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“I’ve changed a lot since the old days” Apr 28

So, after something of a delay, Aliens of London reviewed. Leaving it until after World War Three was useful as I can now review episode four knowing how the story was resolved. It also means I won’t ask questions like “Why not take over the Prime Minister’s body?” which have now been answered on screen.

The revelation that Rose has been missing for a year provided plenty of opportunity for domestic backdrop to the alien invasion, and Russell Davies used it to the full. That Mickey would be suspected of murdering Rose was all too believable. I’ve been undecided about Camille Coduri’s and Noel Clarke’s performances but I’m slowly settling on Clarke’s portrayal of Mickey as being spot on, if a bit goofy at times (e.g., the OTT wall collision as the TARDIS dematerialises) but Coduri’s Jackie as a bit hammy. Sorry Jackie fans. She’s at her worst as soon as she gets a telephone in her hands.

Aliens of London has a noticeably slower pace than the previous episodes but it nevertheless feels scrappy, jumping around from scene to scene. Eccleston seems to be mugging more, but given his comments his first scene involved chasing a pig, perhaps much of this episode was filmed before he’d settled into the character.

The plot itself is a great idea: aliens faking an invasion in order to get alien experts together to kill them (and later to justify a nuclear launch). The Slitheen as humans have been accused of being a bit CBBC, which is fair enough, but it doesn’t damage the episode so long as this is a characteristic of the aliens. As long as the rest of the characters appear to be taking the events seriously (for example, Navin Chowdry is excellent as Indra Ganesh), the Slitheen can still seem dangerous. If I were to change one thing about the Slitheen, it would be the thoroughly un-alien zips.

Once again, there were plenty of good gags, notably the Patrick Moore quip and Harriet Jones’s ID card waving, and the special effects (even the disrobing Slitheen) were good – and, of course, still light years ahead of the original series. It was a shame, given the use of Andrew Marr and Matt Baker, that the BBC News 24 reporter was an actor. (The News 24 clock appeared to be missing from some shots too.)

The return of the cliffhanger to Doctor Who was welcome, with three sequences building to a strong climax – albeit ruined by the “Next Time” teaser (and a cursory resolution in the next episode).

My least favourite of the first four episodes, but still the best thing on TV at the time. And Penelope Wilton was terrific.

One Response

  1. 1

    Compare and contrast:

    “This my life Jackie, it’s not fun, it’s not pretty, it’s just standing up and making a decision” (Davies, 2005)

    “What gives me the right to decide who lives and dies? Nothing. Nothing
    at all gives me the right. But sometimes, we all have to make hard
    decisions. Part of that is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Right now, there is only one person who can save the planet – or destroy
    it. That man is sitting next to me with a remote detonator in his hand.
    So what are you going to do, Luke Bramley? I don’t want to know what you
    think I would do. I don’t even want to know what you think Kirena would
    do. What would Luke Bramley do here? Wait and risk the world?” (Taylor and Smith, 2001)