Christine Adams) answers all of the Doctor’s questions. In the year 200,000, 96 billion people make up the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire, all connected by Satellite 5, a 600-channel news broadcasting system used by the Empire to keep its humans informed. The employees who work at Satellite 5 all have one of two things installed in them: computer chips that allow them to transit and read the news, or ports in the center of their forehead to process all news available in the entire Universe. So it’s like downloading everything that current exists ever all at the same time. Talk about overload.

I’ll just say that whenever a society wants to install a computer chip in your brain, it’s never used as a good thing. Is that a trope? I tried to find it on TvTropes, but couldn’t. But yeah, as soon as the episode started using that, I knew that someone or something was up to no good.

We start to see what that is when Suki is exposed by a man called “The Editor,” played by Simon Pegg. (I’ve since read that Pegg was a huge fan of Doctor Who, so it had to be a dream for him to be on the show.) The Editor has an battalion of dead employees, whose computer chips he is still using to spy on other humans and obtain as much knowledge as possible from the whole universe. The problem is that there’s no one who quite understands the entirety of the history of the universe as much as the Doctor, who continues to believe that something is awry. Davies sets up a confrontation between the two of them early in this episode. Obviously, it was inevitable that they would meet, but I love the contrast of their knowledge. As a Time Lord, the Doctor’s knowledge largely comes from lived experience; The Editor’s knowledge is stolen as he sits in an editing booth, controlling the universe. The Doctor doesn’t know everything, and is ready to learn first-hand. The Editor knows virtually everything and has no interested in lived experience.

Even better? Contrast that all with the foolish way that Adam acts in “The Long Game.” Adam comes into contact with knowledge and immediately acts to exploit it in a way that will directly benefit himself. He keeps Rose’s modified mobile phone and even goes far to consult with a nurse on floor 16 (omg Tamsin Greig, who was also in Shaun of the Dead with Simon Pegg SORRY I GET EXCITED ABOUT SUCH THINGS) and get a port installed in his brain. NO REALLY, ADAM, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING.

We’ll get back to that. I want to spend some time talking about Cathica. I think it’s rare that guest characters on most TV shows get a full treatment from the writers, especially when the main focus is only on one or two people. What I really grew to love about Davies’s writing in “The Long Game” was the amount of time spent on Adam and, most especially, Cathica. Cathica is a strong, powerful woman who believes she’s been cheated of what’s due to her. Davies never reduces to her to any sort of stereotype and also never strips her of her individuality; if anything, the Doctor merely enhances by doing something this current society forgot how to: ask questions.

The Doctor isn’t patronizing to Cathica’s condition, since she clearly can’t control the chip in her brain. Instead, by demonstrating just a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies with the life she’s known, he begins a slow process in her brain. It’s great that we get scenes where we get to see her begin to sow the seeds of doubt in her brain; we watch her world unravel and it’s not a bad thing. She starts asking questions, something she’d been programmed not to do.

The real treat, though, is the conversation the Editor and the Doctor have once they head up to floor 500. It’s not at all a stretch of the imagination that broadcast news can control a population. We’ve all seen how it happened in regards to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the way American news has dominated the conversation about terrorism, Muslims,  immigration, and health care. The actual truth is nowhere near as interesting as the tidbits and buzzwords that networks can (and did) sell us.

THE EDITOR: Create a climate of fear and it’s easy to keep the borders closed. It’s just a matter of emphasis. The right word in the right broadcast repeated often enough can destabilize an economy, invent an enemy, change a vote.

And what’s controlling all of this in the future?

THE EDITOR: ‘That thing,’ as you put it, is in charge of the human race. For almost a hundred years, mankind has been shaped and guided, his knowledge and ambitions strictly controlled by its broadcast news, edited by my superior, your master and humanity’s guiding light, The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe.

Or, “Max,” as the Editor refers to him. And I loved the CGI that created him, mostly because it was consistent. Also, IT’S AN ALIEN BLOB ON THE CEILING WITH A MOUTH FULL OF DEADLY TEETH. That’s pretty awesome.

It’s cheesy, sure, but I love that what ultimately takes down Max and The Editor is doubt: asking the right questions at the right time because you don’t believe what you’ve been told. It’s also a great moment for Cathica and I wish we’d see her again, but I imagine we won’t see her again. I feel the same way about Adam, in the sense that I’m sure we won’t see him again. However, Adam’s actions are the opposite of Cathica’s epiphany. He moves without questions through the future and instead interacts with the world around him in a way that will best benefit him. The Doctor’s rage at what he’d done is actually kind of scary; it’s different than what we saw in “Dalek,” where his anger was motivated by a very emotional, personal trigger. Here, it’s Adam’s ignorant foolishness that threatened to rewrite history. To be honest? I’m glad the Doctor left him behind. I wouldn’t trust him again after seeing what he’d done ON HIS VERY FIRST TRIP TO THE FUTURE. I mean, way to make a good impression, dude.


