Sunday, 16 June 2013

Rooksburg Reviews: Aliens of London/ World War Three

Doctor Who s1e04/05: Aliens of London/ World War Three

The first two-part story arc, I will be treating both episodes as part of the same story.
The story is about the Doctor and Rose returning home, only to find the Doctor missed his target (again) and they find out Rose has been missing a whole year.  Before Rose can get in too much trouble, a distraction appears in the form of a spaceship crash landing in the Thames, destroying Big Ben in the process.  It doesn't take long to realise this crash was a hoax, leading the Doctor to find out why aliens would attempt a covert invasion in such a high-profile way.

This review will be slightly different from my others thus far, as it's no secret that I absolutely hate these episodes- I think the only episode more detested is Love and Monsters.  So I'm going to cover usual review topics, followed by a long list of reasons why I hate these episodes so much- they just keep getting worse the longer they go on for.

The character development is the strongest point in this story; we see that the Doctor doesn't always get things right, and that can have ramifications on the lives of his companions.  Both Jackie and Mickey get a lot of character development, Jackie being shown as a mother who clearly cares for her daughter and is terrified that she's in danger as long as she's with the Doctor.  Mickey is also shown to have waited for Rose over the whole course of the year, even when being accused as a murderer, but once again he is ridiculed by the Doctor and pitied by Rose.
The story is the next best point, but doesn't make much sense; the Slitheen want to blow up Earth to turn it
into slag that they can sell off, but to do this they need to use Earth's own nuclear weapons to trigger a world war, which they will gain access to by impersonating high profile figures, which they will do by distracting the rest of the world with a fake UFO crash in the middle of London.  Thankfully, enough action happens that you don't need to pay too much attention to the story's developments.
Ugh, just looking at them makes me cringe...
The visual effects in this episode are downright terrible.  They were then, and they are now.  Anything involving CG doesn't give even the slightest impression of reality, and the prosthetics just look like lifeless rubber hanging off a stick.
The enemies themselves, the Slitheen, are the worst designed creatures in the whole of New-Who.  Physically they're not too terrible, though the effects let them down, but in every other aspect they are loathsome.  All that really needs to be said is their whole existence is based on fart jokes.

So now the list of awfulness, in chronological order (as, like I said, these episodes only get worse as they go on...)

  • The police's lack of interest in Rose's disappearance.  I highly doubt that they would be satisfied with her explanation that she was just travelling and hadn't contacted home, and I'm sure they would have wanted to take the Doctor in for questioning as her apparent captor, but evidently not.
  • The crashed ship is immediately cordoned off by soldiers of the parachute regiment.  How they got there so quickly and managed to disperse people so quickly is anyone's guess.
  • The Doctor refuses to take the TARDIS to investigate, claiming more spaceships would add to the confusion.  This despite the TARDIS being invisible to anyone not looking for it.
  • Despite the area being cordoned off, everyone is able to see a body being lifted from the wreckage- something the authorities would clearly want to keep quiet.
  • The 'Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on the Monitoring of Sugar Standards in Exported Confectionary' is now acting prime minister, simply because the cabinet are all absent from Downing Street at the time.  I'm pretty sure the office of prime minister doesn't go to whoever happens to actually be in his office at the time.
  • Fart gag.  Don't tell me it's to appeal to children; this series of Doctor Who is rated 12 (and besides, I think even kids would be offended).
  • The Doctor claims this could be humanity's first contact with aliens, despite the fact he should know exactly when first contact occurred.  (I'm willing to accept first contact is one of those points 'in flux')
  • The Doctor encounters a room full of guards that point guns at him, but are perfectly happy to follow his orders when they hear a scream.
  • The alien body is an augmented pig.
  • More fart gags.
  • The plan involves gathering every expert in aliens together in one place, despite any experts that may be in other countries, or other members of UNIT.  (To a lesser extent Torchwood, as they don't technically exist until next series).
  • Every major character is in mortal danger.  Episode ends on a cliffhanger.  Yet... we immediately see a 'Next Time' trailer that shows them all escaping their various predicaments.
  • When the Doctor reverses the polarity, somehow all Slitheen are affected despite showing no evidence of a link, other than a vague empathic link that 'somethings happened', at any other point.
  • The guards all happily leave their posts when told there is an alien in the other room.
  • The guards do not believe the most important alien expert when he says that the acting prime minister's an alien, despite the fact he's clearly acting odd.
  • The guards, when ordered to execute someone, will happily wait for the victim to explain how he's going to escape before shooting him.
  • The guards, when said victim is in the process of escaping, still fail to shoot him.
  • UNIT's password for everything is 'buffalo'.
  • The acting PM expects the public to believe all the experts were killed by aliens who have weapons of mass destruction pointed at Earth, despite the fact all the public knows is that a ship crash landed.
  • The public believes all the experts were killed by aliens who have weapons of mass destruction pointed at Earth, despite the fact all the public knows is that a ship crash landed.
  • The acting PM expects the United Nations to give him access codes to nuclear missiles that can be launched at said weapons of mass destruction, despite the fact NASA could look up and say that's a load of rubbish, and he's lying.
  • The Royal Navy's password for everything is also 'buffalo'.
  • Using the internet and just one password, anyone could press a big red button to launch a missile targeted on Downing Street.
  • No-one on the submarine appears to have noticed they have just fired a missile without permission.
  • There are no anti-missile defenses in place despite the extra-terrestrial threat.
  • When counter-measures are taken at the last minute against the missile, the same 'buffalo' password can be used to stop them.
  • When Downing Street is destroyed, everyone accepts that the aliens were inside all along despite there being no evidence.
  • The public are quite happy to accept that a missile blew up their head of government, and that it wasn't a part of the alien attack.
  • Despite the fact the cabinet are still alive and well, presumably including the actual deputy PM, Harriet Jones- a backbench mp for an unheard of constituency- can still become PM just because she was in the PM's office when the previous acting PM died.
...And that's all I have to say.  This was a terrible story that didn't deserve to be shown in two parts, and a terrible follow on from The Unquiet Dead.  And it's still not the last we've seen of the Slitheen...

Next time a better structured review: Dalek.

"...It's just a show; I should really just relax..."

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