Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Reviews


List:
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Stephen Thrower
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Rob Stephenson
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Mick Snowden
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Paul Wilcox
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by James Tricker
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Simon Ellis
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Andrew Panero
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Mark Francome
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by James Main
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Gareth Thomas
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by David Bell
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Mike Eveleigh
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Calum Corral
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Mark Hain
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Jonathan Crossfield
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Alan McDonald
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Andy Griffiths
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Steve Manfred
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Adam Ross
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Paul Berry
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Huan Quayle
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Andrew Phillips
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Richard Radcliffe
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Mike Humphreys
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by David Carlile
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by John Byatt
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Eddy Wolverson
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Simon Funnell
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Tavia Chalcraft
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Ed Martin
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Matt Kimpton
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Scott Coyne
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Kenneth Baxter
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Joe Ford
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Christopher Gerardy
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by James McLean
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by A.D. Morrison
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Robin Calvert
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Geoff Wessel
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Rossa McPhillips
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Marc DiPaolo
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Paul Clarke
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Alex Gibbs
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Nick Mellish
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by Robert Tymec
05 Jun 2005Boom Town, by David Marx
05 Jun 2007Boom Town, by Shane Anderson

So after the sublime horror of 'The Empty Child' and 'The Doctor Dances', the series takes a bit of a nose dive.

First of all...and with apologies to any Welsh readers...why Cardiff again? Okay, so there was a link to the rift of 'the Unquiet Dead' and RTD is from Swansea. But basically it looked like an opportunity to highlight some of the tourist attractions of the redeveloped dockland area. And just who thinks that a story based on the idea of a nuclear power station being built in the centre of any city has any credibility? Yes, yes, yes...Doctor Who is all about suspension of belief but that is a suspension too far.

All hail the return of Slitheen - not. Still annoying in appearance with the unnecessary combination of big doe-eyed innocence and unpleasantly large claws. What's with the face of ET meets Bambi approach? Just not scary, just not cute. Thankfully, however, there was less of the toilet humour burping etc of 'World War III'.

And Annette Badman did her character real credit when in human guise plus a wonderful bit of repartee between her and the Doctor when he takes her our for a meal....'hmm dinner and bondage..'.

Captain Jack...yes, well what was the point of him this week? Indeed, what is the point of him at all? Why has the Doctor taken him on board as a redeemed baddie when he dumped Adam at his mother's with a socket in his head. There would have been at least as much potential for Adam's character to develop, and there was sense in that he was a much more realistic chancer than comic-book square-jawed Jack. Jack's double entendre dialogue should not save him

Rose and Mickey...some nice development there and a real sense of Rose being caught between the desire to explore the wonders of the Universe on one hand hand and be back in South London with her boyfriend (and a decent hairdresser - drop the pigtails please) on the other. Aahh, love will eventually win the day, but presumably not till the second series. Or perhaps Mickey - who was looking decidely mean and moody when he walked off into the night - will develop into an evil, yet clumsy, mastermind set on destroying the Doctor and all his works

The Doctor...yet more dark shading of his character during the conversation with Margaret as they talked about the pathology of killers. Christopher Eccleston is at his very best when the focus is on the harder, unpleasant aspects of his character. And only one annoying outbreak of unsolicited grinning early on in this episode - so perhaps that gurning will be gone by the end of the series.

TARDIS...thanks for the explanation of the chameleon circuit for any new viewers wondering why it is as it is. But what was this business about the living heart? And how did it make Margaret regress? If TARDIS is a living being - shades of Moya from Farscape surely - perhaps more could be made of the relationship between her and the Doctor in the future?

So, what was the point of this episode?

Not scary. Not funny. It did move Rose and Mickey's relationship along. And it highlighted yet more darkness in the character of the Doctor.

Lame story though, and weakest of the series so far.

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For me, this was the second best episode of the series so far, after the iconic "Dalek." The Slitheen showed unexpected emotional depth, while cunningly questioning the doctors moral authority, in a way once again reminescent of the Dalek in the earlier episode. The actors seem more at ease than in previous episodes of the series, and Davies writing is pitch-perfect.

Eccleston certainly has grown into the role of the Doctor, and it is a source of regret in many ways that hes not staying longer in the roll. However, the series has established a new tone for the Doctor, both more worldly than his predecessors while also retaining the best aspects of Tom Baker et al. The Doctor in this episode seemed happy with himself and his place in the universe, while at the same time demonstrating the sense of humour which has marked out the new series.

All in all then, I give Boom Town an enthusiastic top rating. The Slitheen came across as a more complex villain than had been suggested in the previous story, making the Doctor justify his philosophy and role in the universe. I fervently hope they make a later appearance! And so, roll on next week, and the next series! I can only hope David Tennant excels in the role as much as Christopher Eccleston.

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Of the 3 Slitheen episodes to date, this is far and away the best, but it still lacked enough action to be wholly satisfying.

It was, like FATHER'S DAY, too preoccupied with its concept of exploring the consequences of the Doctor's lifestyle. This meant that the potentially exciting plot of Cardiff succumbing to pan-dimensional nuclear destruction was allowed to go out with a whimper.

Having said that, it went a long way towards making the Slitheen's race a slightly more rounded one than before - we learned a lot in our 45 minutes about the race's social structure, life cycle, and morality than a single episode should really have time for. As in DALEK, we even find a moment that allows a little empathy with the bad guy.

Some nice touches include the Doctor and Rose commenting on the appearance of the Bad Wolf motif, a cameo by the guy who played the undertaker in Remembrance of the Daleks, and some good lines.

Ultimately, though, the episode suffered mainly from coming directly after the sublime THE DOCTOR DANCES. However, anyone who thought the series would slope away from that peak can be heartened by the teaser for Episode 12. It would seem that BOOM TOWN! serves the role of a pause for breath. Because lets face it, dear reader, the next episode looks like one hell of a roller coaster...

Next Time, folks...

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There has been some criticism that this series has favoured character over plot especially in RTD written pieces. Boom Town is another such character study. But, that is exactly what this episode should be. If you were to look at the first season as one interlocking story, better linking than the E-space trilogy, Black Guardian trilogy or even the Key to Time season, you would want to step back and take a breath after the adventures so far. In this guise Dr Who can afford to do this. I couldn’t be sure that this episode would have worked earlier in the season but as the calm before the storm of the last two episodes it works perfectly.

I would have to say as a proposal it doesn’t look interesting. Even as a trailer it didn’t overly appeal. I’m sure if you have problems with the Slitheen too the episode doesn’t look like it will win you over.

Coming in as a new critic to anything (I’ve never commented to anything in writing prior to this new series – some of you may have noticed horrendous grammar and spelling mistakes and possibly even contradictions), I have been conscious of not overly praising the series (possibly just to show I am paying attention). But, it turns out to be one of the best pieces of the season so far and it must put those RTD critics to shame.

Everyone shines in this episode with special mention to (again a guest star) Annette Badland as the remaining Slitheen who delivers her sinister side against comedy and pathos. The viewer really does want her to survive by the end of the episode. Her actions are justified as is her need to escape. She doesn’t hang around like a Sontaran experimenting on mankind. She just wants to leave. Badland’s vocal talents also give further meaning to the excellent scene with the revealed Slitheen discussing families and, like the Dalek mutant beforehand, this effect delivers emotion. Eccleston is a perfect foil and is quite engaging throughout from his quip about buying dinner with captain Jack, his suspicions surrounding “Bad Wolf” ( I wish I could work out all the references – I’ve got some but not all) and, well, actually the list goes on. Noel Clarke continues to improve as Mickey but I thought he still looked a bit like the Auton version. I promise I will do an overview of Billie Piper before the end of the season but her performances remain faultless.

John Barrowman as Captain Jack though, (or maybe it’s just Jack) didn’t follow up his impressive debut with much to do. I have criticized the gay undertones before but am getting used to them now and after reading other reviews can appreciate they are generally harmless. Besides I am more than happy to watch Barrowman in a tight T-shirt any time. Unfortunately his character didn’t really have much to do which again becomes a trait of the male co-stars (Mickey now having redeemed himself).

The story had a bit of science-fiction at its resolution; I suppose to satisfy the kids and those who need a bit of action. I mean even Buffy’s “The Body” had a Vampire fight. In the right place these character pieces will be a welcome addition and I expect that I am actually going to feel a lot of sadness when this Doctor departs, more so than I have probably felt for any other incarnation.

This has become RTD’s best piece of writing in this series and I’m tempted to place it third (or fourth) after The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and The Unquiet Dead.

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When there's a general air of expectation that a story probably won't live up to the standard of others in a Dr Who season it can very often be the case that the finished article is better than anticipated. This is certainly the case with Boom Town,which isn't going to win any story of the season poll but which beats Long Game as the best RTD scripted story thus far in my opinion.

The story itself,rather like Planet of Fire for example,has that almost end of term,calm before the storm feel about it as we initially see the Tardis crew happy and relaxed,the Tardis having stopped off to refuel in Cardiff. The fun never lasts that long when the Doctor's around however and pretty soon he sees a familiar face on the front page of a local paper. As the story begins to unfold there's a brilliant Bad Wolf interlude creating a sense of foreboding reminiscent to the scene where the Master took over Tremus's body at the end of the Keeper of Traken thereby ushering in the beginning of the end for the Fourth Doctor.

The Cardiff setting gave RTD the chance to take a swipe at the authorities in England who couldn't possibly concern themselves with something like a planet-threatening return of a Slitheen outside of the M25. In this character driven episode,the exchanges between Rose and Mickey/Ricky were standard fayre whereas the key restaurant scene between the Doctor and Margaret Slitheen was just fantastic,to coin a phrase; infact the idea of happily strolling to a restaurant for a jolly little meal with a rather nasty alien who'd destroy the Earth given half a chance is brilliant enough even before any dialogue commences. Davies is a modern writer expressing the long-held liberal view that punishment isn't an acceptable response even to the most heinous of criminals committing the most heinous of crimes on the basis that by punishing them you become no better yourself. The Tardis solves the moral dilemma by regressing Margaret to an egg thereby allowing the Doctor to drop her off so she can begin again after appearing to show limited remorse for her appalling actions although how neatly this plot device fits in with the notion of facing up to the consequences of your actions. . . . well,I'll have to view the episode again and try and work that out. What I do know is that we had some riveting scriptwriting there and overall less of the obvious levity that almost blighted the earlier RTD stories;even the gas exchange wasn't as much of a problem in this story.

What is apparent from this and the preceding story is how well CE has settled in to the role of the Doctor. If he had only stayed even for one more season his could have been one of the great portrayals but now we shall never know. Of the supporting cast,Captain Jack didn't have much to do as the odd man out in the character driven exchanges but does seem to have settled in to his part well.

Although I initially cringed at the Weakest Link/Big Brother connections with the next story,having seen the preview I can honestly say I don't think I've ever looked forward to a Dr Who story this much. Indeed I could cheerfully strangle the minority who have bashed this excellent series. . . but wait!That isn't an appropriate response. Perhaps they too can be regressed,come to the series afresh and congratulate RTD and his team on a very successful season indeed.

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Its 18:55 on Saturday the 4th June 2005 and there are three episodes to go........

It still feels odd watching Doctor Who on a Saturday night, suddenly it's 1979, Tom Bakers penultimate season and I'm 3 years old hiding from the Daleks behind my grandparent's sofa. That was the last time I properly remember seeing Doctor Who on a Saturday, seeing it again after all those years has been a joy. The show I care about has come back and it's great, it's not badly written, has no awful production values and the majority of the episodes have been of a higher quality than most the episodes in the eighties / early nineties.

Boom town opens in quite a novel way, and gets better from there. It doesn't have huge alien ships or classic aliens but what it does have and what Russell T Davies excels at is interpersonal dialogue and character driven plots.

It's your standard plot line involving a nuclear power plant and potential world disaster however once again it's just a mask for some character driven development and how wonderful it is. I won't bother recounting the plot here as no doubt other reviewers will but needless to say it involves the last Slitheen from Aliens of London who's alive and well and still up to diabolical schemes in Wales.

The performances were quite outstanding, with Annette Badland in particular putting in a wonderful performance of somebody who quite literally just can't be good. We saw a vulnerable and soft side that was quite literally playing the Doctor for a fool.

Noel Clarke as Mickey was on form, the scenes between him and Rose were excellent and for the first time you really saw what he could do acting wise. Playing the jilted and hurt boyfriend arguing with Rose and earlier communicating with the Doctor and not just trading insults you felt it was more friendly banter with no animosity between them. If this how the character of Mickey is going to progress then he should come back next season.

There's no point talking about Chris or Billie as once again they chewed through the script with effortless ease. Tragically John Barrowman had very little to do, although with Billie verbally sparring as Rose with Mickey and the Doctor having a final meal with the Slitheen (who's name was revealed but I'm not even going to attempt to type it) there was not much for him to do. However some nice banter with the Doctor at the beginning of the episode and a nice scene with everybody having a meal helped cement him in as a permanent member of the TARDIS crew.

Throw in a more obvious and explicitly mentioned bad wolf reference (not to mention the link appearing on the Doctor Who website and the bad wolf website going on-line) and you had a nice little story arc.

There was one problem with the episode though, the three main cast work well together, very well in fact almost like a family. Having the realisation that there are now only two episodes left does leave me wanting so many more episodes from them, and yet knowing that at least one of the cast are leaving only leaves a twinge of sadness for the last two episodes.

It's 19:45 on Saturday the 4th June 2005 and there are now only two episodes to go........

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A low key episode this week, very much an interlude in the series between the dramatic high of last week and what promises to be a spectacular concluding two parter starting next week. This story allows Russell T. Davies to excel at his characterisation, as we are once again confronted with the moral problems associated with the Doctor’s travels through time. Mickey returns to find his girl friend not just travelling with the Doctor but yet another man- the preternaturally handsome Captain Jack. We learn of other adventures in the TARDIS as well as Rose refers to visiting other planets with the Doctor, which is something she has yet to do in this series.

The presence of the Slitheen and the proposal to build a nuclear power plant in the centre of Cardiff were prominent in the trailers for this show. This turns out to be a nice bit of distraction by the producers as it leaves the audience with the expectation that this is going to be another run around save the world type romp that the first Slitheen story was. Instead we have a more thoughtful study of morality, retribution and redemption.

Annette Badland practically steals the show as ‘Margaret’ the one surviving Slitheen who is defeated by the Doctor and faces death on return to her home world. The best writing is in the scenes between the Doctor and Margaret, who swings between being coldly manipulative and pleading for her life.

One really feels for poor Mickey in this episode, for we already know from Father’s Day that Rose was indelibly imprinted on his psyche when he was still a young boy. Therefore when Rose rings him from Cardiff to tell him that she needs her passport and can he bring it up for her, of course he comes running to see her. We see the TARDIS crew very much from his point of view- very much a scene he cannot get into- a bunch of self-serving hedonists on an eternal jolly. Even when they involve him in the capture of Margaret he cannot get it right, whilst Captain Jack athletically vaults over obstacles Mickey runs straight into them and ends up with a bucket on his foot.

John Barrowman has very little to do this episode apart from look buff and fiddle with the TARDIS. The TARDIS itself is the one who saves the day in the end, as we learn a little more about this enigmatic living machine.

The subplot involving the nuclear power station does have one more useful purpose, for the name of the project is Blaidd Drwg, Welsh for ‘Bad Wolf’. For the first time the presence of these two words ‘following us around the universe’ is acknowledged by the Doctor and Rose. However the Doctor quickly dismisses the idea as just a trick of the mind, an unconscious mechanism where you notice something that would otherwise appear to be random and see a pattern. (This works much better on the screen, believe me!)

A lot of fans have been very derogatory about RTD’s writing for this season. I think the problem is that the writing on the other stories has generally been so good that he has seemed pretty banal in comparison. His strengths have generally been in the character based drama, some fans have suggested he should write soap, which I think is being unfair. In this episode we have less of the slap-stick puerile humour that was so irritating in the Aliens of London/ World War Three.

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Well, what a peculiar thing this was. As an episode it had something of a "filler" feel to it, not surprising when you consider the "all out assault on the senses" qualities of recent installments. On the upside "Boom Town" manages to tie up some loose ends, raise some interesting questions and, via some rich dialogue, approach the Doctor's relationship with his "enemy" from a new(-ish) angle.

First up, the downside - the exploration of Rose and Micky's relationship surely has no further mileage. I can appreciate RTD wanted to look at the issues raised by companions "dropping out" of their normal existence for a year or two ... and this HAS been an interesting new spin, but the storyline now seems to be taking up valuable screen time without moving us any further forward. The fact that Micky was the "prime suspect" in Rose's disappearance is funny and makes sense; the fact that he's now seeing the fat girl who works in the corner shop just seems irrelevant. The plot for the actual "meat" of this episode, despite being neat and compact, is not really enough to base a full story on - 1. Find Slitheen survivor, 2. Capture Slitheen survivor, 3. "Uncover" Slitheen plot, 4. Rig Tardis to use Slitheen "go faster stripes" device, 5. Realise Slitheen trap and, 6. “Clever” Tardis decides to degenerate Slitheen to egg. Furthermore, doesn't turning the Slitheen into an egg and giving it a "second chance at life" violate the principle set down in Father's Day regarding changes to time (although maybe starting a life afresh is not quite the same as allowing someone to cheat death). But I'm hesitant to quote Father's Day as I think we're going to find that the majority of future stories (as well as a good number of old ones) will fall foul of the "Father's Day rules".

On the upside, RTD's script was sparkling and managed the profound/funny shifts seamlessly. The Slitheen/Doctor "dinner date" covered a lot of ground and the two actors obviously relished every word without over-egging the scene. Although there's no getting away from the fact that the easiest thing would have been for the Doctor to have dumped the Slitheen on a remote moon (although that would have made for a very short story). And did "Bad Wolf" really need to be flagged so obviously? Maybe RTD thinks we hadn't noticed yet ...

More pluses ... good production values on the "urban apocalypse"; there was a time when this would have been done with lots of dry ice smoke, breaking glass sound FX and stock footage of burning buildings. And I liked Rose's reference to other planets that she'd seen - obviously the adventures that we see here are not entirely linear, the Tardis goes to other times and places in between. But Captain Jack is under used, especially as his interaction with his cohorts is of such a high quality.

Overall, I rate this a 6 out of 10. Despite that, I defy anybody (other than RTD) to fit Welsh Nationalism, sexual mores, press reporting ethics, government nuclear policy (are you watching Sellafield?), inter-galactic legal issues, the whole "nature vs. nurture" argument AND bi-sexual banter into 45 minutes of primetime British TV. Bring on Bad Wolf!

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Well we've had a wonderful past two weeks in war-torn London and it's back to gritting your teeth over RTD's emotionally labile character pieces and wondering how far he'll go this time!

Boom Town wasn't too bad all in all. I didn't hate it (cf my rant over the previous Slitheen episodes) and I definitely caught myself smiling. There's some fantastic dialogue in this episode - the last Slitheen's attempt to talk the doctor out of what he's doing is a wonderfully structured and well delivered piece of drama. It also put alot of emphasis on one the suspension of disbelief that we've so cherished as a necessary skill in doctor who appreciation! To have an intense and wordy exchanged between two actors in a restaurant where one is the last of an ancient time-travelling race and the other is a large green baby-faced alien criminal in disguise and carry it off so smoothly is quite an acheivement for the new series. Somehow it didn't seem like a cheap cop-out that they were just two actors with no special effects or dressing - probably because the writing was so good (the antithesis of Star Wars?).

However... sometimes RTD's episodes do come over as enormously unsubtle attempts to ram emotional drama down our throats. The dialogue all too frequently sounds like a first draft, reading like a script rather than something entierly believable. Partly because of this and partly because he uses so much dramatic short hand to make points, it all comes across as rather childish - which is such a shame when the guest writers have shown how you can appeal to children, be funny, clever and scarey without looking like toddlers' tv.

And if arch emotional drama is RTD's strong point, plot and sci-fi are not something he seems to find quite difficult. Now, I'd never claim that Doctor Who was straight sci-fi - it's a bit closer to LOTR than Star Trek - but despite the amount of fantasy inherent in the show (dimensional transcendentalism, time travel etc) there are some things that really require more of an explanation. The TARDIS showing the Slitheen its heart and hence making it regress into and egg was really a bit lazy. Fine have the TARDIS miraculously save the day if you're not going to really bother with plot but PLEASE give it a bit more credibility. Keeping the TARDIS mystical is great - sentient machine all the way good good - but this isn't mystery, it's melodrama.

-actually, I'm afraid this episode has transgressed too many sacred rules (in my head) and I'm going to have to get very anal...

Regressing to an egg?!!! Sorry to get on my science high-horse but this is so far off sci-fi it's getting a bit silly - why not just have all sorts of clocks flying around the time vortex cuz they've got something to do with time?! (You'll have to forgive me some more...) virtually none of the matter contained within her egg would be present in her adult body (alien-schmalien) so how could the TARDIS recover that material? If it isn't the same material then the egg technically isn't her and there's nothing other than biology and chance linking her to any matter that has been part of her during her life so there's no way the TARDIS could trace it - unless you go into the whole bbc novels' 'biodata' explanation for anything a bit too symbolic for sci-fi ...which would be OK, but do you thing RTD though about that- NO HE DID NOT!! He was too busy thinking about (really rather good) scenes with people being emotional and stuff. Grrrr!

Anyway none of that really matters except when you put it next to last week's wonderfully intelligent explanation for a symbolicly charged event - the nano genes recognising maternal DNA and re-addressing their model for what a human should be as an explanation for teenage mother acknowledges her son surrounded by golden glow and love brings people back to life... Hey! Do you think that Grace and Chang Li coming 'back to life' in the TV movie could be Gallifreyan nano genes from the Eye of Harmony?.... that would certainly put my mind at ease ;)

-Daleks next week. Interesting to see what RTD does with them.