  • “The thing is, Adam, time travel is like visiting Paris. You can’t just read the guide book. You’ve got to throw yourself in, eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers—or is that just me? Stop asking questions. Go and do it!”
  • I love that the Doctor gives Rose info at first so she can impress Adam. It’s cute.
  • A question that you can answer if it’s not spoilery: the Doctor tells Cathica that she “should chucked this out years ago” when referring to the technology in her head. Does that mean that history is different from what it should have been? How is that possible? Doesn’t someone need to come correct it then?
  • “And on the Bad Wolf Channel, The Face of Boe just announced he’s pregnant.” OH GOD Bad Wolf again? And The Face of Boe still scares me. 🙁
  • “I only take the best. I’ve got Rose.”
  • OMG more than halfway done with Eccleston. SAD.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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477 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: S01E07 – The Long Game

  1. Randomcheeses says:

    I think the trope you're looking for is called Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. Possibly. There was definitely soul eating in there somewhere.

  2. Esther says:

    The Face of Boe was pregnant? I guess I missed that.

  3. Openattheclose says:

    I am one of those people that don't like this episode. I just find it difficult to rewatch, I think I liked it well enough on first viewing. I hate Adam, and I don't like Cathica through 75% of the episode. I really like Suki though. Simon Pegg is also cool.

    I'm a little bummed that you know how much time Nine has left because I would have liked you to be surprised when Ten starts. I guess it's not too bad since you don't know how it happens yet. Do you know when Ten leaves and Eleven starts as well?

  4. Karen says:

    First off, I am SO SAD THAT I MISSED YESTERDAY'S POST. It was my first episode of Doctor Who that I ever watched, but alas. I was up in Santa Barbara all day sans internet.

    We’ll get back to that. I want to spend some time talking about Cathica. I think it’s rare that guest characters on most TV shows get a full treatment from the writers, especially when the main focus is only on one or two people. What I really grew to love about Davies’s writing in “The Long Game” was the amount of time spent on Adam and, most especially, Cathica. Cathica is a strong, powerful woman who believes she’s been cheated of what’s due to her. Davies never reduces to her to any sort of stereotype and also never strips her of her individuality; if anything, the Doctor merely enhances by doing something this current society forgot how to: ask questions.
    RTD is actually really fantastic at creating fully formed secondary characters (without ignoring his main characters). It's one of my favorite things about his writing.

    My other favorite thing is when he explores larger themes and issues from the real world via sci fi. I think that's when sci fi is at its best, when it reflects the real world.

    The Editor: Create a climate of fear and it's easy to keep the borders closed. It's just a matter of emphasis. The right word in the right broadcast repeated often enough can destabilize an economy, invent an enemy, change a vote.

    LOL. How ~topical, RTD. This was aired in 2005, and that line does a lot to reflect the political climate at the time, in terms of Iraq and the media, etc. Also, THE HUNGER GAMES, MUCH? lol.

    The Editor: Now there's an interesting point. Is a slave a slave if he doesn't know he's enslaved?
    The Doctor: Yes.
    The Editor: Aw. I was hoping for a philosophical debate, is that all I'm gonna get: "yes"?
    The Doctor: Yes.
    The Editor: You're no fun.
    The Doctor: Let me out of these manacles and I'll show you how much fun I am.
    The Editor: Ooh, he's tough isn't he?

    LOVE IT. So yeah, I find a lot to like about this episode even if it isn't my absolute favorite.

    • exbestfriend says:

      I think Eccleston does a great job depicting how angry and mean Nine is right under the surface. I'm not trying to promote violent Doctors, but it's so visceral and well portrayed. *sigh* Although deep down in my heart Tennent is MY Doctor, Eccleston was the first Doctor I watched regularly and he did a fantastic job selling this series and making a compelling character that you want to see more about.

  5. Maya says:

    I do actually like this episode, mostly because it's impossible for me to dislike an episode that has Simon Pegg, nerd extraordinaire.

    Also, lol the Face of Boe is pregnant. My brain hurts from trying to understand the mechanics of that.

    • I always wondered about the Face of Boe. Does there have to be another Face or does the Face of Boe reproduce asexually?

      • MowerOfLorn says:

        Maybe technology is different in the future? I mean, he's living in an Empire where apparently all aliens are kept out- maybe he somehow managed to have a kid with a human?

        Yeah. Don't ask me.

    • Well you see, when one Face of Boe meets another Face of Boe and they love each other very much…

      Yeah, I got nothing.

      • Elliott Mason says:

        The Face of Boe is like the Tarrasque in old-school D&D: there is only one.

        If I'd said 'there can BE only one,' well. YOU figure out how to decapitate a face. :->

  6. YoUshALlBeLIkEuS says:

    Very glad you enjoyed this episode, even if it's not one of my favourites. As for your question about time being out of whack . . . well, that's tricky. The show's policy towards the space time continuum has varied according to dramatic imperative. Basically, a good rule of thumb is, if the Doctor thinks it matters it matters, if it doesn't it doesn't. He's a timelord, he knows what he's doing, we don't.

    Here's hoping you enjoy the rest of the series (it only gets stronger from here on in IMHO).

  7. janype says:

    Have you watched the comedy series ´Black Books´? Lots of Tamsin Greig and one great episode with Simon Pegg.

  8. who cares says:

    Hadn't seen this episode in forever. Frankly I never really liked it but seeing this again it's better than I remembered. Especially with the whole media manipulating society angle which has only become more relevant since this first aired back in 2005. Good social commentary is what Sci-Fi is best at and this episode definitely gets that right.

