Wednesday, 2 April 2014

'The Long Game'

‘He’s your boyfriend…’
‘Not any more.’

Can the best Doctor Who stories be summed up in a question?
Once the novelty of The Show’s return has worn off a little, and we start to get used to it being on every Saturday, can it pull off a standard, old-fashioned rooms-in-a-space station type story?

Best moment for Old School Who?
This is the first time I’ve rewatched this one. It’s a remake of the Krotons..! The brightest sparks in the human population are given a trip through the magic door, where they will be rewarded. But they won’t. Hidden monsters will suck out their brain juice and that’s that. Plus, some satire about the internet, global media empires and banking. This is Twentieth Century Robert Holmes territory.

Best new thing?
The forty-five minute episode format means that the lesser stories are here and gone. They’re amusing stop-off points. Sojourns in space. Unlike the old days where every story was dragged out way beyond its natural life-span and died mumbling and twitching somewhere in episode five. Here, the reasonably snappy revelation of the monster – a kind of meat chandelier – is happily premature.

They’d never have got away with that in the 20th century…
There’s some body-horror here. The hatchways in foreheads and those full-frontal brains are quite alarming.

Hurray for Jackie Tyler – best guest moment?
I think Tamsin Greig is wonderful. Everything she’s in, she has this wonderful ability to look slightly stunned and not quite present. She’s coolly detached and horrible here, putting pressure on woeful, spoiled Adam to upgrade his head. She’s wasted, though. She should be the Doctor, at least. Failing that, she’d make a fabulously droll travelling companion.

The ‘I love me Nan…’ moment
It’s not quite sentimentality – but the line that grates with me is the Doctor’s ‘I only take the best.’ At the time – and still – I find it irksome that the Doctor is auditioning companions for their usefulness. It makes him seem rather calculating in a Seventh Doctor way at best, and like some dreadful business person at worst. It’s Doctor Who as ‘Dragon’s Den.’

The bigger storyline that’s being contributed to here is to do with the future history of Earth. Already, with just a few episodes, the new show is in painting broad strokes the way our planet’s future will go. And already it’s being tampered with…

I had to listen very carefully to find out what the Jagrefess thing / meat chandelier was really up to. It didn’t help that, like the Nestene in ‘Rose,’ it wasn’t a very clear speaker. By now I am longing for an old style loquacious super-villain who can enunciate his or her plans clearly and wittily.

Where was I?
To me it felt very much like a filler episode at the time. Watching now, I enjoy the things it has to say about the work place and office life. I don’t quite buy Simon Pegg in his role. I like the woman out of Bleak House, and the one who ends up saving the day. But I also remember wishing that the Doctor would get his finger out and start behaving more heroically. Also, I was glad to see Adam go, even if the characterizing of Rose as ‘the best’ is laying foundations for what felt like the too-sudden evolution of her character from ordinary young woman into mystical warrior queen from beyond time.

Singlemost fabulous thing
Tamsin Greig and her special offer of frosty vomit.

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