Doctor Who: Boom Town

Stopping to refuel the TARDIS in modern-day Cardiff, the crew encounter
an old enemy.

Cast and Crew

Christopher Ecclestone as the Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
John Barrowman as Jack
Noel Clarke as Mickey
Annette Badland as Margaret Blaine
William Thomas as Mr. Cleaver
Mali Harries as Cathy Salt
Aled Pedrick as Idris Hopper
Alan Ruscoe as Margaret Slitheen

Written by Russel T. Davies

Directed by Joe Ahearne

Synopsis

The TARDIS crew stop off in present-day Cardiff to refuel from the
remnants of the rift which was closed in The Unquiet Dead.
Rose takes the opportunity to see Mickey, but they soon run into
trouble when they recognise the new Lord Mayor of Cardiff as someone
they last saw in Downing Street.

High Point

This episode doesn’t have a high point as such, as it’s more spread
out over several top-notch scenes. Bad Wolf watchers will appreciate
the mention though.

Low Point

There isn’t one. Simple as that.

The Review

This is quite original for Doctor Who. Encountering a
previous enemy and having to interact with them in this way is not
something I ever recall the old series approaching. It’s also not
something television often deals with. This is an episode about
consequences, and it doesn’t feel like we’re being shown the same old
moral lessons as one would usually expect. Five out of six.

The effects didn’t have all that much to do, and as such
came off very well. I’m sure the visuals for the Slitheen emerging from
her skin suit were better than they were in Aliens of London,
too. Nothing hugely challenging besides that (how hard is it to break a
few windows?) but that doesn’t matter, because they weren’t needed.
Five out of six.

In terms of story, this is a bit of a strange episode. It
continually isn’t what you think it’s going to be, things which you think
will be the episode’s plot are dealt with early on, and you soon realise
that you’re in for something quite different than you had previously
expected to see. That said, despite it not feeling like it’s going to, it
does actually fit very neatly into its time and its purpose. My only
complaint is that the ending smacks of Deus Ex Machina – but it’s not
something that old Who fans will be entirely surprised about,
because we know that the TARDIS has many capabilities which are
seldom used. As a vehicle for showing the character insights which this
episode is primarily about, the story cannot be faulted. Five out of
six.

Whoever’s doing the casting for this series knows what they’re
about, for the acting was once again superb. From her
previous appearance in the series, you wouldn’t have thought Annette
Badland was capable of quite this level of sustained emotional and
challenging dialogue, but she is. Watching her and Ecclestone work
together is fantastic. Six out of six.

The emotional response is rather muted compared to the
outright terror of the previous two weeks, although this is probably a
good thing for mental state of Who fans worldwide. However,
the level of empathy and sympathy this episode manages to stir up is
quite impressive. Five out of six.

You’d think the production would be easy, given that it’s
the first episode they’ve done which is set in the place they actually
film most of the other location shots (quite a lot of what we see of
London in other episodes is shot in Cardiff, save for the shots done in
well-known London locations). And you’d be right – whether it was
actually easy or not, it feels like it was, and there’s some fantastic
choice of camera angles here. Six out of six.

Overall I’ll give the episode five out of six. This is clearly a
setup for the final two episodes of the series.

This gives us a grand total of thirty-seven out of forty-two. Next
week’s episode is the eagerly-awaited Bad Wolf, although until
the end of this week’s episode we weren’t entirely sure what we were
eagerly awaiting. Now we know: Daleks. Woohoo!

20 replies on “Doctor Who: Boom Town”

  1. marky_2005 says:

    deus ex machina!
    I thought this was a totally let down from last week. Fair play to Russell T Davies for bringing the series back, but he really needs to take a back seat now and let other people do the writing. Much like George Lucas. I’ve enjoyed almost the whole series up until now.

    It was like he had the slimmest of plots and padded it outrageously with soap opera shenanigans that would have been more at home in Albert Square.

