Aliens of London
|(Doctor Who Story No. 164, starring Christopher Eccleston)
- written by Russell T. Davies
- directed by Keith Boak
- produced by Phil Collinson
- music by Murray Gold
- 2 episodes @ 45 minutes:
- Aliens of London
- World War Three
Story: Rose is put in a difficult spot having
to explain her devastating disappearance to her mum
and her boyfriend Mickey. When a spacecraft crashes
through Big Ben
into the Thames, the Doctor finds it difficult to
investigate without drawing unwanted media attention to himself.
Who are these aliens? How much does the British Government
know? Will the few available backbench members of parliament
be able to handle the growing threat until the Doctor can
come to their aid?
DVD Extras (box sets only) include:
- Part 1 audio commentary by
David Verrey (acting PM Joseph Green),
visual effects producer Will Cohen,
and executive producer Julie Gardner.
- Part 2 audio commentary by
Annette Badland (Margaret Blaine),
producer Phil Collinson, and
script editor Helen Raynor.
- Doctor Who Confidential featurette: I Get a Side-Kick Out of You (11 min.), with
Christopher Eccleston (The Doctor),
Billie Piper (Rose),
Noel Clarke (Mickey), and
writer / executive producer Russell T. Davies.
- Doctor Who Confidential featurette: Why on Earth? (13 min.),
with Davies, Eccleston, Clarke,
compositor David Bowman, and
Paul Kasey, Alan Ruscoe, & Elizabeth Fost (Slitheen).
- "Deconstructing Big Ben" (5 min.) with model unit director Mike Tucker.
- "On Set with Billie Piper" video diary entry
Buyers' Guide Review
by Martin Izsak
(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended
for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed
As Russell T. Davies sinks his teeth into his first full-length
Doctor Who TV adventure, we finally get to see what his writing style
is truly all about. Not only is he prepared to call the main characters
on their issues, he is also keen to call the world on its issues. Bravo.
However, his story structure still leaves something to be desired in
on-screen value and plot movement.
Yet another story opens with a proper materialization for the
police box. Things are looking up, although the throbbing lights
during this are a bit unnecessary. The Doctor, Rose, and their
relationship to the setting are introduced
clearly and with nice impact.
The blubbering and fussing that
Mrs. Tyler then dives into is not great quality television, and
Rose develops the same bizarre inability to be truthful about the
TARDIS that we saw plaguing so many David Whitaker scripts from
the 1960's. The new millennium hasn't advanced very far. Rose,
stop supporting your Mum's false assumptions already and go for
a walk into the truth!
Then comes the big catalytic event. Very nice visuals.
But we have to watch the Doctor watch TV about it, while Jackie
Tyler natters on and on. Quite a poor use of screen time.
The reporters do a fairly good job of introducing the guest cast
though. (Not as good as is done in episode 1 of
"The Daemons" (story no. 59),
thanks to the jittery style of camera work here).
Mysteries mount as we increasingly wonder exactly what kind of
aliens we are dealing with in this story, and what is going
on with the British government to make their response to the
crisis so laughable. This is very nicely set-up and drawn out,
at least at first.
The Rise of Mickey
Mickey Smith (played by Noel Clarke) also re-enters the series and
our main characters' lives. Clarke makes him incredibly warm,
lively, and likeable. Eccleston's Doctor proceeds to pick on him
for no good reason, managing to make a jerk out of himself.
When Mickey takes no crap and fires back WITH good reason,
in my mind he comes out on top. By the time this two-part
story is over, Mickey has fast become my favourite character
of the new series of Doctor Who, which is no small or easy feat.
Hats off to Noel Clarke. :-)
The story's TARDIS movements and interior scenes are also excellent
at drawing supporting characters and uninitiated viewers into an
understanding of the world and staple elements of Doctor Who,
and satisfying the long-term fan. Well done.
Just when the episode seems like it might soon begin to lag,
revelations begin, and the new series makes its first real
cliffhanger unforgettable, prolonging the awe and shock-value,
and making you desperately wonder what you will see next week.
Mass Weapons of Destruction
A little bit of clever parody may be the best element of the
second episode, as current/recent international government affairs
are commented on from within Doctor Who's unique contexts
and metaphors. Russell T. Davies earns
major points with me for bringing those elements in. Nice.
However, the second episode leaves a lot to be desired in
terms of plot action. I'll get into more detail in
the In-depth Analysis version
of this review.
In short, several important characters suffer too much
confinement in one room for too long. Also, the
cell-phone use is very un-sci-fi, and unsatisfying.
Mickey does get good action this episode though, and takes
his due share of credit.
Jackie Tyler also finally
gives us a few good scenes during the story's aftermath, and helps
the story conclude on a very emotional note.
While there are tons of really good bits in this story, somehow
it never seemed to really gel into a conflict between Doctor and
his enemies that I wanted to invest in, or an escalation of stratagems
countering each other that gripped me. Far more effort seems to have
gone into creating short scenes to send viewers behind the sofa,
and the first episode's cliffhanger is the only one of those that
seemed interesting. Not a bad story in the end, but still not the
great Doctor Who story I had been hoping for. Better luck next time.
This story has become available on DVD:
|DVD NTSC Region 1
13-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
|DVD PAL Region 2
13-episode box set
for the U.K.
|DVD PAL Region 2
U.K. format only
Note: The 13-episode box sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes
featurettes, and other extras.
The 3-episode volumes only feature the plain episodes.
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