Doctor Doctor Who Guide

What the Shakespeare! Following Gatiss's foray into what the series is capable of RTD comes back on board with a mix bag that, for the first time in four weeks, left me wondering who'd won Ant Vs Dec. It was Dec by the way, Ant ended up taking a jungle shower, which (in case you were wondering) isn't something you order from a Malaysian prostitute. Purile you say? Well it wasn't much different on the Beeb was it?

Coming from a Tom Baker background for me this one was doomed to failure, a time travel show set in the present, UNIT (the purview of Pertwee), Micky and Mrs Tyler and a cameo from Andrew Marr. However, cunningly, this one was set a year in the future showing the TARDIS in full cock up mode and the implications of travelling through time per se. This was very clever and Mickey's 5 arrests coupled with council estate gossip gave a glimpse of what may have happened in the lives of 900 years worth of companions. Micky had his acting head on (well more so than in Rose anyway), UNIT was actually a welcome cameo and the news footage was a healthy dose of realism. Clips from Rose at the start of the episode looked better than I'd remembered and suggested that this is best viewed as a 13 part story rather than a series of individual episodes.

So what did go wrong? The aliens fart, and their transition from rubber to CGI is as obvious as the moveable items in the background of a Scooby Doo. That plump woman is from every children's programme of the last 15 years and every third episode of Peak Practice, Heartbeat & the Bill and was a face too familiar, and rosy, for a villain. Worst of all the incidental music would need to be toned down for an episode of You've Been Framed. It could just be Lucasphobia, but I've had my fill of interstellar flatulence, perhaps its rampant postmodernism knackering TV innocence but End of the World's deadly fans - post Galaxy Quest and now the Austin Powers laughter just didn't sit right. Am I thick? Is this homage to homage, cultural bricolage gone mad, or is it actually making the mistake that Lucas makes and Pixar doesn't i.e.aiming entertainment at children based on the fact that children (as well as adults) like it?

Doctor Who has always been more Harry than Dennis Potter, but that doesn't mean its crap or just for kids. It doesn't have to be a realistic and hard nosed social commentry and rubber monsters don't matter when its Tom Baker and not Rose's Mum struggling against them. I remember an Australian programme where aliens-in-disguise sweated intensely whenever their plan went pear-shaped because of a couple of meddling Kylies. Seeing that antipodean chauffeur mopping his brow filled me with fear, the Blazing Saddles trumpathon did not. The trouble is when it starts to slip enough for your mind to wander it all falls apart. Last week the snow on the TARDIS drifted away when it dematerialised, this week the graffiti stays put (it must have been one of those anti time and space travel spray paints from Halfords - don't leave your century without it). The alien plot was bizarrely complicated, still I suppose an open invite to a SETI convention in the local rag wouldn't have grabbed the Doctor's attention would it? Why was the tubby fella next in line for PM? Why didn't any of the Cabinet race to No.10 of their own volition? Why not make a suit of the PM rather than his underlings, the aliens seemed bigger than the suits so don't tell me they could only mimic fat people? And whilst we all know it's a 13 part series, so no one major is going to die, having a triple cliff-hanger followed by clips from next week does seem a bit pointless. The trigger happy army will shoot an unarmed pig but obey an intruding unidentified leather jacketed Manc who says "pattern delta" in a stern voice. The police and Rose's mum think Micky killed Rose on the night that marauding living shop window dummies shot shopping Londoners left right and centre? Rose, who actually abandoned Micky only a couple of days ago, has missed him whilst also travelling to the years 5 billion and 1869 (stopping off for chips midway) and has also decided that the Doctor is much more important than a boyfriend, it was only two episodes ago she was scratching her head at joining him in the first place?

Overall I didn't like it, apart from the bits I didn't think I'd like, whether this was symptomatic of the unfair juxtaposition with The Unquiet Dead, initially forgivable teething problems with the new series starting to grate or just the episode in its own right I don't know. I'll be watching next week and IF I do get the TARDIS series box set Aliens of London is one I'll avoid but with Micky and Rose's mum set to appear in the Dalek two parter I hope the series doesn't suffer from more CHAV than wheat. Whatever I think, and I accept that I come from a vocal group that may not necessarily be the target audience, I can only imagine that any battles for the remote control next week will be harder to win if it's the Doctor you want on, and that can't be a good thing.

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