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Episodes of Doctor Who in 2005 are too precious to waste, but Boom Town! was a missed opportunity to re-invent Inferno, one of the best stories of the Pertwee era.

What was the point of this episode? Seemingly, it was to provide more 'domestic' and further pick away at the moral credibility of the Doctor's character.

The 'domestic' is presumably meant to provide continuity through a season of (mostly) single episode stories, but I sense that most fans would rather this continuity came in the form of multi-episode stories like the excellent Empty Child duo.

Grounding Rose's character in the present day (her ongoing relationship with Mickey and, in previous episodes, her phone calls home to Mum) goes a long way towards undermining the premise of the new season, namely that to have an adventure and live her life to the full she was prepared to leave all that behind. It surely dampens the sense of adventure if you are never further than a ring-tone away from home. Doctor Who in 2005 is just too safe.

Would any previous Doctor have complied in the execution of the last Slitheen? Why did RTD devote an entire episode to this moral dilemma, which can only leave us feeling less sure of the central character? Admittedly, the scene in which 'Margaret' challenged the Doctor about his always moving on and leaving destruction in his wake was intelligent, but this theme is the stuff of self-reflexive moments, not whole 45 minute episodes. We haven't waited 16 years for a new Doctor Who just to see the concept deconstructed, however cleverly.

Combined with his smugness (seemingly infectious in this episode) and emotional insecurity, the Doctor's vindictive moral grandstanding is very off-putting.

Am I the only one who felt that the unsatisfactory and unexplained ending, in which the TARDIS literally provided the 'dues ex machina', did more to undermine the mystery and wonder of that machine than to enhance it?

Reference to Venom Grub was amusing, though - would Bill Strutton have imagined it in 1965? And Mickey got the best lines.

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Fantastic character piece. The team of Doctor, Rose, Captain Jack with Mickey along for the ride was brilliantly inspired. This makes you realise they made the right decision in keeping jack on instead of Adam. Lets just hope he survives through till season 2.

The story itself was great, the sci fi threat took a back seat to characterization and it worked so so well. I truly felt sorry for Mickey, but at the same time can perfectly understand Rose for wanting to go on her adventures. Was a nice touch to hear of different planets she had been too, as on TV we have only seen her on Earth and space stations above Earth.

It was also nice to see some great banter between Captain Jack and the Doctor, last weeks the banter was with Rose and this time he had some great banter with the Doctor.

It was also inspired to bring back the female Slitheen. She was a great actress and her sparring with the Doctor was brilliant. I loved and laughed out loud at the scenes of her running away teleporting and the Doctor keep teleporting her back. Hilarious when it happened 3 times before she said "what have I ever done to you".

The effects when the Rift broke up was brilliant, and the tourist board at Cardiff must have been very happy. This episode made Cardiff look amazing.

I actually thought it was a shame she became an egg, as I would have liked to have seen the Slitheen again. But we did hear that there was other family on other planets, so maybe we will see them again.

The character of Mickey who seemed to be the weakest in the episode Rose, was brilliant here. I thought during the original Slitheen 2 parter he was good, better than the episode Rose, but in this episode he has become a character in his own right. Shame Jackie never put in an appearance though. I also liked how the Doctor likes Mickey now. Which was great fun.

Overall Russell T Davies and his team delivered a brilliant character piece, well written, funny and acted perfectly. And the trailer for next weeks looks pretty damn good too.

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Well, it worked for me.

Sandwiched between what I regard as an instant classic (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) and the much anticipated conclusion to this season, I suspect that 'Boom Town' will divide opinion, as the previous Slitheen outing certainly did. I found that two-parter an enjoyable romp with much to recommend it, but in keeping with the general upward curve of the season, I prefered this story.

Annette Badland has a lot to do with this. A barn-storming, multi-layered performance by an extremely talented actress. With only one of the slitheen family appearing and with sparing use of its true form, this was a more character based story that had intriguing things to say about the Doctor's lifestyle, but threw a lot more into the mix in a satisfying way. I think this was my favourite RTD story to date.

A good 'teaser' to set the scene, and I immediately felt that the story was in good hands with the estimable Joe Ahearne. The Cardiff Bay setting worked well and looked lovely. This added a personal dimension as I work down the bay and pass these 'locations' all the time. ("Ooh, I know that pub!")

The easy interaction in the TARDIS between Rose, 'Ricky' , 'Jumping Jack Flash (AKA Fly Boy)' and 'Big Ears' was a delight. You really feel that you *know* these characters now and the programme seems to be oozing confidence. Poor Mickey is treated as an outsider at first, but he very much holds his own in this episode. When 'the dynamic trio' seem a bit full of themselves, he'll say so , and his relationship with Rose developes convincingly throughout, right up to the point where Rose realise "he deserves better". Okay, Mickey runs slap bang into a trolley whilst Jack dashingly leaps over one, but this just helps to make the character endearing; Noel Clarke's best performance to date. When he walked away at the conclusion, I thought "Good on you, mate."

The dialogue throughout sparkled. I particularly enjoyed Chris Ecclestone's delivery of the line "She's climbing out of the window, isn't she." The scene with 'Margaret' running away, then back, then away, then back...very amusing. A hint of things to come toowith an overt reference to 'Bad wolf'...ahh, good Doctor Who has always had light and shade.

I thought the key scene in this episode was where 'Margaret' and the Doctor go for her 'last meal'. Again I thought this mixed the funny and the serious successfully. Poisoned wine, lethal dart and *very* bad breath...easily countered by the Doctor. But then....we have a graphic description of how the slitheen will be executed, her pleading and the Doctor's measured response ("You're pleading for mercy out of a dead woman's lips.")

Okay, the pregnant young journalist was spared, but the Doctor points out; "So you let one of them go...that's nothing new...that's how you live with yourself." Fascinating concepts discussed by two aliens over staek and chips...marvellous. (Nice tight close-ups, too, Mr Ahearne!)

The conclusion, with the 'heart' of the TARDIS coming into play reminded me a bit of the Paul McGann TV movie, but thankfully this had a *much* better script. ("Stand back, boys. Surf's up!")

So 'Margaret' gets a second chance, encouraged by the Doctor. ("Look inside...") A nice resolution that some will probably see as a cop-out, but I liked it. (Adam didn't really get a second chance and how many people did he skin or murder, eh??? Sorry, still an unusually sour point in this series, I think. But honestly, I'm not taking this too seriously!)

So, easily an 8 out of 10...and the end is in sight. I suspect things are about to get a bit emotional!

By the way, anyone who thinks the slitheen becoming Mayor of my beloved city is unlikely...well, we've had some pretty dodgy people in that role before! And the new PM wouldn't have noticed cos Cardiff is pretty irrelevant to Westminster...

(Actually, it was pushing credibility more than somewhat, but hey...nothing new in this lovely programme!!)

Here comes the Bad Wolf.......

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Eek... The return of the Slitheen. Or just one of them. This episode had some connotations with "Dalek" as the lone Slitheen survivor makes a break for it. I was fairly critical of the two earlier episodes involving the Slitheen though I did enjoy the episodes, I felt the farting monsters were a bit infantile. So it was with some trepidation when I discovered last week that Boom Town was to see the return of the bug eyed B-list monster!

But Russell T Davies deserves a lot of credit for this episode which I throughly enjoyed from start to finish. It was fresh, slick and investigated the Dr's ultimate decision in administering death. The surrounding sub-plot of Mickey and Rose was nicely done, and Captain Jack is becoming quite a star on his own, adding another dimension to the Tardis crew. I was not sure whether I was going to like Captain Jack or not... but the character has grown on me and I hope he stays around for the next series.

Thankfully, the Slitheen business was kept pretty much to a minimum and the acting was superb. Some great sequences involving the Dr and the Slitheen in its female form as the Mayor of Cardiff. There was some very good close up camera shots of some fairly frosty confrontations involving whether the Dr is doing God's work for him. What gives him the right to make him decide who should live and who should die? All very profound stuff ... and in a rather civilised setting in a top class Welsh restaurant!

It appears that Doctor Who is now reaching its end in the series but this episode along with The Doctor Dances have both been brilliant (while The Empty Child was a little bit plodding and never really got going in my view).

The business involving Rose and Mickey was well done but I kind of felt it was going over old ground already investigated in Aliens of London and did not really offer anything new. Christopher Eccleston's portrayal of the Dr is very enjoyable and I still feel it is a great shame that he is leaving. He manages to hit the right balance of being a wee bit loopy ... but nice with it too. I felt the likes of Slyvestor McCoy and Colin Baker never quite managed that. But Eccleston has certainly delivered a somewhat vulnerable Dr more in keeping with Peter Davison's likeness.

The episode was more about relationships and the true character of the Dr in confronation with a villain who he gets the chance to exchange pleasantries with over dinner. There was a bit of all out action at the end but that added to it in many respects.

There have been some very good shock scenes in the series so far and this is where I have really enjoyed Dr Who. Examples being the the Dr entering the shell of the Tardis in Father's Day, Rose's supposed last words to the Dr as the Dalek approaches her, and the early Auton attack in "Rose" are among the stand outs. I liked the Dr's stunned shock on seeing the local newspaper in the cafe and realising the Slitheen had escaped. That was in keeping with this.

The other element of shock, though there was quite a lot of intrigue, was the Dr''s realisation of the words "Bad Wolf" following him about on his travels. While it has been inescapable (even for the good Dr one would have thought!) to escape spoilers about the forthcoming episodes. I thought this short piece was neatly done and then the Dr just dismissed it out of hand.

The ending and the power of the Tardis being something of an unknown quantity was a delightful final touch to a well-made, expertly crafted story. While it did not have all the doom and disaster of other episodes, Boom Town featured a lot more character development and finished in style. The episode might not be rememebered as the best of the new series but I think it was actually a jolly good romp with a myriad of nice touches thrown in for good measure. While it was under-stated at times because of its general lack of action, I think that was a good thing, and was more of an investigaton of the rights and wrongs of the Dr's time-travelling. When one life is expendable, where could it all end. Very profound stuff. A searching story which leaves plenty to ponder over.

So despite my initial fears about the Slitheen, I thought the show was very well handled, funny and sad at times, and full of intrigue.

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I only have one real problem with “Boomtown”. I am getting very sick of Earth.

I love Doctor Who and I think this new series has been, in a word, fantastic! However, in the entire run of Doctor Who (except of course the Jon Pertwee exile episodes), never has modern day Earth been such a focal point of the series. I don’t live in London or Cardiff, I live in the US but I still know what modern day life looks like. Sure a large green alien (of whom I could have done without a second appearance as well, more on that in a bit) and a rift in time and space aren’t something you see everyday but for the most part the London/Cardiff episodes are based a little too much in reality for my tastes. I love Chris Eccelston, I love Billie Piper and I think the new addition of Captain Jack is awesome. Jack is one of those types of characters that seems like you should think he’s a jerk but he’s actually very cool, very funny and a nice fit for this TARDIS crew. I hope he sticks around. Still, some of the planets Rose describes to Ricky/Mickey that the Doctor took her to…. Frozen waves 100 feet tall and miles of beaches, Glass pyramids…they sound like excellent backdrops for a story and mentioning them in modern day Cardiff but not showing them almost announces the fact that they don’t have the budget to properly show areas they want to show.

I am starting to see the limitations of this show. Because the quality has been so good, and the effects have become “mainstream”, that is the effects are now on par with the rest of television, it will not be possible to have a story placed anywhere but locations where effect shots can be perfect. Think of all of the old episodes of Doctor Who. Think about the acid rivers and large pyramid in ‘The Keys of Marinus’, the strange locations of ‘Trial of a Timelord’ … there are dozens of locations they could film or create in the old series and because the budgets were obviously low they made due with what they had and there was a magic and charm in what they created. It’s becoming like the 1977 Star Wars trilogy versus the newer “more modern” Star Wars trilogy. The olf movies (at least the first two) had little or no budget and they are fantastic. The crews that created these movies worked magic with the little or no resources they had to work with and as a result created something the world had never seen. The new movies are filmed in three weeks and then thrown on the desk of an 18 year old computer programmer to turn it into a movie. I fear the same thing happening to our beloved Doctor Who. If they can’t meet their standards of special effects than we get a story on Earth in modern times. Next week looks promising, even though it’s based on a reality show on modern day Earth, they show the host is a robot and the Daleks make an appearance. If there are Daleks who escaped maybe there are Timelords…. We can only hope.

Oh and I almost forgot…Bad Wolf!! They writers are SO MEAN! The Doctor just about stumbles upon the fact that there has been a ‘Bad Wolf’ reference in almost every episode and then brushes it away! I’m sure he really does realize something is up about it but wow how mean to almost touch on it and then take it away like that! We are nearing the end of the series and we can only hope that this is part of what kills the Ninth Doctor. How strange though that the Slitheen came up with that name “at random”! And the “Heart of the TARDIS” … is that the Eye of Harmony? And when can we see something more than the Console Room of the TARDIS? So many questions are raised by this show, I hope that we get at least a few answers before Chris and Billie exit stage left.

Overall, this episode had some of the best moments between the cast and the best dialogue of the entire run, I just hope we get to see a few different locations by the end of the series. Chris said in an interview for the first Doctor Who Confidential that part of the magic of Doctor Who is not knowing where each show would take place and I think this show needs some of that magic back. Other than that, brilliant as always and I can’t wait to see those little pepperpots again next week!

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I know many will see Boom Town as following the trend of Russell T Davies episodes not living up to those of other writers. Myself, yes I found this episode didn't quite achieve what it set out to do, but am also quick to defend Mr Davies from criticisms of this so-called 'trend'.

You see, I like his writing. A lot. This whole series style is his baby after all. TYhe emoptional undercurrent, the plot and character development are all his, reghardless of who actually wrote the episode in question. And, I also have to keep reminding myself that he wrote my second favourite episode this season, 'The End of the World".

Where Boom Town fails is in seeming to havew no real plot struucture. Just when you think you know which direction the plot is moving, it shoots off in a different direction. The power station plan gets dismissed very early on, without ever actually being resolved. (So the mayor has disappeared. Does that mean the town won't go ahead and open the power plant anyway?) Tyhe dinner scene was obviously meant to present us with an interesting exploration of the ethics and morals of our hero and villain, but as it was interspersed with witty one-liners and a bit of slapstickk, any dramatic effect was lost.

And that, I think, has been a majopr failing of the Slitheen all along., Because they have always been presented to us as a race we can't take seriously, a family of farting alien conmen, the attempt to give pathos to the last survivor was always fighting an uphill battle.

The Mickey / Rose subplot caught me by surprisse with the talk of hotel rooms etc. Characters in Dr Who actually planning to have sex? Extra-marital and dirty weekend style? Somehow it just didn't sit right. Although it was good to finally address the long overdue fallout of Rose's eagerness to leave Mickey for the Doctor in the first place.

Captain Jack I haven't made my mind up about yet. So far he seems to be only on board the TARDIS to provide bisexual innuendos and give tech talk when the Doctor's otherwise engaged. He really seemed surplus to requirements here and I hope that isn't something that we can expect in the future.

A disjointed and an ultimately unsatisfying episode that ended before it ever really started. Forty five minutes in search of a plot.

Then of course was the trailer for next week. I wonder at the concept of robotised game show parodies as I can see a fine line between clever and just plain silly about to be walked. And then the whole thing was saved with those final few seconds of the true enemy coming into play. I punched the air! I screamed! I can't bloody wait!

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What initially looked like it could be the worst episode of the season (the Slitheen again? GOD, NO!) turned out to be one of the best. 'Boom Town!' is easily the sharpest of Russell T Davis' episodes to date, as he finally throws off the reluctance to write non-traditional Who stories which has stymied him all year and lets rip with a smart, funny piece of TV drama that just happens to feature a gang of folks who travel through time and space.

The opening five minutes or so were depressingly similar to the slightly cringeworthy Slitheen tale from earlier this season, but the moment Margaret decides not to kill her pregnant victim we find ourselves in a far more complex, thoughtful tale.

The opening section with the beautifully-balanced TARDIS crew of three is an absolute joy. Three friends (you get the impression that Jack has been around a little longer than simply joining the crew last week) who are having a ball gallavanting around the universe share stories and jokes with Mickey, who has travelled to Cardiff to bring Rose her passport. The real strength of having a Doctor Who with full, proper season-long story arcs is really starting to show now, with all of the Doctor's previous visits to present day earth this season as well as his encounter with the Gelth all referenced.

The group's capture of the last Slitheen was both comic and enjoyable, and a small reference back to the The End of the World in the Doctor's skill with teleporters flags up yet another indication that we are getting near The End of the Season.

What followed was the real meat of the episode, however, as the Slitheen tells the TARDIS crew that returning her to her homeworld will lead to her death, challenging them to face the gravity of their actions. Rose and Mickey disappear off together for a reunion which reveals all the tensions underlying their closure-free relationship while the Doctor and Slitheen share a last meal, during which the Timelord is forced to defend his decision to allow her to die.

The final few minutes are devoted to a near-apocalypse and face-off which seems is a bit contrived (particularly the rather odd resolution), but it's the dialogue and character development which rule 'Boom Town!' The episode is all about responsibility for decisions which change (or end) lives forever. Rose is starting to appreciate the hurt she has caused and the Doctor's transient life is hinted at as nothing more than running away from the pain caused by the Time War.

All this, and a spine-tingling Bad Wolf moment which is both anticipation-building fabulous and laugh-out-loud funny.

Next week's trailer looked a bit dodgy at first (reality TV British style with robots?!) but then our favourite killing machines rolled into view, complete with an armada of warships, and I was fit to burst. We are getting very close to a Parting that, after 11 great weeks of adventure, drama and humour, I'm not sure I'm ready to face.

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WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?

Of all the new races to reprise, why on earth the Slitheen, possibly one of the least impressive or believeable alien races in the history of Who?

As you might guess I wasn't too impressed at this, but then apart from the first two episodes of the new series, I haven't been impressed by RTD's writing contributions full stop. Consider: in The Unquiet Dead, Dalek, Father's Day and Empty Child/Doctor Dances, we have stories absolutely up with the best of old Who, with tight plotting, excellent characterisation and scripting, not to mention an emotional tug and surprise angles. In the Aliens of London/WW3 debacle and the superficial Long Game, there was silliness to the point where it was difficult to care what happened at all, not least as the Ninth Doctor, despite Eccleston's best efforts, being portrayed as inconsistent, often ineffectual, and at times callous and indifferent.

At the outset of Boom Town!, it felt like several episodes had been missed out, such was the camaraderie of the crew, despite the fact that in our terms, Captain Jack had only really joined the TARDIS at the conclusion of the previous excellent two-parter. The character of Mickey, having shown promise in WW3, now seemed shoehorned back into the storyline, serving little purpose. In a similar fashion to RTD's last effort, The Long Game, the story felt overly rushed, with too little time to digest what was going on.

It has been said by many writers that the biggest problem with Eighties Dr Who was an inconsistency of tone and at times too much style over content. Frustratingly this series appears to suffer the same problem; much of it has been excellent, emotionally involving and intelligent as well as integrating character and humour, but it has at times lurched from triumph to clunkers like this.

Cardiff was the setting, but it could have been anywhere, and it was hardly a great advert for the Welsh Tourist Board, unless any Cardiff-based fans can show me the error of my ways. In comparison to Steven Moffat's deft handling of the chemistry between the three leads, RTD's banter came across as clumsy and infantile. The repeated attempts of the Slitheen/Margaret character to teleport and the Doctor reversing the transport was overplayed and childish, much the same as with Adam's brain implant in The Long Game. Certainly Dr Who is meant to be enjoyable, fun even, but this was just silly.

I appreciate RTD's role in bringing back our favourite time traveller, and he is to be applauded, but arguably he should be leaving the actual writing of the stories to other hands. I hope the closing two parter proves me wrong.

Which brings me to my final gripe, and it's a big one. The BBC got it absolutely right at the end of Empty Child, warning those not wanting the cliffhanger spoiled to look away or leave the room. If only they had done so this week. Whilst this series' final adversaries could have been predicted, why ruin the surprise straight away? At least they could have warned us not to watch the teaser...

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Thank goodness the budget got tight. You see, for all the rushing around and fantastic adventures we've seen throughout the season, there's seldom been time to stop and catch our breath and just chew over some good, solid conversation and character work of the type we often hear in Big Finish. This episode, set entirely in Cardiff and bringing back a single Slitheen, was obviously done in part to save some money, but in the process, we got to have this other thing that the series has been mostly missing up until now.

The lynchpin of the episode is the scenes between the wonderful Annette Badland and the fantastic Christopher Eccleston around the dinner table as the Slitheen tries to convince the Doctor not to take her back to her own people and her certain death sentence. It's very interesting that she says all the right things to pluck at the Doctor's heartsstrings, yet he doesn't back down this time from what he thinks "must be done." He clearly doesn't like it, and we don't know if he really would have done it had it come down to it, but from what we've learned of this Doctor so far, I'm inclined to think he probably actually would have taken her to her death sentence. And again I wonder if this is his "war damage" coming through in his psyche... the time he most famously balked at an execution was back on Skaro in "Genesis of the Daleks" when he had the opportunity (so he thought) of destroying the Daleks for all time, and now that decision has come back to bite and swallow Gallifrey itself. Does he wish he could go back and "get it right" now? And would he try to not make that "mistake" (if that's how he sees it) a second time here with this Slitheen?