    Now how much longer do I have to wait for my Kronkburger with Pajatos?

    • Matthew says:

      Random factoid:

      The Kronk Burger first appears in "The Iron Legion" which was the first comic strip in Marvel's "Doctor Who Weekly", back in 1979. I think they get a mention in some of the novels as well.

  9. elusivebreath says:

    I always really liked this episode, because I 100% believe in questioning everything! I don't know if it's human nature or what, but it seems like we have a knack for believing things if the source is even semi-credible or if it's something we already want to believe. I like that this episode takes that and shows us (and kids, if they are watching!) that simply going along believing what you are told without question leads us backward, not forward. Bravo Doctor!

  10. Radagast says:

    Great to see you appreciate the episode on its merits! Too many Who fans only look at things on the surface, which is one reason this one has an (undeservedly) bad reputation.

    Another thing to chew on: This is the year 200,000. We last saw the Face of Boe in the year 5 Billion (5,000,000,000) – he sure takes care of himself…

  11. Tallie says:

    "A question that you can answer if it’s not spoilery: the Doctor tells Cathica that she “should chucked this out years ago” when referring to the technology in her head. Does that mean that history is different from what it should have been? How is that possible? Doesn’t someone need to come correct it then?"

    The Editor and Max have been doing it.

    "THE EDITOR: ‘That thing,’ as you put it, is in charge of the human race. For almost a hundred years, mankind has been shaped and guided, his knowledge and ambitions strictly controlled by its broadcast news, edited by my superior, your master and humanity’s guiding light, The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe."

    And the Doctor has come along and put history back on the right path by getting rid of them – hurrah!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      OHHH so the Doctor always had to be there and direct things in the right path in order for history to be correct. That's an interesting way of looking at it.

      • MowerOfLorn says:

        Sorta. Time in the Whoinverse is confusing, to say the least, but basically, Time Travellers have a different view of time. They see how its /meant/ to be, so they can tell changes. Time Lords are even more powerful, and can almost tell the 'shape' of time, like if there's a paradox near by.

  12. echinodermata says:

    So on rewatch, I basically couldn't remember how the episode ended, and was waiting for Cathica to die – it is really sad that I was pretty surprised that a female character of color who had a guest star role got to live for once. I do think on the whole Doctor Who does better with race than many other TV shows, but that's not really saying much.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Sometimes I feel silly when I think OMG PEOPLE OF COLOR when I'm watching TV, but then I remember growing up and wondering why my skin wasn't white like everyone on the television and I feel ok.

      • swimmingtrunks says:

        Aww, Mark. Don't feel silly! If it makes you feel better, Doctor Who and its spin-offs have made me think OMG INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHPS! Like, not only do they seem to do a little better diversity-wise, but they also usually don't pair people up by the color of their skin, which coming from American TV is something I am not really used to seeing represented.

        • TimeCat says:

          There are a few egregious examples of skin-colour pairing, though. And it might have been my imagination, but it often seemed to me that people of colour ended up being the villains in New Who more often than not. In rewatching with this blog, I hope I'm proved wrong.

          But… yeah! There are also characters like Cathica and Mickey, which is pretty awesome.

          • Matthew says:

            To the best of my knowledge, the production team don't give much consideration to the possible dynamics of the situation, they just aim for overall diversity in the casting, with ethnicity rarely specified at the writing stage (unless someone is related to an existing character).

            In that situation, assuming that a "same colour" pairing is a bad idea strikes me as as bad as assuming it's a good thing. Indeed the complaint about UK TV in general is that there are too many mixed-race relationships and that that is also a distorted picture.

            • calimie says:

              It's too spoilery now, but we can discuss it at that episode. For now, I'll just say I agree with TimeCat.

            • TimeCat says:

              Even if it's a distorted picture of reality, that's not necessarily a bad thing. One thing the Whoniverse under RTD has done well is giving screen time to otherwise underrepresented minorities. While it's safe to assume that not every inhabitant of Cardiff is cheerfully bisexual either, it's quite refreshing to see in Torchwood something other than standard heteronormative status quo with a few gay caricatures.

              But yeah, what I was specifically talking about is spoilery, so… it'll have to wait.

              • MowerOfLorn says:

                My personal theory on the bisexual thing is that contact with alien technology changes your sexuality. It would explain why every single companion and Torchwood character is shippable with /everyone/.

                I do think its fairly good with racial minorities though…except in that episode, but spoilers.

                • Aornis says:

                  Or maybe it doesn't so much shape your sexuality as open your eyes to something beyond black and white; the classic view of sexuality. The "Whoniverse" (that's cute) seems to operate more on the Kinsey scale than many other shows, or as my friends and I like to say, "sexual preference: often."

          • swimmingtrunks says:

            Yeah… there was a reason I slipped "usually" in there as a qualifier. I think there's been a fair split of white, minority, and completely alien baddies in NuWho- but that could just be privilege blinding me. I'll be keeping an eye on that too!

