Doctor Doctor Who Guide

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

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television