Review: Aliens of London

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005

Episode Four: Aliens of London, by Russell T Davies

One of the debates fans had in the run up to the new series was whether the show would be a bit soap opera in places and Aliens of London gave us our first real chance to find out as Rose got to see her family and friends again for the first time since hitching a lift with the Doctor.

The pre-credit cliff-hanger was very effective and a genuine surprise. I suspected that in showing Rose's life changing so dramatically over the last few weeks, the new series would keep her previous existence ticking along in the background without a great deal of character development for Jackie or Mickey. It seems, thankfully, that the actions of both Rose and the Doctor will have profound affects on the people they know.

Being the first part of a two part story, this episode benefited not from a slower pace but from a more detailed story. The soap opera element isn't there in an annoying way, it's integral to the story and seeing how space / time travel can affect people's lives in such a dramatic and real way adds to the menace at the centre of the story.

The effect of Big Ben being destroyed was superb and having it followed up with news reports 'live' from the scene gave it some credibility. There aren't many television dramas that can pull this kind of thing off convincingly and on this occasion it got it just right.

Other effects weren't quite so good. The poor old pig was never going to go to market, bless him and the Slitheen are more terrifying inside their human zip up skin than just in their birthday suits. They were brilliantly acted though particularly by Annette Badland.

Farting in Dr Who? Despite reservations on this issue, I have to say it worked really well.

There are so many highlights in this episode but I think the best (and I may differ from a lot of other fans here) is Mickey. I think he's a great character and absolutely brilliantly acted. He's just had one hell of a year. This character could have just become annoying (think Adric without mathematical excellence) but his strength, stupidity and attempts at machismo could put the two central characters into positions they simply wouldn't be in without him. In Aliens of London his actions lead Jackie to the TARDIS resulting in the Doctor and Rose taking a trip to Downing Street and Jackie herself getting a dodgy copper in her kitchen. Supporting characters haven't normally achieved this in Dr Who and they certainly haven't tended to have gone through the level of development Mickey has in the last few weeks.

Being a two parter we got a cliff-hanger ending at last. Shame it was followed by a Next Time... series of clips. But if that is the one point I didn't really like, I have to say that this series is getting better, week by week.

Jonathan Bigger

  • Read Jon's review of episode three, The Unquiet Dead, and episode five, World War Three.