Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Long Game - "Is a slave a slave if he doesn't know he's enslaved?" "Yes."

The Long Game (TV story) - Tardis Data Core, the Doctor Who Wiki

Series 1, Story 7 (Overall Series Story #162)

Well, here it is. The first stone clunker of the new series. (But it's not Suki's fault!)

Now, when I say "clunker," I don't mean to say it's awful. It drives. It gets us from point A to point B; it even has its charms. But it doesn't come together like it should. It's the one with Simon Pegg in it and he's largely wasted. It's politics are in the right place -- I wanted to like it much more than I did for that reason ... but still, it leaves me a cold.

Dodgy acting and unlikable characters undermine this one in ways I can't quite get over. The first thing is Adam shouldn't have come aboard at the end of "Dalek," based on what we saw of him there and he does nothing to redeem himself here. It's not because he's smarmy and unlikable -- there's a way to make that work -- he's just ... extraneous. We didn't need another flirt-partner for Rose. We didn't need carry in a bungler to advance the plot. Everything he put in motion could've been accomplished with the rest of the cast as it was constituted. And what would've been a stretch wasn't needed to begin with.

Adam. What a tool.
Adam's presence takes away from the one excellent supporting turn from a guest star ... and that, unpredictably, at least by me, was Anna Maxwell-Martin as Suki/Eva who really should have been our hook into this episode. I would've de-monstered it and had Simon Pegg play The Editor/the Jagrafess all-in-one instead of going for a CGI ceiling monster. Had we seen more of Suki vs. The Editor, her tragic fate would've been much more meaningful.

Pegg could've, should've, handled all the villainy. CGI not needed.
The argument of the story, that we are stunted as a civilization when the institutions we rely on to give us accurate information about the world fail us, is so right, it's frustrating to see it get jumbled in with Adam's simple greed and opportunism. Pegg could've given us all this in a more nuanced Editor, and it would've been so great to see Suki, Rose, and the Doctor work it out, showing up the way the Cathicas of the world willfully ignore the obvious. The Adam character and plot functions should have been rolled into Cathica. Preferably a Cathica played by an actress attempting to chew the scenery a little less to show how eager the character is. (Cathica, and her portrayal, are redeemed a bit at the end; Christine Adams seems more comfortable playing her coolly resolved to finally fight the power than she did playing her as the suck-up.)

Just as the Great and Bountiful Human Empire will recover once past a rough patch, so too will our series. "Father's Day" won't set us completely back on track, but it'll be a step in the right direction ...

Oh snap.

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