Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Reviews


List:
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Mark Francome
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Calum Corral
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Eddie McGuigan
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Mark Hain
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by A.D. Morrison
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Michael C Smith
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Razeque Talukdar
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by James Main
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Andrew Blundell
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Vicky Hall
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Christopher Hammond
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Tom Miller
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Gareth Tucker
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Paul Scott
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Chris Goater
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Tom Dawson
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Tavia Chalcraft
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Terry Hulme
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Paul Wilcox
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by George Watson
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Leanne James
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Alan McDonald
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Ian Dudley
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Tim Mayo
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Steve Hiscock
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Michael Williams
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Steve Thrower
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Steve Manfred
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Mike Halsey
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Charles Quinn
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Peter Boyles
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Eddy Wolverson
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Paul Berry
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Michael Bentley
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Dominic Carter
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Ed Martin
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Greg Campbell
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by George Kerby
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Peter Ravenscroft
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Angus Gulliver
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Mark Collins
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Liam Pennington
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Steve Hurr
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Matt Kimpton
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Pete Huntley
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Mick Snowden
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Grahame Jones
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Stephen Welsh
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Paul Davies
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Corey McMahon
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Fraser Harris
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Robert John Frazer
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Jeff Moore
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Jonathan Crossfield
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Jason Wilson
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by David Carlile
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Robin Calvert
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Timothy Harvey
18 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Daniel Knight
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by George Smillie
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Paul Wilcox
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Richard Flynn
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Dave Keep
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Michael Bentley
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Rob Stephenson
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Gordon Mackenzie
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Eddie McGuigan
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Anthony Musgrave
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Steve Manfred
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Daniel Knight
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Rory McGuigan
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Peter Anderson
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Liam Burgess
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Mick Snowden
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Eddie McGuigan
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Anthony Musgrave
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Steve Manfred
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Eddy Wolverson
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Gareth Tucker
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Steve Ferry
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Pete Huntley
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Rossa McPhillips
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Razeque Talukdar
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Greg Campbell
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Steve Hiscock
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Christopher Hammond
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Michael Cleary
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Calum Corral
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Peter Thomas
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by George Watson
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Joe Ford
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Gregg Allinson
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by A.D. Morrison
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Matt Kimpton
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Alex McAteer
23 Apr 2005World War Three, by Liam Pennington
24 Apr 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Jean-Marc Lofficier
24 Apr 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Paul Clarke
24 Apr 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Nick Edwards
24 Apr 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Anthony Farrell
24 Apr 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Andrew Philips
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Robert F.W. Smith
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Joe Ford
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Gregg Allinson
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Richard Board
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Alex Gibbs
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Richard Radcliffe
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Nick Peat
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Matthew Kopelke
25 Apr 2005Aliens of London, by Geoff Wessel
24 Aug 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Nick Mellish
24 Aug 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Phil Fenerty
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by Geoff Wessel
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by Robin Calvert
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by Robert F.W. Smith
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by Richard Board
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by Alex Gibbs
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by Richard Radcliffe
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by Matthew Kopelke
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by David Carlile
15 Nov 2005World War Three, by Edward Crocker
24 Nov 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Jordan Wilson
24 Nov 2005Aliens of London / World War Three, by Billy Higgins
24 Mar 2006Aliens of London / World War Three, by Ed Martin
24 May 2006Aliens of London / World War Three, by Shane Anderson

Being a long-time Doctor Who fan is, at the moment, something of a treat - people keep coming up to me and saying "You know, you were right, it's actually very good!" And tonight's episode got the thumbs up from the previously uncommitted in our house (although, after last week's murdering corpse, the smallest viewer - 2 year's old - had to make do with only the first 50% of the show).

Tonight's episode rattled along and paid homage to that most familiar of Who storylines - the taking of central London by aliens ... and these ones were undeterred by the congestion charge (although I did pick up on the quip about Ken Livingston). And the first multi-part story gave us our first cliff-hanger (and a decent one is was too). But ... the story doesn't seem to have got very far as regards the main action. Aliens have landed in London and taken on key positions of authority - the Doctor knows that the spaceship in the Thames is a decoy and now all 'alien experts' (that is experts ON aliens, as opposed to experts who happen to be aliens) are now trapped in 10 Downing Street where they can be eliminated. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great story (I especially liked the line about a spaceship ploughing through Big Ben was "just too perfect"), but it feels a bit slow compared to the snappy one-parters.

While I'm feeling in critical mood -

1. The "Rose-returning-home" plot is something completely new for Doctor Who and a storyline that us 30-somethings will need to get used to. It did seem to get in the way of the action in this episode - although it was very well performed throughout (good line about Micky not seeing anyone else; "mainly because they thought I was a muderer").

2. Connected to 1 - I hope the "vague romance" thing between Rose and the Doctor can be alluded to rather than overtly mentioned (which is more in keeping with the traditional perspective of the show). It wouldn't be out of place anywhere else on TV, and it's not detracting from things here, but I would hate it to become central to the series. Maybe others will disagree, maybe it's just the older fan in me being used to a more paternalistic Doctor who dominated rather than allowed the companion to have such prominence.

3. The grin accompanied by "fantastic!" is obviously here to stay, so I'll just have to accept it. However, it would be better if the Doctor could respond with a little more gravitas when the world around him explodes.

4. Have the BBC made their first SFX bungle? The little heads on the aliens don't appear too realistic when the creatures are in motion - they appeared to bounce a bit like one of those "back of the car" toy dogs. Maybe it's about getting the balance between horror and humour that the BBC spokeman was talking about last week ...

5. ... finally, farting aliens are no problem, but please, PLEASE don't have this "emerging" as a key plot twist - "We're safe, Doctor, the aliens have all left and returned to their planet ..." -RASSSPPPP!! - "Oh my God, they're behind you!"

These "not-particularly-large-grumbles" aside, this continues to be very, very good TV and the show manages to combine storylines on many different levels (something which the best of the 'classic' series managed to do on occasion).

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Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
 

Not the classic story I was hoping for but still very entertaining nonetheless. Aliens of London had the monsters, the destruction of Big Ben, spectacular UFO footage and best of all, some hilarious moments at the start of the episode involving the Doctor, Rose, Rose's Mum and boyfriend.

When the Doctor announced at one point, he doesn't do domestics, it is a great shame because these moments are a delight to watch and add some real character to not just Rose but the Doctor as well. The opening prelude has a hilarious finish and that is before we get to the slap!

Bringing us back to the world of Rose was a good idea, and you certainly felt the human impact on Rose and her surrounding lifestyle given her disapperance from Earth for a year. The dialogue was very fiery, emotional and sometimes funny.

Some great lines from the Doctor including being 900 years old and not being slapped! It was a great funny and frantic start much in keeping with the first episode. However, I felt that the remainder of the story did not live up to the high standards of "Rose". When you have farting monsters, it makes it kind of easier to understand why a serious film actor like Christopher Eccleston probably decided to walk away from the role - it is hardly going to be one of your glowing achievements on your acting C.V.

I thought this was quite infantile and unnecessary. While it may appeal to children, I kind of cringed . Surely there was another more surreptious way of hinting that these government characters were alien? However, on a good point, the slitting open of the foreheads with zips was truly frightening and much more in keeping with the horror element of the show. Perhaps the silly infantile humour and the horror moments ensures a neat balance but I felt it all got rather silly with the pointless laughter of the alien replacement Prime Minister which seemed like something more out of Austin Powers than Who. And as for the pig escaping, it was hardly scary stuff either. A bit of a low for the series so far as far as I am concerned coupled with the farting.

These elements aside, it was a pretty spectacular episode cliffhanger. I didn't really think there was a need to have a teaser for next week after that as it kind of makes you realise everything will be okay. While some are saying that Eccleston could be the best Doctor of the lot, I think it is fair to say too that Billie Piper's portrayal of Rose is also a high on the companion front. Sassy, funny and suppportive of the Doctor, she is great to watch and becoming a role model for young children. She has a very expressive face and sometimes she just reduces me to giggles with her uncertain looks as the Doctor is getting reprimanded by her mum!

So for me, the best parts were the scenes involving the Doctor, Rose, Rose's Mum and Mickey. The fact that they were all brought into the cliffhanger was good, and it certainly makes me wonder how the good Dr can escape in time for next week's instalment. After the first three slick episodes which I enjoyed immensely, I felt somewhat short-changed by this episode. While it still hit the heights, particularly with the spectacular UFO crashing off Big Ben, I felt it could have been that bit slicker in terms of the Slitheen. After burping wheelie bins, and farting aliens, I am greatly looking forward to the more safer territory of the deadly Daleks. The episode was still fun to watch though and pleasing to long term fans like myself with the nod to UNIT in the episode. The first three episodes have been brilliant but I feel standards slightly slipped tonight.

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Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
 

After the sublime delights that were Mark Gattiss's The Unquiet Dead it's back to Earth (literally) with a bang with the RTD penned two parter.

As the Doctor takes Rose back to visit her mum, domesticity threatens to overtake the show and an absurd alien invasion begins to take place. Add to this UNIT operatives with less personality that a de-activated Auton and, I'm sorry, we have the weakest story of the run so far.

The premise is a good one ... the augmented pig isn't. The cast is stellar ... the flatulent Slitheen are not. The effects top notch ... until we get men in rubber suits with very dodgy masked and zips on foreheads.

This looked spectacular, but, in keeping with the other parts, it also features the weakest Eccleston portrayal to date. He's just too flippant.

When Doctor who was on tv in the eighties there were moments that make us all cringe, things that are cast up by people who don't like the series to prove it was "rubbish". The Magma Creature, The Kandyman, Dobbin in Warriors from the Deep.

It seems RTD has created his own version of this.

We'll just have to get through next week .. and wait for the Daleks.

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Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
 

This review is almost as much of a review of reviews as it is of the episode in question, Aliens of London. First off, let me start by saying I am American. I have been a fan of Doctor Who for many years and unlike growing up in England, this is out of the ordinary. Just the thought of a Police Box that is rougly the size of an American state like Texas on the inside just fascinated the hell out of me. Tom Baker was my 'first doctor'. I also have fond memories of watching Peter Davidson when he first got broadcast in the States. Then it seemed I moved on to more American fare for awhile, the likes of Star Trek. It took a few years of maturity (and a good job that gave me the money to buy past episodes) but in the 90's I became a super huge fan of DW. I love all Doctors and almost all episodes from Hartnell and "The Space Museum" to Sylvester McCoy and "Rememberence of the Daleks". I start out my review of "Aliens of London" this way because I'm not even English and I saw the complexity of this episode. I have read so many reviews that talk about :

- "The farting". The aliens talk about this after they take over the General and say it is getting ridiculous and needs to be solved. It's better than the trash can belch in "Rose", at least this is explained as something they can't help. To think that RTD put this in here for a laugh is, well, laughable.

- The music. Look I know this is an important issue to alot of people (especially since I read about it in every single review) but seriously, unless you're talking about the use of Britney Spears in "The End of the World", the music is in the background and it at the very least secondary to the episode itself.

- The unrealistic reporting. In reviewers from England's defense, I am not from there and do not see news reports there on a regular basis. Perhaps to someone who lives in England and sees these newscasts on a regular basis this is an important issue of realism what with the music in the background and the "incredible" reaction of the amateur news reporter but as an American, I can tell you that FOX News and other 24 hour news channels report very much like this everyday about the Michael Jackson trial, Scott Peterson (a wife killer here if you don't know who that is), and Terri Schavio ("coma" patient in the States). I very much believe there would be graphics around new logos, amateur and veteran news reporters on the story and maybe even background music accompanying their reports if this were to happen in real life. None of this looked bad to me as an American.

- The Pig. This is up for debate. I thought that the idea of the aliens augmenting a pig to suit its' own purposes was a pretty cool thing. Could have been a dog, could have been a cat, could have even been a brainwashed human (but what fun would that be?). They chose a pig and I believe the "mermaid" analogy the doctor came up with explains it well.

Ok a few complaints I've read that I agree with :

- The Bad Wolf deal. Like another reviewer has said, why mention it several times and then have some kid spray painting it on the TARDIS? Also as this same reviewer said, this had better make sense some day.

- No mention of the Time War. This is forgivable, can't drop words just for the sake of saying them but I'm anxious. I want to know what this is all about damnit!

- Rose's mom taking her daughter being gone for a year so easily. This is just about unforgivable as any parent in the world would have just about gone insane. Is Rose the type to run off without saying anything? If so at least that would be a reason for her "mum" to accept that she is back and 5 minutes later let her and The Doctor into her house to watch the alien ship on TV. (and also like another reviewer has said the fact that she knows the name of the TARDIS without her ever hearing it is annoying. How hard would it have been for him to say something like "Oh great let everyone into the TARDIS" or "Don't bring anything domestic into my TARDIS" but no, she never hears it and knows the name. Sigh.).

- The metal zipper being soooo obvious on the policeman. That looked horrible and since every other zipper was invisible what the hell was the point?!

- The Slitheen. Hmmm... this one is up for debate too. They almost look like Mr. Ed, little clay puppets bouncing around. Some shots looked ok, some did not but overall they aren't the most impressive looking aliens ever.

- U.N.I.T. Very underused. Also, am I the only ones who wonder why the simple words "Attack plan Delta" allow these soldiers to take orders from The Doctor? Who the hell is he anyway? It would be like me walking into an attack in the Pentagon and ordering soldiers around with Attack plan words. This has been done in the past in Doctor Who and done much better with just a simple security clearance statement. This would have made much more sense in my opinion. Also what would have been the harm in getting Benton, Yates or even The Brigadier in on the action even if it was a small part in the background. People new to Doctor who wouldn't know who that man in charge was and old fans of the show would have cheered. I know they are trying to get away from the old show entirely but I honestly would see no harm in it.

-The trailer for the next episode. Why oh why have a "cliffhanger" that is resolved in the previews for the next episode? Seems so obvious that this defeats the purpose of a cliffhanger (even though we all know the Doctor wouldn't die or anything).

Some good stuff about the episode that has mostly been mentioned in other reviews...12 months instead of 12 hours. Very very good. Acted well, TARDIS is not 100% under control, all done very well. Alien ship taking out Big Ben....looked good cool effects, very good. Still not sure about this TARDIS design though. Hitting it with a hammer... hmmm. It looks pretty cool, and maybe we will find out that the TARDIS was damaged in the Time War and is in a little worse shape than we are used to. Amusing though and also well acted by CE.

All in all Doctor Who is an excellent show to be watching and if you love the show as a whole as much as I do, there's a good chance you have enjoyed all four episodes and can overlook some small problems for the excitement you feel when you hear and see the TARDIS materialize. Time for World War III!

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Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
 

Just as I was beginning to think maybe I'm being a little bit harsh on RTD's writing for the new series, and almost starting to persuade myself that little lapses like burping dustbins and Britney Spears outbursts might ultimately be forgivable, or, more easily, edited out from my own recordings of Rose and End of the World, I find that I have been justified in my instinctive dislike of RTD's gimmicky, soundbite-style approach to this important programme.

Aliens of London is puerile and has indellibly blemished the history of the programme with the hammiest, most inappropriate and completely unfunny trio of 'aliens' in a series of unforgiveably crass and infantile scenes ever witnessed in the series. No, I do not speak of an implausibly 'down-to-earth', 'Navvy-on-the-town/live-in plumber of the Tyler household' Doctor groaning to his hosts to 'shoot oop' as he watches the TV in a manner straight out of the equally tiresome Royle Family; I of course speak of the flatulent Slitheens in diguise as Cabinet ministers whose tendency to fart and, just as gratingly, burst into infantile classroom giggles as they do so (why should aliens necessarily find farting amusing as we do?) is tragically - for the credibility of Doctor Who - not confined to just one scene - but MANY which crop up nauseatingly throughout this absurd episode.

Back in those formerly perceived 'dark days' of seasons 24 and (bits of) 25 - now in my revisionist mind comparatively full of hope and wonder for the future of the series - we used to cringe in virtual pits of despair at sights such as Ken Dodd's Tollmaster (Delta and the Bannermen), Richard Brier's Caretaker, Pex and the Ressies (both Paradise Towers), the atrociously ill-realised Whizzkid on his BMX (Greatest Show), the 'Doctor...' tv bit in Remembrance, and just about everything in Silver Nemesis. But at least JNT had the courtesy to confine his occasional whims to isolated scenes, and did not, unlike RTD, string out the 'embarrassments' which tokenised practically every episode in season 24 (obviously RTD's favourite season) throughout their respective episodes! It seemingly wasn't enough for RTD to only vent his highly questionable whims in just one scene (as he did, thankfully in Rose and End of the World) in Aliens of London: no, he had to string out the lavatorial 'fart joke' (which would have had the Carry On team cringing with distaste - except for those numbering the appalling final film, Carry On England, with Kenneth Conner's flatulent officer no doubt inspiring RTD in this gritty new comical edge to the series) all the way through this episode as an actual plot component! As another reviewer has pointed out already, why couldn't RTD have found a less lavatorial and more intriguing biological flaw to the Slitheens which betrayed their Ministerial disguises - indeed, one could have had them occasionally breathing very badly or emitting random gibberish like the Auton disguised as Mickey in Rose (a comparatively tame offering compared to the travesty of Aliens...).

The answer then must surely be that RTD just wanted to capitalise on yet another opportunity to play for laughs and send up a series he claims to be faithfully reinventing. Seemingly his New Who is trying to appeal to the under 5s, but I dare say they themselves would find such frankly crap attempt at humour woefully unsophisticated and silly. I can only conclude that RTD does not take Doctor Who seriously. Is he then, as some are assuming Eccleston is, simply using the show as a stepping stone in his overblown and ludicrously over-rated (courtesy of hyperbolic reviewers and standards-lapsing critics) TV writing career? This element to this episode betrays a tendency towards talentlessness which, if RTD is not careful, will slowly corrupt and obliterate any questionable talent he so far possesses (yes I do admit that Casanova is well-written and genuinely innovative in places, however, even that other series overdoses in humour and trendiness, and endearing though the new Doctor, David Tennant, is in the main role, as one recent reviewer pointed out, his portrayal lacks gravitas and believability, thus ultimately completely undermining the entire point of doing that series).

And yes, I have many other quibbles about this wasted opportunity for a more fleshed-out two parter: the domestic scenes are becoming very very grating and dull, helping to reduce the already excessively mundane ninth incarnation of the Doctor to practically an unconsummated boyfriend to Rose, who's just a tiny bit quirky now and then and who can't quite fully commit himself yet to their 'relationship'.

I really really hate the style of digital video used for the series: it detracts from the dramatic essence of it - with exception to The Unquiet Dead. It seems to me to be the same used for commercials, which I suppose is fairly apt for this highly commercial reinvention of the show. But this style of digi video with its blurry, slightly rose-tinted finish just makes the programme look like one long commercial trailer rather than a drama series. Why couldn't the same film camera used for Casanova been used for Who also? A sharper definition would add a lot to the look of the programme and also make it less impersonal - back in the video-only McCoy days I never thought in the future I would have looked back at that style of filming Who with nostalgia, but I do, and wish at least the TARDIS scenes were done on video.

The blood and thunder approach to much of the action of Aliens, especially the Doctor taking on a sort of undercover SAS style role by leading the charge of the Paratroopers (remind you of any crap recent ITV serial?) down top security corridors, is not refreshingly action-oriented, but simply dull and disrespectful to the series' underlying ethos of brain over brawn (bring back the pugilist Sixth Doctor and Pertwee and UNIT, all is forgiven! Indeed, at least the Third and Sixth Doctors had dandyish smoking jackets and patchwork coat-tails flailing flamboyantly behind them when they took on the terrestrial heroics, which at least still emphasized sartorially that they were more than just your average occasional action hero - sadly Eccleston's crew cut and black leather jacket make him fit worryingly well with his uniformed companions).

Oh yes, and the mention of UNIT, accompanied by a shot of some dull-looking, faceless military officials in bland everyday uniforms which in no way indicate that they are in fact from Lethbridge-Stewart's old organisation - and this Doctor, who has famously collaborated with UNIT in FIVE different incarnations, now inexplicably cites his recent change of appearance as an obstacle to him collaborating with them again: 'They won't recognise me'! Has RTD ever actually watched any of the old stories at all? Maybe when he did he was far too busy imagining his own reinterpretation of the series to actually register its original interpretation.

And the Doctor himself: Eccleston said that he didn't feel the need to wear a silly hat and coat to put across the alienness of the character and that he would do this purely through his performance. Right. So what's gone wrong then? Token occasional erraticism, moodiness, gurning and exclaiming 'Fantastic' at the now practically commonplace vicissitudes of extraterrestrial Earth interventions aside, just how else is this incarnation notably alien? Not only does he wear very ordinary clothes thus blending into the modern day almost completely in appearance, he uses contemporary vernacular and expressions, has a very casual manner and takes to catching up on extrarrestrial invasions via the BBC news on a TV set in a council flat rather than using his TARDIS scanner. (Surely the point of the character of the Doctor is to to some extent stand out as a unique and obviously very different sort of person to the norm; yes, in the past the 'costume' approach might have been used sometimes to do the job of this when the characterisation lacked, but it's not so much the costume which is the problem here, it is frankly the scripting and interpretation of the role). This Doctor appears to love the mundanity of contemporary Earth just as much as he does popping off now and then through time. He is quite obviously torn between the two, and obviously it's a hard choice for him, as it is for deciding between saving the world or hanging out with a London shop girl. These return visits to Rose's domestic background are completely pointless and unjustified:when this was done once in the past, it was with UNIT, and that was partly justified by the fact that those characters were at least engaging (particularly the Brigadier); Jackie and Mickey are not engaging, they are in fact irritating to say the least, and add absolutely nothing to the drama or narrative of the series which couldn't have been channelled elsewhere to better effect. Maybe RTD secretly wishes to produce a soap opera? He could change the name of the series to Time Enders perhaps?

And just what is going on with the constant sexual innuendos regarding his and Rose's 'relationship'? How would we have reacted if the Seventh Doctor and Ace intermittently flirted with each other throughout their time together? What they had as a combination - and I in no way cite it as a flawlessly scripted one by any means - was a genuinely deep bond with each other which really was something 'more' than a boyfriend and girlfriend which Rose hints at in this episode to Mickey. The constant innuendo with this present combination completely undermines any attempts to emphasize a sexually transcending bond. I also find Rose's occasional but consistent referring to the Doctor as 'so gay' whenever he shows sensitivity or vulnerability as quite offensive to be honest, not because I am myself, but because I just think it's in bad taste and is completely inappropriate for this worryingly sexually literate version of a series famed and loved for its androgynous appeal - but of course RTD seems to have a licence to drop these un-PC put-downs through Rose by nature of his own sexuality in the same way that Mel Brooks always famously seemed to have an exclusive licence to make gags about Jews. I don't like this sort of scriptorial treatment one bit and it is completely out of place in any escapist, sci fi series.

I will end on a couple of positive comments about Aliens of London: the TV news coverage, bar the first reporter's very portentous coverage of events, is actually quite well handled and convincing in places - reminiscent of Day of the Daleks; I actually think that the twist of the Pig creature was genuinely quite innovative and surreal, though reminded me somewhat of Time Bandits; the Slitheens, over all, are quite well done when finally and thankfully revealed; the lights coming out of the heads is well done. There, that's it. That's all I can think of that's good in an otherwise highly embarrassing episode. I only hope that eventually things will get back on track to the standard of the excellent Unquiet Dead so we might begin to forget this Rent-A-Ghost-style pantomime of an episode which, I predict, will prove to be deeply damaging to the credibility of Doctor Who's forty year history unless some later episodes manage to completely eclipse its significance.

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For a season with budgets unparalleled by anything that proceeds it (and that includes the TV Movie) this episode was played out on a very small stage. Despite the grandiose title, and the gravity of the ultimate threat- here we are presented with a (small) handful of sets, a mocked up Number 10 exterior and some garages. Now let me put this into context; through necessity the programme has in its past had to make the most of a very limited number of sets and locations, but has in turn succeeded in being epic, dramatic and convincing (e.g. Inferno). Here, however, the limited scope of the production (and lets be fair- the narrative too!) looks very amateur. It all looked a bit CBBC.

I'm not a fan of CGI, however you may be- if so, skip this paragraph. But lets be honest about it, in the main it's really not that good is it? I think CGI bears all the hallmarks of a technique very much in it's infancy. In the same way that CSO (ground breaking in the early 70's) always looked like CSO; CGI always looks like CGI. So what does this episode make of it? Well, in the main it's OK. The emergence of the Slitheen however from inside the (rubber?) disguises was rubbish. It looked like something out of a PC game from the early 90s. They only become convincing when we move into men in costumes/animatronics, but by this point the damage has been done. It's interesting that the best effect (the much trailed Big Ben crash) is actually a model shot. You get the feeling from the new show that The Mill are really pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved on a TV budget with CGI, and I salute this as it's very much in keeping of the show's traditions.

Although intriguing and at points, mesmerising in his portrayal of the Doctor thus far, CE seems to have lost his way a little in this episode. I'm not the first to say this I know, but the Doctor's... lets be kind... enthusiasm....is now becoming a little bit tiresome. This is characterised by the toothy grin and the constant cry's of 'Brilliant!'. 'Ace!' anyone? It's old hat to show the Doctor frustrated by the ignorance of mere mortals (i.e. Mickey), but here it's played with such venom that one wonders why the Doc doesn't just sod off and leave the Earth to its fate. Some ropey acting doesn't help CE either, most notably when he interrupts the briefing at Number 10 (the radar blip etc etc). He trys to be Tom Baker, and to be fair the moment is clearly written for Tom Baker's doctor (circa 'Seeds of Doom')- but CE isn't Tom Baker. So the soliloquy seems stagy and strangely alienating. Basically, it's a pants execution of a potentially dramatic plot point. I'm sure though it's nothing a bit of coaching from the Director could not have solved. Billy of course continues to act CE off the screen.

With the narrative scope of say...'Timeflight' and the subtle comedy of say...' The Creature from the Pit' I have to say this is the worst outing so far for the new Doctor. Even it's strongest moment (the execution of the tragic mutant-pig and the Doctor's subsequent reprimand of the guard) is ripped off from 'Full Circle'.

I'll sit through the concluding part of this story because I'm a fan for my sins, but I know I'm treading water until the Daleks come back. Just like old times then! Five out of ten- must try harder.

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Expectations were high for episode 4 of this historic new series of Doctor Who, after the exciting trailer shown at the end of episode 3. Just seeing Big Ben destroyed by an alien spaceship crash-landing is enough to get any viewer's attention.

So the stakes were high at 7pm, as the nation gathered on or behind their sofas to see the first two-part episode of the new series.

Aliens of London began with a traditionally disastrous materialisation of the TARDIS in the wrong time, meaning Rose was not back home 12 hours after she left, but 12 MONTHS!!! Of course the Doctor doesn't realise this until he sees a poster about Rose Tyler being missing. After a lengthy discussion (or argument) about where Rose had been for 12 months, the Doctor and Rose see a spaceship land directly in the centre of London in the Thames. Being unable see anything due to the crowds, Rose suggests they watch it on TV.

After the Doctor gives Rose a TARDIS key, he materialises in the hospital, where the alien is being, just as the alien is banging on the door to the horror of the supervisor. After a bit of lock picking, the Doctor opens the door to find a room full of military soldiers, who promptly point their large guns at him. At this point, the supervisor opens the door to the alien and screams. On hearing the noise, the Doctor, in typical fashion, goes straight from being the prisoner to being the commander and leads them to the source of the scream. As the soldiers check out the rest of the building, the Doctor finds out the escapee is still in the room. He chases the creature, which looks just like a pig, into the corridor only to see it shot in the head by one of the soldiers. He realises it is a normal pig with wires in its head.

Meanwhile, at 10 Downing Street, it turns out that the Prime Minister has gone missing and another minister is taking the reins. It turns out however, that this MP is one of the aliens and kills the General in the room in full view of another MP hiding in the cupboard. The Doctor returns to Roses estate to find (well start) a row between Rose and her mum because of Mickey revealing a few secrets, after which Roses mum phones the police. The Doctor tells Rose of his intention to keep a low profile, then walks out of his TARDIS, only to be surrounded by troops and helicopters and police. Mickey makes a run for it, as the Doctor and Rose get into luxury car to 10 Downing street. After waving to the press, the Doctor makes his way to a briefing while Rose is taken to one side the MP who saw the Aliens earlier. One of the aliens that the MP saw earlier, walks in just after one of the PM's staff. The Doctor interrupts the briefing to give his own analysis that this is all a trap. He is of course right and so the aliens at the front of the room start to unzip their heads and transmogrifying and promptly start electrocuting the Experts in the briefing room. The alien in the room with Rose has also transmogrified in her true form and is now throwing the member of staff against the wall. The Doctor and the Experts are still being electrocuted and the episode ends in the first cliff-hanger in the new series.

Wow, is one of many words that spring to mind. This was undoubtedly the best episode so far. But what made it the best episode so far and (wait for it...) was it worthy of Doctor Who?

Well, the short answer is the Story, the Graphics, the Direction and yes it's Doctor Who alright. The longer version is a bit more interesting though.

The Story was much better than previous episodes; it had all the ingredients of a good Doctor Who. Aliens, multiple storylines, mystery, twists, humour, the Doctor's habit of stumbling into trouble and the all-important cliff-hanger. We have yet to see how it ends of course, but this was a great beginning. The Doctor is back in his usual swing with aliens invading Earth, but with state-of-the-arts graphics and visuals.

It seem that no expense has been spared on this episode with the Graphics so much more realistic, real moving solid aliens and military and civilian vehicles galore and all of it used so well. As if that wasn't enough, you also see Big Ben destroyed, a spaceship land in the Thames and full BBC news reports, complete with Andrew Marr.

The Director, Keith Boak, has done a great job with this episode and his directing compliments Davies’s first great script for the new series. The way in which the shots were taken was completely appropriate to the script and Boak really captures the important and exciting moments in the episode like the Doctor being surrounded by soldiers and police and helicopters and the particularly tense moment where the Doctor crawls round the corner to see the alien (or pig in this case) for the first time.

So the verdict? Brilliant. This episode really captures what Doctor Who is all about, Danger, Mystery, Adventure and that is what made it special and not just like your average sci-fi churned out of the production machine by force. Doctor Who is back.

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There was, in fairness, a lot that I loved in this episode, but I'm going to start complaining...

I think RTD delights in winding people up! The pig in a space suit was initially a bit of a shock (though we had been warned about it in various interviews with Ecclestone). The explanation that followed, that aliens had grafted the pigs head onto a bipedal body and the comparison to constructing fake mermaid bodies was wonderfully creepy, disturbing and - for me - satisfying.

However - the MPs farting and chortling (another slightly more obvious wind up) was a bit too much. Like burping bins, I think it's too much to expect people to believe that aliens disguised as humans would behave like that especially when they clearly don't behave similarly out of their disguises. I think the problem is that they didn't look like aliens disguised as MPs laughing and apparently farting, they looked like actors performing for a childrens programme.

This I think is the chief problem with many aspects of the series - Christopher Ecclestone, in his worser moments, looks like an actor trying to playing a part, whereas Billy Piper (one of the best things about the series) comes over as a real and believable character. It's a little unsettling really that the performance of the companion is so much better than Doctor. There is a lot to like about the portrayal of the ninth doctor (especially the child-like excitement he sometimes gives off) but overall it misses the mark. Alot was made of Christopher Ecclestone's reputation for darker, brooding and moody roles and whether or not he'd be able to demonstrate a lighter side as the Doctor. And I think, to and extent, this concern has been justified - he looks to me like an actor to whom this kind of role doesn't come naturally and he's having to REALLY work at it. And to be honest he doesn't come anywhere near Troughton or Tom Baker - it's a completely different league.

The episode featured a lot of emotional drama, frank exchanges and even had the Doctor warning Rose not to defile the TARDIS with domestic issues. I'm all for this - I think it makes fantastic and moving drama to bring the companion back a year later and to have to face the fact opting out of your own life in that way has massive consequences for others. However (here I go) it occasionally got a bit too pedestrian and predictable, as though we were watching a thinly concealed soap opera. Much of the 'domestic' element was brilliantly woven into the narrative but occasionally it grated in that the point RTD was trying to make became a bit overdone and preachy.

'Overdone and preachy' nicely sums up another gripe of mine. The first news presenter was so ridiculously over the top, he sounded like he was reading some dramatic ancient prophesy. No BBC news reader would EVER speak like that - he sensationalised the space ship in a cringingly amateur tone of voice such that it was completely unbelievable. Andrew Marr however was very good.

The Slitheen do look wonderful though - I got twinges of that 10 year-old thrill of fear when they emerged and advanced on various parties. Their innocent baby faces contrast wonderfully with their huge frame and clawed hands making them visually jarring and really quite disturbing.

Lastly the incidental music... I've complained about this before and it was so bad this time I will again. WHY do we need puerile clarinet 'speed reading' music when the Doctor reads through the information handed out to the alien experts towards the end of the episode? It was clear from the performance what was happening - it's patronising and undermining to any seriousness on the part of the actors when the music describes what's happening on screen in the same way it does in a circus ring or on toddlers' television. I don't think children need chirpy twiddles to aid their understanding - I rather think they'd appreciate a show that treats them more like adults.

In summary, a rather harrowing episode for a nit-picker like me. The very contemporary feel and use of realistic news reports are very refreshing and lend an immediacy that's quite exciting.

Asides from the above complaints I'm obviously enjoying the series otherwise I wouldn't be watching and then ranting after every episode. I am however looking forward to some other writer's work - Mark Gatiss's contribution was by far and away the best so far and I'm very curious about Rob Shearman's 'Dalek'. Onwards!

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Poor acting and juvenile aliens marked Rose's return to London after her brief travels with The Doctor.

After the promise of a spectacular crash landing, an alien invasion and above all a new alien we were treated to the worst characters ever to appear in any serial science-fiction, children's or otherwise.

The Doctor has agreed to take Rose back home and through the versatility of the TARDIS re-assures her that she will return a mere twelve hours after she left with the Doctor in the wake of the Nestene invasion. Unfortunately after missing the mark last week by ending up in Cardiff 1869 instead of Naples 1860, Rose is returned not twelve hours after she left but twelve months.

Predictably it hasn’t been good for those she left behind, the cowardly boyfriend Mickey and her overprotective mother Jackie, neither have whom have changed much still coming off as very shallow characters. Camille Coduri seems to be stuck in a role she played several years ago and Noel Clarke is still showing less emotion than he did when an Auton replaced him. The domestic scenes that attempt to address key issues in Rose’s absence seem out of place as they reveal little about the characters or the situation in which they have been thrown. In fact some plot points seem to get a single line afforded to them before being all but forgotten.

The impact Rose’s disappearance and subsequent returned while addressed was not explored deeply enough, another casualty of the stories reduced runtime, considering this was the first of a number of two-part stories expectation was high that a more well developed story would have emerged. Sadly this was not the case as the re-appearance of Jimmy ‘moxx of balhoun’ Vee as a false alien was hastily explained; presumably to give the new aliens more screen time.

Here lies the rub. In the trailer we were afforded a glimpse of the new aliens The Slitheen, insect like larval creatures with terrifying claws and fangs. As highly publicised as the Face of Boe, their increased screen time and the appalling realisation of their shape shifting abilities, threatened my viewing support. Instead of a race of merciless invading aliens we are treated to a scatological cacophony, which instead of inconveniencing the aliens causes them to laugh like schoolboys. The juvenile attitude they have to bodily functions and announcing that they have been busy enjoying themselves with wives and mistresses reduces any impact they once had to an uncomfortable embarrassment.

Upon hearing of the two part episodes I was looking forward to a return of the classic Doctor Who cliffhanger that set it apart from other programs of its time. Even this was handled poorly with a series of anticipated attacks and laborious reveals of the aliens. Three cliffhangers for the price of one not being the value item it appeared to be, plus the inclusion of a sneak preview of the next episode made the cliff hanger redundant as it revealed that sure enough all threatened characters would survive their ordeals. The zip in the forehead was a nice touch but Aliens in human skin smacks far too much of Men In Black as much as The observation deck at the end of the world reminded one entirely of the Restaurant at the end of the universe, an environment people are sure to become familiar with through the release of the recent feature film version of The Hitchhikers’ Guide To The Galaxy.

Another nice touch, well received is the nod to UNIT, as is the news coverage of the alien’s crash landing. This was unfortunately overdone and I felt the story sagging somewhat as the Doctor struggled to glean information from the broadcasts amidst the general chatter of Rose’s family and friends. In fact I wanted The Doctor to get off his behind and blag his way into the thick of the action, and hopefully find a military foil akin to Group Cptn. Gilmore, Winifred Bambera or even the good old Brigadier himself. As for him having changed so much they wouldn’t recognize him, you can’t help thinking this is rather a poor excuse, as it never bothered him in the past. This is an issue one can let pass though as continuity of the original, while acknowledged, is not a requirement of this new series.

Overall this episode stands as a low point of this and the history of the program, which will hopefully be rectified in upcoming episodes.

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Having recovered from the shocking decline of quality witnessed in "The Unquiet Dead", I'm glad to say that this was a return to form. I am worried, however, that all the episodes I've liked thus far have been by the same writer. It doesn't give me much hope for the non-Davies episodes.

In any case, there was a genuine sense of excitement to this episode, something which was lacking from the previous two. For once, I wasn't already ahead of the characters as they were puzzling things out. And I loved the city of London's reaction to the extra terrestrial visitors: the excitement is palpable, but underneath it things are pretty much as they've always been. Rose's mum is far more concerned about where her daughter's been and making sure her guests all have a drink than the world changing events going on a few miles away.

Speaking of Rose, it's nice to see the real impact of her choosing to up and leave her life, instead of this being swept under the carpet and ignored. Are the problems with the TARDIS going to be a continuing theme this series? It stretches credibility somewhat if this has happened two episodes in a row by pure coincidence, but to much better dramatic effect here than in episode three.

It's childish and stupid, but there's something about people running around corridors with guns that never gets boring. More of this, less floating spectres and giant rotor blades please. And I'd never thought I'd say this, but: well done, BBC special effects department. Not only are the Slitheen genuinely alien in appearance, but the shot of the spaceship taking out a big chunk of Big Ben was wonderfully done.

Two minor complaints: firstly, I don't know if I was supposed to be disgusted at what was done to the alien-impersonating pig, but I wasn't ("it must have been terrified" the Doctor says sadly, as if he's talking about an Iraqi child with no limbs). I mean, come on, how can you feel sorry for a pig in a space suit? I suspect this is supposed to be tongue in cheek, so I will let it go.

Secondly, the farting. I know to at least half the population (the male half, predominantly) that farting is the funniest thing imaginable. But there could have been any other number of signals used to denote when a supporting character is actually an alien. Nose bleeds, random vomiting, narcolepsy... all of these obvious solutions are much funnier than farting.

Having said all that, this was the best episode of the series so far, and thanks to the series' first cliff-hanger, promises a lot for the second part.

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What the Shakespeare! Following Gatiss's foray into what the series is capable of RTD comes back on board with a mix bag that, for the first time in four weeks, left me wondering who'd won Ant Vs Dec. It was Dec by the way, Ant ended up taking a jungle shower, which (in case you were wondering) isn't something you order from a Malaysian prostitute. Purile you say? Well it wasn't much different on the Beeb was it?

Coming from a Tom Baker background for me this one was doomed to failure, a time travel show set in the present, UNIT (the purview of Pertwee), Micky and Mrs Tyler and a cameo from Andrew Marr. However, cunningly, this one was set a year in the future showing the TARDIS in full cock up mode and the implications of travelling through time per se. This was very clever and Mickey's 5 arrests coupled with council estate gossip gave a glimpse of what may have happened in the lives of 900 years worth of companions. Micky had his acting head on (well more so than in Rose anyway), UNIT was actually a welcome cameo and the news footage was a healthy dose of realism. Clips from Rose at the start of the episode looked better than I'd remembered and suggested that this is best viewed as a 13 part story rather than a series of individual episodes.

So what did go wrong? The aliens fart, and their transition from rubber to CGI is as obvious as the moveable items in the background of a Scooby Doo. That plump woman is from every children's programme of the last 15 years and every third episode of Peak Practice, Heartbeat & the Bill and was a face too familiar, and rosy, for a villain. Worst of all the incidental music would need to be toned down for an episode of You've Been Framed. It could just be Lucasphobia, but I've had my fill of interstellar flatulence, perhaps its rampant postmodernism knackering TV innocence but End of the World's deadly fans - post Galaxy Quest and now the Austin Powers laughter just didn't sit right. Am I thick? Is this homage to homage, cultural bricolage gone mad, or is it actually making the mistake that Lucas makes and Pixar doesn't i.e.aiming entertainment at children based on the fact that children (as well as adults) like it?

Doctor Who has always been more Harry than Dennis Potter, but that doesn't mean its crap or just for kids. It doesn't have to be a realistic and hard nosed social commentry and rubber monsters don't matter when its Tom Baker and not Rose's Mum struggling against them. I remember an Australian programme where aliens-in-disguise sweated intensely whenever their plan went pear-shaped because of a couple of meddling Kylies. Seeing that antipodean chauffeur mopping his brow filled me with fear, the Blazing Saddles trumpathon did not. The trouble is when it starts to slip enough for your mind to wander it all falls apart. Last week the snow on the TARDIS drifted away when it dematerialised, this week the graffiti stays put (it must have been one of those anti time and space travel spray paints from Halfords - don't leave your century without it). The alien plot was bizarrely complicated, still I suppose an open invite to a SETI convention in the local rag wouldn't have grabbed the Doctor's attention would it? Why was the tubby fella next in line for PM? Why didn't any of the Cabinet race to No.10 of their own volition? Why not make a suit of the PM rather than his underlings, the aliens seemed bigger than the suits so don't tell me they could only mimic fat people? And whilst we all know it's a 13 part series, so no one major is going to die, having a triple cliff-hanger followed by clips from next week does seem a bit pointless. The trigger happy army will shoot an unarmed pig but obey an intruding unidentified leather jacketed Manc who says "pattern delta" in a stern voice. The police and Rose's mum think Micky killed Rose on the night that marauding living shop window dummies shot shopping Londoners left right and centre? Rose, who actually abandoned Micky only a couple of days ago, has missed him whilst also travelling to the years 5 billion and 1869 (stopping off for chips midway) and has also decided that the Doctor is much more important than a boyfriend, it was only two episodes ago she was scratching her head at joining him in the first place?

Overall I didn't like it, apart from the bits I didn't think I'd like, whether this was symptomatic of the unfair juxtaposition with The Unquiet Dead, initially forgivable teething problems with the new series starting to grate or just the episode in its own right I don't know. I'll be watching next week and IF I do get the TARDIS series box set Aliens of London is one I'll avoid but with Micky and Rose's mum set to appear in the Dalek two parter I hope the series doesn't suffer from more CHAV than wheat. Whatever I think, and I accept that I come from a vocal group that may not necessarily be the target audience, I can only imagine that any battles for the remote control next week will be harder to win if it's the Doctor you want on, and that can't be a good thing.

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With the teaser trailer setting expectations high, Aliens of London fails to deliver as much as it promised - with moments of silliness marring an otherwise solid plotline.

The episode starts off wonderfully, with Miss Piper continuing to shine as Rose. It is one of the highlights of the new series to see the companion acting realistically, struggling as someone really would, amidst numerous interactions that arise from her normality clashing with extreme situations. This is particularly joyous given the tendency to excess of Mr Eccleston as the Doctor. The scene with Rose's late return was wonderful, with plenty of amusing comic moments and cultural references thrown in. I thought that Mickey was much better here than before; the viewer was able to sympathise with his anger, relief and resentment of the Doctor.

The overall concept for the alien invasion was intriguing with a suitably surprising and salivating plot twist to keep the viewer interested. Much to my surprise, the augmented pig actually worked... although I am guessing not everyone will agree with me on that! The Slitheen plan is well organised, planned in detail and highly manipulative. Continuing with the positives, the special effects were again superb.

Unfortunately, the story was greatly weakened by the cabinet ministers at the centre of the plot. Rather than enhance the sense of mystery or suspense, they destroy it. The farting was part of a wider problem with their portrayal, with none of them managing to prove convincing at being members of parliament. Disappointing.

The potential for the news footage to add to the realism of the occasion and overall sense of panic was again wasted. Perhaps they feared a War-of-the-World panic should anyone have inadvertently tuned in and it was too believable, but it was sometimes embarrassingly bad and it was often unclear about the passage of time involved.

Aliens of London was yet again good entertainment but failed to match the previous stories, frustratingly because of a basic but important weakness to make the menacing and calculating aliens sufficiently believable as human leaders. The episode ended up being lighter than I had anticipated but, following from the particularly creepy Unquiet Dead and with the (hopefully) scary Dalek to come, perhaps this is not surprising in retrospect. If the new Who is to appeal to a broad audience of children, it can't be too dark. And despite the failings, it is still a fantastic romp and - dare I say it - much better than a great, great deal of the old series!

Given the announcement was this week, I would also like to state my support for David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. Aside from being a fine actor, he is also enthusiastic about the show which I think is important. Let us hope that the quality and, moreover, the great fun of the show continue and that everyone can get behind Mr Tennant as they did Mr Eccleston.

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Aliens of London gave me hopes and concerns before transmission. The series up to this point had been strong and the effects shown in the trailer were good. The concerns I had were that the episode was set in (all but) real time and with a new alien threat. It therefore had elements where Doctor Who had gone wrong in the past.

It also had the risk of being a double parter, if it was good then it had the bonus of a good traditional cliff hanger, if it was poor the risk was two weeks to live with.

All in all the story had a lot to live up to and overall I thought it was a complete and utter disappointment. The ridiculous farting aliens and the immature laughing scenes made me feel ashamed to be interested in Doctor Who, I felt I was watching a drama for the pre-school, never mind a programme for the family.

On the plus side, an area where I expected to feel uncomfortable worked well. Billie Piper acted her socks off in the domestic settings of her home. She turned the good element of the plot of the missing twelve months into a realistic plot twist and all in all Billie came out with full credit.

Christopher Eccleston Doctor was not so good. In a couple of shows he looked an alien, but unfortunately not as a Timelord but as an actor in a show he had never seen. His overall performance to date however gives me faith he will recover before the series climax.

Alarmingly the supporting cast acted well, especially Penolpe Wilton. This I say is alarming as it means the poor characters appeared to be due to the quality of the script, and the therefore RTD.

My other areas of concern were the aliens. The zips in their heads and rubber suits belonged in another movie set, but where? The minute their over computer generated bodies appeared it became clear ... Men In Black.

From the above it would be easy to say the episode had nothing to offer, but this isn't quite true. The Doctor fixing his problematic TARDIS, the acknowledgement of UNIT and the Doctors excitement by history offered something for the traditionalists. The great graphics, the Rose family story line and fast moving plot offers something for the casual / new viewer. The appalling farting for the children.

All in all however it didn't pull together, and unfortunately from my discussions to date upset everyone from the casual viewer to the die hard fans. Roll on the Daleks and get ready to grit your teeth next week!

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Ah. Well, may be a cynical, embittered, rapidly degenerating old man. But against all my doubts and concerns, the new Doctor Who has had a disturbingly powerful effect on me. Mark Gatiss (a fellow North Easterner!) delivered the first knock out blow with the wonderful third episode and I've been punch drunk ever since. His story was scary, dramatic, funny and genuinely moving.

With this new episode I expected to take a step back. I was barely convinced by the first episode, I loved the sexy desperate mum, but was far from convinced by Mickey and the 'real world'. So I entered episode episode 4 with a real lack of great expectations. How wrong could I be? Mickey was great. The actor is very likeable and engaging, and in this episode he became more than the annoying boyfriend he was in 'Rose'. I really felt for the poor bloke. Again, the joy of the series characters' is that they rises beyond the 2-dimensional expectations.

The 12 months missing storyline was excellent, as was the doctor stuck in the uncomfortably 'human' environment. Haven't we all felt like an alien in other peoples homes?

Like a fantastic pudding, it was only enhanced by countless chocolate chip features like a mention of Unit, the doctor flashing up on the computers as 'recognised', the doctor telling his sonic screwdriver to 'shush' and his endless enthusiasm, which finally for me seemed entirely joyful to watch. I'm not a big fan of farting, or of farting jokes, but you know, this really didn't bother me!

It all built to a lovely climax, ruined only be the trailer for next week. Doesn't Russel T Davies know I'm a broken man and I no longer have the will to turn over even when I know I should.

I'm now at the stage where if I heard RTD had cast a whoopee cushion as the next assistant, I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled off some magic and revealed a depth to a piece of wind-breaking latex I hadn't previously considered.. You know, I've been having way too much fun to indulge in criticisms, which makes this an awful review I know. But if I could have just said 'Hurrah!' and had it printed I would have.

Thanks for cheering this miserable old git up! We still have nine episodes, a christmas special, another doctor and thirteen episodes more to go.

