The new Doctor Who, episode 7: “The Long Game”

The Doctor, Rose and their new companion Adam randomly travel several thousand years in the future and find themselves on an orbiting communications satellite. The satellite has 500 levels but nobody moves up or down in the levels, unless one gets ‘promoted’ to level 500, "where the walls are lined with gold," as they say. Naturally, the situation on the satellite is much worse than it first seems to be, and so the Doctor must stop everything that’s going on.

This series has really settled into a pleasant groove. It’s not a complete reinvention of the series like the new Battlestar Galactica is, nor is it a dull retread of common themes like Star Trek: Enterprise. Instead, the series plums old themes in order to reinvent the series for modern viewers. It definitely has me hooked. An episode like "The Long Game" is a wonderful mix of adventure, satire and character.

My favorite bits were the elements of media satire in the episode. The idea of a villain being a character who continually broadcasts propaganda of vague threats in order to keep the people in a state of panic would cause a sensation in the US among the Bushies. Here, though, the satire was kept broad enough that it didn’t seem pointed at one network as much as it did all of them. It helps, too, that a British program has a different perspective on the media than our navel-gazing culture.

I thought the acting was fine in this episode. The concluding confrontation between the Doctor and Adam was wonderful – exactly what I was hoping he would do to the young jerk. It was nice to see a character travel with more venal goals than the other companions, and the reaction to it was just perfect. I also really enjoyed Rose’s growing affection for the Doctor. This might not turn into a romance – I’m not sure if Time Lords are hard wired for that – but the sparks between the two are quite charming.

Overall, a very solid episode. Next week’s (actually, tomorrow’s – "The Long Run" was delayed to the weekend due to election coverage in British Columbia) episode looks especially interesting, dealing as it does with one of those recursive time paradoxes that always are fun but also make one’s brain hurt.

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