Doctor Doctor Who Guide

‘World War Three’ is a fascinating beast, really. It managed to succeed 45 minutes of fairly loathsome drivel with a pretty good ending to the story, that, for the first time this series, really felt like Doctor Who again. It had nice emotional moments with Jackie and Mickey (characters who have improved noticeably) and some rather good action, building to a truly epic ending as a Royal Navy missile hurtled towards Downing Street and the alien Slitheen came within touching distance of controlling Britain’s nuclear arms. And, unbelievably, the music, which throughout the series has been God-awful, really helped! To be honest, I liked ‘World War Three’.

Now, if anybody reading this happened to read my previous review, you may be surprised at how I have changed my tune, but I will assume that you haven’t. Suffice to say that I concluded it by saying “RTD must go now!” Well, I absolutely refuse to take back any of what I said last week (except the bit about WW3 being no better than ‘Aliens of London’), because ‘Aliens of London’ was truly diabolical, a view which I think stands up even in light of ‘World War Three’. Nevertheless, I do think that ‘World War Three’ marks a huge improvement over it’s predecessor, and may even signal the moment when this ‘New Who’ grew up, and began to approach the quality of the old series.

Perhaps the biggest improvement is in Christopher Eccleston. Despite a dreadful moment when escaping from a gang of armed policemen by talking to them at length, then stepping backwards into a lift and waiting for the doors to close, he really seemed to have grown up as well. I think this is down to the ‘heavier’ material he was given, for example when speaking to Jackie from the Cabinet room, and to the ending. Gone are the childish taunts of last week – this time, during the Doctor’s final scene with Mickey, I felt like cheering! This man, forgiving, generous and compassionate, was at last the Time Lord I idolise. That conversation more than made up for the uncomfortable scene in which the Doctor stole Rose from under Jackie’s nose, again, despite her heart-felt pleas to her daughter not to go, at which point I began to slightly resent him again.

And it has to be said, the Doctor’s solution to the problem of the Slitheen – who, by the way, are a nice example of the theme running through the season that evil deeds are quite often committed for money – was gloriously orthodox! Blowing up the monsters with a ruddy huge weapon is such a staple of the Doctor’s attitude to life that I was childishly gleeful when he did it! The inclusion of UNIT as a vital plot mechanism was also a very touching favour to the fans of the old series by RTD, one that made me feel even happier. To add the icing to the cake, ‘World War Three’ managed to press all these buttons whilst simultaneously delivering some quite daring (and rather obvious) satire of that egomaniac warmonger Blair and the lies he told over the invasion of Iraq. Great!

I still don’t like the way the series looks, but I am more than willing to stick with the domestic scenes that Russell T Davis has levered into the more traditional Doctor Who-type plots, and I feel I can excuse the rather odd plot holes that he puts in his scripts, mostly because I am afraid I might be missing something. Is there a reason why all the Slitheen were affected by the ID-card’s electric charge, not just the one that the Doctor put it on? And how come the Slitheen are not nuclear capable anyway? Why on earth does vinegar actually make them explode? There could be answers, but it doesn’t matter very much.

Despite all these improvements over last week’s debacle, the best bit in this week’s episode still happened to be the trailer for ‘Dalek’, for which I can’t wait. That Dalek sure looks like one mean mother – the Doctor’s tortured shout of “Why can’t you just DIE?!?” made me chuckle with joy, as did his somewhat chilling “Population [of Salt Lake City]? … All dead”. This might finally be the TV story which treats the Daleks properly and gives them the power and terror that we audio and comic fans know they have. I am looking forward to this one!

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