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I haven't posted any reviews of the previous episodes, since I have agreed with the balance of opinion that has been expressed - namely, that the show has been excellent. However, reading the reviews for 'Aliens of London' it is clear that there is a feeling that this episode has fallen well below the standards set by the previous three. I think that is incorrect. AoL didn't match last week's sublime 'Unquiet Dead', but then as a two-parter, comparisons are unfair. I thought AoL was better than 'Rose' and about on a par with 'The End of the World'. I was impressed with the handling of Rose's return. This focus on the character of the companion as a mirror to the Doctor is a completely new element in Doctor Who, and in the hands of a less skilful writer than RTD, would be awful. But he pitches it absolutely perfectly. Billy Piper has a massive job to do with these scenes, and she kept up her high standards again. Ecclestone seems to have settled on his style, which is mostly flippant but then suddenly capable of great passion. I'm not convinced with his use of the word 'fantastic', but his grinning doesn't bother me. He was on great form in this episode - I loved the way he took command of the soldiers (reminiscent of Baker T and Pertwee at their best) and his anger over the unnecessary death of the pig. As for the Slitheen, I thought they were great. I'm cross at people criticising RTD for his supposedly juvenile humour over the Slitheen 'farts'. In fact, this is perfectly in keeping with their characters, for two reasons. Firstly, they have a physical reason - the compression they use to squeeze their bodies into human form causes the noise. But secondly, RTD has set them up as villains with a sadistic sense of humour, for example their use of the pig as a decoy. All in all I think the Slitheen have a lot of potential - I like to see villains using their guile and cunning, not just overwhelming technology and power. However, AoL definitely had weaknesses. I agree with other reviewers who have criticised the music. With the most honourable exception of the theme, Doctor Who's incidental music has always been of patchy quality. This is a problem shared by a lot of TV science fiction, for some reason. The music for 'End of the World' was quite good but in 'Rose' and AoL it has been annoying. The acting in AoL was also disappointingly uneven. The news reporter for BBC 24 was absolutely terrible - why on earth didn't they just use a proper journalist. Andrew Marr showed how good that conceit can be. Not only did he deliver the lines believably, his presence somehow gave more credibility to the events that were unfolding. Rose's boyfriend was slightly better this time, but his range of expression is very limited. His line about not seeing anyone because they thought he was a murderer was great though. Rose's mum seems very one-dimensional but she performs a useful plot function and is important in terms of Rose's character development. As for the special effects, there has been a lot of emphasis on the size of the budget for DW and the consequent quality of the effects. I have to say that the standard of the effects has been adequate, but no more. It simply reflects the fact that since DW was last on screen, we have been treated to shows like ST:NG which moved the effects game on to a new level. What we are seeing with DW is what any audience would demand as the very minimum standard these days. Certainly, any American that sees the series would wonder what the fuss was about. The Slitheen themselves are a fantastic design, particularly the way they blink, but we will have to see if The Mill were able to spend enough time getting their movement realistic. Finally, I agree with the reviewer who complained about the 'on next week's episode' spoiler. It completely ruined the tension created by the cliff-hanger. While of course we expect Rose and the Doc to escape, many viewers would be unsure of her Mother's fate, until they see her running about in the clips for next week. All in all, it was fast, funny and most importantly, did enough to justify a two-part storyline. Hopefully, we can get more of those into the next series!
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The latest episode of Doctor Who was I am sad to say a little disappointing.

I like a fart gag as much as the next guy. No doubt RTD imagined that kids will be letting rip and declaring themselves aliens in playgrounds up and down the country. School rooms will reverberate to 'Sorry miss, i can't help it i'm a slyltheen'. Fine a throw away line, a quick laugh and be done with it. But for god sakes, it went on and on. I can understand RTD's desire to lighten the mood for the kiddies, but this was purile cheap and frankly nasty.

I rather liked the opening section in which Rose returned a year after she left, to find herself declared a missing person. it's an obvious plot device and I think the scenes with rose's mother were a nice touch and having watched 'confidential' looks like it might be developed further.

The Alien spacship crashing was resonably well done, although I found the design a bit to retro. The aftermath was ok but the TV reporter was weak. Nice to see Andrew Marr involved though.

Eccleston continues to give a decent performance as the Doctor, and Piper is a delight. The supporting cast are less impressive. Camille Coduri is average, and Noel Clarke is frankly wooden.... and what's with this whole Ricky bit from the Doctor. He comes across as both petulant and jealous.

The rest of the guest cast seem to treat the show as an extension of panto season. They overacted and over played everything.

The scene in Albion hospital was a good one. I'll even forgive the upright pig in a spacesuit. However, the actions of the soldier was a little farfetched. One moment they are pointing guns at the Doctor, the next, they are folowing orders from him. it was just a bit too lazy and rushed.

This brings me to one of my major concerns for the long term health of the show. Having RTD , as exec producer , de facto script commisioner, editor and writer, means no one is in a position to say, NO! and that's what this episode needed badly. In his first two scripts RTD was forced by the format to keep things tight and fast paced, and I suspect this reduced his ability to over indulge, but alas given 1 hour 30 mins to tell his story, he has allowed himself to overindulge in uncalled for homour and a lack of real tension.

As a two parter, much hinged on the cliffhanger. Oh dear , even this was badly handled with 3 seperate slow Alien reveals while everyone stands around and watches. The Aliens themself are average, and some of the effects work looked unfinished.

Then to make matters worse the 'next week' segment follows straight on, losing any dramatic tension built up. One of the aims of the show was to educate children to expect better TV. I am afraid this was not a good example. Children are much smarter than RTD gives them credit for.

One of the greatest pleasures I have had in the past few weeks has been the number of people who knowing my devotion to Doctor Who, have come up to me at work and told me how amazed they have been by the new series. I suspect that come monday morning i will be reminded of some of the darker moments of the Eighties.

Still onwards and upwards. Doctor saves the world, and bring on the Daleks!

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Aliens of London' seems to signal a return to 'Doctor Who's origins. The double episode felt a lot closer to the old format, allowing a slightly more complicated plot, more character development and a cliff-hanger ending. The A-plot also returned to prime 'Doctor Who' territory, refreshed with 21st century cgi, whilst the novel treatment of the companion -- torn between old & new attachments -- made a great soapy counterpoint. The extensive use of news reports contributed to the contemporary feel that has characterised this series, and I adored Andrew Marr's cameo & the snatch of 'Blue Peter'.

The action plot, however, was rather pedestrian, with too many of the twists being oversignalled & overlaboured. Much of the action required a degree of idiocy that stretched plausibility ... even for civil servants/MPs/military, sacrificing any tension & menace. The pacing sagged in the middle, & even towards the heavy-handed, repetitive climax. (And someone should inform the BBC that running spoilers for the upcoming episode over the credits works spectacularly poorly with a cliffhanger.) In the heavy focus on the two leads, secondary characters have all been relegated to cardboard.

Billie Piper is continuing to do a fine job, and I love the ambiguity she's projecting in her feelings for the Doctor. I pray, however, this strand remains ambiguous (I don't think I can bear another Buffy/Angel scenario). On the other hand, I felt at times Eccleston was walking through his lines in this episode. I'm not yet enjoying Davies/Eccleston's version of the Doctor, with the ubiquitous grin -- I think it's high time for those dark secrets to come out.

After the dark-toned 'Unquiet Dead', 'Aliens of London' was definitely heavy on the humour. One or two one-liners stood out (in particular the one where the boyfriend says he isn't seeing anyone else because everyone thinks he's a murderer); however, there was way too much schoolboy humour for my taste. I'm probably not the primary audience for the series, but a little of that kind of thing goes a long long way.

Overall, a mixed bag. By no means my favourite of the series so far, but I'm beginning to feel the connection with the old 'Doctor Who' at last.

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Russell fleshes out the back-story of Rose in an admirable attempt at making the Doctor and Rose more believable. The pre-credits flashback re-introduced us quickly to the events of 'Rose' and the revelation of a 12 months absence made me chuckle like an eight year old again. The plot shone through as great SF and could have been taken from a Pertwee (or early Tom Baker) episode - Aliens duping the public with a false 'first contact' crash landing in order to gather all the experts togethor at Number 10 - Genius (or as the Doctor would now say 'Fantastic)!

The effects were good - certainly an improvement on the good old days, but that is to be expected. Billie continues to impress with her great acting and gutsy exposition. Chris, whilst swaggering with confidence and his Northern yet other-world mannerisms, sometimes makes me cringe with some decidedly un-Doctor-ish dialogue ("trying to save the world", and don't get me started on the 'when did it become acceptable to use the word 'fart' topic'). I can't help but think that he struggles with the more eccentric and esoteric qualities required for the role. I also cringed at Russells beief that the kids absolutley require burping/f*rting (I hate that word) in the mix to entertain. When I was an eight year old, Doctor Who would never employ such cheap, tacky devices to keep me interested and entertained. Please Russell - no more wind gags! It just isn't the Doctor.

Knowing that Chris has 'thrown the scarf in' we can hope that the tenth Doctor will maintain that manic grin but temper it with a more confident darkness (something that even Sylvester McCoy managed to do well eventually). The Unquiet Dead remains my favourite so far (not a whiff of Russell and his wind gags) and was definitely genuine Doctor Who for my money. Maybe Russell should consider taking a step back from the scripting (although his plots are great) and allow writers to remain more faithful to his oft-quoted Doctor mythology. I look forward to 'Dalek'.

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The views I have had with the first three episodes was that I initially loved them unreservedly, but then upon rewatching them started to nit pick - but that’s not to say I didn't love them.

Just to clarify I love the theme tune, love Billie as Rose, Love Chris as the Doctor, Love the wind effects the TARDIS makes, love the style, love the in-jokes to Who past and other media. Just LOVE IT.

But on first viewing of Aliens of London I just didn't like it. But to explain , I was looking at it through the eyes of average Joe Public and not mine.

So, although the effects were brilliant at the start, the pig alien and the comic farting aliens embarrassed me from their smirking and giggling "Human" disguises to the child entertaining farting. It didn't help as I work from 7pm on Saturdays in a social club but put the telly on so I'm joined by my peers.

Furthermore, although generally impressed with Chris Eccleston, (and I'll say now, at least with him leaving we can get on with a regeneration story) he was just a bit too smarmy in this story.

The climax was disappointing too as the effects were a bit ropey , the aliens still like men in suits and too many cliffhangers! Finally being spoilt by next week's preview.

However, That was after my initial viewing. I watched it again when I got home from work (and more times after) and discovered that I actually do quite enjoy the episode.

I understand the point of the pig and it was realised quite well and quite spooky in it's build up. I understand why the aliens fart (but still don't like it - but then I've never found farting funny - prude maybe).

Billy is still Brilliant - Chris was a bit manic but not as bad as I first thought.

I still stick by my opinion that there were too many climaxes and the Doctor's was actually the weakest but it was played out better than I first thought. The aliens did become more realistic on their second showing and I'll have to reserve final judgment when they get more screen time next week.

But I do think the program should abandon trailers for two-parters and tone the music down.

Not the best of the four to date be still a whole lotta fun and so much better when I watch it for myself then what I would presume the general public would think of it! I’m going rate it fourth, though, after The Unquiet Dead, Rose, and The End of the World.

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A confident episode in the new series with some great moments but unlike the other episodes, there are sadly some poorer scenes.

It was an interesting idea to bring the Rose's family back into the picture; portraying a very human side to the companion (she still has a life and a family). The concept of the Doctor brining her back was a good idea and excelled in places, however when the alien story took over the plot began to deeper with great intrigue.

The concept of these aliens was strong, I quite liked the idea of them zipping open their heads, however the flatulence and even CGI from underneath the suits was a little poorer, I liked the concept that as aliens there is something not quite right, paralleling to that of Third Rock from the sun in one sense, but I was unsure to whether the flatulence was for this idea or to make the kids laugh.

The pig was an intriguing idea and hard to make judgment simply because of what may develop in the second episode. And that is what we have to understand about Aliens of London, it is in all sense a two parters, two parters are notoriously slow allowing the story to develop for a stronger second part, so I am not too surprised or disheartened that this episode is the weakest, every series has one especially that of a 13 parter.

A good classic cliffhanger though with every character facing their own imminent death, I look forward to seeing how this story and indeed the characters develops.

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What was that assault on my eyes! I'm afraid, unlike last weeks triumph, this week was very badly written and acted by Chris Eccleston. The Doctor simply wouldn't be surprised by an alien crash landing! He's got to stop all the laughing a happy smiling, his portrayal of the Doctor has been very weak so far although he does serious so much better!

All in all this episode with all the toilet humour was, well, boring. The fart gags for laughs was funny at first but then it went on and on. The cliffhanger took ages to develop, and when the cliffhanger happened which was actually really good they spoiled it by telling you how they all get out of it, i.e. Mickey comes in to save Rose's Mum, and then they try and salvage it by putting it if I save the world I'll loose you.. Like the Doctor would care.

The special effects and the directing of course are all up to A1 standard, Keith Boak is clearly an excellent director, I'm glad Euros Lyn doesn't do anymore this season as his direction has been weak at best. Loved the spaceship crashing into Big Ben and I also liked the Doctor's UNIT reference, where's Lethbridge Stewart to sort it out!

All in all, I know it’s a harsh review, but that’s two stories now (End of the World being the other) that have been very weak and not that entertaining and the two lowest rated episodes. It’s a great romp for children, but can't it have just a little hint of seriousness for us Mum's and Dad's - even just a little?

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Russell T Davies was the ideal choice to relaunch Doctor Who. There can be no doubt about it. Not only was he a fan, he was a top notch writer with experience in both genre and real-life drama.

What's becoming most interesting is that it is his real-life drama experience which seems to be working best in his latest project.

Doctor Who is never again going to be about hitting the reset button each week, having an adventure, disappearing off to find adventure somewhere else. And quite rightly. Today's audiences expect rounded characters, story arcs, teasing surprises. All of this Davis excels at. But there does seem to be a slight tension in his writing between this form of storytelling and his wish to keep Doctor Who recognisable as the show he always loved.

Alien of London was a perfect example of this. Rose returning a year later to the consequences of her departure - pitch perfect. Even Mickey the Plastic Actor gave a reasonable account of himself in this side of the show. The 'Bad Wolf' reference continues to tease, the spaceship crash was pitch-perfect, the news reporting, while at times a little melodramatic, was a great touch. The whole 'First Contact' angle was lovely. And we got a mention of UNIT into the bargain. Great.

Then we come to the problems. This is a family show. The BBC don't really need fans tuning in every week, they need families. So slapstick humour, manic grinning with 'fantastic' attached, the odd (perpetually awful) incidental music ding-a-ling I can understand and really don't mind. This aint Ultraviolet. But why did nobody at any point realise that today's children are savvy. They like dark, hard-edged stuff - take a look at Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket and the Philip Pullman novels. Have a look at the size of Buffy's audience which was preteen. Burping bins and farting aliens who giggle at their flatulence just weaken the show. There are better ways to please the target audience whilst not irritating everyone over 12 (still a sizeable proportion of the audience) who are watching.

Then there are the Slitheen. Sigh. And things were going so well. The Autons were a bit clunky, but you could see the thinking. The freak show in The End of the World was wonderful. The Gelth were absolutely, wide-eyed awesome. It looks like Ep 5's budget was splurged on the crash-landing, leaving us with rubber suits with bobble heads, horrible fake human skins and the dodgiest transformation CGI this side of Red Dwarf - which was at least a comedy at heart. Compare this to the CGI in The End of the World. You'd swear you were watching a different show.

The performances ... I seem to recall hearing that a lot of this ep was filmed at the start of the shoot, which would explain Chris Ecclestone's slight shakiness (much more reminiscent of Rose than the masterclass of the previous 2 episodes). It's ironic that Billie Piper was the casting which caused the most controversy, since she consistently steals every episode. It speaks volumes that, upon Ecclestone quitting, I was immeasurably relieved to hear that Billie would be staying.

The story could well wrap up nicely next week, we'll have to wait and see.

So, for me, Ep 2 remains the most satisfying so far. But, not to worry, for the all-conquering Dalek storylines, Simon Pegg and Paul Cornell's eps are still to come!

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It has to be said that Aliens of London is the episode of the series so far that has left me least ecstatic - whether that is because of the quality of the episode, or just because the novelty of new Doctor Who is subsiding remains to be seen. However there were many bits that I liked and some that I was not so keen on.

The crash landing and the mocked up BBC News 24 coverage was excellent - as had been expected from last week's trailer. It's good to see a full scale invasion of Earth again - with the army, politicians and mock TV crews - and this felt like very traditional Who territory. In fact, there were many elements that made this episode feel more like the old series than any of the previous three. In many respects it felt reassuringly familiar. It is obvious that the two parter format is going to allow for more slow-building, complex plots and this, again, felt more like 'classic' Who. While not being overly complex, the plot was interesting, and the idea of the faked crash landing good. The mention of UNIT was also a nice little touch, put in to excite those of us who care about these things. The Doctor was once again quickly bossing around soldiers, just as he used to do in the Pertwee days. The Slitheen look very like traditional Who monsters, right down to their slightly rubbery, 70s looking costumes. And there was a cliffhanger! Just like the old series...only this one was largely negated by the teaser trailer for next week. Yes, I know nobody expects that the Doctor is about to die, but to see him running around grinning, just three seconds after the cliffhanger takes the edge off of it a little bit. That was a shame.

So, there were many elements to this episode that seem, on paper at least, to be very 'old Who'. However, if anybody was expecting Spearhead from Space, they were in for a shock. This was '2005 Who' through and through (and more specifically 'RTD Who'). After the sombre ghosts of The Unquiet Dead I think some people may have been unprepared for farting aliens and flying pigs, however I think that, outrageous as these elements seem, they managed to work - just. While they were a little too frequent, at least the fart gags did have a reasoning and purpose in the plot (beyond making the kids laugh). And the pig - well that was a complete surprise and an audacious move. I find that, as silly as 'RTD Who' (in contrast to The Unquiet Dead) can sometimes be, I do actually quite like it. And I think the reason is that it is so fresh and daring that it takes my breath away. It is so different to how the series was, while still being recognisably Who, that I can't help but be impressed. It would have been inconceivable in the old series that a companion would turn around to the Doctor and say "you're so gay", but in Aliens of London it was a minor aside that seemed so natural I'd completely forgotten about it five minutes later.

Other non-traditional elements of the story were, of course, the 'domestic scenes' and, once again, these do work. I love Rose's mum and even Mickey is alright this time around. However, I do feel that the series should now start to move on a bit beyond 'Rose's story'. It's been refreshing to see that the companion, and the effects of time travel on her, have been handled realistically, and she has been given a background. But if Rose is still squealing "but it's soooo alien", endlessly pondering the effects of time travel and arguing with her boyfriend and mum by episode 13, it may have got a bit soapish and a bit boring.

Finally, I just need to make a point about Christopher Eccleston's Doctor. Although his portrayal is largely good and his relationship with Rose interesting and intriguing, I just wish he would stop laughing and grinning inanely at everything! It sometimes seems a little put-on and makes me wince (I think it was in the car going to Downing Street). There seems to be a hint of a slightly pseudo-sexual relationship developing between the Doctor and Rose and it will be interesting to see how that pans out over the series - tricky territory.

All in all then, I enjoyed Aliens of London. The silliness really should have been toned down a bit, and hopefully CE will calm down a little as the series goes on, but Doctor Who is still the most original, enjoyable, clever and interesting programme on TV on a Saturday night by a long shot.

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We come to the first two-parter of the series (or is it?...as both episodes have different story titles, and neither is sign-posted as being parts 1 or 2?), that alone brings back nostalgic memories of early 'Sixties' Doctor Who, where fans have ever since argued over what is the proper story title for stories such as 'The Daleks' or 'The Edge of Destruction'! So well done Russell T Davies for re-introducing story titles for each individual episode, and re-creating even more heated debates on what the proper story title might possibly be for this particular two-parter and future ones! Don't worry everybody, I'm just being sarcastic, I have better things to do with my time than think about something as trivial as that, but I'm sure some fans will have sleepless nights over it!

Now back to the story (or episode?) itself. It opened with a brief re-cap from episode 1 'Rose' , reminding viewers that Rose has a family, boyfriend and past. This nicely sets up this near-future adventure which reintroduces these elements. The Tardis arrives in the pre-credits sequence only for the Doctor to discover that Rose hasn't been returned 12 hours after she originally left, but rather 12 months!

All this is a rather slow and predictable opening, but things soon pick up when the UFO flies overhead and hovers over London's landmarks and finally crashing through Big Ben and falling into the Thames. This particular scene is wonderful and superbly filmed, the model sequences here are some of the best ever presented, and all the partial-authentic News 24 stuff following was very well done and added more credibility to the whole proceedings. It was great seeing the Doctor sat down watching the tele, only to have Rose's flat populated with friends and family constantly talking in the background and effecting the Doctor's concentration. Very much something I can identify with!

The Doctor being confronted by the army was another fantastic scene, and then seeing that Pig in a spacesuit, was astonishing and is something that you could only find in Doctor Who. The Doctor's reaction to it's death was very moving and surprisingly effective, and what about those farting aliens, well, they were certainly something new to Doctor Who, and the big kid in me found these moments very funny (I'm easy to please!).

When we see the Slitheen revealed by their unmasking towards the end of the episode by unzipping their foreheads (and how great was THAT effect, it helpfully explained how Scaroth and the Foamasi probably concealed themselves under very convincing human skins). The cliffhanger ending was brilliant, and with the Doctor and friends in immediate peril it brought the whole thing to an adrenaline rushed finale! Shame then that it was followed by a teaser for the follow-up episode, it kind of took the shine off the ending somewhat. What a missed opportunity!

Still, overall the episode was pretty good and ticked most of the right boxes, it was funny, dramatic, shocking and action-packed. Billie Piper is still magnificent and lovely as Rose, and Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor is great, the best Doctor since Peter Davison in my opinion. Now you must excuse me, but my bowels are about to release something quite fowl I think. 8/10

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To begin I must admit that this has been my favorite episode so far. I have been fascinated by the background story of the Doctor and the time war and actually gasped when it was revealed that Gallifrey was gone. Anyway this story, at least in episode 1, has been pretty lean on the details only revealing information that was already known (ie the Doctor is 900 and UNIT wouldn't recognize him due to regeneration). It is with this that I think the show's producers have made a bit of a mistake. The Doctor is over 900 yes, but he does age. If I recall he has been 900+ since the days of Tom Baker but he must have aged along since then. I mean was he 900 when Hartnell was the Doctor (I am not sure) but if he was did he really manage to get there on one regeneration and has burned 9 since then? Ugh, with no carry-over companion it was a perfect moment to age the Doctor. Anyway, a small point.

I really liked how the Doctor and Rose are on the outside looking in for a while. That they were forced to watch the crash on TV like everyone else was a good way to go about things. Far to often in the past the Doctor has shown up and just said, "I'm the Doctor and I'm here to help" and with no questions it is accepted. I thought it would be a good place to use the psychic paper (which I think is a good way of getting the Doctor in on a story, especially considering the fast pace of things) but the way they did it was brilliant. The news casts, etc.. also made it feel much more real! I was very impressed.

The story itself is really quite good as well. I was pretty upset when it was over and really wanted more. There are a few issues (such as the flatuence) but overall I thought it was really well done. The story seemed a bit slower than the other episodes but this is probably because they have 2 episodes to work with instead of one, and I really like this. It gives time to build the story up over the first episode and then have the crazy, fast paced "save the world" action sequences in episode 2 of the 2 parter. I'm expecting the second episode to move quite quickly. The pig-alien was a big disappointment but they made up for it a bit with the reasons and the unfolding story line.

The special effects were a little dubious in parts. The "unzip the head" style movement from person to person the aliens use was pretty tacky (in my opinion) but the actual aliens themselves were wonderfully done. The crashing of the space ship in London was magnificent and really set the tone for the episode itself. I guess I should be used to some dubious effects in Doctor Who as I am a newer fan who got into the series during the last season of McCoy and thus have been used to the dated effects of years past. It is a bit of a style for Who but I am starting to feel the "blue light" effects are getting a bit old. Hopefully with Daleks and others coming we won't see this effect for a while or it risks becoming the wrinkle of star trek (ie all aliens are human just with wrinkles located in different parts).

Over all I am really excited as this is the first time I have experienced a true cliff-hanger. The old days saw me watching Who on PBS and so it was complete serials rather than episodes. This is the first time I have actually had to wait a week to see an episode because it hasn't been broadcast yet. Based on part 1 of this story I hope they do more dual-part episodes in season two. Anyway that's it for now, time to go eat some jelli-babies.

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After 2 reasonably good episodes [ The Unquiet Dead and The End of the World ] I was looking forward to this 2 parter which looked impressive judging by the trailers I'd seen. It starts off quite well but then just goes downhill rapidly and degenerates in to childish schoolboy type humour - with farting aliens and a ridiculous looking pig creature that's obviously a man in a completely unconvincing rubber suit. The farting bits just ruined the story for me - right from the start.

Also annoying is Roses boyfriend - who though not quite as annoying as in the first episode is clearly being used as the comedy relief, even though he's not in the slightest bit funny. Rose and her boyfriend also have these annoying streetwise accents - obviously in an effort to appeal to a dumbed down teenage audience. Some of the bits with the new version of UNIT showed potential but again it was all in vain as any air of menace or urgency was ruined by the poor attempts at humour.

Christopher Ecclestons performance was pretty much the same as in previous episodes but even though he's on top form when he's taking a more serious tone, the manic grins are becoming a bit tedious and I still have trouble believing he's an alien with his obvious Northern accent.

The aliens themselves were bad. Not in an evil sense, but just plain bad. The actual design of the aliens would have been quite spooky - but they just look so obviously like men in cheesy rubber suits that they have a virtually zero scare factor. I think there was one convincing cgi rendered shot of an alien bursting out of it's human disguise, but that's about it.

All in all I'm completely unimpressed by this latest episode and Russell T.Davies just seems to treat the whole thing as camp, childish nonsense with a few feeble attempts at horror and too much slapstick humour. There's hardly any attempt at class or to move the whole thing above the camp whimsical rubbish that was the Sylvester Mcoy era. Some [ and I repeat some ] of the special effects are better than the previous Doctors shows but judging by this latest attempt - camp, unbelievable childishness is still an unfortunate trademark of Doctor Who.

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ALIENS OF LONDON maintains the high standard of the new series and races along with real dramatic weight behind the speed, surpassing the slightly frantic feeling of the first two episodes, and suggesting that two-part episodes will enable the production to achieve an optimum balance between modern TV drama and the more leisurely pace of those old four and six parters.

Some have been complaining about the so-called 'soap' elements of the story. What struck me though was the way in which the 'domestics', to use the Doctor's term, are seamlessly integrated into the sci-fi set-up. The brilliant device of having Rose return home not twelve hours but twelve *months* after she left cued up all subsequent interactions between the mundane and the fantastical. RTD has found a way to mesh the real world (or the real world as seen in other TV dramas, at least) with the bizarre and exciting world of Doctor Who, in a way that is clearly designed to soothe the reservations of those who deride sci-fi for its lack of credibility – but beware soap-loving couch-potatoes, it's a rapprochement with a sting in the tail! I'm sure I'm not spoiling anything to say that this story will end with Rose choosing life with the Doctor over life with her well-meaning but small-minded mum and her sweet but thoroughly average chump of a boyfriend - this is a battle where 'soap' reality loses! (just like that Awards ceremony a few years ago where DW beat Eastenders!) In soaps, characters hardly stray more than 500 metres from a handful of key locations, and for one of them to go five miles away to the London West End would require a bloody feature-length Easter Special. Rose is like a truly great soap character who is about to escape the confines of the Square/Street/wherever, and fly the coop, and I'm rooting for her all the way.

The scenes where the Doctor is trying to watch news of the alien invasion on TV whilst surrounded by the clutter and chatter of Rose's home were hilarious, but again the humour had a sting in the tail. Aliens have landed and Rose's mum is gossiping about some fella she's been out with – a perfect illustration of the small-minded parochialism that Rose obviously wants to escape by travelling with the Doctor. When Rose runs into the TARDIS followed by her mum, her mum bolts back outside, filled not with questions but with fear. She scurries back to the safety of her flat, without a shred of curiosity about the suddenly much larger world she's glimpsed. Rose yells after her that she'll be up in a moment to explain, but then dashes back into the TARDIS to consult with the Doctor about his theory that the invasion is a fake. Rose's suitability as a companion is thus assured – she *can* cope with a larger world, and for once a companion of the Doctor has not only been furnished with a real world background, she's confronted that background, found it wanting, and chosen a life of danger and wonder with the Doctor. She is a brilliant creation, and remember, she's *RTD's* creation, all you Davies-bashers...

The other feature that has 'alienated' quite a few Doctor Who fans is the farting. (Must be down to bad memories of being crammed overnight into shared hotel rooms at Conventions...) No-one seems to have spotted that this is actually 'ripped off,' in the time-honoured Doctor Who tradition, in this case from Stephen King's novel DREAMCATCHER. Personally, I found it surprisingly effective, and I wasn't expecting to think so (I'd heard the rumours beforewhand...). It's both funny, in a vulgar way, and actually rather disturbing. When one of them says "We've got to sort out this gas situation" (I'm paraphrasing), the other sarcastically says, "Oh, I thought it made us very human." And that's the key to understanding these aliens. They're mocking us. They laugh at us. When their plan to infiltrate parliament succeeds, they stand in the Cabinet Office laughing like hyenas. I found this far more sinister and scary than the usual sort of 'fiendish' laughter we get from that jackanapes The Master. They laugh with utter contempt. Being invaded by the Slitheen feels truly frightening because they clearly regard humanity as some idiotic species ripe for destruction, and look forward to killing us with a kind of gleeful cruelty. (although the last laugh under the end credits music was just a bit too 'ho-ho-ho' for my liking - was it meant to stifle the fear factor, I wonder?). The narrative reason they fart is obviously to do with the pressure of fitting their huge bodies into the human skins (which suddenly has me giggling at the idea of Count Scarlioni doing it too!). Perhaps fart jokes are a notch down from the dry, sophisticated comedies every fan *of course* watches between episodes of Who, but for heaven's sake try to be a bit more (ffffffrrrrrrr! - oh I say, do excuse me...) flexible. I know it's written into the contract that we fans must be humourless po-faced drudges, but come on, cut loose a bit (Honk!!!!!! ...dear me, I'm so sorry! Must be something I ate)...

Like last week's episode, this felt like classic Who with a burst of new energy cascading through it. I loved the pig creature, and when it was shot down I felt a lump in my throat - which, given that all I had to contextualize it were a few rapid lines from the Doctor and a brief glimpse of it running down a corridor, means I'm either a complete sap when it comes to poor little piggies, or it was simply the good writing communicating a complex idea with dramatic economy. The 'fake invasion' plot was ingenious – I was completely hooked by the various twists and turns (and no, I don't care if some sci-fi novel I've never read has done it already: and no, AMBASSADORS OF DEATH isn't an example).

The special effects are better than they've ever been in a British show, and miles better than any previous Doctor Who. No, they're not perfect, I was *not* convinced that the production team had found some real aliens and persuaded them to take part. But what do I read on this newsgroup–complaints about lighting irregularities on the rooftop? Jesus wept. To quote a Slitheen: "By all the Saints: get some PERSPECTIVE, you lot!" The alien craft looked great crash-landing, the Big Ben smash was fabulous, and although the Slitheen transformations were technically a bit dodgy here and there, I thought they were gross and genuinely alarming in overall appearance. Reminded me of the weird baby-faced monsters in the dream-sequences of Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL. Those who are suggesting they're the equivalent of the Mhyrrka (spelling?) are either taking the mick or senile. When that creature loomed towards Rose's mum in her pokey little kitchen I felt the stirrings of something long dormant – no not that, I don't fancy either of them – I think it might have been fright...

This is a better Doctor Who series than we ever had the right to expect. What's more, ALL of the people I know who are casual but not rabid DW fans have loved every single episode. ALL of them who have children have said their kids are totally rivetted to the screen. No-one seems to have a problem with the so-called 'soap' elements, and no-one seems outraged by the occasionally vulgar humour.

There are elements of the new series that are not completely to my taste, but my overwhelming feeling is that we have a bold, triumphant return of the best TV show ever, and I for one feel like I'm part of a great big thirteen week adventure. I'm finding it impossible to sit down and watch old episodes because all I can think about are the new ones. I'm now on tenterhooks as each Saturday night approaches and as a fan who grew up with DW in its golden years of Holmes and Hinchcliffe, I think I know a thing or two about 'behind the sofa' apprehension. For the first time since the seventies, I'm feeling tormented by the week-long wait for a TV show.

I'll add a few minus points down here at the bottom, just to show I'm not a production office mole..

the TV reporter (not Andrew Marr, the other one) was phony, which is a shame given how convincing programmes like THE DAY TODAY and BRASS EYE could be. This guy was no better than the one in THE DAEMONS all those years ago.

Why did the female doctor in the morgue go and open the fridge door when she could hear the alien was inside trying to get out? Leave it be!

When the (excellently acted) female MP tries to butt in to talk to the Doctor, she has already seen the aliens. I thought she would have been more insistent and spoken directly to the Doctor, interrupting his conversation with the usher by hissing in his ear, 'I've seen them and they're here!" As that would have prevented the big reveal, better that she should have arrived too late to speak to the Doctor as he disappeared into the other room.

The three-part cliffhanger was great, although it relied twice on people standing still as the transformations took place. A horror film convention, but one that could have been avoided.

And one more thing:

The 'next week' trailer after a cliffhanger really jars. I hope they have time to rethink this way of doing things. The last image should be enough to bring people back next week - isn't that what cliffhangers are all about?

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Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
 

Rather like "Rose," I found myself enjoying this episode a whole lot more on the second viewing than I did on the first. I'm starting to think that this is something to do with Keith Boak's somewhat unconventional directing style, with his sometimes unusual choices of how to edit scenes or join one scene to another. Upon first viewing, this leads to a feeling of "huh?" On the second viewing, when I'm more ready for it, it doesn't seem to jar nearly as much. An example of this is near the start where Rose's mum is tearing into the Doctor for having had Rose away for so long, and she slaps him... and then suddenly there's a jump-cut into what looks like the middle of another scene where she and Rose are having a good cry together about where she's been. I think this is the sort of cut that we're supposed to take as a stylish move, when what I was really thinking was "did something go wrong here? Did the transmission jump a scene?" As this didn't happen on either of the last two episodes, I'm going to blame Boak.

Another strange choice on his part is the way the Slitheen are being portrayed, with them all goofy smiles, farts, and giggles over how their plan is going and what they're up to. They're enjoying themselves a little too much for my taste... although this may ultimately turn out to be the whole point, in which case this complaint might evaporate. We still don't know what their ultimate intentions are, and it may very well not be straightforward invasion (as Mickey thought) and quite likely has something more to do with that radiation trace under the North Sea that the Doctor mentions towards the end. This is always part of the problem when evaluating just the first part of a story... some things that don't look like they make sense likely ultimately will. The CG effects that realize the aliens when they are finally revealed are quite varied... I like that they've given us an explanation for once of how the huge alien is fitting inside a human body suit (with that electrical force field compression thing), but there are certain shots where the aliens look far too computer-generated. And then again there are others where they look fine. As this didn't happen so much on the last two episodes, again I'm wondering if this is somewhat down to Keith Boak... maybe he just hasn't got a good eye for what's convincing and what isn't and should be rejected. Oh, and have you noticed that all of the people they've taken over are quite overweight? Perhaps they can only squeeze themselves down so far.

I do like the mechanics of their plan though. The idea of aliens faking other aliens all to form a trap to capture all of Earth's extraterrestrial experts (and the Doctor into the bargain) is inspired. It's almost an "Avengers"-like idea really. Their choice of Porky the Pig as a pilot is a strange one, but as the Doctor himself points out that the aliens are clearly joking with this, that would seem to lend further weight to there being something on their agenda more akin to plain old fun than scary invasion. Maybe this is just a load of "teasers" (see The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

But enough about the Slitheen... the real highlights of this episode (and they are very high) are the interactions between the Doctor, Rose, Mickey, and Jackie. The teaser sequence was fantastic, where the Doctor and Rose separately realize they've arrived 12 months late, in a scene that gave me the same "bang your head against the table, Doctor" feeling I had at the end of part one of "The Marian Conspiracy" where the Doctor and Evelyn first realize they've landed in Queen Mary's reign, not Elizabeth's. I love how angry Jackie got and how weepy she and Rose got and how real that was all played. Mickey's reactions were just as real, with his pent-up anger at having been the falsely accused of murder all this time coming over very well. In fact, I loved everything in the first 20 minutes as they reacted both to each other and to the crash landing of the alien spaceship... with a party forming over at the Tyler flat and the Doctor having to fight a little kid for control of the remote. The interjection of the "Blue Peter" segment on how to make your own spaceship cakes was _genius_, owing not a little to the similar segments we've been treated to on many of the "Doctor Who" DVDs of recent years. :)

What I liked most in this though was Rose, and how she was given a more central role than she's had in the last two episodes, and how wonderfully Billie Piper played it all. She has a small moment early on where she says something casually, in passing, where it suddenly hit me that she truly is the "First Officer" of the series now... it's when she and the Doctor are on the street looking at the traffic jam that's formed, and she says to him something like "What do we care about London traffic? We've got the TARDIS." I _think_ this is the first time she's actually said the word "TARDIS," and she said it so matter-of-factly, like it's something that's just as much hers as the Doctor's that really made my heart warm. I got a similar feeling when he gave her her own TARDIS key later on, and when her faith in him was borne out as he rematerialized it right where she was waiting for him (along with Mickey and Jackie though!). (and I like this idea of the key glowing a bit when the old girl's arriving) I also enjoyed her glee at getting to go into 10 Downing Street, and how she doesn't really let her lack of access to the big meeting get her down as she instead befriends Penelope Wilton's character and has a nose around in the Cabinet room. She has that normal human reaction of awe at first, but then switches into "first officer of the TARDIS" mode.

Let's see... other random things I liked... --- at least giving UNIT a name-check and having some personnel at the meeting... I still have my fingers crossed for a cameo by a certain someone in part two. :) --- the news reports and the way they were shot... seemed pretty authentic-looking to me... maybe Boak should move over to news --- the nice, really long TARDIS demats and remats --- the triple-cliffhanger (though the "Next Week" thing spoils it a bit)

And finally I'll close with full, non-random praise for Penelope Wilton's character and performance. I can very, very easily believe in a minor government personage being so wrapped up in their own issues that they still want to lobby the PM even though aliens have just landed. I also love just watching Wilton in anything I ever see her in as she's so good, from "Clockwise" to "Shaun of the Dead." She has a way of being bewildered and fearful yet resolute at the same time that few if any other actors have.

At first I was thinking 6 out of 10 on this... upon a second viewing I think I'll raise it to 7. Roll on "World War Three" and the conclusion!

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Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
 

By episode four you would expect a series to begin to settle down and develop a sense of pattern and style. After watching "Aliens of London" I'm becoming increasingly aware that the new series of Doctor Who seems to be developing an identity crisis. Worse, given that seventy-five percent of the episodes so far have been written by the same guy, that Russell T. Davies is developing some kind of crisis!

We went from a victorian episode, one that I willingly admit I was looking forward to seeing least and ultimately enjoyed most. An episode that had the masses, well some of them anyway, comaplaining that it was too gory and violent, straight into a comic farce, complete with ample amounts of flatulence.

If the general public are to have decided by now wether they like the series or not, and after a month you'd expect the audience to settle into it or not by now. It would help if the series settled down too.

I suppose this is in no small way a testament to the diversity this format allows for story-telling. But I felt, especially after last weeks' hard-hitting drama, totally unable to take this episode seriously at all.

The aliens... well all I can say is that they work far better in CGI than they do in foam rubber. By far the best part of this story was the dynamic in the early part of the episode between Rose and her mother (a character I never took to I might add).

I'm looking forward to part two, I think! In the mean time I'm wondering where on Earth, or off it, this series is going. This series is all style and substance but if they don't settle into some kind of continuity of content soon they'll be seriously in danger of antagonising a large part of their audience.

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I tried to love it, but this was the first episode of the new series where I really had to try. Apart from some decent basic ideas and a couple of nice touches I thought 'Aliens of London' was sloppily written, inconsistent and excessively flippant. Coming after the excellent 'The Unquiet Dead' didn't help it either.

Oddly enough, it was the first episode with anything resembling a decent plot: undercover aliens in Britain's government fake a first contact scenario to lure the planet's 'alien experts' into a trap. It even had a promising subplot: Rose's return to earth after twelve months, and its repercussions.

Unfortunately the main plot was let down by incessant fart gags. 'Excuse me', the Doctor says to cap it all, 'would you mind not farting while I'm saving the world?' I can just see Russell T Davies chuckling to himself while writing this line, but it doesn't belong in Doctor Who. It's not offensive, just puerile, and it repeatedly deflated any buildup of tension (NOT better out than in). I also wasn't happy with the numerous sexual references, by the general/alien and regarding the Doctor and Rose's relationship. Again, this sounds like prudishness, but I was three years old when I started watching Doctor Who and would like to think that children of any age could watch it safely (despite the BBC's recent advice!).

All of this just kept me thinking 'This isn't Doctor Who.' It was RTD showing us what he could do TO the show, not WITH it. That may be tremendous fun for him, but he needs to remember he's only the guardian of a long TV tradition. He also needs a script editor, or at least someone to read what he's written. No one seemed to have examined this script in any detail. One minute Jackie thinks the Doctor is a sinister kidnapper, the next he has his feet up watching TV in her home, without any explanation. A group of soldiers training their guns on the Doctor suddenly begin acting as if he's their commander when he shouts some nonsense about 'Plan Delta'. Neither Mickey nor Jackie react to the interior of the TARDIS when they enter it. And so on.

I liked some things. The pig 'astronaut' was really surprising and a suitably off-the-wall touch (and where there are little pigs, there are bad wolves, right?). Some of the performances were good -- though not Piper or Eccleston this week, both hobbled by a subplot that sounded like a bad Eastenders episode. The Slitheen were reasonably creepy, and just cheap-looking enough to qualify as proper Doctor Who monsters. And as I said, the basic plot was interesting and promises some further twists.

On the whole, though, I found my attention wandering for the first time this series, and the prospect of another episode (and, to be honest, of more RTD-penned stories) doesn't fill me with glee. I'm sure ratings will drop next week if they haven't already. Fortunately we have a Dalek story to look forward to after that, and one not written by Russell T Davies.

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This is extraordinary writing from Mr. Davies. Not only has he provided us with an imaginative and gripping story, but he has been as daring as one could possibly imagine.

He knows full well how certain ‘Who’ fans will react to this one – and he doesn’t care. Oink.

A pig in a space suit? This has to be the most marvellous Who moment of all time – and it beautifully captures the mood of the current series. How can something so absurd be so tragic? And yet the death of the pig and the look on the Doctor’s face was the most poignant moment of the series so far.

If you had been handed the new series of Doctor Who, would you have dared to go as far as Russell T? In a million years?

I doubt it.

I find it hard to believe that a fan of the show, such as Russell, would have the guts to write an episode filled with fart gags. Is it naff? Cringe-worthy? Or just a case of a writer who is waiting just around the corner with another surprise that we didn’t see coming?

And yet, despite the fact that we really didn’t expect the change of tone that this episode brought us, there is a constant element running through the entire series. The character of Rose – and Billie’s portrayal – is more realistic than any other character in any sci-fi series. Once again we were taken back to the reality of Rose’s home and reminded of how outrageous everything else is. From the first episode onwards we are constantly viewing everything through the eyes of Rose. Even when we are alone with the Doctor, we no longer wonder what it would be like to be him – but instead wonder what it would be like to travel with him.

This episode reminded me more of the old series than any so far. The absurd elements, the ridiculous aliens, the doctor’s indifference and sense of fun all amounted to everything Doctor Who should be.

And what marvellous lines we were given to laugh at. ‘Take me to your leader’ has to be the funniest so far.

Playing each week before our eyes is the TV we will be watching again and again in years to come.

Roll on part 2.

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Well. Cliché it may be, but the new series goes from strength to strength, improving with each and every episode. This episode, the first part of the three two-parters in the series, opened with a recap of Rose (no doubt to remind casual viewers of Mickey and Jackie Tyler) followed by a wonderful scene where the Doctor brings Rose home 12 months on from the date she left, although he thought he’d brought her back just 12 hours on! Of course, she has been declared missing, and Mickey has become the chief suspect in her “murder.” The one thing that puts this story above it’s three predecessors, though, is undoubtedly the complexity of the plotline. The pace remains just as fast, but with a two-parter there is twice the time for twice the story….

After the Doctor tries to explain Rose’s absence to her Mother and to her Police by saying that he “employed her as his companion” - and gets a slapping for doing so! - the story starts proper as during a very flirtatious chat Rose and the Doctor talk about what they are going to do. The Doctor reveals himself to be over 900 years old to Rose in the scene, the reveals about him still being eked out slowly across the series, unquestionably the best way to do things keeping the new audience in mind. Suddenly, a fantastic CGI spaceship flies overhead, crashing into Big Ben. You can almost see the Doctor’s eyes light up! That is the kind of scene that will stick in people’s minds for years to come.

I thought the ship was done very convincingly, although I must say that the only negative thing I can think of about the episode was the feeble CSO background when the Doctor and Rose stood on top of her building. I understand that it was necessary because of the ship flying over them but even so, I’m sure they could have limited the amount of blue-screen they used in that scene.

The following scenes featuring BBC News were brilliantly done – it gave the episode a sense of reality, and really emphasised that this was on our own doorstep. The scenes in Rose’s flat provided some comic relief (that wasn’t fart-related) – the baby on the Doctor’s knee (funny in itself) wrestling the control away from him and putting “Blue Peter” on (a nice little reference to the years of features Blue Peter have run on the show), the unexplained presence of a Chinese family, and best of all the fact that the Doctor was the only person (Rose aside) showing any excitement at the prospect of humans making first contact with non-terrestrials! As the Doctor points out to Rose, most people would rather talk about mobile phones and being asked out on dates! There is a wonderful moment where he gives her the key to the TARDIS – it really is beginning to seem like there is more than just friendship between Rose and the Doctor, although it’s not sexual. It’s hard to put your finger on but it’s clearly there, although so far the implications have been no more explicit than between the Doctor and Romana in the late seventies (and she was his own species!)

As the Doctor (seen by a gob smacked Mickey) takes off in the TARDIS (adorned with the “BAD WOLF” graffiti – a little clue about the Slitheen perhaps? Wolves in sheep’s clothing anyone?) he uncovers that the alien pilot of the crashed ship was not alien after all – just a freakily enhanced pig. It is a testament to Eccleston’s acting ability that he makes the scene where the troops shoot the pig down emotional – “IT WAS SCARED!” - a scene that could easily have become farcial.

I’m sure a lot of people will quibble here about the troops just obeying the Doctor’s instructions without question, but examples of this kind of thing are littered throughout the classic series – he just has that effect on people! – and you also have to remember he asked them to initiate a military protocol which he could only have known if he was affiliated with the army in some way.

As usual, I was watching the episode with my sci-fi sceptic fiancée and I was just explaining to her about how the Doctor was exiled to Earth in the seventies and worked for a government/military organisation called UNIT. Watching the trailer attached to “The Unquiet Dead” I was trying to make out the insignia on the troops uniforms hoping that they would be from UNIT, but after thinking it through I had convinced myself that UNIT was an area the new series would try and avoid. However, not to include UNIT in a modern-day alien invasion would have actually contradicted the classic series – how could UNIT not be involved? How could the Doctor not be known to the powers that be? Of course, Russell T. Davies got the balance spot on with their minor presence. Moreover, as the new viewers know so little about the Doctor’s past to reveal that he once worked for a secret government organisation only adds to his mystique.

After following the Doctor and Rose into the TARDIS (alongside an overwhelmed Mrs. Tyler) Mickey reveals that for a year he’s searched the t’internet and history books etc. for every scrap of info on the Doctor – and as they watch on TV “alien experts” (including an forgivably unfamiliar-looking UNIT delegation - after all, Lethbridge-Stewart had already retired in Battlefield set ten years earlier and this episode is set sometime in 2006!) being gathered Mickey explains to Rose about how the Doctor once worked for UNIT. “I’ve changed a lot since those days…” the Doctor quips. It’s nice to see him refer to UNIT as “good people,” and I also liked Mickey’s line about wherever you see the Doctor’s name, you find a list of the dead; a similar comment to those made by Clive in Rose.

UNIT aside, these TARDIS scenes were exceptionally well done. Mickey was a much more compelling character than in Rose – rather than just an annoying cockney kid he was someone who had been persecuted for a year for something he hasn’t done. His jealously and anger towards the Doctor are evident, clearly not helped by the Doctor continually referring to him as “Ricky” and belittling him, 6th Doctor-style. Rose was also brilliant in the episode – Billie Piper really excelled, especially as she tried to explain to Mickey and her Mother how she feels about the Doctor. “He’s not my boyfriend – he’s more than that. So much more!” Jackie Tyler is also brilliant. Her reaction to the TARDIS is massive culture shock – and of course, fear. After all – how would you feel if your long-lost daughter turned up out of the blue, only to reveal she’d been travelling around with an alien? I think most people would call the Alien Emergency Line.

The Doctor. TARDIS. Red Alert!

Of course the Doctor is known by the government from his days on the UNIT staff – and as such, he has to be brought in alongside the other “alien experts.” When he and Rose are whisked away to 10 Downing Street, it finally all dawns on me what is actually going on…

The Slitheen. A wonderful creation. The cabinet and the General are all actors of the highest calibre; as are for that matter the rest of the supporting cast in this episode. To be fair, they had to be to be able to pull of the farting with any sense of menace, but they manage it! Their gastronomical problems actually make sense when you think about it; a huge alien creature contains in what is effectively a highly-convincing zip-up suit. There is bound to be a bit of trapped wind!

I was thrilled to see Penelope Wilton in the show as Harriet Jones. Davies’ episodes excel at conveying the sense of fear, wonder and shock “normal” people feel when they experience aliens, TARDISes etc. – and after the horror she witnesses here she really has our sympathies, especially as she is visibly doing all she can to hold back her terror as she escorts Rose away from the crowd. As a huge fan of Teachers it was great to see Navin Chowdry (Kurt!) in there too, though I did struggle to take him seriously in a straight-role.

And at last, we get a cliff-hanger, and it’s well worth the wait. It’s not just our heroes that are in danger, but ALL the characters we have come to care about – the Doctor, UNIT, Rose, Harriet, Jackie Tyler – and it was poor old Kurt who was first against the wall when the Slitheen revealed themselves. Of course, the Doctor had it all worked out by the time the first Slitheen was revealed – but of course, it was too late by then.

