Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: The Runaway Bride

In the second Doctor Who Christmas special, just second after bidding Rose Tyler goodbye, bride-to-be Donna Noble materializes on board the TARDIS. In a frantic quest to return her to her wedding, the Doctor has to travel all the way back to the beginning of the universe. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh what just happened?

I’m not sure I understand most of this episode at all. I liked parts of it, other parts were confusing, and other parts had me groaning with distaste. I’ve come to accept that the main story arcs will punch me in the face with awesome and some of those in the middle will wow me with emotional, evocative stories.

Coming off of “Doomsday,” this special is a bit of a let down, I might say.

There’s a lot to like, though, and I think it’s fair to say that, at heart, Russell T Davies came up with a fascinating idea for an episode.

Firstly, I was ecstatic that Catherine Tate would be on Doctor Who. I’ve seen large parts of The Catherine Tate Show and I find her quite hilarious. Immediately upon arriving in the TARDIS, it’s clear she’s not Rose, nor is she a replacement for her. It was great seeing someone interact with the Doctor and have no seeming desire to stick around him. Additionally, it provided a great contrast to the quiet devastation of the Doctor, who had just lost Rose to a parallel universe.

I feel like I wanted more of that. “Doomsday” was a monumental story for Doctor Who and losing Rose was clearly painful for the Doctor. It’s not that this episode ignores that, as it certainly does address it, but this episode is loud and fast and lacking in some of the more quiet moments that the writers, including Davies, are particularly good at. There was some fantastic moments of depressing introspection in the second half of the Christmas specials. Having Donna’s fiance, Lance, be the person who betrayed her was GUTTING. 100% DID NOT EXPECT. (His speech about what a terrible person she is was FUCKED UP. I wanted to hug her.)

Even more shocking was Donna’s persistent begging towards the Doctor to stop drowning the Racnoss. I guess I’d never thought how easy it is for the Doctor to destroy other creatures. They’re always the “bad” guys and we accept their deaths as part of what needs to happen. Donna’s character, then, is the first real foil we’ve seen to that, and I really love that Davies has introduced her as someone who would normally be uninterested in the world around her and suddenly feel such extreme sympathy.

Maybe I just misunderstand the nature of these Christmas specials. It’s jarring to go from “Doomsday” to this Benny Hill-esque episode. (Seriously, re-watch any number of these scenes to the theme music from that show and it’ll make complete sense.) However, I do have to understand that MONTHS went by before this episode aired and that it was meant to be on Christmas. There’s nothing that says Doctor Who can’t be fun, right?

Too much of this episode, however, didn’t seem that fun to me. I flat out do not understand the Santa robots. If, according to the last Christmas special, they were used by the Sycorax, why on earth does the lone remaining Racnoss have them? I thought the spinning Christmas tree was delightfully silly the first time, but repeating the theme of deadly Christmas imagery isn’t all that interesting the second time around.

I was also slightly horrified that a group of people who just watched the bride evaporate while screaming right in front of them DECIDED TO GO FORWARD WITH THE RECEPTION OF THE WEDDING ANYWAY. Either Davies intended to portray both sides of this wedding as utterly vacant, self-centered wankers or THIS IS THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE PLOT OF ALL FUCKING TIME.

Look, I can suspend my disbelief rather easily. I grew up reading H.P. Lovecraft and seriously, that shit is unbelievable. (And fantastic. Oh god, so fantastic.) But this? No, I cannot imagine anyone doing something as heartless and crass as this. SURELY YOU WOULD GO TO THE POLICE AND NOT THROW A PARTY WHILE SHE’S MISSING? I don’t get it. I DON’T GET IT.

I love the idea of the Racnoss and certainly appreciate the make-up and prosthetics used here in “The Runaway Bride.” Traveling to the beginning of the universe was wonderful and I loved how creepy it was that the Racnoss ship managed to get stuck in the core of earth as it formed. (Why did Torchwood drill down that deep, by the way?) It’s absolutely terrifying to think that an army of arachnoid aliens would ascend out of the core of the earth and destroy mankind.

Guess what ruined that? The over-the-top performance of the Empress of the Racnoss. You’ve been floating in a ship for billions of billions of years. WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO TALK LIKE THAT? Oh my god, it was so distracting. I don’t think it was Sarah Parish’s fault necessarily. She did a great job portraying the character that way, but I am curious if Davies intended for the Empress to be the most evil-monologuing character I’ve ever seen. She literally narrated almost every little thing she did. TOO MUCH. Looked freaking’ sweet, but seriously. Too much.

