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Doctor Who 3.X: The Runaway Bride

December 25th, 2006 (08:23 pm)

There was an episode that came through in the end but took a long time to get there, and seemed perhaps the most misanthropic of the Doctor's adventures over the last two years. Maybe the brandy wasn't of the best, or there was a particularly dull This Morning showing when Russell wrote it.

I'd long defended the casting of Catherine Tate, but thought that she overplayed Donna for the first half of the episode; yes, the script made the character unlikeable, and the direction and colourscheme for the episode were both a bit too gaudy for the subject matter of the story, surely the demolition of a person's ambitions, even if they are replaced by something better at the end.

I suspect that were I a television viewer without an ingrained affection for the series I would think that the jury was still out on whether Doctor Who could survive without Billie Piper, though this episode didn't seek to answer that question. Where the references to the ninth Doctor were cut to the minimum before the transmission of 'The Christmas Invasion', here we had a few intercuts of Billie Piper from, I think, 'New Earth' (The cat person in the trailer seemed to be in a ship similar to Captain Jack's, BTW...) and, at the last, a mention of Rose herself, presaging further references in the new series, it appears.

I haven't looked at Outpost Gallifrey yet, but I expect that forumgoers are enthusing about the first mention of Gallifrey by name since the series returned, invested with significance that reflects that the Doctor was acknowledging a part of his identity he's put to one side; he can't rely on Rose and the Tylers to provide an anchor any more, and as Donna recognises has to look for a new one. Whatever the message of the Face of Boe proves to be, the memory of Gallifrey is not enough; after all, he left it in the first place.

Not all that convinced by the Empress of Racnoss, I'm afraid; simpler concepts seem to be the more effective in this series. The Christmasness seemed more self-conscious this year, and I'd suggest another approach to the season next year. Speaking of which, this year's trailer was much better than last year, and confirmed the survival, it seems, of our friend Dalek Sek; I imagine that we'll meet 'Mr Saxon', presumably the new prime minister, who was giving the tank troops their orders.


Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: December 25th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)

Ooh, I liked it more than you did, though agreed about the rather tiresome giant spider, and I wondered what the X-Factor-watching general public were supposed to make of their representative's unlikeability. I didn't mind her being unlikeable as I thought the Doctor rather deserves her; but that's a fannish reaction (well, the result of fan-knowledge unnaturally acquired through PK-induced exposure to earlier Doctors).

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: December 25th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC)

Heh, I found it better than any episode since the first Captain Jack two-parter. The first half was carried off on the shoulders of the breakneck pace and soundtrack in keeping with the Heath-Robinson contraption feel of the visual stunts. I liked Catherine Tate because FINALLY someone was bawling out the Doctor and outgabbing him, and the vicarious pleasure felt GOOD.

It flagged a bit in the second half, when it looked as if we were being treated to Rose Mark 2 (gobby Sarf Londoner with gormless black boyfriend) until I thought "Hang on a minute, he fed her coffee, ta da". There was the inevitable sermon about wonderful humans and wonderful Earth and wonderful ordinariness (speak for yourself mate) and the usual intrusive shots of Joe Public for the viewer to presumably identify with, except I don't. But luckily it was kept to a minimum.

The final scene was naff though and really didn't work. Donna's reason for not going sounded lame, and more of a set-up for what's to come; there didn't seem to be any reason for the Doctor to like Donna. The reason given by Lance for joining up with the Empress was essentially what Rose was getting out of joining up with the Doctor, only he wasn't so lucky in his choice of chaperone: I noticed the parallel, but it wasn't clear whether it was intentional or conscious.

The water of the Thames was remarkably limpid, wasn't it?

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: December 25th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)

I liked Catherine Tate because FINALLY someone was bawling out the Doctor and outgabbing him, and the vicarious pleasure felt

Ha, exactly.

Posted by: Disparate Housewife (wryelle)
Posted at: December 25th, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC)

there didn't seem to be any reason for the Doctor to like Donna

Nor Rose, come to that. I think he's just not fussy - and will emotionally seize on the first woman in front of him and butter her up. I liked the fact that this aspect of the character is being developed. I also liked the fact that it was basically a replay of the scene with him talking Rose onto the TARDIS, but this time the woman didn't go - which leaves it hanging as to which of them made the better decision.

I also groaned about the 'wonderful humans' speach. The alien seemed fairly impotent, which was dissapointing. But I liked it better than the last Xmas special.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 26th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)

I have a theory that when 'The Runaway Bride' was first scheduled for the middle of the second series, it would have introduced the new companion, and that Donna/Martha would have climbed aboard the TARDIS at the end; but I might be completely wrong.

Posted by: Delia (chainmailmaiden)
Posted at: December 25th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)

Well now I know why we've still got a bloody hose pipe ban! :-)

Still stand by my not liking Catherine Tate & it annoying me that she was in this episode, on the other hand she did fit the character she was portraying very well. Personally I don't think I'm going to miss Rose, but then she irritated me a lot as well, maybe it's because I live in Chav Central.

I liked the mention of Gallifrey again and overall I think I liked this Christmas episode more than last years one. Not sure about the spider though either.

By the way was it just me or did that cat person in the trailer sound suspiciously like Ardal O'Hanlon?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 26th, 2006 12:11 am (UTC)

I think that it was Ardal O'Hanlon - it's been made public that he will be in the next series and appearing under make-up.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: December 26th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC)

Once chainmailmaiden mentioned it, it actually looked like him, too - I took a mental snapshot of the hani character...

Posted by: Adilo Creamon (the_marquis)
Posted at: December 26th, 2006 11:10 am (UTC)

Hoping the video recorder got the date and time right for herself to be able to see it on our return.