Doctor Doctor Who Guide

‘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!

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television