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NEARLY A RUNAWAY SUCCESS
on 1 June 2007
A little of CATHERINE TATE goes a long way. Her characters are renowned for having 'big personality' stamped all over them. And as the almost-wed DONNA NOBLE in the 2006 Christmas Special, her big personality gets to mix it with two more in the shape of THE DOCTOR and THE EMPRESS OF RACNOSS. Three required presences, a fair bit of scenery chewing - and just enough oxygen left to avoid suffocating.
Of course, Christmas is the season where - despite every effort to resist - one is less critically, and more forgivingly, inclined. THE RUNAWAY BRIDE, then, is a perfect example of that process in action so pass me another sherry.
Nothing in my book will quite match 2005's THE CHRISTMAS INVASION for sheer size and movie spectacle but there are enough outstanding moments here to fend off niggling worries about downsizing or budget cuts. The scenes of Earth's formation from gaseous stardust, trapping the Racnoss spacecraft, are magnificent, almost Hubble Telescope-like in depth and dimension; the taxi-Santa kidnap on the motorway is pure punching the air stuff and the destruction of the Empress's 'star' ship elegantly realised. The Empress of Racnoss herself is a wonderful non-CGI spider creation, but its lack of movement - when it should have been pit-pattering around to more dangerous effect - slightly hampers an otherwise commendably ambitious setup.
DAVID TENNANT and SARAH PARRISH bounce of each other very well and the denoument, as the emerging 'children' are flushed down the plughole, is powerful and more than appropriate for insects and arachnids, however big they might be (please note: if I eventually re-incarnate as a bluebottle, be kind and open a window).
References to the loss of ROSE TYLER in her parallel universe keep an emotional continuity necessary to the one-off nature of this story and lend Donna's last words to the Doctor genuine weight and poignance. As he leaves, we're left feeling for him and the new horizons to come. It's a lovely ending, reflective and softly low-key. Pass me a tissue, mansize. (...) Yes, yes, I know what 'please' means...sorry. (...) I don't know, maybe there's a high winter pollen count or something? Hmm.
In 'The Runaway Bride', RUSSELL T. DAVIES has begun ringing in some of the changes for the season to come. In consequence, Doctor Who continues to be a wonderful experience with a bona-fide creative genius at the helm, surrounded by talented colleagues in every department. Even the 'Confidential' extra is a worthy bonus. Buy it.