Category Archives: Adam

The Long Game

Whether it’s on Earth or in orbit, this series has yet to leave the vicinity of our little blue sphere. There’s even a shot of the planet’s surface through an observation window that is very reminiscent of the one from four episodes prior. And we’re aboard another orbiting satellite, only this time the human race is very much alive and well, but something isn’t quite right.

It's very flashy (and a bit gross) but that cannot be a particularly efficient method of data transfer.

It’s very flashy (and a bit gross) but that cannot be a particularly efficient method of data transfer.

This is the first episode to fail to leave any sort of impression on me. I vaguely recall seeing it before but only because I remember Simon Pegg being in it and the weirdness with the head hatches opening up. It is a fairly forgettable story and it didn’t win me over this time around either.

Skip to the end.

Skip to the end.

I think the problem is that the drama of the situation relies too much on fairly abstract concepts. We’re told that the human race is being controlled, that information is being manipulated, but we don’t see the evidence of it. We only get the story from the point of view of a couple of workers aboard the satellite and have to take the Doctor’s word for it that this weird new world is the wrong sort of weird. It’s very difficult to care.

The 500th floor wasn't so good a promotion for Suki after all.

The 500th floor wasn’t so good a promotion for Suki after all.

Technology and concepts are introduced so quickly that the importance of them doesn’t have time to take hold. I get that the implants are a way to absorb everybody’s thoughts, but the way Cathica reverses it at the end seems to happen all too easily. The sub-plot with Adam trying to transmit future secrets could have been interesting, but he’s such a bland character that I didn’t care that he messed up, and I’m glad to see the back of him.

The Jagrafess, controlling human destiny for nearly a century. Defeated by turning the heating on for a few seconds.

The Jagrafess, controlling human destiny for nearly a century. Defeated by turning the heating on for a few seconds.

Pegg is pretty good on screen as the villain, the Jagrafess creature is disturbing, and some of the episode’s themes do sort of work okay in a broad sense, but, on the whole, this is the weakest episode of the revived series so far.

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Dalek

You can tell tell the quality of an actor by putting them into a room with a puppet and watching them act out an impassioned scene. Without a doubt, the most memorable performance of Christopher Eccleston’s short stint as the Doctor comes from this episode, as he faces down the last of his old foes, a single Dalek soldier. Compassion turns to fear, fear turns to delight and then rage and disgust. I used to find Eccleston a little unpredictable and scatty as the Doctor, but it’s understandable, as he shows every side of the character within the space of a minute.

Another sign of a good actor is how much they spit when they shout.

Another sign of a good actor is how much they spit when they shout.

It was important to bring in new fans, who may not have known the history of the Daleks, but also appeal to the long-term viewers. The “time war” idea was a great way to wipe the slate clean and reset expectations, but I can’t help think that the reveal of the Dalek would have been more of a shock had they not spoiled it in the previous episode’s preview, or indeed in the name of the bloody episode!

Imprisoned and helpless, the Dalek is tortured.

Imprisoned and helpless, the Dalek is tortured.

Nevertheless, the intention was to make the Daleks threatening again for the 21st century, and this succeeds where more overblown efforts have failed. An army of Daleks invading Earth doesn’t have the same impact as knowing that just one rogue Dalek could single-plungedly wipe out millions of people itself, even if you don’t see it happen. Oh, this revised Dalek soldier is formidable on-screen, sure, but it’s the warning of what it might do, the terror in the Doctor’s eyes, that sells the threat.

The museum of alien artefacts, deep underground in Utah. Well, at least it's not Wales again.

The museum of alien artefacts, deep underground in Utah. Well, at least it’s not Wales again.

That the Dalek ultimately destroys itself, having been “contaminated” with Rose’s emotions, is perhaps the best end for the Dalek saga one could hope for. In the space of 45 minutes, we go from fear to pity, as this pulsating blob of a thing finally sets himself free, and the Doctor is brought back from the brink of becoming a monster himself. If this were the last ever appearance of the Daleks, it would have been a spectacular ending for them. Unfortunately, they were dragged back kicking and screaming before the first series was even over. A missed opportunity, but not one for which I can blame this episode.

Henry van Statten owns the entire Internet, apparently.

Henry van Statten owns the entire Internet, apparently.

While this is one of the best ever portrayals of the Daleks, the rest of the episode is merely okay. The idea of the alien museum is interesting (old-school Cyberman head!) but the characters fall flat or come across as silly, especially van Statten firing people for ridiculous things and having their memories wiped (this might have seemed plausibly futuristic at the time, but the episode’s setting of 2012 is now the past!). New tag-along Adam is so bland a character, I actually forgot he was even in this series. He claims to be a genius, but demonstrates no such quality just yet. He and Rose flirting seems inappropriate, given she only left Mickey waiting in the previous episode. Still, anything to shake up the status quo is fine by me.