BOOM TOWN

An official is worried about Cardiff’s plans for an unstable nuclear reactor.

Boom TownMe: This is the first actor to appear in both the classic series and the new series, love. Can you remember –
Sue: No, I can’t. And I couldn’t care less, either. I mean, who gives a shit? Oh, and the director thinks he’s making The Searchers.

The Mayor of Cardiff is none other than Margaret Blaine.

Sue: Hang on a minute, I thought she was dead. Is this a prequel? I don’t remember this at all.

Margaret sheds her human disguise and kills the guy who is obviously related to the undertaker from Remembrance of the Daleks.

Sue: Oh well, I suppose the Slitheen costume must have cost them a bit, so they had to get their money’s worth out of it. It’s the only reason I can think of for bringing these things back so soon.

The TARDIS has arrived at Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff.

Sue: Torchwood’s under that thing; I remember that much. And Cardiff looks lovely. We should visit it some day.
Me: We could leave some flowers on Ianto’s shrine.
Sue: Eh?

I explain Ianto’s shrine to her.

Sue: The daft bastards. So, do all the characters in Torchwood have shrines, then? Didn’t they all die at the end, like in Blake’s 7? I’m pretty sure they did. So what makes Ianto so special? Didn’t he just make the coffee?

The TARDIS has landed on the Rift (see The Unquiet Dead) so it can refuel.

Boom TownSue: You never saw Tom Baker worrying about stuff like this. And is Captain Jack a proper companion, then? I’d completely forgotten about that. So why isn’t his name in the titles? And where’s his big coat? He doesn’t look right without his big coat on.
Me: I bet you won’t complain about that next week.
Sue: What?
Me: Nothing.

The Mayor wants to build a nuclear power station in the middle of Cardiff.

Sue: That’s ridiculous. At least Hartlepool had enough common sense to build its nuclear power station a couple of miles away from the city centre. We aren’t that stupid.

Margaret Blaine is pressing flesh at a PR event.

Sue: She could be Boris Johnson’s sister.

…when a journalist points out that the power planet has been beset by a string of unexplained deaths.

Sue: Did Fifa have anything to do with the bid for this thing? It seems a bit fishy to me.

Margaret invites the journalist to accompany her to the toilet so they can discuss the matter further.

Boom TownSue: (As Margaret) You can interview me while I’m having a shit.

Margaret reaches a cubicle just in time to let rip.

Sue: I WAS JOKING!

Margaret sheds her human disguise and prepares to attack.

Sue: What a bloody faff on.

But she has a sudden change of heart and spares the meddling human’s life.

Sue: That was a very odd scene. I understand her not wanting to kill the journalist because she was pregnant, but she changed her mind because she had a boyfriend. How weird is that? That definitely narrows down her victims quite a bit.

Margaret is feeling down in the dumps (whilst simultaneously having a dump, by the looks of it) and her day is made even worse when the Doctor, Rose, Jack and Mickey Smith (it’s a long story) arrive at City Hall to arrest her. After a protracted chase sequence, Margaret teleports to safety.

Sue: Why didn’t she do that FIVE MINUTES AGO?!

Her escape attempt is thwarted by the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. And then the Doctor realises that the scale model for the city’s new power station is actually a front for a pan-dimensional surfboard. Yes, really.

Sue: Eh? So she based the design of a nuclear power station on the shape a ****ing surfboard? WHY? Why didn’t she hide it in a cupboard? That makes no sense at all.

The power station is called Blaidd Drwg, which means… wait for it.

Boom TownSue: Bad Wolf. What a stupid name for a nuclear power station. It’s bad enough that they want to build it in the city centre, but naming it after something frightening and, well, bad, is just taking the piss. The Bad Wolf reactor. Not very reassuring, is it?

Rose recognises the name. “I’ve heard that before,” she says. “I’ve heard that lots of times.”

Sue: Is she having a laugh?

Once we’ve established that Sue can’t say Raxacoricofallapatorius to save her life (she starts with ‘Rox’ and it gets steadily worse from there), we reach the nub of the matter: will the Doctor take Margaret back to her home planet, where she’ll executed as a common criminal?

Sue: Well, he killed the rest of her family, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

She’s wrong, of course. Mickey, Rose and the Doctor can’t look Margaret in the eye.

