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The Discontinuity Guide
The New Series

World War Three

23rd April 2005

Writer: Russell T Davies

Director: Keith Boak

Roots: Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. The Slitheen are strongly reminiscent of the Foamasi from The Leisure Hive., and their motives are also similar to the Dominators from The Dominators There are a number of allusions to the buildup to the Iraq war ("I voted against it", massive weapons of destruction able to launch in 45 seconds). The Doctor's virus to remove all mention of him is reminiscent of Transit. The Power Rangers movie (aliens die by exploding), Ghost Busters (slimed), The X Files (conspiracy, aliens, etc.) The Blues Brothers (people emerging unscathed from a building hit with a missile). 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. Mickey attacking an alien with a baseball bat is straight from Remembrance of the Daleks. The Slitheen unzipping is very similar to Coccoon. The claim that UNIT would gather for a weather balloon may be a reference to the cliché excuse for UFOs that they are just weather balloons.

Goofs: Why is Harriet so insistent that she and Rose need to go back for the emergency protocols when they're running away from the Slitheen? [She's out of her depth, and thinks they'll tell her what to do].

Why does the UN believe the claims about the alien mothership, surely somebody else would need to verify the existence of this mothership, which doesn't exist. [Perhaps the Slitheen had a virus to fool other countries' sensors, or their experts thought that their instruments could easily have missed it.]

The US newsreader says that England has provided proof of the "massive weapons of destruction". Surely she should be saying "Britain" or "the United Kingdom". [She's a stereotypically parochial American]

In the scene where Rose and Harriet are throwing facts about the Slitheen at the Doctor, there are a number of facts that they shouldn't know. Rose says that the Doctor said that the spaceship used slipstream technology, which he never told her. Rose knows what Slitheen "farts" smell like, though she wasn't there when any of them "farted" (maybe the smell lingers). Harriet knows about the augmentations made to the pig's brain, despite not having been told about it. Also, the Doctor says that they have hyphenated surnames. Yet their surname (Slitheen) is not hyphenated.

The password for UNIT, which also gets you into the Royal Navy systems, is far too insecure to be realistic.

When the reporter's talking about London's streets being deserted, there's still plenty of traffic going through the streets.

The Slitheen disguised as a policeman has lost the zip he had on his head in the previous episode. [It's been suggested that they have flaps of skin which they can use to hide the zip.]

The Missile poses a few questions. Firstly, it seems to be automatically targeted at 10 Downing Street, without Mickey setting the target. Then Mickey prevents the counter-attack without being able to see what he's doing - his screen is still tracking the missile he launched. Also, they picked a Harpoon missile, which is an anti-ship missile phased out in 2005 (this story being set in 2006). Whilst the Harpoon is capable of hitting a land target, it probably would have hit another building en route. Also, it looks like the Harpoon is further away from Downing Street than its range of 60 nautical miles. Basically, they should have picked a Tomahawk instead.

In the shot that pans over the central London skyline, St Stephen's Clock tower appears to have been repaired since the spaceship hit it.

In one scene, you can see the TARDIS shell rather than its interior through the open door.

The Doctor, Rose, and Harriet are remarkably undamaged from being thrown about when the missile hits.

How does the Doctor find the kid who graffiti-ed the TARDIS and get him to scrub it off?

Why don't the Slitheen just nuke the planet themselves [either it's cheaper this way, or they get a kick out of it, and maybe a mere family business can't get access to nukes].

It looks like it's 3am in the UK about the same time it's midnight in New York, which is 3 hours out. [The time between the Slitheen attacking Mickey's flat and the UN meeting is a lot longer than it looks.] Talking about the UN meeting, why did the UK hand over its nuclear codes to the UN in the first place? (Yes, I know it's probably a reference to Robot, but it still doesn't make sense)

The Doctor asks Harriet what the secretary's name was. Why not just look at his ID badge?

Rose says that the Doctor will eat Shepherd's Pie, even though he went vegetarian in The Two Doctors, so either he went back to eating meat or Rose doesn't know this.

Double Entendres: Jackie: 'Has he got a great big green thing inside him, then?'
Mickey: I wouldn't put it past him.

'Joseph Green': 'I need to be naked.'
'General Asquith': 'Rejoice in it. Your body is magnificent.'

