Doctor Doctor Who Guide

The review in this weeks Radio Time stated that some nifty effects and wry one-liners keep things going but you sense the best is yet to come. Rereading that preview after seeing the episode, I can’t help thinking it was right.

The cliff-hanger ending for the previous episode was superb unfortunately the resolution seemed rushed and rather too convenient. The first half of the episode did feel like a typical episode three in that it didn’t really advance the plot too much, just had some traditional corridor acting to pad things out before the climactic finish. Admittedly they were very nice wood-panelled corridors and we did get some tense moments to scare the kids including the Slitheen hunting Rose and Harriet Jones, and Mickey rescuing Jackie.

As the episode progressed, the Slitheen were pushed to the background which I actually didn’t mind. Despite them being well designed I got fed up with the repeating of the admittedly impressive zip effect and the constant farting, a joke which I actually enjoyed in the previous episode but, it wore rather thin after another 45 minutes of it. One scene that really annoyed me was when they squabbled over their human suits as the missile approached, which managed to ruin their credibility far more than their farting. Only Annette Badland and Steve Spiers as The Police Commissioner succeeded in making their human Slitheen characters sinister. In particular, Badland’s showdown with the Doctor was very effective with her evil smile. Other than that, I really didn’t care about how the Slitheen would be stopped, unlike the Autons or The Gelth.

Perhaps wisely then, Russell T Davies instead chose to concentrate on The Doctor, Rose and Harriet, plus the domestic tension between The Doctor, Mickey and Jackie. Davies seems to prefer developing the emotional content of the series, at the expense of the traditional monster action, as for example in The End of The World, with The Moxx of Balhoon and The Face of Boe which look good but get to do bugger all…

Although I appreciate this dumbing up of the series, is it really wise to neglect the monster element of the show and maybe alienate the younger audience? With the advances of CGI and effects technology plus the obvious big budget, keeping the monsters in the background for fear of getting something that looks crap like The Myrka or The Mandrels doesn’t need to happen.

Yet again though, the final scenes proved touching and was sensitively played by all four principal actors. It was nice to see the Doctor finally softening to Mickey with Noel Clarke in this episode being particularly impressive with a character that I didn’t warm to in the first episode. Penelope Wilton was also excellent, managing to avoid making her character just the comic relief.

Despite the strengths of the acting, I believe this episode was the weakest so far in the new series but it was still never less than entertaining. Certainly I’m in no danger of watching Celebrity Wrestling next week and from the preview of next week’s episode, the best is yet to come!

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