Sue: Hang on a minute – what about Jack? We never saw Jack’s reaction. Did Jack look her in the eye or not? I’ll lose sleep over that.
Me: John Ford is spinning in his grave.

Mickey and Rose plan a special night together. “We could go have a drink. Have a pizza or something,” suggests Mickey.

Sue: (As Mickey) Followed by a quick shag, if you’re up for it.

Boom TownMickey suggests that they, you know, spend the night in a hotel.

Sue: I WAS JOKING!

Meanwhile, back at the TARDIS, Margaret has one final request: she wants to dine with the Doctor.

Sue: This is a bit weird. I can’t imagine Tom Baker taking Davros out for a Big Mac, can you?

Jack stays on the TARDIS so he can play with Margaret’s surfboard.

Sue: So he isn’t going to hit Cardiff’s bars, then? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that. This is Captain Jack we’re talking about here. This is even more out of character than him forgetting to wear his massive coat.

Margaret tells the Doctor that her real name is Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen.

Sue: Blon… Oh, I see. So that’s why she moved to Wales.

Margaret (I’m not going to start calling her Blon this late in the game) tries to kill the Doctor before he can order his starter.

Sue: That was brilliant. And very, very funny. You couldn’t do this every week, but it’s definitely funny.

Mickey listens politely as Rose tells him about all the exciting adventures she’s enjoyed with the Doctor.

Sue: This isn’t turning him on. Not one bit. He’s got that same bored look on his face that I get when you start banging on about Doctor Who, Neil. If they haven’t shagged yet, they never will.

When Mickey tells Rose that he’s seeing Trisha Delaney, Sue laughs out loud, and then, quick as a flash:

Sue: (Horrified) The two-timing bastard!

Boom TownWhen we return to the restaurant, Sue can’t make up her mind. She’s like this in real restaurants, too.

Sue: I feel sorry for her. She’s lonely.

And then, a few seconds later:

Sue: Oh, the Doctor’s got a point, I suppose. They should probably kill her.

Margaret promises to mend her ways.

Sue: She tried to kill him three minutes ago! Maybe if she hadn’t done that, he would have listened to her. She should have waited until after dessert, at least.

Rose can’t believe that Mickey is going out with Trisha Delaney.

Sue: Looks like the shag’s definitely off, then.
Me: Yeah, he should have told her about Trisha afterwards.

This was one of those rare occasions where I actually deserved a cushion in the face.

Sue: Wrong answer!

Margaret begs the Doctor to “Let one go.”

Boom TownSue: (After she’s blown an enormous raspberry) Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Margaret tells the Doctor that her father wanted to feed her to the Venom Grubs.

Me: Do you remember the Venom Grubs, Sue?
Sue: No, I don’t remember the Venom Grubs, Neil. And I don’t ****ing care, either, so don’t bother telling me.

Suddenly, the Rift opens, which plunges Cardiff into even more chaos than is usual for a Saturday night. When the Doctor arrives back at the TARDIS, he finds Captain Jack wrestling with Margaret’s pan-dimensional surfboard.

Sue: Oh no, it’s Captain Jack’s fault again. Everything he touches turns to shit.

The TARDIS can’t take much more.

Sue: For God’s sake, wave your sonic at it!

Margaret plans on using the extrapolator to escape. “Surf’s up!” she cries.

Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake.

boom3But she’s stopped by the heart of the TARDIS.

Sue: Okay, right, I see. So this episode basically exists to set-up the time when Rose does the same thing later on (which I definitely remember). All this for that. It was hardly worth it.

Margaret stares into the light and promptly vanishes.

Sue: Okay, I’m confused. What the hell just happened?

The Doctor has a theory: the TARDIS may have used the Rift’s raw energy to translate Margaret’s innermost thoughts. Or something like that, anyway.

Sue: He shouldn’t be guessing how the TARDIS works after 900 years. That’s ridiculous!

Margaret has regressed into an egg.

Sue: What the ****? I’m sorry, but that’s… That’s rubbish.

Rose searches for Mickey, but she can’t find him.

Sue: Trying ringing his mobile, pet. Anyone would think you didn’t want to find him on purpose.
Me: When I first saw this, I remember thinking that Mickey would turn evil and betray Rose and the Doctor. It never happened, though.
Sue: He isn’t capable. I like his coat, though.

