It’s April 2005 and aaw, it’s the Slitheen, New Who’s first proper alien menace, faces like cute alien babies, only these are alien babies with dirty great big claws. As a design they’re fairly striking, even today, but one has to question the wisdom of putting them squarely into Scaroth Territory – even with a lot of compression, it’s hard to see how the hell something that large can fit inside a skin suit. And how do they make a skin suit anyway? And not only a skin suit, but fit a zip to it with those huge claws, they’re not exactly built for fiddly little jobs like zip fasteners, are they?
Are there Slitheen seamstresses who are skin suit sewing specialists somewhere among the family? Because that’s part of the problem and the joy of Dr Who, things that are a nice, funny, amusing, interesting idea that are totally impractical and illogical when you think about them realistically. And that’s something that only Fans do, the regular viewers just enjoy the gag and move on, ready to come back next week for more of the same. But not Fans. No, we sit and wonder how the hell they manage to fit the zips!
Episode 4, Aliens of London and episode 5, World War Three, make this Series One’s first two-parter, so that means we get out our first Dr Who Cliffhanger Ending since 1989! Yay! The Doctor being electrocuted, yikes! What a pity they cock it up by showing that the Doctor gets out of it in the “throw forward” to the following week! I mean, okay, we know he’s not going to get killed but don’t show us that he doesn’t get killed! Even allowing for this being the first time they’ve done this – what other show on BBC One in 2005 had cliffhangers? None is the answer – it’s still an own goal that leaves you wondering how all these television professionals could have made such an obvious mistake.
The Slitheen are pure Douglas Adams, not such a bad thing if it’s only your fourth week and, although you’re already a hit and confirmed for a second series [which happened just four days after the broadcast of Rose and the day before Eccles departure was announced, fact fans] you had no idea that would happen when you made these eps back in July the previous year and are still thinking of ways to keep your audience coming back each week, never mind laying out your ongoing narrative arc.
So our first cut is to the recap at the very beginning as we don’t really need it, we’re fans, not viewers who are jumping on for the first time, curious to see what everybody else has been talking about for the past three weeks…
All in all there are 14 cuts to these two episodes, most of them coming, as you might imagine, at the crossover point where we go from Aliens of London to World War Three and thankfully I managed to edit around the Director and Producer credits that appear over the cliffhanger’s resolution in the latter without too much difficulty.
This edit also features the second cameo appearance of a certain Mr Elton Pope, who we’ll meet properly in Love And Monsters. You couldn’t not put that in a Fan Edit, now could you? And one of the advantages of including Elton’s cameo is that it helps get rid of the end of the Big Ben model shot by allowing us to cut out the last three seconds where it becomes rather too obvious that the model of Big Ben really is a model of Big Ben….
It’s also interesting to note how the Mill changed the colour balance on the shot of the pig-piloted spaceship heading down Whitehall in Love and Monsters from the Aliens of London original, most likely to obscure all that signage on the right hand side of the screen…
Part of the genius of RTD’s Who was to root the action of yer typical Earth Invasion Plot into the lives of the companion’s family, and that’s something we’d never had before because no companion prior to Rose had any bloody family! As a result, the best bits of the story aren’t actually in Downing Street with Dr Eccles figuring out what’s going on, they’re back at the Powell Estate with Jackie & Mickey facing off against the Next Gen version of finding a Yeti sitting on your loo. Despite the rather improbable farting monster, this two parter works well as both a reminder and a reboot of the Alien Invasion trope and, unless I’m really reading too much into it, a commentary of the duplicity of both Politicians and the Establishment…
Elton Pope Will Return in The Christmas Invasion!
Dr Eccles and Rose will return in Dalek!