Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Aliens of London: So much promise in the title alone, but overall a very mixed episode with many moments of greatness but also a few moments of unfulfilled potential.

From the pre-titles teaser this episode was making me think differently about Doctor Who, or more specifically about why someone would give up on their life to randomly travel around time and space. Mostly, in the past, companions have either had no choice, or have really had something to escape from. Rose is different. Sure, her mum is annoying and her boyfriend’s a div but so what? That’s life, right? It’s great the way Russell T Davies is trying to give more depth to Rose and show that she is still connected to what she left behind. The teaser is the first chance you have to grab the audience’s attention it was pure soap opera with added time travel. After the big reunion between Rose and her mother nothing much happens except the characters shouting dialogue at each other in their front room. Yawn. At least they did it more cheerfully than on Eastenders.

Then it happens: A spaceship crash lands in the Thames taking a big chunk out of Big Ben on the way down, and it looks fantastic. Really these are some of the best effects I’ve seen on the BBC. Why this wasn’t used as the teaser I’ll never understand. Now this is where the episode really begins. London has been sealed off, there are rumours of an alien body being taken to hospital, the Prime Minister is missing and the military are trying to take charge. Perfect. So what does the Doctor do about all of this? Goes back to Rose’s flat and watches it on TV. Now the Doctor’s initial reluctance to get involved is actually quite interesting and only four episode’s in seems very ninth Doctor. However for him to then give up after one roadblock is out of character for any incarnation. There was potential here for something very interesting and Doctorish but we were dragged back into domesticity.

So far Christopher Eccleston has been a brilliant Doctor, and while his performance can’t be faulted there was something missing in Aliens of London. Some of the dialogue, the Doctor’s in particular was a bit throwaway, just to remind you he’s an alien, like when he eventually walks out of Rose’s overcrowded flat saying “it was a bit too human in there.” There were some very good Doctor moments though, chasing a pig down hospital corridors and walking in on soldiers having a tea break and then taking charge of them. Defence Pattern Delta! Wonderful. And the interaction between The Doctor and Mickey is some of the funniest dialogue I’ve heard in the series.

At last the incidental music is coming together and was the best of the new series so far. The juvenile humour can largely be overlooked,as only once was it overdone and didn’t spoil the episode. The main problem was the pacing of the story. Scenes were very short giving the impression that a lot was being crammed in but actually the opposite was true. It could have all slowed down without losing any impact and sacrificing anything. In some ways the episode was very Third Doctorish, and even UNIT are represented, in a blink and you’ll miss it kind of way. It would have been nice for more to be made of UNIT as they could have been re-introduced and updated in Aliens of London very easily, and maybe this will be picked up in part two. But I doubt it.

It all ended on the first cliffhanger of the new series, and I can’t wait to see how the Doctor gets out of this one.

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