Doctor Who: World War Three

Concluding last week’s story, the Slitheen have taken over the British Government and are intending to cause a nuclear apocolypse for their own sinister reasons, which may not be what you expect.

Cast

Christopher Ecclestone as the Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
David Verrey as Joseph Green
Cammille Coduri as Jackie Tyler
Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones
Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith
Rupert Vansittart as General Asquith
Morgan Hopkins as Sergeant Price
Andrew Marr as himself
Annette Badland as Margaret Blaine
Steve Speirs as Strickland
Jack Tarlton as Reporter
Lachele Carl as Reporter 2
Corey Doab as Spray Painter
Elizabeth Frost, Paul Kasey and Alan Ruscoe as the Slitheen

Directed by Keith Boak

Written by Russel T. Davies

Original Airdate

Originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 23rd April 2005.

Synopsis

Aliens have taken over the British Government and plan to cause a nuclear apocalypse.

High Point

The Doctor informing the Slitheen that he will stop them personally. There’s no playfulness here, just an absolute deadly serious side of him which we haven’t seen much of. It’s extremely effective – probably because it’s so rare.

Low Point

Living Calcium? I know it’s Doctor Who Technobabble, but it’s a little thin.

The Review

Being the second part of a two-parter about an alien invasion could hurt the originality score, but there’s a good element of unexpectedness here, from what the Slitheen plan to do with the Earth to how the Doctor goes about stopping them. It doesn’t feel tired at any point. Five out of six.

The effects, unsurprisingly, were much the same as last week’s. Some of the compositing looked fairly awful, and I’m sure rocket exhaust doesn’t look like that. Three out of six, as last week, although it must be noted that most of the effects shots were of the kind that looks difficult to do well on a TV budget.

Last week I found it hard to rate the story, but with this week’s episode we have the conclusion, and I can give it a healthy five out of six.

The acting was once again good, although I did feel that the police sergeant wasn’t right in some of his reactions. This might be down to characterisation, but in places it looks like bad acting. Still, based on the performances by the other characters, I’ll give it five out of six.

The emotional response was stronger than last week’s, largely due to Rose’s mother. Five out of six.

Production was better than last week – surprisingly good, under the demands of the story. Although they had to have been the same sets, I didn’t notice any wobbling this week. The editing remains quite sharp and is mostly spot on. Five out of six.

Last week I said that I wanted to see this week’s episode immediately. I had to wait a week of course, but I’m not disappointed. An overall score, therefore, of five out of six.

That leaves us with a grand total of thirty-three out of forty-two.

Next Week: Dalek

I don’t usually do this bit, but it’s a Dalek… Judging by the trailer attached to the end of this week’s episode, one Dalek is found on a future version of Earth and predictably starts causing havoc. The Dalek itself looks excellent, and the special effects of its weaponry are like what they were trying to do in the original series, but couldn’t because the technology wasn’t available. It definitely looks like it’s going to be good.

16 replies on “Doctor Who: World War Three”

  1. joe__gee says:

    Use of computers the weak point in this episode for me …
    <Begin nitpicky anal retentive rant.>
    Although I enjoyed the episode thoroughly, I found calcium-based life to be easier to believe than an Internet-accessible web interface for a submarine, and a web-accessible interface for all of the secret information in the world … http://www.worldssecrets.gov ?

    Misrepresentation of computer technologies one of my personal pet peeves, but it’s what thoroughly ruined the movie “Hackers” for me. I didn’t get the feeling the Mickey/Rickey was an uberhacker. The writers could have at least taken a small effort to either develop that aspect of his character, or added a bit of dialogue where the Doctor helps Mickey set up something like a VPN connection through a seemingly innocuous IP address/router. The following is a lame example, but the writer could have even dispelled some criticism with a simple joke. Rose’s mom: “How can they put this stuff up on the Internet?” Mickey/Rickey: “Governments operate under a false sense of security. Would you like to see the American president’s web cam?”

    We have *real* technology today that can be as impressive as fictitious technobabble. Come on TV/film writers, at least make a small effort to portray computer technology in a semi-realistic way. I suspect if it were done correctly it could still impress the hell out of the lay public, while avoiding scrutiny from anal retentive geeks like me.

