THE RUNAWAY BRIDE
Wow. On the heels of DOOMSDAY, this would seem rather poor and the first bit with Donna in the TARDIS is so overwhelmingly poorly scripted and acted it kinda is. BUT to be honest, I enjoyed this more now than I did when I first watched. I haven't watched it much to be honest again because it isn't the best DW story of any era. Donna's a bit loud and too abrasive, however, Tate imbibes her with such flair at times and has some genuinely funny moments, that it's hard to dismiss her at least to me. There ARE some very good parts of this: almost everything until the reception is pretty good and lightweight AND the stuff at the very end when Donna refuses to travel with the Doctor is very well acted and well scripted. I was so glad that someone rejected him because this Doc needed to be brought down a notch. Unfortunately a year later they reverse that as Donna doesn't really walk in the dust or see the Earth or do anything anyway or even be magnificent. But again, this show...THIS DW universe...what is it saying about humans? That they are great and yet that they are not. That they lead dull lives compared to the Doc's? That they don't do anything worth whle unless the Doc is with them or has touched their lives.
Most of the worst parts of this come when the Spider Empress of Racnoss arrives. Frankly the voice, the monster, the mask, the effect, etc are on the wrong side of embarassing and while I've gotten used to it and sort of like it better, she's still one of the worst DW monsters of any era. The worst thing about this though is that major plot points are rushed, said in rattled off speeches or quick phrases of the Doc's and frankly I can't really understand what he is saying at times, mumbling, speaking a thousand miles a minute...let's see: the spider things made, purposely, their own ship/nest of babies who sleep for billions of years...into the Earth or made them the center of the Earth and they still survive but the spider Empress needs huron energy...that she spiked Donna with...mixed with human what exactly? in order to bring them up from the center of the Earth. Does that make any sense whatsoever? Here, RTD is telling me that he...and yeah, me personally if you must, that he doesn't have an idea left in his head. Then he goes and drains the Thames just after a little black girl dressed like Romana and the Tom Baker Doctor almost gets zapped by the spider ship. And a tank arrives to destroy it. We get Torchwood (YUCK) references and worse: Mr. Saxon references (EWL!) thrown in and the climax is most unsettling and not in a good way. The entire thing feels more than a tad morbid, babies dying and the Empress getting blasted out of the sky. And the Doctor and Donna laughing their heads off as they did when they found the scooters (is wasn't that funny, guys). No, really, it wasn't that funny.
The sets, the filming, the music are all pretty good. The music is something out of a 1940s or 50s madcap he loves her, she hates him; she loves him/he hates her comedy screwball epic as is the relationship between the Doc and Donna. The most relevant part where this can be seen is the GORGEOUS sequence of the Tardis chasing the cab on the motorway "Santa's a robot!?). That bit is just great, fantastic and scored well. It really feels great there, followed by a nice chat on the roof of a building. Unfortunately, RTD also tells me he has no new ideas with the Santa robots. Donna's bits on the motorway, her sad goodbye to the Doctor ("Is your life always like that? I thnk it is and I coudn't. I mean that place was flooding and on fire and they were dying and you were just standing there like, I dunno, some kind of stranger and then you made it snow. I mean you scare me to death"), and other smaller bits gave me the feeling that she deserved to come back and on the commentary Tennant felt he wanted to have Donna return. All of her chat is said with a sort of DW theme accompanying it. AND we see the TARDIS fly up into the night sky while it's snowing. Brilliant. At least those bits.
There are a lot of boring and dull parts as the Doc and Donna talk about the huron energy or whatever you call it, the trip upward and then downward. I must admit that Lance being in on the monster's plan was a large surprise. I was expecting him to be the Mickey of the piece and redeem himself after escaping by attacking the spider lady with the axe. His leaving didn't really make sense: if he was in on it, why would he run away? but there you have it. A reverse Mickey. There's not much else to say about this really. Donna's parents don't really make an impact one way or the other and her life isn't as established as Rose's even if her personality is. The Rose bits don't bother me either. The Doc should feel something and we shouldn't just do what the old show did: forget the companions almost totally and the ramifcations of their leaving, even when they died they were discussed only once or twice MAYBE and then forgotten for the most part. I mean the Doc and Donna mention Rose quite a bit and we even get a flashback but it does not overtake the entire show...which is as it should be...rather than like the older series, mention Adric once and then that's it until we GIVE HIS ROOM AWAY! I'm also a bit miffed that the Doctor gets Donna to trust him, saying Rose is very much alive...but her being alive HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF HIS ACTIONS!!! Not to mention that Adric isn't alive and could have been saved if he went back in time. Then there's that guff about personal timelines...but whatever, DW has always been like that: at least something is said about why he just can't go back in time and get things right for a change.
The Doc in the basement staring as the spider dies; the spider saying the Time Lords killed her race. Is the Doc the bast*&^^ that I think he is? Is he really a cold blooded killer? Are his people really more like the Nazis than the saviors? who knows? But it's worth looking into as a story element but this is not really looked at in any true way with maybe the exception of TURN LEFT but even there it is Donna who had to be there to make sure the Doc didn't die in the place, bereft of Rose and Donna herself...but would the Doctor do that? Hasn't he been alone before (at least in spinoffs and novels and comics and stuff?) and had to do tough things and not committed suicide?
Anyway, one of the best things about this story was the previews of the next season. Oh yeah and the Doctor steals money from a bank...so who is he to judge the thief girl in PLANET OF THE DrEAD?