Thursday, February 9, 2012

Doctor Who: The Long Game


Episode 7 of season 1, "The Long Game" takes place in the year 200,000, the fourth great human empire.  This was supposed to be the height of human achievement.  Yet, things have gone terribly wrong.  Humanity seems stunted, people are rude, and the diverse alien life is nowhere to be seen.

The Doctor and Rose have picked up another passenger in the Tardis, Adam, a tech guru they picked up in the last episode.

This episode was filled with subtle and interesting satires of religion.

First, the setting is on a broadcast satellite, Satellite 5.  This satellite is responsible for broadcasting all of the news from the entire galaxy.  The workers on this satellite all want to be promoted to "floor 500" where apparently the walls are made of gold.  This was an interesting intersection with religion with the commonplace that in heaven the streets are made of gold.  One can see similar motivational tactics on Satellite 5 and in some stereotypes of Christianity:  Do good and you will be promoted to/inherit walls/streets of gold.

Of course, this is a lie.  Floor 500 is actually a frozen waste, and the only people promoted there are done so because they have come too close to discovering the truth that Satellite 5 is actually being controlled by a malicious alien (I won't even try to spell its name) who is controlling the human race by controlling all of their news media.  This served as a double layer satire in my mind.  On the one hand, the show was providing a satire of current news media, perhaps even and especially Fox News, as a media outlet that controls the news stories, thus shaping the realities of its viewers.  On another level, this could be a satire of religion, which once again stereotypically, has been seen as an institution that must carefully guard and control the flow of information in order to control its constituents.

One final and non-related intersection with religion was the short story arc of the character of Adam.  Adam appears on Satellite 5 and is immediately blown away by the strangeness of this new world.  But, as a computer geek it takes him almost no time to get in trouble.  He starts exploring Satellite 5's computer terminals but keeps getting locked out due to his lack of human chip technology.  Adam is directed toward the medical level to have a chip installed, where he is seduced with the possibility of knowledge by having a chip installed in his brain, in fact, having his brain itself become the computer processor.  Adam's primary motivation seems to be self interest, as his plan is to call home and leave a voice message with 200,000 years worth of technological advances, presumably setting himself up to be rich and powerful.   Adam's pursuit of knowledge almost becomes disastrous as he betrays information about the Doctor and Rose to the satellite's administrator, "The Editor" (played by Simon Pegg).  I think Adam's name was chosen nicely, as this is a nice parallel to the biblical Adam sinning in a pursuit of knowledge in the Garden of Eden (though actually it was Eve, but Adam is the more visible of the pair).

In the end, the Alien is defeated, all is set right with the human race, Adam is ditched back on earth, and Rose and the Doctor are off to more adventures.

1 comment:

  1. I have to see this show sometime-- people keep telling me about it. I do enjoy your blog.

    For what it is worth, I'll be down your way this week-- speaking at Belmont on Friday, MTSU on Saturday, St. Henry's in Nashville on Sunday, and doing the Trial of Christ at Carson-Newman on Monday...