    And as for the resolution….
    One of the few things that I have disliked about this series is how much of a bystander the Doctor has become, he almost never saves the day any more. And this time… Honestly, why does he even bother to leave the TARDIS? Just invite the bad guys in. After that Rose touching Daleks to alter their personality THROUGH THEIR ARMOUR…

    And he totally negates last weeks’ ‘everybody lives!’ by everybody living again. I LIKE the bodycount. Makes it seem more dangerous and exciting. It’s another area where it scores over crap like star trek, only the Doctor and Rose have to survive, everybody else is potential collateral damage.

    • dubbayoo42 says:

      Re: deus ex machina!

      And he totally negates last weeks’ ‘everybody lives!’ by everybody living again. I LIKE the bodycount. Makes it seem more dangerous and exciting. It’s another area where it scores over crap like star trek, only the Doctor and Rose have to survive, everybody else is potential collateral damage.

      Not everybody lives though… there’s one death in the episode itself (the nuclear safety guy), and the reporter mentions many other deaths as well. I’d consider that body count, even though a lot of it isn’t shown.

      As for no deaths in a DW story, the only other story that comes to mind with no deaths is Edge of Destruction, Hartnell’s third story… there are no deaths in it, simply because there’s no guest cast, just the four main characters. That’s a long time to go without deaths in a story… 42 years…

      • babasyzygy says:

        Re: deus ex machina!

        As for no deaths in a DW story, the only other story that comes to mind with
        no deaths is Edge of Destruction, Hartnell’s third story… there are no deaths
        in it, simply because there’s no guest cast, just the four main characters.
        That’s a long time to go without deaths in a story… 42 years…

        Almost… this is the third story with no deaths. You’re right, The Edge Of Destruction [aka Inside the Spaceship] was
        less special, because it only featured the Doctor and his companions, entirely
        inside the TARDIS.

        Nobody died in The Three Doctors, either.
        Omega appeared to die, but we find out later that he did not. Still a
        somewhat different situation.

        • babasyzygy says:

          Re: deus ex machina!

          Almost… this is the third story with no deaths. You’re right, The Edge Of Destruction [aka Inside the Spaceship] was
          less special, because it only featured the Doctor and his companions, entirely
          inside the TARDIS.

          Nobody died in The Three Doctors, either.
          Omega appeared to die, but we find out later that he did not. Still a
          somewhat different situation.

          Whoops! I should have read what I linked to. Nobody dies in the Troughton
          story, The Savages either. So this is only the 4th
          time in 42 years.

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: deus ex machina!

      I thought this was a totally let down from last week. Fair play to Russell T
      Davies for bringing the series back, but he really needs to take a back seat
      now and let other people do the writing. Much like George Lucas. I’ve enjoyed
      almost the whole series up until now.

      It was like he had the slimmest of plots and padded it outrageously with soap
      opera shenanigans that would have been more at home in Albert Square.

      And as for the resolution….
      One of the few things that I have disliked about this series is how much of a
      bystander the Doctor has become, he almost never saves the day any more.
      And this time… Honestly, why does he even bother to leave the TARDIS? Just
      invite the bad guys in. After that Rose touching Daleks to alter their
      personality THROUGH THEIR ARMOUR…

      And he totally negates last weeks’ ‘everybody lives!’ by everybody living again.
      I LIKE the bodycount. Makes it seem more dangerous and exciting. It’s
      another area where it scores over crap like star trek, only the Doctor and Rose
      have to survive, everybody else is potential collateral damage.

      Well, I think you’re mistaken. Sure there wasn’t a huge death toll from this
      week’s episode, but the everybody lives thing from last week is still unique to
      that episode. Why? Because nobody suffered lasting harm from the
      Empty Child. Everybody affected was restored to normal. Some of them
      finished up better than they started. This week, everyone who had died was
      still dead. We just didn’t see them all die – so what? That’s not what the
      episode was about. I think the episode’s a valuable point along the path of
      the Doctor coming to terms with things in his past (probably to do with the
      time war and the annihilation of the Daleks and the Time Lords), and how he
      goes in and interferes. And Rose coming to terms with what she does, and
      Jack figuring out who he is now – although he’s not really been with them
      long enough to have changed much.

