Fat bastard installs a puppet government, and uses media tricks to enslave humanity, in order to turn a profit. No, it's neither "The Aliens Of London", nor real life, but an all-new scathing antiestablishment screed in the ongoing war the show's decided to pitch against the New American program. And undoubtedly the finest of them so far, given that it attacks the media and FOX infotainment directly, instead of bringing military concerns in. In the year 200,000, TV has finally eaten itself: five-hundred space-station floors of journalists reporting on journalism and making news of the news. The Doctor, Rose and Adam alight in the middle of what the Doctor soon realizes is a strange new retardation of human progress. They learn that the highest levels are manipulating the populace through the efforts of actual corpse-puppet editors and copywriters, animated only by the "on message" chips inside their nasty dead skulls. But you can't stop the signal, and eventually a Type-A department head revolts against her programming and complacency -- after an anarchist sleeper-agent coworker is "promoted" and murdered -- and helps the Doctor and Rose to bring the system down. The liberal screeching is turned way down, and the angry and on-target satire is turned way up, making it a very satisfying and still-timely piece of entertainment altogether, all concerns about commodifying revolution aside. Meanwhile, Adam's data-addiction leads him astray, and he pays a horrible/hilarious price, but at least he gets to hang out with the fabulous Tamsin Grieg for first part of the episode .
This is where it starts. Next week's good, and last week was great. This is where it starts: TV screens on your TV screen, all of them broadcasting news, "solar flares" and "commercial flights." The TARDIS appears, and the Doctor and Rose step out. Perhaps Adam got sucked down the bog! The Doctor looks around, and starts giving Rose the information: it's 200,000, it's a space station, there's a gate in the corner they should start with. He leans against the TARDIS, Rose double-checks the information, and they grin. She giggles and opens up the TARDIS door, and calls Adam out. He's agog. "Don't worry, you'll get used to it," Rose says, and gives Adam the information she just got from the Doctor. On one level, it's funny: being teacher's pet, carrying on this idea that Rose belongs now, and Adam's just a tourist, being able to step back a few episodes and remember when Rose was so blown away by the fact of travel that she couldn't see the details of the terrain. But on another level, it's not so funny: if you're only repeating the information somebody else gives you, it's not news, it's not legitimate, it's nothing but parroting back the last thing you heard. It's not the news: "Good question," says Rose. Drink. "Let's see. So, um...judging by the architecture, I'd say we're around the year 200,000." Adam is awestruck and impressed; Rose is chuffed at the joke of it. She's playing older sister with Adam, and practical-joking girlfriend with the Doctor, and always the information: "If you listen...engines. We're on some sort of space station. Yeah. Definitely a space station. It's a bit warm in here; they could turn the heating down." Rose indicates the gate, and they follow after, the Doctor delighted.
Out into a gallery, overlooking the Earth. Adam holds onto a railing for support and joins Rose, as she passes the talking stick to the Doctor: "The Fourth Great And Bountiful Human Empire. And there it is, planet Earth at its height, covered with megacities, five moons, population ninety-six billion." Rose -- who looks quite more than amazing enough to make up for last week -- kind of loses track, too, mouth agape. The Doctor: "The hub of a galactic domain, stretching across a million planets, a million species...with mankind right in the middle." Adam faints with a tiny sigh, and the Doctor doesn't even look. "He's your boyfriend," the Doctor says, off-handedly and more than a bit accusing. "Not anymore," Rose jokes, freshly. The quest has started again, and now she has enough time travel on her to be one of the mysterious ones. Adam's worth that at least: the chance for us to see Rose, after the adventures we've seen and the ones we haven't, being the kind of Companion that says vague "run for your life" stuff with that Doctor's grin. How could Adam ever be a part of that?