The Long Game

Roots: The setup of Station 5 is blatantly based on the modern mass media. Promotion could be based on eviction in so-called "reality" TV. The design and name of the station are remarkably similar to Babylon 5. The Doctor uses the term "megacities", a reference to Judge Dredd, and Station 5 was very similar to a Bloc from Megacity One - clearly self-contained (and designed as such). Floor 500 was inspired by 1984 (Room 101) and the same urban myth that inspired "The Thirteenth Floor". Shaun of the Dead (Simon Pegg and zombies). 007 movies, especially Tomorrow Never Dies - The Editor is akin to Carver, the Media Baron in this film. Even down to the hair. Logan's Run - the secret manipulation of an entire population, a self-contained society sustained by shallow lifestyles, life-controlling implants, Box's icy kingdom. The Cyberpunk genre - particularly Neuromancer and Johnny Mnemonic (William Gibson), and Hardwired (Walter Jon Williams): the idea that people have implants and jack into mediaspace. The the hand-imprint device was very Total Recall. The Jagrafess' method of controlling the humans is reminiscent of the "science" of Psycho-history invented in Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels The scenes in the recreational area are similar to scenes in Blade Runner.

Goofs: After all the fuss made about it earlier in the episode, it is never explained just why none of the alien species in the empire are on board Station 5. It seems to be lots of little reasons possibly caused by the manipulation of media coverage, but the reason why is never stated.

Just how old is the Face of Boe? We previously saw him in The End of the World, which was set circa 5 billion AD, so either he manages to stay alive for 5,000,000,000 years, or he is a time traveller who just happens to be a newsworthy character in two timezones separated by 5 billion years, or he has a hereditary title that stays in existence for five billion years (in addition to both holders of the title looking identical).

The people who visit floor 500 only ever act as if they're cold when when they're in the act of stepping out of the lift, despite the snow and ice that are everywhere on that level. [I'm told that this could be caused by adrenaline].

One of the extras in the "newsroom" obviously couldn't manage the simple task of placing their hand into the moulded handprint on the access globes...

If Suki's a rock-hard freedom fighter then why does she "act like a girl" when she first reaches floor 500? [Either she's still undercover or she had some sort of conditioning so she didn't really *know* who she was until some specific trigger would occur. She does change totally when he says who she really is, like she's a bit... out of it.]

The Doctor blasts the answering machine to stop Adam's message from changing history, but surely the presence of Adam in the 21st century with the implant is likely to change history a bit as well. Also, why is the chip primed to activate when somebody else clicks their fingers? As it's wired into the brain, surely it would be easy to prime it to activate only when the person with the implant clicks their fingers. Furthermore, how does the Doctor know the chip was Adam's idea rather than something forced on him?

We're told that you need a key to travel in the elevators between floors- so how does Adam get down to level 016? [There could be some floors, such as 16, and whichever floor deals with medical emergencies, which are exemptions, but then how does Adam get back to the floor he came from?]

What on earth possesses Rose to give Adam her TARDIS key? Has she absolutely no ability to judge character? [She's just shallow enough to fall for any bloke that looks pretty, and suspends her judgement as a result.]

Why didn't Max use zombies to prevent the Doctor from leaving? Why didn't Max kill the Doctor? Why didn't the TARDIS translate Max for the Doctor and Rose? Why use zombies if all they amount to is housing for chips? Why not just use a computer? [The human brain, even when dead, possesses superior processing powers to the chips]

Rose's phone is rigged up to call back to her mother in 2005. So when Adam uses it, why does he get his family in 2012 (Adam's date established in Dalek)? [Perhaps it's slightly psychic.]

The Nurse says that Adam can buy a very fast "picosurgeon." But a surgeon operating at the level of picometers would be taking individual atoms apart, which seems unnecessary for surgery on things as big as living cells. (Maybe this is just a popular term for VERY microscopic surgery in the future and not literally done at the picometer level.)