      I found it just as gripping as last week, just in a different way. Just because
      they can kill off almost any character they like doesn’t mean they
      have to. Having dinner with a serial killer who wants to blow the
      planet up was an opportunity I couldn’t have passed up if I’d been writing it. I
      wouldn’t have handled it anything like as well though.

    • Kaki says:

      Re: deus ex machina!

      After that Rose touching Daleks to alter their personality THROUGH THEIR ARMOUR…

      The Dalek altered its own personality by using Rose’s dna a bit too liberally while trying to rebuild itself.

  2. visionary_coward says:

    bad wolf
    Found a BBC run site that has all the references to bad wolf. Nothing too spolierish that I can see there today.

    http://www.badwolf.org.uk

    • AceCaseOR says:

      Re: bad wolf

      Found a BBC run site that has all the references to bad wolf. Nothing too spolierish that I can see there today.

      http://www.badwolf.org.uk

      Well, this was mentioned on another message board, and I figured that I’d pass it along here. They list, as “bad wolves” in mythology, Fenrir. Anyone else remembering a certain Sylvester McCoy (I think it’s Sylvester McCoy) storyline?

      Also, there is the possibility (although they’d have to retcon the movie), that Bad Wolf could be The Master. That would put the Doctor in a predicament, the last other remaining Time Lord being his greatest enemy. That would be interesting now, wouldn’t it?

      • Eldhrin says:

        Re: bad wolf
        Are you thinking of The Curse of Fenric? Brilliant story.
        There was a backstory to that, the Doctor had previously beaten Fenric at chess
        in an unrecorded adventure. I don’t think Fenrir and Fenric would be the same
        thing though… judging by the trailer, the Bad Wolf thing has a lot to do with
        Daleks, and I suspect the Bad Wolf might be the Doctor. But we’ll find out… next
        week! Well, some of it anyway.

  3. majick says:

    Deus Ex Machina, body counts, and the Doctor.
    If you have access to it, BBC3 airs a show called Doctor Who Confidential right after Doctor Who. If you live outside the UK like me, and don’t have satellite, you may have to resort to another technology to see it.

    Every episode of DWC covers aspects of the episode that just aired with the various actors, writers, and producers of the show and brings in previous Doctors to discuss the issue as well. This week they had a really good bit about the whole body count issue and the Doctor’s responsibility in/for it. There was a point made about the ending specifically being deus ex machina.

    All in all, it’s a good supplement for anyone interested in Doctor Who. I anticipate that should there be any DVD releases of this season, we will find DWC as special features on them.

    • dubbayoo42 says:

      Re: Deus Ex Machina, body counts, and the Doctor.

      All in all, it’s a good supplement for anyone interested in Doctor Who. I anticipate that should there be any DVD releases of this season, we will find DWC as special features on them.

      It is indeed an enjoyable companion to the series, but Confidential will never, ever see the light of day on DVD — at least not in the form it was broadcast on BBC3. It has been stated before (elsewhere, probably on Outpost Gallifrey) the music used in the episodes would never make clearance for home video due to the cost involved. There’s nothing to say they can’t use cheaper or free or homebrew music in the episodes for a DVD release, but for now it seems unlikely any of us will see the series on DVD at all, short of people making their own compilations from that other source.

    • Nakhti says:

      Re: Deus Ex Machina, body counts, and the Doctor.

      If you have access to it, BBC3 airs a show called Doctor Who Confidential right after Doctor Who. If you live outside the UK like me, and don’t have satellite, you may have to resort to another technology to see it.

      Or, if you’re really desperate you can watch them directly off the official Doctor Who Website.

  4. Alexius says:

    Other Views
    I Watched This Episode With My Non-Geek Girlfriend. I’d Commented About How On The Last Episode They’d Mentioned Homosexuality, But How It Wasn’t The Story, Just A Small Aspect, And Commented On How Neet It Was That British TV Does That.

    As She Watched The Episode, And Pointed Out How The Interracial Couple Also Didn’t Even Cause Anyone to Bat An Eye.

    Is All British TV This Good, And The US’s Is Just Exceptionally Small-Minded, Or Is Doctor Who Exceptionally good?

