Review: World War Three

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005

Episode Five: World War Three, by Russell T Davies

Following on from Aliens of London, I expected this to be more of the same and would have been happy with that possibility. I was pleasantly surprised though that as the stakes got higher the humour was toned down. Despite the two episodes comprising a single story they both had a completely different feel and this worked very well. In the old days this sometimes happened between the first and second episodes (see The Daemons) but then with another 2-5 episodes beyond that the overall story tended to have a specific feel. This cannot be said of what will hopefully become known as "Dr Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Flatulent Slitheen of Downing Street" as both episodes were different enough to make this a game of two halves.

With titles like Aliens of London and then World War Three the change of tone is understandable and I think the series needed it. This second part was RTD's finest script so far and the humour worked all the better for not being quite so camped up. It had some great political gags, though and culminated with the convincing destruction of Number 10 in a scene not too dissimilar from a James Bond finale.

This episode really provided some more intrigue into The Doctor's motivation. In previous episodes this series, he has had an anarchist edge (relishing destruction, disorder and his own individual place in the decision making process) but this episode he is happy to take orders from an elected representative and his subsequent actions allow that politician to take centre stage. He's back in the liberal camp this week (albeit still capable of taking life and death decisions).

Meanwhile back on the estate more family troubles for Rose who has been emotionally blackmailed into travelling with The Doctor again, all because he doesn't like mashed potato (this showed his cruel and selfish side again). This episode contained further development for Mickey and Jackie and in particular Mickey's relationship with The Doctor which is building from mutual hatred to mutual respect of a sort. I hope we visit home again soon to see how they're all getting on. In Rose's private life we have a link with the real world that Dr Who hasn't had since Ian and Barbara started taking Polaroid's of famous London landmarks and it works.

Well scripted, well acted, nearly good special effects (the CGI Slitheen didn't work well). All this resulted in a fine 45 minutes this week and a great 90 minutes overall.

Jonathan Bigger

  • Read Jon's review of episode four, Aliens of London, and episode six, Dalek.