How did the 2012 AD -200,000 AD history lesson actually get onto the phone if the relay was between the computer and Adam's implant? Did Adam do some jiggery pokery with 200,000AD technology and Gallifreyan technology just like that? If so then Adam is obviously capable of reverse engineering his implant and the Doctor is pretty dumb to dump him in 2012. [It's possible, though unlikely, that the phone encrypted the information into a form Adam would be able to decrypt at the other end.]

Why did the Editor take so long to figure out that the Doctor and Rose don't belong? He's watching them on camera for what seems to be hours, kind of scratching his head but he lets them fiddle with the stations mainframe before thinking "Hey, just a minute..." [It's been suggested that he might be a less advanced version of the controller seen in Bad Wolf and can only see the numbers.]

Why does Cathica not raise the alarm when the Doctor admits to being an outsider? Instead she seems to lead the Doctor to the station's mainframe - why? For someone so keen to toe the company line she's a security disaster.

Speaking of Cathica, how did she know how to reverse the heating system just like that? [She pulled the information from the system.]

Its seems odd that Max's excess heat is vented into the human living quarters when it could just be vented out into space. [Perhaps it's easier to control that way.] Furthermore, if all they are doing is venting the excess heat, you would expect the temperature to be approximately room temperature, so maybe the Jagrafess requires a low temperature to survive.

Why doesn't Cathica's implant activate every time the Editor clicks his fingers like Adam's does when the Doctor and Rose tease him at the end of the episode?

Double Entendres: At the start of the story, the Doctor says "Come on Adam, open your mind."

Dialogue Disasters: Rose to the Doctor: 'You're gonna get a smack, you are.'

Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: 'Time travel's like visiting Paris. You can't just read the guidebook. You've 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: 'Look at me. I'm stupid.'

The Editor: 'We know what happens to nonentities - they get promoted.'

Cathica: 'This is ridiculous. You've got access to the computer's core. You could look at the archive, the news, the stock exchange. And you're looking at pipes?!'

The Editor: 'How can you walk through the world and not leave a single footprint?'

'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.'

Memorable Moments: Adam faints when he learns where and when the TARDIS has taken him.

Continuity: The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to get unlimited credit out of a cash machine, and to blow up an answering machine. He says he'll hug anyone.

Links: The Face of Boe (The End of the World) makes a cameo appearance. Rose's mobile first made a call backwards in time in The End of the World as well. Adam was introduced in Dalek.

Extras: This story has an episode of Doctor Who Confidential

Location: Station 5 c. 200,000 AD, Adam's parents' house, c.2012

Future History: The Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire stretches across the galaxy, taking in a million planets and a million species. During this era, Earth is covered with megacities, five moons, and a population of 96 billion. Kronkburgers are a popular food, and there are slush-puppy like drinks that taste like beef. The currency is measured in credits.

Satellite 5 broadcasts the Empire's news - 600 channels (including the Bad Wolf Channel) broadcasting everywhere. Information is gathered and processed through human brains using chips inserted into human brains. Technology also allows nanoturbines to be installed in someone's throat to freeze anything an individual throws up.

There is a new archipelago on Venus, and water riots in Glasgow. Morocco is an independent republic. There is a university of Mars, and at some point its students had subsidies to cover chips. There is an empire-wide census.

The microprocessor becomes redundant in 2019, replaced by a system called Single Molecule Transcription.

Q.v. The Fate of Gallifrey, The End of the World; Bad Wolf, The Parting of the Ways; Rose's Love Life, The Doctor Dances.

The Bottom Line: 'This society's the wrong shape.' Some great ideas, with quite a lot of good writing, there's something about The Long Game that doesn't quite gel. With largely nondescript sets and a distinctively unremarkable villain in the form of Simon Pegg's Editor, and possibly some poor choices by the director, the story is best summed up by the word average. Its reputation won't be helped by its placement between the instant fan-favourites Dalek and Father's Day.

Discontinuity Guide by Stephen Gray

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