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“And I was having such a nice day” Jun 15

Boom Town, the eleventh episode of Doctor Who, was a late addition, apparently: an empty slot allowing it to be influenced by the previous episodes. We’re therefore rewarded with the return of one of the weaker villains of the series. I’m going to be nit-picky. Sorry.

If we take the episode at face value, it has been six months since World War Three. In that time Margaret Slitheen has become Lord Mayor of Cardiff, commissioned a nuclear power station and achieved the necessary go-aheads to build it. Given that the original Margaret Blaine was from MI5, she won’t have been involved in politics before her previous appearance. Are we to assume half the politicians in Cardiff have been bumped off? And a Lord Mayor doesn’t run the council, they chair council meetings and cut ribbons. If Margaret is a directly-elected mayor, her achievement is all the greater. Especially as she seems to have help on despite knocking down in her car one of the people involved in the nuclear project. Credit to Annette Badland, though: she’s much better than in her previous appearance with some notable moments, although stilly hammy at times. She also gets some good scenes: the line about London not caring about Wales and her various attempts to kill the Doctor in the restaurant (plus the mention of venom grubs) are highlights.

Jack is pretty redundant in the episode which is unfortunate as he’s only just been introduced. Meanwhile, characters make great leaps: the Doctor knows immediately that the power station is flawed; Margaret suddenly has great insight into the Doctor’s personality. The brief realisation about Bad Wolf is handled well: spooky and then funny. There are fewer special effects in this episode but the cracks forming in the ground around the TARDIS are great.

Russell T. Davies shows his strengths with his dialogue and the scenes between Rose and Mickey are perfectly pitched. It’s a shame, though, that we never got to see Rose’s first visit to an alien planet. Davies’s characters are let down a little by his plots. In this case the deus ex machina ending, to which he confesses in Doctor Who Confidential, is a disappointment.

But Boom Town casts itself as a morality tale and here it doesn’t succeed. It poses interesting questions about the Doctor’s willingness to kill – although he didn’t seemed bothered about finishing off the last of the human race a few weeks ago – but the opening rift and the Slitheen’s return to traditional monster mode let him off any decision. When Margaret asks the TARDIS crew and Mickey to look her in the eye, no-one dissents so there’s no drama between them.

Some good lines but it feels like filler before the finale.

2 Responses

  1. 1

    I think you are being overly harsh. this was one of my favourite episodes. your criticisms of the plot are valid but you might as well argue the tardis isn’t really real. I thought the whole cardiff thing was beautiful satire of both london centric attitudes but also a poke at US sci fi where by its always a big metropilis that gets flattened. the scenes in the civic hall were side splitting. only local government still has ladies with tea trays and trollies and it was lovely touch. I agree that the tardis thing was contrived but it confirms decades of fan speculation about it being a sentient being.

  1. […] by Will @ 8:44 am. Filed under Who fan, Who Reviews, Politicker

    In my Boom Town review, I complained that: Are we to assume half the politicians in Cardiff have been bumped […]