New Series Review #5 – World War Three

…Last week, we saw how the Slitheen had infiltrated positions of power in Britain, faked an alien crashlanding and revealed their true form to alien experts, the Doctor, Rose and Jackie, Rose’s mother. All were in imminent danger at the hands of the 10 foot tall Slitheen. And then the show ended…

Thankfully, we see a brilliant example of the Doctor’s ingenuity and resourcefulness. Snatching from his neck the electrified ID card, he sticks it on the compression unit around one of the Slitheen’s necks. Due to some mysterious link between the creatures, they are all affected by the electrical field weapon…

World War Three sucessfully ties up the plot information revealed in Aliens of London – the elaborately faked UFO crash, something under the North Sea, and the nature of the Slitheen. With no disrespect at all to Mark Gatiss – writer of the last story The Unquiet Dead – the Gelth might be sinister in the ethereality, but the Slitheen are fully formed alien characters, the first new aliens in the new Doctor Who to have captured the imagination of the nations children (who refer to them as “Zipheads”!).

If you thought Sixth Doctor foe Sil was ruthless in his pursuit of profit, you haven’t seen anything – the Slitheen’s plans for Earth involve cashing in on its destruction. I shall shy away from revealing anymore about their fiendish plan, but it is in the tone of the rest of the story. The Slitheen themselves however succeed in being sinister and funny, cracking their own fart gags last week, this week getting excited over the colour of the red hotline from the UN.

One strong aspect of the episodes is the Slitheen’s invasion into the everyday domesticity of Jackie and Mickey. This is an area in which the original run of the series failed in its later years as it carried on under the misaprehension that it was “Star Trek in Time” – it’s also an area of Doctor Who that Russell T Davies has exploited to the full, first in Rose and again here.

The Doctor’s relationship with Jackie and Mickey is developed in

World War Three – Jackie doesn’t trust the Doctor, and demands he tell her that Rose will be safe with him. Elsewhere, the Doctor and Mickey work together via cellphone to defeat the Slitheen via the UNIT website (password: “buffalo”). This leads to an increase in respect between the Doctor and Mickey, and a moment at the end of the episode where the Doctor suggests Mickey travels with them, only for Rose’s boyfriend to confess that he’s afraid. Still, Mickey did manage to take a photo of the Slitheen with his camera phone before Jackie threw a jar of pickled eggs over it – and they had the dry remains of the alien stuck to their skin and clothes 20 minutes later…

The story certainly improves the operception of Mickey as a character, and Noel Clarke’s ability as an actor… one interesting point to note is that the Doctor gives Mickey a DVD-Rom containing a virus that will erase all records of the Doctor from the Internet, in the belief that it is safer if there is no record of him. I wonder if Mickey will do this…?

Finally, a word about the Slitheen actors, Annette Badland, Rupert Vansittart and David Verrey – all of them excellent, portraying their characters with obvious fun and relish, and most importantly without pulling faces or playing ithe part for laughs. They’ve understood their parts perfectly, and continued the new habit of casting quality, capable actors started in the previous stories (casting actors such as Simon Callow and Zoe Wanamaker). I should also include Penelope Wilton in this, another guest actor who although not a Slitheen, was very good as Harriet Jones MP, a future Prime Minister (according to the Doctor). All of these guests have played a part in making the tale of the Slitheen invasion fun and thrilling for those who watched it.

Well done to all concerned!


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