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Aliens of London/World War Three is likely a landmark two parter for the show. Whilst aliens have invaded London before, this is the story where humanity wakes up and realises there are aliens out there. It also introduces one of the new series' most iconic monsters in the Slitheen and introduces the domestic side being a major part of the Russell T Davies Era of the show. Whilst we had seen this side in Rose, it wasn't evident it would be important until this two parter. Yet despite all this, this story is among the weakest of series 1.
Aliens of London/World War Three is actually quite dark for a family primetime drama when you strip it down. It features aliens stripping the skin of their victims in order to wear them like a sort of strange fancy dress costume. Yet bizarrely Russell T Davies decided to underplay this by adding farting effects and essentially making the Slitheen kid-friendly. It's impossible to take them seriously, yet if done right the Slitheen could have been a much more powerful monster that would have earned its iconic status rather than claiming it through their popularity with children. It's a shame that they were a monster introduced in the Russell T Davies Era as Steven Moffat (being a writer known for his dark stories) would have done the concept more justice given that it would have fit more in-line with his ideas. The Russell T Davies Era was great but it was better at the lighter ideas than the potentially dark ones.
The concept of a criminal family of aliens trying to sell the Earth as fuel is a great one and could have been well-realised if it wasn't for these poor decisions. Annette Badland is suitably menacing as Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen though and does great with the material she has. It's easy to see why Russell T Davies decided to bring her back in the much superior episode Boom Town. She's one of the new series' best villains and one that deserved to be a recurring one. Annette Badland comes close to saving the Slitheen and making them a race to be feared but ultimately can't overcome the silliness of the fart effects. The Slitheen have a great look too; there's something undeniably alien about this design:
And that's what's most important about this story: as the Doctor says, it's our race's first concrete proof of alien existence. Other alien invasions in the show's history have had some way or other they can be brushed off by governments...but a spaceship crashing into Big Ben? That's different. Nobody would purposely fly a military unidentified flying object into Big Ben unless they hate London landmarks for some reason and they find an alien pig in a spacesuit in the ship. This is a story about what happens when humanity stops being ignorant as they must have during the events of stories such as The Invasion (never referred to by anyone post-1968 unless they're UNIT personnel) and on that angle it succeeds. If it wasn't for the poor choices with the Slitheen, this would be a great story about what may one day hopefully become a landmark in real life history. I'm a believer that we're not alone and aliens are out there somewhere and I fully believe we will experience a real-life Aliens of London (although hopefully with friendly aliens rather than a criminal family). I think it's just a question of when. I think this story also nails it on the head on how we would react, with spaceships being made on Blue Peter, wall-to-wall news coverage and taking the alien occupant (in this case, a space pig) to an autopsy.
It's also interesting how we see Rose's mother Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) and Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) react to Rose being missing for an entire year due to a miscalculation on the Doctor's part. Mickey has been accused of murder and Jackie being her mother is just naturally very worried about her whereabouts. Noel Clarke and Camille Coduri both deliver powerful performances and help cement this as a take on the show where consequences to domestic life matter. Those companions' family and friends matter now. They're arguably just as important as the companion now and quite right too. Of course, Billie Piper is great too and Christopher Eccleston's...alright but doesn't feel entirely comfortable in the role of the Doctor but this is arguably more about Jackie and Mickey (at least at first).
Overall, Aliens of London/World War Three is a fairly average two parter spoilt by poor decisions in regards to the Slitheen, ignoring the darker aspects of the ideas. Annette Badland makes for a brilliant villain though and Camille Coduri and Noel Clarke are great.