Or was it….

Shortly after the episode when I dropped one and my fiancée went “you’re an alien!”, I had to have a little chuckle to myself as I realised a nation full of children are going to be running scared whenever their parent’s let rip!

I am shocked and disturbed by the bad reviews I’ve read for this show. Us Doctor Who fans really are impossible to please! I thought this episode was intense. You will be hard pressed to find a better episode of “Doctor Who” ever – this episode really was breathtaking.

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When I gave my two penny’s worth on The End of the World a couple of weeks ago, I made the comment that the excessive comedy overtones were undermining the drama, I was particularly pleased that most of these farcial moments were absent from The Unquiet Dead which made it all the more believable, even if the whole thing played rather like a Big Finish story with vision.

Well sure enough the farce was back with a vengeance with Aliens of London. Much like the latter days of the old series, the current production team seem to have the knack for doing certain things so right, only to counteract it in the next beat by moments so inane that you want to take a sledge hammer to your tv screen.

The whole thing started off so well, the teaser was great, drama and comedy elements nicely balanced, the Alien spaceship landing, nice effect. The scenes in the hospital, subtly spooky and seriously acted. And then we get a bloody midget in a pig suit. I could scarcely believe what I was seeing, even though the resulting explanation was half feasible there is no denying that the thing looked bloody ridiculous and from there on they flushed any potential for this story down the toilet.

The flatulent alien politicians were possibly one of the most cringe inducing creations ever put into Doctor Who. This sort of humour belongs in a Doctor Who spoof, not in the proper series.

Once again the scenes with Billie and Chris shone, full of charisma, warmth & wit. This is more than enough to carry the series along without resorting to Austin Powers style lavatory humour. But as I found with Rose and the End of the World it is hard to feel any real sense of danger or excitement for these characters when the opponents they face are so lacking in menace. I never ceased to be amazed about how often a successful franchise makes a great job of creating a hero, only to pit him against a pathetic comedic villain. The Batman and Superman movies were both guilty of turning Lex Luthor and most of the Batman villains into cheap comedy turns and now Doctor Who seems to be having a go. Farting aliens are not menacing, blacmange like creatures with doe eyes are not frightening, and maybe they were not supposed to be. But why in that case play on the sinister aspects of the unzipping heads, why make the audience believe they were going to see some unspeakable monstrosity, only to be confronted by a teletubby. I am still not sure whether the cliffhanger was supposed to be taken seriously, or was sending up Doctor Who cliffhangers.

Performances were variable, Camille Coduri still seems somewhat of a cariacature in her role of Jackie Tyler, although was better than in the first story, while Noel Clarke as Mickey is growing on me, and his antagonistic relationship with the Doctor worked well, afterall he has every reason to bear a grudge. Penelope Wilton was solid as Harriet Jones, while Rupert Vansittart as Asquith proved a worthy successor to the likes of Nicholas Courtney and Simon Williams, before his alien takeover and any opportunity for the character was squandered. The alien politicians however were excreable, while admittedly the script was mostly to blame the performances were childrens BBC level, insulting and patronising to all but the very young viewer.

Now I wouldn’t attempt to argue with anyone who said Doctor Who was a childrens show, because they’d be half right, although I prefer the label family show. But the original series very rarely played down to or patronised the young viewer, when it did in the late eighties, most of its young audience turned off. I was 12 at the time of season 24 and I cringed when the Rani dressed up as Mel, when Richard Briers did his ham chief caretaker and I am not sure whether sensibilities have moved on, but this new series has been guilty of just as many if not more of these sort of moments.

I had faith in Russell T Davies and nearly everything he said about his vision for the series in the build up to transmission seemed spot on, but so far I have seen not much of this in evidence. He promised a full blooded drama, instead all his scripts so far have bordered on parody, he cites his favourite story as Ark in Space, but instead we have been getting something more akin to a cross between season 24 and the Paul McGann tv movie.

It pains me that this is the case when the Doctor companion dynamic is so good, the visuals the best the series has had, and the whole thing has an energy and sparkle that makes each 45 minute whiz by.

The Second Coming was great drama as was Russell’s New Adventure (although way too dark for the small screen), but so far the general stories have been lacking, I was initially fuming at Eccleston’s early departure but to be fair to the man he probably expected more from these scripts as well. No doubt expecting to take part in socially relevant sci fi parables, he probably found himself feeling like he’d joined the cast of Red Dwarf.

So please less of this bargain basement humour, George Lucas has been castigated for it on his Star Wars prequels, and now Russell largely seems to be getting away with it on Doctor Who. Sadly I feel viewing figures will speak for themselves and this approach may be here to stay. But ever hopeful, I wait for that Dalek story which much like Remembrance did 17 years ago, will hopefully banish burping bins and flatulent aliens to that waste bin of Doctor Who history.

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Episode 4 after starting on earth , moving to the future and back in time in a way it was time to bring all elements together for episode 4 and consolidate what has been so brilliantly achieved in this new start for doctor who.

I enjoyed the start immensely, a companion having to deal with the real life dilemma of being missing for 12 months and her thinking it has only been a couple of days. Billie just gets better and better as Rose as she is certainly making a bid for best companion award ever. The slap from Rose mother for the Doctor was a great moment.

The alien landing was fantastic and great special effects that in some way I now seem to be taking for granted will be really good.and they do not fail to deliver.

The news reports were great too with the Doctor trying to listen with all the family and friends around, that has so happened to me, I was getting annoyed for him .

The confidence that Rose needed that their journey together had not ended in this episode, although there is clearly a lot to sort out with family was touching with the tardis key and again uses the strength of the relationship of the Doctor and Rose.

The action moves to the hospital bed with the alien , this bit was tense and not having red the spoilers I was thinking this alien was going to be fantastic, my shock when it turned out to be a pig reminded me that it is geared for children on occasion and not for us old fans and we just have to accept that there has to be a mix for the programme to succeed on all levels.

On to downing street, the characters farting as aliens , again I do not appreciate this but I am again of the opinion that the younger audience would have been laughing loads in these scenes. Penelope Wilson needs a mention here for adding the drama to these scenes with which without her efforts would have been difficult scenes to get excited about.

The zips on the faces was a nice touch and a good simple idea to use, one that we can all relate too , there seems to be a running theme in each episode that the audience can relate to all the aliens. Autons , plastic coming to life. Jabe and Casandra , Trees and Skin, The gas ghosts and now Zips. I bet children will not look at these day to day objects in the same way again.

Moving on to the bit that made me jump , the prime minister's body falling out the cupboard, excellent ot had me for that 2 seconds.

The cliff hanger set up to was well thought out a three way end for all characters, Rose mother trapped, Rose trapped and Doctor being electrocuted. All good ways to keep the suspense until next week , COMPLETLY RUNINED by the look what happens next week , oh my god no !!!

The new aliens however do look much more menacing in the next episode where as in this first part there seemed to be a real mix of computer and rubber suit to achieve them and this seemed on first viewing to let them down slightly.

Overall this episode is my least favorite but I feel this is mainly due to the fact that the other three for me are better stories.

I wait with trepidation for the resolve of this two parter which may then lift this adventure.

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Expectations were indeed very high indeed for this story, especially after the spectacular preview at the end of last weeks episode (my favourite so far), and I felt that in most cases it delivered. The high points of the story for me were the spaceship demolishing Big Ben and the brilliantly executed three in one cliffhanger! The Slitheen were also a remarkably unique alien, with their strange baby like faces I think they are a welcome change to the normal style of alien in SF(trying too hard be to creepy, usually accompanied by vast amounts of snarling). The use of established news reporters such as Andrew Marr was also another wise idea and made the whole thing seem so much more believable.

The obvious low point of the episode for many fans was the farting politicians. I could tolerate this, but did we really need the line I’m shaking my booty ? Aside from that aggravating quote though I can not see that much wrong with the story at all. Aside from what some people I know have said, I think the Slitheen look brilliant, as did the run away pig! Also, am I alone in thinking that the Slitheen looked better when the were CGI, as shown in next weeks preview?

As for the previews of what’s coming up Next Time, surely it would have been better to not to use it after a cliffhanger, especially such a good one? This is because we plainly see that the Doctor is fine and does not get hurt much at all. I feel that the cliffhanger is enough incentive for people to watch next week as they want to see what happens, rather then giving it away in a preview.

But all in all I felt that this was another VERY GOOD episode, worthy of the current series, which has exceeded my expectations. I only hope that the resolution to the story is as good as its opening part. We should also be able to see the preview for Dalek, the most anticipated story yet! I'm sure Robert Shearman has done wonders with those despot dustbins, but dont qoute me on that if it all goes horribly wrong! (Although I'm confident it won’t!)

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It had its moments. An iconic spaceship crash, a traditional monster...it had the potential to be the best episode of the series so far. Unfortunately, as the unholy spawn of season 24, it turned out to be by far the worst.

The main problem is that the humour/drama balance was woefully misjudged. I like humour in the show when it's clever wit, but this was just idiotic slapstick. Hence we have Mickey's comedy pratfall, the Doctor wrestling with a baby and biped pig which may have been intended to be creepy and grotesque but was in fact just ridiculous.

Then we have Doctor Who's new worst-ever scene: the farting aliens. I'd heard about this before, and I've been dreading it. There was a time once where a script was written in iambic pentameter-now we have fart gags. Even Delta And The Bannermen, the show's worst episode, didn't have fart gags. Anyone would think they were trying to lose ratings. I can't remember when I last cringed so much.

Other humour is of the traditional RTD kind: self-conscious shots at fandom that would be postmodern if they were less smug and unsubtle (and unfunny). What we have then is a very poor episode: special effects and embarrassing jokes, and little else of substance except what was probably a good idea once.

The cliffhanger was fine...until the next episode trailer where we get to see the Doctor alive and well. A good cliffhanger should be a good cliffhanger for a whole week, not for thirty seconds.

Look back to The Unquiet Dead. It had the perfect balance of good humour and scares, was well paced, and had a core central idea that was allowed to shine through. Much like the original series then, we can have an absolute classic followed next week by an absolute dog. My only hope is now that the invasion has kicked in things will toughen up for part 2. I haven't given up on RTD just yet, but his I know best attitude is starting to grate on me. The problem with having the boss write an episode is that when they have a stupid idea there's no one to stop them.

I might be a good idea for next season (assuming ratings don't plummet now that is) for RTD to tone down his own input and give the other writers a greater slice of the pie, as I get the feeling that in terms of quality hes definitely the small fry.

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It was with a huge buzz of excitement that I sat down to watch Aliens of London this evening. I was expecting great things, hideous aliens possessing cabinet ministers, UFO crashes and a good old fashioned invasion of London.

Well that's what we got but why do I feel so disappointed and let down?

Well, in a word it was childish. Yes Doctor Who is a 'kids show that adults love' but does it have to be so ridiculously childish? Burp and fart gags? Russell you can do better.

I can only hope that the alien menace proves to be just that next week now that they are out of their skin and running amok. Fat middle aged politicians laughing about bodily functions is not what I would call terrifying. Where was the horror? Aliens disguised as human politicians could have been done so much better - the acting was terrible and the part where they all share a maniacal laugh together reminded me of the scene from the 60's Batman film with all the villains in it sharing a chuckle at the apparent demise of the dynamic duo.

In the original series the monsters may have at times looked cheap, amusing and completely failed to terrorise anyone but at least they tried. By the time the Slitheen revealed themselves they had lost all credibility. Had they been a lot more sinister while they were disguised as humans it would have had greater impact to me. While they certainly look impressive, I just pray that the Slitheen can make up for the pathetic showing in this episode and give the story some much needed horror and hopefully not turn out to be a batch of baby faced giggling incompetents.

It was interesting to see for the first time, with possibly the exception of 'Survival', the reaction back home of a companion's disappearance. It would be more interesting if Rose's mum and Mickey were actually decent characters. Rose's mum is perhaps not so bad but Mickey was just as bad as he was in 'Rose', is he supposed to be comic relief? If so, he isn't funny and there certainly doesn't need to be any more comic relief, there is so many attempts at humour it detracts from the suspense and excitement.

Still there were some good points, the UNIT presence was good, I don't know why the Doctor had a problem with them not recognising him but never mind. The effects in this episode were fantastic it has to be said, perhaps a bit too CGI'd but when did Doctor Who fans ever care about dodgy effects?

Both the regulars were as good as ever, Billie Piper once again proving any doubters wrong. Eccleston was perhaps less hands on than I'd like to have seen, spending too long on the sidelines at the start of the episode but once he did get off the couch he was as good as ever and proving that he will be missed once he goes.

Oh, and the pig, I really liked the pig.

Seriously, I did..

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Having read through the other reviews posted already on the site for this episode I felt the urge to put finger to keypad and add my two penneth...

I, and the others who attend Doctor Who Club as we affectionately call our Saturday night tv and takeaway fest, have fervently avoided information about the new series where possible and for the majority this was the first episode we were seeing fresh as was possible (without hiding in a broom closet for the past year).

When the credits rolled we all looked at each other and just sighed... So much good from the story and really only two complaints - both of which have been mentioned by other reviews - unfortunately in both cases they seem to be fairly central to the story - in otherwords - the Aliens of London. RTD's fascination with breaking wind is marginally worrying and after feeling uncomfortable with one outing in Rose imagine my horror when there displayed on the screen in front of me is a torrent of them. I can imagine my god son et al finding it hilarious and the juxtaposition of the comedy and horror from the two states the Slitheen entertain might affect the younger viewers in a way I can't empathise with but I really worry this is the beginning of a trend... Secondly the protracted appearance of the Slitheen at the end (did we really need to see the whole transformation from all three viewpoints?) ended, for me personally, in bitter disappointment. Initially I was fairly impressed with some of the original ideas (eyes blinking sideways etc.) but the bouncing heads and the obvius difference in style and look between the CGI versions and the physical costumed ones was far too apparent and compared to the stunning realisation of the aliens in The End of the World I really felt these let the side down.

Something inside tells me RTD wants these to be the new recurring enemy, I remember a piece where he said there were some great new monsters who he wanted to make as memorable and repeatable as daleks, cybermen, ice warriors etc. - I just hope these aren't them... Maybe I'm wrong, maybe episode two will make me eat my hat, and believe me, I hope so as despite this blip, the series continues to blow my and everyone I know who watches it mind.

This week's pre credit sequence was just astounding and had us all laughing out loud from the moment we saw the poster to the end of the title sequence - genius... It just goes to demonstrate how the relationship between the main two forges on stronger and stronger - can she trust him or not, just how alien is he, how far can he push her and so on. The arc idea of having them revisit Rose's real life is fantastic (excuse the choice of description - is it just me or does it roll off the tongue a lot more these days, accompanied by the cheesiest grin imaginable) and RTD has really thought about how to approach this idea effectively within the stories.

The pig was a great shock to me and personally I loved it... (Evoking both images of Pigs in Space and those evil Moon Cows - history chooses for me to forget their name - from the DWM comic strip many years ago...) It's always good when you work out the story at the same time as the characters and this was a lot more unpredictable than The End of the World.

Have I mentioned Penelope Wilton - not a lot for her to do and I fear hers is a tragic life, but still well performed and I look forward to seeing what happens to her next week.

All in all, whatever its faults - and remember we are a fickle lot when it comes to our beloved Doctor, this is Doctor Who, and it is being broadcast on a Saturday night on BBC1... We're a more discerning audience and we will find fault in whatever is put in front of us truth be told... I think the only true reviewer of this series can be from the wholly uninformed... And if that is the case then the text I received from my cousin - who has ridiculed me for thirty years now over my love for Doctor Who - is really the best review... It simply read That was excellent. And surely, it's moments and comments like that which make everything alright... (oh and the nearasdammit 10 million other people who seem to enjoy staying in on a Saturday night...) Here's to part two!!!

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Russell T Davies is a genius! How can a man get it so right and so wrong in the space of forty-five minutes? Now that is real talent!

So, what did he get right? The relationships between Rose, her mother and Mickey for a start. All is forgiven Jackie and Mickey. I despised these characters in 'Rose' but the performances of both actors here was excellent. I thought that the idea of a genuinely traumatic reunion, courtesy of the Doctor's mistake, was a real highpoint of the episode; well-acted and convincing. Mickey's jealousy regarding his perceived relationship between the Doctor and Rose was well-scripted and well acted. I also found the animosity displayed towards Mickey by the Doctor funny, if only because there is no real reason why the Doctor should dislike him. He just does.

Penelope Wilton put in a fine performance and I thought that the spaceship crashing into Big Ben was one of the most iconic moments in the history of Doctor Who. And that's about it, really.

There was so much that I disliked about this episode, the blame of which can only be placed on two people: Russell T Davies and Phil Collinson; the former for writing such drivel in the first place and the latter for letting him get away with it. I mean, for goodness sake...fart jokes! And this is supposed to be the best writer writing for television. I have never felt so patronised while watching a Doctor Who episode, or so embarrassed. How can a sense of threat and menace be built up when such juvenile material has been written in the first place? And, I'm sorry...but a zip in the forehead? Is this supposed to be post modernly ironic: Guess what kids...Doctor Who monsters used to be men in rubber suits y'know! Now, however, they are merely bland and poorly realised CGI effects. I know that the Slitheen were given limited screen time and they may yet prove to be a serious threat but there first episode inspires little confidence.

It is telling that the best episode, in my opinion, of the series so far was not written by Russell T Davies. If he continues to set his standards so low, sacrificing real threat for cheap and childish gags, then I have little confidence in the rest of the series. Please, for series two, someone stop his omnipotence. He's asleep at the wheel. Oh, well, maybe I'll be proved wrong next week. Please. Please!

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Well, after three episodes which either met or exceeded my expectations, there had to be a disappointment eventually. Aliens of London was that disappointment. Episode 1 wasn't great but did it's job. Episode two felt like Doctor Who, and episode three may go down as a classic. Episode four is hopefully a blip.

Let's start with the good. The plot is basically engaging, even though I didn't enjoy or like this episode as much as the prior ones I will be watching next week to see the outcome. The return of the multi-episode format with a cliffhanger is to be applauded, though the writing team has proved with episodes 2 and 3 that a single 45 minute programme can contain terrific Who. The effects concerning the crashing spacecraft were very good indeed. My wife, not much of a Who fan, is upset that she'll be in the states on Saturday as she wants to see the concluding episode.

But I have problems with this installment. I guess we're going to have to become used to domestic scenes in Rose's house and perhaps elsewhere. Though not traditional Doctor Who they aren't out of place in the plots and make the character of Rose more realistic. This can be forgiven, but the humourous aspect - always important in Doctor Who since Troughton - was overblown this time.

The basic premise we have here is that an alien space ship has crash landed in central London (good use of the location) so spectacularly that the Doctor surmises it is a decoy for some other alien activity. So we have a modified pig in a spacesuit placed in the crashing ship to keep earth's medical and scientific community busy while the real aliens plot to take over the world.

But the pig just looked silly. Clearly the viewer is supposed to have sympathy for the poor creature, the Doctor does, but I found it unconvincing. Perhaps a very good idea, poorly realised on screen. There should have been suspense in the scene where the Doctor is trying to find it but the pacing of the scene was wrong.

It transpires that the aliens have taken over the cabinet by disguising themselves as various government bigwigs. So far so good, but due to some malfunction of their gas exchange units all the aliens have terrible wind! This might have been funny the first couple of times, but a bunch of aliens disguised as politicians laughing and farting in the cabinet office only remains funny for a short while. After a minute this is about as funny as the later Police Academy fills. What could have been a suspenseful and interesting plot is almost ruined by the overdone attempts at humour.

UNIT is brought in, and the Doctor quickly explains who they are and that he worked with them before when he looked very different. Good, concise piece of dialogue for the uninitiated and hopefully a sign that we'll see UNIT again in the future. Word goes out to the various world authorities on aliens who are asked to gather in London, where the Doctor realises too late that they have all been trapped by the aliens who now reveal themselves to be the 'Slitheen'. I suppose they are meant to look nasty and frightening but they end up looking like a lifesize children's toy monster.

I'm glad you all wore your ID cards says their leader, before activating some sort of electrocution device which sends (presumably) deadly current through each experts ID card, cue 'scream' and roll credits.

A good plot, but the humour didn't help me take it seriously or feel any of the suspense. This should have been a thrilling adventure, instead it came across as childish and silly - precisely what Doctor Who needs NOT to be if it is to survive for another 26 years.

Disappointing, and hopefully a blip because the ability of RTD's team to produce quality Doctor Who is obviously there.

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Aliens of London: So much promise in the title alone, but overall a very mixed episode with many moments of greatness but also a few moments of unfulfilled potential.

From the pre-titles teaser this episode was making me think differently about Doctor Who, or more specifically about why someone would give up on their life to randomly travel around time and space. Mostly, in the past, companions have either had no choice, or have really had something to escape from. Rose is different. Sure, her mum is annoying and her boyfriend’s a div but so what? That’s life, right? It’s great the way Russell T Davies is trying to give more depth to Rose and show that she is still connected to what she left behind. The teaser is the first chance you have to grab the audience’s attention it was pure soap opera with added time travel. After the big reunion between Rose and her mother nothing much happens except the characters shouting dialogue at each other in their front room. Yawn. At least they did it more cheerfully than on Eastenders.

Then it happens: A spaceship crash lands in the Thames taking a big chunk out of Big Ben on the way down, and it looks fantastic. Really these are some of the best effects I’ve seen on the BBC. Why this wasn’t used as the teaser I’ll never understand. Now this is where the episode really begins. London has been sealed off, there are rumours of an alien body being taken to hospital, the Prime Minister is missing and the military are trying to take charge. Perfect. So what does the Doctor do about all of this? Goes back to Rose’s flat and watches it on TV. Now the Doctor’s initial reluctance to get involved is actually quite interesting and only four episode’s in seems very ninth Doctor. However for him to then give up after one roadblock is out of character for any incarnation. There was potential here for something very interesting and Doctorish but we were dragged back into domesticity.

So far Christopher Eccleston has been a brilliant Doctor, and while his performance can’t be faulted there was something missing in Aliens of London. Some of the dialogue, the Doctor’s in particular was a bit throwaway, just to remind you he’s an alien, like when he eventually walks out of Rose’s overcrowded flat saying “it was a bit too human in there.” There were some very good Doctor moments though, chasing a pig down hospital corridors and walking in on soldiers having a tea break and then taking charge of them. Defence Pattern Delta! Wonderful. And the interaction between The Doctor and Mickey is some of the funniest dialogue I’ve heard in the series.

At last the incidental music is coming together and was the best of the new series so far. The juvenile humour can largely be overlooked,as only once was it overdone and didn’t spoil the episode. The main problem was the pacing of the story. Scenes were very short giving the impression that a lot was being crammed in but actually the opposite was true. It could have all slowed down without losing any impact and sacrificing anything. In some ways the episode was very Third Doctorish, and even UNIT are represented, in a blink and you’ll miss it kind of way. It would have been nice for more to be made of UNIT as they could have been re-introduced and updated in Aliens of London very easily, and maybe this will be picked up in part two. But I doubt it.

It all ended on the first cliffhanger of the new series, and I can’t wait to see how the Doctor gets out of this one.

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Following the introductory package of the first three episodes - present, far future and recent past - the new series finally takes a step towards what could be described as traditional Doctor Who material. Aliens landing in London causing all manner of general panic; this is the kind of thing everyone remembers as being the kind of thing Doctor Who does well. And this episode is done well... to a point.

Let us get the more contentious issue out of the way - the farting. It was always made clear, was it not, that this was a very new version of the show and we would have to get accustomed to changes earlier series would not have touched. Following the fans' moans about Sylvester McCoy's series turning into a trumped-up kid's show, no doubt the same doubts are rising about this episodes wind-breaking aliens. It was necessary to have some form of symbol to identify the aliens, but this was not really the most appropriate. It was played for laughs, not a 'half and half' between laughs and explanation, and I can only hope enough aliens have been uncovered to ensure we don't suffer the wind again.

Also covered in Aliens of London for the first time, or for the first time in such detail, was the need of the companion to return home. Rose has always had a contemporary base and she would have always needed to return home eventually. In this episode, the Doctor - that 'fantastic' really is here to stay, isn't it? - has mistakenly returned Rose back home 12 months after she left, which results in a very 'domestic drama' sub-story to the alien invasion. In touch with contemporary concerns in a way never really touched on before, there are questions of improper behaviour and Mickey - her boyfriend - was accused of Rose's murder. In one very well composed scene, the Doctor is one amongst a host of normal, loud people in a small flat and this paints the multi-layered relationship between TIme Lord and companion in a very clear way.

Rose's mother has certainly a central role in this series, as she is the one constant Earth character Rose can be sent towards/made to communicate to, to ensure the audience don't get bored of 'full on sci-fi', which this series certainly is not. Her decision to call the police with an alien landing is exactly what any concerned mother would do, and underlines how well written RTD has made so many of those characters who are not always centre screen. For the first time, we have a companion whose streetwise persona is tempered with a very domestic, natural relationship with a parent; it's like seeing Ace's mum tutting about how she's ruined a perfectly good jacket with all those badges.

The alien storyline, weaved amongst the domestic fireworks, was simplistic but did build towards the first of the new series two-part stories. Shapeshifting aliens - so realistic they don't quite fit into their new bodies hence the 'gas exchange' - have taken on the apperance of the Prime Minister, MI5 official and so on, to begin their invasion 'from the inside'. The News 24 coverage was realistic, but the bubbly presenter on the scene from the start has never been done particularly well. Was it 'Daemons' where a similar format was used? When Rose's mother reports her sighting of the Doctor and his 'blue box', a red alert is called within the bowels of Downing Street and from this a meeting is arranged of all 'alien experts'. It was certainly nice not only to see UNIT included here but the I've changed a lot since the old days line was a nicely phrased nod to the past.

The aliens - Would you mind not farting when I'm saving the world, please! - co-ordinate their unveiling with the three separate(d) groups of main characters all conveniently held within their own scenes: Penelope Wilton and Rose in the cabinet room; the Doctor and assorted experts within an internal 10 Downing Street meeting room; Rose's mother at home. The cut-away from one to other was typical Who and led to a good cliff-hanger ending. This was, of course, ruined by the taster trailer for Part II, where all the main characters were shown to be alive and well.

As a return to the kind of storyline Doctor Who has always been celebrated in making, Aliens of London was a fairly well paced episode, with only the farting and clumsy use of (the usually very good) Penelope Wilton the two minor hitches. The second part should keep this up, which I sure hope it does.

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The secret of watching the new Doctor Who series is simple. If you are perturbed by any scene, any comment,any monster...then just try and think why RTD wanted it there in the fist place. The man knows his stuff. The burping bins, the flatulent aliens that so many old-school viewers will no doubt complain about, are there for the kids. They will love imitating the Slitheen, the ET type creatures in ALIENS OF LONDON. You can imagine, and probably hear, the school playgrounds on Monday morning. And that is the magic of Doctor Who and the magic of RTD.

The star of the new series is not Christopher Eccleston it is Billie Piper. She is a revelation and I love every scene she is in. I knew she had the magic because after the first episode, I wanted to be her friend. I would have been gutted if Billie had left after one series! The scenes between Rose and Jackie are so well written and it is about time we saw the fallout from when a companion just ups and leaves there home.

People have slated Noel Clarke's performance as Mickey, but I think he is at his best when he's trying to act hard, when he so obviously isn't. The special effects, in my opinion, could not have been bettered, and when the alien turned out to be a pig, I was shocked,.disgusted then mortified. RTD made me feel so sorry for the poor creature.

Penelope Wilton and Annette Badland gave first class performances, as they always do - the guest stars have mostly been perfect.

The episode did not seem as fast paced, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was a two parter and we had a cliffhanger coming up. And what a cliffhanger it was, RTD milked it for every drop he could get out, I was literally on the edge of my seat - mainly concerned for Jackie, who I think is played spot-on brilliantly by Camille.

How lucky are we? It is now fashionable to be a Doctor Who fan again!!!

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A quandary for Russell T Davies, back in the planning stages. Rose was to be an alien invasion of contemporary London. The End of the World would do exactly what it said on the tin, a race through space five billion years in the future. The Unquiet Dead would be a ghostly adventure in period drama history. So what to do with that tricky fourth episode, once things had been set up and the polar extremes of time-travel already explored?

Easy. Another alien invasion of contemporary London... but this time with fart jokes.

Aliens of London was always aiming to feel like traditional Dr Who. As a two-parter, it matches the screen-time of a classic four-episode story. The trailers hinted at soldiers, spaceships, and women screaming in the dark. Even the title seemed to promise a retread of almost every story made in the early 70s, when Jon Pertwee would pit his wits and venusian karate against a succession of rubber monsters in the streets around BBC TV Centre. A bold move, when the series had only just dragged itself free of all those cliches to recreate itself for the twenty-first century - but then, as you might expect, Russell T's version of traditional Who isn't quite the Saturday night runaround you remember.

On first viewing at least, this is a strange story. Russell deliberately eschews the sci-fi antics for soap opera domesticity, trapping the Doctor in a flat full of screaming children where he's reduced to watching the alien invasion on TV. Much is made of Rose's life-left-behind, her relationship with the Doctor and those around her, with the actual plot left to new characters to explore (who in doing so, thankfully, are given more room to breathe than in single-episode stories). It has to be said this doesn't always work: an emotional situation is set up that's slightly too big even for a two-part story to explore, and which is therefore abandoned unconvincingly abruptly. The self-consciously domestic setting, too, gives a sense of unreality, of a lack of focus, to the bigger events of the story, although this is swiftly rectified. And there are moments when the pacing is a little off, either blipping the tension up so high the following scene feels anti-climactic (as happens when the Doctor is confronted with the helicopter), or simply by events taking up more screen-time than they justify. This is more an editing problem than a script one, with the two-episode format perhaps responsible for a loss of tightness in places, particularly in the rather distended cliffhanger, but it's noticeable. And surely someone must have noticed the Next Week preview, devised as a substitute ending for episodes without cliffhangers, utterly undercuts the tension now that there is one.

However, that's all on the first viewing, when your Inner Geek is still expecting a cliffhanger after 25 minutes, and the Brigadier to turn up with a twitchy moustache and a request for explanations. Watching it again, with those preconceptions eroded, such worries evaporate. Just as Clive in Episode One felt like a geeky-injoke-too-far for some fans, while actually forming a chilling and effective prologue to the series for new viewers, so the pacing and focus on relationships here works far better than a self-confessed fan might realise. The episode manages to balance all this with intriguing, teasing suggestions about the alien incursion, along with humour, emotion, and some genuinely scary moments. Russell T plays expertly with audience expectations (and fears of low budget nonsense) with an ingenious, unpredictable and deeply satisfying plot-twist, and even the reviled 'farting' element - greeted with outright fan-horror when slipped into previews - somehow manages to be, not silly toilet humour at all, but wonderfully sinister. The exploration of what might greet one of the Doctor's companions upon returning home will of course frighten and confuse long-term fans, who are shy, nocturnal creatures with deeply ingrained habits, and who expect such things being swept under the carpet. But this is exactly the sort of emotional realism the new series has been praised for, and rightly so.

There is, moreover, much to be admired in Aliens of London, and not limited to the grandstanding effects shot of a UFO crashing through Big Ben. The supporting cast is large and impressive, with everyone from Penelope Wilton to Andrew Marr cropping up, and, remarkably, hardly putting a foot wrong. Two actors who attracted some negative criticism in Rose return, albeit with more mixed results: Rose's mother is less convincing than on her first outing, seemingly limited to stretching out her hands at people in place of emoting; while boyfriend Mickey, now with a more interesting emotional position, is vastly improved. The incidental music is excellent throughout, the sound design and location work terrific, and the lighting isn't bad either (even if it is slightly out of sync with the sfx in one scene). But of course, that's still the sort of thing only a geek would notice. So what would a real viewer see? Spaceships, soldiers, guns, explosions, helicopters, invasions, aliens, drama, adventure, action, havoc... And, yes, rubber monsters.

With claws.

Roll on next week.

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First off I have to say that I came to this series with an open mind. I genuinely want it to succeed, I think everyone does. So why am I feeling a crushing disappointment at this moment in time.

Sure, this new series has had it's niggles, the 45 minute format quite obviously is not working, the incidental music has been rubbish to say the least, Eccleston's mugging veers dangerously close to ham acting on too many occasions, the sonic get out of jail free and, while you're at it, why not pass go screwdriver.

And then there are my personal annoyances with the series, the insistence that all no obscure references to the original series be made, so as not to confuse younger viewers, lets just make this clear, there are several million more older viewers than younger. We appreciate a bit of continuity (it doesn't take much for the younger ones to brush up, there’s plenty of quality stories on DVD and audio). The fact that special effects are not equal across the board, they can be fantastic in one episode and distinctly ropey in another, and while some of the acting has been cringeworthy, some of it, by the guest stars, has outshone the regulars. And also the fact that I am now quite safely able to predict the paths that each character will take in any given episode.

However, as I say these are personal minor niggles and haven't really affected my enjoyment of the series so far, mainly due to the fact that Unquiet Dead and End Of The World were such distinctly great scripts, even if they had plot holes I could drive a bus through (I'll be kind and ignore Rose here).

Aliens Of London, unfortunately, had plot holes I could have driven that spaceship through. Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the worst story of the series so far, and quite possibly the worst story in Who since those Comic Relief things.

We'll deal first with the blatant stupidities of the script, what was RTD thinking? Firstly, why do these aliens, who have already infiltrated the British Government (Hardly taking over the world is it?) take the trouble to do the whole Pig thing? Especially as they are bodysnatchers. Quite frankly it would have been easier (and more interesting) for them to win a ruddy election than to go through the whole evil machinations plan. Was it me or was the entire first 35 mins of this 45 min episode completely irrelevant to anything more than character development, of which there was pitifully little.

There is a reason the Doctor never ever takes his companions home, or if he does, that's it, the end of the affair. Precisely because of the reaction of Rose's family. This is a condition of entering the Tardis, the first thing that the First Doctor pushed onto Ian and Barbara. The price for wandering the Galaxy is that you become a hobo, you can't just pop home for a cup of tea whenever you feel like it. This is perhaps the worst crime the new series has committed bar one. It just takes away the whole romance of the Doctor, step into the Tardis and get whisked away on unbelievable adventure, step out and that's it, no more. And the Doctor will leave and maybe he was just a figment of your imagination all along and he'll be as sad as you but he will continue on other planets, other worlds, other times, with other companions. And in our heads, we were his only constant companion.

RTD allowing the Doctor to take Rose home just ripped out the romance and the soul of Doctor Who. It's gone, I'm not sure it can come back. His exclamation to Rose not to bring her domestic into the Tardis was simply embarassing, Camille Coduri's excruciating performance didn't help, kudos to Noel Clarke however, Mickey was just annoying this time around rather than all out pathetic. But why did the Doctor insist on calling him Ricky? Is the Doctor as petulant as all that? It was like watching jealous schoolkids, it didn't sit right, as so many things didn't.

Let's move on in this excuse for an episode (We'll ignore the fact that the Doctor should have been arrested the first time around as a kidnapper or something) lets report something positive. Penelope Wilton, gave an excellent, as always, performance.

Ok that's the positive side over and done with. It must be said that Andrew Marr also gave a great performance, but there is something seriously wrong with the BBC casting agents when he outperforms every actor on the show.

Several commentators have noticed that for all the dash and vim of this Doctor, what does he actually do?

Apart from figuring out that the so called alien was actually just a pig, lets just go over the events here, first contact is made with an alien species and the corpse is left in the care of a single med student in a minimum security and blatantly unsterile environment who can't work out that it is a pig, despite the fact that it is, actually, a pig? This from the man who promised us more realism in the show.

So The Doctor figures out that the Pig is in fact, a pig. What else did he do in this episode exactly except watch telly and avoid Rose's mum?

Ok now we come to the actual bad guys of the piece. Simple things first, their design was just utterly awful. There have been better monsters in Troma films. Secondly the CG was pretty bad, not terrible but not great by any means.

Why have a cliffhanger if you're gonna spoil it with a trailer of next week??? WHY WHY WHY!

And last but not least, just to sum up how bad this episode really is, here's a list of some of the Doctor's past foes:

1st Doctor fought Nero, The Trojans, WOTAN, Daleks and Cybermen
2nd Doctor fought Yeti, Ice Warriors, Salamander, The Macra and Krotons
3rd Doctor fought Autons, Silurians, The Master, Omega and Dinosaurs
4th Doctor fought Sutekh, Sontarans, Rutans, Zygons and Wirrin.
5th Doctor fought The Mara, Rassilon, Sea Devils, and The Black Guardian
6th Doctor fought Sil, The Rani, Androgum’s and The Valyard
7th Doctor fought The Cleaners, Kane, The Gods of Ragnarok, Mordred and Fenric
8th Doctor fought The Master and the end of the world.
9th Doctor fought fat farting aliens.

This really is an embarrassment on the scale of Dimensions in Time. Not only is RTD pulling apart they Mythos and Romance of Who, he seems to be intent on removing its dignity as well. There have been bad scripts before in Who, but never have they degenerated to the level of infantile pap that this was. They might as well have cast Matt Lucas and Peter Kay, in fact they probably should have, at least they might have been funny.

Who at its best is incredibly clever and witty, look at Tom Baker’s era. Degenerating to fart gags indicates a lack of ideas and ability. Not even the Carry On’s were that crude.

This marks the moment that I lost faith in RTD’s ability to deliver Dr Who.

The announcement of David Tennant as the 10th Doctor does not fill me with hope and smacks of an RTD love in as he just recruits his former leading men. No offence to Tennant, I’m sure he’s a great actor, but he doesn’t appear to have the physical presence to hold the role when there are great actors who could do a really credible performance who don’t even seem to get a look in. Was anyone else (Such as media favourites Nighy or Davies) ever really considered?

I shall continue to watch until the return of the Daleks, as that will be the story that this series will succeed or fail on, but it’s going to have to do a heck of a lot more to convince me now than it did before Aliens of London. To be frank, even if it’s perfect I’m not sure it can. This was a pathetic attempt to play at Who, written by fanboys with a mental age of ten and may have done irreparable damage to the esteem of the show.

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Previously, on Doctor Who....

We've marvelled at how, in reinventing the show for the 21st Century, post-Buffy, tv-savvy family audience, RTD et al have kept the show eerily familiar for us older fans. Sure, the action is faster as dictated by the 45 minute format, and the sets don't wobble, and the effects are actually effective, but the essence of the series is still that of the show we've loved for over 40 years.

But in Aliens Of London, we encounter an entirely knew concept - and a welcome one at that. Yes, over the years, many an adolescent boy has felt the first stirrings of something alien in his pants at the sight of the Doctor's companions. And yes, we've all hidden behind the sofa as the latest Little Miss Screamy is threatened by the alien of the week.

Yet, somewhat strangely, we've never really had an exploration of the aftermath of a young woman absconding with a 900-yr old timelord. OK, so there was a brief, throwaway line in Survival, but here we have a whole backstory about Rose's departure. And it works! Strangely, it fits right in with traditional Who. Set against the backdrop of an alien incursion, we hear about the 12 month search for Rose, the suspicion thrown at Mickey, and the suffering of Rose's mother. Its that classic Who mix of huge world/cosmos shattering events with a parochial subtext that has always played a big part of the show's appeal.

As for the main plot itself, its the usual high standard the new series has become synonymous with. The farting aliens wear a little, the gag is overdone a tad, but the plot twists are inventive and tidy. The cliffhanger (thank God they're back!) is right up there with Deadly Assassin Episode 3, Remembrance episode 1, and all your other favourites.

Tidy performances from the supporting cast, and a fleeting glimpse of UNIT, adds yet another success to the RTD vision of Doctor Who. And after 16 years of VHS and DVD watching, I find myself enjoying the fact I HAVE to wait seven days for the resolution. For the first time since I first heard a CND spokmesman, I'm really looking forward to World War III.

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Scuse me, do you mind not farting while I’m saving the world?

Would you prefer… silent but deadly?Doctor Who just gets better and better! Each episode so far has improved on the last – and tonight’s was the finest yet, with nine more yet to come!

A fair few of the early reviews for this episode have been the usual grouchy nit-picking we’ve come to expect from the more anal fans of this series. The pig was wrong, the farting aliens were wrong, UNIT were wrong, Ecclestone was wrong…everything was wrong, and Not proper Doctor Who.

Well, sorry, but I emphatically disagree. This series is turning out to be the best thing that ever happened to the Doctor, and it just keeps getting better and better.

At the beginning, I’ll admit I had my doubts. I wasn’t sure about Christopher Ecclestone’s performance, I thought that drama was being sacrificed for the sake of the comedy, and I was particularly worried about the 45-minute-per-story running time. Doctor Who at its best always built up the scares and the suspense, allowed characters and storylines to mature. This new incarnation seemed to be all surface bangs and flashes, with no depth to it. Three times now, whatever problem there is has been solved in the final five minutes, pretty much directly from square one.

It was all good stuff, don’t get me wrong – a fifth of the population watched that first episode, which is not to be sneezed at – but, I thought, it could be better.

And tonight, it was. The first two-part story, an opportunity to do all the things that the old series did, and do them even better. Tonight for the first time I felt that Doctor Who was really, truly back.

It was funny, scary and – a new thing for Who – quite moving as well. These characters are real people, rather than pieces to be moved around the chessboard of the plot. The scenes with Rose’s Mother and boyfriend were surprisingly realistic and affecting. When Rose’s Mum gives the Doctor a hearty slap in the face I find myself thinking, Good. I’ve been wanting to do that for the last three weeks.

The baddies – the Slitheen – are brilliant. In their human guise, all bulbous, farting and clearly having the best time taking over the world – but when their true forms are revealed they get even better. Huge, leathery, boggle-eyed creatures with enormous arms and weird, girly lips – proper aliens, not like the bumpy-forehead shit trotted out week after week by the various Star Trek franchises. Deanna Troi could never have a tragic, fifty-minute love-affair with any of this lot. (And wouldn’t it be interesting if she did?)

The pig in the spacesuit was fantastic! The first time I thought it was real, and was wondering how they’d done it. The Doctor’s reaction to its death was equally wonderful – His shout of “It was scared!” is delivered with such agonised power it sent a shiver up my spine. This is a Doctor who cares about all life (Except for the humble potato, it seems)…

A couple of other points:

  • Nice to see UNIT mentioned, even if they’re not really going to be in it, but where’s the Brigadier?
  • What’s the point of building up to a brilliant cliffhanger when you immediately show them getting out of it in the “Next episode” bit?
  • I don’t know why such a big fuss was made about the alien spaceship crashing into Big Ben – it looked like a cheap cardboard model. Watch it more than once you see the whole clock face coming off, revealing the balsa-wood behind it. A little bit crap, that.

Still, I can’t wait for next week. Everybody should be watching this series, I’m not kidding. I think that established fans should try and leave their prejudices about the old series behind them, and just enjoy the new one for what it is. Times have moved on since the late Eighties (3-4 million viewers for McCoy, remember?) Farting is allowed now. Real emotions are allowed now. Comedy (Proper comedy, rather than late-Baker pratfalls) is allowed now, and I for one say thank the Maker for that.

God, I love this series!!

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Well, that was a shock wasn't it?

After the two superb preceding episodes, I let my expectations get a little too high for this alien invasion two-parter. And instead of the exciting, expertly crafted story that I was hoping for, I got an uneven, and at times appallingly juvenile tale totally at odds with what I had already seen of the series. I really don't want to criticise, but this episode just didn't sit well with me.

My main complaints being

  • The farting aliens. I was hoping to be able to ignore this little plot point, but it was just ridiculous and frankly embarrassing. Was it really necessary? - hell no. And that's all I'm going to say on the matter for fear on rambling on for a good few pages worth.
  • The cliff-hanger. It was great but completely pointless given that the preview of the next episode followed immediately showing that all the characters were fine and well. How are kids meant to get excited about the next episode then? A real missed opportunity.
  • The Doctor. I'm sorry to say that this is the first episode so far in which I felt Christopher Eccleston's performance was distinctly lacking. I was hoping that the grinning madman from the first story would have grown a bit by now and become more of a solid, well-rounded character but Eccleston's Doctor has barely changed. There is just no urgency to the situation when he's always laughing and exclaiming fantastic! (Why does he have to say this in every episode?, he said it twice last time, it's almost as if Chris had a bet with the production team to see how often he could slip it into conversation. The Doctor's verbal retort's have always been much more varied and interesting than that). I know that he wants to prove that he can do comedy and be a versatile performer, but I just don't think he can sustain the character with such a light-hearted approach, there needs to be more to him than that, so lets hope that Chris has the opportunity to inject some of that grit and darkness that he's so famous for, as after viewing this, that's obviously what he does best.

The acting in this story also seemed a littler below par, it looked like a lot of the cast thought they were making a kids show, and I felt Penelope Wiltion's character was irritating and somewhat superfluous to the plot although she'll no doubt save the day in the next episode, I expect it's the only reason she was there in the first place. A shame since Wilton is a fine actress capable of so much more, but the part just wasn't that well written.

And finally I'm beginning to have serious doubts about Russell T. Davies ability as a writer. I've never thought that he was the genius that we've been told he is, but was more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt considering his obvious passion for the show. But sadly it seems there only so much he can contribute, and this episode was really all over the place. His writing style is very much like a soap opera as has already been commented on, and I agree with what some have already said in that he doesn't write Sci-Fi very well. I by no means think he is a bad writer, but the odd witticism and contemporary reference aside there ain't much else going on. I think he may have bitten off more than he can chew here, in the number of episode's he has written, and considering Mark Gatiss' superior contribution last week, it would be nice to see a bit more variety in the writing team. Needless to say I can't wait for Rob Shearman's 'Dalek'.

Although there is a lot in 'Aliens of London' that irritated me, overall I still enjoyed it.

Unlike a lot of other people I thought the pig in the spacesuit was brilliant! totally unexpected and very well done, it's just a shame that he er.. bit the bullet so quickly.

Billie Piper too was excellent, her performance just keeps getting better and she has been one of the best things in the whole series so far. Oddly it was also quite nice to see Jackie and Mickey again, I was actually looking forward to see what was going to happen to them this time around, and I especially liked the bickering between Mickey and The Doctor. The special effects were generally superb as well, the spaceship, space-pig and zip in the Slitheen disguise were very well done, although the Slitheen themselves at times tended to have their heads flapping in a rather unconvincing manner, despite being generally quite cool-looking enemies. Mike Tucker did a damn fine job on Big Ben too, but the sequence felt too brief and should have been elongated to maximise the effect.

There was a lot to like here but sadly a lot to complain about too, despite the overall episode being enjoyable. I have too admit that this is my least favourite story yet, but on the other hand my 16 year old sister who has been casually watching the series, said it was by far her favourite episode yet! so I guess it's all relative. Either way I'm not going to allow a few odd annoyances tarnish what otherwise looks like a bloody good series.

It will be 'Dalek' that makes it or breaks it for me, and d'you know what? I'm still very optimistic, in fact I think it'll be fantastic!

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Don’t you dare make this place domestic.

Why didn’t RTD take his own advice when he wrote those words? Aliens of London had all the promise of a great Doctor Who story but failed. But why did it fail when episodes 2 and 3 showed great things for this new series?

A great place to start is the pig. It highlights everything that RTD gets wrong when he writes an Earth based story. Instead of finding humour in the situation that is happening, he grafts slapstick humour onto it in the same way that the aliens graft a pigs head onto a bipedal body to disguise it. Let face it, after the 10th fart from an evil alien supposedly hell bent on world domination it’s no longer amusing, it’s very annoying!

When RTD is faced with the reality of present day Earth he no longer has the same pallet of the bizarre and the extraordinary to draw upon. What he needs to remember is that we’re in the age of “Shrek” where family entertainment can pitch to more than one level. We are far more sophisticated than the audience that watched “Doctor Who” 15 years ago. Don’t forget that this is family viewing, and at 7pm on a Saturday it’s the parents who have the remote control. If you lose that part of the audience you risk losing all of it. Furthermore, what becomes even more annoying is his overwhelming desire to make every situation funny. My biggest piece of advice to RTD is – if there is something funny in the situation, use it. If the situation is not funny then please don’t graft on the slapstick humour, as it’s very lazy writing.

The second problem with episode four is this inclusion of domestic drama. While RTD is obviously pitching the farting to the 4 and under, he’s trying to add drama for the adults to latch onto. Please DON’T do it! If we want domestic drama we have a number of soaps that do it far better. On a Saturday evening I want flights of fantasy, but instead I got a very poor episode of the Demon Headmaster crossed with Hollyoaks.

Unfortunately we are seeing a very obvious trend here. If you want to see classic “Doctor Who” then don’t watch any of the present day earth-based episodes penned by RTD. On a more possitive note however, hidden between these rather weak stories are some classic gems, and I guess that’s how “Doctor Who” always was.

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I’ve seen this episode twice now and I must say I’m still not sure if I like it or not. I have tried to place myself in the shoes of those who are now the target audience for the show and yes, the farting politicians, the little piggy and so on would probably do a good job of lulling me into a false sense of security before the Slitheen reveal themselves at the episode's climax... but then again....

Having said that, I do believe RTD is a clever writer - and there is much to be applauded in this episode. In my opinion however the script for The End of the World is far superior. It is so clever much of it was surely lost on the junior members of the WHO audience... but that’s another review for another time. At first it all seems safe and traditional - Aliens invade London, the Doctor is there, as is UNIT and it should all work out nicely.... but in true RTD style (well what we've seen in WHO terms thus far), just when you think you've worked it all out, the plot (and this time there is a bit more meat to it), spins and turns in the other direction - as we soon discover with the pig and the Doctor tracking the course of the space craft.

And what of the pig? Well effect-wise it looked a bit silly... I grinned to myself when I saw it. But again if I were a little kid I would be shocked and then quite sad that it had been killed... so again maybe RTD is on the money! I mean the farting DOES make sense - it is just over done and the pig did just look like a little actor running around in a costume.... despite the fact the script (again!) could justify it. (Hmmm, me thinks I’m getting old!)

