Doctor Doctor Who Guide

‘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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