Review: Boom Town

Last Alteration: Monday 19 September 2005

The Slitheens are not my favourite Who monster, and the actual realisation of the windy Raxacoricofallapatorian criminals has got to be the biggest disappointment of the series so far. However, wary though I was about the return of Margaret Slitheen in "Boomtown", there were moments in the episode that made me laugh out loud, re-watch many times, and were definitely highlights of whole season.

"Boomtown" is a compilation of inciteful and amusing set-pieces which are superbly directed by Joe Aherne: Mickey knocking on the door of the TARDIS and the ensuing dialogue between the four principals; the discussion outside the police box about the chameleon circuit and the innuendo squad; the gloriousness of the reverie and bonhomie in the restaurant near the beginning; the shots of Jack leading the assault on the City Hall; the comparisons between him and Mickey - one hurdling over one trolley gracefully, the other clumsily bumping his way into another one; the exchange between the Doctor and the Mayor's assistant; and the "I've gone native" line..... I could go on and on.

And after the story got going, the best was still to come. These snappy, fun scenes were building up to the Doctor and his captive in the restaurant - a beautifully crafted scene, reminiscent of the best of the old show's moral conundrums. I recall Genesis of the Daleks and the "among the gods" scene with Davros, and also the Doctor's dilemma about destroying - or not destroying - the Kaled mutations before they became Daleks. With Margaret sentenced to death, the potential consequences of the Doctor's actions were suddenly and unexpectedly centre-stage.

The dialogue was electric, with Russell T. bringing Margaret's real character to life with twists and turns galore that kept me enthralled. And throughout, the look and feel of the show were again of a demonstrable high quality - the photography was superb, complemented by Murray Gold's brilliant incidental music - I was transfixed from the first shot at Cardiff station as Mickey alighted the train.

But here's the crux of the matter. I have the greatest respect for the vision and creativity of the demi-god that is Russell T. Davies. I could wax lyrical about his enormous contribution to the Doctor Who phenomena, and long may his involvement continue for many years to come.

But for me, his episodes lack something when it comes to plotting and a really satisfactory conclusion. It's as though the foreplay is there, the actual jiggy-jigginess of the 'action' is great, but you find yourself smoking the post-jiggy cigarette...... and it has concluded all too soon.

The resolution was plain daft. This bright light from the TARDIS turns Margaret into an egg? The last few minutes reminded me of the 'fairy dust' ending of the TV movie. Again we're suddenly confronted with a new aspect of the TARDIS, sweeping us off the credibility carpet completely.

This did not detract from my enjoyment of the episode. For the reasons above, it's one of my favourite episodes of the season, but the ending does not compare with the earlier stories where... Well, where the ending makes any kind of sense whatsoever. I only hope that Russell's last two contributions can allow me to retain a satisfied smile while I'm having that post-jiggy cigarette.

Andy Keast-Marriott

  • Read Andy's review of The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.