The Rose returns sub-plot is good. This is familiar RTD territory. If you have seen Queer as Folk, you'll recognise the type of humour he injects into the scenes with the housing estate people. But I fear that the Doctor gets a bit swallowed up in all this.. and as such Eccleston looks very out of place. OK, I know what you’re thinking, he leaves saying ,i>It is all a bit too human in there.... What I am referring to is his character overall. Missing is the commanding presence of Pertwee. Or the feeling you got with Baker that despite the fact he was bumbling around, he actually KNEW what was going and how to fix it. In The Unquiet Dead, it is Dickens who comes up with the solution, while the Doctor is too busy lamenting the fact he and Rose haven’t done the dirty yet ! Eccleston seems to grin an awful lot and look lost. I seem to recall much publicity saying his Doctor would be dark and brooding. We've seen glimpses of it, but not enough to make me think this Doctor is the best by far, as many have proclaimed.

Billie Piper still does well as Rose (although she struggled with her reaction to the emerging Slitheen at the end of the episode), as does most of the supporting cast. The direction could be tighter, as the episode sags a little in the middle. Perhaps it is the family melodrama that unravels. Its funny, having now got used to the 45 minute, single episode format, going to a double episode story seems to slow things down a bit. Here in Australia we are currently experiencing another re-run of the original series. I have been able to watch a four parter and then watch one of the new single episode stories and compare.... it is quite a contrast. I would have to say, I’m now very much in favour of the new format.

Look, don’t get me wrong it is all there. It is entertaining, and exciting for the most part. The average, non-fan member of the audience will enjoy it... families will sit around the TV and laugh together at the farting, Mums and kids will be sad when the pig gets shot and so on. But this episode is a definite step backwards from episodes two and three. One hopes that WWIII will turn things around....

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As one of the hallowed band who watched the very first ‘Dr. Who’ episode - 'An Unearthly Child' - as a school kid back in 1963, I came to the new series with high expectations. My taste has always run to escapist/adventure TV. Whilst I personally rated ‘Dr. Who’ below shows like 'The Avengers' (Diana Rigg era) 'The Invaders' and the early series of 'Buffy' I've long been a Who fan. I felt there was a big void in British TV drama without the doctor. Admittedly, my interest in the show waned through the 80s. After the peak of Tom Baker I felt Peter Davidson was a little bland, Colin Baker unlikeable and Sylvester McCoy just silly. But the re-emergence of the show with Christopher Eccleston at the helm augured well.

Alas, the Eccleston series is proving no better than McCoy’s; indeed they seem to be repeating the same mistakes: an ineffectual doctor lacking gravitas over-shadowed by a feisty young sidekick, and stories that are not taken seriously, and don’t deserve to be. Has the show ever hit a lower point in 42 years than the farting jokes of ‘Aliens of London’? Whilst earlier series were derided for wobbly sets and bubble-wrap special effects at least the scripts tried for quality.

I was hoping Eccleston (who has proved himself an excellent actor in other productions) would bring a combination of freshness and a dark, brooding edge to the role. Instead the scripts give him nothing to do except play comic sidekick to Billie Piper. His trademark grin is rapidly becoming tiresome. Who says the show has to be played for laughs all the time? ‘Dr. Who’ is drama; the laughs are incidental. Even in the most promising episode so far – the Charles Dickens one – the mystery is solved by Dickens and most of the decisive action taken by Dickens and Rose. The Rose character is more interesting than the doctor but she’s got to develop beyond moaning about boyfriends, doing her ‘A’ levels etc. and exhorting the doctor to become more touchy-feely.

I agree with other commentators that the show doesn’t work in a single-episode format, for all the reasons they give – there’s insufficient time to set the scene, develop character, add plot twists, build tension etc. ‘Dr. Who’ was always a direct descendant of the ‘Flash Gordon’-type serials and really needs a cliff-hanger to work towards.

But the main problem has to be the scripts, and particularly those of Russell T. Davies. I’m not familiar with his other work but if he’s the best writer in British T.V. drama then God help us! With ‘Dr. Who’ he seems to be attempting to ape ‘Buffy’ but has so far failed to match any of the wit or style of that show at its best. Davies seems more at home with the soap opera aspects of his scripts; in ‘The End of the World’ there was a lapse into quite mawkish sentimentality for example. His excursions into sci-fi feel like add-ons or parodies, attempts at a genre he isn’t comfortable with or can’t take seriously. And that’s the point.

Watch the best of this kind of stuff – early ‘Buffy’, the Rigg-period ‘Avengers’, the best of ‘Dr. Who’ such as ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ - and see how seriously all concerned take it. The premise may have been absurd, it was only escapism and yet the cast played it like it was Shakespeare. So disbelief was suspended, however crackers the plot. In contrast Davies seems to be the first to be mocking his own stories.

This is a fairly negative review and I hope things improve, although replacing Eccleston with David Tennant seems more likely to reinforce the weaknesses of the present series. But if anyone thinks I’m being too harsh, I’d ask them to compare the Davies episodes shown so far with ‘The Unearthly Child’. Nothing illustrates more clearly how dumbed-down and derivative British TV drama has become than contrasting the present series with the very first show back in 1963.

‘The Unearthly Child’ was – and 42 years on, still is - challenging television. In no way does it dumb down for its young audience. The doctor (as portrayed by William Hartnell) is an interesting but difficult and complex character and the script is far more layered and intelligent than anything we’ve seen in 2005. Acting and direction are better too!

If I was in charge of the show I’d have Anthony Head as the doctor and Alyson Hannigan and Nicholas Brendon as his sidekicks. I’d ditch the single episode format, bring back the cliff-hanger endings, and draft in some American scriptwriters and directors to give the show the wit, pace and depth it presently lacks. In the meantime I’ll keep watching the old ones!

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The new series of Doctor Who has thankfully gone from strength to strength in the recent weeks. The inaugural episode, Rose, was flawed but decent, and nonetheless received a rapturous reception; the special effects extravaganza of End of the World was substantiated by a decent script; The Unquiet Dead enjoyed some superlative acting, particularly in its depiction of an enervated Charles Dickens.

Does Aliens of London successfully maintain this upward trend? I regret to say that it doesn't quite satisfy this ambition - the episode itself is strong, but this positive aspect is undermined by several niggling faults that irritate the viewer and cause the final product to seem somewhat awkward.

There are a number of factors which recommend the adventure as another reliably strong performance. The direction is effective, particularly when the Doctor is rounded up by the Army - the scene feels almost cinematic! Acting also remains a positive quality of the new Who, even in the supporting characters: the paratrooper who shoots the decoy 'alien', for instance, gives an impeccable and convincing gaze of bewilderment and incredulity - as well you might when a squealing, costumed, bipedal pig is careering towards you at full tilt. The script also is effective - the entire great news sensation of an alien crash-landing being naught save an elaborate piece of theatre was original, and the dialogue still retains a delightful charm. This is particularly true with the snide remark belittling the tourism-trashing tendencies we see in disaster films like Independence Day (of course the spaceship crash was staged... well, why else would it gouge a chunk out of Big Ben?), a line which couldn't fail to bring a smile gleaming across my face. Another smirk-worthy aspect was one of the actual aliens complaining about the 'effort' of maintaining his disguise in front of both his wife and his mistress (hot work, I'm sure). The closing line, thank you for wearing your ID cards... it'll make it easier for us to identify the bodies. was also dripping in chilling macabre menace. Furthermore, it is encouraging to see that Russel T Davies is not divorcing the new series from what went before - the Doctor being known to H.M. Government and the mentioning of U.N.I.T. were just small fillips of continuity tossed to the fans, but warmly welcomed nonetheless.

Yet the cracks in this otherwise stout performance are all too apparent. The special effects floundered here somewhat - the aforementioned paratrooper's rifle seemed more like a wimpish and limp cap-gun than a deadly piece of military hardware, and the disguise-shedding sequence of the aliens at the episode's climax was also dreadful. The former is only a nitpick, true, and the latter must be forgiven because there's only so much that can be achieved with limited television budgets (and Auntie's shoestring ones, no less). What is less forgiveable though are the aliens themselves. Placing zips in the forehead was positively cringeworthy, and the absurd and pathetic baby-face did not juxtapose well with a lumbering frame and wickedly-apiculated talons. Their collars destroy the image further by making them look more like household pets rather than harrowing and hideous monstrosities. Altogether, a botched job.

The flaws extend themselves into the script. Micky, Rose's boyfriend, is as lifeless and excruciatingly monotonous as he was in the first episode; whilst Doctor Who may be ultimately a children's programme, the alien flatulence was becoming rather too puerile; there were a few sections which absolutely screamed Plot Device!. The Cabinet meeting being cancelled because they'd get in the way? The door to the Cabinet office being left wide open? The prime Minister's body being left in a cupboard rather than being destroyed? The Royal Family suddenly being airbrushed out of their due involvement in an international crisis? I understand that the new Who's streamlined format necessitates the cutting out of some details, but these 'conveniences' seemed rather silly to say the least.

Altogether, at the core of Aliens of London there is a decent episode, but surrounding it are rough, unrefined edges that just prevent it from being great. Had the adventure just been more a little more polished, it would have been excellent.

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Aliens of London was a real mixed bag for me. It featured both some of the best and some of the worst moments of television that I have seen. This episode both thrilled and upset me. Unfortunately, it is the negative feelings that tend to stay with us. And this episode of Doctor Who may leave a sour taste in my mouth for some time.

On the plus side, the Doctor returns to earth with Rose and we get a much anticipated reunion between Rose and her family. These scenes were so much fun. I loved seeing the Doctor struggle with the little boy over the remote. Another favorite moment occurs when you realize that no one in Rose's family thinks to call Mickey (not even Rose). The corresponding silence that falls over the room upon his entrance creates a wonderfully awkward moment.

The scene with the Doctor in the hospital was also great fun, as the Doctor barked orders in authoritative fashion and the soldier boys fell instantly in line ready to obey. The pig in the space suit evolved from silly to genuinely creepy as the truth of the creature is revealed.

This was all great Doctor Who. Loved it! But apparently in order to enjoy this new series of Doctor Who, one must take the bad with the good. I think back to the days before the new series began, to the anticipation that we all felt. Hungrily we devoured snippets of information from the news or the web. I remember Russell T. Davies in an interview stating gleefully that Doctor Who was the best idea in the history of the world ever! And of Christopher Eccleston who stated in interviews that it is the incredible writing talents of Russell T. Davies that has lured this high profile actor into the role.

These are the things that go through my mind as I watch a scene of 3 giggling overweight adults farting in an embarrassing and obnoxious display that pushes one uncomfortably out of the fantasy that is Doctor Who. Suddenly, I'm not a spectator peeking through his TV set into the life and adventures of the Doctor and Rose. I am a man sitting in his living room, scowl on my face, looking apologetically over to my wife who wears an equally pronounced expression of discomfort.

My wife had already noted absently aloud that, Fat people are bad guys... My wife and I are both overweight, but usually things like this can be ignored. However, fat, sweaty, flatulent and obnoxious is difficult to ignore. These were the villains of the piece. Presumably so portrayed because this is the way these aliens perceive humanity. One alien complains of the gas noises and the other proclaims that it seems very human to him.

What is Russell T. Davies trying to say? In Rose the Doctor typifies the human race by saying that all we do is sit around, eat fatty food, and watch television. In The End of the World we get Cassandra, who is the result of the human desire to achieve thinness through surgery. She is also the villain of the piece. Now we have this, alien invaders who see humans as fat, flatulent pigs.

What soap box is Davies on, and to whom is he preaching? Perhaps he hopes to raise the social profile of Doctor Who fandom by alienating all its overweight members and literally thinning the herd? Perhaps I am reading too much into this. Doctor Who is meant to be a family show, and Davies is making an effort to put something in for the kiddies.

Let's see, in three episodes we have: burping, spitting and farting. These apparently are the elements of a family show. As I recall, Doctor Who was originally created as a children's show. So I put in my video of An Unearthly Child and I give it a quick review. Burping? No. Spitting? No. Farting? No. Maybe Davies' vision is just a reflection of the times. I look to the new series itself for answers. Nope. No burping, spitting or farting in The Unquiet Dead. This is just about Davies.

Is this what Davies thinks a family show is? Talking down to our children? Catering to their crasser natures? Telling them that it is funny to spit in a young woman's face? Is this the writing that attracted Chris Eccleston to the role? Is this what drove him away? Okay, now I am ranting, and I must apologize. The trouble is I owe Russell T. Davies an enormous debt of gratitude. He brought back Doctor Who. This is something that I had all but given up on. For this I say thank you. And because of this I forgive the rudeness that populates Aliens of London.

There is good stuff in this episode. And the good is so good that I can abate my anger and wait anxiously for next week. But I wish someone could tell me why there is a need for the 'bad' part of Doctor Who. What purpose has been served by feeding this neophyte Doctor Who audience these doses of bile alongside our helpings of genuine brilliance? Why must I take the bad with the good?

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Well, I guess we had to have a cringeworthy moment or two at some point in the series otherwise it wouldn't be the full Dr Who experience!

Like many others, I thoroughly enjoyed the first part of this episode; the alien crash landing, the news reports (the Blue Peter interruption had me laughing out loud) and of course the wonderful dialogue between Rose and the Doctor. These two are fast becoming my favourite TARDIS team as they play off each other so well. It is so refreshing for the series to explore more deeply the back story of a companion and the ramifications of their actions in disappearing with the Doctor.

And then we have the Slitheen - ready to join the ranks of the Garm, the Myrka, The Ergon (insert your favourite woeful monster here) as a failed realisation of a monster idea. Then again, my main problem was less with the poor realisation of these creatures (lets face it, they were still more impressive than many monsters in the classic series- just not up to par in this one) but more with the way they seem to be in the wrong story.

This episode encouraged me at first that we were finally going to see Dr Who deal with the concept of aliens visiting London realistically. The destruction of Big Ben, news reports, Number 10 in a panic, I was enjoying the realism in this approach. Lets face it, Dr who has been pretty woeful on this score before - explaining away Dalek spaceships landing in a London playground as humanity's capacity for self deception always rankled me. Here was a much more effective approach - one we could relate to should we ever see a spaceship fly overhead.

But all these efforts at realism were destroyed by turning the aliens into a farce. If the aliens had been written with a more serious undercurrent, this episode could have been truly chilling. As it was, the farting and overacting sucked the tension out of the whole scenario, destroying all the wonderful suspense built in the first half.

And was I the only one who thought the cliffhanger was drawn out? Yes we get the point, you don't need to cut between the three scenes ten times to show us the same information. All three groups threatened by monsters. Got it. I hate to say it, but I was almost relieved when the titles came up because the cliiffhanger had been flagged about a full minute before it actually occurred and I was just waiting for them to finally admit it.

So far the weakest episode of the series (End of the World being one of my fave Dr Who stories EVER). Lets hope the slitheen can regain some respect in the next episode, although I suspect the jump between CGI creatures chasing around Number 10 and the more clumsy and obviously animatronic models is going to be rather jarring.

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And so the adventure continues for the Doctor and Rose.......

Each of the new season stories so far have managed to be nicely different from each other and this was no exception. The Unquiet Dead was always going to be a hard act to follow and this one, for me, did not beat it, but nonetheless there was much to like.

First the positives. I was deeply looking forward to a two parter simply in order to watch a story that didn't have to be wrapped up in 45 minutes via a handy vial of antiplastic, handy lever, or handy maid with second sight. Joy. That said, we have still to see how this story winds itself up but at least we have more of it! I am not against the new 45 minute format- all the episodes to date have nicely combined action and depth and whilst with parts one and three at least, I would have liked more time, it does have to be said that the padding that bedevilled some classic series stories is noticeably absent.....but it's just nice to have a story with more time.

Bringing Rose home was a nice touch- we have rarely been allowed to see how the Doctor's dipping in and out of human life affects the world around him in quite such a raw way as here. The error in the timing of Rose's homecoming and the subsequent embitterment of Roses' Mum and Mickey built up very well though it seemed odd that straight after being accused of abduction the Doctor was companiably watching TV with the family! Wouldn't he at least be taken in for questioning!?? Did something go on to alleviate this that we have yet to see...? Maybe the intent is that we fill in the gaps ourselves.

The alien quality of the new Doctor makes him an awkward presence- understandably he doesn't want to be involved in domestics when there's a bigger picture at stake- his exasperated look as Roses' Mum gets excited about a potential date while aliens put the world in crisis was a nice touch again- but his complete lack of empathy and constant rudeness may become annoying if left undeveloped by the mutual education that this Doctor/Companion team are supposed to be bringing. Whilst a kind of apology is made in Roses' flat, it seems un-Doctor like for him to not care about what Mickey (for one) has been through. That said, of course, the big picture of this season is intriguing....a Time Lord hardened by the loss of his world, carrying (perhaps) the burden of his extinct race, so desperate to keep saving the big world he loses sight of small details and lacks patience with people's parochial views of themselves and their world. The combination of the big worldview and the care of the individual is what has always marked the Doctor though, and I look forward to seeing how things pan out with this. Despite my mixed views on where we are at the moment with this aspect of RTD's Dr Who, there was unquestionably a need, after sixteen years with only one episode in the meantime, to rediscover our hero as an alien who the new generation of viewers could gradually get to know a la Hartnell. Overall the quality of the concept is what the Colin Baker era tried and failed to do. It's also understandable that his new, deeper loneliness would make him latch onto Rose with her open spirit and willingness to grow into a new horizon, but reject her smaller minded contemporaries as allies. Nonetheless, he could do with showing a little more care and awareness. Of course, this could all be answered in part two!!!

Moving on. The story in general built up well. We have not yet been shown how the aliens infiltrated parliament , but that's not a problem. There's time yet. The news reports etc were well injected into the flow of things and we got a real sense of England on a knife edge. The support acting from Noel Clarke, Camille Camouri and Penelope Wilton was of a high standard. The hospital/morgue scenes with the tension of holding the as yet unseen alien were excellent, and the augmented pig, with the underlying decoy idea, was a nasty concept hidden behind a comical manifestation. Good stuff. The Doctor's instantly taking command of the army was neat, very Tom Baker, and his concern as the pig was shot was nice too. A nice touch that could do, as previously mentioned, do with attaching itself to his affect on humans. At this point in time it seems to have been very easy to turn human bodies into zipped disguises given the quickness of the Army leader's transformation but again we still have more to see. Finally, a triple cliffhanger with Rose, Mum and Doctor all under attack in different places....what can I say? Sheer class!!!!! At first sight the slitheen looked a bit unconvincing but look better as they gain full size and lollop about a bit.

The alienised politicians made a mixed impression on me. These are creatures who are clearly having a gleeful time playing with their human cadavers and being ahead of everyone else and that's fine. In general the menace hidden behind a frivolous edge worked. That said their mass laughing scene was embarrassing and the flatulence- out of place, embarrassing, juvenile and borderline offensive. Nice touch to show a symptomatic problem with possession of humans but doing it this way was unfunny.

So there we go. In general, a good intriguing 45 minutes. Here's to part two. And the rest.

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To the tune of ‘Drunken Sailor’ Traditional English rhyme.

Structure based on ‘What shall we do with a Grumpy Teacher?’ by A. Ahlberg.

What shall we do with a gurning Doctor?

Give ‘im an adventure to quickly ‘sort a’

Give him corny pigs to slowly slaughter

And a grieving Mum missing her daughter.

Earl –eye in the farm-yard.

Oooh Aagh - on he races

Pull-ing silly faces.

With Rose so he chases

To save all our bacon!

What shall we do with an awkward Doctor?

Stick him in a TARDIS always broken,

Lumber him with a girl Cockney spoken.

Land him in estates run down as token

Of the human farmyard.

What shall we do with a smug smug Doctor?

Tie him up in political plotline 

Put him in Parliament with farting porcine

Sadly use fat actors for cheap buffoon swines!

Early in the evening.

By eck -he’s my hero

By gum -just like Nero

Why doth he fiddle so?

In man’s affairs gurning!

What shall we do with under-eight children

Tell ‘em the next Doctor has smaller ears!

Teach crying kiddies the meaning of fear, 

Promise ‘em a tall settee from IKEA?

Earl-eye in the evening! 

What shall we do menace and fear?

Subvert them with farts to force undue calm.

Give monsters childish faces -too much charm? 

So sad Doctor’s wisecracks soften alarm

Earl-eye in the evening!

Bang Bang his poor hammer

Wrong date- needs a spanner

To mend his mean manner

In nice Tardis growing.

What shall we do with an angry Doctor

Bore him with sub-plot strangely domestic

Weave in complicated Mum, Mick or Rick

To confuse kids, and his trusted sidekick 

Earl-eye in the evening!

What do you do with a tetchy Doctor?

Give him a taste of family phonecard chatter

Trap him (AND US) with TV till he gets sober.

At LAST! He became independently bolder

Waking up this story! 

Rose Rose you seek meaning

Rose, Rose’s questions teeming 

Rose, Rose’s loving feeling

To a Doctor lonely!

What shall we do with an eager Doctor?

Make him tell others to ‘shup up’ nastily 

Suggest his sexual impropriety--

Themes my child shouldn’t hear on the settee

Earl-eye in the evening?

What shall we do with a Doctor scuppered? 

Put him in blue and unzip a big head

Place Mum, Rose and us all in dread

And spoil the wait with a trailer instead! 

Early-eye Auntie own goal.

Quick there- with your zips

When your gas chamber rips

Too slow expending farts

And you’ll be inflating!

Alternative chorus

Doc-tor, Who has begun

Doc-tor Who full of fun,

Time-Lord you’re a rum ‘un

Good ninth, new life dawning!

P.S There was a real French board game called ‘Pigs in Space’

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In Dr. WHO’s past, companions would arrive back on Earth after a year or two away, to be met with a brief where’ve you been?, only to be brushed off with an instant request for supper or the like. This was more realistic - Rose’s pictures up as a Missing Person, with Mickey questioned as a murder suspect.

Russell T. Davies’ evocation of a UFO crash-landing into the Thames after having nipped into the Big Ben was completely fresh, bold, daring - post 9/11, hence contemporary. The image of the Big Ben impact received a lot of coverage and will I’m sure remain in the Top 100 Iconic moments of DR. WHO of all time.

Elsewhere, the script was fast-paced and visual. Only a moment prefaced The Doctor leading the U.N.I.T.? soldiers through the double doors (an Eccleston moment this) onward.

The domestic scene of The Doctor fighting for control of the TV remote in Jackie’s lounge to catch BBC News 24 bulletins of the UFO was just great. I caught the bulletins for this episode first on the website and I was very impressed. They were played completely straight, as Kenneth Kendall and Alex MacIntosh had done previously - mostly in the Pertwee era.

While The Doctor’s no stranger to earnest BBC news coverage of alien invasions (how many years has it been?) The Doctor’s having to “do domestic” in a sustained way for the very first time. He wasn’t even around when Benton & Yates were making corned beef sandwiches. Jackie (& Mickey) see inside the TARDIS. Jackie promptly calls the hotline and reports the Doctor as an alien. But far from being entangled in red tape, he's rescued by an Internet search engine - only to discover than the sinister Slitheen want all the experts in one room to electrocute.

The Doctor & Rose being feted in a chauffeur- driven limo to No 10 brought back memories when our leading man was an Establishment Darling - Hartnell in “THE WAR MACHINES” & Jon Pertwee - before Tom Baker rebelled against the thought of tea at the Palace and became a Bohemian again.

I personally thought the farting aliens wouldn’t have been passed by JNT for Season 24 or even Tom Baker in his wilder excesses, but the strength of the production as a whole reduced them to only a ‘passing embarrassment’. It was clear these were aliens having trouble adapting to human bodies. I experience this myself from time to time...

The overweight Regional politician was clearly John Prescott, so expect him to land a knock-out blow. And the PM who fell from the closet bore more than a passing resemblance to Tony Blair. Since this is set a year on from now, I do hope not.

The cliff-hanger was extended and played for all it was worth. The Slitheen worked to script as appearing either cute or menacing.

Personal Rating: 9 and a half / 10 (shame about the farts).

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I am an American fan of Doctor Who. I first watched Tom Baker grin his way through nightmarish situations as a teenager on my local PBS station, back when the U.S. had only three network channels, and PBS was about intelligent alternative (read: British) programming. I loved it. It led me to conventions, to Pertwee and Davidson, to Troughton, Hartnell, Colin Baker and McCoy. Then life came along. College, marriage, a child, divorce, a career... life. And then I discovered that there were novels. The New Adventures from Virgin. The Past Adventures. And the McGann FOX movie. Doctor Who was not forgotten by the fans, or by intelligent writers and filmmakers. For all the flaws of the tv movie, I loved it. The glorious Jules Verne Tardis. The relatively subdued, yet classic costume. The Virgin books. Lungbarrow, Dying Days. The BBC books. Interference, Ancestor cell The audio books! The voices of classic Doctors once again coming through the air. My god, how cool was that?

And then the Scream of the Shalka. A new Doctor. Not what I'd hoped for. A little silly really. Not the fault of the performers, but the story.... just didn't work for me. But there was a new Doctor!

So, this little ramble is building up to this. I got to watch the first four episodes of the new Davies and Eccleston Doctor Who back to back, and while I know that the other episodes remaining in this first season have been filmed, or are in process, I have to say this:

I am concerned. Aliens of London. I suppose this is the episode that really made it clear to me. Rose: introduction to the new series. Not perfect, sure, but full of promise. he End of the World: better, and containing a sense of something that Farscape had in spades and Enterprise completely failed to have: a sense of wonder. Of awe. Of being overwhelmed. The Unquiet Dead: Classic BBC magic. A period piece, looking great, feeling great, and Simon Cowell. Excellent.

But here's what isn't working. While Rose is perhaps the best televised companion, for sheer reaction to what is happening to her and around her (negative reactions especially), Eccleston's Doctor is still uneven. Not bad. Not at all. But kind of one note so far. He smiles, he laughs, and he glares, but it all feels the same. But hey, it's only four episodes in. None of the actors, except Hartnell who created the role, seemed to have things quite in line as they later would in their early episodes. So, hopeful there.

The Tardis. While I am a huge fan of the art of Bryan Hitch, the artist who designed the new Tardis interior, the bicycle pump is ridiculous. For diety's sake. This is a Time Lord. I like the more alien, semi organic feel, but c'mon Mr. Davies. A touch more respect for the most important set/prop/nonspeaking character.

Rose and the Doctor: While I really didn't have the problems some did with McGann's tendency to snog Grace, I did view it as a post regeneration state of affairs, as did the writers who continued the eighth Doctor's story. While I applaud and embrace the fact that Rose is a better and real companion, I watch the new show and think: ok, just get it over with. Russell. The Doctor isn't human. He's NOT HUMAN. The best episodes of any incarnation had moments where this was shining through. And we were jarred by them. Are we tossing out the shocking display of real alien-ness that episodes like Remembrance of the Daleks showed us? Letting Cassandra wither away is hardly in the same range. the morality speech from The Unquiet Dead was great, but the no domestics bit... well, no. And the laying on the floor looking like the two of them just rolled off the console together, well. Hmm. Making the companion more of partner, fine. Making her a romantic partner in even the most minor of senses is appalling. The Doctor is lonely. We all know this. It's part of his character. But not that kind of lonely. He's not human.

Specifically for Aliens of London: ok, got the fact that the farting bit was the bodies of our villains having problems with their disguises. Ok. Amusing the one time. Then bloody annoying. The pig. Great idea, handled well. It was scared. Very much the Doctor. Bravo Chris. The UNIT, and the Doctor has a way with the military bits? Too little, too vague, and quite simply don't make any sense. The Doctor has interacted with UNIT for what? 5 of his incarnations? And he ends up watching the events unfold on the TV? And this is more realistic? Some nutter shows up and calls out a attack plan that anyone could have pulled from a Clancy novel and doesn't get shot by a bunch of soldiers or arrested? More realistic?

Aaarrrrgghhh.

There was this thing. It was called the Cartmel Master Plan. It was about reintroducing the sense of mystery and wonder back into the Doctor. It didn't come to pass with the original series, because it was too little, too late. Elements were incorporated into the novels, and we all went oh my god. We do see hints here. The Last of the Time Lords. The Death of Gallifrey. The Time War. These are positives.

Here's what needs to happen, in my oh so humble opinion: Russell and the lads and ladies behind this show need to remember that the audience is smart. The kids are smart. The grownups are smart. Treat us that way. No fart jokes. No companion/Doctor sexual tension. Make the show scary. I keep hearing that this is what we will be seeing. Hiding behind the sofa, right? Scare us. Thrill us. We have a Doctor, a Tardis, and a companion. We have had the X-Files, Ultraviolet, Farscape, Buffy, and the Virgin and BBC books since the series went off the air. It might be a family show, but families are made of adults too. Treat the audience with respect, and see that you remain true to the core of the character. Learn the lessons of Enterprise. Some scary parallels here. Both shows have built in audiences. Both have roots in decades of stories. One is cancelled, because the people who made the show simply failed to treat their audience as if they mattered. I'd hate to see the Doctor go that way.

But as I said, I am concerned...

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It seems strange reviewing a story that hasn’t reached it’s conclusion but, film critics had to do it with the Lord of The Rings trilogy so why not the latest Doctor Who story?

With a two part story, there’s more time for many different plotlines in comparison to the previous single story episodes. Many fans who’ve complained about the apparent brevity of the single episode storylines, will no doubt be delighted with the complexity of this story.

Some may not be delighted however with farting aliens. But for these fans who have had a sense of humour bypass (no doubt the same ones who vehemently criticised Christopher Eccleston’s departure) may I point out, this is science fiction; aliens may exist and if they do, who knows, maybe they do fart? Anyway it’ll have the kids laughing and help to lessen the impact of the horror…

Once again, the special effects were very special. From the Slitheen to the spaceship crashing into Big Ben, this was a Doctor Who that was light years away from bubble-wrap Wirrn and cannibalised spaceships from old Gerry Anderson series. The superb and rather scary effect of the Slitheen peeling back their foreheads will no doubt cause anyone under the age of eight to be terrified of flatulent fat middle-aged people.

And as for Excuse me, do you mind not farting while I’m trying to save the world? What a wonderful line!

And what about an alien that looks like a pig? Just when you’re all thinking how daft a pig running down a hospital corridor looks, the plot revelation that it really is a pig, albeit genetically engineered to pilot a spacecraft, is one more novel twist in this complex and (so far) clever story.

As well as the sci-fi thrills, Aliens of London deals with a blatantly obvious idea regarding time travel that the series has never approached before. The opening scenes where Rose discovers she’s been missing for twelve months not twelve hours were very well done. Camille Coduri was able to stop being just the comedy mother and allowed to be a real person, coping as any real mother would do; grieving for her lost daughter, then having her grief turn to anger and letting rip by slapping the Doctor. Noel Clarke was also good, showing Mickey’s reaction to Rose’s return while Chris and Billie continue to work so well together, they feel like old mates to the audience as well as themselves…

The rest of the cast were faultless. The human versions of the aliens were extremely sinister as well as funny. Penelope Wilton and Navin Chowdry were both superb, providing the all-important human contrast the aliens, in a believable way.

One complaint, however. What's the point of building up an immensely tense triple cliff-hanger, if you're going to spoil it and show a next time trailer immediately afterwards?

D’oh!!!!

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After a somewhat dissapointing start to this two-part episode, I waiting with a slight feeling of trepadation as Graham Norton closed "Strictly Come Dancing." My fears were in vain.

Once again the BBC manage to pull of humour tinged with horror in tonights "Doctor Who." Christopher Eccleston regained his darker side after last weeks TOO jokey Doctor. His pained expression whilst on the phone with Rose's mother I hope claimed much ground amongst more sceptical fans. Despite my dislike for the aliens in the story, I was much happier this episode than I was, because there was less farting!!

Perhaps the alien portion of the story ended too quickly in other peoples views. In my opinion, this worked well to the shows advantage, allowing the characters to gain some much needed "quiet time," giving fans a deeper insight to their lives. This especially true to Mickey and Rose's mother. 

Overall, another powerful installment from the Beeb. 

As for the trailer, my heart was pounding and leaped into my throat when we heard the familiar voice... "EX-TER-MIN-ATE... EX-TER-MIN-AAAAAAAATE!!"

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WOW!!!!!!! Absolutely Brilliant! I would like to leave it there but the terms of reviewing this episode insist I expand.

Previously on Doctor Who (hee hee, say it out loud) I reviewed Aliens of London less than favourably, but did say I would reserve final judgemnent until this episode.World War III completely overturns everything that I found negative about the first part.

The Aliens were "Fantastic" realised so well in this episode especially in CGI. They were quite lumbersome initially but soon appeared quite deadly and athletic and complete with some surreal camera angles instilled a degree of menace. They were especially more threatening in their group scenes (and none were cardboard cut-out standees).

The Doctor so improved this week with his lift speech, the "narrow it down" interation and his telephone call to Rose at the end. Still smiles a bit too much but nice little touches like his apology to the secretary in no. 10 makes up for that.

Billie Piper as Rose just coasts through the episode, anothe excellent performance and I love her little laugh to the Doctor when she says he is stuck with her. Her interaction with her mother and Mickey brings good drama to this episode and the series. These two actors especially Noel Clarke improve their performances so much since "Rose.

Now to Penelope Wilton. I felt she was quite underused in the first episode and did wonder why she had signed up witth not much to do. Upon seeing this episode I see that so much of the previous story was setting up and I think she makes the episode hers from her embarrassment at the word FART (which I blush at too) to her uplifting speach at the end. She handled the humour and danger with aplome.

All the "Alien" actors played out their "Alien" characteristics well so, apart from being of larger build and flatulent, you could tell they were not of this planet. - "I need to be naked" could end up being a catchphrase !!

The special effects as usual were (how many words say brilliant????) The missile, the CGI aliens and best of all, the destruction of no. 10. The door being left intact was genius (found a word!).

I Still don't like farts but that's just personal. Yet everything else made up for my reservations on Aliens of London and as a pair they are quite simply impressive.

And the next week's trailer - yup had me giggling like a girl (no offence to girls) and brilliantly edited to leave the big reveal until the last shot!!!!!!!

So, In order of entertainment : The Unquiet Dead, World War III, Rose, The End of the World, Aliens of London and as a pair, Aliens moves to join second. I am just wondering how complicated this rating system gets at the end of 13 weeks.

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Five minutes after this episode ended, a friend who is also a life-long DW fan called to say how much he had enjoyed it : proper Dr Who was what he called it. And yes - there was, as always, much to enjoy.

For those who think Russell T Davies shouldn't be sending up aspects of our own reality, hallo-o: he's always done that (go watch Casanova inventing the lottery, or buying a mansion with a room specially for wrapping presents in), and for me, it's part of the charm of the whole thing. The Doctor calling You want aliens, you've got 'em - they're here inside Downing St, or I think you'll find the Prime Minister is an alien in disguise followed by blowing up the entire area with a guided missile, should have put broad smiles on the face of any adult watching who isn't running around for the May 5 show-down.

Murray Gold's music, slated by many, has always worked for me.

The direction and technical work is incredible, given the budgets and tight time scheduling.

And in this first two-parter, finally we had the kind of pacing that the classic series had, and which personally I prefer (though as Russell T Davies says, cliff-hangers are best used with care - though the one here worked pretty well).

This episode was slower than the first, and with the Doctor, Rose & Harriet locked up in one room most of the time, the momentum had to be carried by the other actors. After the twists and turns of Episode 4, I found it a bit of an anti-climax, with a fair bit of indeterminate running around. Time for fleshing out relationships, like Mickey and Jackie. And cue lots of cracking one-line dialogue and one-off scenes to compensate. Having the General say to the acting Prime Minister in the lift, Your body is.. magnificent was a cheerful salute to the gay audience too.

What I found less than impressive was the underlying rationale - that the Slitheen are basically interplanetary scrap metal merchants, trying to reduce the Earth to radioactive slag so that they can sell it off in profitable chunks. Wouldn't Mars or Mercury do just as well, if that's all they want? And couldn't they have found weapons elsewhere to do the job, rather than have to concoct an elaborate plan to get humanity to do it with nuclear missles? Was this something to do with their ritualised hunting instinct?

And at the end, the Tardis has obviously become exactly that Number Nine bus that previous Doctors would never have considered. When Rose leaves, it was like watching a family send-off at the local coach or railway station. Is this Doctor that desperate for companionship? Even Mickey or Rose's mother could have climbed aboard without much fuss.

The zips we saw in Episode 4 (surely a CGI oversight, which will hopefully be rectified in the DVD release) were thankfully missing in this episode, too, though the farting was back (but as part of their cheerfully ruthless indifference, it doesn't bother me the way it has done other viewers, especially as it has an explanation. The Gelf changing from silvery-blue into red flaming for no good reason other than to indulge our love of horror staples and a good climax was for me far less impressive).

I can see myself watching this again, and enjoying it.

And although, so far not one episode has hooked me in a way which makes me definitely want to go on watching, I am enjoying the series, and judging by the ratings, so are a lot of other UK viewers. Hopefully as other writers come on board (so far only one episode has not been an RTD one), we will begin to see a broadening of style and some refining of the humour to include the adults watching, as well as the kids of all ages.

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World War Three was a classic romp with great effects, wonderful one liners and a level of political satire rarely seen on television. As a piece of entertainment it surpassed my hopes and expectations.

None of these factors made it a great piece of television.

What did make the show outshine anything else on television right now was the performance of Camille Coduri as Jackie Piper. The character could have easily become a joke, a piece of fluffy entertainment to lighten the mood between perils. However, Coduri has played the role straight and her scenes with Billie Piper were as beautifully written, acted and poignant as anything I have seen for a long time. This is a character realising that her daughter has grown up, who is terrified about the perils that she faces but equally scared of losing her by not being supportive. For the new generation of viewers I would imagine that she represents the nagging mum but to those of us who may be a little too old to still be watching she represents us.

I never thought that the words ten seconds would bring tears to my eyes.

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Tonight, the story containing the Slitheen seems to have provided the most critique so far and tonight's episode I don't think will bring this to rest.

I must stress to the fans that the programme is designed for a wide audience and that all ages have to enjoy the experience of who. This is how I can forgive very easily the bits I don't enjoy with the fantastic dialogue exchange that I do enjoy. I am not 8 but 28 and all us older rviwers must remember that. 8 million people are watching who weekly now and I think that is fantastic.

The Doctor gets out of his electric shock problem very easily tonight by not being a human. The chain reaction on the slitheen release everyone else from there dilemma. The bit I dont like about the slitheen is that there seems to be 3 formats for them. The human suits which seems to work well at times. The slitheen rubber suit which seems to make there arms ridiculous and they lose there fear and then the Computer Slitheen which for me are the best form but all together this is why it doesn't seem to gel very well.

I do like however the continued theme for children that everyday objects can fight the aliens and pickle eggs , onions and gerkins in vinegar are great things to have in the house in case of an alien attack. The Doctor's knowledge of planets is shown in this episode with his knowledge of UNIT the password buffalo savers the day. Thats 2 f's and 1 l.

Penelope Wilton is well worth a mention of being a great character in this two parter and she would have my vote on May 5th !! Og no she isnt real.

The story arc continues in this episode, the relationship with Mickey , Mom , Rose and the Doctor takes on a new understanding for all characters. This is well written using all characters well and with purpose, no sidelining them from the action but making them all vital to the survival of the human race. The diologue is really good with clever interchanges. I can't help but to keep saying that Billie is giving Rose all she has got and this companion is standing up with the greats of Sarah, Jo and Ace.

I like the fact that Rose's one journey has completed and you feel that she could easily walk away, but no this is really a decision she is making to see the world with the Doctor and it feels like we are only just beggining the adventure she is now fully prepared for.

Chris's Doctor is so breath taking and his style of showing his alieness is very interesting. He is being slated now but I think that his Doctor is very easy to watch and extremely enjoyable.

Overall this two parter has got a major positive , that we can all relate to it, every day emotions that we all feel hug this episode and the characters in this story are very strong. This is all credit to Russell. The only let down is the slitheen themselves and that is because they are in too many formats and this on screen makes there look difficult to like. You cannot fault the other effects the crash landing and the atomic bomb which is handled brilliantly.

And next week the return of the Daleks, let the ratings soar.

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An inspired second part to the Aliens of London saga, with the action less important than the action suggested in the first episode. The Doctor, via mobile phone, worked out which planet the Slitheen originated from, permitting Micky and Rose's mum to escape from the creature imprisoning them in their kitchen.

However, it quickly became apparent that the Slitheen, rather than being a species bent on interplanetary conquest, were a family of aliens intending to destroy the earth for financial gain. The PM therefore submitted a bogus request to the UN to release the access codes to Britain's nuclear missiles, in the hope of starting an intercontinental war and destroying life on Earth. The Doctor, despite being imprisoned together with Rose in 10 Downing Street, suceeded in directiny Micky to the UNIT website, thereby firing a missile from a nuclear submarine which destroyed 10 Downing Street, and the Slitheen invaders as a result.

All in all, an inspired conclusion to the two parter, with Ecclestone showing both comic ability and genuine emotional depth in the part of the Doctor. The new series has taken a while to find its pace and footing, but after the uncertainty of Aliens of London, World War III provided a barn-storming conclusion, with the Doctor triumphant but with a wholly believable human reaction from Rose to her mother and Mickey as well. Hats off to the BBC for another classic episode, and the teasers for the Dalek episode were superb. i can't wait!

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Well, that's the first of the two-story arcs finished, so what'm I left thinking?

As has been mentioned in other reviews, the plot does appear to fly past you at the speed of light sometimes. In this case, the fact that the main story [of the Slitheen takeover] finishes and leaves another 10 minutes of episode time to fill for character exposition, basically.

I wasn't impressed by the acting of Micky and Rose's Mum in the first episode, 'Rose', but it grew on me here, to the point where I tolerated both. Rose's mum still seems too overprotective - and especially at the end - very shallow. However, these remain minor faults in the scheme of things, and hopefully these characters won't return for a while, since Rose is now pretty much off with the Doctor for good.

The series continues along the 'moral' lines, with greed being the issue here, as in The End of the World. I don't have a problem with the show trying to be slightly more 'moral', especially since it's aired as a piece of family viewing.

I've noticed many complaints amongst previous episodes about the background music. I watched tonight's episode with this in mind, but I have to admit not finding any fault to it. It followed the norm - fast, upbeat drums during exciting bits, slow violins during emotional scenes - and yes, this is cliché, but there's nothing wrong with it.

Even more impressive are the computer generated effects in the episode. The BBC haven't skimped here at all, and everything from the missile flying through London [which reminded me of the beginning of the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies] to the Slitheen giving chase looked impressive. I'd say the CGI Slitheen actually looked more impressive than their costumed counterparts, probably because in CGI there's none of the comical head-bobbing that happens when becostumed Slitheen try to run.

While I think about it, the episode title - World War Three - doesn't seem entirely accurate - there being very little war on a global scale involved, besides the UN allowing the UK to launch nuclear missiles.

I liked the fact that throughout the episode arc, the [original, dead] Prime Minister remained nameless, and even when the dead body fell out the cupboard, it looked sufficiently like the back of Tony Blair that the episode could easily have been set tomorrow, for all we might know.

The current series is going from strength to strength, and it looks like getting even better next week, when the Daleks return. The trailer was scintillating, anyways.

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Ok, it's hands up time.

Last week I gave a very negative review of AoL .. mainly down to my inability to see past fart gags ... but as the week progressed and I watched the episode a few more times it definitely grew on me, so I was curious and eager to see WWIII.

And my, was I wrong last week.

WWIII is a Russell T Davies tour de force. The plotting, the acting, the delicious, edible dialogue are at their height. The Slitheen - who I was really not convinced by - were wonderful: funny and dangerous and very, very Doctor Who. The use of UNIT without going into detail, but seeing it lovingly reproduced on Mickey's computer was a lovely nostalgic twang. The whole thing was directed with a buoyancy, a bubbliness and a vigour and the special effects were one hundred percent wonderful.

In the acting front even the Slitheen actors seemed to have calmed down this week, and were all the more dangerous sounding for it. The look on the female Slitheen's face whilst trying to hold the Doctor's gaze was fantastic.

And then we come to the Doctor. My, was this not perfect. Christopher Eccleston should be mourned greatly when he leaves, because this was classic Doctor Who. No actor, even on their best day, could beat this performance. Everything he did oozed Doctoriness. There was the manicness of Colin, the madness of Tom, the authority of Jon .. everyone was there in his face.. and not a little of McCoy, as Time's Champion rose up again to take control. Amazing, wonderful and intoxicating. Given a few years Eccleston would have been everyones favourite Doctor.

Again, I made a mistake during Rose to criticise Noel Clark .. here Mickey is brilliant and the acting superb. Although I'm not convinced in the soap opera style part of the show, RTD does it with a plomb and the actors are clever and understated and real.

So, a reviewer putting his hands up - not once but twice and saying he was wrong. Is that a first?

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An excellent episode which built nicely on the themes raised in Aliens of London.

Personally, I cannot see why people are complaining about the Slytheen. Do they want Doctor Who or not? What was the main ingredient of the original series? Men in rubber suits, that's what - and I felt that these suits were far better than some of the old ones we have had to contend with.

So they had baby-like faces. Big deal! What is this unwritten rule that seems to state that all aliens have to look absolutely evil just because they are, well....evil!

Is it beyond the realms of imagination to accept that there can be nice, cute looking aliens that are completely ruthless? What about the Drahvins - cute sexy blondes! And I won't even mention Beep the Meep!!!!

I admit, the suits in motion were a little embarassing - the heads were too wobbly and they looked like one of those shaking head dogs found on the back shelf of a car. However, the smoothness of the CGI shots of them running through Number 10 made up for it - you could see the muscles moving on their bodies.

On to other points. What other TV show would dare to destroy 10 Downing Street with a missile fired from one of our own submarines? Not an easy thing to show on screen but again I thought well done - not the most spectacular explosion you'll see but very satisfying all the same.

The cliffhanger from the previous week was again approched in a clever way - the Doctor saving not only himself but, unknowingly, Rose, Hilary and Jackie. The tri-cliffhanger itself was a marvellous idea - if you want a good cliffhanger, you have to have the Doctor and/or companion in danger, but we know that they will survive. However, by adding Jackie to the mix as well - we just can't be sure that she won't be torn to shreads, can we? (Well, ok, the true fans know she is in later stories, but the general public don't so have to tune back in to see if she cops it or not!).

The plot was simple, but effective, and unravelled at a logical and sensible pace. The use of Mickey and Rose's 'Superphone' was another clever idea. We have our hero trapped in a room, but still able to save the day. It was nice to see Mickey get some of the 'hero' about him. Coward he may be, but he showed his mettle when push came to shove.

Of course, there has to be some gripes, but these are mostly small, and in some cases, personal ones. The fact that after the Doctor had put the Secretary's body in the cupboard, said sorry and then walked away, you could see in the changeover of shot that the Prime Minister's body had somehow managed to prop itself up a bit!! The fact that the Doctor said there was no one in UNIT he could contact as they were all 'dead downstairs'. What about good old Alistair!!!! Yes, I know that we don't want to much reliance on the old series and risking alienating the new audience, but as UNIT had featured so prominently, I don't see that a quick scene over the Superphone would have made a difference. The fact that it would then have had to change the rest of the storyline...........!

What else? How did Mickey manage to target the missile on Number 10? It was never explained to him and he managed to set the co-ordinates as if he'd done it all his life. Similarly, he was able to stop anything else from intercepting the missile just because the Doctor told him to - 'I'm doing it' - with again no directions at all.

Finally, as much as I do like the Ninth Doctor, I wish he could be a bit more friendly (and I dont mean grin more)! Humans are supposed to be his favourite species, but the way he treats Mickey and Jackie, and talks about them, does not reflect this. He was more concerned about the pig! This does not make him unlikeable, and it could be argued that he manages to pull off very successfully what Colin Baker tried to do with his Doctor, but I do wish he could be a bit more personable to others.

All in all though, a nice episode - 8/10 for this one, and probably 7/10 for the story as a whole.

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I'm pleased to say that most of the reservations I was having about part one of this story, Aliens of London, were wiped away by the concluding installment. This mostly involved the Slitheen and how strange and funny they were being portrayed, but this week's episode gave us completely satisfactory and actually very entertaining reasons for all of it. They also looked better this week I thought than they did in those closing moments of last week... their effects seemed more consistent across-the-board.

The Slitheen seem to be a sort of cross between the Foamasi and the Dominators. I say Foamasi because they're almost like a mafia family, are interested in an irradiated planet (or what they hope will be one), and fit their huge bodies inside smaller human suits. And I say Dominators because of their scheme to turn the Earth into a radioactive fuel planet in the same way the Dominators did. The difference is they've all got a terrific sense of humor and are really enjoying their work. One moment that I loved was when the female MI-5 Slitheen went into the PM's office and gushed over how the hot line phone was actually red. And you've got to love an alien species that has the line, Victory should be naked! They also simply must have understood the irony in their warning about massive weapons of destruction. I've really grown to love these guys, and in fact I wouldn't mind seeing (or hearing) them again sometime.

Hilary Jones, MP Flydale North really came into her own this week too, as I was guessing she would seeing as they landed Penelope Wilton in the part. That the Doctor realizes she'll be a future Prime Minister was also not wholly unexpected. I loved watching her find her backbone as the episode progressed, until she finally realizes she can and must order the Doctor to push the button to destroy Number 10 (or at least to tell Mickey how to do it). I wouldn't mind seeing her again someday too. (I wonder if she's the one that eventually gets deposed by General Mariah Learman prior to The Time of the Daleks... and this episode explains why the head of government seems to be in a palace by that time, as No. 10 got destroyed.)

