Boom Town (Doctor Who)
|165 – "Boom Town"|
|Doctor Who episode|
The Doctor dines with an old enemy.
|Writer||Russell T Davies|
|Script editor||Elwen Rowlands|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Originally broadcast||4 June 2005|
"Boom Town" is the eleventh episode of the first series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast on 4 June 2005. The Doctor, Rose and Jack travel to modern-day Cardiff and meet up with Rose's boyfriend, Mickey. There, they discover that a recent enemy is very much alive, and is willing to destroy the planet to ensure her freedom.
The Doctor lands the TARDIS in Cardiff, using the energy of the Cardiff Rift to recharge the engines. Rose has Mickey bring her passport to the TARDIS, and together with the Doctor and Jack Harkness they go to lunch. At lunch the Doctor spots a newspaper article showing Margaret Blaine, a Slitheen, has become the new mayor of Cardiff. The four track down and capture Margaret to find out what she is doing there after their previous encounter in the episodes "Aliens of London"/"World War Three". The Doctor observes Blaine's scale model plans for a new nuclear power plant, but identifies that it is purposely flawed to cause a meltdown that would open the rift and destroy the Earth. He also discovers the model contains a functioning tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator that Margaret would have used to flee the Earth. The Doctor decides to take Margaret back to her home planet of Raxacoricofallapatorious, but she admits that she has received a death sentence there and will be executed upon returning. The Doctor agrees to her final request to accompany her to a dinner meal. Margaret makes several half-hearthed attempts to kill the Doctor but he easily avoids them. She then tries to play on the Doctor's sympathies, asking him to take her to another planet instead.
Back at the TARDIS, Jack begins integrating the extrapolator into the TARDIS to speed up the engine recharge. Rose and Mickey hang out together, and he admits to her that he is dating someone else because she is not there for him. Cardiff is soon struck by a large earthquake that seems to be coming from the rift. The Doctor, Margaret, Rose and Jack regroup and find that the extrapolator was a trap meant to redirect the energy from the TARDIS into the rift, rupturing it. Jack and the Doctor are unable to stop the energy transfer, and Margaret takes Rose hostage and demands the extrapolator. The heart of the TARDIS opens on the console, bathing Margaret in light. While she is captivated by the light, Jack and the Doctor close the rift and disable the extrapolator. As the console closes, Margaret's human suit is empty except for a Slitheen egg. The Doctor surmises that the TARDIS sensed that Margaret wanted a second chance at life and gave it to her. The TARDIS crew decides to return the egg to Raxacoricofallapatorius so Margaret can be raised in a different family. Rose realises Mickey has left without saying goodbye, but she declines when the Doctor offers to wait for her to go find him.
Continuing the Bad Wolf theme, the nuclear power station is named "Blaidd Drwg", which means "bad wolf" in the Welsh language. This was the first reference to be explicitly addressed. Rose mentions that she and the Doctor have been to the Glass Pyramid of Sancleen, and to Justicia, which is the star system that they visit in the New Series Adventures novel The Monsters Inside by Stephen Cole (where they encounter other members of the Slitheen family, as well as other members of the same race, the Blathereen). This is the first time any of the spin-off novels have been referenced on-screen.
The plot features a device called a "tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator". Tribophysics was first mentioned in The Pyramids of Mars. Margaret refers to being threatened with being fed to the venom grubs in her childhood. Similar creatures appeared in the First Doctor serial The Web Planet (1965).
The sealing of the Cardiff rift in 1869 left a scar, similar to the way the events of the 1996 Doctor Who television movie left a "dimensional scar" in San Francisco in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Unnatural History by Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman; the fact that the TARDIS needs to "refuel" from energy from the scar suggests that it is no longer being powered by the Eye of Harmony. What connection the "soul" of the TARDIS has with the Eye is not mentioned. The place where the TARDIS lands in Roald Dahl Plass develops unusual properties, as seen in "Everything Changes", the first episode of the spin-off series Torchwood. The idea that the TARDIS console directly harnesses the energies which drive the ship, and is at least in some sense "alive" and self-aware, dates back to the 1964 serial The Edge of Destruction.
