Doctor Who World War Three

Is there such a thing as “too silly”? A few months back, discussing Stargate, Shannon and Matt complained that ‘Prometheus Unbound’ was too silly. I scoffed, and said something smug about how good being silly was. And here I am, today, wanting to tell you that this week’s Doctor Who was too silly.

In reality, it’s probably not much more silly than Aliens of London. It just doesn’t have all the good stuff that episode had to balance the package out. Television is like eating; you want a well-balanced meal. So perhaps ‘World War Three’ isn’t too silly, it’s just lacking in other areas. So let’s have a look at what might be the problem.

I think you’ll find the Prime Minster is an Alien in Disguise! That’s never gonna work, is it? — The Doctor

For starters, we begin with ten minutes of the sort of lame, Scooby Doo-esque running around that I really didn’t ever want to see in Who — or anywhere — again. I don’t mind corridor running, per se, but the moment you distract a previously formidable alien by dropping drapes on its head, you’ve lost me. Fire extinguishers are a bit lame, too. So perhaps it’s lacking gravitas. After zapping the ‘experts’ and killing the nice secretary-man last episode, I was all ready to be a bit afraid of the Slitheen. I didn’t get my wish. Innumerable changing, unsettling and largely unfunny use of the word “naked”,1 and a hesitance to actually reach out and kill people when they have the chance all scupper any chance the Slitheen had of being scary.

In a very funny scene, the Doctor seals himself, Rose, and “Harriet Jones, MP Flydale North” in the secure, metal-walled cabinet room. This was cool — I didn’t see it coming, and it was a cute method of ‘escape’. What was less cool was the way they stayed there for pretty much the rest of the episode. They still managed to do a lot, and luckily, phone home… but something about having the heroes locked up for damn near an entire episode is unsatisfying to me. I like a story where everyone’s running around pursuing their own agendas. You know, a bit like ‘Aliens of London’.

Being locked up is especially irritating if it means you have to pretend that people can launch missiles on the interweb, through the use of one password.2 Good plan, unbelievable execution. Couldn’t we have had a more exciting plan involving bringing the TARDIS to the Doctor, and then sneaking about a ship? Granted, it would have cost a lot more. But I’m not here to accept rational excuses. I’m here to knock down implausible plot elements. I’m fairly sure the idea of a calcium based life form is rather peculiar, but I won’t attack the script for that.3

‘World War Three’ was disappointing overall, but I must give it credit for the usual superb character development and interaction. And some great jokes. The Doctor’s threat to “triplicate the flammability”. The Doctor and Mickey the Idiot. The Doctor’s refusal to answer Jackie’s question, or to stay for dinner. Rose’s amazingly cute finger point and laugh — “You’re stuck with me…” ‘World War Three’ wasn’t crap. It was just a bit lame.

Awesome explosion, though. I particularly liked how the door stayed up longer than everything else.

  1. Coupling taught me about hot women mentioning the word, but skipped how I might feel if fat farting aliens tried it. Now I know. Yay?
  2. It’s like the Enigma machine being able to translate Viking runes in ‘The Curse of Fenric’. Aaaargh.
  3. Well, I can’t, really. I liked Signs and vinegar, while silly, is a step up from water.
2 comments posted — most recent by Tom on 04/05/05