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October 10, 2015

Doctor Who series one: Boom Town

by Richard Keller, posted May 21st 2006 11:53AM

The Doctor from Boom Town(S01E11)

Margaret : This is persecution. What can't you leave me alone? What did I ever do to you?

The Doctor: You tried to kill me and destroy the entire planet.

Margaret: Apart from that. 

After two weeks of fairly dark and creepy episodes we lighten it up this week as The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), Rose (Billie Piper) and Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) return to present day England. In addition, we saw the return of Rose's former beau Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) and, surprisingly, Margaret Blaine (Annette Badland). For those who are scratching their heads at that one, Badland appeared as the female Slitheen alien in the episodes Aliens of London and World War Three earlier in the season.

Where the last two episodes where just full of multiple plotlines, this episode settled down on just one:  Margaret Blaine's attempts to build a nuclear power plant in the South Wales town of Cardiff, which would be used to pull in spatial energy that will allow her to get off of Earth. However, this wasn't the main crux of the episode. The actual focus was on the relationships of some of the characters. Particularly, the relationship between Rose and Mickey and the one between The Doctor and the alien Slitheen, who had previously attempted to kill him.

Rose and Mickey's relationship was the simpler of the two. What it came down to was Rose having all of these fantastic adventures with The Doctor and Mickey being pissed, and a mite bit jealous, at Rose for leaving him without so much as a peck on the cheek. As he vents his spleen about what he's gone through while she was away, and asks that she find him when she comes back, you have a feeling that he has come to the realization that the 'nice' thing that they previously had could no longer hold a candle to what she was encountering now. At the end of this episode, when Rose is trying to find Mickey after a spatial fault tried to swallow the entire city, you see him in the background; not wanting to say good-bye in order to make a clean split with our heroine.

The relationship between The Doctor and Margaret is a bit more difficult to define. I guess you could say it's like the relationship Superman has with Lex Luthor; one of calm distrust between hero and villain. The Doctor distrusts Margaret  for attempting to destroy the Earth in the past. Margaret distrusts The Doctor for taking her back to her home planet (please don't ask me how to pronounce it!) for execution while he has performed many executions himself. Yet, within that atmosphere of distrust there is an underlying layer of compassion in both. For Margaret the compassion comes when she spares a young newspaper reporter from death after the reporter mentions her boyfriend and pregnancy. For The Doctor compassion comes at the end of the episode when, after the heart of the TARDIS turns Margaret into a un-hatched Slitheen egg, he decides to return her to another Slitheen family on her home planet (which I still cannot pronounce) to begin a new life.

Wow, I got all psychoanalytic there for a moment, didn't I?

Aside from the relationship theme, this episode of Doctor Who was chock-full of good stuff. Writer Russell T. Davies provided us with a brief history on the uses of the telephone box (could keep crooks in there for a temporary basis) and a reason why The Doctor chose this form for his spaceship. Davies also gave us a lot of great banter between all of the characters, but especially between Mickey, Jack and The Doctor. In fact, some of the fast-paced dialog reminded me a bit of something you'd see on Gilmore Girls or one of the Aaron Sorkin episodes of The West Wing. Finally, credit must be given to director Joe Ahearne who made the coast city of Cardiff look so pleasant that I'm going to book my next vacation there.

All in all, this was a nice breather episode between the chills of the last few episodes and what will be coming up in the next few weeks. While there wasn't as much science-fiction this week the story didn't really drag. Next week we meet Big Wold at the GameStation.


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Actually, the Doctor didn't choose a police box for the shape of the TARDIS. The TARDIS was on 1963 Earth and disguised itself as one to blend in. In the first story, they travel to prehistoric times and the police box exterior stayed the same and it's been stuck that way ever since. There were a few times he's tried to repair it--even did so in Colin Baker's era but at the end, he changed it back to the police box exterior.

That said, Boomtown is the wink link of the final five or so eps...nothign happens.

I mean other than Mickey whining.

May 22 2006 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You didn't mention Capt Jack in his nice blue tshirt... no wait that wasn't it!

The TARDIS isn't a phone box it's a police box. Pretty obscure as even I can't remember them and I'm really old. They were used to contact the police, hold prisoners and as a place for a policeman to take a break.

May 22 2006 at 6:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Portmeirion is a long long way from Cardiff.

May 21 2006 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

Definitely the best part of this episode was the performance of Annette Badland as Margaret Blaine. It's a shame her storyline wrapped up as it did (not that the skin would have probably lasted much longer anyway!)

But the TARDIS does travel to alternate dimensions, so there's always a chance for an original, human, Margaret Blaine out there to meet the Doctor for the first time once again. Or something like that....

And if you really do ever book a vacation to Cardiff, make sure you get to Portmeirion where 'The Prisoner' was filmed. Episodes of 'Danger Man' and 'Doctor Who' were also filmed there.

No TV Geek's Welsh vacation would be complete without a stop in "The Village".....

May 21 2006 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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