The beginning of this episode was charming because despite the millions of years humans had to develop technology and progress socially, they still had the same old quirks and problems – grumbles about promotion, media over-saturation, corporate monopolies, cosmetic surgery, and even bland fast food.  However, the writers could have introduced elements such as ‘modern’ colloquial terms or even more futuristic clothing. I think it would have been even more interesting to show humans that evolved, such as humans with wings, scales, or the ability to breathe in outer space.

It is intriguing that the show’s writers created a story about the dangers of corrupt journalism, especially since the show is produced by the BBC. However, the episode shows the important role the news plays in spreading information and current events. Since the corporations had complete control over Satellite 5, they were able to perfectly manipulate human activities. This is a cautionary tale about the advance of technology — rely on it too much, and you could create a trap for yourself. It is a particularly relevant issue for Communication majors. Against all the whizzing and blinking gadgets in the world, common sense and old-fashioned critical thinking still win.

Another aspect of technology highlighted by the episode was cosmetic surgery. It is alarming that humanity would be so extreme as to allow such machines to be placed in their bodies. This parallels the issues we currently face with technology — there are constant reports about installing chips into one’s arms or placing detectors inside people’s heads. Although these increase convenience, they also reduce one’s privacy. The question is, how far is too far? Adam certainly went too far with extreme body modification. The way the cosmetic surgeon tried to seduce him with discounts and upgrades reminds me of the way cosmetic centers convince celebrities to undergo dozens of procedures — nip here, tuck there, and then you end up with someone like Donatella Versace.

An improvement?

It was somewhat farfetched when the Doctor uncovered the conspiracy just by observing the temperature. However, part of the excitement that revolves around sleuth stories is the ability of detectives to figure out what is going on just by observing a few clues. This explains the popularity of Sherlock Holmes and the CSI series. It makes the Doctor more endearing since he relies more on his own wits rather than his gadgets, even if he has a wide array of them. However, the problem is that he often walks into his own problems.

I found the Doctor particularly unforgiving this episode, especially after he and Rose abandoned Adam in present time with a gaping hole in his forehead. Snapping  fingers is no rare occurrence! I sometimes feel annoyed with the Doctor whenever he plays the role of puppeteer overlord. It is a bit hypocritical because he always tries to save the world, but at his own convenience. Adam’s actions could have had terrible consequences, but the fate he was left to was pretty severe. He also just left Cathica to explain what happened and without offering any assistance. Perhaps Jackie’s accusations in Aliens of London did have a shade of truth to them. It was a pity that a majority of the episode was dedicated to developing a story about Adam, only to have him dumped at the end. However, I did not mourn him so much since his character was not very likable — I found myself rooting for Mickey at this point.

I also wonder why the Doctor cannot have a constant male companion. Is it because the producers want to bank on romantic tension to drive up ratings? It seems ever-so-slightly sexist, because it is as if men cannot have a degree of defenselessness or ignorance. On the other hand, it is more exciting to have a female companion, because the dynamics and range of experiences in the relationship between the Doctor and his companion are more entertaining.

I feel that the episode could have been developed better, with less time devoted to Adam, and more time devoted to Cathica and the rest of futuristic society. The redeeming element of the episode was its attention to real issues that will probably confront humanity for a long time, perhaps even until the Fourth Great And Bountiful Human Empire.

 

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