I also really enjoyed Mickey and Jackie's scenes together, with them almost bonding through their whole dodge-the-alien crisis and over how dangerous the Doctor is. Mickey wound up gaining the Doctor's respect to the point where he offered to make him a companion as well, and I was really glad to see that develop. The Doctor's continual goading of Mickey was beginning to annoy me as I thought it was taking the Doctor too far down the disagreeable road, but their eventual sort-of reconciliation really capped that off nicely before it got too out-of-hand.

The set-piece of the Doctor, Rose, and Hilary coming up with the Slitheen's weakness for vinegar was nicely handled as well... Narrows it down! sounds as though it could become another Ninth Doctor catchphrase like Fantastic! is (if there's time in his brief tenure for more of this). The way it ended brought a huge smile to my face too... with Jackie splashing the vinegar on it... it standing there for 5 seconds, letting off a huge fart, and then exploding all over them. My one hang-up with this scene is that I can't see from the way this is played out how the Doctor, Rose, and Hilary on the other end of the phone know that the alien has just died and come over all relaxed, when all they would've heard is a strange exploding sound and then not a word from Jackie and Mickey as they just stood there looking stunned.

This brings me to my other hang-ups with the episode, which actually apply to Aliens of London as well, and that's the almost Graham Williams-era-like sloppy way in which the Doctor is able to get his own way with guards, be they policeman or military. Russell T. Davies has gone to great lengths to address some of the common-sense questions people always had about the characters, such as doesn't Rose's family miss her? and the like, but he's apparently turned a blind eye to a defiance-of-common-sense problem I had with the original series, which seemed to come up most often in the Graham Williams-produced stories. This is how trained guards or police so often don't do as trained guards or police would do when the Doctor is in the scene. Example: in Aliens of London, he accidentally lands in a cupboard just outside where a whole bunch of the soldiers are, and they train their guns on him. There is then a scream, he shouts Defence Plan Delta (like that means something, which it clearly doesn't) and runs out, and rather than anyone trying to stop him or shoot him, they just start following him and doing what he says. This is wholly unrealistic and does not make sense. Here in World War Three, the 'General' outright orders the police to shoot the Doctor then and there, but they don't... he gets to blather on for a good 15 seconds more before the lift arrives and he gets into it and escapes. And even as he's escaping and they've all still got a clear shot at him, no one pulls the trigger. This is again wholly unrealistic and does not make sense. (Though some of this might be down to Keith Boak's direction and not cutting or staging the scenes quite right to avoid this problem, but it could equally be scripted by RTD.) And then there's the business about how Mickey can hack into the UNIT website and the website of the Royal Navy under instructions from the Doctor using a single password. The UNIT one I can buy as he worked for them and probably put the back door in himself at some point. The one I can't buy is that you can not only hack in the Royal Navy's website with that same password but also access a firing control on a submarine and have it fire a missile. Missile firing controls in every navy around the world are kept well off-line just to prevent things like this from happening... and even the off-line controls have extra safety things like those two-operators-have-to-turn-keys-simultaneously things. They got that right in The Invasion in 1968, so why this here? They could've still accomplished the same task by simply having the Doctor or Harriet call up the submarine over voice and issuing some passwords and orders to the captain of the sub that could've been in the Emergency Protocols (which they had at this point). So why not do that instead of stretching credulity with this lazy hacking solution? Still, the fact that it could've been done right doesn't make it feel like quite so much of a cheat, and I'm not going to dock the episode too much for this faux pas, but I hope that things like this get thought through better in future episodes.

I'm also very sceptical of the idea that the UK would turn over its ability to launch its own nuclear missiles to the Security Council of the UN. This feels like a sort of callback to the destructor codes scenario back in Robot, but given how nearly disastrous that turned out, I can't believe that program continued after that story. From a security point of view it makes no sense for any nation to do this, especially one that's a member of NATO. Surely turning over the codes to the UN would violate some NATO duties for defence that the UK has?

Enough though of these plotting problems... back to the good stuff, and I've saved the best for last, and as we've come to expect, the best is the character work between the Doctor and Rose and the people around them. Rose remains as strong in this episode as she was showing in the last one, and also shows she's clearly been listening to even the Doctor's technobabble when at one point in the narrows it down brainstorm she blurts out that the alien ship had a slipstream drive. She's quickly come to trust the Doctor implicitly as she doesn't ever hesitate to jump into the situation, even with her mother pleading with her not to, but I have the feeling this trust is going to be to a fault at some point. We can see that on the Doctor's face, when Jackie repeatedly asks him if he can guarantee Rose will be safe, and he can't answer her, because he knows that she might not be and might join the list of his companions who didn't make it. That moment of him being silent and not answering is Eccleston's best work to date I think. I wonder if at some point there'll come a story where the Doctor decides that Rose needs some sort of lesson to teach her that they are not as immortal and infallible as she seems to be thinking they are, what with their 4-0 record after this story. (That'll probably be the season finale, I'd guess.)

Say, what happened to the alien ship in the Thames anyway? It's still there, isn't it? And couldn't the Doctor have used the missile on it instead of Number 10 and thus stop the Slitheen wanting to launch the nukes since they'd no longer have a ship to go hide in? (maybe it had shields... or maybe it would've had a big explosion of its own when its power core went up or something that would've hurt loads more people)

Oh, and why, on the morning of the potential nuclear strike and the news shows are showing those live shots of London, does the shot of Big Ben still have smoke coming out of the tower? Surely the fire would've been out by then!

And one last point I want to make... did you notice that this episode began with a Slitheen vs. humans _corridor chase_? Anyone at home playing the drinking game, take a drink. At least this time it wasn't any old corridors... it was 10 Downing Street's!

So, episode rating... 7 out of 10 again. And I'll give the whole story that too. The alien portrayals and motivations got cleared up, but there were some plot holes that really could've been plugged up without too much trouble which weren't.

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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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Since the Doctor was taken from our screens in 1989 we all have deliberated over what a new series of the adventures of the Time Lord would be like.. and here it is. How apt that the first episode would be called ‘Rose’, perhaps a telling sign from the pen of Russell T Davies of how the series would pan out. Since then is there not, somewhere deep in the heart of every Who fan, a profound feeling of disappointment? You disagree? Well just take a look at episode five; World War Three...

It is understandable that the new series had become more character driven that previous adventures and a clear instrument for the deployment of such a writing style is a series that is so Earth-centric it could give Jon Pertwee a run for his money. But unlike Pertwee’s Earth bound exploits, the new series seems to be less about the Doctor and more about relating the audience to his character, of which we have seen little. World War Three, in a now predictable trend, is so Human we forget the Doctor is from another planet, never mind the notion that we may one day see him on foreign soil. One could spend hours discussing the Slitheen alien family, their intentions for exploiting Earth and it’s peoples or their baffling flatulence, however, to do so would assume that they mattered at all. Their threat to humanity seems lost in a vapour not emanating from their posteriors but from the clouds of dross flowing from Rose’s tower block home.

The Doctor’s new companion’s domestics were adequately, if not overly, explored throughout the first two episodes, so why oh why are back at the tower block from hell, swallowing down even more home made shepherds pie when we are still too bloated from the previous visit? I care as much for Rose’s family life as I care for Tegan Jovanka’s. Some have argued that the new series suffers at the hands of it’s new 45 mins format. I would argue that it is the 30 mins plus spent per episode on the relationships of the characters that leave little time for the story to develop. Such relationship explorations have, so far, born no fruit; as there has been more death in the past five episodes than in some Doctor’s lifetimes, yet we feel nothing at these incidental character’s passing. And, it seems, nor does the Doctor.

It is ironic that the best episode of the series so far has been the only one not written by Davies (Mark Gatiss’ The Unquiet Dead)? What we all want to see from the series is some classic alien adventures, a bit more time in the TARDIS and a few twists in the plot that lend a kind of selfishness to the Doctor’s advisories to which every human can relate.

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I was feeling pretty good about the new series through Rose, knowing it needed time to bed down. Episode 2 was amusing but some of the more irritating bits of the first episode remained but then I thought The Unquiet Dead was a serious piece of business.

Then it went a bit funny again. Don't get me wrong, I liked Aliens of London very much, but it had too much of a spoof about it, the farting aliens were particularly annoying. Some of the lines made me wince and the over-acting (a la Space Quest) of a couple of the aliens got very tired.

I love the development of Rose's story and the effect her disappearance from the Earth had on those around her, something that was never really explored before that and it brings a good emotional level to the series we rarely saw before. Rose could just as well be Ace, but we didn't see much about emotion when Ace came 'home.' (I think it was Ghost Light). Rose is coming along well as a companion but the litmus test will of course be how she handles the Daleks.

World War III, though, was not as good as one might have expected. The aliens were cool as they rampaged through Number 10, but, again, there were irritating, puerile things about the story that others have already pointed out in previous reviews for other eps - namely the really poor incidental music and the reliance on some dud gags to move things along. And the security forces were too thick for words. UNIT barely rated a mention through the story and here was Mickey breaking into the UN with a weak password like buffalo. You have to be kidding, right?

Christopher Eccleston also returned to his grinning loon interpretation that I had hoped to be gone after first-ep nerves and in some parts of the story appeared a little too callous for my liking. The Doctor is a compassionate guy and wouldn't have previously watched a companion struggle to get through a door to safety with a silly wave from the lift. And I'm over the re-born sonic screwdriver. Where are the Sontarans when you need them?

Technically the episode was good, the aliens looked terrific as I've already said and the editing was good if a little disjointed in parts. The wreckage of Number 10 was quite convincing and the way Harriet Jones took off to take control while Rose and the Doctor slipped away was nice.

On a story level, Russell T Davies' attempt to trash corporate greed just plain missed the mark. There are so many cool ways to do that and this isn't one of them. I know he had to find a motivation, but the fact it was all for the benefit of a family corporation was pretty dull and, it has to be said, predictable. How would I have done it? I don't know...but then, no-one has offered me the gig, so I'm not giving anything away. Pay me to think and I reckon I could do it. Are you listening, BBC? And the dismissal by the press that the whole thing was a hoax. Um...the PM's dead as is most of the cabinet and a fairly hefty chunk of the government's advisory committee. How was Harriet going to just step into the breach? Or maybe I need to watch that bit again.

The scripting remains good and exceptionally cohesive one story to the next, this is a great re-invention of the series. Rose gets good lines and the way the other characters react to Rose's slow de-sensitisation (?) to what's going on around her is a nice plot device - it's waking us up to the fact that where the Doctor goes, so does death and destruction. It started out as a sort of joke, but has evolved well and is woven into the story quite surreptitiously and then BAM, you're reminded.

Aliens and WWIII didn't do it for me but it certainly hasn't destroyed my faith in the series. Unquiet Dead was such a fine episode and the trailer for Dalek looks equally impressive. Aliens and WWIII were bankers, but entertaining enough.

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The previous episode was not quite the disaster other reviewers have made it out to be. Truthfully, there were some serious flaws, most of which created by the decision to return to Rose's time and place - a decision I understand if not one that I agree with. A grounding in reality (well a reality comparable to that on display in a typical episode of Eastenders, anyhow) can certainly be conducive to compelling horror but I don't think this has been sucessfully employed as of yet. The Autons of episode one could definately have been much scarier. The real problem, however was the melodrama that accompanied the setting. Micky/Ricky is just annoying, I'm afraid. Having said that, I think the (eventual) appearance of the Slitheen redeemed the episode. The speed at which the dubious humour drained out of the show to be replaced by the genuinely strange and imposing aliens was truly impressive. So I had high hopes for the conclusion to the story - and I wasn't disappointed.

The Doctor's triumph as the episode reconvened (expertly emerging from the recap of the prior installment) was accompanied by the disheartening fact that every one else in the room was not so lucky. Ecclestone is capable of considerable menace himself, even in his diluted and less successful 'light-hearted' moments. His seriousness (more the accumulated result of other roles than his performances in Who) lends the programme real credibility. When he says the world is doomed, the audience believes him. It is a considerable shame that this will be his only series, as it was largely his work that made the start of this episode so engaging. Some of the chase scenes which followed were a little too comical for my liking but the volume of casualties already amassed by this point demand that we take the story seriously. This is quite a brave move and compensates, somewhat, for last week's overly humorous episode.

The Slitheen are reminiscent of something from a Roald Dahl story. They have an exaggerated, immature grotesqueness about them. I think it works well for the most part. The fact that 'Slitheen' is the name of their family and not their race was interesting as too often in sci-fi we are led to view an entire species of aliens as being wholly alike and evil, which is of course, an arrogant attitude. These particular creatures may well be an exception to an otherwise decent race. I felt this was a forgivable way to introduce the simplistic ethics, which are inevitably interwoven into every television programme these days, as I certainly wouldn't like humanity to be judged by the actions of a dozen individuals. Less forgivable were the subtle digs at contempary international affairs, which have become something of a myth in and of themselves lately. It's not that I think the conflict in Iraq was entered into in good faith its just that I've heard the same arguments too often. There's no conspiracy (as this episode repeatedly hinted) because our 'world leaders' are simply not smart enough. That's the problem. What we have is a confrontation with our own value system and the resulting shock that it is not universally accepted by the rest of the planet. Doctor Who provides an excellent opportunity to subvert this system and fortunately this was acknowledged when the victory over the Slitheen was described as a victory for 'humanity'. The real strength of the Doctor is that he is completely objective and has his own immutable moral code which is irrespective of time and place. Arguably the greatest challenge of a writer in this series is to be conscious of exactly what the Doctor's voice (as the 'voice of truth') is made to say, because he speaks from the ultimate ethical highground. It is far too easy to make him seem pretentious and self-righteous. I think the decision to show the Doctor's cruelty (with his allowing Cassandra to die in episode 3, for example) and hence his fallibility was an admirable one.

Fittingly the episode hinged on the Doctor's decision to destroy the Slitheen, even at the risk of destroying Rose and we are encouraged to see that (despite Ecclestone's impenetrable expression) not only would he do so without hesitation but that Rose would be willing to let him. The fact that this also involved the destruction of Downing street was an added bonus and a terrific conclusion to the threat, almost as spectacular as the collision with Big Ben. And the added fact the TARDIS did not return at the end of the episode as Rose promised is even more interesting. We may have returned to Rose's home but we have also blown it away irrevocably.

This was yet another fantastic episode of what is fast becoming one of the best programmes on TV. With the probable demise of Star Trek on the horizon, Doctor Who is already the best sci-fi series on the air. I, for one, cannot wait to see The Dalek, next week.

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Well, it took 5 episodes, but we have now officially reached "Worst Episode Ever" of the new Doctor Who. The last paragraph, incidentally, may contain spoiler material for episode 6, but nothing major.

It all started when last week's cliffhanger had its tension reduced somewhat by the appearance of a fit & healthy Doctor viewed in the "Next Time" teaser. The cliffhanger was further undermined by a far-too-speedy resolution in the last shot of the pre-title sequence for "End Of The World".

Overuse of the farting effect of compression continued to annoy, turning sections of the plot into something akin to the children's shows Pip & Jane Baker turned out in the 1980's. Fears that multiple doors in a corridor during a chase scene might lead to some kind of Keystone Kops sequence were thankfully not realised...

Then the alien plot is revealed - and is actually a bit naff. A bit like the West Lodge's plot for Argolis in Leisure Hive, but with less finesse and imagination. And the plot is resolved a good 10-15 minutes before the end of the episode.

Which brings me to my final gripe for the first two-parter. Last week, I applauded RTD for being the man to write a story that explored the ramifications of a companion's sudden departure into time and space. I still think this is a valid concept to explore, but, as is the case with the 9th Doctor's backstory, something to explore when the plot allows. It should complement rather than replace the action. But with the Slitheen seen off by about the 32nd minute, this subtext (to quote Rupert Giles) rapidly becomes the text.

On the plus side, we have a stirling performance (for once) from Mickey, as he realises his differences with the Doctor are petty in the face of global peril. Jackie turns in a credible performance as Rose's mum, more intent on her daughter's safety than that of the world.

Eccleston's occasional "grinning idiot" approach seems to be lessening in its visibility, and a superb poignancy is reached as the Doctor is faced with a final option, that means saving the world could lead to Rose's death.

Whilst "World War III" represents the worst plotting of the series thus far, the CGI and physical effects are still of a high standard, and the "Next Time" sequence sets the pulse racing as we get our appetites whetted by the re-appearance of the Daleks!

The subsequent episode of Doctor Who Confidential had a sneak preview, including a shot that pays obvious homage to the pepperpots' first ever appearance 40 odd years ago....

See you next week....

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Ok, it's hands up time.

Last week I gave a very negative review of AoL .. mainly down to my inability to see past fart gags ... but as the week progressed and I watched the episode a few more times it definately grew on me, so I was curious and eager to see WWIII.

And my, was I wrong last week.

WWIII is a Russell T Davies tour de force. The plotting, the acting, the deliscious, edible dialogue are at their height. The Slitheen - who I was really not convinced by - were wonderful: funny and dangeorus and very, very Doctor Who. The use of UNIT without going into detail, but seeing it lovingly reproduced on Mickey's computer was a lovely nostalgic twang. The whole thing was directed with a buoyancy, a bubbliness and a vigour and the special effects were one hundred percent wonderful.

In the acting front even the Slitheen actors seemed to have calmed down this week, and were all the more dangerous sounding for it. The look on the female Slitheen's face whilst trying to hold the Doctor's gaze was fantastic.

And then we come to the Doctor. My, was this not perfect. Christopher Eccleston should be mourned greatly when he leaves, because this was classic Doctor Who. No actor, even on their best day, could beat this performance. Everything he did oozed "Doctoriness". There was the manicness of Colin, the madness of Tom, the authority of Jon .. everyone was there in his face.. and not a little of McCoy, as Time's Champion rose up again to take control. Amazing, wonderful and intoxicating. Given a few years Eccleston would have been everyones favourite Doctor.

Again, I made a mistake during Rose to criticise Noel Clark .. here Mickey is brilliant and the acting superb. Although I'm not convinced in the soap opera style part of the show, RTD does it withaplomb and the actors are clever and understated and real.

So, a reviewer putting his hands up - not once but twice and saying he was wrong. Is that a first?

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An excellent episode which built nicely on the themes raised in Aliens of London.

Personally, I cannot see why people are complaining about the Slytheen. Do they want Doctor Who or not? What was the main ingredient of the original series? Men in rubber suits, that's what - and I felt that these suits were far better than some of the old ones we have had to contend with.

So they had baby-like faces. Big deal! What is this unwritten rule that seems to state that all aliens have to look absolutely evil just because they are, well....evil!

Is it beyond the realms of imagination to accept that there can be nice, cute looking aliens that are completely ruthless? What about the Drahvins - cute sexy blondes! And I won't even mention Beep the Meep!!!!

I admit, the suits in motion were a little embarassing - the heads were too wobbly and they looked like one of those shaking head dogs found on the back shelf of a car. However, the smoothness of the CGI shots of them running through Number 10 made up for it - you could see the muscles moving on their bodies.

On to other points. What other TV show would dare to destroy 10 Downing Street with a missile fired from one of our own submarines? Not an easy thing to show on screen but again I thought well done - not the most spectacular explosion you'll see but very satisfying all the same.

The cliffhanger from the previous week was again approched in a clever way - the Doctor saving not only himself but, unknowingly, Rose, Hilary and Jackie. The tri-cliffhanger itself was a marvellous idea - if you want a good cliffhanger, you have to have the Doctor and/or companion in danger, but we know that they will survive. However, by adding Jackie to the mix as well - we just can't be sure that she won't be torn to shreads, can we? (Well, ok, the true fans know she is in later stories, but the general public don't so have to tune back in to see if she cops it or not!).

The plot was simple, but effective, and unravelled at a logical and sensible pace. The use of Mickey and Rose's 'Superphone' was another clever idea. We have our hero trapped in a room, but still able to save the day. It was nice to see Mickey get some of the 'hero' about him. Coward he may be, but he showed his mettle when push came to shove.

Of course, there has to be some gripes, but these are mostly small, and in some cases, personal ones. The fact that after the Doctor had put the Secretary's body in the cupboard, said sorry and then walked away, you could see in the changeover of shot that the Prime Minister's body had somehow managed to prop itself up a bit!! The fact that the Doctor said there was no one in UNIT he could contact as they were all 'dead downstairs'. What about good old Alistair!!!! Yes, I know that we don't want to much reliance on the old series and risking alienating the new audience, but as UNIT had featured so prominently, I don't see that a quick scene over the Superphone would have made a difference. The fact that it would then have had to change the rest of the storyline...........!

What else? How did Mickey manage to target the missile on Number 10? It was never explained to him and he managed to set the co-ordinates as if he'd done it all his life. Similarly, he was able to stop anything else from intercepting the missile just because the Doctor told him to - 'I'm doing it' - with again no directions at all.

Finally, as much as I do like the Ninth Doctor, I wish he could be a bit more friendly (and I dont mean grin more)! Humans are supposed to be his favourite species, but the way he treats Mickey and Jackie, and talks about them, does not reflect this. He was more concerned about the pig! This does not make him unlikeable, and it could be argued that he manages to pull off very successfully what Colin Baker tried to do with his Doctor, but I do wish he could be a bit more personable to others.

All in all though, a nice episode - 8/10 for this one, and probably 7/10 for the story as a whole.

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I'm pleased to say that most of the reservations I was having about part one of this story, "Aliens of London," were wiped away by the concluding installment. This mostly involved the Slitheen and how strange and funny they were being portrayed, but this week's episode gave us completely satisfactory and actually very entertaining reasons for all of it. They also looked better this week I thought than they did in those closing moments of last week... their effects seemed more consistent across-the-board.

The Slitheen seem to be a sort of cross between the Foamasi and the Dominators. I say Foamasi because they're almost like a mafia family, are interested in an irradiated planet (or what they hope will be one), and fit their huge bodies inside smaller human suits. And I say Dominators because of their scheme to turn the Earth into a radioactive fuel planet in the same way the Dominators did. The difference is they've all got a terrific sense of humor and are really enjoying their work. One moment that I loved was when the female "MI-5" Slitheen went into the PM's office and gushed over how the hot line phone was actually red. And you've got to love an alien species that has the line, "Victory should be naked!" They also simply must have understood the irony in their warning about "massive weapons of destruction." I've really grown to love these guys, and in fact I wouldn't mind seeing (or hearing) them again sometime.

Hilary Jones, MP Flydale North really came into her own this week too, as I was guessing she would seeing as they landed Penelope Wilton in the part. That the Doctor realizes she'll be a future Prime Minister was also not wholly unexpected. I loved watching her find her backbone as the episode progressed, until she finally realizes she can and must order the Doctor to push the button to destroy Number 10 (or at least to tell Mickey how to do it). I wouldn't mind seeing her again someday too. (I wonder if she's the one that eventually gets deposed by General Mariah Learman prior to "The Time of the Daleks"... and this episode explains why the head of government seems to be in a palace by that time, as No. 10 got destroyed.)

I also really enjoyed Mickey and Jackie's scenes together, with them almost bonding through their whole dodge-the-alien crisis and over how dangerous the Doctor is. Mickey wound up gaining the Doctor's respect to the point where he offered to make him a companion as well, and I was really glad to see that develop. The Doctor's continual goading of Mickey was beginning to annoy me as I thought it was taking the Doctor too far down the disagreeable road, but their eventual sort-of reconciliation really capped that off nicely before it got too out-of-hand.

The set-piece of the Doctor, Rose, and Hilary coming up with the Slitheen's weakness for vinegar was nicely handled as well... "Narrows it down!" sounds as though it could become another Ninth Doctor catchphrase like "Fantastic!" is (if there's time in his brief tenure for more of this). The way it ended brought a huge smile to my face too... with Jackie splashing the vinegar on it... it standing there for 5 seconds, letting off a huge fart, and then exploding all over them. My one hang-up with this scene is that I can't see from the way this is played out how the Doctor, Rose, and Hilary on the other end of the phone know that the alien has just died and come over all relaxed, when all they would've heard is a strange exploding sound and then not a word from Jackie and Mickey as they just stood there looking stunned.

This brings me to my other hang-ups with the episode, which actually apply to "Aliens of London" as well, and that's the almost Graham Williams-era-like sloppy way in which the Doctor is able to get his own way with guards, be they policeman or military. Russell T. Davies has gone to great lengths to address some of the common-sense questions people always had about the characters, such as "doesn't Rose's family miss her?" and the like, but he's apparently turned a blind eye to a defiance-of-common-sense problem I had with the original series, which seemed to come up most often in the Graham Williams-produced stories. This is how trained guards or police so often don't do as trained guards or police would do when the Doctor is in the scene. Example: in "Aliens of London", he accidentally lands in a cupboard just outside where a whole bunch of the soldiers are, and they train their guns on him. There is then a scream, he shouts "Defence Plan Delta" (like that means something, which it clearly doesn't) and runs out, and rather than anyone trying to stop him or shoot him, they just start following him and doing what he says. This is wholly unrealistic and does not make sense. Here in "World War Three," the 'General' outright orders the police to shoot the Doctor then and there, but they don't... he gets to blather on for a good 15 seconds more before the lift arrives and he gets into it and escapes. And even as he's escaping and they've all still got a clear shot at him, no one pulls the trigger. This is again wholly unrealistic and does not make sense. (Though some of this might be down to Keith Boak's direction and not cutting or staging the scenes quite right to avoid this problem, but it could equally be scripted by RTD.) And then there's the business about how Mickey can hack into the UNIT website and the website of the Royal Navy under instructions from the Doctor using a single password. The UNIT one I can buy as he worked for them and probably put the back door in himself at some point. The one I can't buy is that you can not only hack in the Royal Navy's website with that same password but also access a firing control on a submarine and have it fire a missile. Missile firing controls in every navy around the world are kept well off-line just to prevent things like this from happening... and even the off-line controls have extra safety things like those two-operators-have-to-turn-keys-simultaneously things. They got that right in "The Invasion" in 1968, so why this here? They could've still accomplished the same task by simply having the Doctor or Harriet call up the submarine over voice and issuing some passwords and orders to the captain of the sub that could've been in the Emergency Protocols (which they had at this point). So why not do that instead of stretching credulity with this lazy hacking solution? Still, the fact that it could've been done right doesn't make it feel like quite so much of a cheat, and I'm not going to dock the episode too much for this faux pas, but I hope that things like this get thought through better in future episodes.

I'm also very skeptical of the idea that the UK would turn over its ability to launch its own nuclear missiles to the Security Council of the UN. This feels like a sort of callback to the "destructor codes" scenario back in "Robot," but given how nearly disastrous that turned out, I can't believe that program continued after that story. From a security point of view it makes no sense for any nation to do this, especially one that's a member of NATO. Surely turning over the codes to the UN would violate some NATO duties for defence that the UK has?

Enough though of these plotting problems... back to the good stuff, and I've saved the best for last, and as we've come to expect, the best is the character work between the Doctor and Rose and the people around them. Rose remains as strong in this episode as she was showing in the last one, and also shows she's clearly been listening to even the Doctor's technobabble when at one point in the "narrows it down" brainstorm she blurts out that the alien ship had a slipstream drive. She's quickly come to trust the Doctor implicitly as she doesn't ever hesitate to jump into the situation, even with her mother pleading with her not to, but I have the feeling this trust is going to be to a fault at some point. We can see that on the Doctor's face, when Jackie repeatedly asks him if he can guarantee Rose will be safe, and he can't answer her, because he knows that she might not be and might join the list of his companions who didn't make it. That moment of him being silent and not answering is Eccleston's best work to date I think. I wonder if at some point there'll come a story where the Doctor decides that Rose needs some sort of lesson to teach her that they are not as immortal and infallible as she seems to be thinking they are, what with their 4-0 record after this story. (That'll probably be the season finale, I'd guess.)

Say, what happened to the alien ship in the Thames anyway? It's still there, isn't it? And couldn't the Doctor have used the missile on it instead of Number 10 and thus stop the Slitheen wanting to launch the nukes since they'd no longer have a ship to go hide in? (maybe it had shields... or maybe it would've had a big explosion of its own when its power core went up or something that would've hurt loads more people)

Oh, and why, on the morning of the potential nuclear strike and the news shows are showing those live shots of London, does the shot of Big Ben still have smoke coming out of the tower? Surely the fire would've been out by then!

And one last point I want to make... did you notice that this episode began with a Slitheen vs. humans _corridor chase_? Anyone at home playing the drinking game, take a drink. At least this time it wasn't any old corridors... it was 10 Downing Street's!

So, episode rating... 7 out of 10 again. And I'll give the whole story that too. The alien portrayals and motivations got cleared up, but there were some plot holes that really could've been plugged up without too much trouble which weren't.

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Well, I was among the few who thought “Aliens of London” was a fine example of how good this exciting new TV series of Doctor Who could be. After just recovering from my last forty-minute stint on the “trip of a lifetime,” my opinion of the story’s conclusion, “World War Three,” is rather more mixed.

Firstly, I felt that despite the brilliance of last week’s triple-threat cliff-hanger, it was totally negated by the subsequent “Next Week” trailer. For stand-alone stories, the trailer is a fantastic idea, serving the same function as the old-school cliff-hangers used to, however, in a two-parter to see your heroes alive and well (even though in our hearts we know they will be) kills the suspense. The Doctor’s reversal of the Slitheen’s weapon, though, was a wonderfully cheesy Doctor Who get-out, worthy of the “classic” series!

Personally, I thought the episode started abysmally and got better and better. At a first glance the Slitheen were unsettling creatures, hideous reptilian bodies with what can only be described as cute baby faces – an excellent Doctor Who monster. The first ten minutes or so of the show were action-packed and very well done, though I didn’t find it as compelling as, for example, the spaceship crashing into Big Ben, the Doctor and Rose meeting the aliens on Platform One, or even the Doctor getting a slap from Jackie Tyler! There were some good moments – Mickey taking a picture of the Slitheen on his mobile, the Doctor backing into the lift then going to ground inside the metal bunker with Rose and Harriet Jones – all wonderful little scenes. It wasn’t however, until Jackie Tyler and Mickey destroyed the Slitheen that was menacing them (with vinegar; just like Cybermen and gold!) that I really began to enjoy the episode.

The scenes featuring Mickey and Jackie at the PC, intercut with the Doctor, Rose and Harriet in the bunker were “fantastic” as the Doctor would say. The action had slowed down, yet the score was so cleverly crafted that the pace felt just as fast; if not faster! The banter between Mickey and the Doctor continued apace, and to hear Jackie beg the Doctor to keep Rose safe was an incredibly touching scene. The look on the Doctors face as he stood silent said it all. You could imagine what he was thinking – Adric; Katarina… - he can’t always protect his travelling companions. His announcement “I could save the world but lose you” was one of the profound moments of the series thus far, not just in the words but in the expression on his face and in Rose’s stare back at him. My only niggle here would again be that it had been “given away” in last week’s trailer so we knew it was coming. On a side note, it’s nice to see in the “Dalek” teaser very little was given away and there was only a brief shot of the Dalek itself.

Mickey has come on leaps and bounds since “Rose,” and it’s nice to be almost in the Doctor’s shoes for once (as opposed to seeing things from the perspective of Rose) as the Doctor’s respect for Mickey grows in unison with the audience’s. Imagine having to press “FIRE” on that UNIT website – effectively killing your (ex?) girlfriend while her Mother sits beside you, blowing up the iconic seat of your Parliamentary leader, but saving the world in doing so. The special effects shots of the missile leaving the sea and flying over London were spectacular; I’d go as far as to say cinematic; as was the resultant explosion. For the Doctor to have to say to the man he dubbed Ricky “I need you” was a hard thing for him to do, and for Mickey to actually do them all proud was a pleasant surprise and great development of what began as a selfish, cowardly character.

From the start of the episode I liked the Welsh sergeant and had a feeling he might have a small role to play in saving the day. He did clear the area, saving a lot of lives, but he almost upstaged the Doctor where he walked in on the “naked” Slitheen – “sorry” – was hilarious, as was the Slitheen trying to get dressed quickly in their human suits – very surreal. I’m not sure all this talk of the Slitheen enjoying their nudity was entirely appropriate – I personally liked it, just like I liked the farting (I’m very childish), but it made my Dad cringe, and no doubt alienated many other viewers.

Penelope Wilton was superb. Part of me was disappointed that she took the decision to risk Rose’s life (as well as everybody else’s in 10 Downing Street) rather than the Doctor take the decision myself – but it ultimately worked out well as (quite predictably) the Doctor revealed (McGann style) she would usher in “the golden age for Britain” as Prime Minister.

Eccleston, Piper, Coduri, Clarke – especially the latter in this episode I felt – were all superb. The cast has that wonderful “family” feel that the Pertwee/UNIT era had, and whatever people say I really enjoy the “domestics” as it grounds the series in something relatable, and makes the series truly worthy of being called a drama. Yes, this week the action finished a few minutes early, but in my opinion the last five minutes of the show were it’s best. The Doctor’s parting exchange with Mickey was beautifully done. Mickey knows he’s a bit of wimp, but he had the courage to admit it and he’d earned the Doctor’s respect enough for the Doc to cover for him. To see Rose leave her poor Mother, AGAIN, was heart-breaking. Rose is Jackie’s life, all she’s got. Rose in tears on the phone to the Doctor asking him to come round for tea was a fine example of his alienness – he either couldn’t see how important it was to her, he didn’t care, or more likely he just didn’t think it all that important. I get the feeling though, that had the Doctor gone round for tea and done something “normal” his appeal would diminish in the eyes of Rose. That said, I think it’s clear that the Doctor and Rose have deep and profound feelings for one another – anyone who has a problem with this ‘cos it supposedly “didn’t happen in the old days” I challenge to stick on your “Green Death” DVD and watch the third Doctor seethe with jealousy as Jo falls in love, and I challenge you not to shed a manly tear and he drives off alone into the night at the end of the story! Jackie Tyler can see these feelings, and she can see how dangerous they are and how they are going to take her nineteen year-old daughter from her, perhaps for good. What was really good was Rose saying “I can be back in ten seconds,” then we see the TARDIS dematerialise and Jackie count to ten, then walk away a broken women while Mickey waits, sat on the bin, just in case they do come back…

All in all “World War Three” was a rollercoaster with high and lows. The references to “weapons of mass destruction” and the parallels drawn with the Iraq crisis were a nice comparison to draw, I think the show is often at it’s best when making social comment, says I, number one fan of “The Happiness Patrol!” I’d place the episode on par with “Rose,” though certainly not up there with “The End of the World,” “Unquiet Dead” or “Aliens of London.” The Doctor and Rose ARE the show. Yeah, there were a few dicey, cheesy, cringe-worthy moments with the Slitheen, but there were also a few chilling ones, just like any classic Who monster. As a two-parter, I thought this story was phenomenal – the first part much better than the second, but unfortunately that’s so often the case with science fiction.

Thanks again RTD!

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Straight to the point - I disliked Aliens of London (AOL), many of the component parts were strong, but overall it was poor. As a result WW3 gave me concern and I doubted that I would have anything positive to say.

The first ten minutes of WW3 carried on in part where Aliens of London left off. Notably with juvenile running aliens straight from a Benny Hill sketch, pointless farting and the aliens popping in and out of the human’s skins to continuously use the Beeb’s latest special effect.

Then something most unexpected happened, I started enjoying it. The plot seemed to run out of the effects of the production teams enforced eight cans of red bull and everything started to calm down. With the change in pace the quality of acting by the regulars shot through the roof and the storyline started to appear well thought out and provided clever twists. The fact the Slitheen were a family and not a race was a cunning plot that the show had not before offered, in truth this almost explained some of the silliness from AOL.

For someone who hates soaps I am finding the relationship between the Doctor, Rose and her family an interesting storyline and one that brings a new side to the role of the assistant. Christopher Eccleston, who at times looked lost in AOL, again settled down as the Doctor throughout WW3. Christopher’s superb treatment of hatred of one on ones with Rose’s mum, his off – on relationship to Ricky (sic) and his subtle displays of the Doctor’s inner feelings and loneliness gives the ninth Doctor an interesting new, but yet identifiably old, persona.

I will never rate AOL/WW3 as one of my favourite Doctor Who’s but the WW3 element ensured it rose above the Underwater Menace / Paradise Towers concerns I held last week.

Bring on the Dalek my faith in Doctor Who has been restored.

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Well I thought Aliens of London was great but this was immense!

World War III had everything from Penelope Wilton becoming Britain’s first non-Dalek woman prime minister to Mickey saving the day by firing a missile at Downing Street. (Good tie in with the BBC website, I was wondering how to get the password to the UNIT section!)

Plenty of character development too as the Doctor makes his peace with Mickey and Rose finally cuts the apron strings to commit herself to a future with the Doc.

The comedy in the episode (the look on the policeman’s face as he bursts in on the Slitheen) was well balanced by the drama as the Doctor wrestled with his conscience about putting Rose’s life at risk.

There was nothing in this story about the Time War, so I hope to hear more about this in the coming episodes.

Finally a word about the numerous complaints about Russell’s style, listen carefully, IT’S 2005 NOT 1975. Fans who remember the Doctor from twenty years or more ago have to accept that television and audience tastes have changed over that time. RTD had to completely reinvent the format in the same way Philip Hinchcliffe did to move it on. He has given us a rather insecure and damaged Doctor but these are insecure and damaged times and as we watch the story develop over the coming weeks we will hopefully understand more about why he is behaving in the way that he is.

I would much rather see a flawed hero like Russell’s Doctor that any number of bouffant buffoons and vapid vellour clad bimbos in Trek or such like pap any day.

In any event, BRING ON THE DALEKS.

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I'm not going to flame this episode like I did AoL, mainly because I failed to actually see it, however, as I have reviewed every episode up to now, I thought I would at least leave my thoughts on it and the series so far as AoL and WW3 are part of the same story and I did catch a few clips.

I missed the saturday transmission thanks to a botched video job, the sunday repeat I suddenly discovered I didn't actually care about.

My dad is a long term Who fan (And for the record loves the new series) and owns virtually every serial ever released on VHS or DVD. I have watched many of them over and over and not one serial have I ever got to the middle of a story and thought this is too terrible or simply too boring to continue. However this was what I felt for WW3. I already knew that everyone survives because of the great big cliffhanger clunker from last week. I knew that the Doctor would win in the end, he always does, the draw is how, what dilemma will he have to work out.

But in the end I found something more interesting to spend 45 mins of my time on. I occasionally wandered into the sitting room where it was showing, so I know that the Slitheen were blown up, they were trying to nuclear fry the planet to sell off as a power source (Surely stars are giant nuclear power sources? and are far more plentiful around the galaxy, and usually are already in a pretty useful position in their positional relationship to planets? Or am I being pedantic? anyway it was The Pirate Planet by another name) that Mickey did something heroic and that Noel Clarke is, despite all the evidence so far given, an actor, possibly because he was given some nice bits at the end which required him to act, rather than fall over in a mildly (un)comic manner.

Oh yes, and the Doctor blew up the rubber monsters. hurrah.

The trailer for Dalek, looked to be a return to form, and for me a welcome return to form. It will be great to see a third writer approach the series.

Looking over the reviews for AoL there seem to be three main distinctions. People who loved it, People who liked it but disliked the farting and people such as myself who feel that RTD has introduced elements to the show that are frankly sacriligious.

The people who enjoyed the show no doubt believe that we should just accept farts and Britney Spears because its a kids show. Lets just correct this little misunderstanding. Dr. Who was, in the beginning, an educational show, a show to teach children. Eventually it ran for so long that those original kids grew up. To those of us who grew up with the Doctor, he is a lifelong companion and while there are some people who watch Doctor Who for entertainment pure and simple, most of us really truly care about the show (as the actors used to) and to see it descend into the realm of two year old humour that marked last week's show, and frankly marks a full lack of ideas, does hurt. The Doctor was never just for the kids.

It hurt so much that for the first time in my life I couldn't have cared less about an episode. I could have watched it, given a comprehensive review and hoped in vain that the constructive criticism from this site somehow filtered down to the people making the next series. But this story (Both episodes), I don't care about. Well done RTD, you've turned Doctor Who back into a tv show that was as give and take as the A Team or Mork and Mindy. Nice for it's time but nothing to really get our teeth into, nothing to really enjoy that can't be found on Eastenders or Star Trek. This one story set Who back 898 years, so whatever other reviewers may take from this episode its about as relevant to me as missing an episode of ST Enterprise, or Neighbours. Quite inconsequential

Several people are suggesting that RTD get an editor. Most definitely, or better still promote him out of the writing process, let better skilled and more constrained writers such as Mark Gatiss take over.

I'll be watching Dalek, how could I not. But I don't know if I'll be watching any more RTD scripted eps. There were good things to take from EotW, and even one or two from Rose. Almost everything about this storyline was cringeworthy however and I suspet he's lost a lot more fans than he's won. It's certainly gonna have to take something incredible to win me back as a regular viewer.

Any chance the DVD will not have this story on it?

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When this episode finished, I felt "Its back!". I felt like the show I've loved for nearly all my life had returned. After watching episodes 1-3, I'd thought, in the words of Roy Walker [Catchphrase], "Its good but its not right". "Aliens of London" was promising with a complicated plot and "World War Three" was even more complicated. I think the new series has finally found its feet. And I do apologise for saying RTD can't write good sci-fi - this story has caused me to eat my words!

The plot about turning the earth into one giant piece of real estate was a very original way of concocting an 'invasion' story which in the end wasn't about an invasion at all. Brilliant stuff. Even at the last few moments, we were stil guessing what the hell was going on and how the Doctor would get out of it. The finale had echoes of 'The Seeds of Doom' [which, coincendentally, is my fav DW story] but the Doctor was, as in the aforementioned story, out of real options. A very satisfying episode to a great story. The finale was not quick but was allowed to breathe. I'm beginning to believe the series should all be 2 parters but that may not be practical. Plus there was hardly any farting so that was nice - seeing my sole quibble virtually airbrushed out.

The acting was good also. The PM reminded me a lot of Paul Whitsun-Jones from 'The Mutants' and 'The Smugglers' but the actor in this case was better. Mickey improved too. I felt that as the Doctor got to like him more, so did I. He's not so bad. Christopher Eccleston's 'promise' to stop the Slitheen was powerful and I loved the line "Mickey, you were born in the dark!". Penelope Wilton was a good character also and I'm almost sorry that the Doctor didn't join Rose and her mum for shepherd's pie. Well done all.

I still think the Brig should have been in it. DW Confidential did a whole documentary on him and still there was no sign of him. Why do the documentary and have him not even comment on the new series? Please bring him back RTD! It's not fanwank - the Brig is the best. UNIT weren't fanwank were they?

And I was slightly quizzical about the nuclear codes protocols thing. I know the UK relies on its nuclear arms technology from America but does it really hand over its codes to the UN? Surely not!

Overall; brilliant. I'm pleased. Seriously thinking of sending a thank-you card to RTD. Daleks are next and there seems to be hints of 'The Space Museum' and 'Jubilee' so I hope its not a carbon copy of those. However, I've heard good things about the episode and you can always rely on Rob Shearman to do us proud!

The new series is finally settled. Hooray! Roll on the rest!

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Last week saw the start of the first two-part Doctor Who story in the new series and what a great start it was so this weeks episode already had a built in audience of over 7 million viewers, all anxious to see how the story ends.

World War III has a beginning that most viewers saw at the end of the previous episode, which in itself was characteristic of Doctor Who and immediately grabs the audiences attention.

It starts, as we all know (or if you don’t, watch the 4th episode), with the Doctor and other alien experts being electrocuted by aliens. The Doctor, on the spur of the moment, puts a tag on one of the aliens and they all start shaking writhing around with the electrocution, even the one in Rose’s mother’s house. Mickey enters Jackie’s house, grabs the chair and the alien over the head, then gets her up and they stumble out of the house. Meanwhile, at 10 Downing Street, the Doctor has recovered and gets the guards to come inside, where the aliens are. The aliens get the tag off and put the skin of the human back on. The Doctor enters the room with the guards, who don’t believe his theory that the two men at the front of the room are aliens, so he runs away. He gets cornered, but against a lift, which promptly opens and the Doctor makes his escape.

Rose and Harriet Jones are now running from an alien, as the Doctor appears when the lift doors open, sees the alien and promptly closes the doors again. He emerges on a higher floor. After more chasing, the Slitheen reveal the it’s not their race, but their surname and that they are here to start World War III and then sell off the radioactive chunks of the planet for fuel. The Doctor then closes the emergency steel doors and shutters, trapping the Doctor, Rose and Harriet Jones in the cabinet room. Meanwhile, the UN is voting to decide whether it should allow Britain to have the access codes to their nuclear weapons. Rose receives a text message from Mickey. She rings him. Mickey sees the UN on the news and puts the phone to the speakers. The UN have voted to allow the access codes to be released. The Doctor has an idea, but it may not be safe for Rose. Harriet Jones steps in and announces it is her decision to make, as the only elected representative of the people in the room. She tells the Doctor to do it. The Doctor tells Mickey the “idiot” to go to his computer and go to the UNIT website. He does so and the white home page of UNIT’s website (which is actually available at www.unit.org.uk) appears on the screen. After revealing the password (which also works on the website) the Doctor instructs Mickey to launch a missile at 10 Downing Street. Rose suggests they hide under a doorway, as you do during an earthquake. The Guards become aware of the missile and one of them runs upstairs to tell the minister, the General and the MI5 people, only to find that they are all aliens. He runs out and all the guards and press told to evacuate the area. The aliens, waiting for the phone to ring with the access codes, are blown to bits.

The steel box that is the Cabinet room is left sitting in amongst a pile of rubble, as the doors open and out come the Doctor, Rose and Harriet Jones, who later becomes the Prime Minister for three successive terms according to the Doctor. After that, Rose packs and she and the Doctor leave.

So the story was good and so was it’s execution (having the UNIT website actually available was great too), but was it as good an end as the first episode was a begin? In short, yes it was. The Doctor was more himself than in any other episode before it in this new series, from running away form guards to saving the world whilst trapped in a steel box, this was Doctor Who.

The direction of it was, of course much the same as the previous episode and it was just as good. The CGI was pretty good too, from the aliens running around to a missile flying over and into central London. However, they still look too ‘clean’, in other words, you can tell quite clearly that it is CGI on a real London backdrop for example and it still doesn’t come up to the standard seen in other sci-fi series such as Star Trek Enterprise and Battlestar Galactica. So the graphical side is still lacking in this new series and needs to get better. The preview of the Dalek episode promises to make a start on improving this, partly because a lot of it is real, such as the Dalek itself.

Although this was a good story and Christopher Eccleston did some great acting, I still can’t help feeling he’s not quite the Doctor, but this does make me look forward to the second season, with David Tennent, even more. So thumbs up as far as the new series goes and I’m sure I speak for millions when I say, I can’t wait for the next episode. Roll on Saturday!

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I sat down to watch World War 3 hoping Russell Davies would redeem himself, the question is did he?

Well kind of, lets face it could it have been any worse? The fart gags weren't as cringe enducing as last week, more to do with expecting it than by accepting the need for it. The reason for the farting may have been explained but it doesn't make it any less annoying. Davies can do humour, the weapons of mass destruction that can be deployed in 45 seconds was genuinely funny, though I accept many ten year olds wouldn't have got it.

The Slitheen themselves weren't as menacing as I hoped, though I much preferred them out of their human 'skins' than in them. It was interesting to note that for the second Davies story in a row the motivation for the bad guys was a financial one and I was disappointed because I'm still waiting for the traditional alien invasion - I don't really rate 'Rose' as an invasion story.

To me the best elements in this episode was the interplay between the Doctor, Rose, her mum and Mickey. Davies's best writing is in the interplay between these characters, Jackie's concern over Rose is understandable and it makes it interesting to see the Doctor uncomfortable with the guilt he feels at taking Rose from her mum.

The one problem with adding in all these new elements regarding Rose's life on Earth is that they detract from the traditional elements. As many i have spoken to have said the mix of all these elements is not quite right. I would also point out that the episode so far that has had the most positive reviews is The Unquiet Dead, the only episode with no elements of Rose's home life at all.

My biggest surprise in this episode was Mickey, a character I previously found to be the most annoying thing in Doctor Who since Bonnie Langford's scream. Mickey was actually very good and crucial to the resolution of the story. He never seemed like ridiculous comic relief in this episode, perhaps because he was given something to do at last. My only problem was with him holding the phone to his ear while the Slitheen was breaking through the door. I'm afraid that no matter what was being said to me on that phone I'd be concentrating more on where the first swing of my bat was going to go and would have given the phone to Jackie.

ll in all an improvement on last week, still a bit too sily in places, a lot of corridor chasing, very Scooby Doo-ish and the Doctor seemed to get out of sticky situations with a quick joke and then taking to his heels. Oh and those must be the quickest closing lift doors in the world.

Looking forward to nect week and the first new Dalek story since 1988.

Oh yeah, I was sad that there wasn't any more pigs, I felt so sorry for that poor wee pig.

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Ugh.

World War 3 was a huge disappointment when compared with Aliens of London. Aliens was my favorite episode of the new series and I had high hopes for the second episode of the serial. As I expected the action was fast and furious but it didn't really last.

I guess that is my first complaint: two much of the Rose/Doctor/Mother/Mickey dynamic. While I really liked the angle where they returned to Rose's time and we saw what happened with her and family, etc... there was just a little bit to much of it this time. In my opinion this should be the backstory, a sub-plot that rounds out an episode. This dynamic almost dominated the episode. Considering the amount of this that we had in the first episode of the serial as well there was just a bit to much for my taste. The part where they were locked in the cabinet room and that part of the story was great and touching, but the last 8-10 minutes of the episode were not as good. I'm not saying that I don't like this stuff but weave it into the story line better. I must admit I let out a huge sigh of relief when Mickey declined the offer of a spot in the Tardis. *whew*

My second complaint is that the aliens were way to goofy this time. The farting, etc... was a bit much in the first part but their goofy antics in the second part were just over the top. A few times in the episode they frantically tried to put their suits back on...this was ok the first time but the second time they tried it was dumb. The way that the PM and the general acted was also ridiculous and the mindless idiots in the complex just accept that the two goofiest people ever are now running the country. The foolishness of the aliens can be forgiven this time but I fear they are continually going to be this way. Hopefully they won't be.

