Doctor Doctor Who Guide

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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