Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Not a classic, but a marked improvement on Aliens of London. Unlike the first part of this two part storyline, there wasn't anything in this episode that I felt was "off" (save lifetime backbencher Harriet Jones, MP, Flydale North's constant self-introductions; it may work for William Shatner as Denny Crane, but Penelope Wilton didn't pull it off). Even the Slitheen's rather ridiculous appearence and personalities worked a little better here than in Aliens of London because we were given the explanation that they aren't meant to be scary full-blown invaders, but loathsome businessmen. The twist of them merely being a family instead of a race was moderately clever as well. Bonus points to Davies for managing to make some quite pointed commentary of US foreign policy via the Slitheen; a group of money-hungry monsters creating imaginary weapons of mass destruction in an attempt to hoodwink the UN and seize a valuable asset can't help but be compared to the Bush administration and their misadventures in the Middle East.

One underlying theme of this episode that I found interesting was the evasion of responsibility. Jones "orders" the Doctor to enact his plan even after he says that it could cost Rose her life, thereby sparing him an agonizing moral dilemma. The Doctor lies for Mickey after he essentially tells the Doctor he'd be scared to death to travel in the TARDIS, saving him some face in Rose's eyes. The Doctor can't bring himself to promise Jackie that he'll keep Rose safe. Evading responsibility can have tragic consequences. Coupled with the boatload of corpses that've piled up this season and the theme that the Doctor's only real companion is death, I can't help but wonder how the Doctor's lack of accountability will catch up with him.

I suppose the only serious complaint I have is the dread "buffalo" password. It's marginally plausible that UNIT might have one overriding "skeleton key" password and that the Doctor would know it, but the Royal Navy also having the same exact "skeleton key" is a bit much to swallow. A friend I watched the episode with suggested that the Doctor himself planted the password in every computer on Earth, which is possible, given the "worldwide virus" disc the Doctor gives Mickey at the end, but in the absence of a clear rationalization, we're forced to conclude that it'd ludicriously easy to seize control of England's armed forces (in all fairness, many major motion pictures commit similiar sins).

Ultimately, it looks as if Aliens of London was an aberration rather than the beginning of a downward spiral for the new series. If, as I've heard, Dalek marks the start of a more adult tone for the series, free of the juvenile antics of Aliens of London, I feel reasonably assured that Doctor Who's TV future is very bright indeed

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