Boomtown (2005)

Boomtown is the penultimate story of this season. It’s a cheap episode but as a result we get a character driven episode but unlike Fathers Day this story has a lot to do with the Doctor. Set in Cardiff just above the rift that was created after The Unquiet Dead. This story sees the return of Margaret Blaine who somehow survived the missile that struck Downing Street in World War Three. It’s not clear how much time has passed since that story but somehow that Blaine is now mayor of Cardiff. It’s quite an imaginative story. The Slitheen clearly cost quite a bit of money and to fully justify the cost it was important to give the costume another airing. They seem to have made some modifications to the costume because it does seem different.

The scenes with the Doctor and Margaret in the restaurant were the best bits of this story. The Doctor has a dilemma because of his stance over death yet he knows all the death and destruction that Margaret and her family have caused means that she should face justice. But will the Doctor be willing to send someone to their death? It’s a dilemma that is explored in great depth in this episode. I thought a great argument that Margaret had was she let someone live. The Doctor basically says just because she let someone live doesn’t make her a good person, just that she was in a good and generous mood at the time. The other plot that was running through the story was that as Mayor of Cardiff, Margaret was building a nuclear power station so that it could blow up and she could ride on some futuristic surf board and ride out of Earth. From the moment the rift starts to go crazy that is when the proper action kicks in, before then it was all about the personalities but now it was the crazy stuff. The scene in the TARDIS where the console opens up and Margaret looks into the white light was a surprising moment for me. In all the years I had been watching the show it never occurred to me that the console could do that. That might have something to do with I still think of the console as that grey cobbled together console from the 1980’s instead of this wonderful vibrant one we get today. In the end the dilemma that the Doctor has about sending Margaret to her certain death is taken out of his hands because as she looked into the white light it reverted Margaret back to an egg. All’s well that ends well. A sensible ending which wasn’t obvious but didn’t seem stupid.

As she doesn’t have to battle with the other actors playing Slitheens, Annette Badland is allowed to shine in the role. I’ve seen her in a few other dramas and I think that she is a wonderful actress. The chemistry between Badland and Eccleston was wonderful and amongst the dramatic moments there were some comedy bits which were well acted between the pair. Billie Piper and Noel Clarke had some good scenes and the tension in the relationship between Rose and Mickey. Mickey is slightly resentful against the Doctor and that plays out brilliantly. It’s John Barrowman who has the least to do. His time will come. Boomtown is a story that probably doesn’t look like much on paper but due to the writing of Russell T Davies and the acting of this very small cast it works and becomes a nice solid episode. Credit to everyone involved. Now bring on the final two episodes of Christopher Eccleston’s run.

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