            • TimeCat says:

              The fair split is true, but what I was trying to say is that the characters are still predominantly white, and when there is a minority character, they are more likely to be an antagonist in some form than one of the "good guys". Again, not sure if this is just my ultra-politically-correct-liberal upbringing inspiring me with overreactive rage, so I'll have to keep rewatching and see.

        • pica_scribit says:

          I feel like, on the whole, Britain is a lot more relaxed about racial issues than America is. The media there seems especially good at representing a wide range of colours, classes and sexualities, without falling into as many of the stereotype traps we do here. But that might have just been my experience.

          • sabra_n says:

            Britain has its own share of racial issues. Some might feel "relaxed" about the whole thing, but that doesn't mean the problems aren't there, and that includes problems in media representation, and that includes problems in Doctor Who. They're no better or worse about it than the States, IMO.

            The only difference I notice with British media representation as opposed to Hollywood is a greater percentage of lumpy, ordinary-looking actors. I can't imagine the utterly brilliant Lesley Sharp, for example, being given her own series in the States, unless she'd come from a comedy background and it was therefore "acceptable" for her to be something other than totally glamorous.

      • who cares says:

        Just so you know there are laws in the UK (not sure if it's just BBC or everything) that require a certain percentage of people with a racial minority in every show even if it makes no sense for them to be there.

        • Matthew says:

          There are no such laws. But the BBC does have a diversity policy.

          When it comes to Doctor Who, most roles are not originated with a particular ethnicity in mind but they're open to all possibilities in the casting process and the team are mindful that they should be aiming for a balance across the series as a whole. In some cases this verges on historical revisionism – but present day minorities aren't as invisible in western European history as you might imagine (there are records of black Africans, for example, going back to Roman times in the UK) and a fantastical TV series has some leeway in this regard, anyway.

          Having said that, there are plenty of episodes of Doctor Who with no ethnic minority characters ("The Unquiet Dead", for example) as there are in the rest of UK TV. And there are no laws about it.

          • who cares says:

            Well I knew there were some rules about it which frankly is just as much discriminating if not even more insulting.

            • Matthew says:

              No, there are no rules.

              The BBC just aims to reflect the diversity of British society in its programming. How is that discrimination or insulting?

              • who cares says:

                Well there's an active policy within the BBC to ensure more poeple of ethnic minorities get cast or appear in their programs the fact that there is such a policy is discriminatory because if you truly view all people as equal you wouldn't need such a policy. Positive discrimination is still discrimination.

                • Matthew says:

                  No. The policy is look at the BBC's overall output and ensure that it reflects society. It is a policy to avoid discrimination.

                  When you say "more people of ethnic minorities" more than what? If the BBC only cast white people would that be OK? Is it wrong for them to keep tabs on things to make sure that doesn't happen?

                  Remember this is an organisation that cast a white actor in "yellowface" to play Chinese in Doctor Who in the 1970s. You shouldn't assume that the default position of an organisation is non-discriminatory and that nothing needs to be done to combat discrimination.

                • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                  Let me just echo the sentiment that in societies where white folk are overwhelmingly prevalent and in power, by the very nature of racism and oppression, they literally cannot be discriminated against.

                  So no. Not at all.

                  • Blabbla says:

                    Seriously. It's not like white people are sitting on their political and economical power thinking up new ways to hurt themselves.

                  • who cares says:

                    It's not that these policies are discriminatory against white people. Discrimination is about people being treated unequally if you have to make rules or guidelines for different sorts of people you are discriminating, end of.

                    Sadly we life in an imperfect world were we need these kinds of guidelines to ensure racial diversity. In a perfect world having these sorts of guidelines shouldn't be necessary, then and only then is will there be no discrimination.

                    • jackiep says:

                      All that has happened is that the BBC have changed their attitude. Until relatively recently, it was assumed that all characters were white unless specifically written in the scripts as non-white. This meant that there were very few parts for non-white actors and those parts tended to end up being about the race of the character instead of being about what the character said and did.

                      Now, unless a character is specified as being of a particular ethnic origin, parts are open for audition to actors of all ethnic origins, unless casting for somebody who is supposed to be related to an already cast actor.

                      That's not discriminating against anybody and did does mean that (for instance) Asian actors get a chance to play roles other than shopkeeper (hitherto the only roles which seemed available on tv).

                      Incidentally, a wide range of actors went for auditions for the Doctor to take over from David Tennant and two of the favourites happened to be Black, due to acting ability, not any diversity targets (so much so that Kasterborous called it for Patterson Joseph two months out due to his performance on Survivors and his fellow cast members assuming that he'd get the par). As it happened, Matt Smith blew the production team away with his audition, despite being nearly 20 years younger than the incoming team had stated that they wanted.

  13. Fuchsia says:

    The first time I watched this episode, I totally did not recognize Simon Pegg at ALL. But yeah, he's a huge fan of Doctor Who. He comments on episodes once in a while when they air, still, on his twitter. <3

    I like this episode. It's definitely not one of my absolute favourites, but I like it well enough. If anyone ever wants to put a chip in your head, JUST SAY NO! I don't care if it's just a music chip to listen to your favourite songs in your head. There's always another consequence!

