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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “The Long Game”

(tons of spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: Episode 6: “Dalek”)

I’m rewatching the first series of the new Doctor Who with an eye toward looking where the show has gone since. (I previously wrote a bit about “The Long Game” when it was new, over here.)

A little late this week. Sorry…
Oh, if only it were this easy. Corporate media hegemony got your culture down? Biased news keeping people as individuals and society on the whole stunted? Just call in the Doctor to blow up your broadcast centers, and all will be made right. (Well, until the sequel episode, at least.)

This is the kind of satire that the old Doctor Who did so well: Set up a fake little world that reflects, in some way, the messes we’ve made for ourselves in the big real world, and bring in the Doctor to fix things. Oh, and to rant about them before he manages the fix:

“I don’t know anything.” –Cathica
“Don’t you even ask?” –Doctor
“Why would I?” –Cathica
“You’re a journalist!” –the Doctor

That’s cute. What would the Doctor make of CNN and Fox News?

Or the Doctor can merely display equal disdain for both sides of the equation: for “a human race which doesn’t bother to ask questions” and for the mere question “Is a slave a slave if he doesn’t know he’s enslaved?”

Oh, all the ironically, bitterly funny stuff here makes me want to laugh until I cry: The idea that a corporate promotion is a death sentence. The idea that journalists are mindless automatons, at least when they’re actually doing their “journalism” work. The idea that even though some people can be aware of what’s going on (like Suki the secret anarchist rebel), there’s nothing they can do to stop it. The idea that it always — whatever it is — comes down to money (“I represent a consortium of banks,” the Editor says). The idea that the Doctor and Rose are dangerous because they’re Blanks (in the wonderful vernacular of Max Headroom, one of the most prescient SF shows ever made), because they cannot be reduced to their component numbers: bank accounts, shopping habits, credit scores.

Also: Adam is a sneak, and I never liked him.

Random thoughts on “The Long Game”:

• Simon Pegg! I love Simon Pegg!

When Pegg gets to say “Time Lord” and then “TARDIS,” how big a geekgasm must he have had?

• It’s that big ol’ Boe face again:

And also an installment of Bad Wolf Watch…

• Does the Doctor rob a bank? Does he trick the cashpoint into giving them a credit chit with unlimited credit? Naughty Doctor! (I thought I’d first noticed him do something similar in “The Runaway Bride,” but this episode predates that. So he’s been robbing banks all along.)

• So, wait: Adam calls home with Rose’s phone. But Adam is from 2012, not 2005/6, as Rose is. So when does his call go through? It appears, later on, that it is indeed 2012 that he calls. How does the phone know? Shouldn’t Adam encounter a 12 Monkeys situation, and calls home before, perhaps, the number is operational? (Could be his hometown gets a new area code before 2012, one that doesn’t yet exist.) Or maybe his own 15-year-old self could have answered the phone…

• Suki is so into the Doctor. Look at how she stares at him when they first meet — the biting of the lip is the dead giveaway:

The Doctor knows it, but he’s kinda trying to ignore it. See how forced and quick his smile is?

It’s the little touches like these — in which the Doctor is perceived by others as someone desirable, and is aware himself that he’s being seen that way — that really distinguishes this new incarnation from the old one, which never went near anything like this. The old Doctor would never, ever have said anything like, “I’ll hug anyone”:

Nor would he have enjoyed it, for all we could tell about him from what we saw onscreen. (Those of us who really thought about these things knew otherwise, of course.) But he’s really grabbin’ hold of Suki there. I figure he’s more enthusiastic now because she’s leaving, and he won’t have to deal with the awkwardness of her attraction anymore.

(See also: the Doctor swearing. “What the hell’s he done? What the hell’s he gone and done?”)

• Trouble? Oh yeah:

He is loving this. And Rose loves that he loves it. And Adam… well, if we hadn’t already seen him faint, here’s a good clue that he is not cut out for the TARDIS-traveling life: he’s worried that they’re so excited at the prospect of trouble.

It’s totally unfair, all these people who end up on the TARDIS who cannot appreciate it…

• “Looks like it’s just you and me.” “Yeah.” “Good.” “Yup.” Aw, geez, get a room, you guys:

Again with the handholding porn. (I’d want a lot more than that from him, though.)

• So it’s to be torture again, eh?

Man, this Doctor has been tortured more in the last few episodes than he has been in the centuries he’s been traveling. Methinks there’s a bit of the ol’ hurt/comfort fanfic fetish at work here…

• Great quotes:

“Time travel’s like visiting Paris. You can’t just read the guidebook, you gotta throw yourself in. Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double, and end up kissing complete strangers. Or is that just me?” –the Doctor

“Create a climate of fear, and we can use it 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…” –the Editor

“Let me out of these manacles, you’ll find out how much fun I am.” –the Doctor
“Oo, he’s tough, isn’t he?” –the Editor (not something that could have been said about the Doctor before — well, maybe Pertwee’s…)

(next: Episode 8: “Father’s Day”)


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb

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