Wednesday, July 13, 2005


The following are my thoughts about some of the aspects found in the episode "The Aliens Of London". As always, I may be revealing aspects of 'Doctor Who' which will be considered spoilers by most of my readers from America.

So continue with caution.

"When trouble arises and things look bad,
There is always one individual
Who perceives a solution and is willing to take command.
Very often, that individual is crazy."
Mark Twain

First off, I just want to do a shout-out to the Powers That Be at the BBC and to their American counterparts:

With these aliens who bedevil the Doctor, Russell T. Davies shows once again that he has a vivid imagination for creating new species from outer space. There's no slapping on a phony forehead involved here, like you would find on the many 'Star Trek' series.

(Doesn't anybody else find it strange that 'Voyager' and 'Enterprise' would travel to areas of space that were supposedly inaccessible to those of human stock, and yet still find variations on a gene theme everywhere they went?)

The bodies of the Slitheen - for the time being only believable thanks to CGI, but reminiscent of the height of Ray Harryhausen's creations - are bizarre enough.

But it's their faces - masks out of some Kubrick nightmare, but without the benefit of Nicole Kidman's presence. They have creepy baby-doll features with large black pools for eyes whose nictating lids click like camera shutters; and full, pouty lips pursed perfectly for one universally enjoyed past-time... just so long as you didn't need to have the return of your member guaranteed.

"The Slitheen" is the family name for these aliens, not the name of their species. They are from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius, which would make them Raxacoricofallapatorians. No Trills or Narn or even the Gelth need apply here.

If you're the actor who has to say the name of these creatures, one can only wish their race was known as the Slitheen!

It won't be the last time RTD goes syllable crazy when it comes to the aliens. With "The Long Game", you'll find yourself feeling sorry for what Simon Pegg's poor tongue has to go through. (That didn't come off sounding right......)
This episode takes place in March, 2006. So, as far as BBC reporter Andrew Marr and 'Blue Peter' presenter Matt Baker are concerned, from RTD's script to God's eyes.

Heaven forfend that it should happen, but if some mortal disaster should befall either Marr or Baker, then we have to treat the situation as we would any other character in Toobworld when their portrayer passes away. The actor may be dead, but the character could go on living.

Marr and Baker weren't appearing as their true selves, but as their "tele-versions", fictionalized versions of themselves. So if they should happen to die here in the Real World, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are also dead in Toobworld.
Actually, this episode does not take place in the dimension of Earth Prime-Time; it is an alternate dimension. It has to be, and it will be - once March 2006 rolls around and "The Chimes Of Big Ben" (see what I did there? LOL) still ring out in other TV shows produced in London.

In a way, this future problem for Toobworld consistency is reminiscent of the situation with 'Space: 1999' and any other TV show which showed the Moon in our night skies after the seminal moment in that Gerry Anderson production in which the Moon broke free from orbit.

At least with 'Space: 1999', my splainin was that the series took place in the coma-controlled mind of Commander Koenig after the explosion of the Moon's waste fuel dumps on the Dark Side. (As seen in a 1999 7-Up blipvert starring Orlando Jones.)

As for "Aliens of London", I had to resort to relocating this story - as well as that of the second part "World War Three" and the sequel "Boomtown" - to an alternate dimension.

This is within keeping with the 'Doctor Who' premise and doesn't ruin the storyline concept in the least. After all, the word for the Doctor's mode of transportation, as coined by his grand-daughter Susan, is "TARDIS" - Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. (The phrase is also mentioned in some episodes with "Dimension" in the singular.)
It happens that in this case, the TARDIS has returned from the Past to an Earth of another dimension, one in which Rose had been separated from her mother Jackie and former boyfriend Mickey for about twelve months.

(I will have to watch "Parting Of The Ways" again, but I believe that in the final episode of this season there was no mention of her visit when the Slitheen invaded once she was reunited with Jackie and Mickey. Therefore I have no problem with the idea that Rose was meeting her dimensional counterpart's mother and boyfriend in the other three episodes.)

I'd reveal which dimension I think they landed in, but that would be telling. And it would ruin my surprise choice for next week's Crossover for "World War Three".
Another reason that this has to be an alternate Toobworld - Tony Blair dies. But he's such a recognized figure, even outside the Telly programmes of his own country, that he must be accorded the same consideration as any US president in Toobworld. That is to say, in the main TV Land, Earth Prime Time, the world leaders should be the same as they are in the Real World.