Although the TARDIS has never regressed a person to infancy as it did with Blaine, it has helped with the Doctor's regenerations (The Tenth Planet (1966), The Power of the Daleks (1966) and Castrovalva (1982)). In the television movie, the Master tries to harness the TARDIS's Eye of Harmony to give himself a new set of regenerations; later, the TARDIS somehow brings Grace and Chang Lee back to life. Time travel technology that could turn a chicken back into an egg was seen in City of Death (1979). Nyssa and Tegan suffered both age progression and regression during the events of Mawdryn Undead due to travelling in the TARDIS, but this was the result of an external infection that rendered them susceptible to that effect while travelling.
In the accompanying Doctor Who Confidential episode, Davies stated that he originally intended to call this episode "Dining with Monsters". He joked that a much better name for this episode would be "What should we do with Margaret?"
According to an interview with Davies in Doctor Who Magazine, this episode was originally offered to his friend and former colleague, the critically acclaimed and award-winning scriptwriter Paul Abbott. Abbott accepted and submitted a storyline, revealing that Rose had been bred by the Doctor as an experiment in creating a perfect companion. The episode was titled "The Void". However, his commitments to his own series Shameless and State of Play meant that Abbott was unable to develop the episode further and had to leave the project. Davies wrote "Boom Town" instead, bringing back Badland as Margaret due to her performance in "Aliens of London"/"World War Three" being "brilliant" though she had few lines.
The actor playing Mr Cleaver, William Thomas, had previously appeared as Martin the undertaker in the 1988 classic series story Remembrance of the Daleks. This made him the first performer to appear in both the classic and new series of Doctor Who. He later went on to play Geraint Cooper, the father of Gwen Cooper, in the 2008 Torchwood episode "Something Borrowed" and 2011 series Torchwood: Miracle Day. He is the first actor to appear in all three series.
Broadcast and reception
"Boom Town" received a final rating of 7.68 million viewers in the United Kingdom.
SFX described "Boom Town" as "the first true format-breaking episode" since the show's third serial The Edge of Destruction. Though it was stated that it "certainly misfires on some levels, and leaves various elements underdeveloped", they felt that the moral theme is "mesmerisingly portrayed, thanks to some sparkling dialogue and a willingness to tackle a strong central moral dilemma head on". The "face-off" between the Doctor and Margaret was praised, but the conclusion with Margaret being reverted to an egg was seen as a "little too handy and provides the Doctor with a moral get-out clause" and the Rose and Mickey subplot was called "weak" due to the lack of evidence he and Rose were ever close. Arnold T Blumburg of Now Playing gave the episode a grade of B+, writing that it "sacrifices a bit of plot and logic" for a good exploration of the characters and plot threads. He praised the dialogue and Murray Gold's score. Digital Spy's Dek Hogan was more negative, feeling that it "really didn't work", calling bringing back Margaret a "bad idea", and he criticised the pace for dragging too much.
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- Burk and Smith? p. 46
- Russell, Gary (2006). Doctor Who: The Inside Story. London: BBC Books. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-563-48649-7.
- "Doctor Who: Boom Town". SFX. 4 June 2005. Archived from the original on 24 November 2005. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Blumburg, Arnold T (19 May 2006). "Doctor Who - "Boom Town"". Now Playing. Archived from the original on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- Hogan, Dek (4 June 2005). "Not quite Pygmalion". Digital Spy. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Ninth Doctor|
- Boom Town on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- "Boom Town" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "Boom Town" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- "Boom Town" at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- "Boom Town" at Outpost Gallifrey
- "Boom Town" at TV.com
- UNIT Press Statement - "Cardiff Earthquake"
- Doctor Who Confidential — Episode 11: Unsung Heroes and Violent Death
- "And I was having such a nice day..." — Episode trailer for "Boom Town"
- "Boom Town" at the Internet Movie Database