  14. knut says:

    OOO, so that's what The Editor was doing with the dead bodies. I was too distracted by SIMON PEGG! to fully pay attention. Fail

  15. who cares says:

    Random useless fact. Simon Pegg was the narrator on the first series of Doctor Who confidential.

  16. exbestfriend says:

    "omg Tamsin Greig, who was also in Shaun of the Dead with Simon Pegg SORRY I GET EXCITED ABOUT SUCH THINGS"

    Oh Mark, You Are So Unprepared for how many British actors have been/currently are/will be on Doctor Who.

    • atalantapendrag says:

      It makes for awesome enabling and cross-enabling, though. I've been watching all these David Tennant vehicles lately, things I probably never would have HEARD of otherwise.

  17. murgatroid1 says:

    "I think it’s rare that guest characters on most TV shows get a full treatment from the writers, especially when the main focus is only on one or two people. What I really grew to love about Davies’s writing in “The Long Game” was the amount of time spent on Adam and, most especially, Cathica."

    YES TO THIS. This is one of the reasons Doctor Who is one of my absolute favourite shows. Even though there are very few characters who are regulars, and lots and lots who only turn up only for an episode or two, there's no hierarchy, in terms of character development, and importance to the story each episode tells. It certainly reinforces the Doctor's attitude of every person being important.

    • exbestfriend says:

      "It certainly reinforces the Doctor's attitude of every person being important."

      That is so true and I really wish I could say a quote from the new Christmas Special right here as a reinforcement, but *spoilers*

  18. diane says:

    Apparently the BBC does have different standards for "family" shows. Similarly for "adult" (more than just "it has sex in it") or kid shows (challenging to kids, does not exclude adults). RTD has two spin-offs from "new" Doctor Who (Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures), and has all three categories covered.

    As far as the episode, OH SNAP! Adam earned his fate. "Doctor, stop that!" <SNAP> "Sorry, couldn't resist that."

    I didn't find The Face of Boe to be as disturbing as other aliens in The end of theWorld, especially the Lady Cassandra, the "last true human."

    • MichelleZB says:

      This is why Torchwood characters have graphic sex with anything that moves. Because that's just quality prime-time viewing on the BBC. No worries about it being family friendly.

  19. Matthew says:

    I'm also baffled by the bad reputation that this episode gets. Russell T Davies himself thinks that he failed to tell two sufficiently complete stories. I still like it though. Interestingly, it's based on a script that Davies submitted to the Doctor Who production office when he was 18 (it was rejected).

    Simon Pegg also narrated the accompanying "Doctor Who Confidential" documentary series, for the first series. In the episode about "The Long Game" you get to see him completely fail to say Maxarodenfroe in several takes. In the end they do a bit of a fudged edit (look carefully and you'll see it).

    Edgar Wright is also a huge Doctor Who fan and was lined up to direct the first filming block (Rose, Aliens of London and World War Three) but he was already committed to publicising "Shaun of the Dead" in the US, so had to drop out. He's still keen to do it, though, so who knows?

    The idea of the manipulation of history has already been touched on in "The Unquiet Dead" when Rose says she knows that the Gelth aren't walking around in human bodies in the future and the Doctor says that "time is in flux" and can be rewritten. The show as whole doesn't ever spell out the precise rules of all this, but we do get the idea that there are sometimes fixed points in time, which cannot be changed. Also, we get the sense that it's a rather haphazard undertaking with the possibility of unintended consequences. The implication is that the Time War was partly fought by manipulating history and reality.

    • sabra_n says:

      Oh my goodness, that first filming block would have been about fifty times better with Wright at the helm. Man, now I'm kind of bummed out thinking about the lost opportunity.

      Oh, and part of the reason the story in this episode was a bit wonky was because Adam's subplot was kind of forced – they wanted to give Eccleston and Piper (but mostly the former) a bit of time to rest because being in practically every shot running around and shouting massive quantities of technobabble is exhausting. In the future, they would figure out different and smoother ways of shuffling around production in order to give the actors playing the Doctor and Companion a bit of a rest.

  20. Mauve_Avenger says:

    When I looked at your twitter account earlier, I misread your tweet about this review as saying "Simon Pegg-infested." Also, this review doesn't have your traditional 'cut' (or whatever it's called) after the first paragraph.

    On TV Tropes, the computer-chip-in-brain trope is called Neural Implanting. It's one of those pages on the TV Tropes website that doesn't have a long article with lots of pot-holes, so it's hard to find unless you're looking for it specifically. And I wouldn't say that it's always a bad thing; the reason the people in the Matrix have it is bad, but the downloading itself is pretty neutral. I'm sure there are other, better examples of good Neural Implanting, but I really can't think of any right now.

    Also, cronk burgers. The combination of the accent and my horrible earphones made me mishear it as "crunk burgers." My predictions about what would happen to Rose and Adam after they ate were sadly disappointed.

  21. cdnstar says:


    I am also a fan of the use of the doubt they've planted in Cathica being the downfall. And of the use of the news/control of the news as a theme in the episode. I mean, it is there, it happens every day – but how many people actually recognize it? I know my opinions are not those of the majority, because I tend to … associate with those who have like-minded opinions on things like this – but every now and then in life I will encounter someone who is a believer in the accuracy of the news reports, the honesty of politicians, etc. And it always throws me that there are people still who believe that way. Then again – those aren't likely the people watching Doctor Who in most cases.

