Boom Town

Region 1
box set

Region 2
box set
Region 2
3-episode volume
(Doctor Who Story No. 169, starring Christopher Eccleston)
  • written by Russell T. Davies
  • directed by Joe Ahearne
  • produced by Phil Collinson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 45 minutes
Story: Mickey Smith meets the TARDIS crew in Cardiff, where they are all shocked to discover that the new mayor is none other than alien Margaret Slitheen. Margaret has been leaving behind a staggering trail of cover-ups in pursuit of her nuclear power-station project. What is her real agenda? The Doctor wrestles his conscience looking for the most appropriate way to deal with Margaret, while Rose has to face some difficult questions in her relationship with Mickey....

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Audio commentary by John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Annette Badland (Margaret Blaine), and producer Phil Collinson.
  • Dr. Who Confidential featurette: Unsung Heroes & Violent Death (12 min.) with Christopher Eccleston (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose),
    Noel Clarke (Mickey), writer Russell T. Davies, script editor Helen Raynor, and Dr. Who Magazine editor Clayton Hickman.

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

This little character-piece coda to the Aliens of London story is actually a very nicely crafted tale. Although it isn't very ambitious in itself, it does a very fine job of intriguing the viewers and pulling them through each twist, turn, and revelation of the plot, and seems particularly good at making you think you know where it's headed just before pulling another surprise out of its hat.

Russell T. Davies has said how important he felt it was for Cardiff, England to appear on screen, since the new Doctor Who is made there. Hmmm. Somehow I think, with this being Doctor Who, it is rather more important for an alien planet to appear on screen, at LEAST once or twice per season. Yet with hardly any time left in this season, we're looking at England again for the umpteenth time. Curiously, there now seems to be a considerable amount of dialogue indicating that our band of time travellers has been to some amazing alien planets, and that they will soon be off to another one. Nice try, but not satisfying enough by a long shot. I do remember good old days like season 18, where the Earth only featured for half of one story - HALF - plus a little 5-minute beach cameo. The galaxy really has become a sad and smaller place.

The train makes a nice visual arrival at the station, and we soon learn that it has brought Mickey to the scene of the action. Sadly, nothing of the train interior is seen, but with the train being such an ordinary Earth vehicle, it isn't really necessary today.

Mickey soon introduces us to the rest of the story's main characters, the TARDIS, Jack, Rose, and Big Ears, and during the ensuing banter Mickey comes out on top and rules all. Amen.

Meanwhile, Margaret Blaine has re-established herself for the audience. You have to wonder how a camera-shy creature like herself could hide her way into her current position. This is an odd situation.

So the good guys brandish their weapons - cell phones. Pathetic. There's nothing more un-sci-fi than the latest, common place, over-hyped, radioactive, would-you-like-a-virtual-answering-machine-with-that cell phone. Captain Kirk's communicator was ahead of its time. The modern-day cell phone is just over-commercialized pop-culture, and this new series has been overusing them. Stick with the sonic screwdriver and the psychic paper, and give K9 a guest spot, but keep the cell phone use to a minimum, please. I'm begging you.

"I've seen you fight your enemies. Now dine with them."

Character study soon takes over for a good portion of the episode, exploring issues and philosophy with no holds barred. Very nice. The Doctor and Margaret get the most intense bits for sure, but Rose and Mickey have an equally interesting session and Jack gets to throw his two-cents in from time to time. Mickey still remains my favourite character in the end. Some good acting from Billie Piper, as Rose talks about him, makes an incredible assist in boosting his character.

I'll have to save my dissection of the conclusion for the In-depth Analysis version along with all the spoilers you are probably trying to avoid by sticking to this page.

Suffice it to say that the concluding beat doesn't let the Doctor act as heroically as is ideal, and that has been the case in what, 7 out of 9 stories so far this season? That ratio seems a bit too high for a show that is still re-inventing itself. It seems improvements still need to be made.

Also, some of the ways I thought this story might easily escalate and improve turned out to be nothing more than my imagination, to my disappointment.

Well, Russell T. Davies' true aims with this story may have been less grand than I had hoped for, but he does manage to hit his target really well, and for what this is, it's of really high quality. I enjoyed it more on repeat viewing than I thought I would, to the extent it may cause an upset in the season rankings. Nicely done. Not a grand Doctor Who story, but perhaps finally a little gem.

This story has become available on DVD:
DVD NTSC Region 1
13-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
13-episode box set
for the U.K.
DVD PAL Region 2
3-episode volume
U.K. format only

Note: The 13-episode box sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The 3-episode volumes only feature the plain episodes.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Bad Wolf"

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