Review: World War Three

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005


You want ZERO SPOILERS

Well, obviously it's the conclusion of Airlines of London, so more of the same really, only this time everything's faster and tenser, with a slightly James Bondish finale.

NO SPOILERS BUT SOME DETAIL

Hmmm - not much to add to the above. If you're one of those people who disliked Ailments of London because of the fart jokes and the tower-block soap-opera elements, then I'm afraid it's all still here this week. No pigs though - and sadly that doctor with the great legs from the morgue doesn't make a re-appearance.

Nicely, the first half of the episode features a fair bit of running up and down corridors, albeit those of number 10. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is a deliberate nod to the old series.

The Slitheen are fun, bumbling about and frequently coming across like malevolent versions of the Cadbury's Smash Martians. In fine tradition, their ultimate plan is overly complex, and we eventually learn quite why they're such utter rotters. Okay, ultimately their motivation isn't too different from Cassandra's in 'The End of the World', but I'm pleased that the villains thus far haven't just been evil for the sake of it.

Rose's chaotic domestic situation continues and seems to reach some sort of temporary resolution. A lot of people have been irritated by this whole angle but I think it gives the series a fresh feel and generally grounds the show with just the right amount of realism.

As with last time the tone is perfect - sombre moments thankfully being balanced out with daft humour suggesting that the creative team don't expect us to take any of this too seriously. This may not be to everyone's taste but I think a show like this would be a disaster if it treated its material in deadly earnest.

The resolution to the Slitheen threat is not typical Doctor thinking, but it does further push the idea that 'The Eccleston Version' is a dangerous guy to be around. He displays none of the moral dithering that previous Doctors seemed duty bound to perform, while simultaneously expressing a deeper concern for Rose than the companions usually receive in such moments of dire crisis. Basically I feel that Russell T. Davies really knows exactly how to provide appropriate depth to these familiar character types without ever forgetting that the show is essentially a fun fantasy adventure.

So, do I think there's anything wrong with this? Oh yes, yes indeed, but since it would involve discussing the end a little bit, I'll bung my misgivings in the SPOILERS section bellow.

SPOILERS (BUT NOT MUCH) FURTHER DOWN

It's odd that I can watch a show like this and merrily go along with space monsters, compression-fields and time travel, but then get annoyed at how unrealistically easy it seems to be to hack a computer system.

I had a similar experience watching the last James Bond film - Industrial strength lasers in wristwatches? no problem. Invisible cars? What? Do you think I'm going to buy that?

While the resolution of 'World War Three' is wonderfully tense and, as I said above, shows us a Doctor with real edge, it left me hugely disappointed that it seemed to have been included at the expense of the plot's credibility.

This is a great shame as around one minute's worth of extra input from the Doctor, possibly improvising with junk in his pockets or using his superior mind to crack mathematical security codes, would have made this whole finale seem a little more realistic.

And yes, I'm fully aware that I'm asking for realism in a show about flatulent alien meanies parading about in the Cabinet's skin.

Jim Hall

  • Read Jim's review of the previous episode, Aliens of London, and the next episode, Dalek,
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