The Long Game

* Midway through the series, this is the episode so far that most closely resembles a classic serial – turn up at a place, meet the locals, examine the society for a bit, then realise there’s an alien behind everything. However, because there’s only 45 minutes to play with, it skips from the set-up to the resolution within a couple of scenes, missing out all the exciting peril in the middle. The episode really takes its time to build an intriguing story, and then rushes to finish it off; it’s incredibly unbalanced and it makes for a unsatisfying and ultimately unremarkable viewing experience.

* FAKE NEWS. Satellite 5 is a failing piece of garbage. Sad! Somehow the themes of this episode seem more relevant in 2017 than they did in 2005. There’s even lines about immigration being tightened up due to fear of attacks, and the powers that be creating a climate of fear in order to keep the borders closed. Fuck’s sake, Doctor Who is usually a much-needed respite from the terrifying injustices of the real world. Give me a break!

* The companion subplot is handled much better than the monster-of-the-week element. It’s enjoyable spotting the early warning signs that Adam’s a shit. It’s a speciality of Bruno Langley’s; Adam works in the exact same way as Todd Grimshaw, in that you want to believe he’s a good guy deep down, but you just know that there’s always some sort of twisted gameplan. I’m aware that previous drafts revealed that Adam was doing it all to find a cure for his ill father, but as it stands his only motivation is that he’s a bit of a twat.

* Tamsin Greig! I’d forgotten she was in this. Bit of a waste to use such a great actor in such a small part really, and it’s the same with Simon Pegg. They’re both great here – Pegg’s really on his home territory as a character that switches between being a billy-big-bollocks a shameless lickspittle – but I wish they’d been cast in much more substantial roles at some point instead.

* We end with Adam becoming the first ever companion to be kicked out of the TARDIS for being a compete dick, although Dodo and Adric came pretty close to getting there first at times. The failed companion is a great idea from Russell, but in hindsight it’s a shame that – with Captain Jack coming along in a couple of episodes – there’s so few stories where it’s just Rose and The Ninth Doctor, as they’re such a special pairing.


Nothing to do with this episode, but I can’t let today pass without saying: RIP Sir John Hurt. Kane, Quentin Crisp, Winston Smith, The Elephant Man, Caligula, The War Doctor. Any one of these would have been career-defining for most actors. What an honour for Doctor Who to have been graced by him.


* This near-future episode is now so old that it is in fact set in the past. Therefore the President that Van Statten wants replaced must be Obama – 2012 was the year of his second election victory. He says he wants a Democrat next, but of course the next President after Obama is categorically not that. Given that Van Statten was taken away and effectively killed before his orders were fulfilled, is it his former assistant’s fault that we’ve got fucking Trump?

* Top Trivia Fact: The stock footage of Bad Wolf One descending is used in The West Wing‘s opening titles.

* I started watching Coronation Street regularly in 2010, and so when Todd Grimshaw returned to the cobbles a few years later, I was eternally amused that Adam Mitchell had ended up in Weatherfield. Now, having watched several hundred episodes of Corrie since I last watched Dalek, it’s completely the other way round, and Todd Grimshaw has somehow shown up a secret facility in Utah.

* Eccleston’s finest moments so far come in his initial scene with the Dalek. He’s just incredible, and while there are other Doctors before or since that could have done wonderful things with this material, I can’t picture anyone else doing it in quite this way, with so much venom and rawness. Soon afterwards, the Doctor is essentially depicted as Christ, but after that scene, it’s earned.

* The Daleks – or rather, the Dalek – are/is genuinely better than ever. The writing is on a par with the finest Dalek stories of the old series, even before they take it into a whole new direction, and Nick Briggs is easily up there with Hawkins and Skelton. Their physical depiction is what raises the game – the beautiful construction job by Mike Tucker and team, and their newfound abilities. They can sucker people to death, dissolve bullets, rotate every section independently, and properly fly; some of these abilities have been implied before, and I’d never detract from the last bit of Dalek/stairs action, but it’s such a treat to actually see it all in such glorious detail.

* There are so many great moments – The Doctor with the Cyberman head, the Dalek setting off the fire alarm and in order to electrocute everyone, Rose saying goodbye when she was trapped behind the bulkhead. The Dalek is undoubtedly the star of this show (and as much as I love Davros, it’s nice to see them centre-stage without him), but Rose is a close second – the only human who can understand and reason with both the Dalek and the Time Lord. This episode is utterly, utterly perfect.