Doctor Doctor Who Guide
I haven't posted any reviews of the previous episodes, since I have agreed with the balance of opinion that has been expressed - namely, that the show has been excellent. However, reading the reviews for 'Aliens of London' it is clear that there is a feeling that this episode has fallen well below the standards set by the previous three. I think that is incorrect. AoL didn't match last week's sublime 'Unquiet Dead', but then as a two-parter, comparisons are unfair. I thought AoL was better than 'Rose' and about on a par with 'The End of the World'. I was impressed with the handling of Rose's return. This focus on the character of the companion as a mirror to the Doctor is a completely new element in Doctor Who, and in the hands of a less skilful writer than RTD, would be awful. But he pitches it absolutely perfectly. Billy Piper has a massive job to do with these scenes, and she kept up her high standards again. Ecclestone seems to have settled on his style, which is mostly flippant but then suddenly capable of great passion. I'm not convinced with his use of the word 'fantastic', but his grinning doesn't bother me. He was on great form in this episode - I loved the way he took command of the soldiers (reminiscent of Baker T and Pertwee at their best) and his anger over the unnecessary death of the pig. As for the Slitheen, I thought they were great. I'm cross at people criticising RTD for his supposedly juvenile humour over the Slitheen 'farts'. In fact, this is perfectly in keeping with their characters, for two reasons. Firstly, they have a physical reason - the compression they use to squeeze their bodies into human form causes the noise. But secondly, RTD has set them up as villains with a sadistic sense of humour, for example their use of the pig as a decoy. All in all I think the Slitheen have a lot of potential - I like to see villains using their guile and cunning, not just overwhelming technology and power. However, AoL definitely had weaknesses. I agree with other reviewers who have criticised the music. With the most honourable exception of the theme, Doctor Who's incidental music has always been of patchy quality. This is a problem shared by a lot of TV science fiction, for some reason. The music for 'End of the World' was quite good but in 'Rose' and AoL it has been annoying. The acting in AoL was also disappointingly uneven. The news reporter for BBC 24 was absolutely terrible - why on earth didn't they just use a proper journalist. Andrew Marr showed how good that conceit can be. Not only did he deliver the lines believably, his presence somehow gave more credibility to the events that were unfolding. Rose's boyfriend was slightly better this time, but his range of expression is very limited. His line about not seeing anyone because they thought he was a murderer was great though. Rose's mum seems very one-dimensional but she performs a useful plot function and is important in terms of Rose's character development. As for the special effects, there has been a lot of emphasis on the size of the budget for DW and the consequent quality of the effects. I have to say that the standard of the effects has been adequate, but no more. It simply reflects the fact that since DW was last on screen, we have been treated to shows like ST:NG which moved the effects game on to a new level. What we are seeing with DW is what any audience would demand as the very minimum standard these days. Certainly, any American that sees the series would wonder what the fuss was about. The Slitheen themselves are a fantastic design, particularly the way they blink, but we will have to see if The Mill were able to spend enough time getting their movement realistic. Finally, I agree with the reviewer who complained about the 'on next week's episode' spoiler. It completely ruined the tension created by the cliff-hanger. While of course we expect Rose and the Doc to escape, many viewers would be unsure of her Mother's fate, until they see her running about in the clips for next week. All in all, it was fast, funny and most importantly, did enough to justify a two-part storyline. Hopefully, we can get more of those into the next series!
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