Excuse me, do you mind not farting when I'm saving the world

Aliens

I think that only a Doctor with a Northern accent could have gotten away with a line like that and kept the episode credible. Actually Russell T Davies deserves a lot of credit for turning an old sf idea of alien impostors taking over the government into something that seem fresh (if that???s an appropriate word for an episode that contains so much ejection of surplus gas)?

Having criticised Davies??? writing for episodes one and two, I now find that I want to do the opposite for the fourth episode, Aliens of London . Davies skilfully weaves the personal interrelationships of Rose?s former life, now made more complicated following her apparent disappearance, with the developing mystery of Aliens in and outside the government. The humour is maintained at just the right level to defuse the tension and, cunningly I suspect, maintain the programs suitability for children. He may have been helped by having more time to develop the plot, this being a two-part story, but I?d rather think that this is Davies returning to form after the first two scripts suffered from the pressure of having to launch the series with a bang. And we have a wonderful cliffhanger! Or, rather, we have three wonderful cliffhangers, involving the Doctor Rose and her Mum. How I???ve missed them!

The episode pays homage to the Jon Pertwee era where the Doctor was employed by UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), to act as a consultant on Alien threats to the Humanity (a number of stories dealt with rival Earthling intelligent species, the Silurians and Sea Devils, that had developed before man). I didn?t enjoy this era much. For one thing the format became very predictable, Aliens plot something nasty, usually with the help of a renegade Time Lord known as the Master (Richard Delgado), Unit soldiers prove totally ineffective and are reduced to canon fodder, the Doctor saves the day, Master escapes saying, see you same time next week? The other reason I didn?t like it was that somehow the Doctor was reduced to being a civil servant, not the explorer of the universe he should have been.

And talking of UNIT, one of things that used to irritate me about the UNIT stories was how useless their weapons were, in the same way that the weapons (Guns!) were useless in the A-Team. It would have been better to see them tear chunks off some Alien to emphasis just how nasty guns can be.

In fact this episode reminded me more of the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) story ?The Invasion? which was, actually, the first UNIT story. The aliens were the Cybermen and UNIT seemed far more effective than the later stories. The reason I?m reminded of this is Christopher Eccleston?s portrayal of the Doctor, which is very much influenced by Troughton, who played the Doctor as a slightly bumbling, imprecise, but very cunning character. Eccleston is getting the Doctor off Pat you might say (sorry!). But just as I?m thinking ???what a great Doctor C E is turning out to be? I remember he???s leaving after the first series.

The news that Christopher Eccleston was leaving the role of Doctor Who after only one series got somewhat overwhelmed by the Royal Wedding and then the death and funeral of the Pope . But now the Cardinals of the BBC have sat and deliberated and after careful consideration (and possibly some prayers) they have chosen a new Doctor.

They appear to have made a good choice. Also highly acclaimed and a livelong fan of Doctor Who, David Tennant is reported as saying that his reason for becoming an Actor was the hope that one day he might one day become Doctor Who (or at least play him).

It?s one up on the Doctor Who fan, whose name escapes me at the moment, who began studying science for the very same reason. Eventually he gained a PhD in science and was able to call himself well just a doctor. As the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, put it, ?You may be a doctor, but I?m the Doctor, the definite article you might say.???



18 comments


    markbrake

    April 17, 2005

    At the risk of sounding rather controversial and unhip (perhaps
    an unknowing and atopical use of the very word ‘unhip’ is itself
    an indication of someone fit for extinction), I thought there were
    a few problems with Saturday’s episode, mainly revolving around
    the question of credibility and fugitive pigs.

    Simon Bromley

    April 17, 2005

    As I remarked in my earlier comment (left on the end of your earlier Who post), my only real problem with this episode was the slightly wooden acting of Rose’s mum and the ever-annoying Mickey (why didn’t the soldiers just shoot him while they had the chance?!).
    Mickey had the chance to prove he was more than comic relief this week – despite the pratfall – with the idea that he’s been a murder suspect for a year, but Noel Clarke went and buggered it up again.
    I just hope Rose comes to her senses and leaves the twenty-first century altogether…
    (‘And he’s *not* invited…’)

    Rob lane

    April 17, 2005

    Who? What? Where?

    Am I the only one to feel a little bit cheated and under whelmed by Mr Ecclestones portrayal of Dr Who? I’m fed up of his grinning monk routine and constant mugging to camera and I feel no warmth or empathy in his character; I’m quite glad he’s packed it in and bring on Mr Tennant, who has been excellent in Casanova!

