To me this was the new series’ first major misfire. It’s not a bad story or a bad premise as such, but there’s enough dross and rot in there to make it an eminently forgettable serial. Aliens of London/World War Three typifies what I like to call “Marvel Who”—i.e. over-the-top, mindless nonsense that appeals squarely (and patronisingly) to children. It had comical, ludicrously designed aliens who were uncomplicatedly eeevil trying to destroy the world. And they were flatulent. Don’t get me started on the farting. I can concede that calcium creatures’ releasing air when they compress themselves to hide in their human disguises makes sense, but I’d like to know what was going on in the mind of the writer or producer when he decided that farting aliens was a good idea. I know I overuse this term, but it’s never been more apt: it’s cringe-worthy. I’m afraid this isn’t one of the stories I would watch again voluntarily; it’s a ninety-minute masquerade of overblown camp nonsense and really represents the epitome of the excesses of the “New Who” style. I wouldn’t have blamed old Classic Who fans if they’d given up on New Who at this point.
Perhaps one of the only things holding this story up is the characters. I’ll admit that the writing for the lead characters—the Doctor, Rose, Mickey and Jackie—was strong, and the actors carried the script more than capably. The character drama was really the only thing this story had going for it, and it was sobering to see the effect Rose’s sojourns with the Doctor had had upon the lives of the people she’d unwittingly left behind. It was also interesting to see the effect upon Rose of only a few days’ spent with the Doctor travelling, something that was particularly pronounced in bringing her back to London. Rose has already received quality character development since the beginning of this series, and her series-long character arc is one of the things holding Series 1 together as a memorable and cohesive whole in spite of unfortunate stories like this.