    Without proper licensing I realize you can’t just use a recognizable interface, and I know most TV shows don’t keep a dozen programmers on staff to consult and do custom UI design, but does the writer at least know someone who is familiar enough with the Internet to say “wait a second, that’s not right.”

    Like I said, it may just be me, but I like computers and technology to be represented properly. I can grant lots of creative license in regards to life forms based on calcium, machines that travel through time and space, and two-hearted aliens who speak with a Northern England accent. I won’t bat an eye. But misrepresenting the ordinary stuff we deal with all the time, that bothers me.

    </End nitpicky anal retentive rant.>

    -Joe G.

    • Alexius says:

      Re: Use of computers the weak point in this episode for me …

      Although I enjoyed the episode thoroughly, I found calcium-based life to be easier to believe than an Internet-accessible web interface for a submarine, and a web-accessible interface for all of the secret information in the world … http://www.worldssecrets.gov ?

      Don’t Forget The Password, One Which Could Be Easily Brute Forced By Anyone With Even A Crap-Dictionary File.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Use of computers the weak point in this episode for me …

        Although I enjoyed the episode thoroughly, I found calcium-based life to be easier to believe than an Internet-accessible web interface for a submarine, and a web-accessible interface for all of the secret information in the world … http://www.worldssecrets.gov ?

        Don’t Forget The Password, One Which Could Be Easily Brute Forced By Anyone With Even A Crap-Dictionary File.

        buffalo … Fer Pete’s sake. buffalo. :/ Yup, I had forgotten that.

        -Joe

      • Espy says:

        Re: Use of computers the weak point in this episode for me …

        Although I enjoyed the episode thoroughly, I found calcium-based life to be easier to believe than an Internet-accessible web interface for a submarine, and a web-accessible interface for all of the secret information in the world … http://www.worldssecrets.gov ?

        Don’t Forget The Password, One Which Could Be Easily Brute Forced By Anyone With Even A Crap-Dictionary File.

        I wasn’t sure if that was a witty commentary on terrible passwords (note also, everything has the exact same password), or just lazy writing.

        SP

  2. y42 says:

    unsynchronicity
    DAMN YOU TIMELORDS and your week-and-a-half ahead reviews! ;-)

    Taunting me with forbidden/spoiling knowledge of the near future!

    • joe__gee says:

      Re: unsynchronicity

      DAMN YOU TIMELORDS and your week-and-a-half ahead reviews! ;-)

      Taunting me with forbidden/spoiling knowledge of the near future!

      Damnit I am so sorry. :((( Forgot the spoiler font. Although the spoilers are itsy bitsy, really. Teensy. :(((

      Ya know, I’m down in the U.S. <cough>. There are ways to acquire things early, and then you could watch the good Doctor twice … :)

      -Joe

      • y42 says:

        Re: unsynchronicity

        DAMN YOU TIMELORDS and your week-and-a-half ahead reviews! ;-)

        Taunting me with forbidden/spoiling knowledge of the near future!

        Damnit I am so sorry. :((( Forgot the spoiler font. Although the spoilers are itsy bitsy, really. Teensy. :(((

        Ya know, I’m down in the U.S. . There are ways to acquire things early, and then you could watch the good Doctor twice … :)

        -Joe

        Meh, I watch ’em on the CBC, it’s as close to watching it on the BBC as you can get ;-)

        Anyway, this will just be a test of my self-controll: I must not read the review, reading the review is the little death that brings total obliteration….

        • joe__gee says:

          Re: unsynchronicity

          Anyway, this will just be a test of my self-controll: I must not read the review, reading the review is the little death that brings total obliteration….

          The review shall pass, and only I will remain. :)

          -Joe

  3. dkichline says:

    Why oh Why
    Can’t American TV be half this good.

    • Alexius says:

      Re: Why oh Why

      Can’t American TV be half this good.

      Firefly Was…
      Farscape Was, Too.

      Out Of The Sea Of Crap Television, Those Are Exceptions, I Know, But Still. We Do It Right Occasionally.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Why oh Why

        Firefly Was…
        Farscape Was, Too.

