Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 1x05: "World War Three"

Written by Russell T Davies
Directed by Keith Boak

With something of a disjointed ending to “Aliens Of London”, I hate to admit that the very start to our concluding hour to the Slitheen wasn’t getting off to a good start itself.

The tension that lacked in the closing moments of last week didn’t seem to be making an appearance here and the first ten minutes bounced from The Doctor inflicting a bit of pain on our green skinned nemesis, fleeing from security to Rose and Harriet almost being killed.

It wasn’t the best in terms of Russell’s writing and who would’ve thought that The Doctor trapping himself, Rose and Harriet inside the Cabinet room would’ve been a sigh of relief? I didn’t but given the rather silly opening of this episode, I found it to be a blessing in disguise as The Doctor and company devised some plans.

As the Slitheen continue their quest, their real reasons for the take over and destruction of planet Earth was revealed to be less insidious that thought. It turns out that all they really want to do is to obliterate Earth so they can sell it bit by bit? Fantastic scheme that is as it does little to improve our 10 Downing Street saga.

Plot wise, this seems a little to futile and for me the straw that broke the Camel’s back. Despite some great acting by David Verrey as Joseph Green and Annette Badland as Margaret Blaine, I just couldn’t take this plot any more serious. For me the danger was lacking and I just wanted this lot exterminated (hint for next week).

Having being rescued by Mickey, I found Rose’s boyfriend and Jackie’s scenes far more interesting to watch mainly because there was better characterisation with them than with the Slitheen. In fact you could argue that it was Mickey and Jackie who did more to save the day than The Doctor, Rose or Harriet.

After killing one of the Slitheen with a vile combination of vinegar, eggs and gherkins (it seems that breaking calcium is a weakness for this lot), Jackie and Mickey were then put in the unenviable position of endangering Rose. Let’s just that both of them had tough decisions to make in order to do the right thing and prove their love for her.

Jackie got some wonderful turning points in this episode as she openly expressed more rage at The Doctor for constantly putting her daughter at risk, even if Rose made it clear that it’s her choice to be with The Doctor.

Jackie seems to be a good enough parent if a little clueless about what her daughter really wants out of life, but at least a lot of what she says and feels and how she expresses it is believable. She treats Mickey like the boy who isn’t good enough for her child, yet lets him take charge when a situation is heavy and she’s out of her depth.

This is made into an example when Mickey hacks into the royal Navy base and uses a missile from a submarine to hit Downing Street. Jackie could’ve stopped him but deep down she knew both him and The Doctor were doing the right thing. In the end she also admitted to liking The Doctor (well she did try it on with him “Rose”) and hinted that Rose felt more for him. I like The Doctor and Rose together but I’m not sure about a coupling though. Is it really necessary?

It’s Mickey however who is really the highlight of the episode and I just absolutely loved his interactions with The Doctor tonight. They were simply priceless. The constant baiting Mickey had to endure forced him to be a hero and even The Doctor respected him enough to invite him to tag along in the TARDIS. I wasn’t surprised Mickey rejected his offer though, even though he probably knows that by staying behind he may lose Rose. It was very easy to like and feel for the guy in this episode.

The explosion that wiped out the Slitheen (hopefully the lot of them) didn’t excite me. I found it to be too random and after a messy exposition I was only too glad to rid of them to really care how they ended but the final ten minutes of this episode was the best. With all the other MP’s obliterated, Harriet is now in a position of power and it was probably her idea for the whole “Alien Hoax” line the press spun in the aftermath of the Slitheen. That was a cop-out but understandable.

As for Rose and The Doctor, their bond definitely seems to be intensifying. The Doctor had a hard time telling Jackie he could always protect her. Rose on the other hand knows he can’t and has just gotten to accept it. She also trusts his instincts even if she isn’t afraid to challenge them from time to time.

Jackie and Mickey may love her but I don’t thin they’ll ever be completely okay with Rose always coming and going in and out of their lives but as the final scene indicates, they don’t a choice in the matter.

Also in “World War Three”

Why are the “Previously On” bits still silent? It’s a little weird.

The Doctor: “That’s never going to work, is it?”
Sergeant: “No.”
The Doctor: “Fair enough.”

When trying to find Harriet, the Asquith Slitheen described her as an old girl with stale perfume and brittle bones. Margaret described Rose as young and hormonal.

The Doctor: “Harriet Jones, I think I like you.”
Harriet: “I think I like you too.”

History lesson about 10 Downing Street: 2000 years ago it was a marsh land, in 1730 it was occupied by Mr Chicken and 1976 it was a Cabinet room. The security doors were installed in 1991.

Mickey: “No-one’s gonna look for you here, especially since you hate me so much.”
Jackie: “You saved my life. God, how embarrassing is that?”

The real name of the Slitheen I can’t even pronounce, let alone spell it but it’s long enough and featured quite a few f letters in it. Other disguises that they had though were as Captain James from RAF, Ewan McAlistair, the deputy security of the Scottish Embassy and Silvia Delaney, chairperson of North Sea boating club.

Margaret (re fighting the Slitheen): “What, you trapped in your box?”
The Doctor: “Yes, me.”

Rose (re strategy): “Do it.”
The Doctor: “You don’t even know what it is, you just leap?”

Although uncredited we saw Navin Chowdry in this episode as The Doctor moved Indra’s body away. He apologised, though he wasn’t responsible for the man’s death.

Jackie: “I could stop you.”
Mickey: “Do it then.”

There was a fair amount of political referencing in this episode, including a jibe made about those infamous WMD dossiers in regards to Saddam Hussein. The missile Mickey also launched was titled UGM 848.

Harriet (to the public): “Mankind stands tall. Proud and undefeated, God bless the human race.”

Harriet ran for three successful terms and is seen as an architect of Britain’s Golden Age. I wonder if we will see her again.

Jackie: “My daughter saved the world.”
Rose: “Even The Doctor helped.”

Other stuff: While away Jackie has told everyone that Rose has been an au-pair in France, Rose has a TARDIS picture on her phone and the Doctor and Rose’s next journey is the horse head nebula.

In this episode’s defence, “World War Three” was a better instalment than “Aliens Of London” but it took quite a while for things to actually pick up in it though. The destruction of London we saw here is definitely on the nose in the wake of the attacks that happened last July. However I thought some of the effects were a little dodgy and while I enjoyed this more than last week’s episode, it was still rather unsatisfying.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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