is my key..."
With Rose Tyler "lost" to another dimension, the
Doctor didn't expect to see another woman in the TARDIS so quickly. But Donna
the Bride unexpectedly appeared. From no where. Who is she? Why is she significant to an alien
threat hanging over planet Earth?
And more Robot Santas.
I was initially quite harsh about the NEW SERIES' second "special" episode, THE RUNAWAY BRIDE .
I agreed with another DOCTOR WHO fan website editor that it lacked any form of heart and consciousness, seemingly dashing from one set piece to another without drawing breath. A disjointed sketch show, almost, with no emotion - or if it was there then it was hidden beneath layers of toile.
After the rapturous success of THE CHRISTMAS INVASION (TCI) , it was always going to be an uphill struggle to produce yet another roller coaster episode.
Russell T Davies undoubtedly is a craftsman of his trade but lacks the sensitivity & passion that other television writers do. Choosing the precise word for the situation is key and, here, he's "off colour". Not quite offering the same effect that affected the "hearts & minds" in TCI . Like having an ear full of wax, balance is completely unequalised.
However, re-viewing the episode again, some ninth months after the first showing, it seems that like some umbrella hanging in a Lost Property office, I was misplaced.
THE RUNAWAY BRIDE is as a festively perfect as a Turkey joint basted and basted and basted for endless hours, and presented with meat-juiced gravy & cranberry sauce.
I admit, I was wrong.
Humble pie is served with, naturally, Brandy sauce.
Firstly, contrary to the majority of fan editors & commentators, I like Catherine Tate, not only as a fastidiously astute comedy actor but as, in this instance, a one-off (and, yes, I am so pleased that she is joining the cast full-time for SERIES 4, and that an action figure will follow) assistant/companion/hindrance.
The character, Donna Noble, was exquisitely pitched and I contest with those critics who said that she was merely a whinny, high pitched, shouty-shouty version from her own series are sadly mistaken.
Having been abducted from a church aisle, how would you react? "What?" "Who are you?" "Where am I?" Get me to the church!" All perfect reactions. And throughout the episode, Tate delivered a performance of skill and dexterity, pulling back from the stereotypical and at other times relishing the script; "Will you stop bleeping me!" as the Doctor intrusively scans Donna with his Sonic Screwdriver, or "I'm a pencil in a mug!" or in the H C Clements' lift, "Oi!"
Not only does Donna offer the Doctor a more mature, middle-aged challenge (in the same fashion that the combination of Colin Baker & Maggie Stables - playing Professor Evelyn Smythe - has proved so successful as part of the BIG FINISH audio brand) but Tate herself could prove a chameleon actress within the series itself.
However, with that said, I am mystified why the character of Martha Jones (played confidently by Freema Agyeman) was ditched so unceremoniously at the end of SERIES 3. There was potential for more development and more conflict between her and the Doctor. She's gone, for now.
Tenannt continues to shine as the Doctor, possessing the part with such panache and dedication, though his persona is a little aggressive at times in a way Eccleston had pulled back from. In TCI , he stated that he as a Doctor of "no second chances" and it seems that this mantra is being moulded and reinforced with every story/series. This man is still angry about the extermination of his own race ("I watched it happen. I made it happen" - from DALEK ) at the hands of the Daleks or his won, or heart-broken to have lost Rose Tyler to another universe.
The actor has the ability to, as they said in pre-decimal days, turn on a sixpence. Like a whirling dervish, he delivers the script in lightening fast speed with wit and caution.
For example, in the motorway chase sequence, the Doctor attempts to coax Donna from the hijacked taxi:
Doctor: Listen to me you have to jump.
Donna: I'm not jumping on a Motorway.
Doctor: Whatever that thing is it needs you! And whatever it needs you for it's not good. Now, come on!
Donna: I'm in my Wedding Dress.
Doctor: Yes, you look lovely. Come on!
Donna. I can't do it.
Doctor (calmly): Trust me.
Donna: is that what you said to her? Your friend. The one you lost. Did she trust you?
Doctor: Yes, she did. And she's not dead. She's so alive. Now jump.
And anyone would then jump. A sequence that was superbly directed and stunningly created by The Mill. The ultimate TARDIS chase sequence until the next Christmas Day Special.
The Racnoss have now entered into DOCTOR WHO folklore as the species to "form itself" at the very heart of planet Earth. It is an audacious plotline, and, of course, links to the folklore of the NEW SERIES' Time War.
Encased in a beautiful prosthetic costume (again, crafted by Millennium Effects' Neill Gorton. The Queen Spider in the 1974, PLANET OF THE SPIDERS has nothing on this one. It would have been nice to have seen more of a close-up of the actual spider costume as the production had spent so much money on it. A camera slowly tracing the line of her leg upwards to the torso and then, eventually, to the gnashing teeth.), Sarah Parish revels in a truly malicious, spiteful yet witty role.
EMPRESS (to Donna and Lance strung up within a web): You are supposed to say, "I do".
Whilst she seems to have been destroyed - on the orders of Mister Saxon - she could have "transported" herself from the web-star. This is DOCTOR WHO and anything could/will happen.
And it did.
Back in 2004, I stated that DOCTOR WHO - NEW SERIES should employ the CGI visual effect of having the TARDIS doors open and we see the occupants walk out onto an alien planet, turn round, close and lock the doors. Completed in one single camera "take" (unlike in the "old days" of the CLASSIC SERIES that the two scenes were sliced together in editing). The joy of seeing the First Doctor and his companions walking from the console room onto a sand-carpeted landscape was inspiring but, to date the new series had not attempted something so major.
Until the "motorway sequence".
The skill in achieving believability of this "chase" cannot be dismissed. RTD could have simply wrote, "The TARDIS materialised around the moving taxi. It appeared in the TARDIS console room and screeched to a halt" . But he didn't. He produced one of TV iconic sequences that no one expected ever to see. He is a genius. As for the dialogue, that too, as I have discussed was special too.
THE RUNAWAY BRIDE , whilst it may have had a number of inconsistencies (draining of the Thames Estuary is an audacious concept - equal to that of flooding out of the TARDIS in LOGOPOLIS - and the odd filming continuity error - the Doctor's shirt collar standing proud in one scene and then in the next down as he and Donna rest on the Office building roof) but it was equal in scale to THE CHRISTMAS INVASION the year before and cements Tennant as the most comfortable & charismatic Doctor ever.
As for the DOCTOR WHO debutante, Catherine Tate, her inclusion as a regular "companion" in SERIES 4 is a "spare-pair-of-hands" following the relative inexperience of Agyeman (and she will agree with that statement.). However, will she be able to cast aside the pig-tailed, indifferent adolescent, Lauren she has infamously created.
(Shall I? Oh, why not!)
I'm not bovvered; she's a talent, equal to Tennant, and I, for one, relish her travels with the last of the Time Lords.