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|First UK Transmission Date (BBC1)||Scheduled TX||Viewers|
|4th June 2005||19:00||7.68m|
John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Annette Badland (Margaret Blaine), Aled
Pedick (Idris), Will Thomas (Mr. Cleaver), Mali Harries (Cathy Salt)
Writer: Russell T Davies, Director: Joe Ahearne
The Tardis crew take a holiday, but the Doctor encounters
an enemy he thought long since dead. A plan to build a nuclear power station
in Cardiff City disguises an alien plot to rip the world apart. And when the Doctor
dines with monsters, he discovers traps within traps.
Town' Background and Summary: - Excitement had built around this episode due
to the publication of the synopsis which included the information that the Doctor
would meet someone he thought was long dead. In anticipation of the supposedly-extinct
Daleks, it was a logical possibility that this pre-cursor to the season finale
might feature a supposedly-extinct Time Lord. Many theories flew around with the
most popular being The Master and of course a few mentions of the Rani.
And so Boom Town began the trilogy of episodes by Russell T Davies which
completed the new series. Having reached the heights of The Empty Child / The
Doctor Dances, it was sadly back down to earth (contemporary Cardiff as it
happened) with another badly-received episode penned by the man in charge, and
with no trace of an old Time Lord either. Instead, viewers were "treated"
to the reappearance one of the Slitheens from Aliens of London, played
by Annette Badland. Her performance in Boom Town was a major improvement
on her debut story, with giggling and bodily function noises reduced to a minimum,
however the rest of the episode was something of a non-event.
premise could potentially be an interesting sub-plot of a more sophisticated episode,
however standing on its own, its was sadly inept at filling a precious 45-minute
slot of new Doctor Who. Supporters of this story have cited the excellent
characterisation, the fascinating moral dilemma and the brilliant dialogue. Doubters
feel this story was a vacuous, slow and irrelevant wasted opportunity.
Having been spoilt with the well-paced, intelligent and downright brilliant The
Doctor Dances, Boom Town was a let-down and it seemed much emptier
by comparison, and at times directionless. Its merit lay in examining the Doctor's
right to kill, and his lifestyle. Unfortunately, this kind of examination is fairly
dry stuff and should really be left (as with the examination of the consequences
of time-travel) to fan-fiction. Some viewers enjoyed the exploration of the main
characters and motivation of the Slitheen. The conversations were certainly well
written and directed, however the dilemma around which the story revolved was
somewhat irrelevant as viewers have seen the Doctor grapple with the morality
of killing before and its been done far more succintly, for instance in the famous
"Do I have the right?" speech from Genesis of the Daleks. Character
development is refreshing to see in Doctor Who, but should it be carried
out at the expense of everything else, including a plot? Many viewers simply found
the episode hard to go along with once the scene had been set with a large alien
monster sitting on the toilet crying.
It seems odd, given how much stress
Russell T Davies has placed on capturing the imaginations of the very young children,
and making the series fast and fun, that a whole episode should be devoted to
a slow, plodding conversational piece about whether the Doctor has the right to
deliver justice to evil aliens.
As to the thin plot, the threat of the
time-rift in this episode is basically caused by the Doctor's arrival and, as
with all bar one story of the new series, its not resolved by the Doctor either,
continuing to build up the image of this Time Lord as a fairly impotent hero.
The resolution to this story is the laziest and incoherent of any story so far,
relying upon the "soul" of the TARDIS opening up and, somehow, regressing
the villain back to her egg form. It seems bizarre in watching the companion documentary
Doctor Who Confidential that Russell T Davies comments on this resolution
with no apparently awareness of the unacceptability of this contrivance and he
himself uses the dreaded phrase "Deus ex Machina" which surely no respectable
writer would admit to. This is a general reflection of the lack of importance
of a story in Boom Town with so much emphasis being placed on character.
This emphasis results in a story without a palpable threat, without a true tone,
without any trademark Doctor Who claustrophobia, without action and without
and real substance. Given the shallow nature of the plot, it was quite an accomplishment
that this episode then managed to lose any clear explanations and it roamed into
the irritating world of technobabble which Russell T Davies had sworn to avoid.