This was an ok episode. Not my favorite and I don’t think I’ll watch it ever again. I was shocked that Donna turned down the Doctor’s offer to travel with him; I’ve seen so many GIFs and images of Catherine Tate with Tennant, so I just assumed this was her season to be his companion. OH. OOPS. I WAS WRONG. Has anyone ever turned down the Doctor before? (You can answer that if it’s in the past.) WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT IT’S DAVID TENNANT


  • I want a sonic screwdriver so I can make money fly out of an ATM. πŸ™
  • The TARDIS giving chase over a motorway: NO. Just no. I like that this show doesn’t hide the Doctor in the shadows. He does most of his shenanigans out in the open, but how is that ever explained?
  • Ah, so the TARDIS is made from Huon particles. Well, at least the heart of it. Interesting.
  • I think that was the first time I’ve heard the new Doctors mention the planet he was from!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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345 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’: The Runaway Bride

  1. Openattheclose says:

    Mark, I am sorry that you didn't enjoy this, it is BY FAR my favorite Christmas Special, but I don't believe I liked it that much upon first viewing either.
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    Catherine Tate and David Tennant have like the best comedic chemistry ever.
    I love it when the Doctor tells the TARDIS to behave.
    I may have gotten tired of all of the Rose love when she was on the show, but I actually really enjoy the Rose references. How many times do characters leave television shows and are never mentioned again?
    "You mean there is a secret base hidden under a major London landmark?" "I know, it's unheard of."
    I think the Santa Robots are like mercenaries for hire or something.

    • Openattheclose says:

      Also, I love when Donna says "Too bad you can't time travel" and the Doctor says "But I wouldn't be able to go back in your personal timeline… apparently." Makes me laugh.

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      Well, the Santa robots are just robots. Programmed. And anything that can be programmed can be re-programmed.

    • NeonProdigy says:

      Yeah, it makes me a little sad that he wasn't that enthused with this episode. I mean, it's got DONNA NOBLE and- *gets knocked out by the "Spoilers" individual*

      I think that I prefer the light-hearted, drama-light, and funny parts of Doctor Who the most, which may be why I like this episode.

      It's probably why I adore the Sarah Jane Adventures and why I can't really stand Torchwood as well.

      • Ned says:

        I am having SUCH A DIFFICULT LIFE with Torchwood. It's like Doctor Who's kid brother who's just going through puberty and hates everything as a result. Everything is constantly ruined forever.

        • bookling says:

          Hahaha, I love this description. I didn't like Torchwood as much for the same reasons.

        • Emily says:

          My problem with Torchwood is that it's like Doctor Who in reverse. The Doctor makes people better; Torchwood makes people worse. There was not a character on that show that was not a better, more generous, more mature, more compassionate person before they joined the team. Being part of Torchwood seems to make them more selfish, belligerent, and callous than they were before.

          I have heard that it improves in the 2nd and 3rd season, but I couldn't get past the first. Not even Captain Jack Harkness is enough to make me stick with a show where all the so-called "character arcs" are actually regressions.

          • Hypatia_ says:

            Well, there is an episode in the second series wherein you find out why most of the Torchwood team is as snarly and pissy as they are. But really, the most compelling reason to watch Series Two is so that you know what's going on during Children of Earth, which is very much worth watching.

    • Donna is a bamf, and I love her forever and ever and…. oh, you know.

  2. illusclaire says:

    Empress of the Racnoss' voice and style of speaking: oh gosh, so annoying. SO ANNOYING.

  3. Spugsy says:

    I think the whole motorway chase scene was something RTD had always imagined and really wanted to bring into the show. I wish he hadn't too tbh.
    I must say I actually liked the episode more than you seemed to!

  4. samarkand_ says:

    To be quite honest, you're probably very correct about everything but… DONNA! And just… Donna! Plot whosywhatsy? Don't care.

    Also, words can't express how much I love the TARDIS chase scene. This show never really lets you keep a "But you can't have ________ happen on Doctor Who!" idea for very long. Whatever it is that you think should never happen on Doctor Who, trust me: it will happen.

    The Christmas Specials are never very long on srs dramaz, though. They're made to be watched by people who are full of turkey and schnapps.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I think that the reason they went on with the wedding is that they didn't think that anything serious happened. They, like Donna, assumed it was some sort of stupid joke, and knew that she'd show up later. I don't think it was meant to be a cold, heartless thing. I think it was just that they didn't believe in aliens or any of the other shit that the Doctor deals with, so there was no way somebody could actually be vaporized in the middle of their wedding.

    • Mimzy says:

      Plus Donna's mother mentions that she got Donna's message saying that she was 'on Earth' which probably cemented the idea that her disappearance was a joke in everyone's mind. I mean, they were frantic earlier!