Getting back to her, I love how she tries to off him at the table three times and yet still has the gall to tell him how much she's changed, which she hasn't of course, although we do eventually discover that she truthfully wishes that she was different or could start over. That's the wish the TARDIS grants her at the end by regressing her back to being an egg, and it was a neat solution to the problem. I've heard some complain or point out that this is a deus ex machina, and in a sense I suppose that's exactly what the TARDIS is, but this isn't something just out of the blue. The whole sequence at the end looked almost the same as the climax of the McGann TV Movie, and I was expecting the TARDIS herself to finally put in a more pro-active appearance at some point (which she hadn't in the previous 10 episodes). I didn't quite see the egg bit coming, but even that's been done before... this ending looks a whole lot like that of "The Leisure Hive," where Pangol is regressed to being an infant so he can be brought up properly this time. (and that story also featured big aliens in tiny human body suit costumes... hmmm) New viewers might be a bit confused, I suppose, but even they should've got the hint that the old girl was going to be more involved than usual when they took the time to explain police boxes and the chameleon circuit in the early going, or later point out that they're actually using the "cell" function of a police box for real once they've captured the Slitheen, and there was also the refueling business. And that says a lot to fans too... the fact the TARDIS no longer has a limitless store of energy to draw on but must be refueled with temporal energy from time to time, which follows the fact that the Eye of Harmony would've been destroyed along with Gallifrey (or at least turned back into a normal black hole again without any energy infrastructure around it anymore).

What of our other characters? I'll start with the easy one (pun intended), and that's Captain Jack. I think John Barrowman should've taken his performance down a notch or two in this one... it was at the right level when WWII was going on all around him, but here when it's just domestic-looking present-day Cardiff, it seems too loud. It's interesting to note that he's got enough know-how to help the Doctor with the TARDIS systems and the refueling process... perhaps he'll be able to pilot it as well at some point?

And then we have Rose and Mickey and their romantic sub-plot, where Rose just can't quite cut the cord that still exists between them (as her not really needing her passport shows) even though she's clearly not coming back to him. She even gets charmingly upset with him for going out with someone else they knew, to the point that she completely forgets about the fantastic alien planets she was describing and wants to talk more about that girl. Mickey on the other hand is, by episode's end, very angry indeed with her, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if this doesn't factor into the season finale somehow. Perhaps the Bad Wolf will try to turn Mickey against her and the Doctor?

This is the episode where the Doctor first really notices that the words "bad wolf" are following them wherever they go, then tries to pretend it's a coincidence, but we know it isn't, and he clearly doesn't think it is either. At the same time, some hints are dropped which may have gone unnoticed as to just how interested the Bad Wolf is in the Doctor... I'm convinced that the entire Slitheen-builds-nuclear-power-station-on-the-rift plot was the Bad Wolf's idea, and that it is the one who supplied Margaret the Slitheen with her super surf board and gave her the idea of what to name the station, though I'm guessing Margaret isn't conscious of most of this. Also, given the points the Doctor makes again in this one about how the TARDIS telepathic field gets into your head to translate things for you, I wonder if this isn't some sort of telepathic attack or surveillance of them. (though I don't think it's from a TARDIS)

The direction was as solid as I've come to expect from Joe Ahearne now. I particularly liked the chase sequence where our four heroes manage to corner Margaret and how that was staged ("she's climbing out the window, isn't she?"), and the teleporter joke that looked like Margaret was doing John Cleese as Sir Lancelot in "The Holy Grail." Also the music wasn't offensive again... it's still not terrific, but Gold's scores are at least tolerable now, which they weren't sometimes earlier in the season.

I do have one true complaint about the episode, and that's how whoever is in charge of the special sound effects is at times using some stock Hollywood sound effects that have been in use in films and cartoons since TV began. Whoever you are, cut this out. It sounds childish and like you're taking the easy way out. If you're stumped for a sound effect, ring up someone who either does or did work at Big Finish and they'll teach you how it's done. And oh, you should also not use a TARDIS in-flight hum for the interior of someone else's spaceship like you did in Captain Jack's in the previous two episodes... it only creates confusion amongst the fans.

And I want to put in a good mention for Mail Harries as Cathy Salt, who gave a very good performance, and who I think is very cute.

Overall then: 8 out of 10 for "Boom Town" Good character stuff, mostly great acting, good direction... solid all around, except some sound FX.

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Having been slightly less then impressed with Rose, yet captivated by episodes 2 and 3, I had come to believe some aspects of the new series are fantastic, some of the best examples of Who ever to grace our screens, yet other aspects have been nothing short of abysmal. To me, Boomtown is a microcosm of the series, some brilliant moments mixed with the non-brilliant.

Here we have an episode in which not a great deal occurs. In surmation, the Doctor and his companions arrive in Cardiff, set about having a good time, discover one of those tiresome Slitheen people is not quite dead and is trying to blow up the aformentioned Welsh capital. Said Time Lord and companions then capture monster, threaten to take it home, discover home means execution, have a moral debate and then the TARDIS decides to make life easier and save everyone from having to make a moral choice.

Yet this is not to say that there is no excitement - we see some very funny banter between the new TARDIS crew, some extremely amusing scenes in the capture - Margaret Blaine [sic] climbing out of the window whilst still Mayor of Cardiff is for me the funniest moment of the series thus far - whilst the restuarant scenes are extremely intense. Also, while many Who fans have been unimpressed with the more domestic aspects of the series, I was genuinely impressed with RTD's exploration of the effects of Rose's travelling upon Mickey, in a superbly acted scene.

However, much of this episode left me cold. Firstly the set up itself seemed to me a little 'fanish', going back and revisiting plot devices that have already served their function. Although I can see the intention behind this, to show an already vanquished enemy pleading with the Dr. for mercy, I found it difficult to feel sorry for the Slitheen. This being has recently attempted genocide, has killed countless innocents and is once again intent upon reaping destruction of an entire planet. This being has already been given a chance by the Dr. to walk away, but instead laughed at the suggestion. In my mind, Blon was going to everything she deserved. Alternatively, the Dr. could surely have found an alternative punishment, handed the Slitheen over to other authorities, exiled it on an unihabited planet, yet here we are told there is only a black and white choice. Yet we do not even see the Dr. make this choice, the TARDIS does it for him.

What is more this episode follows another trend that has presided over Dr. Who in all its forms for a decade - the examination of death, the costs of the Dr.'s lifestyle. This is all very interesting, but yet again the Dr. is accused of wrong doing, of causing death, yet this is somewhat blind to the fact that the Dr. usually prevents death. Few of the people who die in the course of his adventures, die by his hands, there is often mercy for his enemies, the universe is made better by the Dr. I felt the restaurant scenes while intense missed the point - the Dr. is facing accusations from a murderous criminal whose sole motivation is profit. In contrast, for example, to the Big Finish Unbound adventure, 'Symapthy for the Devil', where the Master does a similar thing, there is the context that the Master believes in his own twisted head he is making the universe better; he accuses the Dr. of hypocracy, only helping the "right" people, failing to stop greater suffering, his evocative mention of Chairman Mao's admiration for the Dr. Boom Town misses all this. The Dr. is accused of being a murderer, by a murderer. The Dr. simply is not a murderer.

This along with the unsatisfactory ending, left me unsatisfied by this week's offering. I felt the plotting was simply not strong enough, the aspects of the story had not been properly thought through. I would have much rather seen the Dr. discover another Time Lord had survived (as earlier rumours suggested) and find out a little more about the Time War, than have watched this.

In my opinion, this episode is also an example of RTD taking on too much. Eight episodes is a vast number and the quality gap between some of the RTD episodes and those of the other writers has been very noticeable. This, I do not believe, is a symptom of RTD not being as good a writer as his hired help, I believe its a symptom of him not having the time to work on each episode properly. His skills as a writer are indeed awesome when it comes to writing dialouge and character, but his plots are often sloppy, his over reliance on magic gadgets worrying. It seems the sonic screwdriver can do anything, without explanation. I am coming to worry that RTD has underestimated the signifance of plot in action-adventure, which is what Who is. Dramas, such as those that have made him a televisual beomouth, don't need the tight plotting, but the sci-fi action adventure genre does - people will buy into virtually anything provided the fantasy coheres to itself, so long as it has its own laws that it obeys - Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, all these fantasy worlds make sense within themselves. If Dr. Who does not, then the slick execution that has captivated audiences can only keep them engrossed for so long. The generally negative reaction of many fans of the new series to this episode is surely the evidence that poor plotting will not go down well with the dedicated viewer. While many people are tuning in now for the novelty, if the series is to go on, it needs to keep a big core of viewers.

Although this perhaps seems like a doom and gloom monologue as to how Who is doomed, please do not take it as such. The excellence is there, I merely worry that RTD will not learn from his mistakes and may make them again with increasing regularity. The rating and audience approval were no doubt high again, but I doubt an entire season of Boom Town's would capitvate many people. I can only hope RTD will tighten up his plotting when Series 2 comes around, as expectations will be higher and it will be harder to get away with mistakes such as this episode.

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Doctor Who has always been a show of variable quality, you would often get years of brilliance followed by a whole eras of mediocre quality, usually a dry spell was broken by a change of Doctor or production team, however whatever season you were watching usually gave you a pretty good idea as to what the rest of that series would be like.

This new version of Doctor Who however is another thing entirely. I honestly believe we have had the best and worst of Doctor Who all in the space of one season.

The new Who has had great characterisation, extremely poor characterisation, terrible incidental music, great incidental music, brilliant stories, mediocre stories and downright awful stories, a great companion, a boring Doctor, I could go on. The truth is for every time I have been close to despairing, along has come a story that has restored my faith, only to be found a few weeks later feeling like writing off this revival of my favourite show as a failure.

On the basis of Boom Town and its trail for the following week, I must admit I am perilously close to the latter. Once again another script by Mr Russell T Davies has pushed Doctor Who to an all time low for the second time this season, and surprise surprise both stories happened to feature a flatulent green blob.

It is customary to start reviews by listing the good points and leaving the niggles to the end, so here we go.

Some pretty Cardiff location work, some impressive effects courtesy of the Mill, a fairly decent Murray Gold score, we got to see some more of the excellent Tardis interior and of course Billie Piper was as great as ever. That I’m afraid is the closest I can come to finding anything positive to say about this unmitigated mess of a story.

It might have helped if there was a story to speak of, what started off as another Slitheen destroy the world premise, quickly split up into a series of disjointed segments that seemed to be trying to do something profound but ended up failing miserably.

The Doctor taking an alien for a last meal prior to returning them home to await potential execution is a sound premise. Unfortunately whereas a villain such as the Master, Sharaz Jek or even Sil could have made this whole scenario work, the knowledge that the alien concerned is a flatulent green teletubby played by a reject from Fit Club, rather diluted any dramatic impact this scene could have had, you might as well have stuck the Candyman in.

I honestly hoped we had seen the last of the Slitheen after the awful Aliens of London story, but unfortunately the Doctor Who production team obviously thought otherwise. While admittedly they have great marketing potential as stuffed toys, inflatable punch bags etc, they still make an abysmal Doctor Who monster. At least failed monsters of the past Nimon, Myrka etc went wrong by accident rather than design, the Slitheen seem deliberately designed as a cute comedy creation, the sort of thing a skit on Doctor Who would come up with as a joke. Sitting in on a Saturday night watching a green baby faced monster, sat on a toilet looking looking forlorn, made me wonder if anyone who had ever called being into this stuff sad, actually had a point.

It is not a secret that Russell T Davies is a Buffy fan and in this episode his attempts to turn the Tardis crew into the equivalent of the Scooby gang were painfully apparent. All that fast talking buddy buddy stuff was painful to watch. I will give it a few more episodes, but I don’t quite get the whole Captain Jack character, at the moment he seems little more than a bland American cipher and I cant really see what the point of him being there at all is.

Christopher Eccleston although trying his damnest, was still as dull to watch as he has been for most of this season. I honestly would never have thought eighteen months ago that the dream team of Davies and one of Britains most respected actors would respectively turn out this middle of the road, flat and at times embarrassing effort.

Unfortunately much of the poor material he has had to work with, has highlighted Eccleston’s weaknesses as an actor, he is a great working class actor and can even posh it up convincingly on occasion. But Doctor Who has left him hopelessly out of his depth, he simply cannot get a handle on how to play this sort of material and I’d be surprised if his reputation is left untarnished by his stint as the Doctor.

I too had high hopes for Davies scripts, of all the fan writers who were announced as working on the new series, he was the one I had most faith in. Unfortunately Davies take on the whole ethos of Doctor Who seems to be skewered, the man is obviously of the belief that the series should be written down to Childrens BBC level and have all the artistic integrity of something like the Thunderbirds movie. This is personally how I see Russell T Davies take on Doctor Who, 10 years from now it will be as disposable as Batman Forever or Robocop the series is today. When he does employ some of his skills as a dramatist the results can be extraordinary, but there is so much chaff surrounding the wheat that the message is lost.

Apart from not liking the tone, his scripts are badly constructed. Everyone had a go at the end of the Paul Mcgann movie, but this week we saw it repeated as the Tardis mysteriously reversed time once again. Too many of his scripts have relied on these convenient quick anticlimatic fixes and if that is not a mark of bad writing I don’t know what is. The man obviously has a love for Doctor Who, but something has gone badly wrong, rather than being the new Robert Holmes as I had hoped, he seems to be more of a twenty first century equivalent of Pip & Jane Baker. And for me the day he leaves the mantle of executive producer on Who to someone a bit more respectful of the series as a whole cant come too soon.

So two more episodes to go and is there really any hope left, the Doctor in the big brother house, robots looking like gigantic legoman, is this really what Doctor Who is about. Forty two years ago William Hartnell starred in a magical fantasy series, that enthralled children and adults alike. In 2005 Doctor Who returned as a low brow Saturday night light entertainment show. Come back Graham Williams, John Nathan Turner, Philip Segal, anyone, all is forgiven.

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I'm a long time reader, first time writer as Paul Clarke's reviews voice my opinions admirably every week.However Boom Town has forced me to come out and reveal to you just how this episode was written:

One day Russell T Davies woke up. He got dressed, cleaned his teeth and got his early morning coffee, but something was niggling in the back of his mind. It kept telling him he had forgotten something, but what was it? Suddenly he blew the coffee out of his mouth. Of course! He had forgotten to write episode 11 of Dr Who. What was he going to do? He sat down at his computer. He had a three o'clock deadline and had to complete a forty-five minute episode.

He thought about the basics. - It would be set on Earth. That was an easy decision, as all episodes would be set on earth due to the fact the TARDIS was just a time travel machine (Wait a minute, isn't it a space travelling machine as well? -Huan) and seeing as the series was being filmed in Cardiff it would be easy to set the episode there and after all the Doctor likes Cardiff, he's a secret Welsh man.

Russell then put his imagination to work and decided to set the episode in two years time (cos that's what Doctor Whos all about isn't it kids - Huan). Now the aliens. Again for easiness he thought, let's bring back the funny (think he's forgotten the inverted commas there - Huan) Slitheen cos after all they were his favourites, a great marketing opportunity and the costumes were already made.

Now the plot - As he had already established in earlier episodes, he wasn't good at putting together a full 45 minute episode, he normally chose to think of a good 15 minutes and then just fill in the gaps. So for this episode he looked around his office and saw that the paper had a news story about nuclear power. That was good, a nuclear power plant. Yes, right, let's build one in the middle of Cardiff because like in two years time the Government of Britain won't mind a nuclear power plant being built in the middle of the city and neither will its residents. Those people of Cardiff are up for a laugh and obviously wont be concerned about the chance of having mutant children. We'll make the Slitheen the Mayor because Mayor's have all the power to make all the decisions in Wales dont they?

Right now what about the characters. The deadlines apporaching - 2.30pm already, right well, it's more important to make the episode a full 45 minutes long rather than give the characters any consistency so: let's pretend Mickey still hasn't got over Rose leaving him, even though he appeared to in the last episode when they were together. Then let's make them have a fight and at the end have him really bitter that Rose prefers travelling in time (not space remember) to boring old him. He can then go stomping off so that maybe next series I can have him come back as a baddy or something. Also may as well make Rose look upset, even though she has been through three other men since leaving Mickey. (obviously he's forgotten her brief relationship with the suicidal Dalek - Huan)

Right what about the other two minor characters Jack and the Doctor? Okay well Jack can stay in the ship most of the time fixing the TARDIS, that's him out of the way, and the Doctor can capture the Slitheen and then they can have a moralistic debate about life and death again, oh and explore some of Cardiff's finest eateries. Yeah that's good.

By now it was three o clock and he quickly finished off the script with an awful alien surf board idea, the TARDIS saving the day, added a few bad special effects and sounds and raced over to Cardiff for the shoot.

In my opinion (and some other people's based on the 'grin and bear it' remarks) Mr Davies' episodes are not up to scratch, with the other writers far out shining him. Trouble is he writes over half of them and to me that's a worry. Let's hope he's listened and learned. He has a second chance with a new Doctor. Please take it.

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Doctor Who finally pays tribute to his new home of Cardiff. Unfortunately, Cardiff, as depicted in Boom Town, is a bland, soulless expanse of concrete, metal and glass. Surely they could have found some more interesting locations than these...?

Boom Town is designed to be an exploration of The Doctor's morality and the effects he has on those he leaves behind. This leaves it very light on the action, and very heavy on the dialogue. The scenes between the Slitheen and The Doctor promise much, but very rarely deliver; much time is wasted with slapstick scenes of The Doctor foiling Margaret's last-minute (and utterly unrealistic) attempts to kill him and Margaret's truly repulsive description of the Raxacoricofallapatorian execution rituals. And (as with the Doctor and Jackie's discussion in World War Three) as soon as their conversation appears to be going somewhere interesting, external events deprive us of a conclusion.

To add to the tedium, we have an extensive subplot exploring Rose and Mickey's lack-of-relationship. It's all very well to show the effects of The Doctor's adventures on those who get caught up in them, but devoting a large part of an otherwise uneventful episode to them just comes across as naval-gazing. It's doubly frustrating when this thread is also left unresolved, with Mickey sloping off quietly back to London at the end. Doctor Who is supposed to be about scary monsters - this is a worse case of "Neighbours with roundels on the walls" than anything JNT ever produced. Or, to quote the previous episode's writer: "Us kids want Narnia, not the wardrobe".

To liven things up, we have a rather unconvincing threat to the Earth tacked on to the end of the episode. Unfortunately, it all brings back unhappy memories of the TVM, with the planet about to get sucked into a space/time rift for the flimsiest of reasons. The comparisons continue with a ludicrous denouement that sees the villain permanently changed by facing a bright light from inside the TARDIS.

It's all very, very uninvolving. Where it's not dull, it's painful to watch. The most fascinating things about this episode are the descriptions of the crew's various offscreen adventures (and I believe we have to buy the books to see those, which somewhat undermines RTD's words about adhering to the BBC charter) and the Next Time trailer.

A total waste of an episode, and particularly disappointing after the wonderful Empty Child two-parter. 1/10.

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The rumours indicated a Slitheen presence. The previous week teaser made it crystal clear. A big spoiler there in all kinds of ways! Compared to the rest of the season (a high comparison to be sure) the Slitheen are one of the least successful aspects. There motivation is fine, rather well thought out actually, but their lumbering bouncy image, and gastric emissions were a little too embarrassing for my tastes.

But anyway, back they come – actually back one of them comes – in the form of Margaret Blaine (Annette Badland). The Radio Times announced it was one of the funniest episodes thus far – so I was hoping for a sleeper hit of the year. It would also be nice to see Cardiff, which I think is a magnificent place.

I enjoyed Boom Town – it seemed more reflective than the majority of episodes – and we learn’t quite a bit more about this new Doctor and his Companion Rose. It’s ironic that when the Doctor gains a new companion, it is the existing TARDIS team, and 2 recurring guest stars, that get the meat of the story. Boom Town has a story in there, something about a rift in Cardiff, and the Slitheen channelling badness through it to destroy the world – but it is mostly a character piece of 5. I think I will go through those characters one at a time in order of importance in the episode.

Captain Jack has just joined the crew. He’s looking particularly confident too in his tight T-shirt and Jeans – the innuendoes flew pretty steadily too. I hope they don’t overdo this aspect of his character – it’s just staying within the line for childrens TV, but only just! But I am sure Jack is more than this – and he does help the Doctor with some technical stuff later on. He's a playful fellow, and that's nice to see.

On to the first of the recurring guest stars – Mickey. I always preferred Jackie, but I can see the need to talk about Rose and Mickeys relationship. You feel rather sorry for Mickey, but he’s hardly been written affectionately throughout the series. Him and Rose talk about stuff, but it’s the argument that stands out. Rose has treated him badly, but the Doctor is so much more interesting – there’s no comparison.

Rose herself doesn’t really have her finest hour in Boom Town. She enjoys the running around with the Doctor, Jack and Mickey – but then is forced to confront her callous treatement of Mickey. Then she leaves him when the problems start. I really like Rose, but this aspect of her character did her no favours, even though most would have run away with the Doctor.

Annette Badlands portrayal of Margaret almost stole the episode. Russell T was right, on the basis of her performance here, she did deserve more screen time. Hers was a sympathetic portrayal of an alien race. I didn’t quite buy her reformation, but she was doubting her whole way of life by the end. There wasn’t that much of the Slitheen itself, in the flesh, either – which I was grateful for. Annette Badland produced a wonderful performance. And I find myself quite liking the Slitheen now!

The main character, as it should be, was the Doctor. I thought he was brilliant from the start of the season, but now he’s well and truly took his place alongside the great Doctors of the Past. They all have a place in DW History, and Eccleston (in spite of doing only 1 season) totally deserves his place on the mantle. In Boom Town he was excellent again. I loved his acceptance of the challenge that Margaret flung at him - the last meal scene. It’s also nice to see him fiddling around the TARDIS control room. We spent longer there in this story than any – and that was wonderful.

There’s also another character here, one that Russell T was keen to push forward – Cardiff. I spent a wonderful week there once in early 2000 – it looks even better now. Boom Town has persuaded me that a weekend visit is definitely in order.