    • J_W_W says:

      Re: Other Views

      I Watched This Episode With My Non-Geek Girlfriend. I’d Commented About How On The Last Episode They’d Mentioned Homosexuality, But How It Wasn’t The Story, Just A Small Aspect, And Commented On How Neet It Was That British TV Does That.

      As She Watched The Episode, And Pointed Out How The Interracial Couple Also Didn’t Even Cause Anyone to Bat An Eye.

      Is All British TV This Good, And The US’s Is Just Exceptionally Small-Minded, Or Is Doctor Who Exceptionally good?

      After getting a glimpse of British comedies on my local PBS on Saturdays, I would have to go with: Dr. Who is Exceptionally good.

      Another comment on the episode: A interstellar surfboard?!!?? WTF

      • Eldhrin says:

        Re: Other Views

        I Watched This Episode With My Non-Geek Girlfriend. I’d Commented About
        How On The Last Episode They’d Mentioned Homosexuality, But How It Wasn’t
        The Story, Just A Small Aspect, And Commented On How Neet It Was That
        British TV Does That.

        As She Watched The Episode, And Pointed Out How The Interracial Couple
        Also Didn’t Even Cause Anyone to Bat An Eye.

        Is All British TV This Good, And The US’s Is Just Exceptionally Small-Minded,
        Or Is Doctor Who Exceptionally good?

        After getting a glimpse of British comedies on my local PBS on Saturdays, I
        would have to go with: Dr. Who is Exceptionally good.

        Another comment on the episode: A interstellar surfboard?!!?? WTF

        Many British comedies are awful. As an example of the state of affairs, the
        TV-watching public recently voted Only Fools and Horses the best
        British sitcom ever made. I can only assume that they thought they were
        voting for Blackadder but were too stupid to do it right.

        We do have a pretty good selection of drama though – a category Doctor Who
        falls into quite nicely, despite being sci-fi. It’s not really normal sci-fi, if there
        is such a thing.

        As for the interracial couple not raising eyebrows, that’s fairly simple really –
        there are multirracial relationships all over the place here. In some quarters
        it’s a problem, in many it’s not. We are not, unfortunately, entirely free of
        racism and homophobia. We’re a lot better than we used to be though. Our
        television generally reflects that, or portrays it in a better light than the actual
        situation, sort of as a goal to look forward to perhaps.

        • GrimSean says:

          Re: Other Views

          Many British comedies are awful. As an example of the state of affairs, the
          TV-watching public recently voted Only Fools and Horses the best
          British sitcom ever made. I can only assume that they thought they were
          voting for Blackadder but were too stupid to do it right.

          I’ve never heard of Only Fools and Horses, but I’ll take from your comment that it’s pretty bad.

          What about Fawlty Towers? It’s usually that or Blackadder that I use to point out the superior nature of British Comedy to people (or if they’ve never heard of those, Mr. Bean, although it’s not really a sitcom).

          • Eldhrin says:

            Re: Other Views

            I’ve never heard of Only Fools and Horses, but I’ll take from your
            comment that it’s pretty bad.

            What about Fawlty Towers? It’s usually that or Blackadder
            that I use to point out the superior nature of British Comedy to people (or if
            they’ve never heard of those, Mr. Bean, although it’s not really a
            sitcom).

            Only Fools and Horses is about a highly dodgy man always trying
            new business ventures, which always fail in supposedly amusing ways. I find
            it one of the most irritating things ever put on public view, but lots of people
            seem to find it hilarious.

            Fawlty Towers is also often held up as the pinnacle of British
            comedy. It’s good, and there’s some absolute genius in it, but I find
            Blackadder much more amusing. Another one to catch is ‘Allo
            ‘Allo
            . In case you’ve not heard of it, it’s a sitcom set in occupied France
            during the second world war. The main characters are the staff of a small
            cafe, and they repeatedly get tangled up in complicated schemes where they
            juggle their own survival and prosperity against the struggle to free France
            from the Germans. Recurring themes include the painting of the Fallen
            Madonna with the Big Boobies, which ends up being copied numerous times.
            Most of the copies end up hidden somewhere in the cafe, often inside
            knockwurst sausages or cuckoo clocks; and two British airmen who the
            Resistance are hiding in the cafe until one of their crackpot schemes to get
            them back to England works.

