Doctor Doctor Who Guide


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...

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television