Hardly likely to be top of the Season Poll, but good strong character based writing all the same. What Russell T has done this season has been extraordinary. He’s the one on the pulse of these wonderful characters – he’s the main creator – and Boom Town shows again how wonderful this new season of Doctor Who really is. 8/10

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So... here we go again... an episode that demonstrates the good, the bad and the ugly of Who 2005.

The case put by Russell T Davies (RTD from now on... although there is a strong tendency to call him RTDTour...);

"the doctor meets an old enemy...."

Ah.. yes...the Slitheen... really old enemy... haven't seen them for... oh at least six weeks... and what were they in...oh yes the travesty that was Aliens of London... did they deserve an encore? No.

And before all you RTD worshippers howl with derision... there was some merit in the portrayal here... of the lone survivor and the moral/ethical dilemma posed by the conflict with the Doctor... but doesn't that sound remarkably like 'Dalek'? - and boy was that done soooo much more effectively. And if like me you watched Confidential... you have to admit that this "character piece" (RTD's description not mine)... was built to lead up to the dinner scene... (mmm done so much better in 'Heat' RTD...) ended up being little more than an apertif to the Season finale main course...

"Oh MICKEY you're so fine....NOT?"

There has been FAR TOO MUCH exposition in regards to the characterisation of Mickey/Rose... the point of 'disrupted relationship... time travelling has it's consequences on those that are left behind... blah blah blah..." Haven't we got this already? Personally I DO NOT CARE what happens to Mickey. Exterminate him... drop him in a vat of acid... He is the most overused pointless 'accessory' character since... well Adric... and at least he died in a good episode... What next... Mickey turns gay and falls for Captain Jack? Bored already!

Oh and that's something that this episode did give me.. moments of boredom. I never thought I'd say that but I was bored by some of the proceedings... (anytime Mickey was on screen for starters)... and I sat waiting for some good bits... and anticipating the trailer for next week... now that is a new Who experience for me... so congratulations RTD you've added a new dimension to Who that as a 37 year old fan I hadn't experienced before. (And yes I do except some of the later Graeme Harper produced Baker stories were bland... and Nathan Turner did meander off into the ridiculous ditto 'The Happiness Patrol....' but I can honestly say that I was NEVER bored).

So that's some of the bad and the ugly... but wait... there was a jewel... there was a moment where I held my breath and thought there could be hope...

"BAD WOLF"

The translation moment... when Eccleston's Doctor mused on 'where the name for the project came from'... he has been paying attention... a reward for all of us who have been tuned to it's significance and then.. grin and gone. Pity. There was a real sense of foreboding built up in that brief moment... if only that could be made to permeate a full episode.

So there you have it... a poor effort. No real sense of threat... more Rose/Mickey squabbling... Captain Jack (a potentially interesting character) reduced to TARDIS engineer, with as much to do as Nyssa in Kinda, the Doctor pontificating about 'what to do with Margaret... an unwanted Slitheen sequel... a painting by numbers reference to the time rift... ludicrous time 'surf boards'... and an ending that just smacked of... we really didn't know what to do with Margaret... "She's an egg.... " An egg that shouldn't be allowed to hatch another crazy plot like this one... oh and it was in Cardiff... no Millenium stadium though....

I'm still deciding whether this is the lowpoint of the season or not... but I'm so heavily torn between Aliens of London (which did have a cool spaceship crash in it's favour).... World War Three (which I'm struggling to find a redeeming feature in)... and this that I think it might be easier to declare all three a Slitheen tragedy and be done with it... oh and did I mention fart gags... bet the 6 year olds loved that... ????

Another RTD duffer... Mr Gatiss, Shearman & Moffat... keep submitting your stories... and please can one of you write the Cyberman story for Season Two.....

And now for real trepidation and dread... the final two... reality TV pastiche... and then the Daleks... Bad Wolf next... the reveal at last... and of course it'll be RTD all over again. Please please no more RTDtour... if you want to harken back to "the mystery of the good old days..." then next week it is time to deliver!

"When I say run....RUN!"

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Thank God for the Rift
Through which good effects could sift
To heal this slow….slow….show,
Plodding along until the last furlong
When inner Tardis did glow.

Thank God for the Doc
Who with good humour could shock
Slitheen to go….go…go,
Jumping down scaffold, waddling as a clown
Duck in Cardiff to and fro.

Thank Harkness for glee
Great carmaderie for three
Musketeers with Rick?…Mick?
Cell phones primed with humour chases combined.
Direction pacy and slick.

Thank writer for plot,
Rich explanation we got
Chameleon…broke…broke….
But Earth soap whether the pair should elope
Drowns this series in one stroke.

Thank Davies for love
Of the Who, which like a dove
Delivers hope for Two…, coo…. Two
My wife’s yawns like a prophet sadly warns
That drama deep should get the ‘shove!’

Thank Beeb for foresight
Giving Davies’ team the right
To write sci-fi grown up….Up..Up
Balloon goes when shows dominated by Rose.
Keep it on the Doc-his fights.

Thank Rose for her part
Defining Who from the start.
His comforter…
But Harkness took assistant role with finesse
She stuck with Mick’s arcing heart.

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I rather guess that the production team of "Cutting It" are glad that they allowed Annette Badland the time off to star once again as Margaret 'Slitheen' Blaine in ""Boom Town," and so am I...

This was pure genius.

When the original two Slitheen episodes (AOL/WW3) aired a few weeks ago, I didn't quite know what to make of the Slitheen race, which turned out to be not a race, but a family. This is the first new 'monster' in Doctor Who since the McCoy years, unless we count the ones in "The End of the World", and they seemed as if their creator has been watching Del Boy, Claude Greengrass, and the bunch of fellas from "Last of the Summer Wine" and somehow mixed them all up to create an extra terrestrial version, to come and blow up the world and sell it for fuel. We did not seem to learn a great deal about them, considering how many of them there were.

This time, there was just the one, and we saw deep into the Raxacoricofallapatorian psyche. (I wouldn't try saying that under the influence of anything). We learned that the Family Slitheen were sentenced to death in their absence some years ago. We are not told the nature of their crime, but are left to ponder that it was something dark if indeed it warrants a death penalty.

Margaret's 'date' with the Doctor as her final request before being transported home to her own planet was darkly humourous, and allowed us to get closer to this character than any in Russell T. Davies's episodes.

This getting closer to secondary characters was not confined to Margaret either, as we also saw quite far into the life circumstances of Cathy, the journalist who seemed very knowledgeable about the incidents which supposedly had occured to people involved in the 'Blaidd Drwg' (Bad Wolf) Nuclear power station project. And this, even though we didn't see her for long, and at least she wasn't needlessly killed off.

Margaret's being touched by Cathy's talking about her boyfriend, and her unborn child, evidently reminding her of the sadness of losing her own family in the wreckage of 10 Downing Street meant that we saw the kinder side of this particular alien, despite her obvious and original intention.

Captain Jack was brilliant when Mickey knocked on the door of the Tardis. "Who the hell are you?" reminding me somewhat of Bart Simpson. Then the banter between the Doctor and Mickey seemed very natural, and the laughing and joking in the cafe afterwards was an apt illustration that even for adventurous time travellers there are relaxing moments of 'normality.'

That however, was all to change when the Doctor saw a familiar face on the front page of the paper being read by a bloke at another table.

The Doctor's line to the male secretary, "She's climbing out of the window isn't she?" was the perfect precursor to the hilarious chase, with the communication all being done by mobile phones. (Does this make Chris Eccleston the first Doctor to use one?) Margaret's teleportation being countered by the Doctor's reversal via his sonic screwdriver, then re-established by Margaret, then the Doctor, then... et al, was a joy to watch.

As this episode was set in Cardiff, I wondered if the 'rift' closed by Eve in 1869 would come in to the story, and I wasn't wrong. It seemed logical that Margaret would want to use it for a purpose other than to just blow everyone up, and her escape attempt might have worked with the use of any other power source. But Margaret did not reckon with the Doctor, and his statement to her that "This is not just any power source. This is the Tardis, MY Tardis." was very powerful, and signalled to us that "This - Is - The - Doctor" speaking, and a signal if we needed one that Chris Eccleston has effectively established himself as THE DOCTOR in the most powerful way possible.

It remains a crying shame that we will only have him for two more episodes, as I think he could have carried on for a long time.

But what of Rose? Well, she must have been missing Mickey, because she asked him to bring her passport, which she then admitted she didn't really need. We were given lumps in our throats as they talked in depth about things, and in the middle, Mickey tells Rose that he's been seeing 'Patricia Delaney', who according to Rose, he doesn't like any way. "But you left me!" spouts Mickey in a moment of frustrated annoyance. And so, when the rift opens and the Doctor makes for the Tardis with attached 'Slitheen prisoner' in tow, Rose does the same.

This is when Margaret is 'treated' to a sight that not many have seen, the very heart of the Tardis, which even the Doctor does not know the full strength of.

When Margaret is reduced to a Raxacoricofallapatorian egg, in which she effectively has a second chance at life itself; the Doctor, Rose, and Jack work very nicely together to close the rift and allow the Tardis to complete its 'recharging'. The Doctor's "Thank you all" was a nice touch to illustrate that he, Rose, and Jack are now a team.

Rose goes off to find Mickey, although she seems to deliberately make little effort to find him, perhaps angry and confused about his revelation about Patricia Delaney. This juxtaposition of normal and not so normal lives criss-crossing in emotional turmoil leaves us with more drama to come in future episodes as Rose and Mickey wrestle with their very unusual relationship.

I could say something about Direction, effects, camera angles, lighting and so on, but I'm not really expert in these sort of things. Suffice to say that they all looked fine to me. I will say one thing about the music, and that is to all its critics, "Lay off." The music in any television drama sets the atmosphere, and is designed to accentuate whatever kind of mood is depicted in the particular scene. The reality is that this will work for some, and not for others.

I look forward to the final two episodes with wanton glee. 10/10

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I was dreading “Boom Town;” a recycled monster and a recycled location with ‘cheap money saving episode’ written all over it. In the run of things so far I’d say it’s the worst episode bar “The Long Game,” though even that show was good – it’s just the standard of the series has been so high when an episode like “The Long Game” or “Boom Town” comes along it’s easy to be disappointed.

Though rather cheap it was, “Boom Town” was a good story based on an interesting premise – the Doctor returning to face the consequences of his actions. In true Russell T. Davies style, we also had some brilliant character moments, and although the Slitheen was being re-used from earlier in the season the story was different enough to the earlier two-parter to work well. In fact, the alien menace in the story could have been anyone; this wasn’t really a shock-horror scary monsters story, it was a more psychological piece.

The episode began with a lot of energy; the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack work wonderfully together. Throw Mickey into the mix and you have an even better dynamic. The scenes with Mickey and Rose, brilliantly played by both actors, gave this episode and continued to give the series as a whole that all important grounding in real life - the idea that when the Doctor whisks someone away with him in his TARDIS, there are consequences - and Mickey has arguably suffered more than anyone as a result of the Doctor taking Rose with him on his travels. The episode’s end where Mickey sees Rose but turns and walks away rather than run to her was quite painful. I can only hope that we see more of Mickey, even if this was the end for his relationship with Rose.

Speaking of ‘consequences,’ that’s exactly what the Doctor came face to face with when he finds the surviving member of the Slitheen family has become Mayor of Cardiff, planning to blow up the entire city using her ‘Bad Wolf’ power plant just to escape the Earth! Surely Earth isn’t that bad? Given more screen time than in her previous episodes, Annette Badland was excellent as Margaret Blaine, the Slitheen disguised as the Mayor of Cardiff. Can you believe Davies even gave her a fat-sounding name (was it something like Blon Phat Phodge?), as well as making her wobble down the road, feebly attempting to escape? She played her character on a knife-edge, maintaining the perfect balance between humour and horror. More than that, at times in the story you do almost sympathise with her, especially when she is describing the manner of her execution and how she was brought up to kill.

Of course, at the end of the day she’s evil to the bone and the TARDIS degenerates her to an egg to give her a second chance. This I found interesting for two reasons; firstly, just like in “The Doctor Dances” we have an episode where (barring a few murders of officials that no-one really likes) “EVERYBODY LIVES!” making me think the last two episodes are going to be very, very dark indeed. Secondly, and most importantly, once again it’s emphasised that the TARDIS is a living creature. Thinking about all these ‘Bad Wolf’ references the Doctor and Rose have come across on their travels, they must either be pure co-incidence (as the eternally optimistic Doctor very amusingly reasoned, wearing that trademark grin) or perhaps the TARDIS knows something about this ‘Bad Wolf’ menace and is using it’s telepathic circuits to influence the people around it, wherever it lands, into saying, or using, or writing or even naming a power plant ‘Bad Wolf’ to warn the Doctor of some impending danger. Is it a person? Captain Jack – Mr. No Memory? Is it the Daleks? I cannot wait until this Saturday to find out!

As usual, the comedy moments were frequent and highly amusing. Margaret making excuses to the reporter for all these officials who died suspiciously in her presence was particularly funny, as was the Doctor’s “she’s climbing out of the window isn’t she?” line, as well as all that teleporting! The Doctor stealing the newspaper out of the hands of some random bloke, Margaret’s feeble attempts on the Doctor’s life in the restaurant which he resisted without blinking an eye. Brilliant stuff.

As for next week’s trailer, although I’d heard and hoped and prayed the Daleks (note… plural) would be back I’d given up hope once I heard that “Bad Wolf” would be the reality TV episode. Not being a fan of “Big Brother,” “The Weakest Link” and “What Not To Wear” I didn’t have high hopes for an episode which, after 11 episodes of hype, HAD to deliver and I had serious reservations that it might be too gimmicky. Now it looks like this reality TV thing is just a front (hopefully that part won’t go on much longer than half an hour) and not only to we have the Dalek menace as the real threat, we have an alien planet (at last!) and an entire battle fleet of Dalek ships! “The Daleks' Master Plan” for the new millennium…

We live in hope!

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I'm really surprised to hear that people didn't like this episode. Of all of RTD's scripts, I thought that this one was easily his best script - much more what I expected from a genius TV writer such as Russell.

I admit that it was a bit of a 'bottle' episode; but all TV series have these from time to time, and often they work out for the best.

Now there were some flaws in the episode. Foremost of these was the return of the Slitheen so soon (couldn't this at least have waited until Season 2?). Secondly, the return of Mickey/Ricky - I just find this character so dull and wet. He's got nothing going for him and Russell seems not to like him even. Let's see him die in an heroic attempt at saving Rose Tyler's life. My final 'grrrr' was the 'easy escape' TARDIS solution to the problem, which I didn't understand and was badly written. How EXACTLY did the TARDIS revert Magaret Slitheen to an egg? RTD's scripts have been full of 'easy' get-out solutions (Russell, it's why they got rid of the screwdriver in the original series) which are ultimately unsatisfying and this was possibly the worst.

Just about everything else I thought was brilliant, however. This was easily RTD's best script. It had drama, pace and brought new fans up to speed with some of the workings of the TARDIS (I'm surprised it took so long). I loved the way that RTD's script questioned The Doctor's motives and asked moral questions of The Doctor. I've always felt that on occasions that Doctor Who failed to do this (the last time I remember this strongly was the brilliant "Genesis of the Daleks", though probably there have been other episodes).

I felt strongly that this epsiode was much more of the quality of a "Buffy" type episode with ideas that the series takes for granted (like The Doctor always being in "the right" and on the side of "good") turned on their heads and challenged. This is what we should be seeing more of.

Billie Piper turned in as good a performance as she could, but for once this was an episode not about her, and it was good to see The Doctor in the front line once more. The show is, after all, called Doctor Who, not Rose Tyler.

There were good moments of comedy, but well-blended with the action stuff and it was an interesting twist that the 'problem' was dealt with early on in the episode, allowing Russell to concentrate on some ethical issues. These were hinted at with the Dalek's "You would make a good Dalek" comment to The Doctor in episode 6, but developed much more fully this time.

I think this is probably (and, so far!) my favourite episode, obviously after Dalek, which has still been the watermark episode against which I've judged the others. If I could offer Russell some advice, I think he needs to get away from earth for a bit, and let's put The Doctor and Rose in some serious scrapes - it's all a bit tame at the moment. Although, the trail for next week's episode makes it look as if the ante is about to be well and truly upped!

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Russell Davies admits in this week's 'Doctor Who Confidential' that 'Boom Town''s plot is just an excuse to get to the scene with the Doctor & Blon in the restaurant -- and, unfortunately, it shows. The episode lifts somewhat when it shifts gear from lame comedy to character scenes. However, subtlety doesn't seem to be Davies' strong point, and everything in 'Boom Town' is bashed home.

Much of the current series has played with rewriting the old 'Doctor Who' concepts, turning the old formula on its head, so highlighting the mayhem that follows the Doctor around doesn't really come as much of a surprise (especially when it was stressed right back in 'Rose'). Like everything else in this episode, the parallels with 'Dalek' aren't exactly subtle; on second viewing I was particularly annoyed by the shaft of light at the end. In fact, the nods to earlier episodes fell so thick & fast this time I got the impression 'Boom Town' is intended as a whistlestop tour of the season for late joiners.

Chris Eccleston is perfect in the pivotal restaurant scene, and Annette Badland, as Margaret/Blon, delivers her lines with a decent blend of humour & menace. The scenes with Rose & Mickey left a soapy taste in my mouth, and Billie Piper's sparkle just shows up Noel Clarke's rather wooden delivery. Jack, stripped of his sexy RAF uniform, has little to do but spout technobabble.

It was good to get out of London for a change, and Cardiff centre makes a beautiful backdrop; I particularly liked the Tardis dematerialising against the Millennium building at the end. Speaking of SFX, I note the producers have nicked the fanficcers' method of generating amazing ones -- which, given their budget, hardly seems to be playing fair...

Though it wasn't as bad as I'd feared from the trailers, 'Boom Town' did feel uncomfortably like filler between the stunning 'Empty Child' two-parter & the finale. Neat concept, pity about the execution.

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I feel slightly guilty about slating Russell T. Davies as he's the man responsible for bringing the series back. An easy question for detractors to be asked is "would you rather the show didn't come back at all?" While I am duly grateful to him and all concerned, that doesn't mean I'm going to pretend to like what I don't.

Therefore, I now apologise to Davies for the roasting I'm about to give him.

The Davies backlash really started with Aliens Of London; we were all excited at Rose and optimistic for The End Of The World, but Aliens Of London, despite a loyal core of followers (fair enough), has had a lot of venom directed its way. I contributed to this, as I spent forty-five minutes in a permanent state of cringe, and now Davies proves that the ability to catch lightning in a bottle is not necessarily a good thing as he gives us Boom Town, one of the biggest piles of tripe I've ever seen shamefully tramp out bearing the name of Doctor Who.

Eleven episodes in and I believed myself to have a much more realistic idea of what to expect from a Russell T. Davies episode. I was predicting a characterisation-thick and plot-light episode, and that's what I got. I was also expecting an OK runabout that would kill time before the finale. I was naive.

Davies's flair for characterisation is his main weakness when writing Doctor Who; the programme has always been about plot, which in turn produces characterisation. When Davies has made his own show from scratch, like Queer As Folk, he can tailor it to meet his strengths and have it fully character-led. What he's trying to do though with Doctor Who is to impose his own style on an incompatible format, the effect of which is like watching a child stick a fish in a bucket of water and expecting it to thrive. Without plot characterisation is worthless as it has nothing to derive from: it is simply a bunch of actors blabbering to each other. It is through a solid plot that episodes like Father's Day can work as character pieces, as people have a good (and, more to the point, interesting) reason to be talking to each other. Unfortunately Boom Town has no such thing, with a hackneyed and clichéd tale of world destruction that could have come from an episode of 1960's Batman - not to mention that the central idea owes more to Mark Gatiss's imagination rather than Davies's own. The lack of plot is even less excusable since the episode features almost exclusively established characters, negating the requirement for time-consuming introductions. I know this has been discussed before, but hey, he keeps doing it, I'll keep saying it.

Another problem with leaving so little room for plot in a very limited episode length is that what plot there is seems to be condensed and force-fed to us in a couple of scenes. As such Boom Town gets off to a truly dreadful (and self-consciously camp) start with a wooden actor ranting about not building this dangerous nuclear power plant, which if nothing else is a rip-off of Chinatown. He then proudly gives us "it's almost like somebody wanted it to go wrong", which would have seemed clumsy twenty years ago. This is followed after the titles by some of the most horrendously crude exposition since The Space Pirates, with the Doctor explaining to those who've had a serious brain injury since the series started about the rift over Cardiff and what the TARDIS looks like a police box. Fair enough really, I mean it is three decades since The Unquiet Dead aired, and there's no chance of a DVD release in the near future. Oh, wait...

Things settle down a bit once our heroes meet Margaret Slitheen, but not for long. I was quite proud that I spotted the bad wolf reference all on my own (I lived with three Welsh people at university and I couldn't help but pick something up) but was then let down by having it ground into my face like half a grapefruit, possibly because it's all coming to a head next week. Once she's caught the whole thing shudders to a halt: Mickey is crowbarred into the narrative and sent off with Rose, allowing her to tell him about all the amazing alien planets we don't get to see. Meanwhile the Doctor has an intimate soiree with the Slitheen, were Davies wows us with finger darts when he should be advancing the story. All this time Captain Jack is sidelined in the TARDIS, the paper-thin episode having no room for him.