  22. atalantapendrag says:

    I feel bad for Adam. He did something dumb but understandable, something totally in keeping with what the Doctor already knew about him, and winds up living in the very real fear of being dissected in a government lab or something.

    • sabra_n says:

      Yeah, that was a pretty thoughtless ending he got, and one of the real weaknesses of "The Long Game" as an episode.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Really? I don't feel bad for him at all. He went out of his way to profit from the Doctor's kind nature.

        • exbestfriend says:

          And he tried to hide it from Rose and the Doctor, so it is clear that Adam knew what he was doing was wrong. It is like trying to take Biff's side in Back to the Future II.

          Although, full disclosure, I think Adam is very cute and would have been a fun companion, he isn't looking for adventure like Rose is. He is looking for a way to get ahead.

        • atalantapendrag says:

          It'd take spoilers for me to really go in to my opinions on the matter. I totally agree that Adam was thoughtless and can't blame the Doctor for pitching him out, but leaving him with anachronistic tech in his head was really irresponsible.

        • sabra_n says:

          I'm not saying he deserved no consequences at all – just that having a port in his head that would open any time someone snapped their fingers was too drastic. Having the shit scared out of him by Nine and getting dumped at home – and therefore deprived of any more TARDIS travel – might not seem strong enough, but it also has significantly fewer potentially horrifying implications.

    • doesntsparkle says:

      I respectfully disagree. I found him arrogant in the last episode where he was bragging about being a genius and relishing in his "secret" knowledge about aliens and the internet. Everything that he did in the episode was an extension of his arrogance. He thought the he was above the rules and could get away with pulling one over on the Doctor. He endangered the lives of Rose, the Doctor, and everyone else on Satellite 5 by getting in over his head (or on his forehead) with technology he didn't understand. How was the doctor supposed to trust Adam after that?

      I think he deserved to be dropped off and forced to be normal. For him, leading an ordinary life is probably worse than being dissected in a lab.

  23. Slytherinnit says:

    I absolutely can’t wait for you to get to ep9 and 10! I can’t wait to see your reaction to them! Ooh and series 2 finale! Ahh it’s so much fun reliving this all with you! I think you’re either going to love or really hate the next episode, just a gut feeling. Please please please please review faster Mark!!!

    • calimie says:

      I don't think you should post your expectations of future episodes, good or bad, because those count as spoilers.

    • exbestfriend says:

      Please read the Spoiler Policy. It doesn't take that long and it explains exactly what counts as a spoiler. Even though you don't say anything about what happens in the episodes, what you just wrote is considered a spoiler on this site.

  24. sabra_n says:

    This is the episode that finally made me understand who the Doctor is and what Doctor Who is about – enlightenment, questioning, being our best selves. The Doctor at his greatest inspires the inner superhero of all the ordinary people he meets. Doctor Who is about how we're all bigger on the inside – just like Suki turned out to be more than she seemed, just like Cathica became a hero in her own right. Just like Rose and Gwyneth and Jabe and Harriet and Mickey, pushed by the Doctor into actions that save the world.

    How could I not love a hero whose real superpower was to bring out the best in the people around him?

  25. fantasylover12001 says:

    Could someone please tell me where I know Christine Adams from? Throughout the episode I kept thinking to myself: "she looks familiar. What have I seen her in before?" It's been driving me nuts ever since.
    Personally I liked this ep. Though I keep wondering to myself how the Face of Boa can be pregnant or get anyone pregnant. DNA samples, maybe?

    • sabra_n says:

      She was Emerson Cod's love interest in Pushing Daisies and has had one-off guest part in a ton of other American shows – SG-1, Nip-Tuck, Lie to Me, etc. And apparently she was in TRON: Legacy, but I have no idea in what role.

  26. Is it juvenile that when they mention the Face of Boe being pregnant the first thing that popped in my head was, "But what if he sneezes too soon?"

  27. Minish says:

    I don't dislike this episode. I quite like it, really. I've seen the best and worst of Davies' writing, and this episode is somewhere in the middle.

    And some more excellent deep and realistic guest character work by RTD.

  28. Araniapriime says:

    Do people really not like this episode?

    Where did you get the idea that people don't like this episode? *is indignant* I love this episode for many reasons, most of which I am not at liberty to explain at this juncture. I can say, however, that in my travels, I have always taken the Doctor's instructions about "visiting Paris" to heart; and oh, the adventures I have had!

    Many things the Doctor says in this series have become mantras for the way I live my life (I'll talk more about that as they show up in future episodes). In ordinary circumstances, I would never admit that because, c'mon, Doctor frakkin' Who? But here, among the warm friendly glow of like-minded dorks, I will say that the Doctor's advice has made my life more fantastic every day. <3

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      IMDB, a few forums, some people who have IM'd/emailed me. Almost all of them didn't like it at all.

      • Araniapriime says:

        They're obviously idiots. You should listen to my opinion and mine alone. Hmpf. 😉

      • Matthew says:

        In fandom you can get some quite pronounced clumps of negativity which, often because no-one can be bothered to get into an argument about it, can give the impression of consensus.

