Thursday, 25 March 2010

Doctor Who: The Runaway Bride

“This friend of yours, just before she left- did she punch you in the face?”

Blimey. Feels a bit weird getting back to Doctor Who again after my recent diet of Torchwood. And it’s hard to think of an episode which contrasts more with my recent viewing than this one.

The pre-credits sequence shows us the run-up to the end of Doomsday from Donna’s point of view, a great if inevitable idea. And Catherine Tate is great from the get go, a force of nature who makes Tegan look a bit shy. These scenes are very funny (as is pretty much the whole thing) but we get a serious moment as Donna alludes to Rose. Tennant’s expression here is a sight to behold.

Then it’s straight to some top drawer slapstick comedy crossed with action-adventure thrills, just the thing for Christmas Day. The TARDIS car chase is enormous fun, and the whole thing feels like a Christmas day feature film for the whole family.

Once more we’re reminded of Rose at the wedding non-reception, but this isn’t allowed to drag down the fun for long. After a brief cameo from the Welsh bloke off of My Family, the rip-roaring adventure / screwball comedy stuff starts up again. There are some Christmassy touches, too, and good ones: this time the Christmas tree finds an entirely new way to be deadly, and the villain’s spaceship is a stonking great star in the middle of the sky.

Then there’s the baddie. Sarah Parish is great, as is the whole look, and the whole effect is perfect for the tone. There’s heartbreak, too, as Donna is betrayed by the slimy Lance (“I love you.” “That’s what made it so easy.”). But the mood is soon lightened because that’s the sort of episode this is; from crying in the TARDIS Donna is soon cheered up by the amazing sight of Earth’s formation. It’s a sort of reversal of the “can we have your liver please?” scene from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.

More wonderful moments: Donna swings on a rope and misses; the Doctor, as is now customary, gives the baddie one last chance to repent; we get to see the surfboard from Boom Town again. And, of course, for the first time since the series returned we hear the word “Gallifrey”. I think this is a unique example of the Marathon lessening the impact of something!

All is well, as a tank destroys the webby star thing “by order of Mr Saxon”. Probably just a throwaway line, that. Donna refuses the offer of travelling in the TARDIS, and the Doctor isn’t in the mood for Christmas dinner this time. Donna clearly likes the Doctor, but is also scared by him and his lifestyle. He needs someone to stop him…

Splendid stuff. A 4/5 as it lacked that extra something, but a high one. There’s no reason a light-hearted Christmas romp like this shouldn’t get a high mark.

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