What next? The Doctor orders the cheque, perhaps because he's realised that nothing's happened yet and there's only five minutes left to tie everything up. We get to see what Jack's been doing - actually we don't, we just get to see the effect since the idea of a nuclear power station has ended up going nowhere. Then, all of a sudden, it transpires that the alien wasn't actually helpless and pitiable but was in fact bad to the bone all along (now what other episode have I seen that in?). This I hold as a big mistake as it negates the earlier fleshing-out of her character (Davies resorting to his base strategy), which at least served to make World War Three less annoying (it was never as annoying as this though). The final nail in the coffin comes as Davies resorts to the most shameless contrivance imaginable, which I wouldn't have thought was possible after The End Of The World. Yes folks, the TARDIS is alive! Well, as long as it's convenient anyway! Then the baddie looks into a bright light and disappears. That's it. That's a major spoiler, but since it's such a damp squib I don't suppose anyone who hasn't seen it would care.

There are, I should say, a few good points about the episode: the farting is cut down (if they'd left it at stomach-rumbling to begin with I might have been more forgiving towards Aliens Of London); Joe Ahearne's direction is as dependable as ever and the scene where Mickey cuts dead Rose's story of an alien world by telling her of his new girlfriend is an effective contrast between the human centre and wild spirit that makes up the show. Unfortunately, it's nowhere near enough to save the episode. As my Mum said, if she was a teacher this episode would have had "see me" written on it in red ink.

All in all then, Boom Town feels like a cheap stop-gap. With no new monsters or extravagant locations shoots it is simply a way to fill a gap in the schedule; so sad that Davies has run out of ideas after less than one series. This leads to one final question: can the Daleks save his credibility? The Daleks can be very good or painfully bad, it just depends on the writer. Oops, just answered my own question...

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Some stories just don’t stand a chance. Aliens of London, after the gothic grandeur of The Unquiet Dead? Flabby, modern-day rot. The Long Game after the monument to Who history that was Dalek? Laughably flimsy runaround. And anything at all after the genius of Stephen Moffat’s flawless contribution… Well, like I said. Didn’t stand a chance.

And yet we present, ladies and gentlemen, in defiance of all the odds, the Little Episode that Could.

The pressures against Boom Town were unprecedented. After his introduction as a spanner in the works of the Doctor and Rose's relationship, it had to see Captain Jack cosily inserted into the TARDIS crew with all their disagreements ironed out. After an effects laden two-parter it had to be made for virtually nothing: reusing the Slitheen (never a popular monster with long-term fans anyway); set in a contemporary, undressed (for which read boring) setting; using few, simple effects and a lot of cheap (ie TARDIS) scenes. And for season-arc purposes it had to feature Mickey, thus handling an unprecedented four-strong TARDIS crew, as well as provide some crucial TARDIS backstory; paint the Doctor as dangerous and unhappy with what he’s become; re-open the time-rift, establish a theme of consequences and – finally, as if that wasn’t enough – talk about Bad Wolf.

To think Peter Grimwade thought he had it tough sorting out Turlough, Peri and Kamelion in Planet of Fire. At least he got to go to Lanzarote. Russell T Davies had to do it in Cardiff – and it’s much, much the better for it. Because he, at least, knows he can’t make a sci-fi spectacular, and therefore doesn’t try. Instead he throws all the budget for explosions and Bugs-style chase sequences into the first opening 15 and closing 10 minutes, and spends the rest creating a tiny, intimate, personal character piece.

Make no mistake, the result is very odd. Every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end, and while this has all three, there’s an ending barely a quarter of an hour in (all but literally “I would have got away with it too if it wasn’t for you pesky time-travellers…”), and then two or three middles in a row before the ending appears, which turns out to come from a completely different story anyway. Informed sources had promised that the reintroduction of the Slitheen would be dealt with in the first ten minutes: what they didn't make clear is that the entire plot, at least as first presented, is dealt with in those ten minutes, with only a brief encore half an hour later in order to arrange a suitably satisfying finale. Perhaps it would have been better if they’d gone with Russell T’s alternate title, “Dining with Monsters” so that audiences had expected less boom, and rather more scenes in restaurants, for their boom-town buck. That’s certainly what you get – and when the audience is ready for it, for instance because they’ve already watched it once and want to know if their initial negative impression was fair, it’s exactly what you need.

This isn’t a story about explosions. It’s not a story about Mickey and Rose and Captain Jack, either, which is why they tend to get shunted off into soap-opera sideplots or locked in the TARDIS like a second-rate Nyssa. This is a story about the Doctor facing his oldest, quietest nightmares: long goodbyes; responsibilities; blame. Forced for once to face the consequences of his easy heroism, we’re in for just as uncomfortable a time as him, shown the stark realities of the life he leads and led to question – quite genuinely, in fact, not the empty moralising ‘Do we have the right?’ of the black goat Star Trek and its thousand young – whether he’s actually doing the right thing.

If this doesn’t feel quite like Dr Who, that’s not surprising. Russell T has insisted from the start that every episode should have a different tone, and for every uber-traditional Long Game and Unquiet Dead, there’s a Father’s Day or Aliens of London waiting ‘round the corner to surprise us. These days we never quite know what we’re sitting down to watch, and it’s one of the show’s greatest strengths. Who, after all, expected Dalek to make them cry? This isn’t a show that’s going for the obvious, plodding through the same round of corridors, guns and traitors every week. We’d have grown tired of that by Episode Eight, which in the classic series would have been called Day of the Fathers and involved endless running around in a crypt before the Doctor saved the day with a time-oscillator. No, Boom Town is what you get when you move away from what people expect, and it works like a charm.

Protesting too much? Well, perhaps. There are elements that while undeniably cool – the hiding-place, and revelation, of Margaret's technobabble mcguffin, for instance – don't seem to make an awful lot of sense. There’s a horrible Deus ex machina solution to the Doctor’s dilemma, which could be seen as rather avoiding the point. The aha-well-you-see ending, where the plot is explained after it's already happened, is considerably less satisfying than the usual kick-yourself-oh-of-course denument. There’s a feeling in the final act that Russell T is repairing a slightly shoddy plot rather than revealing a clever one. The TARDIS crew veers from the charming to the smug. I don’t like Jack’s coat.

But they’re not, in fact, major concerns compared with the plus-points. Margaret Blaine becomes one of the most effective enemies we’ve seen, even at her least powerful. Annetta Badland is simply magnificent in the role, withering, pleading, dismissive, cathartic – a genuinely complex character. Noel Clarke finally gets his teeth into Mickey and delivers a truly affecting performance, making us question Rose’s actions as much as Blaine does the Doctor’s. The Slitheen costume, in its rare appearances, is extraordinarily effective, even moving at times, light-years ahead of its Aliens/War appearances. While the pacing is odd, almost every individual scene is an absolute zinger. (The toilet sequence in particular is tremendous: powerful, unexpected, perfect.) Arguably it’s one draft away from completion – an explanation here, an intercut something-going’s-wrong-in-the-TARDIS scene there – but it’s still nothing short of astonishing.

We’ve grown too used to the snappy one-liners, the zip-a-long plot, the emotional depth and the seamless cgi. We barely register Billie Piper’s perfection, or the fear and anger in Eccleston’s eyes. It’s easy now to miss them altogether, and focus on the less-than-perfect moments. But watch again. The ghost music over the Blaidd Drwg scene. The look on Eccleston’s face when he’s told he’s a killer. “Let’s see which of you can look at me in the eye.” Where else are you going to see stuff of this quality on British tv?

And that’s before we even reach the last three seconds.

Come on. You’re telling me you’re not gonna keep watching? Tell that to the big bad wolf.

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‘Boom Town’ is an absolute gem of an episode. It quite explicitly sets out to be a character piece; principally about the Doctor’s lifestyle, which is an interesting enough idea in its own right - but when you add to that an exploration of the immediate and long-term consequences of this lifestyle then you have a story which becomes far more substantial, than many in the season to date.

Don’t get me wrong. All of the stories up to Boom Town have been highly enjoyable and notable in their own right. However Boom Town is perhaps the only story apart from Father’s Day which actually has a dramaturgical ‘centre’. It has an absolute fixed starting point like all good stories. In this case it is about morality, or to be more specific, moral absolutes. In the case of Boom Town one characters moral absolute is another’s nightmare.

It’s really interesting to see RTD script pivot between these arguments. Indeed the resolution becomes even more important with a script such as this, where will the final line in the sand be drawn? I think it’s wonderfully inventive for RTD to come up with the resolution he has, he chooses not to side with either the Doctor or Margaret, but by opting for a ‘third’ way. He gives Margaret another chance by effectively going back to year zero for her. This brilliant denouncement should be given the credit it deserves for being both intelligent and imaginative. Of course the consequences or ‘price’ of these actions have to be explored. RTD does this extremely successfully by juxtaposing the weighty matters of morality alongside the very personal fall-out between Rose and Mickey. Indeed grounding and contextualising the action like this made the more personal or domestic material not only touching and valuable but probably made for the episodes best scenes. In particular the scene outside the TARDIS where Mickey and Rose discuss going for a pizza and even raising the possibility of hiring a hotel for the night, brilliant! (It’s impossible not to genuinely feel for Mickey). Simple and fundamental relationships such as these are one of the reasons why the Doctor needs Rose so much. That is what the Doctor really longs for, some kind of ‘fundamental’ normality.

On the subject of great scenes, the encounter in the toilet between Margaret and journalist Cathy Salt was also notable. Brilliant juxtaposition, the alien on the toilet quietly weeping and the reporter looking forward to her ‘new life’. Scenes such as these are really what make new Who a joyous thing indeed. This is an episode which really makes you care, it involves and challenges its audience on a level that only really good writing can, to a certain extent the episode even redeems the Slitheen as RTD challenges us too identify with there plight. Even all the scripts gags really come off for once!

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‘Boom Town!’ is probably the oddest episode of the new series so far, for rather than being an orthodox adventure, specifically the Doctor versus the Slitheen story I had anticipated, much of it is a philosophical treatise on the Doctor’s actions and there consequence and whether people can change. This is an interesting idea, but is it one which can sustain the interest of today’s casual viewer. I am not sure, but Russell T. Davis deserves some credit for being brave enough to risk put something as different this on primetime television.

Indeed in many ways he creates a very interesting and thought provoking episode. Should the Doctor condemn a killer, who seems to have repented to death? Is it as easy to dispose of a Monster once you know its name and have had dinner with it? These are difficult questions which the series has never really addressed in the past. I suspect there while be some hostile views towards this episode as a result of this, and everyone is entitled to a view, but I for one welcome this original approach, although that said I would not like to see a similar episode in the too near future.

There is also some very good writing and acting at work. I genuinely felt sorry for the Slitheen at times, particularly in the toilet scene where she mourns her brothers, and found her a very interesting character. Indeed until the Doctor, pointed it out I had almost forgotten that she had stolen a real woman’s body and killed her. For this credit should be given to both Russell T. Davis’ writing, Joe Ahearne’s direction and Annete Badland whose performance was superb. Indeed Christopher Eccleston is also very good in this episode which he needs to be for it to work.

I suspect many fans will think B plot with Rose and Mickey was out of place, but I had no real objections to it. Indeed it is giving the series a realism it has never had before, outside the audio plays and the novels, and I wonder if in the next two weeks the Mickey Rose relationship and its apparent breakdown here is going to be very important. In a similar vain the Doctor’s realisation that the phrase ‘Bad Wolf’ keeps recurring, is obviously important, and I suspect his brushing it off, is a bluff to protect Rose or major mistake…

While there are many good things about this episode, there are some things about this story I did not like. The reliance on the TARDIS to solve the story is annoying and looks like lazy writing. However I am prepared to be proved wrong about this if Davis is, as I suspect setting up the mysterious properties of the TARDIS for a future story line. However this does not excuse the continuing overuse of the sonic screwdriver, and the fact Davis gives Jack far too little to do. I also felt the scene in the restraint with the poison was too slapstick, and spoiled a good scene. Then there is plot of the rift opening and causing destruction. It feels as if it was tacked on to provide a spectacle, and as for this being Margaret’s plan B, well it feels unconvincing. I also question the fact rose mentioned going to other planets on unseen adventures, which to me draws attention to the fact we are not seeing stories on alien worlds, presumably for budgetary reasons.

Thus this is overall quite a good story, but perhaps it could have done with another couple of rewrites to iron out the flaws. In the final analysis I wonder if it will prove a welcome change of pace before what promises to be a memorable season finale.

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WHAT IS RUSSELL T DAVIES DOING TO OUR BELOVED SERIES? WHEN DID DOCTOR WHO BECOME A SOAP? WHY ARE THERE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS WHEN THERE ARE MONSTERS TO BE FOUGHT? MODERN DAY CARDIFF…WHAT IS THAT FOR A SETTING? WHEN WILL BE SEEING SOME REAL DOCTOR WHO WITH WOBBLY SETS AND GAMMY ACTING AND PLOT, PLOT, PLOT…?

…and so on and so on.

I had my lovely friend Matt over last week and being a fellow Doctor Who nut we decided to watch every single episode of the new series over two days. Boy did we argue. Its part of the fun of being a fan really, you all love different stories and it can be an incredibly rich experience to find a friend who you can debate the merits and demerits of such a diverse fourty year old show. We walked away from the visit with very different opinions, he loved Dalek, Father’s Day and The Long Game and I loved The End of the World, World War Three and now I can add Boom Town to that list. Matt despised the gratuitous bodily functions RTD is determined to put in his scripts and the overdone humour (“The telephone is actually red!”) and I got a headache watching Father’s Day. The Long Game aside, I have thoroughly enjoyed RTDs scripts for the series….whilst The Unquiet Dead, Dalek and Father’s Day were all brilliantly dramatic not one of them is half as entertaining as Davies’ work. The only writer who has come close to capturing the sense of whimsy and fun that comes with travelling with the Doctor and still keeps the deeper, emotional material is Steven Moffat. RTD understands television, he knows how to make a series a success and more importantly he recognises that Doctor needs a good sense of humour for it to appeal to the masses. I’m sure Doctor Who fans adored Father’s Day but I reckon the mainstream audience would rather watch World War Three…I know which ones my boyfriend, his mother and my mummy preferred.

Considering he has already written six aired episodes of the series it is astonishing that RTD is still producing fresh, entertaining material as it would be so easy to fall into the I’m writing every episode even if it does go stale (ala JMS over on Babylon 5 and Terry Nation on Blake’s Seven) where they start off well and end up running out of ideas and eventually running out of steam. Whilst The Long Game suggested RTD was losing it he has bounced right back to form with Boom Town, a triumphant 45 minutes of character drama boosted by some great jokes.

Doctor Who is clearly still finding its feet in series one and one of the joys of that transition is to try out new things and see what works. Much like the first few years of sixties Doctor Who this means it is period of imaginative experimentation with something for everyone but everything for no one. Some people will hate Boom Town, in fact I’m certain many people will consider it the worst of the season but rather than bury it for exploring new ground I will have to take the opposite reaction and praise it for exactly that reason. This is unlike anything in Doctor Who, before and since and as such it stands a unique little tale.

It’s all about consequences. Both the Doctor and Rose have to deal with the consequences of their travels and neither of them are particularly comfortable with the idea. It’s probably why Captain Jack feels a bit superfluous this week, being new to the team he has very little baggage yet and nothing to regret. It is RTD asking questions again that nobody ever bothered to before, just like dealing with Rose returning home in Aliens of London. Cleverly, Boom Town picks up two plot threads from World War Three, Rose’s relationship with Mickey and the Doctor’s plan which wiped out all but one of the Slitheen family and shows there are repercussions to these adventures of his. Does Rose have the right keep poor Mickey hanging on like a lost puppy? Is he a victim of their happy-go-lucky travels or a beggar to his own demise? Does the Doctor have the right to step into people lives, make a mess and walk away and leave them deal with it? Does he make a quick exit because he scared to look back and see what he caused? Can he look somebody in the eye and take them to their death?

It was almost as if RTD was answering all of Matt’s worst fears. The Slitheen are back and in the first scene Margret is farting and acting a bit OTT. Looks set to be Aliens of London part two. It only takes RTD two or three scenes to subvert viewer expectations with a wonderfully touching and silly scene in a bathroom between Margret and a journalist. It is faintly ridiculous for a huge, slimy, green alien to be sitting on a toilet and at the point of lurching forwards to kill a woman who threatens her plans but backs down and has a heart to heart instead, discovering the woman is getting married and having a baby. But that is beauty of RTDs writing, he actually manages to make something this absurd work, he writes the scene so well that you are soon feeling sorry for Margret and the fact that she is the last of her family on Earth. When she lets the journalist leave alive it is hard not to feel something for her, despite her icky, muscly visage.

Almost as if replying to fan reaction to the childishness of the Slitheen RTD instead takes the creatures on an entirely different path, using Margret to power a moral dilemma plot that puts the Doctor under the microscope. Maybe she was just using words to bide her time but some of what she says really strikes home, especially in the uncomfortable moment where she defies the Doctor, Mickey, Rose and Jack to look her in the eye knowing they will escort her to her death. Annette Badland has such an expressive face and she pulls off these scenes with great aplomb, convincing as the moral judge of the time travellers. It helps that Margret seems genuinely scared of the Doctor and as such is literally talking her way out of a death sentence. This is edgy stuff and throws a harsh light over the Doctor who seems determined to put an end to her menace. During the marvellous dinner date sequences the two characters knock dialogue back and forth like weapons and I was agreeing with each of them, pretty much all of the time. Is the Doctor the sort of person to condemn the death sentence? Isn’t that what he has always done to the monsters he fights? The Slitheen is talking through a dead woman’s lips, does she have a right to survive when so many others have died? Are the two characters much more alike than we thought, both sparing people from defeat to make themselves feel better? There are no easy answers and it is probably wise that the huge earthquake ruins their date and Margret reverts to villainous form because I fear there would be no right and wrong here. Just grey. Just how I like it. And just when you think RTD has taken the easy way out by proving the Doctor right about Margret she thanks him for the chance to go back and do it all again. There was a spark of regret in there, a trace of humanity. Oh is that Slitheenity? Whatever, its wonderful stuff, RTD wrong-footing us at every step.

Far more soap opera-ish but no less interesting is Rose’s reunion with Mickey. She contrives an excuse for him to visit her in Cardiff and like an obedient puppy he rushes up to see her. He tries to make her jealous by telling her he is seeing somebody else and she takes the bait. All the small talk and pretence drops away and the two lovers are left to face what is really eating away at them. In the most emotional sequence of the series yet (for me anyway…I genuinely had tears in my eyes) Mickey breaks down and tells Rose how useless she made him feel when she dumped him for her life with the Doctor and how pathetic he is clinging on to the hope that she will come home to him. It sounds awful doesn’t it? But Noel Clarke has come a long way since Rose and delivers a fantastic performance, packed with emotion and the look on Rose’s face when she realises how much she has hurt the man she loves is heartbreaking. Clearly there is a lot of emotional mileage in this what you leave behind stuff so score one to RTD for successfully introducing a spanking new element to Doctor Who, one which allows us to look at the show in a brand new way, fourty years on. Clearly there is still much more to learn about the series. Even more brilliant is the lack of a solution to this problem, Rose dashes back to help solve the latest crisis leaving Mickey rejected once again but rushes out to find him immediately afterwards. He spots her but she doesn’t spot him and he walks off, making his decision to walk away this time and move on with his life. Despite all the wonders she has seen and the fun she has with the Doctor and Jack she is still lacking something that Mickey can give her, her tear streaked face at the climax proves that. Fascinating stuff.

Increasing the entertainment of the episode tenfold is the marvellous comedy which had me and Simon roaring. The sequence chasing Margaret out of the Mayor’s office and into the grounds is hilarious, with the Doctor, Mickey, Rose and Jack all working wonderfully together. The sight of Annette Badland waddling away only to be zapped back right in front of them is like something out of a Woody Allen movie only very funny. The dialogue is fizzy too with RTD regaining his wit after a brief detour in The Long Game with some lines that had me in tears (“What have I ever done to you?” “Apart from trying to kill me and blow up this planet?” “Apart from that!?”) which some excellent quick fire scenes between the Doctor, Jack and Rose that marks the enjoyable chemistry between them. I love it when a writer gets the balance of drama and comedy perfect and scenes such as Margaret begging for her life whilst hilariously trying to kill the Doctor through various means shows potential writers how to get it just right. You’re laughing but you’re not quite sure if you should be laughing. I like that.

Joe Ahearne proves just as adept at comedy as he was at drama (especially Dalek) and balances the SF, soapy drama and humour just right. What’s more he convincingly stages an end of the world atmosphere on a TV budget with lots of glass smashing, lights exploding and ground cracking. It reminded me of the TV Movie somewhat, lightning streaking through a gorgeous location, the TARDIS central to the end of the world action and lots of shouting!

Boom Town surprised me a lot. It really didn’t seem to have a lot going for it one paper (even the DWM preview wasn’t as OTT complimentary as usual); modern day Cardiff and the Slitheen back but it proved to be far more thoughtful than I expected. Even with the deux ex machina ending it was a skilfully crafted piece of writing and beautifully executed and performed. It was a far more contemplative piece of television than I am used to, especially from Doctor Who and it worked as a drama far more effectively than some earlier attempts this year. And by God it was funny!

Oh and RTD had canonised the books! I could kiss you!

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My, my, my... what a fascinating experiment Doctor Who in 2005 is turning out to be. For better or worse, what Russell T. Davies has presented is Doctor Who re-imagined, not as a science-fiction or adventure serial, but as a mainstream drama dressed up in the guise of escapist fiction. Classic Doctor Who (like most other ‘sci-fi’ series) is a predominantly plot-driven affair, where the big ideas dealt with in each story tend to be of the “what if” variety: “What would happen if (humans/likable aliens) in the (future/past) were doing (insert futuristic/historical activity) and (monster/villain/disease) X turned up?” In contrast, the Doctor Who of 2005 seems much more interested in asking the questions “What would it feel like to be one of those people, and just what are the emotional implications of living the life of the TARDIS crew?” Plot is not the driving force of RTD’s Doctor Who, but rather exists to serve the character introspection.