Boom TownThe episode concludes with a hopeful coda. Maybe this time, with enough love and support from the right family, Margaret will grow up to be a nice Raxacoricofallapatorian.

Sue: (Sighing) She’s a ****ing egg!

 

The Score

Sue: I didn’t like that very much.

5/10

Me: You must be kidding.
Sue: The scene in the restaurant was great, and the moral dilemma was interesting, I suppose, but the rest was just okay. And the ending was a cop-out. We’ll never know what the Doctor would have done with her now. I still can’t believe she turned into an egg. A ****ing egg!
Me: That’s a shame. I enjoyed it. A lot more than I did in 2005, anyway.
Sue: That’s because you’re an idiot. Next week looks good though – the Daleks on Big Brother. Now that’s more like it.

 

Next Time

 

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Comments

  1. Nick Mays  June 4, 2015

    Sue: Did Fifa have anything to do with the bid for this thing? It seems a bit fishy to me.

    Love it!!! As ever, the Blog comes out to coincide with the big topical issues! 🙂 Like Neil, I enjoyed this a lot more than I did in 2005, but not too much more. I scored it a 5/10 this time round too. The only good thing to come out of this episode is the set up for Torchwood (and that’s debatable!)

    • Dave Sanders  June 4, 2015

      This episode suffers from a bad case of Qatar.

      • Nick Mays  June 4, 2015

        Ho! Ho! Good one, Centurion! 😉

        (‘Some people might say that ‘snot funny…) 😀

  2. Assad  June 4, 2015

    Ugh.. this was a daft, daft episode. It made no sense within either sci fi or real world conventions. Major issues:
    1. Blon is not misunderstood, manipulated or in any way a shade of gray. But really, no one can look her in the eye? But no one had any problems dropping a cruise missile on her? It’s not exactly analogous to fighter pilots not seeing their actual victims because Team TARDIS was not actually going to shoot her in the head themselves either.
    2. Not only are they building a nuclear plant in the middle of the town, but the trail of dead bodies associated with it would not raise any eyebrows?
    3. Since she never changed her meatsuit, noone seems perplexed that a supposedly dead government Minister has reemerged to be elected as Mayor. Not UNIT, not Harriet Jones.
    4. And presumably the assistant thought the Mayor had been kidnapped, and so should have called the cops, maybe? But she turns up in a posh restaurant and noone notices.
    5. COP OUT!!

    The conceit of the Doctor dining with monsters is an interesting one, but it hardly works if your monster is clearly a remorseless, murderous creature that is continuing its remorseless, monstrous ways. That’s as silly as taking seriously any criticism from Davros about being ruthless! Oh, hang about…

    • Anonymous  June 7, 2015

      And how is it that Harriet Jones, who is now prime minister, says NOTHING about cardiffs mayor being an evil space monster?

      • Nick Mays  June 7, 2015

        Perception filter?

        Poor scripting?

  3. Mike  June 4, 2015

    I’m in complete agreement with Sue, in that this is the definite low-point of the first season of the new series. I do disagree with her score though – it’s one and a half points above what I would give the episode. I really, really don’t like the Slitheen. Still, there’s better yet to come…

  4. Sean Alexander  June 4, 2015

    Genius.

    Considering Boom Town was the episode that bridged two budget-straining two-parters it’s little surprise that this is series one’s equivalent of a ‘bottle episode’ on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but in this case using Cardiff locations (Russell already with one eye on turning Cardiff into a major city for Torchwood) and being more about words than action. On that note it succeeds surprisingly well, and like Neil I find it stands up better now than it did when it was ‘the one with the surviving Slitheen’ (on which note, their final appearance on Who notwithstanding background cameos and the more flatulence friendly scenario of CBBC’s The Sarah-Jane Adventures).

    The restaurant scene is obviously the best bit, managing to build a surprisingly contentious argument for the morality of the death sentence and how the Doctor – himself a killer a hundred times over – is in the dubious position to pass judgment. Excellent performances from Eccleston and Annette Badland help seal it too.