The story is just a tad bit ridiculous as well. I especially find it hard to believe that when the Prime Minister has a news conference warning of the vast amount of weapons in space that no one else bothers to verify it. I mean surly a country like the United States may attempt to check this out on their own, or perhaps an amateur astronomer with $500 telescope in his backyard? The United Nations is going to vote to give nuclear codes to the UK without even checking the sky for themselves? If a mothership is lined up so perfectly that the UK can determine its belly is right over London then surely someone else could have seen these aliens. Ugh. It just is to much. I know it is science fiction and everything and they have to move the story on at a fast pace, but if the story is this foolish perhaps they should tighten it up a bit. After all they invested two epsiodes in this story, maybe they should have taken the time to build a solid second episode.

This is the first time I have been disappointed by the new series and it is unfortunately a BIG let down after Aliens of London. Another thing that concerns me is that after Aliens of London there may have been a lot of buzz an the second part may have had a higher viewership due to the positive talk. A lot of new, first time watchers may have tuned in to see the poorest episode thus far and may decide to give up on Doctor Who based on this one.

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Since Charlton Heston pounded the sand in front of the down-on-her-luck Lady Liberty we've all known what Sci Fi was capable of. A level of shocking, nerve tingling brutality that domestic drama just can't replicate. Last night's Doctor Who somehow managed combine domestic drama with a sci fi shock which will stay in viewer's minds for sometime to come. The sight of Rose's mum waiting for 10 seconds and Micky starting what must have been an all-nighter staring at that spot was gut wrenching, finally a glimpse of how this series can better its previous incarnations. The ending to this episode was little short of genius.

Following last week's Aliens of London this episode was for me, duty over desire, and expectations were low. Seeing the Slitheen incapacitated by their own weapon and managing to get back into disguise just in time for the Doctor to return and look a wally in front of the military hinted at more of last week's pointless capering. However, what emerged from this was an excellent character driven disaster movie where Eccleston's grinning was reigned in for enough time for him to completely endear himself to his audience. Covering up for Mickey's reluctance to leave in the TARDIS, being unable to make the ultimate decision to risk his companion's life, diplomatically threatening the Slitheen that he would stop them if they didn't leave and finally nervously pacing the TARDIS waiting for Rose to ditch shepherd's pie for some stellar surfing added up to Eccleston's best performance to date.

I dont know what was different about this episode compared with last week's, perhaps it was the emotionally packed conclusion, the fact that each of the Doctor's associates had something meaningful to do, the emerging series continuity, it might have been the glass of wine I had with my dinner, whatever it was it made the farting seem less annoying. Whilst I wouldn't take back any comments made about the last episode this one certainly put to bed the notion that RTD couldn't write for his own series.

One minor gripe would be the obvious political commentry, the fat greedy Slitheen start a false war motivated by profit citing the presence of massive weapons of destruction and its New York where the decision is made to go ahead (geddit?). Sci Fi deconstructing the present through images of the future is nothing new, nor is it unwelcome, Star Trek, The Prisoner, Planet of the Apes and others have all commented on contemporary politics with great effect. Unfortunately when Andrew Marr is standing outside No. 10 talking about "massive weapons of destruction" the message is as subtle as a sledgehammer with 'I'm a political statement about the present govornment' written on it. The kids didn't get it and the adults all thought it anyway, this didn't change anyone's mind offer a moment of reflection and, for some, may have even been in poor taste. This is especially frustrating when Rose's own heartbreaking departure represented a triumph of open mindedness Vs xenophobia which far better made the point I feel RTD was getting at.

So my review started with the end and ended with the end which may be a little unfair to the rest of the episode. It was great fun with genuinely superb moments, what more could one ask for? Ans, The Daleks, oh yeah that's next week.

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After watching Episode 4 "Aliens of London" I had high expectations of "World War Three". But after viewing it, I feel that I was cheated. Russell T. Davies should really start thinking about other writers taking over the show. I just feel he doesn't have the ability to put out good "Doctor Who" stories. When writing for science fiction I feel one must always have believable situations backed up by some science. But with "World War Three" I found more plot holes than any other Doctor Who story I have ever seen.

It seems like RTD was halfway through writing the whole story, thought it wasn't good enough so then went in a completely different direction. The idea of Aliens faking a crash landing to kill all the experts on Earth so they won't have anybody to fight back is a good one. But when you start throwing in a family of "Aliens" who really just want us to nuke ourself so they can then sell the earth for scrap, is completely unbelievable. First off, the have a spaceship, they have better technology, yet they somehow can't seem to blow us up or the planet for that matter. If your from outer space and your in the "Business" of destroying worlds and selling them off as scrap, wouldn't you think you might have at some point just gotten weapons yourself to do it, and skip the whole 1-5 year plan of taking over governments and causing war?

Second: What was with the vinegar thing? That just made me feel like RTD thought we were stupid. It was like the garbage can that "eats" Micky in episode 1 which burps. This is a family show, but this latest story gave us farting aliens who die if you throw pickled eggs or salad dressing at them. I'm all for having a little bit of "camp" in an episode. But I don't think this is a comedy. Also when somebody gets on national television and claims a spaceship is right above the United Kingdom, don't tell me NOBODY takes a telescope or maybe just LOOKS UP! and says "Ummm it isn't their liar!". I feel that out of all the episodes so far, this was the laziest writing of them all. The 9th doctor really doesn't do anything here. He just talks on the mobile and gets Micky, Rose, Jackie and Harriet to do everything for him. And a good note though, once again Billie Piper shines throughout the episode. Christopher Eccelson is beginning to behave worse than Colin Bakers doctor though. I hate to say it but I'm kinda looking forward to him regenerating.

Third: Either make Jackie and Micky companions, or just drop them. I'm tired of going back and forth from Rose's life, to the Doctor's. The whole point of Doctor who's companions is that they are taken away from the world they know and put into outer space on adventures. It doesn't work when they "Visit" home every other episode. What's next? She forgets her favourite CD and goes home for zips home quick second to pick it up? For a doctor who doesn't do "domestics" he spends a lot of time with Roses family and friends. And I know in this episode it was only because of the situation that he interacted with them, but I checked upcoming episode casts and Jackie and Micky will be back.

I do have to say though the costumes and special effects were good. But I feel RTD has to make a choice, either write for Doctor Who, or produce it. But I don't think he can do both. The best episode so far wasn't written by him and it was the best. When you want the viewers to believe that you can hack into government missile control using just ONE password from your home computer.......its time to call in other writers. In the meantime, bring on the Daleks!!!

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Downing Street exploding in a ball of flames, more farting, and Mickey saving the world ... just in time for tea at Rose's mum's house. Sounds ridiculous? Well, that is because it is.

If you take it all with a pinch of salt, it is all good fun and frolics on a Saturday night but World War Three was nothing really all that special despite some of the grand effects. While Aliens of London had its bad points, I still enjoyed it quite a lot and it had a lot of memorable scenes. I didn't think World War Three was as good - despite the big explosions and the grand scale of the events - it did not have the eerie impact of Dalek and Cybermen invasion episodes of yesteryear which both also had big London landmarks throughout.

After the fearsome Autons, the evil Cassandra, and the chilling Gelth zombies, the Slitheen just seemed so... gay (as Rose might put it).

Dr Who has gained a lot of credibility in recent weeks for good storylines and scary aliens, but the old fashioned green bug eyed monster never hit the mark for me. These are one type of alien I would not like to see come back but I did like the unzipping effect.

While there were some nice touches (the Doctor realising that the army would never take him seriously that the Prime Minster was actually a green alien), and the vinegary death of one of the Slitheen), I don't think World War Three ever got going.

Even Andrew Marr's brief reporting scene, which was done pretty well last week, was lacking in sparkle - the other journalist seemed like an actor rather than a serious news reader. In previous episodes I have laughed out loud at some of the lines, but it all got a bit bogged down at times in this episode. The exchange between the Dr, Rose and Hariott and the Slitheen towards the end of the episode before the Dr closed the door had possibilities, you would have thought, but it seemed to be lacking.

While all this seems a bit critical, I still enjoyed it and the show was harmless fun. There was an element of claustrophobia in it and there were some neat touches (I liked the Dr's escape into the elevator) - the episode just lacked some depth and gravitas which some of the previous episodes have had and left me gasping for more.

The teaser for next week was thrilling though and the Dalek lighting up and coming to life just made me feel like a kid again. And perhaps that is the whole point. The show is aimed primarily at children and it is a family show. There are some great lines of dialogue. There was one great scene of tension as the Dr deliberates over the next course of action as he is asked by Rose's mum about whether her daughter will be safe or not. It was good pathos and one of the best scenes in the episode as it reached its climax.The ending as Rose and the Dr leave did not have the same glorious hit the nerve impact of previous episode endings but at least the teaser made up for that! While it was understated, it just didn't feel all that special and after Mickey saving the world, his overtures to the Dr that he was too scared to go in the Tardis did not rest easily with this. Why would he tell the Dr not to tell Rose this - it just seemed a bit weak.

I would have preferred if Rose had just left again of her own accord and not tell anybody rather than this twee kind of ending.

Overall, perhaps destroying Downing Street was going a bit far? Hariot was okay and may have made a half decent companion but becoming the new Prime Minister at the end seemed a little bit predictable. It was all good fun anyway and while it was probably the weakest episode so far, it was still exciting. Roll on the Daleks to truly exterminate Celebrity Wrestling once and for all

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It improved dramatically from Aliens of London. Once again the Doctor took lead role again and calmed down a bit over his treatment of Micky, realising he's not a bad kinda guy and who knows, might someday end up doing good. Even the Slitheen improved when we found out what their real agenda was. you could say this was Russell T Davies best script so far, but then that's because I appreciate the anti war message that he was saying and the satire on the false Weapons of Mass destruction 45 minute claim but most important of all was how gung ho the humour race can be when faced with war. IE Blow them up, thus bringing the educational factor back into Doctor Who

However I was somewhat surprised that Micky after using his computer skills to save the world didn't want to go with Rose and join the Doctor in his adventures. Mind you though there's always the 2nd series. Perhaps RTD might include Micky as a future companion. On the whole World War Three provided a balance from the silly childish humour seen in Aliens of London. It was good to see the Doctor once again solving a problem and saving the world. Christopher Eccleston was serious for a change and not being his usual patronising self and if he keeps this up he'll be well respected even though he only did one season.

I also appreciated Penelope Wilton's scenes as Harriet Jones MP. You could really feel for the character and hope that in the future British Politics does have a better woman Prime Minister than Margaret Thatcher who ruined the lives of so many people.

Three Cheers for RTD. Let’s hope he gets nominated for the Nobel in 2005.

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An intriguing second part to this eventful two parter. Setting predominantly most of the episode inside number ten was a risky idea, one that worked more on dialogue then an explosive finale. However this part was also about the lesser characters building the role of Mickey and his relationship with the Doctor and also Rose’s mother who she is and showing that there are feelings within these characters.

The concept of hacking more into UNIT was a clever move, I was realty glad to see UNIT brought back and was deluged with questions to who they were during the first part, but again it’s a good was of linking back to classic episodes.

Brilliant acting from Ecclestone and Billie Piper and I thought the Penelope Wilton’s role was well cast and preformed by a wonderful actress. Complementating the ac ting was again a good script from Davies, he aloud the story to move at its own pace without forcing it forward who changing it in any way.

Again there were small elements of which tailed over from the first part, which I found a little debatable again the flatulence, and I found the mysterious blue light, which appeared inward then, outward when they opened their heads intriguing although that added to the suspense and horror of the story.

The aliens were good, very childish and this came across well and thought the actual concept of them selling Earth was again a striking clever more from Russell T Davies, they were almost an intergalactic homes under the hammer!

However a strong well written episode again showing Davies’s strength in this field, and I look forward to the return of the Dalek on Saturday which looks fantastic.

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Far, far better. Any problems that I had with Aliens of London are successfully ironed out and as a whole this works very well indeed with each storyline being paid off with a great deal of style. The comedy, drama and excitement mingle together to create a thrilling 45 minutes of television and for the first time this season I actually got the very real impression that I was watching ‘old style’ Doctor Who. If you were plummeting to the depths of TV hell and watching Celebrity Wrestling on the other side instead of this then shame on you.

I know this will leave my good friends Mike Morris and Rob Matthews spitting blood but World War Three felt like a really good episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not only because it was well performed and filmed but there is a terrific thread of humour running through the episode that keeps things electrical on screen. The characters all have a marvellous chemistry and all get very funny lines, which helps to balance the crisis with entertainment. Don’t get me wrong…this isn’t light entertainment, not when you are talking about nuking the world and aiming missiles at Downing Street but the humour compliments the action brilliantly, helping you to like the characters and really care about the danger they are in.

Would any other show do something as daring as crashing a spaceship through Big Ben and blowing up Downing Street? After the reaction to 9/11 it is understandable that terrorist attacks on TV have calmed down a tad with only natural disasters acceptable to see famous landmarks destroyed (ie The Day After Tomorrow). How like Doctor Who to jump in feet first with these unforgettable images…certainly the destruction of Big Ben was all talk at my work place last week. It is the shows bravery and unashamed melodrama that has kept it going for so many years. You want Dinosaurs roaming about London? Or the Loch Ness Monster peeking up from the Thames? Now we can add these glorious shock images to the list and even better, we now have the budget to support such spectacle. And they just look fab.

The Slitheen come off much better in World War Three mostly because we always suspected they were supposed to be comedy aliens and they are now confirmed as such. Their cute, bug eyed appearance and wickedly funny lines combine to create an alien race with one of the most ingenious schemes ever to grace the series. Selling the nuclear remains of the Earth during a recession? What, have they let Margaret Thatcher run the universe or something? There is nothing more amusing than a being chased around corridors by monsters and if you are going to do then why not choose the most spectacular locale to do it in…10 Downing Street! The FX team pull off the rubber costumes and CGI with minimal fuss, you can obviously tell which is which (and occasionally those fingernails are a bit too rubbery to have the knife edge sound effects playing over them) but I was so caught up in what was actually going on I can only remember nodding at the scene where the Doctor, Rose and Harriet are being pursued by three CGI Slitheen and commenting “That is so cool.” Whether arguing over whose disguise belongs to who or uttering a quick “BOL-“ before being blown to smithereens, this was simply a far better attempt to appeal to adults as kids with the aliens than the last episode and the incessant farting (which made a brief appearance but was not dwelled upon, much as it should have last week). Personally my favourite Slitheen moment came during the climax when the missile has been launched and everybody is getting nervous and excited and we cut back to the Slitheen for a quick second all waiting by the phone for the emergency codes and one of them cries “Ring, damn you!” Absolute genius.

Of course there is a more serious side to the episode which began in Aliens of London dealing with Rose’s return home and her mothers integration into her new life. This is where Russell’s writing is at its best to be honest. Whilst this episode has sold me on his ability to write good science fiction, I was always convinced that he could write good human drama and he excels himself here. I love how it is slipped into the chaotic moments without feeling intrusive, any other series would be mad to take a second out of the end of the world to discuss a distraught mother worrying about her child but Jackie’s concerns feel real and her “Can you promise me my daughter will always be safe?” when a bloody missile is heading for Rose really hits home. World War Three has proven that this two parter is far more interested in Jackie than it is in Rose which is probably no bad thing, we can emote with Rose in any episode but our rare glimpses of Jackie have got to have a real punch. And boy has she come on since the first episode, now she is a fully fleshed out character, funny, sharp and pathetic all rolled into one. I think she is great and has been responsible for the most emotional scenes yet. Her quiet “Don’t go sweetheart” at the end is heartbreaking and for a second you want Rose to stay. It says something about Russell’s writing for ‘straight’ drama that I found the final scene of World War Three far more satisfying than that of Aliens of London, big blobby aliens are all very well but a mother and daughter being torn apart is just shattering.

And wow! That was Mickey! I really wanted him to hop in at the end, I think Noel Clarke has relaxed into the series and would make a pretty cool companion, had he accepted the Doctor’s offer I think there could have been a nice bit of tension on board the TARDIS. It is the Doctor’s nasty comments about him that make Mickey such fun, despite how has been treated by our favourite Time Lord he still hacks into the Royal Navy and saves the day. There is something wonderfully boggle-eyed about Mickey, that he is constantly being confronted with things that are just beyond his comprehension and Clarke has the comedy coward with a heart down pat. I find his character very appealing (and not just because I think black guys are hot) because he does what a situation demands, he’ll pick up a baseball bat and fight even if his instincts are telling him to hide under a table. The “I just saved your life!” “How embarrassing!” scene was excellent.

The least Doctor-ish episode is followed up by the most Doctor-ish episode. How bizarre. Three episodes in and Eccleston has got it. Not perfect mind because he still grins inanely during some tense moments (I really wanted to punch him when that lift door opened and the Slitheen was standing there…and he grinned!) but he is afforded some strong, emotional moments, which really suit Eccleston. Plus he is given some very witty dialogue, which reminded me of Tom Baker at the peak of his powers, his whole sequence with the sonic screwdriver and the alcohol was very funny and delivered to perfection. It was his dilemma between saving the world and saving Rose that I found most satisfying and rarely has the Doctor’s love for his companion shone through so bright. When he tells Jackie over the speakerphone about how dangerous his can be you believe him totally.

I feel I should say a few words about Murray Gold whose incidental music has been given a good slagging off week after week now. If you don’t like synthesised music then you are fans of the wrong show! I think he understands the show perfectly, slightly camp but full of excitement, he gives the action a real boost and scores the emotional moments with appropriate beauty. He certainly did a brilliant job with this episode with his constant, jittery score throughout the missile sequences and a tear-jerking finale as Rose is reunited with her mum. Bravo.

The first two parter can only be seen as a success. Perhaps my bad feelings towards last week was because I was frustrated at not being able to see how this concluded…no…there were some genuine problems there. But World War Three addressed them and improved them and made for a far more entertaining and powerful 45 minutes.

Now we have a set of ‘regulars’ that extends beyond the Doctor and Rose, I cannot wait until we pop back and visit them again.

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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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Well, slightly better than the scatological absurdity that was, in general, Aliens of London. Sadly RTD still saw fit to stretch out the flatulence idiocy to the second part, but thankfully it was much less prominent than in the first episode. Unlike the Colin Baker x2 45-minuters of Season 22 which tended to deteriorate from good premises in the first episodes to bathetic run-arounds in the second episodes (bar Revelation of the Daleks of course), World War III was a (small) improvement on its opening episode, but still not enough of an improvement to redeem this generally peurile two parter.

Re-watching it I thought to myself: is this what we've waited sixteen years for? This sort of soft-focus, cod-filmic, nauseatingly contemporaneous and flimsily scripted near-pastiche of the old classic series? Unquiet Dead excepted, so far New Who is a very very pale shadow of Old Who, and it makes me almost long for the days of the cheaper but more inventive, video-dominated McCoy era (bar of course S24). To me New Who just doesn't convince and I'm afraid neither does the Ninth Doctor: Eccleston, powerful actor though he is, simply wasn't suited to this part, as I suspected prior to the series airing. If his 'northernness' had been more understated and his image, ironically, more overstated, so he resembled something a little more interesting than an ordinary bloke straight out from a Salford pub, then he might have made a pretty memorable incarnation. I just can't get used to this Doctor despite occasional attempts to bring some vague bit of gravitas to his performance. The eccentricity just isn't really there - at least not convincingly. There are many highly gifted actors who are not suited to this particular role, and Eccleston is one of them. Whilst there were/are legion other far more suitable actors/character actors who were/are begging to be put in the role for the Ninth and Tenth Doctors (Tennant isn't too bad a choice, but I'm not very keen on his latest assertions of wanting to do it with his Scottish accent and in a kilt): David Collings (always my first choice and still going strong, though not on TV), David Warner, Rhys Ifans (to my mind the most obvious choice now, in the ascendant as an actor and the right sort of age range plus eccentric and very versatile), Pete Posthleswaite - even, to some extent, Daniel Craig. Still, as with general style and storylines, it's all been decided for us behind closed doors.

Back to World War III (what a dull and unimaginative title): improvements include generally convincing and well-realised Slitheens - not so much the CGI which makes them look almost totally different due to their Alien-esque movements - bar one shot of a bobbing head; fairly nice change on the old invasion plot, the Slitheens actually being a family business of marauding capitalists, though this all seemed a bit implausible really; touch of polemic with the '45 second' clause, let down a bit by RTD's typically clumsy and overly obvious writing; the Doctor was doing more of the thinking this time than his companions (used to be the other way round in the old series of course, bar early Hartnell stories); the Doctor remembering Harriet Jones will become Prime Minister of a future golden age; far less fart jokes. Right, that's it.

Quandaries: did one of the Slitheen say 'Oh boll....' as it was being blown up at the end? I think so. Could you imagine any of the old aliens exclaiming such a terrestrial expression on being destroyed? Simply inappropriate for Who and more in keeping with comedy sci-fi films or Hitchiker's (on which RTD seems to be basing most of his New Who vision - perhaps someone should mention to him that Who isn't actually meant to be a comedy? And for that matter, Hitchiker's was funny). It seemed very easy to hack into UNIT's computer network and casually set off a missile; it also seemed very convenient that the first missile Mickey clicked on happened to be the one they needed!

Criticisms: the domestic scenes, which are a scandalous waste of potential plot/Doctor development time, not to mention general story time. Jackie is excruciatingly annoying and superfluous as far as I am concerned - it's a pity the one Earth family milked in the series, which is irritating in itself, happens to have as its matriarch a sexually frustrated paroxide-blond air-head who wears tracksuit tops! Another sign of the BBC's patronising opinion of the public. Whilst Mickey's actor admittedly does put a lot into his part, and can be quite amusing sometimes, again, what's the bloody point? THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE YET ANOTHER TEDIOUS SOAP OPERA! Doctor Who is supposed to be one of the very few programmes which can offer an alternative to the usual peurile viewing!

The climax was pretty far-fetched over all and implausibly providential. Why wasn't UNIT featured more substantially? If you're going to have explosions solving everything in a contemporary Earth setting, you may as well throw UNIT into the pugilist proceedings.

Over all then, a pretty vacuous story with a marginally better second episode, but, let us not forget (or rather, let us forget) a lavatorial opening episode which went to prove decisively that Weapons of Who Destruction can definitely be deployed in just 45 minutes!

Roll on 'Dalek', for God's sake...

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Ahh, contrived cliffhanger resolution. Don't you just love it?

One of the immutable edicts of Doctor Who lore, ritually spoken by fans through the decades, is that Episode Three Shall Consist Mainly of Padding. However, in the new 45 minute format, episodes three are a thing of the past, with the second episode of this two parter forming the equivalent, in screen-time terms, of both three and four of a traditional four-part story. Thus there is the potential, in theory at least, for two-parters to lose the sagginess of the original format, combining the aimless running around of the penultimate episode with the climactic action of the finale without spending too much time on either.

Does World War III manage this? Does it ever.

Picking up from where Aliens of London left off, the cliffhanger is wrapped up in traditional Deus Ex the Doctor style, leaving room for a packed forty minutes of monster-filled mayhem. It may feel oddly paced to the committed fan, used to cliffhangers like clockwork every 25 minutes, but both the story and character development is well structured, the plot playing out intelligently, with a real sense of creeping menace towards the end. As you might expect from Russell T Davies, there is much playful subversion of expectation - a neat spin on the splitting-up-the-TARDIS-crew idea, some deliberate undermining of our expectations of the Slitheen and a genuinely surprising way to Save the Day - but happily he never loses sight of the essential 'run-away-from-the-horrible-things!' feel of a monster-based story.

The visual effects go a long way to helping this impression, of course, and thankfully the Slitheen turn out to be very impressive in the flesh, both as full-suit prosthetics and as CGI work. Nitpickers might complain of a certain costume-wobble in the head department, as well some repetition in terms of reveals, but reactions from children bear our Russell T's claim that these are great monsters, their baby faces and digestive problems belying their thoroughly bloodthirsty nature. Helpfully for parents, though, he makes a point of providing step-by-step instructions for dealing with them, revealing just what sandwich snacks to leave on the bedside table in case of nightmares.

While the cast is of course largely the same as that established last week, it's worth noting that Christopher Eccleston's awkwardness in last week's episode - a reflection of the fact that it was the first to be filmed - has by now disappeared, with the actor having apparently settled much more into the role. And with such a strong guest cast, even Penelope Wilton was hard pressed to outshine those playing the Slitheen, making her final scenes all the more satisfying to a die-hard fan of Ever Decreasing Circles. Less impressive were Jackie and Micky, noted in the past as the weakest regular performers, unfortunately made all the more obvious here with them being teamed up for large periods. However, while Jackie once again feels a bit out of her depth emotionally, with her talents clearly lying more in the comedy area, Micky manages to excel himself, helped by a strong and satisfying character arc playing on his relationship with the Doctor.

While the plot is still straightforward, there's a lot in this episode, from cosy domesticity (despite the Doctor's continuing insistence that he "doesn't do families") to gruesome comedy, to outright scare-the-kiddies-shitless monster moments. Luckily the Slitheen also get plenty of comedy to relieve the tension, as well as some subtle and not-so-subtle satirical jibes by virtue of the political setting - some of them almost too timely a fortnight before the UK's general election. With some nice directorial touches, including good use of live tv reports as established in Aliens of..., the whole thing fairly flies by, a million miles from Colin Baker's lumbering first season, which was also made as thirteen 45-minute episodes (albeit alll multi-parters), and yet all but universally derided as the worst in the programme's history. It may be too early to say, but it's hard to believe such a fate lies in store for this story - by turns scary, funny, tense, dramatic, emotional, visually stunning and very, very silly, it feels on the contrary like exactly what Dr Who should be.

(Although, having said that, it was the one thing WWIII didn't have that really made the highpoint of the episode - the final two minutes, when all the Slitheen nonsense was done with, the story was over, and we could get a preview of next week's episode... Dalek. Now that's worth turning on for.)

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This is my first review, so I'd like to make a few general points first. It's great that the series is back, and I love the arrangement of the theme - it gives it a certain power and drive, that works well, though I am disappointed that the end theme is so truncated; I would love to hear the full version to this arrangement. The opening sequence itself is simply brilliant; the graphics are top notch!. When Billie was announced as Rose, I was sceptical, but she is already turning out to be one of the best and most three dimensional companions that I can recall. Christopher as the doctor is starting to grow on me; he is still a bit uneven, but he is a very adept actor, who is managing to add great depth to the doctor. I do find his "fantastic!"'s a bit wearing though. There is a certain hardness to his doctor that I like, we don't yet know the story behind the extinction (!?) of the time lords, but we see glimpses of how this has affected him. The Tardis set is, in itself, very impressive, but I'm afraid I hate it; it's not the Tardis I know and love.

World War Three was actually not a bad episode. I have the advantage of watching this series with my 7 year old son ( the age group aimed at, it would appear), and while he was scared of the Slitheen the previous week, he appeared not too bothered this week, though I think it was the unzipping scenes that got him. The plot itself petered out about half way through the episode, but the character development was good. There were some nice gags peppered about, the best being the doctor being held at gunpoint before backing into the lift, and "you kiss this man!". The Slitheen themselves were a disappointment; I groaned last week at the return of the 'extras running about in silly rubber suits'; the CGI scenes worked much better. I expect money limited the use of CGI. This is perhaps why the suits were thankfully not seen as much, and when they were, they tended not to move about.

The farting was overused and tedious, and is an example of why I'm not convinced that RTD is the great writer everyone seems to think he is. I will concede though that he is much better at character development than he is plot development. The interchanges between Mickey and the doctor were the highlight of the episode, closely followed by Rose and her mum. The doctor not being able to promise that Rose will be safe was very well done, adding realism and depth; life does not always have a happy ending.

I was surprised at a glaring oversight; the scene where the Tardis is being cleaned. The doctor looks out and you can clearly see the side of the police box, even though the doors are directly linked to the interior. Sloppy. The sonic screwdriver was overused, and the doctor seems to rely on it too much. Is it me, or does that particular prop seem to change from week to week?

The series is still finding its feet, and it shows, but there is a lot to commend it; its a shame that we won't get to see Christopher develop over a second season, as I think that would have been very interesting. Hopefully David will last longer, mainly because the doctor is reaching his limit on regenerations!

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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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Science fiction has always been used to express political points of view, and some might argue that the best of science fiction is that which does so.

Fritz Lang’s passionate defense of workers in Metropolis. Fred Pohl’s scathing indictement of consumerism in The Space Merchants. George Lucas’ not-so-subtle demonstration that corporatism unchecked leads to imperialism. John Brunner’s still enormously relevant The Sheep Look Up. THX-1138. Dune. Foundation. The Cold War paranoid fantasies of the 1950s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Them and its collective/communist ants, balanced by The Earth Stood Still and It Came From Outer Space. Even Godzilla.

I’ve always been very pleased that Doctor Who, unlike much of television, a medium not known for risk-taking (with a few exceptions such as The Prisoner), has always had the guts to look to literature for inspiration and embrace political themes, delivering powerful allegories.

The Green Death shows how unchecked multinational corporations under the control of soulless automatons for whom profit has become a BOSS-like god and controller, will eventually despoil the Earth leaving only maggots and slime behind.

At an earlier time where religious strife was tearing apart Northern Ireland, The Massacre delivered a powerful warning. That message was echoed again in Genesis of the Daleks with its insane war to end all wars and the anti-xenophobic subtext of Carnival of Monsters more relevant today than ever.

The Sunmakers was a vibrant and kafkaesque manifesto against out of control government, and the manipulation of public officials by powerful financial interests behind the scenes. In Day of the Daleks, the so-called terrorists may have used the wrong methods (with unintended consequences) but at the end of the day, the Doctor sided with them against the collaborators.

In that glorious tradition, Russell T. Davies has delivered a spectacular Doctor Who allegory in his recent two-parter, Aliens of London and World War III.

From the start, the destruction of a well-known landmark (Big Ben) by a flying craft is used by the villains to whip up fear and take political power. I need not point out the similarities, including the media’s willing or unconscious participation in the process, and their failure to probe the event’s real causes. Interestingly, the pilot of the craft is revealed to be a pig, a short-hand demonization of a culture/faith for which such animal is unclean. But here the pig is a hapless tool, literally built and, shall we say, remotely-controlled by the true villains.

These villains are the Slitheen. To reuse terminology coined by Mussolini, the Slitheen are true corporatists. They use the destruction of Big Ben to take power, trigger a war, and turn Earth into a radioactive heap, in effect a source of cheap energy they can sell. More subtly, these corporatists are not just an alien race, but an actual family. The similarities between another Presidential dynasty, and its close-knit cabal, may have been unintended, but they are there nevertheless.

The “experts” – UNIT in the Whoniverse – are first coopted, then quickly neutralized by the villains, certainly echoing the outing of Valerie Plame and the recent purge of the CIA. At the end of the day, there are no forces in society able to oppose the cabal: the media are supine, the military at best confused, or a tool, the intelligence community beheaded, the political class collaborating or hostage (Harriet).

The all-too-obvious parallels in the script (“45 seconds,” “UN resolution,” “MWDs,” “We believed it the last time”) are almost superfluous because they distract from more than they reinforce the powerful sub-narrative that drives the story. The Doctor telling Mickey that the Human Race is “thick” should be enough of a wake-up call, and by being so obvious at times, Davis shows that, like the Doctor, he does believe that the people are “thick” indeed – but judging on facts, who could blame him?

Russell T. Davies’ answer to the cynical web of lies and purposeful deception perpetrated upon our population by a neo-corporatist cabal is two-fold: 1) blow them up, and 2) elect new leaders. It is a deceptively simplistic response, because it echoes the old Hindu philosophy of Destruction and Creation.

It is not enough to capture, drive away, get rid of the Old State, it must be destroyed. There must be a cost. Penance must be made. We cannot rebuild unless we tear down the corruption, pay the piper and learn from our mistakes, Such a process is not easy, cheap or painless, and it is adequately symbolized here by the destruction of No. 10 Downing Street, which acts as the closing bracket to the destruction of Big Ben at the opening of the play.

Creation is symbolized by the transformed Harriet Jones – what a superb character arc from a meek, ineffectual MP to a leader truly speaking to and from the people! – who is said to be the herald of a new Golden Age, this completing the traditional allegory.

Russell T Davies is, consciously or unconsciously, well aware that we will soon be facing the reality-based equivalents to his foretold Destruction, and in writing Aliens of London and World War III, he has given us more than a superbly crafted Doctor Who story, but echoes from our own future.

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Having criticized the new series for being rather light on plot due to the constraints of single forty-five minute episodes, I had high hopes for the first two-part story, since it would allow more time for the story to unfold. In fact, I found myself watching ‘Aliens of London’ and ‘World War Three’ and thinking that the rot has started to set in; there is much to enjoy here, but the two episodes are also horribly flawed in some major respects.

The first five minutes of ‘Aliens of London’ are abominable. With the TARDIS returning Rose home to visit her mum, the Doctor tells her that she’s been gone for twelve hours, only to sheepishly reveal moments later, “It’s not twelve hours, it’s, er, twelve months. You’ve been gone a whole year. Sorry.” Cue extended scenes of pure soap opera, as we see the consequences for one’s family of vanishing into space and time. As an attempt at realistic characterisation I can understand the reasoning behind it, but this isn’t in depth moving adult drama, it’s overwrought slop in the vein of such televisual excrement as Hollyoaks. The problem is not simply that it is present at all, but that it feels like it’s been crow barred into the series and it is mind-numbingly dull. Some of it has potential such as the fact that as the missing Rose’s boyfriend Mickey was quizzed five times as a murder suspect, but it’s hard to separate such promising strands of dialogue from Camille Coduri’s profoundly irritating performance as Jackie, who shrieks lines such as “What can be so bad that you can’t tell me sweetheart? Where were you?!” in a voice that could strip paint. In fairness, such soap opera leanings again juxtapose banality and fantasy as in ‘Rose’, such as when the Doctor is slapped by Rose’s mother, prompting him to complain, “Nine hundred years of time and space and I’ve never been slapped by someone’s mother.” Several times during the story the Doctor proclaims, “I don’t do domestics” which begs the question, why do we have to then?

However… despite my feelings on this subject, the unexpected side effect of Rose’s return home is to make Mickey work extremely well. Having been more artificial than an Auton in ‘Rose’, Noel Clarke puts in a much better performance here, for example getting a great deal out of the simple line, “Oh my God!” when Mickey sees the Doctor. When Rose asks him, “So, in twelve months have you been seeing anyone else?” his reply is, “No. Mainly because everyone thinks I murdered you” which made me chortle. Mickey’s banter with the Doctor I found genuinely entertaining here, especially the Doctor’s eye-rolling exclamation, “Yes, I get the football” when Mickey is presented with the sheer marvel of the TARDIS’s technology and thinks first about sport. Understandably angry with the Doctor, Mickey asks him, “I bet you don’t even remember my name?” prompting the Doctor glibly reply, “It’s Ricky” What follows is a daft but amusing battle of wits between them, as Mickey corrects him, “No, it’s Mickey… I think I know my own name” prompting the withering response, “You think you know your own name, how stupid are you?” Other nice touches for the character include Mickey awkwardly comforting Jackie, and the fact that Rose knows where to find vinegar in Mickey’s flat whilst Mickey doesn’t, which strangely is far more convincingly done as a piece of realism than Jackie’s squawking about her missing daughter. This also prompts one of the Docor’s wittier lines here, as Jackie finds pickled gherkins, onions and eggs, and the Doctor incredulously asks Rose, “You kissed this man?” Most notably however, Mickey gets to make up for his (admittedly realistic) gibbering cowardice in ‘Rose’, as the Doctor tells him, “Mickey the idiot, the world is in your hands.” The scene between the pair at the end is rather touching, as they reach an understanding and the Doctor even offers, “You could look after her, come with us.” Mickey declines, unable to face such a lifestyle, but asks the Doctor not to tell Rose, whom the Time Lord tells, “No chance, he’s erm, a liability, I’m not having him on board.”

So I liked Mickey here, but found most of the human drama cloying and tedious. Happily, this being Doctor Who one can always rely on the plot to entertain. Unless of course, it’s complete bollocks. ‘Aliens of London’ starts out quite promisingly in this regard, as an alien spaceship weaves around the London skyline before crashing into the Houses of Parliament clock tower and then landing in the Thames. However, reasonably exciting though this is, it soon leads into the larger plot, and we learn of the Slitheen plan, which is ridiculously overcomplicated. The audience is expected to swallow such claptrap as the fact that the UK has given all of its nuclear missile codes to the UN, that the Slitheen aren’t nuclear capable (it would have been far easier for them to nuke Earth from space), and that British naval missiles can be launched from a website that is protected by a ridiculously easy to hack password. The return of UNIT is nice, except that it will be meaningless to new fans, and will leave old fans trying to swallow the implication that the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce consists of four men in suits, all of whom are killed here. The politics are fairly badly mangled as well, with suggestions that the Prime Minister is the head of state. There is some interesting stuff in here; the whole Iraq war metaphor is too unsubtle to be called subtext, with non-existent weapons of mass destruction that can be deployed in forty-five seconds, and an illegal war fought for the world’s resources. Doctor Who has been doing barely disguised social commentary almost since it began, and it does at least mean that there is more to the plot than the simple message of not judging by appearances that we got a brief nod to in ‘The End of the World’. Nevertheless, the inclusion of such subtext is bound to annoy some audience members, whatever opinion they actually have on the Iraq war; a brief but similar throwaway line in ‘Scream of the Shalka’ proved rather controversial, and this is being watched by a lot more people.

There are other problems with the episodes as well. Most of these are minor irritations, such as the fact that there isn’t any blood left in the cabinet chamber after Asquith is killed and apparently skinned, and the sheer incompetence of the Police backing the Doctor against a lift is unbelievable, as is the fact that they just stand around looking gob smacked whilst he escapes, instead of riddling him with bullets. Indeed, gormless would-be comedy policemen litter the storyline like dog turds on a pavement. And in the midst of all the factual inaccuracies about the British government, Harriet delivers lessons for the kids about Hannibal and making acetic acid from ethanol, which is strangely twee. I also have issues with the production, including Keith Boak’s direction. Whilst I like the Slitheen spaceship (which reminds me vaguely of Thunderbird Two), the Slitheen themselves, and the infamous Pig, the CGI used for the first two occasionally looks unconvincing, and the decidedly rubbery nature of the Pig doesn’t do anything to silence its detractors. The Slitheen costumes are also obviously men in rubber costumes, which this being Doctor Who I don’t have a problem with; they are occasionally realised purely by CGI however, and it doesn’t mesh convincingly with the costumes, especially during the chase through Number 10 in ‘World War Three’. Mind you, the destruction of Number 10 Downing Street is well realised, and if that bloke who complained about the BBC blowing up a church during ‘The Dæmons’ is still alive and watching, he must have soiled himself. The incidental music also grates once more, acting yet again as a pompous intrusion during the more dramatic emotional scenes in the second episode. What really annoyed me however was the horribly mangled cliff-hanger, which showed various characters in peril, only to be immediately followed by the trailer for ‘World War Three’, which showed the same characters in rather less peril. I didn’t think that the Doctor or Rose would get killed, but I didn’t even get to spend a week hoping that I’d be spared any further appearances by Jackie. It didn’t help that the resolution at the start of ‘World War Three’ was effectively a pre-credits sequence, making the whole thing feel horribly disjointed.

‘Aliens of London’ and ‘World War Three’ also mark the point at which I finally start to find the Ninth Doctor irritating, although still not as much as some critics. It’s Christopher Eccleston’s gurning that irritates me, and there is an appalling scene in the TARDIS as the Doctor repairs things in fundamentally annoying slapstick fashion, grinning like a tit throughout. On the other hand, he gets plenty of decent moments here, including the Doctor’s laugh of delight when the ship crashes (and Rose’s stunned “Oh, that’s just not fair” is great). There’s a nice moment when he gives Rose the TARDIS key, but best of all is the fact that he’s at his most proactive here, such as when he takes charge of the military in the hospital, overcomes the Slitheen trap at the end of episode one, works out how to defeat them with vinegar (The “Narrows it down” scene allows Eccleston to show the cogs in the Doctor’s mind whirring overtime), and gives Mickey instructions on how to blow up Downing Street. Eccleston conveys the Doctor’s fury at the shooting of the pig, of which he snarls, “What did you do that for? It was scared!” and the Doctor’s obvious glee and waving at the cameras when he’s escorted to Downing Street is amusing. The Doctor quietly saying sorry to the dead, nameless secretary also achieves minor greatness. Eccleston sounds deadly serious when the Doctor tells the Slitheen, “I’ll give you a choice, leave this planet or I’ll stop you” and his line, “This my life Jackie, it’s not fun, it’s not pretty, it’s just standing up and making a decision” is designed to be quotable. However, I do find the Doctor’s dithering over whether to save the world and risk losing Rose frustrating in a way that brings back unpleasant memories of ‘Neverland’ and it again suggests that he’s lost some perspective since Episode Seven of ‘The Evil of the Daleks’. Rose incidentally gets less to do here than in previous episodes, most of her scenes revolving around the tedious domestic rot of her relationship with her mother, and attempts to explain her non-sexual relationship with the Doctor via dialogue such as “’E’s not my boyfriend Mickey, he’s better than that.” She also utters the controversial line, “You’re so gay” which I find more crass than offensive.

With more time to play with here, Davies does score with the some of the supporting characters and the guest cast is generally very good. Penelope Winton is great as Harriet Jones, who is obviously terrified by what she’s seen, but brave enough to try and do what is right, prompting the Doctor to tell her, “You’re very good at this.” As soon as the Doctor recognizes her name, it’s obvious that she’ll become Prime Minister, but it still works quite well. Mind you, her line, “When they fart, if you’ll pardon the word” is an example of misfiring would-be comedy. Navin Chowdry is also good as Indra Ganesh and whilst Davies might overdo the human drama in some scenes, the small kindness of a cup of coffee manages to be strangely poignant. Mention must also be made of Andrew Marr who does a fine job of playing himself in ever-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek style. The various “fat” actors all seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, especially David Verrey and Rupert Vansittart, and Annette Badland manages to be gleefully sinister.

But my favourite aspect of ‘Aliens of London’ and ‘World War Three’ is the Slitheen, who work for me simply because they seem to having so much fun. Yes, their plan is ridiculous, but aliens who giggle at their own colossal flatulence and are obsessed with nudity entertain me on the basest possible level. “I’m shaking my booty” is an appallingly bad line, but it is compensated for by the brilliant, “Excuse me, your device will do what? Triplicate the flammability? You’re making it up!” and “I rather enjoyed being Oliver. He had a wife, a mistress and a young farmer. God, I was busy.” They look great too, in a rubbery, traditionalist sort of way, and their big eyes are rather striking. On a less silly level, Davies makes an attempt to flesh them out as characters, with their hunting rituals and details about their rather novel calcium-based physiology, which memorably makes them vulnerable to vinegar. The fact that Slitheen is their family name, not the name of their species is a nice touch, as are their convoluted and overlong names. In a possible nod to ‘The Leisure Hive’, we also get an acknowledgement of the fact that they hide inside fat humans, as the Doctor explains, “They’re big old beasts. They need to fit inside big humans.” The fact that they sober up when they learn that one of them has died, allows them to show just enough emotion to add depth, and I also like their final scene, as they bicker over costumes before their leader casts his eyes skyward and cries, “Oh, boll-”.

Overall, ‘Aliens of London’ and ‘World War Three’ form the first real disappointment of the new series, but they aren’t entirely without merit. It might be worth noting that we get the first proper reference to regeneration in the new series, just as people are wondering if Christopher Eccleston really quit or if he only ever signed up for one series. And whatever the shortcomings of the episodes, everything suddenly feels terribly exciting at the end with the trailer for ‘Dalek’.

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The first 2-part story in the Eccleston's sole season of Doctor Who confirmed suspicions of a new tact that Russell T Davies wants to implement with the new series - that of an air of reality, humanity and drama that has never before been seen in Doctor Who. It is an element that is causing division amongst the fans, much like the first season of Peter Davison's time as the Doctor, in which the TARDIS crew was criticised for being too much like soap opera characters at times. I must admit to favouring the arguments and tussles of the main cast, because it brings a lot more depth to their characters. Adric's death in 'Earthshock' actually benefitted from these soap opera moments in my opinion, and while I don't actually think either Camille Coduri or Noel Clarke are particularly brilliant actors, I do think the characters of Jackie and Mickey are a fantastic addition to the new series. Some have said the character development between the four recurring cast members has taken up too much time in the new series, but if we are going to get original ideas such as the '12 hours = 12 months' gutwrencher at the opening of 'Aliens of London' and the lovely '10 seconds' finale to 'World War III' as a replacement for 25 minutes of running up and down corridors on an alien ship as many of the classic episodes were guilty of, then I'm all for bringing a bit of emotion in.

It was moments like these that made me think a lot of the Aliens of London/World War III episodes when I watched them back, having been disappointed in the story as a whole on first viewing. The plot itself is quite simple and traditional in terms of Who, with an alien race trying to take over Earth for their own ends, which turn out to be for the Slitheen 'family business'. The lovely twist of them using a decoy alien ship in 'Aliens Of London' is a wonderful idea, even if the pig in a spacesuit is a little bit of a badly realised moment for a modern audience to watch in my opinion. But where I was disappointed was that the menace of these aliens trying to take over 10 Downing Street was totally and utterly negated by misguided humour and a terrible, terrible creation in the design of the Slitheen. Whoever was in the BBC discussion room and said 'I know! Let's make the baddies EVEN MORE LAUGHABLE than the MIDGET PIG just to really annoy the fans' should be shot. After the nicely done Autons of 'Rose', monster fest of 'The End Of The World' and the frightening Gelth of 'The Unquiet Dead', the revelation of the Slitheen was disappointing, even more so because it was at the first cliffhanger ending of the series.

Certain elements of the script didn't fit well together. Whilst there were 3 moments of genuine tension in the entire 2 episodes for me, that worked brilliantly (namely, Dr Sato hearing noises in her laboratory; Mickey and Jackie battling to stop the Slitheen in Mickey's flat and the build up to the cliffhanger of 'Aliens Of London') many other moments in the story were presented as farcical. I love witty one-liners in Doctor Who ('Have you been seeing someone else?'; 'No, mainly because everyone thinks I murdered you'), but they need to be used at the right time: 'Would you rather silent but deadly?' is a dreadful, dreadful line, used in one of the most important points in the story and it is one of many misplaced moments where the tone changes from one of brilliant menace and danger to one of utter stupidity.

Which brings me onto Christopher Eccleston. While Billie Piper treats the script with respect and manages to make all of her scenes believable, Eccleston's performance is becoming more and more erratic, and utterly out of context in places. When his execution is ordered at the beginning of 'World War III', his response is a ridiculous diatribe about cornering people by lift doors. Any fear that the Doctor might be shot is gone, because he stands there for 5 minutes while the army just look at him and don't even try to shoot him at all. Eccleston performs these scenes like the very worst moments of McCoy in Season 24 and he doesn't have the benefit that he'll have 3 years to ease into the role, like McCoy did. Admittedly he's not helped by the script in these scenes, nor is he helped by utterly over the top performances from David Verrey and Annette Badland in the main villain roles, who both (Verrey in particular) seem to be sending the show up. Verrey is a poor actor at the best of times, and to see him in such an important role was disappointing.

Other members of the supporting cast were truly wonderful though. Penelope Wilton, as expected, was the standout. Her character was believable and well-rounded and far more developed than any of the characters from the earlier episodes in this season, which is another benefit of the 2-part stories. Other good performances in 'Aliens Of London' came from Navin Chowdhry and Naoko Mori, as Indra Ganesh and Dr Sato respectively, both in small, but important roles, and I was disappointed neither of them made it into 'World War III'. I'd love to see all 3 of these actors in the show again, but particularly Wilton even if she doesn't get to say 'Harriet Jones MP Flydale North' as the prime minister!

Overall, a mixed bag for me. Some truly wonderful moments, but some utterly terrible ones too. I think the story didn't quite live up to the premise of the first 20 minutes of 'Aliens Of London' and that there was far too much silliness and running down corridors at the beginning of 'World War III' (certainly the weakest 10 minutes of the season so far for me). Variable performances, variable scripting and variable production values also let the story down, but at the same time I found myself interested from beginning to end, so it can't have been all bad.

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It seems a little odd to me to be reviewing "Aliens of London" and "World War Three" separately. True, to the casual viewer, they must stand on their own two feet as separate wholes ( which they succeed in doing - the reprise at the start of both episodes serves to set the scene concisely ) but they are, after all, two parts of the same story. With your indulgence, I should like to offer my thoughts on both parts together:

Episode 1 began with the fast pace that is becoming characteristic of the series; We are shown a summary of "Rose". The materialisation of the Tardis ( wasn't the swirling litter a nice touch? ). Rose - who at this point believes she's only been gone for twelve hours - is planning to state that she had spent the night at Cherie's. The Doctor reading a poster intercut with Jackie's shock at seeing her daughter and the sudden realisation that Rose had, in fact, been missing for a whole year. And all this before the opening titles!

Mr Davies once again shows his skill at grounding the fantastic in the real; The glimpses of Rose's family life, her mother's questioning - "just one phone call to let me know you're safe", slapping the Doctor across the face and the policeman asking whether their ( the Doctor and Rose's ) relationship was sexual were nice touches. Then onto the roof of the tower block and that great gag about the age difference. Russell T certainly knows his job. The characters he craetes are real and have real lives and real concerns.