Nowhere in the series so far has this been as obvious as in Boom Town, where he all but lets the disguise drop. What little plot there is here is thin in the extreme, and is essentially a parody of fan expectations. Returning villain Margaret Blaine, the female Slitheen, has miraculously survived her apparent demise at the end of World War Three and has cooked up a typically apocalyptic mad scheme(TM). Davies even ups the fanboy quotient by gratuitously referencing a further piece of continuity in the form of the time rift from The Unquiet Dead. Make no mistake, Davies has done this deliberately (consider how the episode was promoted in the ‘Next Time...’ clip the previous week).

With his audience primed, Davies proceeds to purposely dash all these expectations. Instead of the dramatic reveal of the villain to the TARDIS crew halfway through the episode, she turns up on the front page of the local newspaper just a few minutes into the episode. (Why didn’t she choose to hide in some other body that wouldn’t be recognised? Because it’s funnier this way.) A nosy newspaper reporter unearths the plan and seems to be headed to an early death when she confronts Margaret (and come on, the evil villain is named Margaret!), but instead ends up having a heart-to-heart with her through the door to the loo. The traditional Doctor Who runaround is turned into a 30 second chase scene punctuated with another ridiculous use for the sonic screwdriver, the Doctor’s all-purpose plot device. The obligatory exposition and technobabble speeches usually given to the Doctor are ironically put in the mouth of new companion Captain Jack. The evil villain’s inevitable escape attempt makes for a 10 second gag over dinner. The plot is finally resolved at the end with an admitted deus ex machina, complete with a post-resolution explanation which is repeated twice, once by each of the companions, just to make sure you know it’s a joke. Even the now expected “Bad Wolf” reference is perverted. Instead of being subtly hidden, it’s blatantly brought to the forefront, and then ironically tossed off as a simple coincidence.

Having relegated the “plot” of his episode to about 10 minutes, Davies fills the rest of the time in an extended examination of life in the TARDIS. The real focus of the episode is not the abortive plot, but rather two parallel conversations about consequence, one between Rose and Mickey and one between Margaret and the Doctor. Mickey breaks the stereotype of the spurned jealous boyfriend and actually seems to understand that Rose needs to be with the Doctor, however much he may hate that fact. Crucially it is also shown that Rose still cares deeply for Mickey (which was not at all apparent in AoL/WWIII), and the obvious joy she feels traveling with the Doctor is now tinged with regret for the (perhaps irrevocable) damage that her absence is causing to her old life. She might be able to go back home to London, but it’s clear that things will never be the same. Meanwhile, Margaret pleads for forgiveness from the Doctor, while confronting him with the idea that he’s not so different than those he fights. (A chilling reminder of the darker side of the Doctor that surfaced in The End of the World and Dalek, and presumably a setup for the next two episodes.)

Ultimately, however, I think Boom Town doesn’t quite hold together but, unlike some reviews I’ve seen in the OG Forum, I don’t think this is due to the plot, or lack thereof. In fact, this is at least the third essentially plotless episode of the series. Father’s Day also had a razor-thin plot, and remove the fannish drooling over the resurrection of everyone’s favorite pepper-pot and Dalek is really just three long conversations as well (albeit with a pretty high body count). However, where both Dalek and Father’s Day succeed by keeping a consistent tone and fully committing to their emotional sentiments, the drama in Boom Town is undercut somewhat by the self-conscious irony which is thrown into the mix. The lighter tone to this story may help support the balance of the series as a whole, but doesn’t help the story stand on it’s own. One could worry that Davies seems to have set himself up for the same problem next week, which again looks to balance ironic parody with the darker drama that the return of the Daleks is sure to bring with it. On the other hand, he managed a similar balance quite well with The End of the World (still his best script to date) which began rather light, but gradually darkened and ended on a very somber note indeed.

So, in the end, I think Boom Town ends up being a bit less than the sum of it’s parts, with the juxtaposition of the parody with the drama just a little too jarring, making it difficult for the viewer to commit to either. On the other hand it does contain some important character development, particularly between Rose and Mickey. In the end, it may turn out to work better in the context of the season as a whole than it does as a stand alone.

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"Boom Town" was possibly more aptly named than intended.

Stories by Russell T Davies have certainly caused a small division in fandom. Regardless of RTD's success in bring Doctor Who back to strong form, his style of writing for Doctor Who has been a cause of concern for many fans.

So with fans from both camps, for and against RTD, anxiously waiting to be proved righteous as to whether he can deliver anything en par with "The Empty Child", "Father's Day" or "The Doctor Dances", "Boom Town" has a burden of expectation that it could probably do with out. Is this episode in which Doctor Who self destructs, derailing it's past success? Well, no. In fact, it's a mixed affair, a messy one at that. One could argue it offers strong evidence to either side of the divide. There is good and bad here.

"Boom Town" is very much a character story hidden within a plot-orientated affair. As such, it offers an odd mix of direction and pacing. Unfortunately this feels far from intentional. While it may have been hoped that the intense plot dialogue about a nuclear facility being placed in Cardiff as part of an attempt for a Sithreen to escape Earth by destroying it (and breathe..) would form a good red herring to the actual direction of the story, it simply feels messy.

The biggest problem with "Boom Town" is it tries to do too much when the premise is strong enough to work in a far simpler format.

This is the biggest surprise from RTD. Whether one likes his humour or general light drama approach to his stories, his tales are always well paced and easy to digest. With the story both trying to be an action tale and a character tale at once, this is certainly not the case with "Boom Town".

Which is a pity really as there are some great moments in “Boom Town” which would make any RTD, nay, Doctor Who fan, proud. Christopher Eccleston is given a wonderful mix of serious and humour based scenes to work with. What makes his role even stronger is that for the first time in a while, he's not focused on Rose. We get to see the Doctor rather than the DoctorRose symbiote. While Rose is a good companion for the season, the Doctor's dependency on her weakens his character. Here we see a Doctor who isn't fawning over his companion or overtly worrying about her. In fact, this feels very much a Doctor/Companion relationship of old.

Part of this has to be attributed to Captain Jack. Jack is a great addition to the crew, diluting the Doctor/Rose dynamic and offering a new element to the crew. It's nice to have a companion that doesn't serve as an interface for the viewer. Sometimes Doctor Who suffers with three crewmembers. The show doesn’t need two companions both asking “What’s going on Doctor?” for the sake of explaining plot to the viewer. You only need one companion to use that phrase. If one is to have two companions, they both have to offer something different to the mix from each other. Like Turlough and Romana, Jack is more on a technological wavelength of the Doctor, which means the show has another character to motivate the more sci-fi elements of the story. Jack makes a nice medium between Rose and the Doctor and I really hope he stays in for a good few more episodes.

The character plots primarily revolve around the nature of the Doctor and Rose's relationship with Mickey. To my surprise Mickey really pulls these scenes together. His frustration and exasperation is a credit to the actor and the writing.

The Doctor's restaurant scene is wonderful also. It is a totally different atmosphere to the Rose/Mickey scenes, but just as emotionally charged. Credit to both Eccleston and Annette Badland for their strong performances and again to RTD for the solid script.

The failure for Boom Town is it doesn't really go anyway. It doesn't really feel like it resolves the issue of the Doctor's destructive lifestyle or his culpability for the damage he causes. Not that there is probably a sufficient answer, but the questions RTD asks are ones not really considered prior to this series. He paints the Doctor as a man who almost murders through intent to interfere who then rushes before the dust falls. We see very little evidence of that in the show so it does seem a rather odd proposal. Certain the character seems to feel there is a hint of truth there - which is fair enough. People who can carry responsibility and power often have high expectations of what they can do, I don't see why the Doctor shouldn't have those same high expectations of the good he wants to achieve and the guilt he feels for failing the few. That said, the script almost makes the hypothesis feel like fact, rather than maybe an issue simply plaguing the Doctor and that doesn't really sit right. I think one is very hard pushed to make such comparisons between the murderous Siltheen and the Doctor nevertheless the script tries.

So it's the lack of resolution that makes Boom Town feel most confuddled. The ending just pops up out of the blue and resolves just as fast. The power of the TARDIS jars for the same reason. It's importance in the story resolution has no hint earlier on and so comes out of no where... that seems a little odd in terms of story writing. If you don't present the audience with some hint of what the means of resolution in an earlier chapter, it can leave viewers feeling cheated.

So the story is a mix of pros and cons. There are some great scenes and dialogue, but a story that feels rough around the edges. It has a good set of characters, but lacks any real cohesion between their roles in the tale.

I would say this is way above average, but certainly the most inconsistent story so far. “Boom Town” is certainly more interesting than “Rose”, but feels as if it needed another draft. In that respect, perhaps the first story to be akin to the old series ... how many of those stories do you want to pick up the script and give one final rewrite?

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Despite the most wafer-thin and implausible ostensible plot possibly ever in the series (alien disguised as MP plans to set up nuclear power station in Cardiff town centre), one which makes a bus full of Adventure-Game-style aliens traveling to a 1950s Welsh holiday camp (Delta & the Bannermen) look comparatively believable on paper, this peculiar episode managed to shake off initial absurdities and Rent-a-Ghost-style shenanigans (Margaret going back and forth via the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver-cum-transmat device) relatively early on – thankfully the Slitheen’s gustatory problems were restricted to just a stomach gurgle this time round. Scatological elements thankfully toned down since the atrocious Aliens/War III, we were however still treated to one scene in which the Slitheen, fully revealed and far more convincing in its tangibility (courtesy of a mask rather than CGI), sat on a toilet as it talked through the door to a woman and wept on her mention of being ‘with child’ – strangely this scene was actually fairly well done despite its lavatorial location (is RTD going to finally reveal what Davros has been sat on in his Dalek seat all these years?). What ensues in this episode, finally, after all the token faffing around between the Doctor et al is finished with, is a quite engaging face off between the Doctor and the Slitheen in a restaurant. Annette Badland gives a genuinely powerful performance in this scene, delivering her probing of the Doctor on his dubiously catalystic lifestyle with impressive intensity and gravitas – this performance of Badland’s is a far cry from her pantomimesque portrayal in Aliens/War III. We get an equally intriguing steely glint from Eccleston’s eye in this scene too. The rest of the episode continues this moral examination of the true nature of the Doctor and his time traveling pursuits and more particularly on the general philosophical question of crime and punishment, more specifically capital punishment, and the responsibility of those who assist the administration of moral law – quite interestingly and unexpectedly, the Doctor brushes off Margaret’s protests with a curt ‘Not my problem’, placing himself in a position of moral impunity from the inevitable result of his transporting his prisoner back to her home planet; his speech about the caprice of the psychotic mind (in terms of the Slitheen’s doing good or evil simply on whims) is a convincing and incisive stance, and indeed this meditation on the God-like power of giving or taking life is contrasted nicely by Margaret deflecting the issue onto the Doctor’s own exercise of power through time travel. Another good touch was the Doctor re-educating the audience on the nature of the Tardis and how the chameleon-circuit got stuck as a police box in 1960s London.

The downsides to Boomtown? Well, being an RTD script, one has come to expect inevitable troughs among the all-too-few peaks: the ludicrously inappropriate banter in the Tardis at the beginning, chiefly the Doctor saying to Jack when he complains of not getting a hug from Rose, ‘Give me a drink and you might get one’, or something similarly puerile; the stupid run-around after Margaret in the non-descript streets of Cardiff (they might have at least found better locations such as the old arcade there or the castle grounds); the irritating and inept banter of the Tardis crew in a completely non-descript café; and the ludicrous suggestion by Margaret that she and the Doctor are on some sort of date. There are other annoyances but I can’t be bothered to list them – life’s too short.

Summing up – customary RTD irritations aside, Boomtown is a surprisingly ‘all right’ episode by and large, with some fairly deep meditations on morality which in places are reminiscent of the far more sublime meditations on the darker side of Gallifreyans in Edge of Destruction, the third story in the original cannon. In terms of script and execution this is in my opinion RTD’s best contribution to the series so far, having the edge over The Long Game by a whisker; and this did come as a surprise for an episode I was absolutely dreading.

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Lovely picturesque shots of Cardiff centre in this.

I couldn’t understand RADIO TIMES saying there was no room to develop it. It was all development. Character development. Like FATHER’S DAY, it placed character and human emotion at the heart of the story. That became the story. It needed that feel of a breathing space, of a calm before the storm to do it’s work. Very strong RTD episode. Loved it. This type of thing, these kinds of scenes - I’m thinking Margaret sparing the journalist in the loo - were rarely if never attempted to this degree before.

The restaurant scene with Christopher Eccleston and Annette Badland was intimately played. “Let me go”, Margaret pleaded, with restraint - tears in her eyes.

Mickey’s rounding on Rose was heartfelt and justified - the flipside of her running into the TARDIS at the end of Episode One. But The Doctor had to wait around longer than he did at the end of “World War Three”. I don’t believe we’ve had quite such a chat-up line in DR. WHO before. But it was completely natural.

Things link nicely in 2005 DR. WHO. Take “BOOM TOWN”. Here - quite apart from the ever-present Doctor and Rose - we had a semi-regular cast of Mickey (Episodes 1, 4-5, 8), Margaret (again 4-5) and Captain Jack (9-10). That covers six of the preceding ten episodes, seven if you count the time fault in Cardiff from Episode Three. There is a real sense of a beginning, middle and end to the new series.

And Bad Wolf again. Certain close-ups of Eccleston made me wonder... And the Bad Wolf website is scary. Images of wolves and lovely schoolkids singing “Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf”. Can’t tell if they’re wearing gas masks...

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Eh, it was alright.

And really, that's about the best I can say to sum it up. It was "alright." It didn't really have enough for me to say it was a wasted 45 minutes watching it, but nor was there enough bad stuff to have the vitriol that the Haters have had for it. And boy, have the Haters been out for this one.

I can kinda see why. The Slitheen for whatever reason haven't gone as over with the Internet crowd as one might have hoped. I don't mind them, meself, I thought their babyfacedness attached to the massive hulking clawed bodies were downright disturbing the first time I saw them. The flatulence jokes got to be a bit much, I admit. Here, she wasn't all that annoying. She was in between evil, in trying to fulfill the original mission (make Earth a radioactive husk adn then sell it as starship fuel to the highest bidder), and trying to make the best of being the last of her family (remember, "Slitheen" was their last name not species!). And I loved the scenes in the restaurant with her and the Doctor.

Rose and Mickey on the outs, well, we coulda seen that one coming from a mile away. Just always figured it'd be ROSE on the offensive.

And we allll know that there's a whole lot of Somethin' Somethin' goin' on now that Captain Jack's in the TARDIS. I'm telling you, Jack is something else. Totally unlike any character I've seen in mainstream TV sci-fi (that I've seen, mind you), and I'm so glad he's there. Too bad he only shows up towards the end of the season, but I understand the need to establish the Doctor/Rose relationship (not necessarily "ship" mind) first. But DAMN has he been a boost to the proceedings.

And Daleks. Holy %$#& that's a lot of Daleks....

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That was a nice surprise. From the preview after The Doctor Dances, this looked, to be blunt, a load of tripe. But, to come after the masterpiece that was The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances story is a hard job anyways.

The whole character piece of the Doctor was something new that has really only been looked at in the books. RTD does give real depth to his characters. This was echoed in the Rose-Mickey storyline too. We're seeing real consequences for both their actions. Consequences of the Doctor's actions was dealt with in a fleeting way in 'The Face of Evil' but this is a whole episode devoted to it. The meal between him and the Doctor was great stuff.

Captain Jack didn't have much to do in this episode, but having the three of them in the TARDIS and then seeing them at the restaurant enjoying themselves really made me feel like they'd be fun to travel with in TIME AND SPACE! But then thats why we watch isn't it? Because we all wish we were part of the TARDIS crew isn't it?

If have a few quams it would be that the whole Nuclear power station thing was tied up far too quickly - it never built up to any kind of threat. Using the rift from episode three and other 'tie-in' matters made this episode feel very patchy overall. Great scenes and good humour but patchy.

Let's hope the Daleks notch this series up again.

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After watching Boom Town! I've come to the following conclusion: The New Doctor Who is the most wildly uneven and inconsistent show I’ve ever seen. In any given episode there are classic scenes – some of the best in the history of the show – paired with some of the worst acting and worst dialogue I’ve seen since watching the last episode of Seventh Heaven. After each story ends I’m not sure what I think of the series. I try to like it, and be as forgiving as a casual viewer would be, but as both a fan of the show, and a fan of quality television, I am often left feeling disappointed. There is a lot about the show that is great. But the series has a lot of BIG flaws that are getting harder and harder to ignore with each passing episode. So I’d like to explore the series as a whole – the good and the bad – to work out my own feelings towards it, and to see if any of my opinions might generate some interesting discussion and constructive criticism of the show. (My goal is not just to tear down, but to build up.)

As a sign of good faith, and to demonstrate that I am not just a cranky jerk, I want to begin with what I like about the new show:

The new Doctor Who: The Good

1) Guest actors
Far and away the greatest joy of the current series of Doctor Who has been the guest stars. The Unquiet Dead had the best ensemble work, with Eccleston and Piper putting in some of their finest work, and with Simon Callow and the actress playing Gwyneth offering truly nuanced and beautiful performances. Florence Hoath stole the The Empty Child (and would make an excellent choice as a companion to replace Rose, should Rachel Wiesz’s public request to replace Piper fall on deaf ears). Other bright spots include Penelope Wilton, Simon Pegg, Noel Clarke, Jasmine Bannerman (sp?), and the fellow who played Dr. Constantine.

2) The Big Finish Adaptations
Davies was wise to choose to do a fairly direct adaptation of Jubilee, although the short format meant that some of the meat of the conversation between Dalek and Companion never made it to the screen. While I like Jubilee better, the superb visuals (and Eccleston’s solid performance) made Dalek great in its own right. Importing the villain of The Holy Terror into the story for The Empty Child was another smart move. To this end, I hope that the rumors are true and that next season will see Spare Parts brought to the screen. I can think of several other audios I’d like to see make the jump, but Davies was on the right track starting with Shearman (and maybe Platt).

3) The visuals
Aside from some cheapness in The Long Game, the show looks great. Highlights: The design of the Dalek casing and the creature inside was great, and its rampage was a sight to see. The scene of Rose hanging by a rope during the blitz was visually stunning. And I adored the effects in The End of the World.

4) Horror elements
There are some very scary very effective moments, especially in The Unquiet Dead, Dalek, and The Empty Child.

5) Dialogue between regulars and guest characters
Usually quite good, especially if it is between a member of the TARDIS crew and a working-class woman, or if it involves Dickens.

6) The Dalek in Dalek.
Everything I could have hoped for and more. He RULED!!!!! And he wasn’t a spider…

The Bad and the Ugly

Unfortunately, when an element in the new series doesn’t work – like, say, the humor – it UTTERLY fails. Not just by a little, mind you. UTTERLY. That’s bad. Here are some flaws that need addressing:

1) Not enough science
Everything Christopher H. Bidmead said about this new show is spot on. While Bidmead’s episodes could be a little dry, we need more of his sensibilities on this show. (Also, while I never used to hate the sonic screwdriver like Bidmead does, this new show is teaching me to hate it. The Doctor is ALWAYS using it.)

2) Not enough blood and gore.
The show doesn’t have to be as rough as The Two Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen, or Brain of Morbius, but it should be more violent than it is.

3) The snarkiness.
There’s a snottyness, a snootiness, a bitchery, a world-weariness, and an adolescence to the tone that has to go. The body function humor, the pseudo-deep and one-sided political commentary, and the grotesqueness of villains like the Slitheen and the skin-woman from End of the World are all wearing on the nerves. The original series seemed to be aimed at a broad target audience. The new show seems to be for bar-hopping hipsters in their twenties and thirties who hate Americans and who love to deconstruct the plot holes in Star Wars. Blah. The Doctor’s dialogue seems to be 85% formulated in this vein, and so he doesn’t feel much like the Doctor to me. (Sorry if this point is conceived in anger. It is angry in reaction to the anger I perceive lurking behind much of the dialogue in the show itself.)

4) The humor
Almost none of the jokes are funny, unless delivered by Penelope Wilton.

5) No women writers. No female Doctor.
Where’s Jacqueline Raynor, Vanessa Bishop, Sarah Waters, or any other female writer? Women were responsible for some of the best Doctor Who. Women wrote Survival and Enlightenment, a woman directed Pyramids of Mars, and a woman was the best producer the show ever had. Can we have more estrogen in the show, please? And I suppose my pipe dream of Emma Thompson becoming a Doctor is just that, but can we please have a woman Doctor down the road?

6) The sexuality
I like it when the Doctor gets romantic. His romances in The Aztecs, The End of the World, and the TV Movie all work for me. I would have been curious to see some sexual tension with the Rani or even a romance with some of the companions – maybe Romana, Liz Shaw, Peri, etc. The romance could be sweet, it could be highly erotic, or it could be ambiguous. I could also see the Doctor involved in a gay relationship, provided the relationship was handled realistically and emotionally and dramatically. What I do not like is the treatment of sex in this show, which seems to boil down to a series of adolescent jokes and empty flirtations. Words mean things, but the members of the TARDIS crew say one outrageous thing after another to each other with seemingly no resonance or consequences. I don’t know about you, but if the person I’m living with makes a joke about us going to bed with one another … I react.