Given the joyful relish that previous fan-writers on the new series had had
in creating their own personal slice of Doctor Who history by generating
memorable scenes, superb alien menaces and new characters, it is hard to understand
how Russell T Davies, the beloved re-inventor of the new series, could turn out
such uninspiring and derivative episodes. It was disappointing when so many old
ideas were rehashed in The Long
Game, but the lack of imagination shown in Boom Town almost defies
belief. How can a man who fought so hard to bring back Doctor Who throw
away this opportunity to tell a brand new adventure story in time and space by
setting a dismal morality play in Cardiff? Why also write a story which requires
the audience to have watched and remembered plot details from ten weeks ago, recycle
a relatively unpopular monster from a few episodes back, and populate it solely
with characters already seen in this series? The answer to these questions is
that Russell T Davies wanted to write an episode about the consequences of the
Doctor's lifestyle and about making important decisions for him and Rose. Unfortunately,
the combination of the lack of story, and the lack of fresh characters left the
viewer feeling significantly short-changed, but quite how much enjoyment was derived
from the episode was down to how receptive the individual viewer was to aim
of the episode.
Whilst some took issue with the general structure of
the episode, there were many minor points which caused some dismay. The incidental
music was again at times over-bearing, particularly during Mickey's big relvelation
that he was seeing someone else. There were some cringing moments between the
self-congratulating team, such as the high-fiving following the explanation of
time-rift, and the Doctor hugging Rose seemed unnatural after she managed to pronounce
the Slitheen's home planet.
One other critism was the setting. Much has
been said on the subject of every episode being set on or in orbit around the
Earth and it was one of Russell T Davies main ambitions that every story should
be tied to this planet. Rose and the Doctor commented on this fact at the start
of the previous story but it was only through Rose's dialogue in Boom Town
that the audience learnt what they were missing. Its now clear that Rose really
has seen the kind of extraordinary alien landscapes that could be realistically
achieved with the new big budget series but the audience is not allowed to see
"Boring" is a word often used to describe this episode
but more kind commentators described it as a "breather" and saw it simply
as a well-written character piece. There's no denying that Russell T Davies writes
character-based scenes with great skill but this kind of drama is not what Doctor
Who was remembered for. That's not to say that this re-invented series shouldn't
stretch the boundaries and challenge a few ideas but this style of plotless interlude
seemed all the more alien coming off the back of the acclaimed World War 2 story,
neverthless it did have its plaudits.
Although Boom Town was not the least-liked
Doctor Who story so far, it was the most disliked! This sounds strange
but to explain: it had a 5% more positive rating than The
Long Game with 53.8%, but it also had a 5% more negative rating, with
a large 16.8% saying "no thanks". This statistic is achieved because
more people were prepared to express an opinion on Boom Town than they
were with The Long Game
with which many seemed generally uncertain and just gave it an "average"
Boom Town was a watershed late on the series, as many
people had been looking forward to the season finale with great anticipation,
but some of the popular culture based scenes from the trailer for Bad Wolf,
combined with the disillusionment following Boom
Town meant that a little less was expected of the return of the Daleks...
Classic Series Influences and References:
- The TARDIS is said to be alive, as explored in many earlier stories and it
has telepathic circuits
- The Leisure Hive also resulted in the villain
being regressed back to its young form.
- The nature of the TARDIS exterior
is explained with reference to the landing in An Unearthly Child and the
chamelion circuit is mentioned which was first named in Logopolis.
- Justice Year (9th Doctor / Rose)
Pyramid of Sanclune (9th Doctor / Rose)
- Planet "Women Wept"
(9th Doctor / Rose)
A planet with a huge continent shaped like a mourning woman.
of Frozen Waves
Rose and the Doctor visit a beach 1000 miles across where a
sea can spontaneously freeze creating frozen ice waves 100 ft high
the Complete First Series
is an absolutely must for anyone who remotely enjoyed the new series of Doctor
Who. Unlikely the previous individual releases of episodes, the box set has extras
coming out of its ears. And whereas some box sets just have extras on the final
disc, this brilliant package has a selection of extras on each disk, plus the
entire set of Doctor Who confidential (cut down) on another disk.
much needs saying about the episodes themselves but commentaries on certain episodes
are almost worth the price alone. The commentaries of Rose, The Unquiet
Dead and Dalek are of particular note and the video diaries of certain
members of the team are very interesting and fun. The TARDIS container is a nice
package and overall, believe me this set of DVDs is well worth the asking price,
or probably more!