With hardly a pause for breath we are thrown into the story proper - what a tremendous sequence of the spaceship flying over ( and into ) London's landmarks! This shiny new Doctor Who knows no bounds!! I loved the throwaway line blaming Ken Livingstone for the traffic jams ( he's mayor of London and responsible for the introduction of congestion charging ) and the fact that the Doctor is reduced to watching events unfold on the telly.

>From her we move to the mortuary of the Albion Street hospital - a nice nod to the past here as the incidental music gives way to the sonorous ticking of the clock, perhaps acknowledging the '96 McGann film? And then onto Downing Street, where we are introduced to our flatulent acting P.M., to Ms Blaine and to Oliver Charles, who, apparently has a penchant for young farmers! How did they get away with this when we're in the middle of a General Election campaign?

I cannot at this point not mention the only poor element of the story - that pig! Though this was mitigated by fast editing and by the horrified reaction of the soldier to the Doctor's furious rebuke that it was scared. Where events cannot be realised convincingly, they shouldn't be shown at all. It is far more convincing to shown the actors' reactions. A case in point occurred moments later where the first 'unzipping scene' was shot from the point of view of Harriet Jones ( played superbly by Penelope Wilton ) hiding in a cupboard.

I am glad to see that the character of Mickey has been allowed to develop from the mere comic relief - though this is still very much there as he crashes into the wall behind the de-materialising Tardis. His scenes taunting Rose that the Doctor has abandoned her " that blue box thing faded away " and again inside the Tardis where he, Mickey, and Rose almost kiss serve to raise his character beyond that of a mere cypher. In episode two he really is given a significant role to play. Similarly, Jackie's mental anguish before she telephones the help-line was equally 'real' and served to push the plot along nicely.

And what a cliff hanger! This was well worth the wait. All the principal characters are placed in peril as General Asquith, Blaine and the Police Commandant all reveal their true colours. Jackie cowering in her kitchen had me on the edge of my seat smiling with shear joy - my disbelief being completely suspended.

A second minor criticism here; Whoever took the decision to preview the next installment by showing us that the Doctor has survived being electrocuted made a mistake in that it deprived the audience of that tantilising frisson of a week's wait. That aside, deputy PM Green's laughter ( like some ghoulish fairground dummy ) overlaying the closing moments served only to pile on the tension.

Episode Two began with a 'in one bound he was free' type moment followed by some running around in corridors so beloved of our little show. This time however, the corridors were beautiful and the action not at all wobbly. The CGI Slitheen were brilliantly realised - I loved their blinking complete with camera shutter type sound effect!

I shall long remember Rose and Harriet hiding whilst Blaine/Slitheen utters the immortal lines "Where are you children?" and "I can smell your sweat and fear". And later, where the Doctor threatens to "triplicate" ( shouldn't that be "treble"? ) the explosive power of the port only to have his bluff called and to offer Harriet the decanter, we are treated to a lesson in etiquette - the port should always be passed to the left! The dialogue sparkles and we are given a repeat of the line "lots of planets have a north ". To misquote Colin Baker, 'what's the point of a good quotation if you can't reuse it?'

With our heroes now effectively locked up in the cabinet office, a sizeable chunk of the action now moves initially back to the Tyler flat and then across the road to Mickey's. I don't want to spoil the story for those who haven't yet seen episode two, suffice to say I shall never look at a jar of pickled eggs in the same way and the Slitheen's momentary reaction to being doused in vinegar was so convincing as to be human!

References to 'mass weapons of destruction' to '45 seconds' and 'emergency debates in the UN' were obviously intended to strike a chord with today's audience but, I wonder if some might see these as being a bit too near the mark? Still, they do at least further serve to ground the programme in the here and now, to give the programme a more modern feel about it. 'Gritty' is a word often used to describe Pertwee's opening season, 'current' I think may well be used describe the 2005 season.

As I say, I don't want to spoil your fun, so I won't reveal the episode's climax save to say that the collected Slitheen's final word was the same as David Tennant's first in Casanova ( though understandably cut to only it's first syllable - there are children watching )! Am I alone in noticing that the line historical "happenstance" also appears in both programmes? Now why is that I wonder?

A cracking good yarn. If I've missed out anybody's contribution, this isn't because I don't genuinely appreciate them - I do, I do. Saturday nights are as they should be; cold, damp and hugely entertaining. And next week we get to see the Daleks. Joy of joys!

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The Ninth Doctor and Rose return to Earth for the first multi-part Doctor Who since Survival. At last, we can celebrate the return of the cliffhanger… or can we?

The real world infiltrates Doctor Who in unprecedented ways, as the TARDIS returns to Earth. There are some very intelligent ideas at work here, as the repercussions of a companion being taken out of their home environment have never really been explored by the series before. So this is long overdue. Unfortunately, it’s carried off quite badly – the right characters ask the right questions, but then it’s all glossed over. I would have expected the Doctor to be thrown in the police cells for his abduction of Rose, but within minutes, he’s happily watching TV in the Tylers’ living room, which, considering that the aliens have landed, is a very un-Doctorish thing for him to do. If he’s so bothered by all the other people in the room, why doesn’t he just watch events unfold on the TARDIS scanner?

Despite not wanting to move the TARDIS for some reason, the Doctor then does so anyway, only to face a bunch of soldiers who immediately obey him without question. He is eventually taken to Downing Street where he meets some aliens who try to kill him by electrocution, but fail purely because he’s not human. He then uses a simple password to hack into the Royal Navy’s network and fire a missile at Downing Street, which reaches its target unopposed. Surely I’m not the only person who finds this entire plot utterly unrealistic and implausible?

Still, Doctor Who has always relied on scary monsters and great acting to paper over cracks in the plot. Sadly, both of these are lacking here, also. I don’t have a problem with the fact the aliens fart a lot, but the constant puerile jokes about that bodily function and their oft-stated desire to be naked are absolutely embarrassing. They’re also very badly acted, designed and realised indeed. Add to that an overlong cliffhanger with a “one-bound-and-he-was-free” resolution, and we have a very disappointing story indeed.

Fortunately, there’s a fair bit to redeem these episodes. Jackie and Mickey are also badly acted, but at least they have plenty to do in this tale. Jackie’s concerns for her daughter are realistic and well-written, and the Doctor looks very awkward when facing her – it’s as if he’s more scared of her than any of the monsters he’s faced so far. His continual put-downs of Mickey were grating in the first episode – especially when that character was doing a good job of redeeming himself after the season opener – but the fact he has to rely on him makes it almost worthwhile, and the scene where he refuses to let him on board the TARDIS at the end is beautifully scripted. And I can’t let the pig slip by without comment. It’s not the first animal to become a Doctor Who alien, and there’s a plausible explanation for it on-screen (which there wasn’t for, say, the cheetah people). It’s given little screen time, is well-realised, and it provides the Doctor with one of his finest moments in the series so far.

Nevertheless, the bad points have far outweighed the good in my estimation, and as with Rose, I find myself being embarrassed by the series I love. The Aliens Of London story is not one of the show’s all-time stinkers, but when it’s bad, it’s very bad, and coming straight after The Unquiet Dead does it no favours. And it’s a sorry state of affairs when the biggest thrill in a Doctor Who story is the trailer for the episode to follow…

4/10.

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As I write, ‘World War Three’ has already aired. I have not seen it, and cannot until Friday, when I will watch the video I’ve recorded. I do not know much about ‘World War Three’. I hope it is better than this (although I doubt it).

Pleasingly, reviewers on this site are beginning to tune in to what I have said since March 26, that Christopher Eccleston’s performance in the role of Doctor Who really isn’t very good at all. Throughout, the man has looked a bit like a secondary school level actor, occasionally struggling to deliver the most basic lines in a manner even slightly resembling convincing. Given his performances elsewhere, I can only assume that this is because Russell T Davis’ writing is forcing him to play it goofy and erratic – basically, to conform to Davis’ own twisted conception of what is ‘Doctorish’ – and he is unfamiliar with this. The BBC’s press release refers to this Doctor being ‘wise’, as well as ‘funny’, but the petulance (seen in his treatment of Mickey), arrogance (always ready to tell people to shut up, even Charles Dickens!) and most of all basic incompetence (‘cause, think about it, what does he actually do in this episode? Apart from walk into a trap – again – he shows off his mental brilliance by figuring out that the pig-like thing is, in fact, a pig! Well done, Doctor) of this incarnation makes it very hard for me to take it seriously.

Bizarrely, some people have said that he is the ‘best Doctor yet’. Those people are the ones who have gone into the new series simply adamant that nothing and no-one is going to spoil the experience for them, and insist that the sun shines out of RTD’s backside irrespective of the quality of the stories they are watching (they clearly also have never seen Tom Baker or Pat Troughton in the role). Well, fair play to them – they are clearly who Russell is writing this for (he is very similar, convinced that his view of the series is the best ever) – it must be really nice to enjoy it, and I bet they are happier in life than me! It’s just that one or two of the things that fans in various forums have said come across as holier-than-thou. Why shouldn’t my blisteringly negative interpretation of this series be as valuable as their positive one, without being labelled ‘anal’? I bet they hate ‘Time and the Rani’, or something, and don’t get grief for it. This is something that really annoys me!

To return to ‘Aliens of London’ (like the title, by the way). No, it is not Eccleston’s performance which ruined this episode for me. Here he puts the lid on it a bit, or perhaps I’m just getting used to him ( I heard the man himself say on BBC Radio 5 that in ‘Dalek’ he’s a very different Doctor to in the other ones – I certainly hope so). This time it was a combination of the scripting and the production that did it. Actually, despite my intense mistrust of Russell T Davies (which is founded in part on the universal insistence from the media, everyone at Doctor Who Magazine and most fans whose views I’ve read that he is the greatest writer, with the greatest credentials, in THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!!!, and in part on his falling victim to ‘Tony’s cronies’ syndrome, hiring his old mates to do the Doctor Who job and presumably not considering other people and actors) I have never before been able to find much corroboration of it in the scripts themselves, but the farting aliens and totally unrealistic reaction of the military establishment to alien incursion (plus of course the supposed cream of British science not recognising a pig!) in this episode were enough this time around.

The production, however, though detailed and glossy, has so far been harmful to the show in the way that it is presented. The 45-minute episodes, obviously, are a problem, but they could work very well were the general ambience within them not so noisy, blurry and, well, orange. It’s like ‘The Claws of Axos’ in there! The lighting and look of the show do not meet expectations – my over-riding image of episode 1 is of the Doctor and Rose, grinning, walking though an orange smudge. The sound and editing are similarly bad, some dialogue and much sense lost in a welter of fast cuts and music. They should cart that digital video camera off down the scrap yard and start filming the series – and quieten it down a bit, for heaven’s sake! One thing it could certainly be accused of is possessing atmosphere: that, to me, is a bad thing. This week’s gastrically-tormented aliens are a case in point, being utterly ludicrous and unconvincing. Take, by contrast, the shot which ends the teaser in the previous episode, ‘The Unquiet Dead’, where the living corpse walks howling towards the viewer, venting light. That is excellent stuff on paper, and well directed, and more appropriate music and some decent lighting could have made it look good.

Oh dear, oh dear. So, where does this leave us? Well, in many ways, this is a new low for ‘Doctor Who’. This ‘anal’ fan here hates fart jokes, and thinks you don’t need them to tell a good alien invasion story – but of course his opinion is not cared for by The Powers That Be, being far too la-di-dah and Middle English (haven’t you heard? We all live in council estates now!) and old fashioned. It simply reeks of Old Fandom! However, there is no question that the show has been worse: Seasons 23 and 24, and even some Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker stories were worse than this. The acting (apart from Chris) is mostly ok, actually, and the scripting has been mostly fine given the enormous constraints. The reason this review has been so violently critical is that I feel betrayed, hurt and terribly disappointed by my beloved show. I was willing it to be amazing, and wonderful, and glorious, and for it to fly, fly like a bird, and to be majestic, and shining (to draw upon RTD’s column style!) I was convinced, totally convinced that it would be a masterpiece – even after ‘Rose’ I was willing to be convinced, and God, even ‘Rose’ was better than this. I feel really gutted with what we have now. I know, four episodes in and already judging! 80s-style anti-producer witch-hunts are not a road any of us want to go down again, I’m sure. But, to be honest… well, let me quote Russell’s own ‘Production Notes’ column in DWM: “But you promised us the Doctor!”; “Hate the Slitheen!”; and, most importantly, “RTD must go now!”.

D’oh!!!!

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There seems to be a general consensus that this was the weakest episode yet and while in some cases that is probably quite true, it also contained some of the best scenes from the series yet, scenes that knock anything from the first three episodes out of the pool. The series is still clearly trying to find its feet and trying new things all the time, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t…I realise Doctor Who has been on screen for over fourty years and has tried many styles in the past and some of you might think it should KNOW what works and what doesn’t. But I’m sure you will agree Russell T Davies’ new series is unlike anything we have ever seen before and as such it is a new learning curve for him and the series and posting SACK RTD NOW!!! on the forum is rather pathetic and juvenile, written by ungrateful bastards who want the series to match what they envisage Doctor Who to be. They are probably the same people who slagged off Christopher Eccleston when they found out he was leaving just days after they were praising his performance to the high heavens.

I was perfectly willing to enjoy the farting, indeed it has been a staple of one of my other favourite shows, Farscape, with the hilarious Rygel expelling helium farts into the air during some particularly tense moments. The result is a juxtaposition of the frightening and the absurdly crude and wonderfully uncomfortable televison. Aliens of London didn’t quite get it right, not because the flatulence wasn’t a laugh (the Doctor’s “Excuse me, do you mind not farting while I’m trying to save the world?” was especially funny…and the look on his face!) but it did not occur in any scary scenes…it was just sort of there, with the trio of heifer nasties chortling away at how funny their out of control bottoms were. Unlike Farscape which is puerile with style…this was just sort of puerile. And the line Would you prefer silent but deadly? almost threatens to collapse the cliff-hanger moment and should have been cut.

But honestly are people willing to underrate this episode just because of a few seconds worth of farts? There was still so much to enjoy…

Domestic scenes in Doctor Who should be just awful? Turning our beloved show into a parody of Eastenders…how dare you Mr Davies, how dare you sir! But Davies is such a clever writer and he knows exactly what he is doing and by grounding the series in modern day London we get to return home to Mickey and Jackie every couple of episodes and see how much Rose has grown and how much her departure has affected everybody she cares for. It is a cracking dramatic device and when written as well as it is here Doctor Who can resemble Eastenders as much as it likes!

The teaser was predictable (Simon guessed straight away) but still wonderful; a terrific oh shit moment to hang the rest of the episode on. I adored Jackie in the first episode because despite some overdone acting on Camille Coduri she felt like a real person caught up in a freaky situation. Each subsequent appearance has seen both her character and the actress grow into the part to the point now where I found Jackie’s situation as compelling as Rose’s. Her performance was right on the nail throughout, first shock and relief to see her daughter safe, then vicious anger and blame for her disappearing without thinking about anyone else, then back to normal life (“Guess who asked me out!”) and then suddenly she is confronted with the truth about her daughters disappearance, a brief glimpse inside the TARDIS which turns her whole life upside down. Simon was boo-hissing her reaction to the mind-blowing spaceship, to grass him up to the police but to me it felt so very real, a mother trying to protect her daughter from something she doesn’t understand. Which is why Jackie deserved a slice of the cliffhanger frankly, because at this point the series (and especially this episode) is as much about her than it is about the Doctor and Rose and to finally be confronted with a deadly situation where it looks like she cannot escape is the next logical step for a character who has emerged into the Doctor Who world. And bizarrely, of triple barrelled cliffhanger, it was Jackie squeezed against her kitchen sideboard as the Slitheen approaches that I found most disturbing, not only because I really, really like her but because it is such a normal location for such a horrific scene to take place.

All this great work with Jackie is somewhat undermined as this was my least favourite week for Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor yet, despite some of his most Doctorish moments. People are moaning that he doesn’t convince entirely as the Doctor and that he comes across as a mainstream actor trying to play the Doctor, which is not always an unfair assessment. Some of his scenes in this story were fantastic (as seems to be his catchphrase) and totally convinced you that you were watching Doctor Who (his tinkering with the console, his angry “It was scared!” after the military shoot down the pig, his brilliant, excited reaction to being escorted to 10 Downing Street and his marvellous realisation at the climax that the whole thing is a trap) and yet in places I felt he was still finding his feet in the role and played the ‘normal guy’ role a bit too well to stick out as an alien from outer space (such as the scenes with him trying to watch the telly with all the family getting in the way…whatever happened to the Doctor who used to just storm into a crisis regardless?). His relationship with Rose is obviously vitally important and his casual Are you going to stay here now? hints at more fireworks to come in part two. Oh and I loved the sweet moment as he gave her the TARDIS key.

Billie is exceptional. She’s climbing the companion ranks with each passing episode. During Rose she was an exceptional, generic companion fulfilling the asking questions and wanting to leave her boring life role perfectly. But Davies and Piper keep adding layers each week that make her more and more interesting to follow. Aliens of London explores why Rose is the perfect companion for the Doctor, torn between her loved ones back home and her life of adventure on the TARDIS. This is new stuff for the series and another sign that the series is still growing up and has much to learn. Rose’s firm insistence that the Doctor doesn’t disappear and leave her proves she desperately wants to go with him and yet her emotional reaction to seeing her mum and boyfriend again reveals she still has ties to Earth. I sense top drama for episode two and that this story will look a whole lot healthier as one, hour and a half adventure. Billie and Clarke’s quiet moment at the TARDIS console, saying they missed each other is unexpectedly touching and serves to add much depth to Mickey’s character.

Want to know what my favourite moment in the whole series has been so far? That glorious moment when the spaceship crashes into the Thames of course! Fan-bloody-tastic! Not only does it look fabulous, with some giddying POV’s from the spaceship, and ultilise London’s recognisable locations with panache (is there anything as shocking in Doctor Who as when the spaceship smashes through Big Ben and then dive bombs into the Thames?) but it also kick starts a contemporary Earth alien invasion story the likes of which we all know and love and Russell would be hard pushed to get wrong. Honestly, if there was ever a moment to define the new series this gorgeous effects shot (complete with heart racing score) is the one and worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster to boot.

Cue mass panic as we see an alien incursion on a much bigger scale than we are used to. The plot is sneaky, throwing Rose’s domestic situation and a fake alien pig to distract from what is really going on. The pig is a marvellously embarrassing scene, almost grotesque in appearance and extremely comical as it zips along the corridor; it is suddenly twisted into a moment of great pathos as the Doctor reacts with total disgust at its death. Tom Baker would have laughed at the poor thing but Eccleston looks devastated at its horrific mistreatment.

All the build up to the cliffhanger was terrific with the mounting tension cranked up to a spectacular degree. It was marvellous how long he kept the danger going before finally cutting to the end music…with three plots taking place there are three cliffhangers for each of them, the editing quite superb as we cut back and forth between each with plenty of moments to leave it but the creepiness goes on for several minutes with l’ill Joe going cue music! about five times before it finally happened. Davies is playing around with our expectations and in a terribly fun way.

I shall certainly be tuning in next week, usually the set up is much more pleasing than the pay off but I feel the reverse will be true of Aliens of London and World War Three. This was a good hour of telly don’t get me wrong with more than enough to keep you glued but if they had turned down the farting and giving the Doctor a bit more to do I would have been more satisfied. The emotional aspect of the series has been cranked up to a new level and have a strong feeling that Rose’s dilemma and the alien invasion will be handled with considerable skill next week.

Flawed, but still containing some of the finest material we have seen yet.

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Well, erm...how did that happen?

I suppose I'll start off with the positive: I loved the fact that, for once, we saw the real world consequences of somebody leaving their life behind to travel with the Doctor. We got a glimpse of this in Survival, but to the best of my recollection, it's never been dealt with to this degree in the series before. Rose's disappearance also added some dimensions to the previously one-dimensional Jackie and Mickey characters. Mickey, in particular, came off much better than he did in Rose. Instead of being Stock Jerk Boyfriend A (see also: Billy Zane in Titanic), who exists just to make the hero look good, he came off as a real person. I also enjoyed the Doctor's refusal to call him anything other than Ricky. Also, the TARDIS crew were in top form, as usual, with Eccleston making a commanding and compelling Doctor and Piper as the first companion to truly represent the viewing audience since...gosh, probably Ian and Barbara.

The Spacehog didn't phase me. Its passing was oddly tragic, and as a visual gag, it fit in fine with the strange humour of things like the original Doctor Who and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The farting, while it did grate after a while, wasn't horrific, as it was a plot point rather than a cheap gag (although there certainly were other more subtle, less scatalogical ways to indicate that these aliens don't quite fit their adopted bodies). I do, however, question the wisdom of having two back-to-back episodes featuring distinct gaseous alien races taking human form, but since RTD seems to ignore the very existence of The Unquiet Dead in his script, I suppose I should too. It's only the best episode of the new series thus far, but considering Aliens of London essentially picks up where End of the World left off, in contemporary London, and the script makes zero mention of the events of The Unquiet Dead even obliquely, it seems to have been quietly buried (no pun intended!).

All of the episode's sins are quite forgivable until the very end. The Slitheen, in a word, are a disaster. Poorly designed, poorly realised, and totally unconvincing, they rank alongside the likes of the Myrka and the Mestor. Their awkward, lurchy ambling is neither unsettling nor alien, and their big fake baby heads are laughable. Alien invasion episodes more or less live and die by how scary, cunning and powerful the aliens are. The Slitheen are giggling idiots whose faces look like babies. 'nuff said?

Finally, while I am glad that once again overt continuity was avoided, I did find it curious that the room of all the assembled alien experts didn't contain, say, Liz Shaw or Sarah Jane Smith. I wouldn't want to see a JN-T style story where the Doctor bumps into an old companion, and we're treated to a two minute clipfest for fans to mastubate to before the entire story descends into a batch of continuity references that go far and above the average viewer's head, but what would the harm of a brief, wordless cameo by Caroline John or Lis Sladen do? Obviously, they wouldn't recognize the Doctor due to his regeneration and the Doctor wouldn't recognize them because they've aged so much since he last saw them. It'd be a nice little bit of continuity, a nod to the fans, and wouldn't mean a thing to the general viewing audience (they'd just be one more face in the crowd). Ultimately, I suppose it wouldn't've meant anything, but I'd like to think in the Whoniverse of 2005 (or is that 2006?), Sarah Jane Smith and Liz Shaw would still be around and be considered two of the top authorities about aliens in the world.

While a second season has been confirmed, I still feel as if Doctor Who is at a critical stage, and needs to hold on to its thus far solid-to-spectacular ratings. If this were the third season of the new series and a fourth had been confirmed, I wouldn't be so worried about Aliens of London being a rather poor outing. But as the first traditional alien invasion storyline in the new series, it seems to have obliterated whatever goodwill and innovation the first three episodes built up in an effort to confirm old Doctor Who stereotypes to casual viewers (repetitive and silly storylines, cheap effects, etc.) While the Slitheen's horrifically awful realisation can't be fixed by this point, hopefully World War III will contain enough drama and innovation to restore some much-needed goodwill towards the series amongst the casual viewership. Any more episodes like this, and there might not be a TARDIS for David Tennent to step into.

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Gee, and I thought last week's episode was about gaseous creatures from outer space.

It had me puzzling how such an episode, containing some of the most untraditional ideas ever seen in Dr Who, could actually feel so much like the old show. First up, we have the Doctor delivering Rose back to her home in an uninspiring London estate, asked by a policeman if their relationship is sexual and getting slapped by her mum. And then there are the flatulent frivolities of our erstwhile alien invaders, which even the writers of Red Dwarf might have deemed to base to include in their own little laid-back comedy space series, and which has spawned such a supercilious stream of negativity - on this website, at least - it would seem some of us have been forever disillusioned.

But the domestic scenes, whilst not as riveting as other elements of the show, still serve one or two important purposes. We are still viewing the Doctor and his travels through the eyes of his young companion - nothing wrong in that, especially at this relatively early stage. It adds depth to her character and let's us explore a little further this strange phenomenon in her life from the newcomer's perspective. This said, the relevance of such scenes will inevitably fade; I'd even say they're just about played out already, but I also think RTD is too experienced a writer to keep on penning redundant scenes - or at least I hope not, then it truly won't be anything more than Eastenders with a Dr Who credit sequence.

Now for the much-debated farting, and it's tempting to join the angry brigade here, as without doubt it is not what I would describe as a good idea. One can empathise with those screaming RTD, what are you doing to our show??? (for they do indeed think of it as theirs), and certainly there were a few rolled eyes exchanged about our house upon each boisterous release. But a few chuckles, too. We could have had a dry explaination for the aliens' compression technology, I suppose, necessarily bereft of wit or flair - but infinitely more tasteful! Shame, too, how so many fans have been alienated by it, as RTD should have known and considered. Still, it by no means ruined the episode, and there was plenty else to enjoy.

Of all the past eras, one is of course reminded most of Jon Pertwee's first couple of years. Nice to see the military given a modern spit and polish (no Action by HAVOC, thank the Maker), and to actually see a few UNIT personell; they haven't said a word yet and still look more promising than that sad bunch we came across in Batlefield. Nor could diehards miss that shot of the General and his aides striding down an Albion Hospital corridor, identical to the one of the Brigadier and UNIT officers in Spearhead from Space.

The spaceship's crash landing was very well done, and kudos to the idea of an augmented pig-in-spacesuit. I also had a satisfying chuckle when Jackie tripped the alert by mentioning Doctor, Blue Box and TARDIS over the alien hotline. Then we come to the Slitheen who, faulty compression technology aside, fit snugly into the Doctor Who canon (hey, our first bona-fide monsters!). And that cliff-hanger - what a cracker! If no one minds, I just have to talk about this sequence in detail (skip it if you aren't interested in a technical analysis), because to me this is what Dr Who's all about, and this one was textbook stuff, precision in compilation and editing. Starting off, we don't just see one Slitheen unmasking, but three, in different locations and each in front of one of our three main characters, whose predicaments appear equally perilous (allowing for great scene juxtapositioning): the Doctor ends up writhing from electrocution, Jackie's all alone in the house and Rose gets to see one of the guest characters tossed around like the proverbial rag doll. Lovely sound effects all the way through, from an unnerving electronic buzz as the Slitheen unmask to a couple of vicious, blood-curdling monster roars as the aliens emerge from their human skins and proceed to grow bigger...and bigger...and BIGGER. End with Jackie backed into a kitchen corner, one of the Slitheen towering over her, cue music sting and end credits, and phew! Want to watch it again!

As others have pointed out, some of the hard work put into this was then diminished by the immediate inclusion of next week's trailer. Now, the purpose of such a device is to generate anticipation, which works fine at the end of a story but is as detrimental as it is redundant when following a good cliff-hanger, and so easy to leave out.

Aliens of London was amusing and often exciting. Overall, the series lacks a little intensity for my taste; most of it isn't being treated seriously enough, an ever-present danger on a show such as this, but the death-knell if they ever give up and start playing it all tongue-in-cheek. This is why Billie Piper is the stand out actor so far; she plays it straight and convincingly. The Doctor, on the other hand, is a little too jokey, too frivilous much of the time. It's OK for him to have these moments and Chris Eccleston plays them fine, but I hope to see more serious stuff (he plays that even better).

Anyway, time to step off the soapbox, touch it up so it can take the strain again next week. Am enjoying the new series. The ratings prove that whatever RTD is doing works on the whole. There is cause for optimism.

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I’ll be honest. I was affected by the fans’ reaction to Aliens Of London well before I’d seen it. Below par was the general consensus, it seemed – at best, amusing but pointless. Of course, there were only two reasons for this reaction – a pig in a spacesuit, and gratuitous flatulence. But rather than jumping straight into that, I’ll start from the beginning.

As we all now know, Rose is twelve months late for tea. This is dealt with beautifully, and even Jackie Tyler is easier to handle than she was a few weeks ago. Soon, an alien spaceship skims over their heads and crashes headlong into Big Ben, in a spectacular effects sequence, prompting a classic line from Rose. (Only works in context, sorry.) So far, so good. As the streets fill with military and onlookers, there is a sense of The Dying Days about this… but nobody seems, I don’t know, interested enough. There’s not much panic in these streets. At least, not any that’s being filmed. I realised a fundamental difference between this episode and the previous two – the style, the direction. Put simply, Keith Boak. The man behind Rose, my least-favourite among the first three episodes. Could Boak have pulled off a space-station whodunnit, or a Victorian ghost story? Somehow I doubt it. He’s good at certain aspects of this new Doctor Who, but to me he just doesn’t gel with the show as well as Euros Lyn. At the beginning of the episode, I was sure I’d be blaming Russell T. Davies, like everyone else… but it was clear from even this point in Aliens Of London that Davies still knew how to write for this show. It’s the direction, guys, the direction!

Anyway. Mickey’s turned up, and lo and behold, the guy’s got depth! Kudos to Noel Clarke for pulling his finger out and actually acting. Meanwhile, the Doctor’s inside Albion Hospital, while a defenceless scientist is attacked. He immediately gets the military onside… brilliant! Traditional Who again! And then a pig in a spacesuit turns up. I didn’t quite know what to make of this, until it got shot, and the Doctor reveals that it was just a poor, helpless little pig. For a moment, my heart ached, and I considered vegetarianism.

As for the scenes inside Number Ten, it’s like a casting-call for British actors. Thankfully, they’re all good, especially Navin Chowdhry and Penelope Wilton – their dialogue together is lovely. Then someone farts. The first time I watched this episode, I cringed, mainly because I’d seen it coming. But on my second viewing, I actually chuckled. I mean, look at the guy’s face! Granted, it wasn’t a huge guffaw, but I was duly tickled by it, just like the wheelie-bin in Rose.

The TARDIS reappears, and suddenly it’s a domestic. But oddly enough, the dynamic of the Doctor, Rose and Mickey works quite well. I got a nice warm feeling when the words “Doctor” and “TARDIS” triggered a red alert at Number Ten. Again, I felt like I was watching traditional Who. I also got a flashback to the TV movie (for some reason) when the Doctor and Rose are surrounded outside the TARDIS. But the Doctor knows better – this is UNIT. And they’re being escorted to Number Ten. I cheered at the mention of UNIT, and again when the Doctor takes over their emergency meeting with his own hypothesis, only to realise they’ve all been set up, and they’re now all trapped like mice. Yes, I actually cheered. Sad, I know. And we have a triple-pronged cliffhanger – has this ever happened before? The first time around, I was a little distracted, but when I watched it again, in the dark, a Slitheen turned to me – to me – and laughed. For a split second, I was terrified. That sting didn’t help either.

So, in conclusion, I still think this is the worst of the bunch. But that’s not to say I didn’t like it. It made for quite good entertainment. I’m actually looking forward to the second part. Doctor Who can be great TV at times – look at The Unquiet Dead for a recent example – but it can also, like Rose and this episode, be simple escapism. Which is good too.

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I love the way Russell T Davies is structuring this season. Present, Future, Past – followed by a return to Present. It shows the massively flexible format of Doctor Who for new viewers, and gives variety for us old timers. It’s also lovely to break with the long held tradition of Doctor Who that companions can’t return home. But it does this with a fabulous twist.

My initial reaction after having watched Aliens of London was mostly positive, but with a few reservations. I had laughed a lot, yet been fascinated and enthralled too. The Doctor bringing Rose back a year late brought all kinds of emotion to the surface. The situation is potentially tragic, but Russell T derives some humour mixed with the trauma – there’s a realism absent from virtually all of previous DW. The touching base with Roses home is unique in the annals of Who – and I think Russell T has really brought something special to the show by doing this.

The homely feel continues as the Doctor and Rose watch the unfolding drama on TV – something that we all would do. I loved the chaos of the Tyler household, with the Doctor desperately trying to concentrate on the reports. This was the scene too where Christopher Ecclestons Doctor really seemed other-worldly, even though he really should fit right in dressed as he is. It’s his attitude to the whole adventure that isolates him.

The spaceship crashlanding into the Thames is magnificent, particularly the much-advertised-already destruction of Big Ben. It’s a real surprise for us that it’s a surprise for the Doctor (if you know what I mean!). After Jackies concerned phone call it’s also wonderful to see the Doctor get ushered in to help. Learning from the missed opportunity of the 1st episode (the Internet Doctor Who) it’s also nice to see references to the past - UNIT, even if this organization have clearly moved on in the army from the past.

There’s a tremendous amount of humour in this episode, some of which initially had me squirming, before I remembered the target audience, and the realization of why emerged. The celebrated bodily functions of the Cabinet, for example, which is explained away as the aliens getting the gases of Humans wrong – fair enough. Also my nieces and nephews (4-10 range) loved it, and thought it was the best thing about the episode! The pig pilot took me a while to get my head around too – but then the Doctors explanation of this frightened enhanced creature brought the whole escapade into tragedy. Amazing I could feel sorry for a pig dressed in a spacesuit!

It was lovely to see Jackie Tyler again, wonderfully played by Camille Coduri. She was one of the stand-outs of episode 1, and I’m glad she pops back throughout the series. Roses character is considerably stronger with these touchstones to home. Mickey was better in Aliens of London. Like many others I found him a bit wet in episode 1. There’s better material for the actor here – and it’s great to see the rivalry between him and the Doctor thrive.

Of special mention too is Penelope Wilton as MP Harriet Jones. I’m absolutely delighted this is a 2-parter simply because we get to spend more time with her. It’s a lovely part, and already rivalling Simon Callow for best Supporting Character of the series.

Then there’s the Slitheen. There’s a strong Monster presence in Doctor Who – many claiming Doctor Who wouldn’t be DW without the Monsters. They are big part of the whole mythos, and it’s good to see them in force in the new series. Episode 2 showed the monster makers were up to the challenge for this series, and the Slitheen further enhance that. I loved the fact too that they were made, complete with nodding dog heads, rather than totally SFX. They are a bit cheesy as a result – but let’s do the DW thing and suspend our disbelief. SFX enhances them, but they seem to definitely be a product of Creature Workshop, complete with men inside. I loved that emphasized blink they have, kind of like a camera. It will be interesting to see them more in the over dramatically titled next episode World War Three.

Nice to see a Cliffhanger too, even though the Whats On for Next Week pretty much destroyed the reason for it! Great to hear the DW screech again.

Episode 1 of this 2 parter left me wanting more of this story – exactly the idea surely. The light-heartedness was more centre stage for sure, but DW is very much part of the fun/entertainment industry after all. I really enjoyed it. 8/10

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There are only a few things on this planet of ours that can be called truly faultless. Perfect. Beethoven's 3rd is perfect. Yoshi's Island on the Super Nintendo is perfect. Aliens of London is perfect.

This is a story that truly has it all - a brand-new monster (that is not only ingeniously-conceived, but truly threatening); an absolutely watertight script (which is a real rarity in Doctor Who... or any sci-fi programme); and a magnificent supporting cast.

Even before the credits roll, we see that this story will be unlike any of the others we have seen so far: Rose's mummy reacts to her daughter's disappearance exactly as we would (by slapping an alien...!); and the realism does not drop by one iota for the next 45 minutes (be it BBC News 24's reports; or the animatronic Andrew Marr's ears). Kudos also to whoever did the amazing 10 Downing Street sets - they deserve an OBE (Other Bugger's Efforts!!).

If only every new monster on the programme was as well-done as the Slitheen: with their disturbingly babyish faces (the childish-freakiness motif returning in Episodes 9 and 10) and their subtle malice.

With slick humour (barring the unforgivable flatulence), amazing acting from Messrs Eccleston, Clarke, Miss Piper et al, the unexpected (and delightful) reappearance of UNIT, and the new series' first true cliff-hanger (and oh, what a cracker: that one kept me guessing all week how they could possibly survive), it's more than clear that the Doctor is here to stay; and if during the repeats they cut the Next Time... montage from the cliff-hanger, we can rest easy: it'll last forever.

Mr Davies, I shall forever be grateful to you for this masterpiece. Thank you, sir. Thank you.

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Well, after a week's break from the pen of Russell T Davies, the man himself has returned with a brand new script, this time dealing with the after effects of Rose's departure with the Doctor. Thanks to some fantastic acting and writing, the audience gets to experience a whole gamut of emotions, as we are taken back to England, where Rose is reunited with her family and friends...

Russell T Davies has often said that he can write sparkling dialogue without any effort whatsoever. 'Aliens of London' proves that he is certainly capable, but if he does it as easily as he says he does, then I am in awe. This script simply crackles with life and vitality, and I was in awe at the structure and balance. We move from domestic drama all the way to Earth-shattering revelations, so large is the scope of this tale.

The story arc doesn't seem to move any further forward, although an initial scene with a young boy spray-painting Bad Wolf made me sit up and take notice. That aside, Russell simply focuses on telling a gripping story, with revelation piled upon revelation. In my mind, he is quickly earning the title of the 21st Century version of Bob Holmes, in all honesty. I love this guy's writing, and this episode has everything I love in scripts.

Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper turn in some charged performances, with Chris getting a chance to really show off his comic ability. Meanwhile, Billie gets to take the dramatic focus, with her really showing off her range as an actor in scenes with Camille Coduir and Noel Clarke. We've been very lucky, as an audience, to get such a fantastic pair of actors for our leads. Almost makes me sad we're losing Chris very soon.

The guest cast are generally rather good, although I must admit to being rather off-put by the cabinet officials who have been replaced by the Slitheen. Their constant giggling and grinning seemed a bit excessive, especially when you consider they were constantly farting (which ended up being better handled than I'd originally imagined). I must admit, however, that Naoko Mori gets my vote as the sexy female scientist!

The production values are generally very impressive, and the locations and sets used to realise this episode are all pretty much flawless. Not a wobble in sight. I was very impressed by the use the production team put the Cardiff Royal Infirmary to, as it looks damn nice on screen. As well as that, 10 Downing Street looks nice inside, even if it was a bit over-satured with red. Oh well - a minor flaw in a very impressive episode.

Obviously, in future years, when it comes to looking at the special effects, everyone is going to almost always talk about the space ship which crashes into Big Ben. It's a well realised scene, looking fantastic. The combination of CGI and model work looks great, with special thanks to Mike Tucker for his work. I do, however, have to admit that the Slitheen transmutation sequence was a bit ropey, as was that space pig costume.

Keith Boak generally does a pretty good job with the direction on this story, with his use of the camera giving the whole thing a rather important feel about it. One was never left in any doubt that the events we were witnessing were big. However, no overview of this epic quality would be complete with special mention of Murray Gold's incidental score, which is fantastic. He's been great on the series, and this episode is tops.

Overall, 'Aliens of London' is a great episode of Doctor Who. I doubt it will ever go down in the history books as a classic, but it's certainly a gripping piece of action-adventure, with some wonderful gags chucked in to keep everything in balance. Russell T Davies is quickly showing just how well he can handle the series, and with examples like this it's easy to see why. He can even write great cliffhangers!

Overall Score: 5 / 6 (Very Good)

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Forget all the haters, this episode frickin' ruled it.

And dammit it's about time we saw several things in that episode.

Like, for example, what happens when a companion goes off with the Doctor and then comes back. In Rose Tyler's case, she accidentally comes back a YEAR after Rose. Oops. Jackie's filed missing persons reports and gone on a childsearch campaign, whereas Micky was at home heartbroken. Rose and the Doctor act like business as usual. Such is life in the TARDIS I guess.

The other thing I wanted to see was a PUBLIC alien landing. FINALLY. No coverups, no sleepy villages in the North of England, I wanted full-on raging BBC and CNN covered alien landing, and dammit I got one. FINALLY! YES! BBC splashed out the FX budget on this one, and Big Ben suffers for it! WHOOOOOO!!!

But wait! There's plots afoot. The Doctor determines the alien corpse pulled from the Thames is a fake! Specifically, a genetic chop-job on a pig. So is that ship a fake too? Yeah, probably. But are there real aliens?

Yes. At 10 Downing Street. The Slitheen have taken over the bodies of several key government members, and killed the (not Tony Blair) Prime Minister in the process. And BOY are they gassy.

Yes, there's a lot of fart-jokes in the episode. Not typical, pretty childish, but when you see the Slitheen for what they are, it makes sense, when they compress themselves into a human body. Because they're frickin' huge. And...babydoll-faced. Which is actually...a bit frightening really.

And look! Our first cliffhanger of the new series! And UNIT! WHEEEEE!!!

Yes, sorry, I love this series. No, wait. I'm not sorry for loving it. Not in the slightest.

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My main gripe with the story as a whole is that it is very much one of peaks and troughs, but with troughs making a more frequent appearance. There is too much plot to cram into a single episode, and yet too little to properly fill out the ninety minutes which it has been granted. A lot of running around from a to b strikes as filler when the two Episodes are watched in closer proximity than with a week between the two. When watched seven days following 'Aliens Of London', the chase scenes in 'World War Three' seemed fine. When watched straight afterwards, they seem a bit gratuitous.

Parts of the plot seem a bit too predictable too. You are never worried about whether or not the Doctor, Rose and Harriet Jones will survive the Missile attack; you know Mickey will press the button to save the day, because the music suggests he will do so. Most annoyingly of all is the Doctor's constant references to having heard the name of Harriet Jones before, leaving you in little doubt that she shall, a, survive the whole affair and, b, that she shall go on to be a significant figure in British Politics. The revelation about her future near the end of 'World War Three' therefore loses its impact, and you are more left with a slow nod of inevitability rather than a feeling of happiness for her.

Both episodes have things to write home about; the destruction of Big Ben is every bit as memorable and impressive as it should be, and as iconic moments in 'Doctor Who' go, this one fits the bill very nicely indeed; also, the death of the Space Pig is a memorable moment, as is the 'capture' of Rose and the Doctor by UNIT. The appearance of UNIT, though brief, is key to the plot and a really nice nod to the past- one which I am very glad Russell T Davies made. The ending of 'World War Three' is utterly superb, and really hits home the sacrifices made by Rose when she decides to travel with the Doctor. Noel Clarke and Camille Coduri couldn't turn in better performances than those which they turn in here, and the whole scene is both touching and affecting.

One thing that in particular struck me when watching back-to-back is how good some of the supporting cast are. Though her appearance is minimal at best, Naoko Mori puts in a very good performance as Doctor Sato; her belief that aliens must look like pigs due to not having ever seen them before is very believable and well-handled, whilst her fear when the apparently dead creature is in fact alive and well is again nicely done, and it is shame that she could not have featured more heavily. Likewise, Navin Chowdhry as Indra Ganesh is both very convincing and believable, and his death is as touching as it deserves to be.

The Slitheen themselves come across as a lot nastier when you are able to take stock of quite what their actions are entailing. Beginning with the augmentation of a pig to suit their needs, they are clearly not above sinister deeds in a bid to achieve such deeds themselves. The Doctor's reaction to the said pig incident is enough to add weight to this theory, and you instantly dislike them due to it, before they have even been revealed. The fact that they then go on to murder a room full of human beings seems to be the icing on the cake as it were, though it lacks the same impact as the death of Space Pig, largely because the Doctor almost totally fails to make any reaction to the human deaths, content instead to run about with a grin upon his face, alerting the authorities to the Alien presence within 10 Downing Street.

Whilst memorable, the constant zipping and unzipping which the Slitheen family are guilty of strikes as padding and merely an excuse to show off a good idea. By all means indulge, but perhaps not to the extent that is done here.

The directing by Keith Boak throughout the story is rather disappointing, and it lacks the visual flair and ingenuity that he displayed throughout 'Rose'. Parts of it show glimpses of innovation, such as the destructions of 10 Downing Street and Big Ben, but on the whole there is not much to shout about, which is a real pity.

Murray Gold's incidental score has more of an impact when watching both Episodes one after the other; it is pretty much solely down to him that tension is created in 'Aliens Of London', and his music near the end of 'World War Three' when Rose has to make a decision regarding her adventures with the Doctor neatly underscores the emotions on display, contributing significantly to the scene's success. Whilst it is not as good a musical score as that which he has composed for other Episodes, I feel that I was much too dismissive of it when watching the Episodes as stand-alone adventures.

In all, I feel that perhaps I was bit too dismissive of the two Episodes initially. I certainly stand by my initial feelings that there is too little occurring for it to work very well, but Davies still manages to provide enough thrills and spills to make it an enjoyable affair. I think that romp would be a better description of the two Episodes, as much of it is played to gain a laugh rather than a fright.

Overall though, whilst the story has highlights, it has enough low points to mark it out as the weakest story in Series One.

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From its earliest days, Doctor Who has addressed (and, at times, embraced) political issues. One of the earliest examples of these stories is The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which casts the Daleks as Nazi stormtroopers (concentration camps and all) against the brave resistance fighters of the Home Counties (I'd suggest Dad's Army as an influence here, but the series hadn't started in 1964).

In the first of the series' two part stories, we get the story of a very unusual invasion. The Aliens are here, and they have managed to creep right into the heart of British democracy. At the same time, and especially in World War Three, Russell T Davies uses his script to satirise the events of the Blair administration's response to the Iraq WMD crisis, dodgy dossier and all.

Perhaps there are those who see it as heavy-handed. Perhaps there are nay-sayers who would grumble that Doctor Who is not the place for political satire, or even for political discussion. Rot! This is satire with a deft touch, unlike the over-Thatcheresque performance of Sheila Hancock in The Happiness Patrol. No one complained about that (they were too busy slagging off the Kandyman, of course).

But there is more to the script than satire. The Doctor's investigation of the UFO crash, and his discovery of the fate of the ship's occupant shows a more caring side than we've seen to date. His reactions when looking at the creature show that, even dulled by The Time War, The Doctor has a respect for life and for freedom. The Creature itself is well-realised, and the way it is handled in the story evokes more than a pang of sympathy.

We also find RTD examining something never considered before: how are The Doctor's companions perceived, accounted for, regarded and missed whilst they are away travelling? David Whitaker's prologue to Doctor Who and the Crusaders notes how Ian and Barbara might explain their absence from their London lives once they return, but apart from that, there has been little consideration as to how his companions fare 'outside the TARDIS.' Aliens of London puts this glaring omission right, and confronts The Doctor clearly with the ramifications of his actions.

In one of the best model/ CGI sequences to have been put together for Doctor Who, well frankly, EVER, we see a spaceship hits Big Ben and splashes down on the Thames. Public reaction, in the light of the World Trade Centre's destruction, is perfectly judged: chaos, hysteria, panic and the desire to get a photo to sell to the News of the World. It's telling that The Doctor and Rose decide to watch the drama unfold on BBC News 24 (and, given the events of The Long Game, interesting to note what they are being fed by the Media). Partly this is because of the way today's world works: partly also because The Doctor has eschewed his authority links and is now the ultimate maverick. It takes a full military team, including helicopter, to "recruit" him to the Alien Expert conference.

Whilst Aliens of London is expansive and has scenes in a number of locations, World War Three is more tightly focussed into two or three locales. This makes the drama tighter and helps to build up the tension. With The Doctor effectively cut off from the outside world, he has to call on Mickey for help. It is good to see development in Mickey's character in these two episodes: in the time that Rose has been absent, he has clearly grown up a lot, and that is reflected in his reactions to The Doctor. At the end of the story, we see them becoming, if not friends, then not enemies either.

The Slitheen monsters were one of the weak points in the production. The costumes were too bulky and immobile and the faces were insufficiently monsterous. The best realisation of the creatures was the CGI creatures running through the hallways of 10 Downing Street - they moved efficiently and smoothly, looking every inch the hunters they were not in costume. Compare the sleek CGI versions against the bulky, static Slitheen menacing Rose and Harriet at the end of part 1 (oh, how good is it to say that!). No comparison.

The guest cast performed uniformly well, with Penelope Wilton's performance as Harriet Jones being one of the best of the series. Her character was utterly believable, and it would be great to see her return in a future episode. Camille Coduri gave another great performance as Jackie, her reactions to The Doctor being spot on. She is an asset to the series, and should recur as a character in Series 2 if there is any justice.

The star of the show was, however, Russell's script, with (at last) the writer rising to the heights he'd enjoyed in Casanova. World War Three was one of the wittiest, even laugh-out-loud funniest, tension-filled 45 minutes of television I've seen in a long time, and thoroughly enjoyable. The story also showed the strengths of a two-episode format, in allowing better plot and character development, and leaving viewers guessing as to what will happen for a week.

The Slitheen motivations were also interesting, and there seems to be a minor 'theme' developing in some of the background story elements. This, along with mentions of the Time War, seems to be a way of linking the stories together to enhance the viewing pleasure of the devoted fan.

And check out the UNIT website (linked in from the main BBC Doctor Who site) – more evidence that the Corporation believe in the programme and are prepared to give it much needed multi-media support in this internet age.

Overall: wonderful satirical script.

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Well, THAT was excellent.

The Slitheen aren't an alien species, but their last name. Their LAST NAME for cryin' out loud! That's awesome.

The Doctor sure knows a lot about 10 Downing Street.

Mickey hacking into UNIT's website. With the Doctor walking him through it. Ohhh that's just beautiful. Totally 2000s.

And, er, this Doctor likes to blow shit up, doesn't he?

And that last sequence, "I'll be back in 10 seconds"...that was about tear-jerking. You knew the TARDIS wasn't going to reappear right then, you just KNEW...but you still wanted it to. Mickey's reasoning for not coming along is some of the best I ever heard. And the Doctor reaffirms atheism for millions -- "You believe in something invisible, but it's right in front of you, 'Oh, no, can't see it!'" The Doctor is equally dark, goofy, manipulative, and deeply caring. "I could save the world but lose you." I don't think he's ever said anything of the sort to any other companion (on TV, anyway). Maybe that comes close, but even the McCoy era, with the focus on Ace in Season 26, never got that personal.

Absolutely lovely television.