7) Dialogue between the TARDIS crew members.
The problems enumerated in points 3,4, and 5 are most evident in the dialogue. Except for “Rose” and “The End of the World,” which included a number of excellent conversations between Rose and the Doctor, the exchanges between members of the TARDIS crew have been almost uniformly awful. The dreadful conversations recur in almost every episode, and tend to assume one of the following forms:
a. a syrupy sweetness that rings false (“I’m so glad I met you.”) blah. When the Doctor calls Sarah Jane his best friend in The Seeds of Doom I believe it because they’ve known one another for ages and clearly are best friends. This over-the-top stuff is even harder to take than the 8th Doctor and Charley in those god-awful audios. And, like much of the dialogue in the show, the Doctor speaks too soon and is too hyperbolic. Sometimes less is more. Don’t spell everything out.
b. sex jokes:
i. juvenile orgy jokes along the lines of “Let’s have a threesome in the TARDIS” that pack no punch whatsoever – they are not sexy, not affectionate, not funny, and are not credible. My high school friends don’t even talk like that after six pints, let alone when sober or when waiting for aliens to break down the door.
ii. “The Doctor is an easy lay. (Or not.) But who’d want him with that nose and those ears?” Insulting to Chris, irritating to me.
iii. Rose is promiscuous and likes cute but evil men who share traits in common with the Doctor. She’d do the Doctor instead if only he’d have her. (Potentially an interesting storyline--reminiscent of Jo Grant’s marrying a Doctor substitute in The Green Death--that is not explored in an interesting manner in this series.)
c. “Didn’t you know? This is just a tv show!” Constant self-mocking of the absurdity of the sonic screwdriver, the dated nature of the Police Box exterior of the TARDIS, the things the Doctor “always does,” and the generally constant breaking of the fourth wall, which was done well in the first two seasons of Buffy and then wound up ruining the whole series. It has yet to be done well here at all. Also, who would talk about bananas while running from gas-masked zombies? Realism now, please.
d. “It’s all my fault.” The Doctor’s guilt complex was interesting for a time in the sixth Doctor Big Finish Audios. Now it is an utter bore. While it is nice, in this age of George W. Bush, seeing a “moralist” hero capable of self-doubt and self-reflection, the Doctor shouldn’t be so neurotic and self-flagellating.
e. The Doctor’s racist and anti-human remarks. A few side-snipes at humans in Remembrance of the Daleks went a long way. It distanced McCoy from humans, but he didn’t harp on it by doing it in every episode. The Doctor decries humanity once or twice, he’s alien. He does it all the time, he’s racist.

8) The companions
Rose showed some promise at first, but she can’t touch Evelyn Smythe, Ace, Leela, Barbara, Ian, the Brigadier, Sarah Jane, Peri, Liz, or Jo. Aside from making friends with the proles (which has resulted in some very touching moments) and romancing morons, Rose has little to do with the actual story. Liz and Romana could push the plot forward with their knowledge, the Brigadier and Leela could be of physical help to the Doctor. Turlough was an interesting anti-hero. Like Victoria and Tegan, Rose is neither brilliant nor strong, so she has a choice between being sweet or mouthing off. Not very interesting. And her mother is in way too many episodes. BUT – she was really great in the first four episodes, so maybe she’ll go back to being cool before she leaves the show. I have very little hope for Captain Jack, however. He and Adam are the pits – two consecutive riffs on Turlough and Adric that are not evil or smart enough to be interesting, played by pretty boy actors with limited acting range who seem to be the male equivalent of a Roger Moore Bond-girl – nice scenery for those who find pretty boys attractive.

9) Same villain, same setting.
Regarding the Villains - we’ve had three CGI mouths (Rose, EOTW, TLG), lots of zombies (sitting around in The Long Game and on the march in the Empty Child – and the Autons have a zombie quality to them in Rose), and two Rupert Murdock types (Dalek and The Long Game) and several jabs at George W. Bush (Dalek, the Slitheen trilogy, etc.). All of these are good villains in their own right, but there should be less repetition. Especially of CGI mouths. And the settings seem to boil down to modern-day London, Cardiff, and a space station in orbit around earth. Dull. We need more planets, even if they do just look like quarries. (After all, alien planets really do look like quarries, and quarries are more interesting than studio-bound space-station sets week after week.)

10) The Time War
Who cares, really? I can’t believe that Gallifrey was destroyed between television shows. A story that big should have been shown. In the hiatus between the old series and the new one we were teased with interesting glimpses into the Doctor’s culture and his past. We had Lungbarrow from the old regime of Cartmell and Platt, and we had some hints about the Doctor’s parents in the McGann film. While many fans objected to one or both of these storylines, both would have been more interesting than just blowing up Gallifrey. One can always make the Doctor more tragic, and more like Superman, by blowing up his home. One cannot always do a Lungbarrow-type story. I understand why this was done. It frees the creative team from years of Robert Holmes continuity and restores mystery and tragedy to the Doctor. Still, I would have preferred to find out more about the Doctor before seeing that whole segment of the show shut down. And the implication that the Rani, the Master, Susan, the Meddling Monk, and Romana are all dead is really depressing. Was it really necessary to wipe out all those characters? Most of these old characters are more interesting than the new ones we’ve been seeing week to week here.

11) Bad Wolf
The show’s format is too frantic and too short to develop an interesting mystery. When the official website of the show does a better job offering clues than the show itself, then something is wrong. Unless a really awesome villain pops up at the last second – the Master or a God like Sutekh, Fenric, or Toymaker – it will probably fall flat.

12) The endless social commentary.
As a New Yorker who voted for Kerry, who hates American imperialism, and who always sympathized with the displaced Palestinians, I was inclined to agree with the kind of thoughtful “war on terror” commentary found in Big Finish Audios such as The Twilight Kingdom. I liked the evil American President in Love Actually, who combined the worst traits of Bush and Bill Clinton. I even liked the villain in Dalek, who seems to be based on Rupert Murdock and Bill Gates. So I am open to social commentary and anti-American sentiments if it results in good drama, solid humor, or helps inspire real-world political activism by addressing serious issues in science fiction. Unfortunately, the Slitheen stuff is not as funny as the Sunmakers, or as intelligent and even-handed as the first X-Men film, and is not as outrageous and cutting-edge as Soylent Green. It is, in fact, nothing but annoying. And, while Bush is guilty of a great many evils, the fact that it suggests that he planned September 11 is a bit beyond the pale even for someone like me, who agrees that he’s an utter nightmare of a world leader. An episode like that will change no one’s mind and just preaches to the converted. And I resent the implication, advanced in numerous episodes, that all I ever do is watch tv. Eccleston has said repeatedly that we’re sitting on our couches watching Doctor Who when there’s a “war on terror” going on. He’s right. I’ll get right on it. I’ll change the world. First thing I’ll do is follow his advice and stop watching Doctor Who…

13) The Doctor
Because of all of the above, I do not believe that Chistopher Eccleston is the Doctor. He does not dress like the Doctor, he does not talk like the Doctor (his dialogue, that is – I don’t mind the accent one bit), he’s not as smart as the Doctor, and he’s not as heroic as the Doctor. He’s not the Doctor. Sorry.

From what I’ve heard, Season Two sounds like it will be a lot better. I like the sound of Cybermen in a few episodes, I’m ready for a new Doctor and a new companion, I’m glad RTD is writing fewer episodes, and I’m excited for the possible return of Sarah Jane (assuming her dialogue isn’t snarky and it doesn’t break the fourth wall).

As one of the few fans of Doctor Who that actually liked the Paul McGann film (largely because his performance was pitch-perfect, but also because of Grace, the visual look and set design, and the harrowing emergency room segment) I empathize with Ian Levine’s anger at fans who have written bad online reviews of the new series. I have held out for this long because I wanted to give the new show time, and I was just delighted to see it again. Nevertheless, I am leaning more and more towards the camp of those who dislike the show, and I am writing this open letter in the hopes that my opinions might reach the creators of the new show and be taken into consideration for future seasons. I realize that fans are divided, and I think it is possible that more fans like it than dislike it. I also realize that fans are not the sole concern of the producers, who are trying to reach a broader audience. Still, I do not think that my opinions suddenly don’t count because they are from a die-hard fan, or from a minority voice. My hope is that my opinions are expressed well, are thoughtful, and are not too, too rude. I am sorry if they are.

I’m very sorry that I, on balance, am beginning to dislike this new series. I never expected this series to be the exact same as the last one. I never expected it to be as good as the first season or Season 14. But I never expected that, by the end of the first season, I’d be saying “Well, its better than Trial of a Time Lord and that season with Horns of Nimon in it.” Still, I want to keep watching the show, I want to like it more than I do, and I want it to continue to be a ratings success. I just want it to be kinder to the fans. I’m glad that Dalek gave me back the Daleks exactly the way I wanted them to be. Now all I want is the Doctor back. Is that too much to ask?

And to all of you who like the new show … I’m jealous. Have a ball with it. Be grateful that it is back and that you love it. And please, if you’re not too angry with me … hold a place for me. I hope to be joining you soon…

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Ah, leftovers; with the news that ‘Boom Town’ would feature a Slitheen, Mickey, the rift from ‘The Unquiet Dead’ and the return to script-writing of Russell T. Davies, I found myself wondering if it would be padding between Moffat’s two part story and the two episode season finale. In a sense I was right, but as it turns out ‘Boom Town’ feels like an attempt to provide closure before the end of the series, and in other ways feels like the calm before the storm.

‘Boom Town’ doesn’t start especially well. I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with Davies’ approach to the series, and ‘Boom Town’ exhibits many of his worst traits. With the return of Blon Fel Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen, the last survivor of ‘Aliens of London’/‘World War Three’, we once more get the toilet humour based flatulence associated with the creatures, and Davies outdoes himself with a scene in which Blon enters a toilet and makes even more gastric noises than before. It isn’t funny, it’s just crass and juvenile. Worse still, my fears about the addition of Captain Jack to the crew are borne out as the episode opens with ghastly sixth form flirting, Jack asking “How come I never get any of that?” when Mickey hugs Rose and the Doctor quipping, “Buy me a drink first.” We also get Mickey objecting to Rose travelling with the handsome Jack, but not the big-eared Doctor. More examples of facile would-be wit include the café scene in which Jack raucously bellows “Fifteen of us, naked!” to which the punch line delivered by Mickey might as well have been “As the Vicar said to the vestal virgin.” It really is astonishingly contrived, as is Margaret’s conversation with the reporter, as she tries to shrug off the mysterious deaths surrounding the nuclear power plant project and responds to the question about the Government’s nuclear advisor with “He slipped on an icy patch.” When the reporter points out, “He was decapitated” she replies, “It was a very icy patch.”

Then there’s the horribly choreographed scene in which Blon tries to poison the Doctor in three separate ways, which flags up the fact that there are lapses in logic throughout the episode. If she’s taking about last resorts, why not just rip off the skin suit and eviscerate him? Not to mention the ludicrous premise of building a nuclear power plant in the middle of city, which simply wouldn’t happen, regardless of whether or not London gives a toss about Wales. I should also mention the “pan-dimensional surfboard”, not because it doesn’t make sense, simply because its trite bollocks. Davies’ writing negatively impacts the regulars too, with Rose yet again having trouble with a word that she’s just heard several times (on this occasion it’s Raxacoricofallapatorius rather than Jagrafess, but even so), and the Doctor reduced to a gurning, grinning buffoon. As for Jack, when Mickey asks him, “What are you Captain of, the innuendo squad?” the answer unfortunately seems to be yes.

Nevertheless, underneath all of this twaddle, ‘Boom Town’ works rather well. The inclusion of Mickey initially seems gratuitous, but proves to be important, as his date with Rose turns sour, Mickey explaining that he’s “going out with Tricia Delaney”. Rose’s bitchy comment, “She’s a bit big” indicates that this touches a nerve (and also that Davies dislikes fat people, since he also poked fun at them in ‘Aliens of London’/‘World War Three’) and when she angrily starts to retort further, Mickey shouts at her, “At least I know where she is! You left me… I can’t even go out with a stupid girl from the shop, because you pick up the phone and I come running.” The scene works well because despite his incredibly wooden performance in ‘Rose’, Noel Clarke delivers on the promise he showed in ‘Aliens of London’/‘World War Three’ and conveys Mickey’s heartbreak extremely convincingly. At the end of the episode, when he slips away into the night, the Doctor asks Rose, “Do you want to go and find him? We’ll wait” she replies, “No need, he deserves better” looking very glum as she says it. All of which suggests that Rose and Mickey’s story is at an end and the series won’t keep getting dragged back to London council estates.

Jack gets much less to do here than he did in ‘The Empty Child’/‘The Doctor Dances’, but his role in the crew is at least well established; after he enthusiastically announces a plan for cornering the Slitheen, the Doctor glares at him and demands, “Excuse me, who’s in charge?” Jack defers without objection, and later, when Blon threatens Rose, he automatically looks to the Doctor guidance. He also spends a great deal of time helping the Doctor perform maintenance on the TARDIS, all of which suggests that he has the potential to be a useful addition, assuming that he lasts long enough.

But the best aspect of ‘Boom Town’ concerns the Doctor, as Davies explores the morality of the character. With Blon a prisoner, the Doctor announces that he’s taking her home, and Jack asks, “Isn’t that the easy option, like letting her go?” It transpires that the answer to this question is no, as she quietly informs him, “Take me home and you take me to my death.” Unexpectedly, the Doctor asks, “Not my problem”, thus raising a moral issue relevant in a time when terrorist suspects face possible extradition to countries where they might face the death penalty. Mickey tells her, “You deserve it”, a response that is easy to sympathize with considering her crimes, whereupon she replies, “You’re very quick to say so. You’re very quick to soak your hands in my blood. Which makes you better than me, how?” to Mickey’s obvious discomfort. Davies doesn’t go much deeper and the episode isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind about the death penalty whether they support or oppose it, but at least the effort is made to make the episode relevant and thought provoking. Davies also raises the always controversial question of whether or not people commit crimes as a result of a bad upbringing, with Blon informing the Doctor that she was forced to commit her first kill at the age of thirteen, and later, after she’s been regressed to an egg, the Doctor hopes that if raised by a decent family, she might turn out better next time round. Jack notes that she might turn out worse, but the Doctor decides, “That’s her choice.” Again, the issue isn’t taken to any real conclusion, and unfortunately Davies rather sabotages himself when it turns out that she’s been up to something all the time she’s been captured, which is a shame.

There is a scene early on in the episode in which Blon decides not to kill the reporter when she finds out that she has a boyfriend and is “with child”, whereupon she sadly informs her intended victim that she is all alone. It’s strangely poignant moment, especially as we get a close-up on the Slitheen’s mournful baby face and it raises the issue of redemption. What impresses me about this, is that it didn’t go the way I thought it would, as the Doctor proves that he isn’t a soft touch. When Blon tells him that she spared someone and can therefore change, he tells her, “You let one of them go, but that’s nothing new… that’s how you live with yourself, that’s how you slaughter millions. Because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind’s blowing in the right direction, you happen to be kind.” Not only was it not the response I was expecting, but Blon’s riposte to that is, “Only a killer would know that. Is that right? From what I’ve seen your funny little happy-go-lucky life leaves devastation in its wake… playing with so many people’s lives you might as well be a god.” It’s a fairly accurate assessment, and as she noted earlier, he doesn’t usually have to deal with consequences; it clearly touches a nerve, and the scene is electrifying, mainly because of a decent performance from Eccleston and a frankly astonishing one from Annette Badland. Again, it’s slightly undermined by the fact that Blon is deliberately keeping him occupied whilst her pan-dimensional surfboard is powering up in the TARDIS, but it’s a great scene nonetheless.

Finally, ‘Boom Town’ is worthy of note for one final thing; the references to “Bad Wolf” scattered throughout the series are finally mentioned by the Doctor, who ponders, “Everywhere we go, two words, following us. Bad Wolf.” It’s a very dramatic moment, utterly ruined by his flippant dismissal of it as “just a coincidence” but it sets the scene for the following episode with a promise that it we are going to get an explanation for it. We’re also apparently going to get a pastiche of reality television, which has the potential to be either blistering satire on the unimaginative nature of that most creatively bankrupt of television genres, or an unimaginative tongue-in-cheek exercise in camp extravagance. I hope it’s the former, but either way, with an entire fleet of Daleks putting in an appearance, I’ll certainly be watching it.

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Once again, it had been a while since I’d seen a new Who episode – I was still reeling from the sheer brilliance of Cornell’s Father’s Day and Moffat’s Empty Child extravaganza. Like the first Slitheen story, I’d heard practically nothing but bad things about this episode, even from the most forgiving of fans, and the last RTD-penned episode I’d seen had been the passable but still forgettable Long Game… so suffice it to say, I was a little worried. Especially when the episode began with a cringe-inducing recap of Aliens Of London. Great. The last thing I wanted at this point was to be reminded of that thorn in this series’ side.

But then… six months later. And Margaret Blaine is again in a position of power, eating the threats to her master plan. But there’s a difference this time around, which is evident from the start. And that’s Mr Joe Ahearne, he of Dalek and Father’s Day. Ahearne has achieved what I thought to be impossible. He’s made the Slitheen scary. And, it seems, he’s made Cardiff look interesting, even from the establishing shots of Mickey arriving. Okay, it’s not Paris, it’s not New York, but at least it’s not sodding London again.

When Mickey knocked on the TARDIS door, it was flung open by a guy I didn’t recognise until I heard his accent. Oh yeah, there’s a new companion aboard! And as far as I could remember from the last story, he was terrific! Well, he was still pretty good, and his banter with the Doctor was brilliant, but… well, I guess I preferred him in a WWII setting. Too bad he didn’t keep the outfit. Or the haircut. Oh well. This scene is saturated with playful banter, continuity and exposition. I was oddly reminded of the early days with William Hartnell and his crew. Not such a bad thing.

The scene with Margaret and the reporter, Cathy Salt, was beautifully done. True, we’ve already seen one monster suddenly get human emotions in this series, but Annette Badland is just wonderful. And the image of a Slitheen weeping on the toilet, though it should be hilarious, is incredibly touching. Another masterstroke by Joe Ahearne. Meanwhile. the TARDIS gang has found out she’s around, and they’re out to get her. And they really are the TARDIS gang, the four of them. It felt a lot like Buffy, or the Davison years. I guess sometimes a crowded TARDIS can work. The chase around the building was handled really well, a great blend of slapstick and suspense – I was reminded of World War Three. Of course, she got captured, and we discovered her evil plan… but hang on! Barely twenty minutes have passed! What about the second half of the episode?

Well, this is a Russell T. Davies script, innit? So naturally, in among the 21st-century references and the cheeky jokes, we’re in for a bit of rumination on the nature of… stuff. Stuff that’s been lingering in the background of Doctor Who for years, but has never been fully explored. This time it’s about what happens to the monsters after they’ve been foiled. What if the Doctor can’t just run off without watching them burn? What if he’s stuck with them until their sentence is carried out? When I heard the plotline for the 1996 TV movie, I was intrigued – the Doctor is carrying the Master’s remains to Gallifrey, after all this time; how will he deal with that emotionally? – but in the end, that wasn’t even mentioned. So now RTD is tackling the issue head-on – the Doctor has to bring his captive to dinner. And yes, their “date” is peppered with witty banter and sight gags and the like (I loved what he did with the breath-freshener!), but primarily this scene illustrates the difficult ordeal faced by both the Doctor and his captive. The Doctor must finally look the monster in the eye, and even socialise with her. The monster must beg for one last chance at redemption.

Meanwhile, Rose and Mickey are off on one of their Rose-and-Mickey scenes. I expected this. In fact, I would’ve been disappointed not to see a scene like this in an episode where Mickey featured. Their storyline has progressed in a realistic way, from Rose’s abandonment of Mickey, to her sudden reappearance a year later, to the Doctor’s eventual acceptance of “Ricky”, to her decision to stay on as a companion. And Mickey is always waiting for her. And we know he always will. I don’t know if we’ve ever heard him say it, but really he doesn’t need to, because it’s obvious. He loves her, very much.

But there’s no time for that – the Gelth rift has torn open, and the TARDIS is going to be at the centre of Cardiff’s destruction. Surprise, surprise, “Margaret” is behind it all, and plans to use her extrapolator to surf along the shock wave to safety. (I’m not sure if I liked the idea of a cosmic surfboard, but hey, there was that question-mark umbrella…) Suddenly, the TARDIS console opens… what the? This has never, ever happened before. What’s that light? The heart of the TARDIS? Better idea than the Eye of Harmony, anyway. And it regresses the Slitheen back into an egg. People have criticised this deus ex machina ending, but I feel it works quite well. A second chance… what’s wrong with that? Rose seems to agree. And of course she’s talking about Mickey. Somehow we know their story isn’t over.

So there you have it. Boom Town. A quiet muse about the implications of the Doctor’s actions. Some great “TARDIS team” antics, a brilliant turn from Annette Badland, the continuation of the Rose-and-Mickey soap, and a bit of sci-fi drama at the end. All in all, a good little story, a terrific script by Mr Davies, and another masterstroke of direction by Joe Ahearne. Something occurred to me when the end credits rolled past – there were only two episodes to go. I was going to miss this. The Ninth Doctor, Rose, even Jack. Such a superb team. I knew they’d be gone soon… and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet. So I’ve decided to go all the way back to the beginning, to the first episode, and watch it all again, before I get to my final two reviews. I want to get a clear view of the series as a whole before I bid it farewell. It’s going to take a while, but I have a feeling I won’t be disappointed…

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‘Boom Town’ is a curious episode - gone are the thrills and spills of ‘The Empty Child’ and ‘The Doctor Dances’; gone is the notion that ‘Doctor Who’ is about monsters and screaming companions; gone, even, is the way that Series One was set up to be, or at least this is the case come the end of it.

For forty-five minutes, Russell T. Davies presents us with a ‘Doctor Who’ story concerned with questioning who the Doctor is and why he does what he does; it also addresses the strains on everyday lives which arise due to the Doctor whisking someone off the planet. For the first time in Series One as well, it hints at something greater building up- the question of what the words ‘bad wolf’ actually signify. However, this tone lends itself to a more character based episode than an all-action one as we have seen previously in Series One, so how does it work?

