“The Long Game,” Doctor Who, Season 1, Episode 7

This show’s entry follows the style of Dan Harmon’s story circle.

Dan Harmon's story circle

The Long Game

This is an amazing Doctor Who story for me on many levels. One of the most interesting things about it is that it is a Doctor Who story where he kicks out a companion, returning him home for misbehaving. The Doctor bans Adam from the TARDIS and leaves him to avoid being detected after altering his brain. The mechanical third eye reminds me of someone. I think this is a missed opportunity and could have been an interesting way to introduce Davros to New Who, the scarred companion left behind.

1) In a zone of comfort

Everything starts easy enough. They arrive on Satellite 5 and the Doctor allows Rose some hints so she can look smart for Adam when they first come out of the TARDIS. He appears to take a lot of time to adjust to being on a satellite that exists many years in the future. Everywhere they look, are televisions showing various news segments from around the world. It looks like a lot of terrorist activity and bloodshed. Rose shows Adam her phone and permits him to call home since he is having trouble adjusting. I’m not sure if he gets the idea then, to send information about the future home, but after standing up when the Doctor returns to find them, keeps Rose’s phone, tucking it in his pocket. There’s something fishy going on with him, but I’m not sure if at this stage he even knows what he’s up to.

2) They desire something

After a demonstration of the broadcasting process from Cathica, the Doctor can tell that the technology is wrong. He can tell that it’s not as up-to-date as it should be for the time. Looking around, he can tell that progress is been stunted. This desire drives the Doctor.

Cathica longs for a promotion. She feels like it’s overdue; she feels overworked, and she feels like she’s earned it. She wants one more than anything else. She has been good. She has followed all the rules, and it’s gotten her nowhere. She is driven by this desire, and eventually, it is Suki getting promoted over her that drives her to join the Doctor and break the rules.

During this period, Adam slips away. His desires, as an alien artifact cataloger, come later.

3) Enter an unfamiliar situation

Adam gets hungry for power and tries to send a coded message home. but can’t. He needs a chip.

The Editor is looking for something wrong going on because he has vague suspicions and targets Suki. He decides that it’s enough to bring her upstairs. So she’s promoted over Cathica, who is furious about it. She happily takes the elevator upstairs, acting like it’s the break she’s been looking for and disappears. She physically enters an unfamiliar situation, by going into the cold desolate 500th floor. She searches around, encountering dead bodies connected to control panels, and eventually finds the Editor. The Editor confronts her and outs her as a revolutionary, which is something that I did not expect the first time I watched it. She pulls a gun, and he introduces her to her boss, hanging on the ceiling.

On a different level, Adam finds a computer terminal. He has told Rose he wants to go to the observation deck and get used to things, but that’s not what he does. What he does is he goes and tries to access a computer. With Rose’s phone, he’s hoping to send some kind of message home with information about the future. He runs into trouble because he can’t access the computer properly. He doesn’t seem to have the proper chip installed in his head. So instead of saying I may need to get back to the Doctor, he goes looking for how to get a chip of his own.

I find it unusual, that in a Doctor Who episode it would focus as much as it does on a side character. The companions are important, as they are our point-of-view characters who encounter the Doctor’s wild world for us to enjoy, but there’s something fishy about Adam. He’s taking up too much time, so he makes me wonder. The Doctor wants to stop whatever’s going on, but I think what’s really going on revolves around what Adam is doing.

4) Adapt to the situation

Adam walks onto the medical floor and inquires about getting a chip and is deftly up-sized to the full Info Spike. She knows how much credit is on his chit, and she wants all of it she can get.

While Adam is getting his surgery, the Doctor, Rose, and Cathica sneak around. The Doctor easily figures out how to get the elevator to take him to Floor 500, but Cathica won’t go with him. She’s still trying to follow the rules.

While the Doctor and Rose search Floor 500, unaware of what they will find, the Editor delves into their identities and becomes completely baffled because of the absence of any information about them in his database.

5) Get what they desired

Adam gets his brain Info Spike, learning to flick it open and shut with a finger snap. (or click.)

The Doctor and Rose go find the Editor, and his boss, the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe (Max.) I do not envy Simon Pegg for having to say that with a straight face. He’s the reason for all the air-conditioning blasting upstairs and upsetting the heating on the other floors. The Doctor finds Suki dead, but somehow still working. Ever feel like a job is sucking the life out of you? She certainly does.

6) Pay a heavy price for winning

Despite the Doctor and Rose being captured, Cathica sneaks upstairs.

Adam takes over the satellite and away with the show and broadcasts too much information home through time. In doing so, he gives the Doctor and Rose away.

Cathica takes Adam out by getting in a dentist’s chair of her own to kick him out and heat the Jagrafess up. Break rules on her watch? I don’t think so. I’d hate to be a creature that explodes when it gets too hot.

The Editor tries to escape, but zombie Suki stops him.

7) Return to their familiar situation

The Doctor then bans Adam from the TARDIS, sending him home, and he destroys the archive. (It all fits on an answering machine?)

8) They have overall changed

The Doctor only takes the best.

Doctor Who on DvD

About The Author