Of course, the way this wigged-out world is going, who knows what may happen by March, 2006? (Just saying, is all.)
In websites like Outpost Gallifrey, I've read such vitriolic opinions hurled towards RTD because of this episode. (Even my patron supplier "Markhael" made his feelings known about it, and he wasn't kind.)

I think it stems mostly from an unfortunate side-effect for the Slitheen once they have assumed their human guises. (Let's just say that the Raxacoricofallapatorians would make excellent spokesmen for Bean-O.)

This problem of the gas exchange was looked upon by many fanboys as being just childish humor. Yeah, okay. So? For all of the sophistication we're going to get in later episodes (Hellooooo, Captain Jack!), 'Doctor Who' is still being presented as a children's show. What's wrong with a little gaseous humor now and again? Didn't do any harm to 'Blazing Saddles'!

Actually I found such "poopy" humor to be on a par with the macabre sense of humor for the Joker - deadly funny. As a fan of episode titles, I just wish this had been dubbed "The Gas Exchange" rather than the bland "Aliens Of London". (It appears episodic titles are not RTD's strong suit.)
Should the Doctor ever have to face the Raxacoricofallapatorians again, it might be cool if he had one of the Gelth as an ally. (They can't ALL be bad guys!) After all, the Gelth survive in a gaseous state and inhabit solid forms that are full of the stuff. Once a Raxacoricofallapatorian is squeezed into a human skin-suit, he can't help but produce the stuff. A Gelth good guy could then phase into the skin-suit and slit the Raxacoricofallapatorian up a treat!
Those human skin-suits.......

The Slitheen passed themselves off as human by killing humans and sucking out their innards so that they might themselves wear the skins. This reminded me of the bug-eyed monster played by Vincent D'Onofrio in "Men In Black". (Here's a thought - what if Detective Goren is also one of those BEM using that same skin? After all, he does bend funny on 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'!)

And the way that they "unzip" themselves from their skin-suits has to be the most visually arresting image from the entire season. It reminded me of the aliens in the movie "Cocoon". (So where did Brian Dennehy and his cohorts get their skins, hrmmmmmm? I'm afraid that over in the Cineverse, there's a Brian Dennehy character who's now missing in action.......)

'Doctor Who' is a show of action and can't be bogged down with petty details - like how do they stay fresh in those skins; how do they maintain the skin's integrity? (After all, six months go by once we reach the episode "Boomtown" and the Slitheen female is still using the skin of Margaret Blaine. That's gotta be some kind of skin moisturizer she's using!)

So allow me to posit a theory......

The other two examples I mentioned of a similar situation were from the movies (although 'Men In Black' did have a Tooniversal after-life). However, aliens wearing human disguises can also be found in episodes of 'The Twilight Zone', but more importantly in 'V'.

Like the Slitheen family, it wasn't enough for the lizardly Visitors to look human. They had to withstand the scrutiny of being touched.

Hey, the alien lizard Br'n, who called himself "Brian", had to do more than just "touch" Robin Maxwell! He ended up impregnating her! So there had to be something about their skins that had to be ultra-realistic. And you can't get more realistic than the real thang.

But there must have been some kind of curing process to keep that skin pliable and intact. After all, they had to be able to fit not only giant lizards, but the Raxacoricofallapatorians as well.

Perhaps it was a trade secret shared by both alien races. Perhaps by others as well......

Such a theory might have worked as the Crossover for this episode. Oh well. I stand by the one I posted.
Should they ever get around to making a movie out of the life of Harvey Weinstein, the mammoth mogul behind Miramax, the Suits would be wise to hire David Verrey, who played the new Prime Minister (and disguised Slitheen member) Joseph Green.
According to one online site which notices such details, the Slitheen’s plan to "convert an inhabited planet into radioactive fuel is similar to the intentions to the evil aliens in 'The Dominators'."

I'll have to take their word for it. My Gallifreyan education is ongoing and I have yet to see that story. But I'll have more on their nefarious plan when talking about the second part of this story next week.


1 comment:

"Markhael" said...

Lol - I'm picturing Harvey Weinstein farting his way through script meetings. Very well written - I'm so glad that we have you as a spokesman! Pretty soon [They] are going to have to start paying you for spreading the word...

- I laughed my ass off when I read about Simon Pegg's tongue, btw.