The Discontinuity Guide
The New Series
Aliens of London
16th April 2005
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: Keith Boak
Roots: Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. The Slitheen are strongly reminiscent of the Fomasi from The Leisure Hive. The Thing From Another World aka The Thing ("Keep watching the Skies!") and The Watchmen (The whole mass media Hoax UFO crash complete with manufactured aliens). The Slitheen's appearance is reminiscent of both ET and Yarael Poof from the Star Wars prequels. The story also captures elements of "The Graham Williams Era", and at times felt very Hitch-Hiker in its approach. The Slitheen unzipping is very similar to Coccoon. The 'Pigs in Space' segment from The Muppet Show, and possibly the Pink Floyd album Animals.
Goofs: BBC News 24 seems to have lost the clock it usually displays in the bottom left of the screen (though it regains it by the time Jackie phones the emergency number). They also claim that Big Ben has been destroyed, when the damage is actually to St Stephen's Tower. (Big Ben is the bell, not the tower, but maybe the bell was destroyed). The Doctor makes the same mistake. Speaking of the clock, it's still obviously running after the crash, as it shows 10 o'clock when the ship hits, and 1 o'clock when it appears on BBC News 24. Speaking of the tower, when the ship crashed into it, the clock face is backwards.
The Doctor claims to be 900 years old. However, he was 953 in Time and the Rani, turned 1000 in Set Piece, and aged by well over 100 years in the course of the eighth Doctor books. So how did he lose 300 years off his age? [He's forgotten his age as a side effect of the amnesia he suffered after The Ancestor Cell].
How does the chairman of the parliamentary commission on the monitoring of sugar standards in exported confectionary end up as the most senior government MP, and hence acting Prime Minister? Surely there must be at least one minister who is contactable. [Maybe it's a cover position for the minister dealing with extra-terrestrial affairs, and maybe the cabinet are all away in their constituencies due to a parliamentary recess.]
The door to the cabinet room goes from being closed, when Harriet Jones walks in, to ajar, just before the Slitheen and General Asquith walk in.
Rose and Harriet Jones don't have clearance to go to the alien experts' meeting, which means they're stopped from going through one of the doors. Yet seconds later, they walk through the same door (albeit going to a different room) and yet nobody questions this. Maybe it's not a goof, but it does look strange.
Why does the policeman Slitheen have a zip on his forehead when the other Slitheen don't? (incidentally, the zip has gone by the next episode). [Perhaps they've got a covering for the zip that blends in with the skin and his hat has mucked it up.]
How does the Doctor know that Rose has been gone for 12 months? It looks like there's no information on the current date anywhere near the missing poster. [Maybe the Doctor thought that Rose was from 2006 rather than 2005, got the date right this time, but only realised his mistake after seeing the poster.] Come to think of it, why do the posters all say that Rose is 19? She was 19 when she left (The Unquiet Dead), and a year later all the missing posters still say that she is 19. Doesn't her birthday happen inbetween?
Albion hospital is not, as the reporter claims, the nearest hospital to the Thames, as St Thomas Hospital is only a couple of hundred yards from the crash site. [Perhaps it's closed for renovation, or doesn't exist in the Whoniverse, or Albion is the Whoniverse name for St Thomas'.]
How does Jackie know that the Doctor's ship is called a TARDIS?
The Doctor seems ignorant of the details of humanity's first contact with alien lifeforms. Yes, The Dying Days establishes that there are quite a few events that might qualify, but given the Doctor's knowledge of human history, you'd expect him to know the major contenders, and whether the spaceship crash counts or not.
The "next week" teaser kind of spoils the point in having a cliffhanger ending.
Dialogue Triumphs: Rose on the Doctor: 'He's not my boyfriend. He's much more ... important than that.'
Mickey: 'I think I know my own name.'
The Doctor: 'You think you know your own name. How stupid are you?'
The Doctor: 'If I was to tell you what I was doing to the controls of my, frankly magnificent, timeship would you even begin to understand?'
Dialogue Disasters: The Doctor: 'Do you mind not farting while I'm saving the world?'
Continuity: Rose has been gone for a whole year. She says she's been inside the TARDIS for just a few days.
The Doctor claims to be 900 years old (see goofs). He says that the reason he travels is to see history happen in front of him. He has a spare TARDIS key on him, which glows when the TARDIS is about to appear. When steering the TARDIS, he hits the console with his hammer. He is familiar with military jargon. The TARDIS has a radar system that can scan events from at least 12 hours ago, after a few adjustments are made.
The Slitheen have the technology to augment a pig's brain, enabling it to walk upright. They can hide inside the skins of humans and mimic their voices, pretending to be the people whose skin they are inhabiting (though acting clearly isn't their strong point). This requires some kind of gas exchange system, which often makes it sound like they are farting.
The government has software that searches all communications for key words in the event of an alien incursion. One of those words is Doctor, another is blue box, and a third is TARDIS. These words will set off alarms, alerting the authorities to the presence of the Doctor. Although the Doctor is given clearance for top briefings, this doesn't extend to his companion.
Links: The Doctor and Mickey both mention UNIT, and how the Doctor used to work for them. The Doctor mentions that he's changed a lot since those days, a reference to regeneration.
Location: London, 12 months after Rose's disappearance on 6th March 2005.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor says that Lloyd George used to drink him under the table.
The Bottom Line: 'Funny way to invade, putting the world on red alert.' A bog-standard "aliens invading by stealth" story is lifted above the mundane by the emotional drama of Rose's disappearance combined with a couple of comical moments. Whilst the pig in a spacesuit and the farting aren't to everybody's taste, they are at least original.
Thanks go to all the folk who commented on Aliens of London in the Bloopers thread on Outpost Gallifrey's forum. Without them, the goofs section would have been a lot smaller.
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