Doctor Who: Aliens of London

Rose: 'He's not my boyfriend, Mickey. He's better than that. He's much more important.'

The theme this week was consequences. Rose returned home twelve months after leaving earth, to find herself (a) on the missing persons list and (b) in the doghouse with her nearest and dearest. It was Rose's choice to travel with the Doctor, but one thing she didn't bargain on is how that decision would affect those she left behind.

With Rose missing, Jackie has obviously been worried to death, and boyfriend Ricky—sorry, Mickey—has somehow become the main suspect in her murder enquiry. Evidently, her absence has caused something of a stir, and now Rose is back Jackie understandably wants answers. But what is Rose supposed to tell her? That she's been travelling through time and space with a Time Lord and that somehow they got the numbers wrong? Jackie may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but she's no fool.

The Slitheen—a flatulent family of aliens from Raxacoricofallapatorius—got old real fast. Tall, ugly and ferocious, they infiltrated 10 Downing Street, replaced the Prime Minister—and generally farted all over the place. Scary, or just plain disgusting? I'll leave you to decide.

The Slitheen themselves were a curious mix of man-in-rubber-suit and CGI. The scene where General Asquith peeled off his skin to reveal his inner alien self, demonstrated perfectly the limitations of the CGI team—or maybe just the budget. Plus, the farting was amped up to such ridiculous proportions (and this coming from a man who lives in a country where farting is practically an art form), that it was hard to take them seriously. Admittedly, the excessive bottom burping did lead to one memorable line—'Excuse me. Do you mind not farting while I'm saving the world?' (I did chuckle at that one)—but the non stop guffing did stop making me guffaw after a while.

Farting asside (sic), I thought the Doctor's relationship with Jackie was dealt with honestly. Jackie doesn't trust the Doctor and with good reason. Her daughter has been missing for twelve months, whisked away to goodness knows where, by a man twice her age. (Or more precisely 47.36 times her age.) And since Rose doesn't want to talk about where she's been, it made absolute sense that Jackie would conclude the worst—yet, she has to accept the Doctor, or risk losing Rose all over again. It's every parent's worst nightmare.

For us, however, it's comedy gold. At the beginning of the episode, the Doctor told Rose that he doesn't do families—and he so doesn't! He struggled to cope with Jackie's crowded flat, her domestic set up utterly baffled him, he seemed bewildered by Billy Croot's interest in her, and he only just managed to retain control of the TV remote. Talk about a fish out of water! He later admits that the experience was just 'too human' for him, yet after his arrest, he was back to his confident, laughing self again. It's obvious that he thrives on adrenaline.

And the question remains: what should Rose do now? Should she stay or should she go? Time travel is an inexact science, particularly in the TARDIS, with its freakish mix of space age technology, bike pumps and rubber mallets. There are no guarantees that they won't get lost again. Rose told the Doctor at the start of the episode that she can't subject her family to any more lies. Which means what, exactly? That her time travelling days are over?

Other Thoughts:

—Actress Naoko Mori played Dr Sato in this episode. The same actress played the part of Toshiko Sato in sister show Torchwood. Same character, same actress, different show.

—The Doctor tells Rose he's 900 years old. How this fits in with the seventh Doctor being 953, I'm not sure. I suppose time travel's the answer—somehow.

—A couple of firsts: UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), a recurring fixture in Classic Who, is mentioned for the first time this week. And this was also the first two parter of the new series (the last being 1989's 'Survival'.)

—We had our third 'Bad Wolf' reference too. A young boy spray paints the words on the side of the TARDIS.

—A couple of UK cultural references this week. Firstly, we had children's TV show Blue Peter, demonstrating how to make a UFO cake. Secondly, a reference was made to alien expert Patrick Moore. Patrick was actually a renowned British astronomer and presenter of the BBC's astronomy programme The Sky At Night.

Billie says...

Fart jokes? Really? I thought this wasn't supposed to be just a children's show any more. The only time I've ever found a fart joke funny was in the movie Blazing Saddles. And even then, it went on several farts too long. The Slitheen could have been truly scary if they'd spent more time with the CGI versions and less with the costumed stunt guys and sound effects.

It's a shame, too, because so much of the episode was a lot of fun and somewhat intriguing. The alien ship crashing into the Thames, people contemplating the possibility of a real first contact and partying in the streets. I liked the UNIT stuff and the Doctor's history in bits of the internet, too.

And I loved Harriet Jones, MP Flydale North. Who wouldn't?

Quotes:

Jackie: "Did you find her on the internet? Did you go online and pretend you're a doctor?"
Doctor: "I am a doctor!"
Jackie: "Prove it. Stitch this, mate." (whacks him in the face)

Rose: "She's never going to forgive me. (pause) And I missed a year. Was it good?"
Doctor: "Middling."
Rose: "You're so useless."

Rose: "Did you know this was going to happen?"
Doctor: "Nope."
Rose: "Do you recognise the ship?"
Doctor: "Nope."
Rose: "Do you know why it crashed?"
Doctor: "Nope."
Rose: "Oh, I'm so glad I've got you."

Rose: "My mum's here."
Doctor: "Oh, that's just what I need. Don't you dare make this place domestic."

Doctor: "Take me to your leader."

Doctor: "Excuse me. Do you mind not farting while I'm saving the world?"
---
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.

4 comments:

Mark Greig said...

Farting aliens! Doesn't get much worse then that.

Josie K said...

Best. Picture. Ever.

shawnlunn2002 said...

One of my least favourite episodes. The Doctor might hate the domestics but they're what keeps this episode alive in a sense.

The Slitheen - terrible monsters, good actors and the farting was badly advised. Just no.

Jackie and Mickey fared pretty well in this story, though they got better stuff as the series progressed and count me on the Harriett love train. That woman is brilliant.

dragon_of_celts said...

"Fart jokes? Really? I thought this wasn't supposed to be just a children's show any more."

Any more? I don't know what kind of kid's shows you grew up with, but old Who had a rather high body count...