TARDIS File 03-00: The Runaway Bride

TARDIS File 03-00: The Runaway Bride

The Big Idea: Donna Noble is about to step up the aisle to be married on Christmas Eve_and winds up in the TARDIS as it orbits a supernova. The Doctor and Donna fight robot Santas to discover the true secret of the Empress of Racnoss

What’s So Great…

  • The Empress of Racnoss is a brilliantly executed monster—we’ve come a long way from the Metebelan spiders made of pipe cleaners in the 1970s.
  • The scene where the Doctor and Donna look out upon the creation of the Earth is stirring. Don’t you wish there were planetarium shows like that when you were a kid?
  • David Tennant left us with a lump in our throat when he says “Her name was Rose.”
  • Anyone who doesn’t think the scene where the TARDIS pursues the cab down a motorway is the most awesome thing ever simply does not have a soul.

Quick Bits of Trivia: While unknown in Canada, Catherine Tate is a popular comedienne in Britain, where she is the star of her own sketch comedy program innovatively titled The Catherine Tate Show. Her appearance in Doomsday created quite a stir in Britain as a result! This was the first Doctor Who story shot for the third series—indeed filming began before series two had finished broadcast. In spite of the Christmas setting, it was shot in the height of summer.

Things to Geek Out About…

  • The Robot Santas are back! Last seen in The Christmas Invasion, they were then “pilot fish” moving in advance of the Sycorax Invasion. In the interim, they seem to have been taken over by the Empress of Racnoss.
  • The Doctor gives the secret of how he can keep so much in his pockets: bigger on the inside!
  • This was the first time since the new series began in 2005 that the Doctor has mentioned the name of his home planet, Gallifrey. (Two years isn’t so long—in the original series, it was 11 years before it was even named!)
  • The crew on the tank are told that there are “Orders from Mr. Saxon” to shoot down the war star. Saxon has been mentioned before: his name appears on the headline of the newspaper that the Abzorbaloff is reading in Love & Monsters and a poster saying “Vote Saxon” appeared in a Torchwood episode (that hasn’t aired in Canada yet, but was broadcast in Britain only a few weeks before The Runaway Bride)

Not to Complain But… This year’s song “Love Don’t Roam” isn’t anything compared to “Song For Ten” from The Christmas Invasion. Speaking of music, Donna processes up the aisle to Mendelssohn’s “The Exit March” which is the music that’s supposed to be played at the end of the service. The war star was a little too easily blown up by the military (still, not often they get to make much of a difference repelling alien invaders in Doctor Who!)

All Things Considered… The Runaway Bride was aired in Britain as a Christmas special and as such it was designed to be bright, colourful entertainment to make for a fun hour of TV viewing. That’s not to excuse the flaws of The Runaway Bride—and there are a few—but to provide some context. If you’re looking for a serious, thoughtful, searching Doctor Who episode, go plunk The Impossible Planet on your DVD player (or wait for the stunning Human Nature later this season). Taken as a entertaining diversion, The Runaway Bride is superb. This is truly director Euros Lyn finest episode on Doctor Who with the swooshing cuts and handycam shots helping to deliver breathless action sequences, madcap comedy and some lovely character moments at breakneck pace.

It’s not perfect by any means. Sarah Parrish is suitably over the top (we have to admit it’s bizarre that an actress with such amazing chemistry with David Tennant—see Blackpool and Recovery for proof—would be put under a ton of latex to play Ming The Merciless) but it’s all just shouting for nothing. Meanwhile, writer Russell T Davies tries to set up Donna as the sort of everywoman the Doctor would never normally travel with—shallow, self-absorbed and sarcastic—who is then transformed by her encounter with the Time Lord. But it doesn’t quite work, because Catherine Tate has played the character much too broadly during the first half so when we need to get to the emotional centre of the character it all seems a bit forced. And who isn’t just a little creeped out by the Doctor suddenly offering someone so unworthy the opportunity to travel with him at the end—two words come to mind: rebound relationship. Fortunately (for the viewer) Donna sees this too.

But it seems mean-spirited to be so critical. There’s no sin in being fun, and The Runaway Bride is just that: fun. The stand-up-and-cheer moments (like the TARDIS chasing the cab or the Doctor draining the Thames) far outweigh the deficiencies in character motivation and acting. It’s a great way to spend Christmas—or a summer night in Canada just after midnight.

Line of the Week: “Well, love, I couldn’t risk you running off. I had to say yes. And then I was stuck with a woman who thinks the height of excitement is a new flavour Pringle! Oh, I had to sit there and listen to all that yap yap yap. Oh, Brad and Angelina, is Posh pregnant, X factor, Atkins diet, feng shui, split ends, text me, text me, text me - dear god, the never-ending fountain of fat, stupid trivia! I deserve a medal.”

Index of TARDIS Files

TARDIS File prepared by Graeme Burk

Recent Stories

Writer Gary Russell to visit Toronto June 9th

Who Party Toronto Presents:
An Afternoon With Gary Russell
Sunday June 9th, 2013 from noon until 6:00pm
Paupers Pub (second floor), 539 Bloor Street W.
Cost: $15 for the afternoon

On Sunday June 9th, 2013 join The Doctor Who Information Network and Who Party Toronto for An Afternoon With Gary Russell on the second floor of Paupers Pub at 539 Bloor Street West.

The afternoon will feature a Q&A session with our guest Doctor Who writer and Script Editor Gary Russell as well as a live video commentary of a Doctor Who episode that he worked on, an autograph session, a trivia competition and an afternoon of discussions and socializing with other Doctor Who fans.

Issue 169

The Snowmen Cometh (Christmas Special Reviewed!) : The 2012 Christmas special gets a look-over! Plus…

  • Can good Doctor Who be bad television, and vice versa?
  • Robots with human souls
  • News and reviews

Doctor Who returns in UK, Canada and US on March 30th!

It has been announced that the final eight episodes of Series Seven of Doctor Who will be airing on BBC1, SPACE and BBC America starting on Saturday March 30th, 2013.

Issue 168

Archaeology Tomorrow (Season Reviews and Benny’s 20th!) : The 2012 season review issue, and the importance of being Bernice Surprise Summerfield! Plus…

  • Why Doctor Who is Steampunk
  • Where are the new series’ truly iconic villains?
  • News and reviews

Doctor Who returns in Britain, Canada and US on September 1!

The seventh series of Doctor Who comes to our screens on September 1 at 9 pm on SPACE!

Is something broken?

©Doctor Who Information Network (DWIN) 2009