Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Well, after three episodes which either met or exceeded my expectations, there had to be a disappointment eventually. Aliens of London was that disappointment. Episode 1 wasn't great but did it's job. Episode two felt like Doctor Who, and episode three may go down as a classic. Episode four is hopefully a blip.

Let's start with the good. The plot is basically engaging, even though I didn't enjoy or like this episode as much as the prior ones I will be watching next week to see the outcome. The return of the multi-episode format with a cliffhanger is to be applauded, though the writing team has proved with episodes 2 and 3 that a single 45 minute programme can contain terrific Who. The effects concerning the crashing spacecraft were very good indeed. My wife, not much of a Who fan, is upset that she'll be in the states on Saturday as she wants to see the concluding episode.

But I have problems with this installment. I guess we're going to have to become used to domestic scenes in Rose's house and perhaps elsewhere. Though not traditional Doctor Who they aren't out of place in the plots and make the character of Rose more realistic. This can be forgiven, but the humourous aspect - always important in Doctor Who since Troughton - was overblown this time.

The basic premise we have here is that an alien space ship has crash landed in central London (good use of the location) so spectacularly that the Doctor surmises it is a decoy for some other alien activity. So we have a modified pig in a spacesuit placed in the crashing ship to keep earth's medical and scientific community busy while the real aliens plot to take over the world.

But the pig just looked silly. Clearly the viewer is supposed to have sympathy for the poor creature, the Doctor does, but I found it unconvincing. Perhaps a very good idea, poorly realised on screen. There should have been suspense in the scene where the Doctor is trying to find it but the pacing of the scene was wrong.

It transpires that the aliens have taken over the cabinet by disguising themselves as various government bigwigs. So far so good, but due to some malfunction of their gas exchange units all the aliens have terrible wind! This might have been funny the first couple of times, but a bunch of aliens disguised as politicians laughing and farting in the cabinet office only remains funny for a short while. After a minute this is about as funny as the later Police Academy fills. What could have been a suspenseful and interesting plot is almost ruined by the overdone attempts at humour.

UNIT is brought in, and the Doctor quickly explains who they are and that he worked with them before when he looked very different. Good, concise piece of dialogue for the uninitiated and hopefully a sign that we'll see UNIT again in the future. Word goes out to the various world authorities on aliens who are asked to gather in London, where the Doctor realises too late that they have all been trapped by the aliens who now reveal themselves to be the 'Slitheen'. I suppose they are meant to look nasty and frightening but they end up looking like a lifesize children's toy monster.

I'm glad you all wore your ID cards says their leader, before activating some sort of electrocution device which sends (presumably) deadly current through each experts ID card, cue 'scream' and roll credits.

A good plot, but the humour didn't help me take it seriously or feel any of the suspense. This should have been a thrilling adventure, instead it came across as childish and silly - precisely what Doctor Who needs NOT to be if it is to survive for another 26 years.

Disappointing, and hopefully a blip because the ability of RTD's team to produce quality Doctor Who is obviously there.

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