Doctor Doctor Who Guide

I tried to love it, but this was the first episode of the new series where I really had to try. Apart from some decent basic ideas and a couple of nice touches I thought 'Aliens of London' was sloppily written, inconsistent and excessively flippant. Coming after the excellent 'The Unquiet Dead' didn't help it either.

Oddly enough, it was the first episode with anything resembling a decent plot: undercover aliens in Britain's government fake a first contact scenario to lure the planet's 'alien experts' into a trap. It even had a promising subplot: Rose's return to earth after twelve months, and its repercussions.

Unfortunately the main plot was let down by incessant fart gags. 'Excuse me', the Doctor says to cap it all, 'would you mind not farting while I'm saving the world?' I can just see Russell T Davies chuckling to himself while writing this line, but it doesn't belong in Doctor Who. It's not offensive, just puerile, and it repeatedly deflated any buildup of tension (NOT better out than in). I also wasn't happy with the numerous sexual references, by the general/alien and regarding the Doctor and Rose's relationship. Again, this sounds like prudishness, but I was three years old when I started watching Doctor Who and would like to think that children of any age could watch it safely (despite the BBC's recent advice!).

All of this just kept me thinking 'This isn't Doctor Who.' It was RTD showing us what he could do TO the show, not WITH it. That may be tremendous fun for him, but he needs to remember he's only the guardian of a long TV tradition. He also needs a script editor, or at least someone to read what he's written. No one seemed to have examined this script in any detail. One minute Jackie thinks the Doctor is a sinister kidnapper, the next he has his feet up watching TV in her home, without any explanation. A group of soldiers training their guns on the Doctor suddenly begin acting as if he's their commander when he shouts some nonsense about 'Plan Delta'. Neither Mickey nor Jackie react to the interior of the TARDIS when they enter it. And so on.

I liked some things. The pig 'astronaut' was really surprising and a suitably off-the-wall touch (and where there are little pigs, there are bad wolves, right?). Some of the performances were good -- though not Piper or Eccleston this week, both hobbled by a subplot that sounded like a bad Eastenders episode. The Slitheen were reasonably creepy, and just cheap-looking enough to qualify as proper Doctor Who monsters. And as I said, the basic plot was interesting and promises some further twists.

On the whole, though, I found my attention wandering for the first time this series, and the prospect of another episode (and, to be honest, of more RTD-penned stories) doesn't fill me with glee. I'm sure ratings will drop next week if they haven't already. Fortunately we have a Dalek story to look forward to after that, and one not written by Russell T Davies.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television