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Sunday, 16 February 2014

What to Watch Next: Boomtown & The Green Death

Wales, Wales, Wales. On the one hand, the Welsh characters in "The Green Death" are rural miners or mad boffin stereotypes, but at least they're there, while "Boomtown" is so concerned with our main characters interacting with the alien-alien that actual Welsh people barely get a word in. Both stories spend a surprising amount of time setting up the place as a soothing environment, somewhere that'd be rather peaceful and idyllic if not for the monstrous fly in the ointment (so to speak). Jo spends the first episode getting comfortable and interested in Llanfairfach  before the scary stuff starts (there is a real-life Llanfairfechan, but that's North Wales, not South), while Eccelston's "such a nice day" comment speaks to the story's relative peacefulness in amongst the Ninth Doctor's hectic life. 

Then they both ramp up from the domestic problems to it's-the-end-of-the-world catastrophe, though whether you prefer Annette Badland or John Dearth to herald it in is a matter of taste. Shouldn't like to choose between them, myself.

Boomtown
 
One story involves a breakup, one involves a proposal, and it's easy to tell which is which just by the body language in the publicity pics. This is the best the BBC could find for a "Mickey and Rose" wallpaper.

 "Why Don't You (Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead)?"
RTD wasn't working on the programme when this aired - that'd be a couple years later, 1988 - but as a sample of the show that assumes nothing about your knowledge of Wales whatever, it's a decent start.

"Devolution"
 "We can now do things, instead of talking about doing things". Six years after RTD wrote that rather snarky line regarding Wales falling into the sea, the country got permission to start self-regulating like Northern Ireland and Scotland. Cautious optimism seems to be the current watchword (the results of the Scottish independence referendum will shake up the situation, though).

This might be helpful for further reading.

"Hinkley Point Power Station"
Funnily enough, a new UK nuclear power station is currently in the works, though it's not in Wales. One can but hope that no hideous death-dealing psychopathic monsters are in any fashion involved with the project.

More extra credit reading here, and you can take your own researches from there. 

"Slitheen Monster file"
In case you *do* want to hear John Barrowman say Raxacoricofallapatorius every day, enjoy! He did lots of these things for the BBC website, back when that was still getting manifold interesting updates.

(Good luck trying to figure out whether they're canonical or not...the issue does warrant a mention in the next "About Time" volume, to be fair.)

"Millennium Centre"
A brief, intriguing chat with the architect about the shiny new building you may have observed in the background - it was just opening for business when "Boomtown" was filmed there.

(The recommended video for the "Wales Millenium Centre opening" is indescribably cheesy and tremendous fun. It's not everywhere that honours the construction of a new building with a musical about said construction.)

The Green Death

Whereas there's no end of loveable shots with Katy Manning and then-boyfriend Stewart Bevan.
"Quorn advert"
The whole concept of a high-protein fungus that can substitute for meat? It happened and has become rather popular, especially with vegetarians. The company doesn't recommend it for killing giant maggots, though. Not that that should really have been much of a concern, since there's...

"The Square Cube Law"
Why giant flies and other over-sized monstrosities are nonsensical, explained with science!

In other words, the best way to deal with the maggots would probably have just been to allow them to hatch and then die under their own weight. They certainly wouldn't have been able to fly anywhere.

"Jeremy Thrope"
 The chap who the production team (rather cheekily) named the PM after - he was a Liberal and might have stood a good chance of becoming PM in real life if not for an extraordinarily messy scandal that killed his career stone dead.
(Incidentally, he wasn't made a life peer.)

"See My Baby Jive"
By Wizzard. There was a surprising paucity of out-and-out drippy romantic ballads while "The Green Death" was airing, such as might be suitable for Valentine's Day weekend. "Hellraiser" by The Sweet is a good song in its own right, though, and so's "Stuck in the Middle With You" from Stealers Wheel, and "The Groover" by T Rex. And one other song that was floating around in the charts...

"Also sprach Zarathustra"
A jazzy off-beat interpretation by Eumir Deodato, ideally equipped for the eulogy of one of the campiest supercomputers to ever grace the small screen. Have a computerised version of the opening to Beethoven's Fifth while we're at it. And the BBC National Orchestra of Wales doing Wagner. NOW existed in 1973 (though not under that name), so it wouldn't have been theoretically impossible for BOSS to have asked them for musical accompaniment to the end of the world...

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