Review: Aliens of London

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005


"sugar standards in exported confectionery..."

As with last time, those of you who don't wish to know anything about 'Aliens of London', I'll just say that I loved it - my favourite episode so far - plus, it's nice to have the cliffhangers back.

Oh, and the doctor in the morgue has smashing legs.

NO ACTUAL SPOILERS, BUT SOME DETAIL

While I'm delighted that so many of you enjoyed 'The Unquiet Dead', I found it pretty backward looking. So long as the general audience is lapping it up too, then fine, but I'm keen for the new show to break away from nostalgic recreations of existing stories and do something fresh.

That may be why I liked 'Aliens of London' so much; obviously it's still 'Doctor Who' complete with spaceships, monsters in familiar locations and, yes, cliffhangers, but it's not really like any specific story we've seen before. That's not to say it doesn't feel like some of the book series (there'll be obvious similarities with 'The Dying Days'). The nearest comparison would be a later Pertwee military/conspiracy story, mashed up with all that gritty, graffiti, 'you can smell the urine on the stairwell' stuff that the Cartmell-era attempted to do with a lot of bright lighting and terrible music.

Basically I think that the best thing about this is that it really finds the right tone and nails it perfectly. It can be serious one minute (here specifically going into what the consequences of returning home after travelling with the Doctor would involve) before bunging in deliberately silly scenes or dialogue to underline what a daft idea it is to do WHO as a remotely realistic drama in the first place.

Due to this then, I don't mind that the Slitheen mostly seem mischievous rather than creepy and it's a nice WHO touch that while physically formidable, they have distinctive, almost cute faces (C'mon - you've already seen them in action surely?).

Despite being very much in favour of the idea of self-contained forty-five minute stories, it is nice to have something that seems to be building an atmosphere of mystery, teasing the audience with prods of 'where do you think this is going?'

Given that you can probably guess what the cliffhanger's going to be, it's a shame that they leave it going on for so long. That and the fart jokes are the only bits that I'd have liked to have seen done differently. Yes, the fart jokes; never my favourite branch of humour, but so long as it keeps the eight year-olds watching.

Oh and Mickey..Jesus wept. Wasn't once enough?

...and it's difficult to match Gen. Asquith.s physical appearance with his really Geoffrey Palmer-sounding voice.

SPOILERS (BUT NOT MUCH) FURTHER DOWN

The pig didn't really work.

And with any luck, we won.t be getting bogged down with UNIT references too much heavy next week.

Jim Hall

  • Read Jim's review of episode three, The Unquiet Dead, and the conclusion of this story, World War Three .
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