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Jun 05, 2005

Let One Go

Boom1There's a wonderful moment in Boom Town where Margaret the Slitheen begs the Doctor to spare her life. It's a bit like that old debate about killing Hitler, only this time you get to take him to a Bistro for steak and chips first. It's a tense scene, beautifully directed and acted with complete conviction. Margaret looks the Doctor in the eye and pleads with him to "let one go."

Now be completely honest with me here - who expected a fart gag?

I'm used to inappropriate interjections of camp, innuendo strewn humour, which seem to ooze uncontrollably from RTD's pen, so naturally I was completely gobsmacked when it didn't rear its head (ooo-errr, missus). It completely ruined the scene for me!

And it's all Russell's fault. If I had to sum up RTD's Doctor Who stories in one pithy sentence it would be this: "camp, existential Hollyoaks with a smattering of death". Come on, be honest; if I said that I expected the Doctor to flirt outrageously with his bisexual companion when we first heard that RTD was taking over the show then I'd have been accused of making cheap stereotypical jibes at worst, and lazy journalism at best. And yet here it is, in all its, er, glory.

Now, I don't want to sound like one of those "I can't get a girlfriend so why should he?" fans but I simply can't reconcile years and years of asexual Doctors with a character who talks like he's in perpetual need of wank. The last six months in the TARDIS will probably keep slash fiction authors busy for years. I'm from the old-school "above all that stuff" faction of fandom and this new direction just doesn't sit well with me at all. Whether the Doctor really really wants to bed Rose (or Jack) or not doesn't even matter in the end - this show never needed a "will-they, won't-they" dynamic, and I don't know why it's got one now.

And there's another reason why I'd like the show to cut down the comedy and romance elements. Murray Gold, a man who excels when it comes to scary, thrilling and serious cues can also be relied upon to drop a bollock when it comes to scoring the lighter moments. He might as well just drop some cymbals on the floor and be done with it. I was really looking forward to a moving regeneration in a couple of episodes time, now I'm almost certain it'll be the cheesiest in living memory.

Boom4The plot - surf-boarding aliens riding time rifts with the aid of unexplained (so far) alien technology - is simply window dressing that doesn't really hold together. It's really just an excuse to get the Doctor to dine with his enemy. Any questions about whether Margaret can change her spots or not is completely undercut by the fact that she tries to kill the Doctor three times in as many minutes, but the real debate is 'what should we do with the evil monsters?' Short of blowing them up, of course.

What should the Doctor do? Tricky, eh? Er, no. Just drop her on some desolate rock somewhere where she can't do any harm. If you're having ethical issues about that just make sure it's a rock with plenty of food and water, and if you still feel bad about it, leave her some magazines to read as well. What's the problem?

I wish I could empathise with a mass murderer who tried to rip a planet apart (and then tried to kill me three times on the trot) but I can't find it in my heart to be bothered. They'll have us feeling sorry for daleks next. Maybe I'm just feeling that way out today (I've just finished reading 'The Gallifrey Chronicles' so I'm not in a good mood).

Boom2Which brings me to Mickey. Mickey the victim. Boo-bloody-hoo. He was invited to come with Rose and the Doctor and he declined! My heart bleeds! What is he whinging about? OK, so he saved the world by following a really simplified list of technical support-line instructions and by pressing a big red button labelled FIRE. Big deal. At least Adric tried to fit in.

If I'm supposed to feel sorry for Ricky the Idiot (and with dialogue like that the jury is still out) it simply isn't working. He was a terrible boyfriend in 'Rose', he can't design websites for shit, and he seems to have an aversion to mops. Is it really surprising that I can't stand the sight of him? He was completely rubbish as a toddler too!

But wait! What's this? With yet another "this is me, acting" gurn, Mickey appears to turn towards the darkside with almost the same level of conviction and believability as Hayden Christensen. Almost. And he was right about one thing - the new TARDIS crew were acting like a right bunch of twats.

However, it's not all bad news. Even when Doctor Who is well below par it's still head and shoulders above everything else on TV. Joe Ahearne proves once again that he'll be sorely missed next year, and the intimate scene between Badland and Eccleston is one of the highlights of the series so far.

The Bad Wolf conversation was brilliant too. The pressure is now well and truly on for this to make some kind of sense. I'm beginning to lean towards the TARDIS telepathic circuits having something to do with this repeated meme, especially given the way it acted as a convenient deux ex machina this week. Is the old girl trying to warn the Doctor, perhaps?

Boom3Oh yes, the ending. What the hell was that about? It had a ring of the 1996 movie about it (captivated by the light of the TARDIS). Was it the Eye of Harmony? The "regression" was just as unexplained as the fairy light fiasco in McGann's outing and almost as unwelcome. Is the Master still hiding down there and did he manage to put himself in the egg by some nefarious means? Now, isn't that the most fanwanky thing you've ever read?

And why do I get the feeling that the TARDIS will flip its lid again in episode 13?

Oh well, that's one resurrected Roly Poly down, I suppose.


well matey, for once I disagree and really enjoyed it. Even Capt Jack, shame about Micky still being pants though!

I loved this eppy too but was dreading the worst after reading all the RTD bashing last night in the Outpost forums before finally catching up with Boom Town tonight.

Far better than the oddly dated The Long Game - RTD delivered a very witty and thought provoking tale. A bit of a breather plot-wise before the final trauma of CE's premature departure (Jesus! I'm going to miss him more than Jack!).
When did the original series ever do dialogue as quotable and perfect as this?
Consequences, consequences....Dr Who has grown up and guess what? The press loved this episode (and hopefully so did the 7.5 million who tuned in).

I have to say that I was dreading "Boom Town". Partly because of the Slitheen (mercifully, the fart gags were limited and partly RTD stories hadn't been as the others in the series.)

Anyway, I sat down and throughly enjoyed this episode. It was fun, funny, quirky, thought-provoking and a brilliant piece of character study that looked at how the Doctor ticked (something the Virgin books did very well in fact).

I think we have all come to realise that "Doctor Who 2005" is a different beast from the "Classic" series and this is in part because of viewing habits and viewing expectations. Furthermore, the 45 minute slot means that the programme has a slightly different way to storytelling of old (though not to dissimilar to a 2 parter)

As Rob and others have pointed out, this series is littered with quotable gems and cultural references galore.

I have so say that I am now looking forward to "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways". I was dreading this because of the Reality TV treatment. I hope RTD can pull the rabbit out of the hat with this one.

Agreed. I am filled with emptiness with the thought of having to watch this again with my family in a day's time. Or was that last week's...?

It'll be embarrassing.

This was the first episode I watched with my mother-in-law since Rose, so there's me and my partner talking about how good the show has been and how much our son is into it, and there was nothing to entertain my son until the earth quake at the end, and the whole episode was well below par. From an adult perspective it was more entertaining and thought provoking than The Long Game; it had good moments but I think RTD's output should be slashed in half in future seasons - his first four episodes for the series were brilliant, after which the Long Game - a dusting off of a rejected script from twenty years ago, and this script in which the haste of it's writing is obvious.

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