        If look a bit broader, though, at fan forum polls with a few thousand votes, for example, you see that the majority pretty much likes everything (and this is even stronger for the general audience figures). There is variation, of course, but no episode is generally disliked and every episode will have champions as well as detractors.

        That's why it's best to go in with no expectations, if you can. Actually, the worst thing is people telling you in advance that it's going to be brilliant – I find that hard to put out of my mind. One of Doctor Who's strengths, I think, is that even if you're disappointed by one episode, they next one could be completely different.

    • Minish says:

      Like I said yesterday, the Doctor Who fandom is split right down the middle about EVERYTHING.

      Just imagine everything on Doctor Who being Ginny Weasley or the dancing scene in Deathly Hallows.

      • who cares says:

        Wait people didn't like the dancing scene? I got the impression most people rather liked it then again. I haven't set foot inside the deeper pits of HP fandom in forever. They freaked me out years ago. Especially since nobody would ever agree with me about artistic freedom on the films.

        • Hypatia_ says:

          A lot of people were like "OMG HARRY/HERMIONE SHIPPING NOT COOL!" and freaking out. Personally, I thought it was a good addition and didn't come off as romantic at all, particularly as Daniel Radcliffe was so cutely dorky while dancing. But yeah, there are lots of people who rabidly hate it.

          • xpanasonicyouthx says:

            Hahah like me? I still don't really like it.

            • Hypatia_ says:

              It's all open to interpretation, right? I can see how it could come off as shipping, it just didn't to me :-).

              The naked sparkly Harry and Hermione that came out of the locket was totally creepy though.

          • grlgoddess says:

            Or there are those like me, who think that it was mostly cute, but they added a couple of shippy looks that wrecked the BFF vibe.

            • Hypatia_ says:

              Yeah, that look that Harry gave Hermione after the dancing could be seen as suspicious. Isn't the director of the film a Harry/Hermione shipper?

              • grlgoddess says:

                Steve Kloves, the writer, is. I never really noticed when I first watched the movies, but after knowing that, the shipping really does shine through. 🙁

  29. Albion says:

    It’s still a strange thought that it’s still considered a family show.

    I was wondering what you thought about that. I love that it doesn't shy away from some serious issues because children watch, like HP.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      It's strange only because I'm an American and we have such a stilted version of what's ok for kids. 🙂

      • Albion says:

        I'm from the UK and I think it's strange lol. There's nothing quite like it, in regards to what kids watch. I wonder if sometimes they get complaints…

        • who cares says:

          The UK seems to make a lot more mature kids TV anyway but considering what Disney Channel and Nickelodeon produces that's not hard. Now how much longer until series 2 of Tracy Beaker Returns.

      • I know, British Children's Entertainment has it right. When I was a kid I wanted to know about the world around me, almost as much as I liked being scared! I'd much rather see real, hard issues, and be hiding behind my sofa, knowing the Doctor will make it All Right in the end. 🙂

  30. Ash says:

    Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf.

    You know, I don’t even really remember this episode apart from the villain at the end. I guess that means its not all that notable. All I do know is there isn’t a DW episode I didn’t at least like while watching for the first time. I haven’t actually re-watched any of them so I don’t really know how good some of them are in comparison to each other. I think it might ruin some of them to watch them again. Only some of them though.

  31. Fusionman says:

    Simon Pegg won't be near the first guest celebrity here. John Clesse of Monty Python is in an Old Who episode written by Douglas Adams and other celebrities come in later.

    A lot of people in this show later are huge fanboys/girls as well.

    Tomorrow will rock though. This is an episode that Tom Baker AKA the Fourth Doctor called the best episode of Doctor Who ever. Really.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


      Everyone says that "Father's Day" will probably be my favorite episode of the first season. EXCITE.

      • pica_scribit says:

        Dunno about favourite, but it's definitely the one that won me over to the show, heart and soul. It's just…well, you'll see.

      • Tasneemoo says:

        father's day is just beautiful and heart-breaking 🙁 my favourite episode by far 🙂

      • Fusionman says:

        Wait Father's Day is next. Oops. I meant the first Moffat two-parter. My bad. Probably should have read the episode list.

      • sabra_n says:

        The rest of the series is all very strong, IMO. There are at least a couple of other contenders for your "favorite episode" crown, believe me. 🙂

  32. justapalindrome says:

    The best thing ever was how hard of a time Simon Pegg had saying, "The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe." as illustrated by this video:

    The confidential for this ep has all the glorious outtakes, but this is a nice taste.

  33. Vicki Louise says:

    "The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe" I <3 RTD with his penchant for ridiculously long names!
    This a 'meh' episode for me, but i do love the characters, Cathica, Suki, The Editor (i also love Simon Pegg! Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz <3 yarp!) and the nurse (Black Books and The Green Wing<3).
    Adam wasn't originally a bumface, he wanted the information from the computers because his Dad was sick and he wanted to find out if there was a cure, but it was cut because there was already so much to fit in the episode, so he got stuck being a bumface forever! (literally)
    I love Bruno Langleys reaction after he takes the vomit (ewww) icecube out of his mouth!
    Can we please throw a baby shower for The Face of Boe??

