Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Christopher Eccleston really is turning into not only one of the most complex of all the Time Lords, but one whose personality could be sliced into each of the elements of his former incarnations; he is, in this much stronger half of a two-part story, much like William Hartnell's great-grandchild. Troubled, brooding, as hard-edged as flint. What makes "Aliens of London/World War Three" so strong is the fact that, in this "Volume II" of Doctor Who, the whole event is a faster, bolder, braver take on the main narrative, with enough depth and intellegence to tackle the domestic side of the characters' lives in great detail. Jackie and Mickey are not just cardboard cut-outs, and the decision to give Rose time back home opens more opportunities than it closes. "World War Three" is obviously one of the strongest episodes in the 9 year history of this "Volume II" of Doctor Who, and certainly one of the best ever all round multi-episode stories.

Satire can be subtle, but when a rogue prime minister warns the nation that alien invaders could strike at 45 seconds notice, and calls on the UN to do something about it, you know that the BBC decided not to bother with cutting back on the Hutton Report bashing so close to a General Election. Overall, the episode was a tense and well-written story - The Doctor challenged to risk his moral nerve, Rose having to trust her new best friend, Jackie having to test her mother's love. It was all about the nerve of bravery, a tense decision Christopher Eccleston can delivery because grit and determination are emotions he can carry off better than most other contemporary actors. His Doctor cares, but has tough love, not the slushy Grandfather figure of John Pertwee; more Colin Baker than Tom.

To defeat the Slitheen - great idea, shame about the obvious difference between the puppets and the CGI - the Doctor could use brains or brawn. He uses brains, but backed up with a nuke straight into Downing Street. Yes, this idea is somewhat silly - a little too silly one might think - but these really were desparate times, and Russell T Davies' writing made the viewer believe in those desparate times. This is why the domestic element of the story line is so important. "I could stop you, you know..." is an important line - Jackie could have stopped it all because she is a caring mother first, an element of Time Travel she is not.

This episode was important because it was able to place Rose into her familiar context one more time, to ensure the casual viewer is taught on the stark differences between herself and the Doctor, and the Doctor and their ideas about what a Doctor Who "should be". His decision not to have tea with the Tyler's was another important sign post - this is not a domestic Doctor, he does not do soft love. Killing the Slitheen was the only possible solution, he does not do un-necessary saving of life. For the Doctor and Rose to survive as a team, it had to be determined that they had to work as an un-easy union, not a "couple", and this episode painted that well.

All episodes thus far have had a few niggling doubts. The "after the cliff-hanger" solution was in keeping with the "Peter Davision closing and then not closing his eyes whilst crashing into Androzani" style moments where all is well at the start of Part 2. Heritage or not, it was a cheap way out of the cliff hanger and it did not make logical sense when it did happen. Whilst she did improve - "You pass port on the left hand side" - Penelope Wilton was still not as brilliant as she so often is. Her character was a little to silly to be given such an integeral role. It can also be accepted that UNIT would by now have a website, but one with such power?

The new era cannot be escaped, deleted or forgotten. Is this a gift, or a betrayal? Have all fans, from whatever end of the spectrum, been sold a golden gift or a pile of Emperor's clothes? From the 5 episodes thus far, it is certainly more positive than negative - this is a modern day classic Doctor Who and "Aliens Of London/World War Three" maintains the high standard. Next week... the benchmark may well be lifted higher still......

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