Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Aliens of London' seems to signal a return to 'Doctor Who's origins. The double episode felt a lot closer to the old format, allowing a slightly more complicated plot, more character development and a cliff-hanger ending. The A-plot also returned to prime 'Doctor Who' territory, refreshed with 21st century cgi, whilst the novel treatment of the companion -- torn between old & new attachments -- made a great soapy counterpoint. The extensive use of news reports contributed to the contemporary feel that has characterised this series, and I adored Andrew Marr's cameo & the snatch of 'Blue Peter'.

The action plot, however, was rather pedestrian, with too many of the twists being oversignalled & overlaboured. Much of the action required a degree of idiocy that stretched plausibility ... even for civil servants/MPs/military, sacrificing any tension & menace. The pacing sagged in the middle, & even towards the heavy-handed, repetitive climax. (And someone should inform the BBC that running spoilers for the upcoming episode over the credits works spectacularly poorly with a cliffhanger.) In the heavy focus on the two leads, secondary characters have all been relegated to cardboard.

Billie Piper is continuing to do a fine job, and I love the ambiguity she's projecting in her feelings for the Doctor. I pray, however, this strand remains ambiguous (I don't think I can bear another Buffy/Angel scenario). On the other hand, I felt at times Eccleston was walking through his lines in this episode. I'm not yet enjoying Davies/Eccleston's version of the Doctor, with the ubiquitous grin -- I think it's high time for those dark secrets to come out.

After the dark-toned 'Unquiet Dead', 'Aliens of London' was definitely heavy on the humour. One or two one-liners stood out (in particular the one where the boyfriend says he isn't seeing anyone else because everyone thinks he's a murderer); however, there was way too much schoolboy humour for my taste. I'm probably not the primary audience for the series, but a little of that kind of thing goes a long long way.

Overall, a mixed bag. By no means my favourite of the series so far, but I'm beginning to feel the connection with the old 'Doctor Who' at last.

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