    But the real surprise is Noel Clarke’s Mickey – by the actor’s own admission block one was not his finest hour, but here Mickey is far more likeable, believable and (crucially) comes off as the injured party when compared to Rose’s carefree and self-indulgent gallivanting around the universe with the Doctor and Jack. She does seem to be happily rubbing his nose in it until he makes the decent – and painful – admission that he has been having his own ‘adventures’ in her absence. For the Rose haters, Boom Town provides ample ammunition as she treats her on-off boyfriend as both a convenience and emotional punchbag. More so even than The Parting of the Ways one is left with the feeling that they’ve reached the end of the road.

    The humour is lovely, and Russell particularly delights in mocking both Welsh inferiority complexes and the Police Squad explanation for the series of bizarre ‘accidents’ that have somehow enabled Margaret to not just evade capture but somehow convince the authorities to demolish the castle and build a nuclear reactor in the city centre. For once the willing blindness of the authorities is instead turned around into a satirical comment on corporate manipulation. Which in itself is an appropriate topic to touch on in the week when FIFA’s blatant decades long corruption is ‘finally’ made public knowledge…

  5. Bernard  June 4, 2015

    You two must be the first people in a decade to not skip straight from The Doctor Dances to Bad Wolf. I’m surprised they even include it on the DVD to be honest.

  6. Mike Bond  June 4, 2015

    “Sue: where’s his big coat? He doesn’t look right without his big coat on.”

    There’s no particular reason for him to wear that coat. It’s not as if he’s actually from the 1940s, he’s a Time Agent! More strangely, there’s a scene in Children Of Earth when Jack is forced to wear an outfit pretty much identical to the one he wears here, but he starts complaining about it!

  7. Mark Stockley  June 4, 2015

    There’s something about Boom Town that I just like! I like the understatedness of the episode stuck between two massive two part stories. I love the restaurant scene that’s both funny and serious in turn I felt like it was the first time The Doctor’s actions were ever questioned and that interested me. I can understand why people don’t like it but for me it’s at least a 6 or 7.

  8. Dave Sanders  June 4, 2015

    Neil probably likes it more now as a bottle episode simply by virtue of not being The Lodger or Fear Her.

  9. Anniew  June 4, 2015

    I don’t know why I hated this episode so much. I think it’s because it’s a bit too pleased with itself. Had its moments but the self satisfaction grated.

  10. Philippa Sidle  June 4, 2015

    I enjoyed Boom Town very much on broadcast. It heralded my return to the fold of Doctor Who fandom after goodness knows how many years in the wilderness.

  11. Andy Luke  June 4, 2015

    I’m with Sean A. and Mark S. on this being a great wee episode, though Assad makes a good case. And Sue, you were totally on fire with this one. I chuckled all the way through.

  12. BWT  June 5, 2015

    Not a lot of love being give to this episode, is there?

    And that is a shame as I’ve aways loved BOOMTOWN. Which makes me an idiot, like Neil. Thanks, Sue.

  13. Chris-Too-Old-To-Watch  June 5, 2015

    At times, when watching this, I got the impression that I’d wandered into an alternative universe where Rentaghost had morphed into DW. Is there anything right with this? Slitheen are dreadful, children’s monsters anyway, so seeing them so soon (Hi Sue) is pathetic. But they don’t even have any consistency. Where do all the biological weapons come from? Never mentioned before, but all of a sudden, they’re loaded with them! Jack is allowed to play with his board (oo-eer missus) and Mickey wanders along, only so that we know they’ll exist for the next couple of stories.
    I can only think that after the earlier story in the season, they’d had an agreement with Cardiff to show the new city in a good light. 2/10 for me.

    • Nick Mays  June 6, 2015

      Nice allusion Chris – ‘Rentaghost’ about sums it up (and I liked Rentaghost – at least while Fred Mumford was in it!)

      In tone, Boom Town is more like an episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures, but I don’t even think the SJA would have stopped quite this low, despite using the Slitheen a few times.

      I think there’s a good reason why the green fart-arses haven’t showed up in Dr Who since!

  14. Frankymole  June 5, 2015

    Since the 90s or whenever Michael Jackson’s album of the same name came out, “bad” has meant “good”, hasn’t it? Wicked! Good wolf.

    • Bar  June 6, 2015

      My (linguist) other half tells me that the proper translation is actually ‘rubbish’ or ‘crap’ wolf. hmm.
      That restaurant dilemma scene is the only bit I remember with any positivity.
      But thank you Neil and Sue, you make it all worthwhile!

