Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: Boom Town By @Paul_Bowler

Doctor Who:
Boom Town
By Russell T. Davies
Reviewed By Paul Bowler

"In the family Slitheen, we had no choice. I was made to carry out my first kill at thirteen. If I'd refused, my father would have fed me to the Venom Grubs. If I'm a killer, it's because I was born to kill. It's all I know. Doctor, are you even listening to me?"

Returning to Earth, the Doctor lands the TARDIS in Cardiff to use the energy from the Cardiff Rift to recharge the time machines engines. Mickey arrives to meet up with the Doctor, Rose, and their new travelling companion Jack Harkness. They decide to go for some lunch, where the Doctor notices a newspaper article featuring Margaret Blaine, a Slitheen who the Doctor and Rose encountered in Aliens of London & World War Three earlier in season one. Having believed that the Slitheen, who use special human suits to disguise their lumbering green bodies, were all dead, the time travellers set off to discover what Margaret is up to.

Margaret, who is now the Mayor of Cardiff, has special plans for a new nuclear power plant. She intends to use a sophisticated device called the extrapolator to cause a reactor meltdown, one that will open the Cardiff Rift, and provide her with the power she needs to escape from Earth. The Doctor and his companions capture Margaret, and the Time Lord decides that she must return to her home planet of Raxacoricofallapatorious, even though it will mean that Margaret will have to face the death penalty if she goes back.

The Doctor allows Margaret one last wish, a final meal, before he takes her back to her home planet. While the Doctor and Margaret go out to dinner, Jack returns to the TARDIS and begins to fix the extrapolator to the console to speed up the recharging process. Margaret and the Doctor have their evening meal, with the Slitheen making several attempts to kill the Doctor, but the Time Lord easily outwits her. She even tries to appeal for sympathy from the Doctor, playing on the fact that she as she will be killed if she returns to her homeworld. Meanwhile, Rose and Mickey’s relationship takes a turn for the worse after Ricky tells her that has been seeing someone else while Rose has been away and travelling with the Doctor.

Suddenly a disturbance from the rift begins to cause an earthquake in Cardiff. The Doctor, Margaret, and Rose regroup back inside the TARDIS with Jack. The extrapolator was a trap set by Margaret, to open the rift. She grabs Rose and holds her hostage in the console room, but the console suddenly spits open , bathing Margaret in a blinding white light. After they manage to power down the extrapolator the console closes. Rose is safe, and Margaret’s skin suit is now crumpled on the TARDIS floor, in her place there is just a Slitheen egg. The Doctor says that the TARDIS sensed Margaret wanted second chance at her life, so it turned her back into a Slitheen egg. The Doctor decides he will return the egg to Raxacoricofallapatorius, where she can be raised by a different family and hopefully have a better life. Rose goes out to find Mickey, but he doesn’t stick around to say goodbye to her, and she returns to the TARDIS without him.

Boom Town (2005) is the eleventh episode of the new series of Doctor Who, featuring Christopher Eccelston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion, Rose Tyler. They are accompanied this episode by John Barrowman, as Jack Harkness, who joined them on their adventures after the two part adventure The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances. Noel Clarke also makes a welcome return as Mickey Smith, Rose’s boyfriend.

They make a very good, if slightly unbalanced TARDIS team, and its fun to see them all working together. It is clear in Boom Town just how far Rose and Mickey have begun to drift apart, her adventures with the Doctor are now more important to her than her relationship with Mickey, and he is tired of waiting around for her to show up whenever she feels like it. Jack Harkness also brings a new dynamic to the team, of course John Barrowman’s character would soon be appearing in his own spin-off series, Torchwood, as well as retuning on occasion to help the Doctor. I think it’s a good job they were only together like this in season one for just the one episode though, or things would have quickly become very crowded in the TARDIS.

Boom Town sometimes gets a bit of a raw deal in this season, as it is overshadowed somewhat by the big season finale with the Daleks. This story also links into the theme of the “Bad Wolf”, this time with the name of the nuclear power station, and it is also notable for the return of Annette Badland as Margaret, the Slitheen. While the Slitheen were not my favourite monster this season, the story by Russell T Davies really brings an added depth to Margaret’s character, especially with her facing the death penalty if she goes back to her home planet.

The dinner scene where Margaret tries to kill the Doctor on several occasions is hilarious and poignant at the same time. Annette Badland and Christopher Eccleston are superb in this scene, it’s a real highlight of the series, and throws up an interesting moral dilemma for the Doctor to face and his Slitheen enemy to exploit.

While it may not be as dramatic as Dalek, or have the emotional impact of Fathers Day, there is still a lot to enjoy in Boom Town before the season finale, and director Joe Ahearne delivers a good solid adventure featuring an excellent ensemble cast of characters. Only the ending seems a little bit contrived, with Margaret turning back into an egg, but overall I found Boom Town to be a thoroughly enjoyable episode.

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