Oh, and, er, have I mentioned I REALLY can't wait for next week's? DALEKS SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE

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It’s reassuring to see how well the hide-and-seek element of DR. WHO has adapted to the 21st Century. In time-honoured tradition, Rose wasn’t the only one to hide behind the sofa. It was too much for my cousin’s son. Daddy had to switch it off, tape it and watch it later. However, Part 1 of this two-episode story had this 4-year-old excitedly explaining to his gran how the men in suits unzipped their foreheads “and then a monster popped out”.

The Slitheens’ hideous scheme to provoke war and reduce Earth to a spaceship-fuelling slagheap was as inventive as the Daleks’ machinations for Earth in 2164. It gladdened the heart to see The Doctor & Rose taking pot-shots at weapons of (mass) destruction and Blair. I’m sure Mickey fulfilled a dream of many in this country these last two years when he successfully blew Downing Street up with a missile.

Having said that, I’m not sure about another three-term female PM. I don’t think we’ve quite got over the last, although WHO got Thatcher (or Williams) in the top job four years before it happened, when The Brigadier addressed the PM as “Ma’am” over the phone. It looks as if The Doctor may have the ear of the future Prime Minister in stories to come, in a way Jack Bauer of the hit US thriller series had with President Palmer.

Since the BBC have gone to the trouble of issuing a U.N.I.T. website, which featured in the programme, I’m crossing my fingers for more of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce as the new series progresses.

I was hoping Rose would stay a bit longer with Jackie & Mickey and curb The Doctor’s impatience to be off, but I guess that’s to come. I was also hoping the TARDIS would reappear ten seconds later, so Rose could tell her Mum she’d just been off on some crazy adventure, but you can never rely on the TARDIS’ navigation to that degree. It worked better as it played - because we all know what The Doctor & Rose are going to face next week....

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‘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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World War III was an exciting conclusion to an almost old-fashioned monster yarn begun in last week's Aliens of London, replete with frantic hide-and-seek chases and impressive explosions. The Doctor also had his thinking powers put a little more to the test as, with a little help from Harriet Jones (MP Flydale North) he cleverly deduced the aliens' planet of origin and hence their biological weakness. That said eight-foot tall alien could explode upon contact with a jar of pickled condiments is verging on the far-fetched, sure, as is the Doctor's and Mickey's rather simple hack into the UK's missile defense system, but actually I didn't have much of a problem with either idea, as their underlying principles remain valid enough (not that more realism wouldn't have been nice).

Unfortunately, though, this was the episode where some other worrying trends of the show came to the fore, and the first time I truly questioned Russell T Davies' suitability as writer/executive producer. In past reviews I've given him credit for some great writing and imaginative ideas. His writing skill is still not in question. But he's trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Of most concern is his blueprint for the new Doctor. With an actor of Chris Eccleston's calibre in the titular role there are, I'm afraid, no excuses. Let's put it this way: the Doctor is NOT a character from a TV soap! He doesn't argue with his companion's mother and he doesn't make cow-eyes at nineteen year-old girls, or is given to mushy, quasi-romantic sentiments ("I could save the world but lose you" and "I'm so glad I met you" being prime offenders). I think RTD is trying to convey a certain (mostly platonic? Oh, I hope so) affection for his young companion but it's all about as subtle as a Slitheen fart. Nor can I recall the Doctor, Hartnell included, being this consistently and irritatingly rude. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the Time War? If that's going to be an ongoing theme this year then I'm looking forward to his next regeneration. You could make the Doctor an emotionally overloaded wreck in need of counselling but I think I'd rather watch Timelash. Finally, as I alluded to last week, he's grinning far too much of the time. Here in Australia the dreaded Season Seventeen is playing weeknights, yet with some surprise I've noticed how much more serious Tom Baker is playing it in comparison, even at that dubious stage stage in his tenure.

Almost as annoying is having to watch your favourite program (ostensibly a family show, I might add), serving as forum for its new writer's socio-political agenda. Some fans seem rapt by it. I don't disagree with every sentiment, either, but would much rather RTD left most of it out. He's touching on complex, let alone divisive, issues (oops, there goes the American franchise!) and oversimplifying them, in this case with one of the Seven Deadly Writers' Sins: the use of a non-applicable - and inappropriate - allegory. I have no problem with a family show stimulating the younger generation in how to think (as in The Unquiet Dead, for example) - but not what to think; there's a difference. This episode was practicaly telling us how to vote!

On the plot front, I would like to know why all the Slitheen were electrocuted when the Doctor slapped just one with his ID badge - the current was transmitted, presumably, via their collars, though this wasn't explained and doesn't make a whole lot of sense; one of them better not touch a dodgy toaster! The Slitheen's underlying plan was equally difficult to decipher. I guess that, as a family business (nasty, nasty capitalists - like Cassandra, whaddayaknow) rather than as an entire race of creatures, they had no access to military equipment with which to nuke a planet from orbit, despite numerous other examples of their advanced technology. I hope I'm right in this analysis as it was not made very clear in the script.

As far as the general tone of the series goes, we've had one serious episode (written by someone else) in five - in other words, the balance is off. Dr Who is a sci-fi show which can accomodate comedy elements, not the other way around and having giggling, farting aliens seems to mock what the series is really about. When it is serious, half the time it's a D&M between Rose and her mum or Rose and Mickey. Perhaps this is why, in an effort to offset such maudlin drivel, we've seen the Doctor more insulting and off-hand than usual, when he's not all lovey-dovey. He seems to dislke the domestic intrusions and by now so do I. A little here and there could be justified - even in this episode I enjoyed the scene right at the end with Mickey (the way the Doctor invited him into the TARDIS then helped him save face was nicely handled and a good character moment, managing to convey the Doctor's genuine level of caring without resorting to sentimental dialogue), but most of it is being overplayed. Likewise, the sexual innuendo is coming thick and fast. This time we had references to adultery and bisexuality, last week paedophilia ("Did you find her on the internet?") and before that trans-sexuality. They are amusing lines and I'm definitely no Mary Whitehouse, but I'm glad I don't have a six year-old asking me for explanations.

My optimism from last week is being severely tested; right now I'm of the opinion that RTD is pushing the show in wrong directions. Hope I'm not reading too much into one story.

I think my soapbox just broke.

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Here’s what I was going to do. I was going to write a separate review of this episode, and then a full review of the Aliens Of London two-parter. And now, I find myself unable to do that. Why? Because the two episodes are so different from each other. So, so different. I shall explain…

We open with our cliffhanger, and the Doctor very quickly gets himself out of it. But remember, this was a three-tier cliffhanger! No matter. In one swift move, the Doctor solves every problem. For now. Cue titles. I gave a cheer. This set the standard for the rest of the episode. I cheered a lot. And laughed a lot.

Seriously, this was a hilarious episode. Right from the very beginning, with the Doctor’s pathetic-sounding explanation to the military about the alien cover-up, I was laughing every few seconds. We have a lot of chasing through corridors this time around, with another cheer from me. I’ve warmed to the Slitheen, too, partly due to the way blink, partly to the way they move. Velociraptors, anyone? A few belly-laughs later, the Doctor, Rose and Harriet (great character!) have locked themselves in the Cabinet room. And spend the remainder of the episode there.

This was a great move on the part of RTD, who’s delivered a script here that’s about as good as The End of the World. The Slitheen’s plan, with its subtleties and intricacies, is pure genius. Keith Boak has done a better job here too, and manages to keep the action going even while our main characters are stuck in a room for half an hour.

Oh! The dialogue! This is cracking stuff… the best RTD dialogue so far, and acted beautifully. Meanwhile, Mickey and Jackie are fighting off their own monster, and we’re treated to our first “gross monster explosion” of the season. Vinegar, Hannibal, “You kiss this man?”… gorgeous stuff. The Doctor and Mickey are again displaying a wonderful chemistry together, even when just talking on the phone.

David Verrey, by the way, delivers an excellent performance here as Joseph Green, the acting PM (although we all know what he really is). The direction and the music add to the atmosphere the moment he announces to the world that they are at war. At this point, I realised I was no longer laughing – I was too riveted by the drama. I’d always thought Joss Whedon had created an amazing thing with Buffy, a perfect fusion of comedy and drama. We all know RTD is an immense Buffy fan, and if you look at Queer As Folk, it’s obvious he knows how to pull off exactly the same fusion. Never has this been clearer than in World War Three. Did I say this was cracking stuff? Well… er, it is.

The effects, too, are gorgeous. That missile heading across England’s south-east had me completely convinced. The resolution of the story is perfect, and we all know Harriet Jones will make a wonderful PM.

But back to Rose’s domestic life. Camille Coduri as Jackie deserves a mention here for adding a bit more substance to her character, just as Noel Clarke did with his character of Mickey in the previous episode. I was really touched by the way she handled Rose’s decision to join the Doctor permanently on his travels. When I heard the closing sting, I sat back with a satisfied grin.

As a whole, I don’t think I could ever watch Aliens Of London followed by World War Three. Oddly enough, in the event of a huge new series marathon, I might even skip the former and move straight onto the latter. Like I said before, the two episodes are just so different! The acting, the script, the music, the direction, the effects, the pacing, the humour, the fear factor, the drama… with Aliens Of London, I really thought this series was about to go downhill, at least for a little while. Mercifully, World War Three proved me wrong. It only dipped for one week, then shot straight back up. My confidence in this series has been reassured. Bring on the Dalek!!!

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As the first Second Part of a previous story, this very much feels like writing a review I have already written. I’ll try and separate the 2 as best I can. I never have reviewed the Classic show in separate episodes (or Big Finish for that matter) – but the nature of the new series means that thinking has changed – and 13 reviews will result. A separate episode title also emphasizes the new episode.

For those who loved Aliens of London, it’s like an extra helping of goodness. For those like me who thought it was an entertaining slice of new Who, even though not upto the excellence of previous episodes, then mixed feelings arose. It would be nice to see Rose in her home environment again. Would the Doctors jealousies be strengthened? Jackie would in it more – plus point. Mickey would be in it more – the characters growing on me. More Harriet Jones – excellent. More overweight politicians – no thanks. Runaround in Downing Street – sounds fun. More Big Bouncy monsters – increasingly not so sure about more of them.

The original title of 10 Downing Street actually suits this episode far more than the overly dramatic one used. It’s not as sensational – but this World War Three business just never really convinced. It never happened for a start.

The Cliffhanger was nicely resolved, and that’s where the runaround started, in very effective doubles for the real place may I add. I’m not completely struck on the Music employed in the new series – and this was another example of it not quite gelling to the action smoothly. It was fun seeing CGI Slitheen chasing after our heroes though. The tense scene with Rose and Harriet hiding in a back room was also effective. The Doctor took the rise too much though – especially as he kept opening the doors to gloat at the Slitheen – why didn’t they just go for him then? But then the Slitheen were so incredibly slow – except when they were CGI!

The standard of the supporting cast has been excellent this series – and Harriet Jones more than lived up to her introduction in the previous episode. A caring, compassionate MP may be a contradiction to the popular view – but that’s exactly what we get from Penelope Wiltons lovely portrayal.

The fat MPs were better this week too. I was really impressed with David Verrey as he faced the press, in an attempt to get the access codes. I also enjoyed the mellowing of the Doctors attitude to Mickey – as he finally showed his mettle. The whole UNIT business on the Computer was a ridiculously contrived solution, but fun all the same.

However the Slitheen never quite made the grade as Monsters for me. The intergalactic Scrap Merchants was a good idea – very Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, but they were a bit embarrassing overall. I thought the new Doctor Who was going to play everything straight. I thought Russell Ts Script took the mickey of the aliens a little too much. The whole gastric emissions, that continued forcefully throughout this episode, stripped them of any scariness and seriousness. Maybe Russell T knew this, so had some fun instead. Certainly my nephews and nieces were not remotely scared by them.

I really don’t care for big blobby monsters anyway, in any show. Doctor Who is better when it doesn’t have too many, and it looks like there aren’t this series – and that’s good. Most of Doctor Whos Monsters are rubbish anyway – but I suspect I may be in a minority with that theory. Saying that though DW has got it right in numerous occasions (Ice Warriors, Sontarans, Sea Devils) – but the Slitheen are not one of them. For every 1 brilliant DW Monster, there’s a dozen rubbish ones.

What I particularly enjoyed about this episode actually had nothing to do with the main threat though. It was the wonderful interplay between Mickey, Jackie, Rose and Doctor. I was happy for the main threat to disappear 35 minutes in, as that provided some excellent character scenes for these wonderful personalities. That’s what enthused me about World War Three – the way Rose was pulled this way and that. Mickey levering himself onto the bin at the end, waiting for Rose, was lovely. Let’s get the marvellous Jackie in the TARDIS too, just for a few adventures – now that would provide some tension for the Doctor.

Never short of entertaining again, the 5th Episode continued the bizarreness and silliness of Aliens of London. It’s hardly the best bit of Doctor Who I have ever seen – but it’s professionally performed and produced. It’s just wonderful to talk Who with my work colleagues, most of who watch it, but were never fans. They see it as a light-hearted romp – and who am I to disagree. Light-hearted romps have always had a place in Doctor Who – with this being as fine an example as you will find. 7/10

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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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A Catchphrase Ode to Slitheens that Explode

“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!”
The Chuckle Bros may say
When confronted by Slitheen
Nasty, ’orrible and green.

“Nice to see you, nice,”
Would be Bruce’s remark
Echoing the Doctor’s toothy delight
When confronting aliens to fight.

“That’s the way to do it,”
Punch would proudly screech
As with a sledgehammer missile
He hit the Slitheen –oh where the Dr’s guile?

But “ come out wherever you are.”
Type phrases a Slitheen would not utter
As it seeks out Rose to kill.
Panto slapstick undermines the thrill.

“And now for something completely different,”
Should perhaps have been the title of No 5.
For jokes too often diminished tense scenes
Parody parading as the panto peacock preens.

“Will the real Slitheen please stand up”
Could be an effectual pun for obvious disparity
Between CGI quick monster movement
And rubber suited waddling ducks on the River Trent!

“Go on punk – make my day”
Is a nasty Doctor trait I’d rather do without.
His vicious mean berating of Rick or Mick
Was cold hearted, malevolent and sick!!

“Let’s start at the very beginning,”
Julie sang suggesting I was watching not 5, but 3.
This soap opera continued its prime reality brief
Give ‘em modern, social drama full of Eastender domestic grief.

“Thsufferin, Thuccotash” Sylvester uttered
In a frustrated sort of feline way.
Or is that the last TV Doctor turning in his dark matter
Thinking I had more witty gravitas than this Mad Hatter?

But I suppose these corny jokes and flatulence
Reached a young audience.
But writers – it’s not ‘Carry On Doctor with an MP’
Take your WHO seriously with wit, charm and moral gravity.

“That’s all Folks!!!!”

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Well, World War III wasn't bad, but it would've looked alot better had Mark Gatiss's fantastic 'The Unquiet Dead' not been on a couple of weeks earlier. I think, from this evidence, that I prefer the Mark Gatiss style to that of Russell T Davies, and unless something unexpected happens next week I'll probably favor the Rob Shearman style too. But you've got to give Davies credit, he can write a witty, inventive and fast-paced script, and this episode was a lot of fun - but it really benefited from being watched twice. First time round I was silenced by vinegar soaked, exploding farting aliens (more on that weakness later) and what has to be the least secure military website ever (hey guys, anyone can control a ballistic missile! Even Mickey!), but on the second viewing I really enjoyed the throway one-liners and the light-hearted, surreal tone to it all. That's the key to enjoying this episode and 'Aliens of London', I think. Watching 'The Unquiet Dead', you could be in the mood for a realistic, well-acted Hinchcliffe/Holmes scary drama - and you'd be rewarded. But to really get your kicks from 'World War III' you had to take it as what it was- a light-hearted, entertaining run around bookended by an excellent, thoughtful closing sequence.

But what the heck, I'm a doctor who fan so I may as well list the negatives first. (Glass half empty, you say? Never!)

It was noted in reviews for the aliens of london that there was a notable credulity gap between the model slitheen and the cgi kind. (I guess they must have been talking about the preview for this episode). Well, there's no denying that there's a big difference between the slow, bouncing models and the sleek, speedy CGI beasts. Also, giving the slitheen saggy tits and a dog collar was a bit weird. But I actually enjoyed these new monsters; the contrast between their claws and baby faces was disconcerting and they were mostly used well, with the exception of the bit where Penelope Wilton's character ran back into the cabinet office for the protocols only to be confronted with a slitheen bobbling amiably towards her. But I do like a good monster run-around, and the direction made the chase scenes fast-paced and nervy - just like Rose and the auton attack Keith Boak proves he can handle action scenes well. You know what? This negative has turned into a positive. I must like this episode more than I'm letting on! Quick, think of something....

Farting. Actually, hold on, I didn't have a problem with that. I like a good running theme, and there was no cringeworthy 'I'm shaking my booty' moment in this episode. It made me laugh, too. Ahh, here's a good criticism... The element of realism, or lack of it. I mentioned earlier that this episode should be taken light-heartedly, but I think there's a certain level of realism you've got to aspire to in order to sustain the audiences interest, their tension and how much they care for the characters. I can accept the intact survival of a head-on missile hit, and the slightly dodgy UN politics involved, but it really spoilt the plot for me when Micky first of all only needed one, simple password to take control of the UKs missiles system (yes, because we dont have hackers, do we?) and then dealt with the intervention of another missile with a simple mouse click. Now thats a fun game for all the family. Type buffalo, and take control of our countries' entire weapons system!

Come to think of it, the revelation that the slitheen's one weakness was vinegar annoyed me, although it did allow for a great, inventive fact-gathering scene (narrows it down! narrows it down!) and the best line of the entire episode (''pickled onions...pickled eggs..." "You kiss this man?") but to be honest, it makes the cybermens' slightly gay allergy to gold look tough. It's bad enough being able to deal with an invasion of Cybermen by lobbing a bag of coins at their chest, but imagine a slitheen invasion! Quick, it's the slitheen army...Throw me the Sarson's malt!

But now I'm just getting petty. I've only got one further criticism... and that's the slightly smug, oooh thats clever use of ideas indicative of the worst excesses of a Russell T Davies Script. For me this was symbolised by the analogy of the slitheens' plans to the Iraq war (which will understandably pass right over American's heads, I might add). It was a clever idea, and we all like to give Tony Blair a bit of a bashing, but there are more subtle, effective ways of getting the analogy across without -shout-it -in-the-street-obvious lines like 'weapons of mass destruction that can be activated in 45 seconds' and 'I voted against that, you know'. Yes, we know, you're being satirical. Well done, get over it. Having said that, it gave my Conservative-supporting parents (yes, I know, I don't know why either) a good laugh.

Well, thats the bad stuff. But there was alot of good stuff too, not least the trademark Davies wit which, more than any episode so far, was out in force. There were many lines which -only really appreciated on a second viewing - left me on the floor. Like the aforementioned 'you kiss this man?', the lift escape, the 'thats not going to work, is it?' and my favorite moment of the whole episode - the doctor's realisation that the slitheen can't get in but they can't get out of the cabinet office - a moment made funnier by Eccleston's frozen, grinning mug and exhaled 'ah'. There's alot of character faults in Eccleston's portayal of the doctor, but his comic facial and one-liner ability is definately worthy of praise.

Talking of Eccleston's portrayal of the doctor, the excellent last five, or more accurately two, minutes of this episode were for me the most important of the whole series so far. Up to this point I've been disillusioned with Christopher Eccleston's portayal of the Doctor. I can sympathise with his attempts to make the character seem more alien, but in doing so I think he's lost touch with the core character of the Doctor - the person who you want to travel with, who you wish you had as a friend. It's all very well trying to make him a more complex, alien character, but in doing so - for example, his harsh rebuke to Rose in 'The Unquiet Dead' ('it's a different morality, get used to it or go home') and his bizzare, nasty treatment of Micky, who's spent the last year suspected of murder becuase of him and should at the very least get an apology from the Doctor, not a mean jibe - in doing so, I stopped liking him. And if there's one thing that's important about the Doctor's character - this character who represents good in an amoral universe, the ultimate hero - it's that youv'e got to like him. And, with the added annoyance of Eccleston's occasional unsettling pretentiousness (has there ever been a worse abuse of the word 'fantastic'?) I stopped liking the doctor. Thought he was a bit of a dick, in fact. But then I watched the last two minutes of this episode and , thanks to his newfound respectful and amiable treatment of mickey and the small but significant lie he tells to protect him (telling Rose Mickey couldn't come along so she wouldnt find out that Mickey doesnt think he could handle that sort of life), something finally clicked in Eccleston's portayal of the Doctor .The likable, dare I say it human touch is finally there, and I can now start warming to Eccleston's performance the way I have the last eight doctors.

Other plusses include the ingenious, and chilling motive behind the slitheens' brinkmanship - to reduce the earth to slag, and sell it off. As well as being a clever idea - a nice change from the normal invasion storyline - it was an unsettling thought to say the least. It reminded me of the chill that went through me when I first watched 'The Pirate Planet' and realised what the captain's planet had done to all the other worlds - literally drained them of life. In World War III I got a similar chill when the Doctor notes the genocide this would entail and the slitheen replies "bargain". There was also, in this episode, a high quality of acting from the trio of Billie Piper, Noel Clarke and Penelope Wilton. What seemed to be wooden (translation=bollocks) acting has now, in the case of Noel Clarke as Mickey, been revealed to be an effective portayal of a lovable but hapless guy, his moments with the doctor at the end and his tentative comforting of Jackie particularly worthy of note. Penelope Wilton was, as usual, excellent, but - while we're talking about her - is it me, or did every Doctor who fan watching almost certainly shout 'she's the next prime minister' in response to the Doctor's 'where have I heard that name?'. It must be all those years of realising that characters like 'Sir Giles Estram' were actually the master in disguise....

So I suppose when all's said and done I enjoyed, on repeat viewings at least, this episode quite alot. It's got alot going for it -it's funny, it's imaginative, it's got a great ending. But I suspect when we look back at this first series of new Doctor Who it won't be the Russel T Davies episodes like 'Aliens of London' and 'World War III' we deem to be 'classics' and 'gems' but the Mark Gatiss, Rob Shearman ones et al. But you know what? I'd watch this episode again anyday. And that's more than I can say for 'Timelash'.

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Oscar Wilde once asserted that “consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative”. By implication, then, Doctor Who 2005 has been distinctly unprosaic up to this point. Audiences have been presented with the plotless Rose; the surreal sci-fi-whodunit emotional sandwich, The End of the World; and the pre-watershed The Unquiet Dead. We’ve never known quite what to expect – primarily due to the water-tight production. Now, the Aliens of London and World War Three two-parter prolong this trend, targeting younger viewers and the juvenile with instantly tedious and trite flatulence ‘gags’.

The Doc (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) return to ‘the present’, – a requirement of the new soap opera format - to be both greeted and castigated by the perturbed Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) and a now-ostracized Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke). In-between this impromptu reunion, an extraterrestrial space-craft crashes into the Thames. The Doctor must consequently defend Earth from… the Slitheen family from Raxacoricofallapatorius (… and a squealing space-pig).

Let me clarify my position on writer Russell T. Davies: my ‘loyalties’ are divided. He has reinvented Doctor Who with four fast-paced and enjoyable efforts…, if you refrain from bordering cognition. However, he seems to be failing on the flip side of the coin to where the classic series failed: he promotes character, but plot is barely an afterthought. Sadly, character so far refers only to The Doctor and Rose. Supporting cast-members equate with cardboard cut-outs, despite some praise-worthy performances. Furthermore, Rose, The End of the World and the present storyline sway toward the absurd and superficial. Consider The Doctor’s flowery tripe in Rose:

D'you know like we were saying? About the Earth revolving? It's like when you're a kid: the first time they tell you that the world's turning and you just can't quite believe it because everything looks like it's standing still. I can feel it - the turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour; the entire planet is hurtling around the Sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour; and I can feel it. We're falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go... That's who I am.

To some it may sound impressive (myself excluded), but ultimately it’s soulless gorgonzola – a perfect example. There’re vestiges of plot, this time, though, if one overlooks a lot of typical-being-chased-down-corridors padding in World War Three. Anyhow, moving on… !

Eccleston is on form, especially in his solo scenes inside the TARDIS, although his ‘hitching a lift’ in escape from the military elicts a groan. Rose is less intregal, here.

The Slitheen… Well, they’re now infamous among Whovians. This isn’t abetted by their coarse and frequent need to relieve themselves. Episode one’s cliffhanger would’ve been superb had they been significantly different. I won’t dwell. They do get a few good lines: “… I was busy!” and “Oh, boll-” being most memorable ;-)! For some reason, I thoroughly enjoyed David Verrey’s hammed performance as the PM Joseph Green Slitheen. Annette Badland is unsettling as the Margaret Blaine Slitheen from MI5, and the others were admittedly well-cast: Rupert Vanisittart (Gen. Asquith), Eric Potts (Oliver Charles), Steve Speirs (Strickland), Elizabeth Frost, Paul Kasey and Alan Ruscoe. Jimmy Vee returns, this time providing the alien voices. The space-pig is amusing… before we discover ‘he’ isn’t the villain of the piece.

“Rickey” is amusing, if amateurish, whilst Coduri stands around looking anxious and wide-eyed a lot. Penelope Wilton portrays Harriet Jones, from Flydale North, we’re persistently reminded. I don’t particularly care for the character, but the MP has a fan base – possibly deserved.

Andrew Marr and Matt Baker provide media coverage of the alien invasion – a nice touch, but again overused in the second episode. Jack Tarlton plays an emotionally-involved OTT reporter (!).

Other notable performances include Navin Chowdhry (junior secretary, Indra Ganesh) and Naoko Mori (the pathologist, Dr. Sato).

Keith Boak, director of Rose, takes over the reins from Euros Lyn. It shows.

Curiously, throughout the proceedings, a child (Corey Doabe) spray-paints the words “Bad Wolf” on the TARDIS… and the American reporter (Lachele Carl) was originally named “Mal Loup”… Curiouser and curiouser.

Overall, it’s remotely entertaining and watchable; and that’s the main thing. For youngsters, here, I suppose. I guess we can’t always expect another Unquiet Dead. Or Dalek… **1/2[5]

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For “Doctor Who” to survive in the world of 21st-century television, Russell T Davies and the production team realised the new series would have to appeal to a broad spectrum of the viewing public.

Gone were the days when you could chuck “hard science-fiction” such as “Warriors’ Gate” at the viewing public on a Saturday night, and expect to succeed. In fact, let’s be honest, had 95 per cent of the old series adventures appeared in this time slot, “Doctor Who” would have gone the way of “Celebrity Wrestling”.

That’s not to say the old series was bad – far from it. But it was of its time, and though the new series has the same title, has the Doctor and companion, and has the TARDIS (even if it is a superTARDIS now!) it feels likes a totally-different show. It has to be. And, for me, yes, it’s GOOD different.

Die-hard fans may not be happy that it’s so far removed from the old series, and you can’t see many, if any, of the episodes from the new series fitting into previous seasons, even allowing for the obvious improvements in budget, sets and special effects.

The first thing which struck me about “Aliens of London” and “World War Three” was the excellence of the pre-credits sequence. The standard had been set in “The Unquiet Dead” – and the revelation that Rose had been away from home for 12 months rather than 12 hours, as The Doctor had told her, was a real surprise. And a clever twist.

It’s difficult to escape spoilers for anything these days, but it genuinely accentuates your enjoyment of the programme if you don’t know what’s going to happen beforehand. And this was a case in point.

Even more so than in “Rose” and “End of the World”, writer Davies’s great strength, characterisation, was very much to the fore. Again, as with his two previous episodes, I felt this aspect of the script was stronger than the actual story – although this was a better yarn than Episodes One and Two, but then it did have a second episode, which is a big help!

However, there were some truly-classic “bits”. Can you imagine any other Doctor being slapped by an irate mother? Camille Coduri (Jackie) put some real venom into her slap – just as you’d expect of someone who’d lost a year of their daughter’s life. How many times have you seen a slap done badly on TV? Not a bit of it here – totally believable. This is probably why the Doctor “doesn’t do domestics” – protective mothers pack a mean punch!

This was one of my favourite exchanges of the whole series – and there were many.

Doctor - “I AM a Doctor!”
Jackie - “Well, stitch this then!”

Wallop. Priceless.

Exploring the effect travelling through time and space has on the families and friends of companions is a new – but welcome – diversion for Doctor Who. Davies’s decision to keep bringing Rose and the Doctor back to a base on Earth has proved to be the correct one, and Jackie and Mickey (Noel Clarke) are immensely-likeable characters in their own right. And there is a warm feeling of “coming home” after your travels, for the viewer as well as Rose.

Contrary to a lot of opinion, I quite liked Mickey in “Rose”. Most of us imagine ourselves to be like the Doctor or Rose but, in reality, deep down, most of us are like Mickey. Work, TV, friends, sleep. Play it safe – and run a mile if there’s danger. I’m pleased he was able to play a key role in saving the world.

Both Coduri and Noel Clarke (Mickey) really grabbed their share of the limelight here, Clarke especially. His closing exchange with the Doctor (in which he “accepted” Mickey and offered him a role as a companion) was nicely done. I had felt the Doctor was too dismissive of him too quickly in “Rose”. Hopefully, Mickey will change his mind about time and space travel in “Series Two” – he has to have at least one trip in the TARDIS!

Talking of great characters, what about Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North? Is that her full name? The rat-a-tat exchanges between the Doctor, Harriet and Rose in the cabinet rooms were an absolute delight, and a tribute to Davies’s dialogue. Genuinely funny. I would imagine the actors were thrilled to see quality like that on the page before them.

Penelope Wilton (Harriet) was another great choice from the Casting Department – who, like the rest of the production team, make very few mistakes. And she was far too good a character not to make a return, which I believe she does in the 2005 Christmas special.

It goes without saying that the spaceship crashing into Big Ben and then the Thames was a work of art – trouble is, we now expect these high standards from the special effects teams (and it was heavily trailed) so it maybe didn’t have the impact (pardon the pun) it deserved.

Blowing up Downing Street was also, er, an explosive piece of television. Although, on a serious note, as this series was filmed before this summer’s real-life London bombings, I just wonder if that takes the option of such dramatic scenes out of the equation in future.

The downsides of the story? Well, it was stretching things to believe Mickey could use the computer in his bedroom to launch a missile on Downing Street. A hint of “WarGames” – not “THE War Games”, you understand! – about it. Then again, we are talking about a world which baby-faced green monsters want to sell off for scrap – so maybe it wasn’t that far-fetched. And, hey, it’s a TV programme, it doesn’t all have to make perfect sense!

And what of the baby-faced green monsters themselves? My first impression was “not for me”. They didn’t have the menace of a Dalek, a Cyberman, a Sontaran, an Ice Warrior. The farting aspect didn’t do a lot for me either – not being a fan of the puerile or the totally silly - even though it was reasonably explained. And, although the computer-generated versions of the Slitheen moved slickly around the screen, there was a “lumbering” element to the non-CGI creatures (the people in rubber suits) which suggested you could escape them by breaking into a brisk walk.

However, having already brought back the Autons and with the Daleks to come, it was perfectly understandable that Davies would want to create his “own” monster, and the Slitheen have grown on me. I fully expect them to return in Series Two or Three (maybe the Doctor’s much-discussed visit to an alien planet will be Raxacoricofallapatorius?) as they looked like an expensive production, and I’m sure there will be natural encouragement from the budgetary number crunchers to re-use elements of Series One.

Making the Slitheen a family rather than a race was a novel touch, though, and their reason for being on Earth was well thought out. And I was glad that the pig in a spacesuit didn’t turn out to be the alien! I had visions of the programme being slaughtered in the Press.

There was one irritation at the end of “Aliens of London” – terrific cliff-hanger but, to have the trailer for the next episode even before the closing credits, was plain daft. We know that the Doctor isn’t going to die, but at least give us 30 seconds to consider it!

Going back to my original point about “Doctor Who” appealing to a broader spectrum, I would say I found “Aliens of London”/“World War Three” an enjoyable romp, but I think there was more in most of the other stories for my own tastes. This was probably one for the kids, and there’s no disgrace in that. Giant, green, farting aliens trying to destroy the world – stuff of playground legend. And you know what they say – “children are the future” . . .

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I should warn you at the beginning, if you’re a big Russell T. Davies fan: he’s not going to come out of this well.

Pathetic I know, but sometimes I feel personally hurt by this story; having spent almost all my life defending the show from my friends, who thought of it as a complete joke, Russell T. Davies comes along and proves them right. How could he do this to me? It stings doubly because this was also the first time where the bubble really burst and I realised the series wasn’t going to be the perfection I had been hoping. Maybe you could turn it round and say that I’m better off for seeing it and consequently getting a bit of a reality check, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve just had to sit through the bloomin’ thing again in order to review it.

I suppose it is good that some thought has gone into what Rose has left behind when the Doctor took her away, but it’s spoiled by the lack of thought that seems to have gone into other areas, like why everyone seems to have forgotten that shop window dummies suddenly sprang to life a year previously and killed a lot of people. That’s a big problem with Davies: he focuses on one area of an episode so that everyone coos over how intelligent and thoughtful he is, but then lets it down by neglecting some other area. The pre-titles sequence is at least quite well done though, linking between Rose in her flat and the Doctor in the yard outside.

The policeman asking Rose if her relationship with the Doctor is a sexual one is a very interesting moment as it shows Davies talking about sex in a way that seems totally appropriate to the narrative and not at all gratuitous; that is the kind of question that a policeman genuinely would ask her, so not only is it appropriate it’s quite correct. Davies brings innuendo into the series all too often, and it’s very rare that I end up praising it. Rose’s later line of “it’s so gay”, however, is quite different. It was included in the script simply to stir up trouble and get a reaction; it caused controversy at the time but I gave it the benefit of the doubt as I thought that Davies would have some kind of agenda, but when I found out that the agenda in question was simply to cynically provoke a reaction I lost all patience with him. The line is just presented starkly with no attempt to give it negative connotations, so an anti-homophobic agenda is a bit of a non-starter. Although I suppose if the Doctor had rebuked her for it people would react to that too, thinking Davies has turned the Doctor gay, so you just can’t win.

Forget my opinions about Davies for a moment, or even to an extent Keith Boak, as the spaceship crash looks absolutely great. It has a few flaws, like a lack of reaction shots from the crowd, the actual landing which isn’t the show’s best piece of special effects and the fact that nobody hears it coming until it zooms right over their head, despite it not only having roaring engines but also having a foghorn. Still, it’s still a great set piece and the shot of Big Ben getting smashed looks wonderful although it is spoiled by a totally unnecessary angle change from Boak, to whom fast, random, dizzying cuts are a particularly bad speciality. One thing to note is that the clock reads 10:55 when the ship strikes it but 6:10 when it appears on the news later: good old British workmanship eh? Big Ben keeps going even when an alien spaceship uncaps it like a boiled egg.

The party at Rose’s flat features some Goths as guests; maybe this is just my skewed perspective but they strike me as being somewhat incongruous in a council estate setting where such people would have a short life expectancy (oh, I’ve alienated a lot of people saying that, haven’t I? Never mind, so has Davies). The Goth girl is also the one who yells out to the Doctor “oi gawjus, come back an’ join da par’ay”, showing that Davies knows as much about Goths as he does about politics. The scene with the baby is daft but okay, but cutting to a cake spaceship is a classic example of the clever-clever metafictional elements that Davies scatters throughout his episodes that totally destroy the illusion. Rumour has it that he’s in a future episode carrying a billboard saying “this is just a TV show!”

After this the silliness comes thick and fast. Politicians are given comedy jobs; Harriet Jones is comic relief initially spouting her catchphrase “MP for Flydale North” again and again and again until people start saying it in their sleep; then of course there’s the farting, which is the moment that Davies really shows how little he respects a family audience. It truly pains me that a programme that once had characters talking in iambic pentameter (and getting nine million viewers for it before anyone accuses it of elitism) is now reduced to not just one but uncountable fart jokes. Even at its lowest ebb the original series never disrespected its audience to this degree. Why Davies seems to think that anyone is going to respond to such infantile writing is beyond me, but what is even more beyond me is that they do, with World War Three actually topping this in the ratings. The guffawing aliens seems to be an attempt at keying into an older, cheesier style of villain, just like the Dalek flying saucers key in to an older design of spaceship, but this is so ineptly done that like in Delta And The Bannermen the episode becomes what it attempts to riff off: namely, bad science fiction. I admit I sound patronising there, but I hate the thought that someone who reacts badly to such coarseness is an automatic humourless snob. Believe me, I react very well to humour. It’s just that this isn’t it.

The rest of the episode just keeps on annoying me, from the incredibly twee use of David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ on the soundtrack to Mickey’s embarrassing pratfall when the TARDIS dematerialises (which incidentally takes too long, so the visuals don’t match the sound effects), to the Doctor using a mallet on the console. Sorry, I know I’m being harsh, but they put someone in charge of the show who is simply not taking his job seriously, at least when it comes to this episode.

At least Navin Chowdry is a good actor, transforming a scene with his reactions when in the background. In fact a lot of the guest cast are very good here, such as David Verrey, Penelope Wilton and (particularly) Annette Badland, but their characters are so annoying (Harriet Jones to a lesser extent, bit still a little bit) that it counts for naught. At least Noel Clarke’s on hand to save the day, maintaining some charisma in the face of idiot pratfalls.

The escape of the space pig is dramatic at first, until we actually see the pig. Possibly this was an attempt to replicate the success of Mr. Sin from The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, but instead of being creepy it just ends up ludicrous. It could have been creepy if it was better done, but unfortunately Jimmy Vee in a pig suit just doesn’t convince. The dry, rubbery mask just doesn’t convince and no attempt to make anything other than the head and hands look like a pig has been made. In short, it looks like what it is: a small guy in a pig suit. And then Davies expects me to get emotional over it.

The scene where the three Slitheen line up and fart in front of Asquith while grinning inanely is my candidate for Doctor Who’s worst ever moment, which even now makes me cringe even though I’ve watched it several times. I’m just thankful that I’ve never seen this episode in the company of others – that’s definitely a moment to get the dog to “accidentally” tread on the fast forward button. The head zips are more tweeness that help shatter the illusion, although the bright blue glow helps obscure it a bit.

Note that the handrail in the TARDIS wobbles when Rose grabs it – I love stuff like that happening in the new series, as it counteracts the smugness of people who laugh at the original.

The scene where Jackie grasses up the Doctor shows that this is actually quite a well paced episode (just a shame that the content being paced is so naff), with the Doctor’s trip to the hospital neatly leading on to the next stage. The mystery of what the aliens have been doing is also good, but highlights how disappointing the story is as it has a very strong core idea and could have been very good.

The “wife, mistress and young farmer” line is Davies again at his most smarmy – the policeman’s question earlier on was appropriate to the story but when an innuendo is devoid of any relevance to the plot it becomes mere attention seeking. The gas exchange explanation for the farting doesn’t quite cut it with me – okay so there’s an explanation for it, but why can’t the exchangers just work properly? Then the Slitheen could at least claim to have a veneer of credibility. Apart from that is the fact that green aliens hiding inside human suits it taken wholesale from City Of Death, where it was done much better and the DVD of which ironically features Steven Moffatt talking (correctly) about the importance of taking the monsters seriously. I know City Of Death raises the question of how the Jagaroth can fit inside human skins but if the answer to that involves them breaking wind at every opportunity then I can live with the dramatic licence, thanks.

The Slitheen, when they emerge, look dreadful – stupid comedy monsters with baby faces, pot-bellies and bad posture. I’ll take the underrated Zarbi over the Slitheen; they may look dated now, but at least people where actually trying back then instead of hurling money at the show until it makes itself. What galls me also is the fact that the new series is capable of making such fantastic monsters (the Reapers), so these look like they do deliberately. When monsters failed in the original series at least you could put it down to budget constraints, but the Slitheen look exactly as they are intended to look and I find that very sad. I have to say, while I’ve seen praise for them on the Internet I’ve never met anyone in the flesh who actually liked the Slitheen. The special effects of their emergence from their skins look awful and fake, although like the wobbling handrail this does at least provide me with some ammo against people who laugh at the effects of the original series. The three Slitheen emerging at the same time in separate places show a completely artificial set up for a cliffhanger, which when it happens is distinctly ordinary. The “next time” trailer has been criticised so much I don’t need to go into it here.

Fortunately, World War Three is a bit better than the dreadful Aliens Of London and (just about) saves the story from a bottom rating. The resolution of the cliffhanger makes no sense though – so all the power transmits to other Slitheen through gas exchangers, does it? This demonstrates Davies penchant for grabbing whatever random sci-fi device comes along and turning it round to suit him regardless of it’s plausibility – see also The Christmas Invasion, where the Sycorax leader happens to be standing on the exact spot on the ship that can be collapsed by a carefully thrown satsuma. Funny thing though, but doesn’t Christopher Eccleston sound like Paul McGann when he says “deadly to humans, maybe”? Listen and hear it for yourself.

We get to see the Slitheen for all their rubbishness: the costumes look as rubbery and artificial as the pig’s and the CGI versions look too cartoony, as well as failing to match the costume-versions’ movements. Both, I should say, are largely down to the way Boak shoots them as the look improves dramatically when Joe Ahearne shoots them for Boom Town. There is no dignity to this episode at all, especially when they wobble about trying to get back into their human suits – and it’s all deliberate. It is quite unbelievable. However, I do like the look of anger that Verrey flashes Rupert Vansittart as Asquith when he tells the guards to take their orders directly from him.

The Doctor defeats a Slitheen with a fire extinguisher, Rose drops a curtain on one of their heads and Harriet Jones screams “noooooo!”. Yes folks, we have something falling somewhat short of the show’s most dynamic action scene. However, the fact that the Slitheen are a family answers a question about why the Slitheen have no nuclear weapons of their own (it doesn’t forgive ripping the plot off The Dominators though). However, Harriet’s rebuke to the Doctor for passing the port to the right is actually a good joke, having a bit of style at odds with the rest of the story (my word, I’m such a snob. Oh well, nobody’s perfect, but at least I know a good episode of Doctor Who when I see it). For every god moment though there’s a bad one to cancel it out, such as the unfunny moment where human skins are hung on coat hangers.

The Doctor’s quiet apology to the dead Indra Ganesh is a good moment though, as understatement is the way emotion should be done. Having said that I do like Father’s Day and emotion is hardly understated there so let me put it another way – it should be understated when done by Davies as he has a tendency to splatter his scripts with trite and cheesy platitudes, such as in the café scene in The Parting Of The Ways. Here, though, it works well. The “buffalo” password on the UNIT site is unbelievably stupid plotting, and when the Slitheen explodes through having picked eggs thrown at it I have to ask myself how thick Davies thinks his audience is.

The Doctor gags at the port (despite claims to have drunk earlier with Lloyd George), which is a great little moment of characterisation, helped by the fact that it’s so fleeting because of a quick cutaway. Keith Boak does good camerawork in the same way that someone playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey will occasionally, quite by chance, hit it right on the spot.

“Massive weapons of destruction”. Please, someone make it stop.

The resolution is, you guessed it, rubbish with Mickey hacking into (for the purposes of new viewers) a random fictional website and launching a missile at 10 Downing Street from his home computer. Davies’s strengths, such as his skill in characterising Rose, just don’t cut it in the face of such ridiculousness. Also annoying is the hint of a swear word from the Slitheen, because of the continued “tee hee, we’re doing this because we can get away with it” attitude of the writer. I’m glad it’s nearly over though (what if Margaret Blaine teleported into a chip shop? There’d be no Boom Town so we’d all be better off.

At least the ending, with the “ten seconds” moment, is pretty good in a sombre and sad way that contrasts with the silliness of earlier. The cover-up idea is implausible though – so what, a student prank? And they murdered the prime minister just for an extra hint of realism. It’s not relevant to anything, but I’ve got the same coffee mugs as Jackie (bet that caught you off guard).

The fact that World War Three isn’t quite as dreadful as Aliens Of London just saves this from a one-star rating, but only just. It totally sums up everything that is wrong with Davies’s writing: it takes all the shaky plotting, silly comedy characters, annoying satire, smut and innuendo and multiplies them; in short, despite not being the worst episode of the series (that thorny crown goes to Boom Town) this is still a poor, poor example of Doctor Who.

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This pair of episodes is utterly appalling. How they ever got made, let alone past the scripting stage is beyond me. There's humor in flatulence if you're five years old, but most of us manage to grow up and stop laughing at bodily functions. Watching "Aliens of London" and "World War 3" makes me wonder just why exactly Russell Davies gets so much acclaim as ˜one of the best writers in television" when from the evidence I've seen (his work on the new Doctor Who) he's clearly overrated? To be more specific, his writing typically has some superficial plot, combined with an over-emphasis on character and emotionalism, with loads of innuendo and juvenile humor thrown in. Some days he manages to restrain himself, as he does with the pretty enjoyable "Long Game", but here in this combo of episodes, all the worst excesses of RTD's version of Doctor Who are sadly on full display for all to see.

I don't like to bash the program, or Russell Davies, or the creative team behind it. Doctor Who is my favorite show, and I'm willing to forgive quite a bit when it comes to writing or plotting or special effects. But while I've been on occasion bored with an episode, or amused by some low-budget effect, or aware of the show's faults while still managing to enjoy it, I've never been angered by an episode before. It's only a TV show, and really shouldn't be worth my time to be angry about, yet when someone takes a program which I really enjoy, and turns out a show as bad as Aliens/WW3 turned out to be, it's hard not to be angry that the writers and producers had the audacity to think that this passed for family entertainment, let alone a good episode of Doctor Who. Especially considering that I can't watch it on TV and had to pay for the DVD set. I don't really feel I got a good return for my time or money when it comes to these two episodes.

This story had so much potential to be good, since the basic plot is pretty sound. It starts out well enough, with Rose coming home to touch base, and the Doctor discovering that he'd gotten the date wrong and that Rose had been gone for a year. It's the type of silly mistake that the Doctor would make, and feels right. Sadly, here the episode goes off the deep end with Rose's mom slapping the Doctor as though we're watching a tedious soap opera. To add insult to injury, the Doctor and Rose discuss it on the phone like a pair of lovesick teenagers whose parents don't want them to date. Quite apart from the absurdity of a telephone in the TARDIS, this type of soap-opera garbage is not what I watch Doctor Who for.

Thankfully the episode takes a drastic upward turn with the spaceship crash, which looks outstanding. The public and news media reaction to it is extremely well portrayed, and the idea of the Doctor being forced to watch it on television like everyone else is amusing. Thankfully the Doctor can't take it for long, and does what any self-respecting meddling Time Lord would do: take his TARDIS and go to see the alien body. The brain-augmented pig is actually a good concept, and rather sad. More good concepts include the mention and involvement of UNIT, and the security that is tripped when Jackie tries to report the Doctor to the alien hotline. The Doctor mugging for the camera is fun. As we are introduced to more characters, I find that Harriet Jones starts out as an irritating character and quickly becomes rather admirable.

Then of course, things go downhill again with the (disguised) appearance of the Slitheen, an alien race who look rather good, but are completely undermined by the fact that I am unable to take them seriously, and find them utterly embarrassing to watch. A particularly dire instance of this has to be the "I'm shaking my booty" scene. Doctor Who was once a drama that was taken seriously by all involved, but now we're reduced to three overweight people passing gas and giggling. It's absolutely puerile rubbish.

The cliffhanger was good. Our first cliffhanger of the new series, and it's a triple threat! Sadly, as others have noted, it was rendered less than effective by the "Next time" trailer immediately after the cliffhanger. I see that they corrected that placement error for "The Empty Child", so the error was realized.

The poorly titled "World War 3" is nothing of the sort, with one missile being fired, and the Slitheen's plans being revealed. There are some more good concepts in this episode, including the idea that Slitheen is a family name rather than a race, and that the spaceship crash was meant to be spectacular, since it was an attention-grabbing spectacle. The Doctor's trick with the alcohol is amusing and in character, and the fact that the aliens figure it out after a few minutes is also good. The denouement, where Mickey hacks into the website and launches a missile is fine on the surface, given that the Doctor is guiding him, but it's let down by a silly password (that works on all security levels) and the idea that an internet site allows a missile to be launched. Thankfully the Slitheen are incinerated. We're then treated to more irritating domestic scenes with Jackie and Rose, though the Doctor/Mickey scene while waiting for Rose is quite good actually. The Doctor actually acts in character and allows Mickey to save face. I was impressed.

I have to discuss the Doctor's portrayal. Generally Eccleston and the writers get his character right, though the continued rudeness is certainly overplayed. The Doctor's "winding up" of Mickey for most of the story isn't alien, its petulant teenager, jealous over Rose. It's pathetic. And of course, the Doctor gets the two most cringe worthy lines of the episodes. "Would you mind not farting while I'm saving the world" being pretty bad, topped only by "I could save the world but lose you", which is the sort of wildly unrealistic expression of sentiment that eighth graders think people say to each other, but is totally out of character for the Doctor.

The politics of the story (WMD ready to go in 45 mins, etc.) are the typical left-wing "Bush/Blair lied" variety, and as such I can't take them seriously. Thankfully, unlike "Boom Town" where the politics are the story, here's they're inspiration for the Slitheen's methods, and don't overwhelm the drama with preachiness.

I've complained before about the high degree of sexual innuendo that has been added to Doctor Who, which has been very much to its detriment. "Aliens of London" contains the one instance I can think of where mentioning it seems appropriate and subtly played, and that's in the scene where the policeman is interviewing the Doctor and Rose. Contrast that with Oliver's rather crass comment about the wife, mistress and young farmer, which is crude in the extreme. It's little wonder this element of the new show continually leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

In the final analysis, it boils down to this: a passable story ruined by bad characterization, juvenile giggles over flatulence and nudity, and domestic tedium when we could be seeing the universe. I can't recall having actually been embarrassed to be a Doctor Who fan before, but this episode has accomplished that. A red letter day to be sure. 4 out of 10, and I'm giving generous marks for the visuals and some good ideas, which are almost drowned by the dross surrounding them.

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