Doctor Doctor Who Guide

There's an old tradition when it comes to two-part storylines on "Star Trek". The writers spend so much of Part One setting up for an amazing cliffhanger, that Part Two almost always feels like a let-down. Before seeing tonight's episode of "Doctor Who", part of me was thinking something similar might happen here. Well, I'm pleased to report that "Doctor Who" has not travelled the same path as "Star Trek".

Russell T Davies returns with a very good script, full of some classy one-liners and the usual wit we have come to expect from his pen. Thankfully, Russell doesn't rely on wit alone to carry the story. The sheer scope of events is magnificent, with some serious dramatic tension on the line here. There's also some nice touching moments, especially as Jackie tries to come to terms with Rose's relationship with the Doctor.

As I suspected when I reviewed 'Aliens of London' last week, the overall story arc doesn't move along very much at all. In fact, aside from a slightly humourous bit at the end (bringing closure to the graffiti bit in 'Aliens of London'), there's no mention whatsoever of any of the "bad wolf" or "time war" elements already mentioned in the series. Which is no bad thing, I must admit. Makes for a nice change.

Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper continue the tradition of this series, with both of them giving very good performances. Billie really seems to be shining in this series, and is making every effort to silence whatever critics she might have left. Christopher, meanwhile, is obviously enjoying the role, and the wide variety of challenges that it asks of him as an actor. The scenes these two share are wonderful to watch.

The guest cast is generally the same as last week, with some rather fine performances from all involved. It was indeed nice to see the slightly larger members of the British acting community getting a chance to sink their teeth into some meaty roles (no pun intended). Of the guest cast, Penelope Winton comes off best, with her portrayal of Harriet Jones being perfect. It was also nice to see Camille Coduri and Noel Clarke once more.

The production values continue the high standard of Part One, but its obvious why things look so good in this particular adventure - all the sets in 'World War Three' are the same as those featured in 'Aliens of London', and its clear the money has been well spent. It was a shame more wasn't made of the team's visit to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, as I'd hoped that impressive location would end up being used more often.

Special effects-wise, the episodes come off quite well. There's a wonderful balance between costuming and CGI for the Slitheen (although some of the CGI shots featuring the Slitheen looked a little too fake), while Mike Tucker's impressive model work comes into play once again as the episode ends, and the script calls for 10 Downing Street to be blown up! Nicely handled, and it made for an explosive end to a very good episode.

As this is the final episode to be directed by Keith Boak, part of me is sad to see his contribution over (he was, after all, the first director on the new series), but it means that we've finally moved past the first block of filming, with all its inherent problems. Things can only go up from here. Finally, Murray Gold does his usual impressive piece of work on the episode, although I spotted some re-use of cues.

Overall, 'World War Three' brings the new series' first two-part storyline to a spectacular finish. I suspect in future years this particular two-part adventure won't be held in the same high regard as the original series classics like 'Caves of Androzani' and 'The Talons of Weng Chiang'. It is, however, still an impressive piece of work, and should be celebrated for pushing the boundaries of British TV.

Overall Score: 5 / 6 (Very Good)

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