|"I could save the world but lose you."|
As I mentioned, RTD's tenure on the show saw us explore companions' private lives so much more than before - the predecessor, really, to Moffat's very character-based arc. At the time it was an innovation in storytelling that felt completely modern and cutting edge (in Who terms anyway...}. Despite how advanced it seemed, this focus only really equated to two characters, Jackie and Mickey, as well as more frequent trips to the "present." The Aliens of London two-parter was, for convenience, filmed with the last "present" episode Rose as one of the first episodes shot. But that's not why it's rough around the edges, so I'll move on for now.
After the future-past tour, The Doctor takes Rose back to London to see her mother and boyfriend. Despite his best efforts at arriving twelve hours after she left, he finds out too late that she's been gone a year and Mickey's been suspected of her murder in the mean-time. Despite how whiney Camille Coduri's portrayl can sometimes get, I do enjoy these scenes at the beginning of Aliens of London because of their realism and how they explore what was then unknown territory. This is followed by a discussion on the rooftop - a rather obvious greenscreen set, but it's perfect for what happens next - a spaceship flies over London and takes out Big Ben before crashing in the Thames. The world thinks that this is First Contact, and so while London celebrates and Rose faces Mickey's tale of the year he's had, The Doctor uses the Tardis to get a little closer to the action.
|"It's only a model." "Shh."|
The action segues into 10 Downing Street, where the majority of this story is set. Here we meet out villains for this episode, who besides being incredibly unbelievable in their characterisation are the sole reason that this story is on so many fans' worst episodes list. I'll spoil it now, because a point really has to be made. The villains of this story are ambitiously-used green aliens called the Slitheen, an evil family of gangsters from a tribal society that have inflitrated the UK Government by killing major figures and then using their skins as suits. To do so they wear a compression device around their necks, which due to pressure on either their bodies or the writer's spinal cord causes them to be incredibly, incredibly flatulent.
Now, before I go any further, I'd just like to say that I am not a prude. I swear punctuatively. I do not "look down upon" certain types of humour - my only requirement is that I find it funny. I'll even allow it if I'm somehow not in the target audience - as long as I feel that it is funny to them. The Slitheen, on the other hand, belong in the same region of absurdity as burping bins and skin on a frame. RTD said his target age range was 8-12 years of age. I was 8 when this story first broadcast and like Cassandra, I didn't find it funny then and it's still bloody irritating now.
|MP for Flydale North.|
Back to the plot. The Slitheen Leader, known by his human name Joseph Green, somehow ascends to PM in the incumbant's absence. He and his two friends are blasted by the head of the Army but they swap one of the bodies for him, giving them control over the military. Meanwhile, Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton of Shaun of the Dead fame} is being a back-bench busybody and manages to accidentally discover the Slitheen's identities.
Jackie, meanwhile, witnesses the Tardis and is scared out of her wits. She calls a Government hotline for sightings and his Years with UNIT have he and Rose escorted to Downing Street. The Doctor is sent to a meeting of alien experts while Harriet breaks down in front of Rose and reveals the Slitheen's existence, as well as finding the Prime Minister. On the estate, a portly-looking policeman with a flatulance problem visits Jackie and starts un-zipping his head. At the meeting all of the experts begin to be electrocuted as all of the our protagonists find themselves in danger in a three-pronged cliffhanger.
World War Three is by comparison a much more interesting experience because it lays off the Slitheen (for the most part} and focuses more on character development. The Doctor turns the electric device back onto the Slitheen, whose psychic link makes it possible for all parties to escape. The Doctor, Rose and Harriet end up in the steel-reinforced cabinet room, questioning the Slitheen's intentions. Over the phone to Mickey, they help he and Jackie kill the Police-Slitheen by dousing it in Vinegar. In turn, The Doctor executes his contingency plan - he helps Mickey hack into the Royal Navy to send a missile to destroy downing street, where all of the Slitheen are gathered. To cut a long story short, it worked, and everyone lives happily ever after.
There isn't that much to go at with World War Three because a lot of it is composed of tense faffing about. My favourite bits would have to be The Doctor's speech in the cabinet room, one of Ecclestone's best ever line-reads - "I could save the world but lose you." - and Joseph Green's excuse that the aliens have "Weapons of Massive Destruction, capable of being fired in 45 seconds," a clear dig at the Iraq War, which was still fresh on everyone's minds.
|Can you have a cameo if your show doesn't exist yet?|
NEXT TIME: Dalek! Yay!