Saturday, 5 April 2014

'Boomtown'




‘Some date this turned out to be…’

Can the best Doctor Who stories be summed up in a question?
How much did you always want a down-time episode in which the Doctor is forced to go on a deadly dinnerdate with Davros, the Master, the Rani or Scaroth?

Best moment for Old School Who?
The team! I love it when the Doctor, Rose, Jack and Mickey are striding about Cardiff, off to capture the Mayor and feeling indestructible. It’s a lovely reminder of old school high-points in the Doctor Who family: the UNIT team, or the Doctor, Sarah and Harry – even the original cast from 1963. This is the series building new memories for us.

Best new thing?
The fact that this episode – poised before the season finale – wonderfully draws together plot threads from the whole season – Mickey, Captain Jack, the Slitheen, the Cardiff rift… There’s a new sophistication to the series and this is one of the foremost examples. The season is structured like a novel.

They’d never have got away with that in the 20th century…
There’s a wonderful scene – of pathos and comedy and tension – when Margaret Slitheen is on the loo and the journalist she’s about to murder stands outside, blithely sharing her happiness about her boyfriend and pregnancy. There’s no way this scene could have happened in the previous century.

Hurray for Jackie Tyler – best guest moment?
Annette Badland as Margaret Slitheen is a complete delight in this. It’s such a shame she never came back: she revels in being the returning villain here. By turns nasty and sneaky, then challenging and even heart-breaking. She’s a great foil for Eccleston’s Doctor in comic moments, and also the bits where she recognizes him as a ruthless killer.  

The ‘I love me Nan…’ moment
Cap’n Jack gets just a bit too loud and enthusiastic and has to be dialed down by the end of the episode. I want to see a side of him that’s less cocksure and full of bravado.

What?!?
Subordinating the monstery plot to the human / alien drama is a wonderful experiment for TV Doctor Who (the ‘Hand of Fear’ is more or less going on in the background here, nuclear threat and all.) From the novels, long-term fans were used to that idea, and it works very well here. We get to relax (a little) and even go out to dinner with our heroes. Everyone’s character benefits and grows in this episode (except poor Jack.) Mickey is wonderfully rounded out in this episode – his hopefulness and resentment and his not-quite-fitting in are brilliantly played out. The Ninth Doctor is at his most charming and funny here.

Huh?!
I can see why, in plot terms, it makes sense for the cosmic surfboard to be a part of the relief map of Cardiff in the Mayor’s offices – but in real world terms, why has she put it there..?

Where was I?
I was agog throughout. Still am. It’s a triumph, far more than almost any other episode this season. This is space opera as weekly drama and it’s about something real. Not just made-up inconsequential bollocks. It’s about capital punishment and the Doctor’s conscience at the same time as being a silly runaround set in Cardiff Bay. My second favourite ep of 2005 so far.

Singlemost fabulous thing
‘She’s climbing out of the window, isn’t she?’ I LOVE Eccleston’s Doctor by now. He’s ten steps ahead of everyone. Except for the moments when he’s not. He’s compassionate to a fault, and funny, flirty and yet, all the while, he’s trying hard to hide everything he’s got going on inside.



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