    There, I’ve started the rebellion! 😉

    Doctor Bob

    Brian Cousins

    April 17, 2005

    I think Ecclestone was an excellent choice for Dr. Who. Of all the actors bandied about to play the part, I never heard his name mentioned once, but was very glad that he is the new Dr. And I do think that he is rather good in the part. However, having watched young Tennant in Casanova,
    In my humble opinion I think he would be much better, he is young, but not too young, he looks good, he has the voice – he really ‘fits’ the part. I too hope he will take the part as I feel he will overshadow Ecclestone, and Ecclestone’s brief stint will merely be remembered in future conversations as “oh and Christopher Ecclestone played him as well”.

    John Williams

    April 17, 2005

    I’m afraid last Saturdays episode (AOL) has not done a lot to sway my opinion of RTD scripts. I thought for a moment the Beeb were slipping in the old tri-weekly transmission error ploy in order to get people to buy the DVD when it comes out, by over-playing an old Muppet Show episode (Pigs In Space)! Since when is Doctor Who a tacky comedy show? No disrespect intended, but I’m sure if he were still alive, Benny Hill would have been hot favourite for number 10 under current management!
    I also share Robs annoyance of the Eccleston grin. Sorry, but the portrayal is just too ‘ordinary bloke’ for me. One thing the Doctor certainly isn’t is ordinary!
    One other thing – Has anyone noticed that half the theme tune is now missing? All the old themes had a central ‘verse’. This one, although excellent in it’s arrangement, is a series of strung together ‘coruses’.
    I have an alternative suggestion – How about “It’s time to put on make-up, it’s time to light the light, it’s time to meet the muppets…!”

    Prof Mark Brake

    April 17, 2005

    Hey, wait a minute, you lot are beginning to sound like the
    proverbial “Grumpy Old Men”:http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/articles/g/grumpyoldmen_999031010.shtml who complained when the good old British Marathon became Snickers, the superbly named Mr Dog became Caesar, and we were all forced to pronounce “Nestles”:http://www.earlham.edu/~pols/17Fall97/infantformula/ in that ‘poncy French way’.

    There is an entirely new generation completely unfamiliar with
    the tired old Dr Who baggage who are actually enjoying this new
    series.

    Well, perhaps; the pig _was_ very silly.

    Pete Grehan

    April 17, 2005

    Am I the only one who thinks that there is something very creepy about Pigs being made to look like men? Wasn’t there a distinct Orwellian message in this episode? The nature of the people we follow in government? Or is the election getting to me already?

    Answers please!

    markbanerji

    April 17, 2005

    Some people make it happen
    Others watch while it happens
    The rest wonder what happened!

    How about all you moaning minnies submit a Who script to the BBC!

    Make it Happen

    Pete Grehan

    April 17, 2005

    What? You think I never have?

    Dr. C. Webb

    April 17, 2005

    Dear forum critics, here’s a different slant I thought I would submit, to fuel the debate over the current Dr. Who show’s popularity.

    My partner has never been remotely interested in Dr. Who, or any Science Fiction for that matter “it’s for little boys she would murmer”, all this of course coming from a lady who is fanatical over a rather farcical series called ‘Most Haunted’ on Living TV’s channel broadcast via SKY.

    However, after accidentally watching it, she took great delight in telling me about episode 1 and how she enjoyed the new faces and format. This in turn snowballed through her workplace and certainly up to last weeks broadcast, had become a Monday morning discussion of what had been watched over the weekend.

    I found it rather bizzare that a group of women (ranging from their mid 30’s upto late 50’s) who were pretty much ‘anti sci-fi’ through their lives, are now viewing and in turn actively discussing the characters and storylines!

    There has to be an element of credit to the whole writing, directing & production team to keep the vast majority of fans satisfied whilst simultaneously attracting new interest.

    If an effort is made to help promote and indeed encourage new scripts and thus scenes into Sci fi episodes around Dr.Who, the popularity of this series will undoubtedly help justify future investment from the BBC to keep it going and ideally improve it further.

    Which brings me nicely on to my final piece – Whilst Mr. Ecclestone and Billie Piper may be simply TV ‘eye candy’ for men and women alike, the show can still move forward by changing them as and when necessary, constantly evolving as it were, like Dr’s and their respective companions from the past. (Personally Tom Baker left the biggest impression on me), however, if the BBC are really into sustaining interest, it’s the storyline that counts!

    It can I suppose be difficult for one writer to sustain this standard, as none of us want this series to become a set of subtle variations along a similar theme. You only have to watch soap operas to highlight this. Which is why it should be considered that people who are engaged in science fiction writing courses or indeed new authors with a passion, should be actively encouraged to write scripts, or add-in scenes to the BBC for review to keep the show alive.

    For example, I bought an audio adventure (marketed by BBV productions) from an ex-working collegue who is ironically on a sci-fi course at Glamorgan University. He was at the time (without being insulting) simply a very entusiastic amateur. Yet after listening to the 15 – 20 minute storyline based on a Sontaron running off course and holding a spaceship captive for his own sinister purposes was a testament to the potential on his part and would indeed make a great episode, especially with visual effects that the BBC team could add.

