Doctor Who 1.5: World War Three review

Review

World War ThreeWorld War Three review

Harriet Jones: Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North. The only elected representative in this room, chosen by the people for the people.

Production Code: 1.5.
Doctor Who Season: S27 (Ep5).
Story Number: 160b.

After the cliffhanger…

World War Review reviewThe story changes with this half. If the previous half of the story was all about the creeping slow build-up to the eventual reveal of the Slitheen in all their greenness, the aliens get to run free now.

picspicsThe scenes with them “hunting” Rose and Harriet Jones are effective, with Annette Badland voicing some particularly chilling dialogue for Margaret Slitheen. There’s another aspect to this half, the satirical element of the story is turned up several notches. Whatever you think of the convoluted and complex process that meant Britain was involved with America in the Iraq War that began in 2003, it’s extraordinary really that this element of the story was broadcast in the run-up to the 2005 election. 2005 was, as well as being an election year, still soon after the controversies of 2003 and 2004 – the clashes with the government over the BBC’s reporting on the Iraq process, the Hutton Inquiry and Butler Review and so on.

Perhaps as it was seen as “just Doctor Who” or the keen-to-be-neutral-on-this-at-election-time BBC didn’t even realise the extent of the satire. The claim of the UK government’s dossier that Iraq could use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes is specifically alluded to with the “45 seconds” line, but before that (as she and the TARDIS duo plan their next move in Downing Street) Harriet Jones is extremely keen to say she voted against the war, and there’s another line soon after suggesting people were fooled over it.

picsSo, there’s two levels to the story, the comedy-farting but still-sinister aliens, and this ongoing political commentary. As a second half it perhaps loses some of the zest of the previous half. The intricate characterisation began the previous week continues though – the Doctor and Mickey share an excellent scene where the Doctor’s kindness is shown, covering for Mickey (who’s too afraid to TARDIS-travel but doesn’t want Rose to know), by “banning” him as the duo go on their way through time and space. Jackie’s sorrowful counting of the ten seconds that Rose suggested to her she might just be gone for – this time – is a subtle moment in a none-too-subtle second half.

Rating: 3/5 (for this part of the story, previous ep 4/5)
and for the whole story, 3/5.

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