The plot itself concerns the TARDIS landing on top of the Rift in Cardiff so it can refuel- however, things soon take a turn for the worse as a member of the Slitheen family has become the new Mayor Of Cardiff. Soon, she is captured by the Doctor and put inside the TARDIS, where he shall take her back to Raxacoricofallapatorius the next day, However, she requests a final meal before being taken to her death (back home, she will be executed) and whilst this is happening, the Rift begins to open. Added to this, any possible reconciliation between Rose and her estranged boyfriend Mickey is looking unlikely as the full impact of Rose’s travelling takes its toll….

The overall ambience of the story reminded me in many ways of some of the earlier William Hartnell ‘Doctor Who’ stories. Back then, viewers had no idea who the Doctor was, why he was motivated or where he came from. In years to come, we would be told that he was a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who ran away because he was bored (and later still, in the ‘New Adventures’ range of novels, we learn about ‘The Other’…)

‘Boom Town’ is in many ways a real case of going back-to-basics, and at this is succeeds admirably. One of the best things about Series One is how it has gradually introduced different elements of ‘Doctor Who’ at a relaxed pace, rather than spit it all out in a garbled rush of continuity, as per ‘The TV Movie’. In ‘Rose’, we are told he is an alien who has a spaceship that travels in time and space, named the TARDIS; in ‘The End Of The World’, we find out that the Doctor is a Time Lord whose planet was destroyed in a war; in ‘The Unquiet Dead’, we find out that the war was a Time War; in ‘Aliens Of London’, we find out that he is 900 years of age and used to work on Earth for a group named UNIT… and so on, and so forth. It takes until ‘Boom Town’- episode Eleven- to even give an explanation of why it is that the TARDIS actually looks like a Police Box; previously, we have been informed that it is a disguise, and that was a good enough explanation- we did not need to know anything else until now, and so adding details about the Chameleon Circuit to the knowledge fresh viewers have been steadily acquiring is a nice move. Also rather nice was the fact that the Chameleon Circuit it is also referred to as a cloaking device, nicely bridging the gap between ‘The TV Movie’ and the old seasons of ‘Doctor Who’.

There are also references to other ‘Doctor Who’ stories in the episode; notably mention of the Venom Grubs for ‘The Web Planet’, mention of the planet Justicia from the novel ‘The Monsters Inside’ and, of course, the rift from ‘The Unquiet Dead’ and the Slitheen from ‘Aliens Of London’, ‘World War Three’ and the aforementioned ‘The Monsters Inside’ (in that order).

The Slitheen were a bone of content for many viewers, and it is hard not to see why. They laugh a lot for no real reason (I hear distant cries of “Padding!”), they fart (ahem), and they generally spend most of their time zipping and unzipping, rather than doing anything actually constructive. At least, this is how it seemed from their first appearance, but deep down there was something better, something more intelligent. These are the family of Raxacoricofallapatorians who correctly deduce that the Doctor is making it up when he says that he’ll triplicate the flammability of a bottle of port, a line which made me laugh more than any other in the episode in question (‘World War Three’); they are also the only alien race to make an appearance both on television and in print in the NDA range thus far, and it is in ‘The Monsters Inside’ that they really came into there own, in my opinion. However, for those solely concerned with the television series, those ignoring the novels, I cannot help but feel that they were in for a shock as the Slitheen are finally exploited to all they are worth and show off just what a good creation they actually are. The Slitheen in question (Margaret Blaine, or to give her real name, Blon Fel Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen) is handled really well here; Davies gives her all the best lines (including a rather risqué one involving bondage and dinner), and her actual dinner with the Doctor is wonderfully handled.

The plot’s major failing is in its conclusion- the main bulk of the episode is a study of the Doctor’s actions, and his conversations with ‘Margaret Slitheen’ are well-written and interesting. However, the main question raised by all this- will the Doctor really take her to her death?- is dashed by its ending, where ‘Margaret Slitheen’ is turned into an egg and given a new lease of life after she gazes into the heart of the TARDIS. Now, I can just about accept the idea of this as an ending, and the fact she thanks the Doctor before her regression implies a sign of redemption of her behalf, but the trouble is that this is not a good ending for this story. It could have been worse- she could have just become a totally reformed character and they all live happily ever after- but it does rather stop the question being asked dead in its trail, and I would have preferred to have explored this avenue further.

Another flaw, though more minor, is the small on-screen presence of Captain Jack, who is great when on-screen but forgotten about by all bar the viewer when he is relegated to the TARDIS for the most part of the story. It is a pity that this is the case, as he is a great character that screams out for more time on screen.

The acting in ‘Boom Town’ is universally great, with the regulars impressing as much as usual and the guest cast being above and beyond brilliant. Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper and John Barrowman have a wonderful on-screen rapport, as seen so perfectly in an early scene in the TARDIS where they quickly explain to Mickey what has been going on in Series One thus far: they slap hands, they smile, they slap Mickey- it’s a brilliant moment, and for me one of the highlights of Series One.

As Mickey, Noel Clarke puts in his best performance to date and really makes you care about the character. At the end of ‘Boom Town’, when he walks off alone, you cannot help but feel very sorry for him, and it hits home just how arguably selfish Rose has been to travel with the Doctor. Also, Clarke blends in just as well with the cast members other then Piper; an early scene in a café with them all listening to an anecdote by Captain Jack is handled rather nicely, and his new friendly relationship with the Doctor comes as a pleasant and rewarding progression following the events in ‘World War Three’.

Unsurprisingly though, the highest praises from me must go to Annette Badland, who makes ‘Margaret Slitheen’ as memorable as they come. From pleading to the Doctor in a bid to save her own skin, to smiling after gazing into the heart of the TARDIS, to threatening to kill Rose (quipping “Surf’s up!” in a very vicious manner), she brings every scene to life, with perhaps only her comic reaction to having her tongue spayed by the Doctor seeming a little out of place.

The Directing by Joe Ahearne is quite simply excellent. There is a wonderful moment early on where ‘Margaret’ in speaking to the TARDIS crew, gazing slightly off camera. She stops speaking and there is an agonising silence before she resumes; a lesser Director would have shortened this, but Ahearne milks it for all its worth and is rewarded with a captivating moment. Only one part of ‘Boom Town’ lets him down, and that is with the escape of ‘Margaret’, and her subsequent recapture by the Doctor via his Sonic Screwdriver. For me, the joke just wears thin soon enough- we are treated to no less than three shots of her attempting to run away, and it is just one shot too many to prevent it from being funny; instead, it just seems a tad unnecessary. Other moments easily stop this one from being any real problem though; all the scenes in the Mayor’s office are great, from the reveal of the mobile phones held by all the TARDIS crew plus Mickey, to the great exchange of dialogue between a clerk and the Doctor regarding ‘Margaret’ jumping out of a window. Even Mickey getting his foot caught in a bucket did not make me cringe like perhaps it should have, though as visual gags go, this one could be seen a mile off.

Another brilliant moment is the revelation of ‘bad wolf’, where the Doctor and Rose realise that the two words have been following them- everything suddenly gets a sinister undertone, and it sets the scene nicely for next week’s episode.

The music by Murray Gold is his best score yet, showing off his chameleonic nature by providing some nice music to accompany the happier moments at the start of the episode, and then neatly contrasting them by its conclusion, where everything gets moodier.

In all, I really enjoyed ‘Boom Town’. It is undeniably different to the rest of Series One, but for me this struck as a welcome break. That’s not to say that any such break was necessary, but it was certainly a pleasant thing to experience.

Not everyone I know was as happy- my Sister remarked that the best thing about it was the ‘Next Week’ trailer showing glimpses of ‘Bad Wolf’, and my Dad nearly fell asleep during it. However, for me at least it hit all the right buttons, despite the episode’s slightly silly name.

There are flaws- jokes running of there humour, an out of character moment from ‘Margaret’, an ending which betrays that which has been set up, but in all it is a breath of fresh air, and a very enjoyable one at that.

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Aside from the very silly name - this is an episode that doesn't seem to upset me half as much as it does alot of you. As an individual episode - it's easilly the weakest story of the season. But I do think it's trying to help accentuate a bigger picture that RTD is painting. And that's where it shines a bit better, I think. You have to view it in context of the entire season to really appreciate some of its nuances.

I do feel I need to digress for a paragraph or two in order to explain this point. This will even involve me explaining a bit of my personal life to you all.

You see, I'm also a producer. Mainly of live theatre though I am dabbling more and more in T.V. One of the things I produce is an annual playfest featuring one act plays written by local playwrights. It's a two-night affair where we put on anywhere from seven to nine one act plays. It's a lot of work, but it's becoming quite the popular event in my city.

As the producer of this is event, I need to select the plays that will be mounted. It can be a tricky process as I am getting flooded with more and more submissions every year that I do this event. But then, I also put in a play or two that I've written myself. And I put them in, not so much to showcase my talents (my own work gets produced quite frequently in other contexts besides this playfest) but to help "balance out" the overall feel of the event. For instance, one year the playwrights were all submitting very "straight" material so I made sure to put in some stuff that was "fringier" so that we would appeal to a wider demographic. This caused a chain reaction of "fringier" plays the next year so my submissions had to actually be "straighter" this time around.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Poor old RTD is lumbered with a similiar responsibility in this season. He can write more traditionally "Who adventurish" stuff like THE LONG GAME or the BAD WOLF/PARTING OF WAYS saga - but he also has to do some stuff to help balance things out in the season. To show off the series' sense of diversity. Which means, writing something a bit more simplistic to introduce the whole series like ROSE. Or even a bit more "pedestrian" like THE END OF THE WORLD or, more appropriately, BOOM TOWN.

We had just been given four really rivetting stories in a row and I think what Russell wanted to do was serve up something a little lighter. To give the TARDIS crew (which is now just absolutely fantastic with Captain Jack Harkness aboard!) a little bit of a rest. He also wanted to re-inject some comedy into the series since it had been missing quite a bit in the last four stories. And BOOM TOWN does that quite well. The actual plot conflict is very minor to the whole thing. But there's a lot of fun - especially with Mickey coming back to help in yet another adventure. Whenever Mickey's back in the mix, we know there's going to be, at least, a few cheap visual gags! This time, we get him running around with the traditional "foot stuck in the bucket" joke. A good laugh! Which is what RTD wants us to have again after five weeks of dieing fathers, menacing Daleks, morbid World War II settings and other such things.

This nice thing about BOOM TOWN though, is that it doesn't just turn into an episode of "Scoody Doo". Full of silly hijinx and comical mayhem. There's some nice "meat" to the tale too if you're willing to look for it. The aforementionned Mickey gets a great dramatic moment later as he and Rose go off for the night to get re-aquainted. The moment where he reveals he's finally started seeing someone else is great timing. We can see how tired he's getting of Rose's stories of how much better her life is now that she's with the Doctor (and, of course, not with him) and he feels the need to drop a bomb on her. So he does. And this turns the whole moment between them on its ear. It's probably the best scene of the episode and another great example of how this new series is as humanistic as it is exciting. We care as much about the problems of Rose and Mickey as we do about the fate of the world. And the fact that, through it all, Mickey is still willing to wait for Rose if she can just promise him she will come back for him when she's done adventuring added yet another gorgeous "layer" to him. Like when he admits privately to the Doctor of his cowardice in the previous Slytheen story, we see that Mickey is complex in his own right. He's not just a two-dimensional comic relief device. And I love how well RTD has used this character throughout the series. Another testament to his writing skills that so many of you seem to miss because you're so quick to jump on the "bash the current producer" bandwagon.

The scenes set against this moment with Rose and Mickey, to me, are almost but not quite as effective. We have a debate between the Doctor and the Slitheen woman about some of the Doctor's morals. Yes, the Slitheen really has no right to attack the Doctor on such points since she's so much more rotten - but that's what makes her arguments with him all the more succinct. Only someone so merciless and callous can see into your soul that well and make the points she makes about his weaknesses. That's why the confrontation makes sense. And I can see why RTD brought the character back. If it had been a "new" villain doing this, it would have been even less dramatically effective. It needed to be someone who has tangoed with the Doctor before and been burnt by him. Our familiarity with her also helped in keeping the audience's attention. The drama unfolding with Rose and Mickey at the same time would've outweighed the poignancy of this moment too greatly if this scene had been done with the Doctor and a villain we hadn't met before. This way, we're pretty well equally interested in both "dates" going on. Another great example of how RTD "balances things" in this tale.

Of course, some of the plot elements in this story are also there to help with the overall themes of the season. We needed Rose to get a glimpse of the "heart of the TARDIS" so that she can try accessing it again a few more episodes down the road. And, the "Bad Wolf" references are now really starting to get noticed by everyone. Also an important factor to the season. Again, another illustration of "the bigger picture" RTD is trying to paint for us through this story.

I also think, from the standpoint of a hardcore fan, that some of the sequences towards the end were very bold. As soon as I saw energy crackling from the TARDIS and storm clouds brewing I immediately thought: "Looks like the old 96 telemovie". The fact that we then go inside and see the heart of the TARDIS being accessed to manipulate time reminded me all the more of that particular story. After all the niggling fans have done about that plot device in the telemovie - I was amazed that RTD would go anywhere near those images. It almost seemed like he wanted to expand just a bit more on those ideas from that story without getting too deeply into it. In short, he used that device just a tad more effectively than the telemovie did. As if he were trying to balance things out on an even grander scale by getting us to see and understand this aspect to the TARDIS a bit better without getting too carried away with the idea like the telemovie did.

So, lots of nice points to this story, I think, especially when you look at it a bit more hollistically. Still, I will admit that it sticks out just a bit too much like a sore thumb in the context of the episodes around it. And that, perhaps, the storyline is a tad weak and even a bit prepostorous. But, overall, even if we view it out of context, it's really not as bad as all that. It is, in fact, a lot of fun. With a bit of nice drama thrown in between the leads and some supporting cast. And we also get a nice resolution as we see time travel giving someone a second chance at her life. All the elements a good Who story needs, if you ask me!

Sure, it's a bit weak compared to the rest of the season. But it does provide some nice "window dressing" for that season and, by no means, is it the herrendously awful story some of you are trying to make it out to be.

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"You know, Doctor, we're not so different, you and I... except that you fly around the universe saving people's lives and I blow up populated planets to make a cheap buck."

So goes "Boom Town," Russell Davies's experiment in "deep" moral drama. The concept here is that the Doctor runs into the aftermath of one of his previous interventions, and is forced to confront the repercussions and question the morality of his actions. Not a bad idea. The success of the execution, however, hinges on how much sympathy we can have for an alien mass-murderer who tried to eradicate the human race for personal profit and will try to do so again - twice - before the hour is up. It doesn't go well.

Davies decides to pick a reunion with the Slitheen, his rather uninspiring fart monsters from the "Aliens of London" two-parter. While regrettable in and of themselves, the Slitheen don't necessarily make or break this story; there's no reason Davies can't give his Slitheen survivor a makeover to add a touch of depth, something to make us identify and sympathize with the character. Instead, Davies simply leaves us with what he assumes is a moral dilemma and leaves us - and the Doctor - to work it out on our own: Margaret Slitheen, whose family was - sob! - killed by the Doctor, will be executed if returned to her home planet. If the Doctor returns her there, as he insists, he is her de facto executioner. How, oh how, is he any better than she?

Even if this were all that Davies left us with, it really wouldn't be enough to work. We've seen "Aliens of London"; the Slitheen family were cold-blooded killers who slaughtered innocents in a plot to nuke Earth and sell off its radiated crust for fuel, and it's hard to see how their deaths are any more regrettable than the deaths of any number of Daleks guilty of similar crimes who at least had the honesty to never pretend to be anything more than hateful murderers. If the deaths of the other Slitheen were acceptable, how is Margaret Slitheen's execution any less so? But Davies doesn't even leave us with the hollow pretense of a moral dilemma: by episode's end we will see that Margaret isn't reformed in the least, that she will attempt to blow up the Earth yet again, that she has no compunction against taking and killing hostages whenever it suits her, that she would no doubt do the same to other worlds in time if she had the chance. As drama, this episode works only if I can see the Doctor's plan to hand over the Slitheen as morally dubious; if I see the Slitheen as a foul, two-faced mass-murderer who needs to die to preserve the lives of innocents - which is how Davies's script ultimately portrays her, her protests of innocence reading as nothing more than a ploy for self-preservation - then I have nothing invested in her continued existence, and the moral ambiguity on which the episode is built collapses.

It doesn't help that the actual resolution to this faux-moral quandry is a deus ex machina which allows the Doctor to do precisely what the episode is accusing him of doing: avoid the repercussions of his actions. Whereas before he would have to personally deliver the Slitheen to serve her death sentence, a heretofore unrevealed wish-granting property of the Tardis regresses her to infancy, allowing the Doctor to dodge the messy business of being a second-hand executioner. All the questions raised by the episode, weak as they are, are dropped by way of a convenient magic trick; the Doctor doesn't have to make the critical decision, and doesn't have to resolve the issue at all.

The Slitheen's actual plot to destroy the world is little more than an afterthought, and so the highlight of the story becomes the Mickey/Rose sequence. Admirably acted and ably scripted, the scenes allow Mickey to grow beyond his two-dimensional role as the jealous ex, and show Rose showing some regret for what she's left behind in embracing the Doctor's lifestyle. It's rather sad, then, that the best use of the Mickey character - and his best send-off - appears after the series has already said goodbye to him twice before, and before yet another "final" appearance in "Parting of the Ways." You can't actually miss someone - or take seriously the prospect of missing someone - if they won't go away.

As a final note: Rose happens to tell Mickey about a number of fantastic alien worlds she and the Doctor have been popping off to between broadcast episodes. Given that every episode of this series so far has taken place in London, a space station, Cardiff, London, London, a bunker, a space station, London, London, London, and now Cardiff - to be followed by a closing two-parter on a space station - it's a bit of a kick in the head to be told that all this time our heroes have been bopping off to exotic locales and rubbing elbows with strange and alien creatures we'll never get to see. An open message to Russell T. Davies: I do not care what the planet looks like. I do not care if you shoot it in a quarry, I do not care if the aliens are stagehands wearing rolled-up carpet. Doctor Who travels in time and SPACE. AND SPACE. One more romp through a diner in present-day Wales with Rose's ex-boyfriend and I will send large men in ape suits to beat you with plastic plunger-guns.

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This was a pointless episode. I can sum it up in two sentences: anti-death penalty rant and Rose/Mickey soap opera.

I wish RTD would stop using Doctor Who as his personal platform to throw his left-wing politics at the audience. Having a character as a mouthpiece for the anti-death penalty message would be fine, but constructing the entire episode to revolve around it is over-egging the pudding. Lest you think I'm being harsh in casting the episode this way, Mr. Davies admits as much in the Confidential episode, saying that this was written just to get to the conversation in the restaurant. The plot is very much an afterthought in "Boom Town", which is the opposite of how it should be.

In his review of WW3, Richard Board made this observation: being encouraged to think is a good thing, but being told what to think is offensive. "Boom Town" very much tries to tell us what to think. We're asked to sympathize with a character that has murdered a number of people, and twice been a part of a scheme to destroy the Earth, which would lead to the murder of billions. Basing an entire episode on the idea that the death penalty is cruel and wrong by trying to make us sympathize with such a murderous character results in a wasted 45 minutes, marking time until the next episode. Equally pointless and unrealistic is making Margaret Slitheen the only character with the courage of her convictions, as demonstrated in the "look me in the eye" scene.

Not only that, but in a show where the Doctor routinely kills or allows aggressive aliens/humans to die so that innocents won't die, any attempt to undermine his actions and character is an absurd soapbox to stand on. Either the Doctor's a cold killer who causes chaos and then runs away, or he's a moralistic traveler who makes hard choices and does his best to protect and save lives. As in "Dalek", the attempt to draw morally relative parallels between the Doctor and his enemies would, if taken seriously, undermine the Doctor's character and the series in general.

Then of course, there's the ending where the Slitheen is reduced to an egg, thus avoiding the need to actually deal with any of the issues raised during the course of the episode. It's a cowardly way out of the dilemma.

On to Rose and Mickey. Mickey has to show how manly he is by crying and saying in an anguished voice, "You left me!" Boo-hoo. I'm not watching "The Young and the Restless"; I'm watching Doctor Who. I don't care about Rose and Mickey's love life, or lack of it. Enough already. Get on with something interesting.

Are you getting the idea that I really didn't like this episode? I can put up with politics I disagree with if they integrate smoothly into the story. I don't watch Doctor Who so that the writer/producer can preach to me. I watch to be entertained. That requires a subtle approach rather than a sledgehammer. This episode has a few entertaining moments early on, but then loses itself in the 'moral'.

As always, I want to like the show, so I can't be content with simply criticizing the bad aspects. To give credit for the good stuff, there were a few nice ideas. Parking the TARDIS to refuel it is something we haven't seen before. With Gallifrey gone, one assumes that the Eye of Harmony as the TARDIS power source is gone as well. The 'cosmic surfboard' is quirky, but creative. Nice to see the rift from "The Unquiet Dead" is still in existence and once again used as a plot device. Seeing the heart of the TARDIS under the center column ties in with Hartnell's explanation about the power source being under the column all the way back in "The Edge of Destruction", making for some nice continuity tie-ins. How the power source is used is absurd, but seeing it isn't.

As for the characters, leave off the unwelcome sexual innuendo, and you have a really strong TARDIS crew here. There's a nice comfortable relationship between the Doctor, Rose and Jack that I enjoy watching. They really do seem to enjoy each other's company and work well together. Nice to see that Jack has some technical skill and some capacity to work on the TARDIS so he can fulfill other functions besides serving as audience identification and a vehicle for plot exposition.

Overall though, despite some nice touches, this episode is a preachy waste of time. 2 out of 10.

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