  34. Hypatia_ says:

    I love the Doctor's description of how you have to deal with time travel, the quote Mark mentioned. It applies so well to regular old Earth travel too. I love to travel, and that quote is one of my primary travel mottoes.

    Simon Pegg is 100% win in this episode. "I call him Max".

    Max himself, however, I didn't like. That's the only thing I don't like about this episode, I find the toothy ceiling monster just kind of silly and gross. He's like a toothier, less articulate Jabba the Hutt.

  35. kitish says:

    I really enjoyed this episode the first time around, though I don't watch it quite as often as others when I rewatch. But that whole 1984, "big brother is watching" thing always amuses me. Also Tamsin Greig! She was on "Black Books" which is the awesomest, snarky-est, bestest show ever. I mean, seriously, it has snarky, misanthropic book humor. What more can you ask for? 🙂

  36. Whitney says:

    People don't like this episode? Huh. This is one of my favorite episodes in this season, to be quite honest.

  37. Thennary Nak says:

    IIRC, RTD has said that Adam is supposed to be what a truly useless companion would be. Which is something that holds a lot more weight once you've seen other companions, especially some of the reviled ones of old Who, IMHO.

    • Elliott Mason says:

      The companions are a long-running theme that interests me, and one that hasn't been too terribly explored in New!Who yet.

      Some people just make very, very good companions: Rose is one, Amy is another, and there are others in New!Who we've not run across yet. Amy in particular is an outstanding companion. It takes a really weird mental bent, though, when you think of it: joy in adventure, a certain disregard for personal danger, an ability to put up with EXTREME WEIRDNESS over and over and over again without getting jaded or burned out.

      In New!Who we see a couple of people who weren't companion-suited interact with the Doctor, and either come along for a voyage or two (like Adam) or never get into the TARDIS. We also see a couple of people who would make outstanding companions who don't voyage with him, for various reasons of their own.

      I like to think in the between-episodes adventures (hinted at in some ep-opening dialogue), there are other nonoptimal companions encountered and discarded.

      however, the Doctor needs a companion, deeply. It's pretty clear in the very first New!Who ep that he's been flying solo for a while and it's been changing him in bad ways. Who he is after Rose is not who he was before her, not for a whole slew of reasons; the Matt Smith Doctor can be as he his because of all the companions he's had in New!Who.

      I THINK I was careful not to be spoilery, but please — tell me if you-the-readers think I crossed a line! I will delete immediately.

  38. THE Nessa says:

    THE FACE OF BOE!!!!!! 😡

  39. saintmercy says:

    Simon Pegg was in this episode!? I haven't seen it in a while, How did I miss him? I have to watch this one again IMMEDIATELY!

    Also The Face of Boe is pregnant? I don't get that…That makes my head hurt to think how it could happen. LO L

  40. pica_scribit says:

    Simon Pegg. Totally. Just about every great British actor ends up on Doctor Who sooner or later.

    Cannot wait for tomorrow. The next episode is the one that completely won me over to this series. And I will say no more than that.

    Oh, and the Jagrafess…. How does a creature with such huge weaknesses and limited mobility ever attain a position of political/financial power like that? I just don't get it.

  41. forthejokes says:

    I did like this episode, though I like others a lot more.

    I completely agree with you on the amount of character development that is put into characters that are only ever in one episode – it makes the show that more rich.
    Adam: Yes, he's an idiot and he deserved to be left behind. I love that moment where his mum clicks her fingers.
    Face of Bo: I can understand why you think he's creepy, but I still love him.
    Eccleston: I really love his version of the Doctor just as much as any other actor I've seen, despite the way that people treat David Tennant as the be all and end all. It's a pity Eccleston chose to leave after one season. I understand he didn't want to be typecast, but I think he probably could have done another series.

  42. forthejokes says:

    Exactly. Also his catchphrase 'fantastic' really works, unlike the other two because his accent makes it sound brilliant. I like the other two as well, but I think it was watching repeats of series one that made me wish for more Eccleston.

  43. Danielle says:

    "A question that you can answer if it’s not spoilery: the Doctor tells Cathica that she “should chucked this out years ago” when referring to the technology in her head. Does that mean that history is different from what it should have been? How is that possible? "

    Well spotted.

  44. Mandi says:

    I actually think Suki grabbed the Editor's leg in the end because he told the Jagrafess that he was resigning. The Jagrafess was in charge after all, so when the Editor tried to run from the Jagrafess, the monster controlled Suki and made her grab the Editor's leg so he would have to stay and face his master's wrath for having failed.

  45. syntheticjesso says:

    "He's your boyfriend"
    "Not anymore…"
    LOVE IT. I love Rose showing off.

    Adam annoys me, but I can almost relate. I would also want to learn EVERYTHING I could if I was in the future. I probably would have gone for the Type 1 chip, though, not the brain-exposey chip, and just found a computer and "read" everything I could. Just to know. I wouldn't have tried to record the information to use in the past, because DUHHHHH that is A TERRIBLE IDEA. But man! To learn all that stuff! I probably would have never left the Physics section. Hi, I am a Ravenclaw.

  46. Emmy says:

    FYI Tamsin Grieg was also in Black Books, which is brilliant.

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