Doctor Doctor Who Guide

The Ninth Doctor and Rose return to Earth for the first multi-part Doctor Who since Survival. At last, we can celebrate the return of the cliffhangerÂ… or can we?

The real world infiltrates Doctor Who in unprecedented ways, as the TARDIS returns to Earth. There are some very intelligent ideas at work here, as the repercussions of a companion being taken out of their home environment have never really been explored by the series before. So this is long overdue. Unfortunately, it’s carried off quite badly – the right characters ask the right questions, but then it’s all glossed over. I would have expected the Doctor to be thrown in the police cells for his abduction of Rose, but within minutes, he’s happily watching TV in the Tylers’ living room, which, considering that the aliens have landed, is a very un-Doctorish thing for him to do. If he’s so bothered by all the other people in the room, why doesn’t he just watch events unfold on the TARDIS scanner?

Despite not wanting to move the TARDIS for some reason, the Doctor then does so anyway, only to face a bunch of soldiers who immediately obey him without question. He is eventually taken to Downing Street where he meets some aliens who try to kill him by electrocution, but fail purely because heÂ’s not human. He then uses a simple password to hack into the Royal NavyÂ’s network and fire a missile at Downing Street, which reaches its target unopposed. Surely IÂ’m not the only person who finds this entire plot utterly unrealistic and implausible?

Still, Doctor Who has always relied on scary monsters and great acting to paper over cracks in the plot. Sadly, both of these are lacking here, also. I don’t have a problem with the fact the aliens fart a lot, but the constant puerile jokes about that bodily function and their oft-stated desire to be naked are absolutely embarrassing. They’re also very badly acted, designed and realised indeed. Add to that an overlong cliffhanger with a “one-bound-and-he-was-free” resolution, and we have a very disappointing story indeed.

Fortunately, there’s a fair bit to redeem these episodes. Jackie and Mickey are also badly acted, but at least they have plenty to do in this tale. Jackie’s concerns for her daughter are realistic and well-written, and the Doctor looks very awkward when facing her – it’s as if he’s more scared of her than any of the monsters he’s faced so far. His continual put-downs of Mickey were grating in the first episode – especially when that character was doing a good job of redeeming himself after the season opener – but the fact he has to rely on him makes it almost worthwhile, and the scene where he refuses to let him on board the TARDIS at the end is beautifully scripted. And I can’t let the pig slip by without comment. It’s not the first animal to become a Doctor Who alien, and there’s a plausible explanation for it on-screen (which there wasn’t for, say, the cheetah people). It’s given little screen time, is well-realised, and it provides the Doctor with one of his finest moments in the series so far.

Nevertheless, the bad points have far outweighed the good in my estimation, and as with Rose, I find myself being embarrassed by the series I love. The Aliens Of London story is not one of the showÂ’s all-time stinkers, but when itÂ’s bad, itÂ’s very bad, and coming straight after The Unquiet Dead does it no favours. And itÂ’s a sorry state of affairs when the biggest thrill in a Doctor Who story is the trailer for the episode to followÂ…

4/10.

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