            It’s also full of incredibly rude jokes which aren’t really intelligible by kids,
            which makes it suitable for a wide variety of ages. They hint at things rather
            than saying them outright, which probably makes it work better. To be
            honest, if they said it all outright it’d be verging on pornographic. And we
            don’t really want to know what the waitresses get up to in the bedroom with
            German officers, a flying helmet and some wet celery.

            I’ll stop writing about it now before I dig out my DVDs and start watching it,
            thus negating any chance I might have had of getting some sleep tonight.

    • babasyzygy says:

      Re: Other Views
      [Grammar fixed]

      Is all British TV this good, and the US’s is just exceptionally small-minded, or
      is
      Doctor Who exceptionally good?

      You wouldn’t have to ask if you had seen Are You Being Served
      (shudder).

      I would also name ‘Allo ‘Allo as being particularly bad – it’s
      rife with infantile jokes where the main character accidentally says
      inappropriate
      things accidentally because he’s speaking a language foreign to him – but it
      seems to have its partisans over here.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Other Views

        [Grammar fixed]
        You wouldn’t have to ask if you had seen Are You Being Served
        (shudder).

        “Are You Being Served?” is *huge* here in the States. Public broadcasting in my area still carries that show after fourteen years. They have also shown, in the past, “Good Neighbours,” “Are You Being Served (again)?,” “Allo Allo,” “Yes, Prime Minister,” “Good Neighbours,” another show with the lady who played Margot, where she’s a titled widow — I don’t remember the name of it, “The Dave Allen Show,” “Mr. Bean,” “Keeping Up Appearances,” “Fawlty Towers,” and “Butterflies.” Of course Benny Hill has always had an enormous following in syndication. “Absolutely Fabulous” has a huge following. BBC America showed “The Office”, and the variety show the lady from Ab-Fab did without Joanna Lumley. They show the improv show with the black ladies, I don’t remember the name of that one either.

        My personal favorites are “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” “Fawlty Towers,” “Ab-Fab,” “Mr. Bean,” and … ehem … “Are You Being Served?” :) (I’m tired of quotation marks.) The Office seems good, but I never followed it. The Smoking Room/Lounge/whatever looks promising. Then again I like Changing Rooms, Ground Force, Homefront …

        I wish BBC would drop the “America” channel, add their regular BBC feed, as well as BBC2, and BBC3, and just simulcast everything they show in the UK here. I’m sure some of it is tripe, but ya know, the UK’s tripe is better than the US’ tripe. Even with its flatulence and undergarment jokes, the writing in “Are You Being Served?” makes the writing of “Friends” look like a kindergarten composition.

        -Joe

        • whyperion says:

          Re: British vs American Comedy Programmes
          I think both have their dire ones ( I dont find The Office Funny , or much of ITV’s output – other than the fun scenes in Coronation Street , which can be quite good. ) The best America Comedies , for me , are Still the Marx Brothers , Phil Silvers ( Bilko ) , The Three Stoges ( most of these are really film than TV ) . The UK comedies are generally obsessed with bodily functions as a means of raising a laugh. Better British Comedies do Include Yes, Minister ( or Prime Minister ) – this does not talk down to its audience and the scriptwriting takes the use of the English Language to the Extreme . Only Fools and Horses does work ,in the UK, as a comedy , I dont really know if the Americans would ‘get it’ ( same applies to Dad’s Army ) , as both of these depend on a shared relationship with the audience of knowledge. Only Fools and Horses we all know the dodgy market trader ( or seller from a suitcase of conterfiet goods in high street stores ) , but the quality of the episodes content does vary sometimes it is too extremely silly. The good instances in all these ( and Porridge ) , is one of timing – the visual gag / the space between a comment and a reply , and the misunderstanding of a word or situation which makes the absurd quite funny.

Comments are closed.