In the fifth episode of series one of Doctor Who, we learn exactly how the Doctor escapes from electrocution at the hands of the Slitheen. Unfortunately, after locking himself in 10 Downing Street with Rose and Harriet Jones, he realizes he has to make a devastating decision in order to save the world. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
I’m not sure I enjoy the second half of this story arc nearly as much as the first.
We find out that the Doctor cannot actually be electrocuted by the Slitheen, as he’s not a human himself, but the rest of the “alien experts” are murdered instantly. The entire thing was a plot to get all of the people who might have figured out what the Slitheen were executed before they could attempt to stop them. (A thought, though: would anyone have figured out who they were besides the Doctor? Probably not, but the Doctor does seem to know everything.
There are a few slightly comical chase scenes in “World War Three” and I loved the CGI used to make the Slitheen run. It made them look far more sinister and threatening. The problem is that as soon as it switched to the full-size costume, they suddenly looked silly to me. They were so slow in the costumes (which was certainly a side affect of how large and overbearing those suites were) and it clashed just a bit too much with the CGI version of them.
But, admittedly, I’m not watching this show for digital effects and I’m sure none of you did either. What I do care about is the weirdness and the sincerity that Doctor Who has given us so far. It’s what the writers have done so well up until this point: making us laugh and making us think about the inherent strangeness of the world, sometimes at the exact same moment. In “World War Three,” however, I felt the story and plot overshadowed any of that present here in the episode.
The explanation for why the Slitheen have chosen to pseudo-invade London (and the rest of the world, for that matter) seems to be an afterthought. It feels like it’s there because it needs to be, because no one would accept the episode if we weren’t given a reason. On top of that, I thought the idea of being trapped inside 10 Downing Street with a bunch of aliens would be a lot more suspenseful, but I found myself feeling quite listless during the episode.
One of the key problems is the sheer inability to believe, even in the most basic sense, that it took the Doctor having to launch a misslie at 10 Downing Street to kill the Slitheen. First of all, it sort of makes the scene where Mickey and Jacke fight the alien in Jackie’s house pointless at the end of it all. If we know that the Slitheen cannot handle mere vinegar, why on earth didn’t the Doctor tell some of the soldiers guarding the place to walk down to the market and buy up the entire supply of vinegar to use as a weapon? 10 Downing Street isn’t blown up, you don’t have to risk Harriet’s and Rose’s life, and we get to see some more hilarious bodily explosions.
But let’s just assume, for the sake of this, that there are no markets or corner stores near 10 Downing Street. I’m a dumb American, I don’t even know where that is in London. If a missile could kill the Slitheen, COULDN’T YOU JUST SHOOT THEM IN THE FACE OR SOMETHING? In fact, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall all the ARMED GUARDS taking a single shot during the duration of the episode. THAT IS WHAT GUNS ARE FOR. If we can’t even blow off an alien’s face with a shotgun or machine gun, what purpose do guns serve on this earth anyway?
All right, enough of my whining. There were certainly great moments in this episode, too, so don’t think I’m just FULL OF HATE for Doctor Who or something. Any episode that utilizes Jackie is going to be, at the very least, very entertaining. With very little screen time at all, the writers have created a fully-developed, three-dimensional character. Not only can some of us imagine Jackie as our own mother or maybe a friend of ours, she is the perfect contrast to Rose. We watch her face the terrifying thought that it may be years before she she’s her daughter again. We watch her face the reality that aliens exist and that they just might want to kill you. We watch her interact with Rose’s boyfriend in a way neither character probably ever expected. I know I’m only five episodes in, but Jackie is easily my favorite character so far, and I really look forward to seeing her again.
Rose shined here too, especially when she didn’t even hesitate to tell the Doctor to sacrifice herself if it meant saving the world. The Doctor has become rather enamored with Rose, who has a sensible optimism about this wholee thing. I’m sure Rose is still tied to a lot of things in her “normal” life. Visiting her mother is one of them, for sure. But the Doctor sees how readily she is able to uproot everything in the name of simple adventure and I think that’s the exact sort of companion he’s looking for.
All in all, this was an all right episode. It’s not my favorite so far; perhaps I expected more from an episode titled, “World War Three.” The parody of world governments was nice and, as usual, the Doctor’s never-ending humor is always welcome. I mean, who else do we know who can plaster a dopey smile on his face while he has twelve machine guns pointed at his body? Bless the Doctor forever.