Technobabble: The Doctor threatens to "triplicate the flamability" of some alcohol with his sonic screwdriver. As one of the Slitheen says, "you're making it up".

Dialogue Triumphs: Jackie: 'You saved my life. God that's embarasing.'

Harriet Jones: 'Listen to me. I'm saying Slitheen as if it's normal.'

Harriet Jones: 'Voicemail dooms us all.'

The Doctor: 'Mickey the idiot. The world is in your hands.'

Jackie on the Doctor: 'He's an alien. For all I know, he eats grass and safety pins and things.'

Rose: 'My mother's cooking.'
The Doctor: 'Good. Put her on a slow heat and let her simmer.'

And many more.

Memorable Moments: Jackie kills a Slitheen by chucking Mickey's pickles at it. The Doctor explains to Jackie that he can't guarantee that her daughter will be safe. The Doctor offers Mickey a place on the TARDIS, but Mickey says that he couldn't cope with the Doctor's lifestyle.

Drinking Game Clichés: More corridors than you can shake a stick at.

Continuity: The Doctor is able to survive the electro-magnetic charge that kills the UNIT officers. He has a device to use Rose's mobile into a speakerphone. He's fixed it so that it says "Tardis calling' and has an icon of a police box. The TARDIS phone is an old 70s-style handset, and is different to the phone set into the back of the police box door. He has a virus that, once let loosed onto the internet will erase all mention of him.

The Slitheen are a family business rather than a species. Their compression field devices can only compress them to fit inside larger humans. The field generates gas due to it being a big exchange. The Slitheen are linked in some way, as placing one of the electrified ID cards on one of them causes tall of them to suffer from it. They also know when one of them has been killed. There are 5000 planets within travelling distance that beings of the Slitheen's basic shape could have come from. They can smell adrenaline. They hunt like it's a ritual. Their "farts" smell like bad breath, caused by calcium decay - their makeup is based on calcium, this (possibly combined with their compression field) means that they can be killed with ascetic acid (vinegar). They come from Raxacoricofallapatorius. Their fake spaceship used slipstream technology.

The cabinet room has no terminals or suchlike. The emergency protocols are mostly a list of the people who can help in the event of an alien incursion. The launch codes for the UK's nuclear missiles are in the hands of the United Nations.

Mickey has obviously changed since Rose, he attacks a Slitheen with a chair and with a baseball bat, and appears to have extensive computer skills. Most importantly, the Doctor no longer thinks of him as "Mickey the idiot", but has gained respect for his abilities.

Links: This is the second half of a two-part story. The first part being Aliens of London. The Doctor mentions that UNIT would have gathered for a weather balloon (The Three Doctors). The UN having the UK's nuclear codes is reminiscent of Robot, where the UK had other countries codes.

Extras: The UNIT website that Mickey accesses can be found at There are two passwords for the secure area. "buffalo" allows you to launch missiles, and "bison" allows you to read UNIT despatches on the events of Aliens of London and Rose.

Mickey has taken over Clive's website from Rose. There are several references to both Aliens of London and World War Three. These include a photo of Joseph Green, noting how much weight he has put on lately; The mobile-phone picture of a slitheen; A personal blog claiming to have helped the Doctor defeat the Slitheen; An apology to the Doctor for not using the virus to erase all reference to him...yet; a welcome-back message to Rose.

Location: London, 2006 - following on from Aliens of London

Future History: Harriet Jones is a future Prime Minister, who is elected for 3 successive terms and becomes the architect of Britain's golden age.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor says that Mr Chicken, who lived in Downing Street in 1730 was a nice man, implying that he's met him.

Q.v: The Fate of Gallifrey, The End of the World; Bad Wolf, The Parting of the Ways; Rose's Love Life, The Doctor Dances.

The Bottom Line: 'If I don't dare, everyone dies.' A very strong second half, World War Three is awash with great scenes, great dialogue, and great acting. It provides a good conclusion to the set-up from the last episode. The development of Mickey and Harriet Jones is particularly effective, and the conflict between the Doctor and Jackie adds an emotional depth that is rarely seen in Doctor Who.


Thanks go to all the folk who commented on World War Three in the Bloopers thread on Outpost Gallifrey's forum. Without them, the goofs section would have been a lot smaller.

You visited the Whoniverse at 5:29 pm BST on Friday 14th April 2006