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Home arrow Reviews arrow TV Review arrow Doctor Who - "Boom Town" Tuesday, 22 August 2006
  Doctor Who - "Boom Town" Print E-mail
  Written by Arnold T. Blumberg
  Friday, 19 May 2006

ImageThe end is near, and the wolf is at the door...

Although the next two episodes comprise the two-part conclusion to this amazing first series of new Doctor Who, there's a sense of impending finality in "Boom Town" as a plethora of plot threads from previous episodes are drawn together in a single installment that is far more compelling than it has any right to be. "Boom Town" is mostly a series of long dialogue scenes exploring the relationships between the regulars and the Doctor - as well as the Doctor's role in the universe - but oh, what nice conversations they are.

Taking a break to refuel the TARDIS - refuel? - the Doctor, Rose and Jack meet up with Mickey in Cardiff just as plans for a new nuclear power station have gone public. It turns out Margaret the Slitheen survived the events of "World War Three" and is now Mayor of Cardiff (no one recognized her?). She has a plan to escape the Earth and destroy it in the process, and fortunately the TARDIS Team has arrived. But taking Margaret into custody is only the beginning of a very long night for the Doctor, and the Earth may not make it after all. And what's with the TARDIS? Is it really... alive?

Talk about fanwank! Only 11 episodes into the new series, and we are awash in rapid-fire dialogue that covers the police box exterior of the TARDIS - cleverly referring to both the original series and the 1996 TV movie - almost every new series episode to date, and even a Ninth Doctor prose adventure not seen on television! As a fan, I love stories that weave together disparate threads of the Who universe, and since this episode serves to clean house and examine where we've been so far in preparation for the big finale, why begrudge the show a chance to rest, stretch the legs a bit and let the characters breathe?

While not a strong standalone story in its own right, "Boom Town" showcases superb dialogue, wonderful camaraderie among the regulars - although I'm disappointed that we've missed at least several unseen adventures since last week's episode with what looks like a really fun crew - and one sterling guest performance. The return of our lone(ly) Slitheen survivor is a surprising tour de force for Annette Badland. Captured handily by the TARDIS crew and griping about the failure of her plan like a Scooby Doo villain, Badland segues into a seductive, sinister mode, chipping away at the Doctor's psychological resolve with razor sharp insights about his lifestyle and morality. After all these years, who would have thought that one of the most exciting scenes of new Who would be an alien in disguise begging the Doctor for her life in a candlelit bistro?

I enjoy composer Murray Gold's scores more often than not, and this one is another delight, with a mournful motif accompanying the darker parts of the story while the heroic fanfare from "Rose" makes a welcome return when our heroes march in formation to save the world once again. And while Mickey is still a little buffoonish, he's a much more complex character now; Noel Clarke does a fine job running the range from elation to tearful anguish. I would welcome him as an addition to the TARDIS crew, but his last appearance in this episode, stalking off bitterly while eyeing Rose from the shadows, suggests that he may have a different destiny. Hmm...

Ultimately, "Boom Town" has as its greatest virtue a thought-provoking rumination on the wake the Doctor leaves behind when the monsters are defeated and the TARDIS dematerializes, but it sacrifices a bit of plot and logic to get there. However, now that we know the price that some have to pay for the Doctor's well-meaning meddling, the stage is set for a showdown that will cost the Ninth Doctor very dearly indeed. Beware the Bad Wolf... B+

This review was originally posted to coincide with Doctor Who's series one premiere on BBC ONE in 2005.


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