        American TV (speaking as an American) seems to subscribe to the “thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters eventually producing the collective works of Shakespeare” idea of TV/plot production. Throw enough crap against the wall, and every once in a while some of it will stick.

        Unless we steal, um, er, purchase ideas from BBC.

        The one that amused the hell out of me was Coupling. Coupling was the Beeb’s version of Friends, so in America NBC is out looking for a replacement for Friends, so they buy the concept of Coupling … And it failed? Now American TV is picking up The Office.

        The Fawlty Towers ripoff with Beatrice Arthur was a dud. Trading Spaces (from Changing Rooms) has done extraordinarily well. With the Weakest Link, we even kept Anne. You know, we never did a version of Good Neighbours. That was a decent show, if harmless.

        Americanized English sci-fi? I really, REALLY hope we don’t see much of it. We can take a great concept and slaughter it, look at our Doctor Who (which I like, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the English-made versions.) Of course with a movie, it needs boobs, and explosions, and Wil Smith?! Ah, Red Dwarf 2007 …

        What crosses the pond from the U.K. almost always seems to be thoughtful and intelligent. What we send back usually seems to be mindless. :/

        l8r,

        -Joe

  4. JimPooley says:

    Political Satire
    I almost fell off the sofa laughing when I heard these lines.
    DOCTOR: Massive weapons of destruction? They’re making it up!
    ROSE: Like they did last time.

    Sheer brilliance!

    • schwammerl says:

      Re: Political Satire

      I almost fell off the sofa laughing when I heard these lines.
      DOCTOR: Massive weapons of destruction? They’re making it up!
      ROSE: Like they did last time.

      Sheer brilliance!

      Well, that wasn’t what got me giggling. I fell about at the 45 seconds to deploy. In 10 Downing street! I bet Tony Bliar (OOps, spot the spelling mistake) wasn’t laughing

  5. marky says:

    nothing to do with Doctor Who but…
    As a British viewer, I have to say I think the West Wing is the best written piece of television I have ever seen.
    The Sopranos and 24 are very high quality too. Too much British output nowadays is numpty TV; reality television and programmes that play fast and loose with the term ‘celebrity’.

  6. Kaki says:

    Damn, I like this show.
    And if anyone remembers my little bit after the first part, about how they had too many characters in danger of death and it would look bad to get them all out, I stand corrected. The Doctor can save lives without even being there. That worked for me.

    Also, I thought one of the high points was the line, “Victory should be naked.” That such a line could be said and make sense in context shows that the zaniness I loved in the old series is quite alive in this one. Well done.

    I also noticed the political satire about the weapons of destruction. Nice.

    Also, I like how the story so far has given consideration to the people who aren’t time travelling. That “ten seconds” thing, and how I can imagine Micky having the habit of sitting, reading the paper, and watching that spot for as long as he lives nearby. I like those.

    • mbourgon says:

      Re: Damn, I like this show.

      Also, I thought one of the high points was the line, “Victory should be naked.”

      Yes. The one downside was the sheer number of times they were putting on or taking off skins. Creepy the first couple of times, but after the 7th it started seeming like old campy Doctor Who.

      […]I can imagine Micky having the habit of sitting, reading the paper, and watching that spot for as long as he lives nearby. I like those.

      Ya know, those two character can almost be summed up by that final shot. She wanders off, Ricky (Mickey!) sits there and waits. That was a high point. Perfect end. My wife (who has been patiently watching it since I am an old school Whoovian (even met Pertwee – amazingly hoopy frood)) was loving this. Of course, the fact that I was a week behind and thus could watch both in one sitting probably had something to do with it lookoutrunonsentences.

      The one thing that is a bit troubling, to be honest, is the resolution. Someone mentioned this earlier(either here in a prior review, or on one of the “Bad Wolf” pages), that this has been one of, if not the only, Doctor to kill people. He killed the human a few weeks ago, and now the entire family.

      What else? Oh, the UNIT bit was a really nice touch. I almost wish they’d had the Brigadier. Or even some of the people from the Big Finish UNIT radio series – in part one, I really did think that the bad guys were ISIS.

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