  15. Mag  June 5, 2015

    Looking back at some of the other 5 ratings, I’m surprised Sue ranked this Eccleston story that low.

    Boom Town 5/10 – Sue: “I didn’t like that very much.”
    […]
    The Ultimate Foe 5/10 – Sue: “I want to like it a lot more than I do.”
    Snakedance 5/10 – Sue: “The plot bored me rigid.”
    Robot 5/10 – Sue: “The story was pants.”
    The Mind of Evil 5/10 – Sue: “I didn’t like that one very much. ”
    The Highlanders 5/10 – Sue: “I’ve seen a lot worse.”
    The Smugglers 5/10 – Sue: “I’ll have forgotten it by next week.”

    Ranking it a 5 along with some of the great stories from classic series, I think it indicates a bit of a ‘new Who’ ratings inflation.

    I’m with Neil on this. I find my appreciation of Boom Town has improved since its first broadcast. It’s almost as if ‘new Who fan’ [sic] Sue is going along with the received fan wisdom regarding Boom Town and not giving it a fresh look. After all, as Sue put it with Rose: “It was the first episode of Doctor Who that was made for me, if you know what I mean.”

    I guess even sometimes RTD could miss the mark, but I think why Boom Town suffers the most is it comes after Moffat’s great 2-part story. Boom Town was a necessary slow down to give a breather before the series finale and Eccleston end.

    • encyclops  June 6, 2015

      Oh god, it still smarts to see Snakedance and Robots sitting there with a 5 alongside The Ultimate Fooey. But that’s what makes this blog so much fun.

      I think Sue’s wrapup really sums it up — there are some really worthwhile parts of this episode (I wouldn’t skip it, personally) and some really awful stuff (I’d managed to block out the “Surf’s up” line apparently).

  16. Licence  June 5, 2015

    I can’t watch this again after having seen Annette Badland in ‘Man Down’.

    If you’ve seen the episode you’ll know what I mean.

  17. Harriet  June 5, 2015

    I remember RTD admitting the whole episode was a set-up for the restaurant scene. And the restaurant scene is probably 11/10.

    Annette Badland joins the long list of people I would have liked to become a Companion. I love the woman, but she seems to get a lot of lousy parts.

    And as in World War Three I was left wondering whether RTD actually had any idea of how government and democracy work, or just wasn’t bothered. Blon got herself elected Mayor without ever having her photo taken?

    • Nick Mays  June 6, 2015

      I’ve often wondered too if RTD has any idea how politics work. I square that away with the fact that things must work differently in the Dr Who universe…

      Or it’s something to do with the Time War. 😉

  18. Richard Lyth  June 5, 2015

    At the time I was really annoyed at getting yet another present-day Earth episode, made even worse by Rose telling Mickey about all the planets she’s been to in off-screen adventures. Now, it still looks a bit cheap compared to the rest of the season, and there’s hardly any plot to speak of, but the Doctor/Margaret scenes are very strong, some excellent writing and acting there. Just a shame they couldn’t have made the rest of it a bit more substantial.

  19. Lorcan  June 5, 2015

    I WAS JOKING!

  20. scribbles  June 6, 2015

    I find it to be a likable filler episode. It passes the time, the dinner scene is excellent, and the Slitheen aren’t half as irritating as they were previously. I wouldn’t consider it a highlight, but there’s a lot worse.

  21. Frankymole  June 7, 2015

    Yes, it was a truly bizarre error to have Rose’s first visit to another planet happen off-screen.

    • Frankymole  June 7, 2015

      I mean, she’s meant to be the audience identification figure!

      • Nick Mays  June 7, 2015

        So we’re all chavs are we? ;’

    • Mike Bond  June 7, 2015

      Rose’s first visit to another planet was Justicia in The Monsters Inside novel, which gets mentioned in THIS episode! So maybe it was a marketing thing – make everyone buy the book.

  22. Derek Handley  June 8, 2015

    I have a soft spot for Boom Town. The restaurant scene is so well done; and I like the overall idea and the way it brings up “not waiting for the consequences”. The scenes with Rose and Mickey are uncomfortable – the show doesn’t pull back from showing how selfish and childish Rose’s attitude toward Mickey is. The rest of the episode holds up despite the comedy and the ending.

    But I can see how it doesn’t win many people over. Like The Long Game, I think, it suffers by comparison and the pacing seems off.