    My point? It would be a great shame for all the potential talent that this guy and others like him may have towards Dr. Who, to then not have a chance to make their mark on how the Dr. Who series develops. If the BBC contacts don’t already utilise this harnessed ability, it could lose out on a greater future in an ever broadening and demanding TV audience.

    Wishing all you entusiasts out there all the best for the future with your writing, and beyond!

    Dr. C. Webb – (Close Concepts Abergavenny)

    Simon Bromley

    April 17, 2005

    RE: The Big Bad Wolf

    I read an interesting theory on what’s going to happen in this series regarding the continual mention of the ‘Big Bad Wolf’, and the Doctor’s upcoming regeneration. I don’t believe it for a second, but I think it makes fascinating reading:

    ‘[from a LiveJournal Doctor Who community]: The doctor and the master are none other than the same person and are sharing the same body and incarnation, but neither are aware of each other’s existance. The master hijacks the doctor’s ninth regeneration just at the point of regenerating from the 8th to the 9th. This however makes the doctor unstable as each subconscious character vies for supremacy.
    The timelords themselves were responsible for the time war and the destruction of Gallifrey was the price to be paid after the doctor/master betrayed his own people. The Tardis becomes a portent of Doom. As the doctor slowly realises what has transpired he turns to Rose to kill him. with a heavy heart Rose complies. as the doctor lies dying the master is exorcised. while the master is coming round and recovering, she drags the doctor into the safety of the Tardis where he regenerates into the 10th doctor — sans the Master.
    Bad Wolf is a psuedonym for Death, the Doctor’s constant companion.
    This could of course be the product of an overactive imagination.’

    “Humans… always seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.”

    Well, frankly.

    Mike Reddy

    April 17, 2005

    Interesting that this thread has attracted the most comments…

    Re UNIT effectiveness. I believe the Brigadeer once asked something like “When we will we ever meet a monster that isn’t immune to bullets!”

    Timothy Farr

    April 17, 2005

    I really liked this episode but for one serious fault:

    Flatulent aliens!

    Doctor Who should be class, not crass! It should be completely different from everything else on a Saturday night. No wonder Ant and Dec picked up viewers.

    Simon Bromley

    April 17, 2005

    To be fair, Ant and Dec only had 0.1million more viewers, and _that_ was only because it was the end of the series!

    markbanerji

    April 17, 2005

    Well apparently “low gravity environments”:http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/artificial_gravity_and_the_architecture_of_orbital_habitats.shtml can cause Fast Acting Recurrent Tremors in Space

    Digestive gas cannot “rise” toward the mouth and is more likely to pass through the other end of the digestive tract – in the words of Skylab crewman-doctor Joe Kerwin: “very effectively with great volume and frequency.

    And of course In space no one can hear you….

    neilhook

    April 17, 2005

    The thing that bothered me about the last episode was … why did all of the much vaunted ‘Alien Experts (including UNIT) just sit there (or should I say just shit themselves there) whilst the slitheen unzipped itself. Call me a coward but I would have ‘gone for reinforcements’ at the first sign of trouble!

    Carnus

    April 17, 2005

    Since the question of farting etc seems to be a regularly
    occurring theme here, I thought I might share some of my
    thoughts on the science communication of human waste.

    Around 20 years ago I’d developed, in my GSCE science classes,
    what I regarded to be an innovative ‘street’ example of the 3
    phases of matter in the rather vain hope that the more
    distracted pupils would sit up and, for once, pay attention.

    The example I’d chosen was shit, and its 3 phases of turd,
    diarrhoea and fart.

    I considered this ingenius case to not only perfectly exemplify
    the 3 phases, but also imaginatively engage the lesser elements
    in my class. Unfortunately, of course, it engaged them far too
    much, and a farting competition ensued during the session
    which got progressively louder as the competition grew more
    fierce.

    Not to be daunted by my apparent failure, I quickly thought on
    my feet and tried to turn gaseous disadvantage to my favour by
    scientifically waxing on the reasons why farting was anti-social.
    Employing the explanation that the wonder and sophistication of
    smell was brought to us by the implanting of molecular
    structures in the hair folicles of our nostrils, I led the still-
    ripping class to the hopefully corrective conclusion that farting
    was tantamount to defecating in a peer’s snitch.

    Years later I’m convinced its the only science lesson most of
    them remember. There’s a lesson here for us all, since the
    farting Dr Who episode also seems to have resulted in the
    longest posting of your marvellous off-the-wall blog!

    Sam Seeley

    April 17, 2005

    Perhaps “Bad Wolf” is a coded message
    being sent through time and space to the
    Doctor (the bad, ie lone, wolf) who has
    deserted his pack. The message is calling
    him home to Gallifrey where the few surviving
    Time Lords need his help.

    The Doctor hasn’t noticed the call sign yet but
    Rose –

    Oops – have I said too much?!

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