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        But she left the wedding. Wouldn't you then be so furious that you would abandon it all? Like…everyone seems so happy when Donna shows up. That seems MIGHTY STRANGE.

        • I dunno. I reckon they carried on with the reception since it had all been paid for already and to just abandon it would have been a bit of a waste – certainly I could imagine Donna's mum going "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE RECEPTION? It's ALL been PAID for!" Or something.

          • kaleidoscoptics says:

            Pretty much this. Why miss a perfectly good party when it's already been paid for? I think it was supposed to also reflect on how petty all of Donna's relations and friends were. Of course SHE wouldn't notice alien spaceships above London and Cybermen invasions–her wedding party didn't even bother to notice she was actually missing!

            • Mimzy says:

              Hey, I don't consider myself that petty, but if I was at a wedding and the bride disappeared in what I and everyone else thought to be a practical joke, I too would go to the reception and eat their food and drink their booze because, goddamn it, it's Christmas Eve and I took the time to be with them rather than doing something else AND I bought them a wedding gift and the bride vanishes as a prank? I would deserve free food and booze for that too!

              • nyssaoftraken74 says:

                That's pretty much how it would be for me:
                I've gone out to a wedding on Christmas Eve – the last thing any sane person would want to do, in my opinion – only for the bride to pull some stupid stunt that has everybody panicking. Then comes a message saying `It's fine, I'm on Earth` and I'd be like, "To hell with this, I'm off to the reception." The bride's had her fun at our expense, so I feel perfectly justified in having some fun of my own at *her* expense! (OK, her family's expense, but same diff.)

          • bookling says:

            Donna's mum is also a bit of a twat. I bet carrying on with the reception was her idea and everyone else just followed suit.

        • nanceoir says:

          Everyone's so happy because of the booze?

          Just guessin'. πŸ˜‰

        • kytten says:

          We're British, Mark. Carrying on with the party is what we do.

          When my dad had a seizure at my mums birthday party after we'd ordered the food we waited for the paramedics, and when they'd taken him away we had a stiff drink and carried on with the meal. There was no point in letting an expensive birthday meal go by the wayside. We were hungry, and we certainly couldn't deal with the issue on an empty stomach. When drama happens we calmly and patiently go on with what we were already doing because to do otherwise would be- not right. Letting the side down. Making a scene.

          It's a little unrealistic that someone didn't quietly call the police just to put out a missing persons report, but carrying on with the party and not making a big deal? I can see that.

          In fact, I've seen it happen a hundred times.

          • Fuchsia says:

            I don't know about in England, but here in the States you can't file a missing persons report until they've been missing for 48 hours.

            • kytten says:

              I suspect it's the same here, unless they are unwell or it's severly out of character.

              And I can jsut seen the phone call to the police in this case ''She just disappeared from her wedding, you say? Yes, I've never heard that before. Disappeared in mid air, have you been drinking?' They'd come out, and by the time it had all been sorted an expensive party would have been ruined. Best to wait and see, especially if someone is known for pulling silly stunts.

              Also, I think it's supposed to be a hint that the finace is a massive wanker.

              • mintypixie says:

                I think its 24 hrs in the UK but it can be sooner if there are extenuating circustances. I remember when I stayed out all night to buy the final HP book and forgot to mention where I was (my phone ran out of battery and no one had heard from me since 9am) 2 days after being released from hospital after major surgery, a report was filed after 12 hrs. Personnally when I wondered in at 3 am I couldnt see what the fuss was about.

                I totally agree it is a british thing to carry on and have a party anyway, especially when you considered how Donna is treated my her mother, its like she is ignoring a child playing up because they are just attention seeking.

    • rys says:

      I don't know. I know what RTD was going for but I don't care how determined people are to ignore unbelievable things happening around them, if the bride *dematerialises* halfway down the aisle, you're not going to think she turned around and walked out or hired a magician for the occasion. It was just stretching it too far! They could have had it happen right before she went in and started down the aisle and then it would seem like she'd just done a bunk.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      My thought was that Lance possibly thought that her disappearance was Racoss-related (an emergency schedule-change, maybe?) and therefore treated it as a joke so the others at the wedding wouldn't get too inquisitive and end up calling the police.

  6. Albion19 says:

    Aww I love this episode! I remember after it aired almost everyone seemed to hate Donna but I loved her, she reminded me of Tegan.

    And yeah the months that pass give the audience time to come to terms with Rose so I wasn't personally bothered about the lack of quiet scenes but I can see why you would be. But come on the Tardis spinning on the motorway was cool! πŸ˜€


  7. calimie says:

    First? So it seems so far.

    I love this special, as you say ,the plot is confusing and ridiculous at times but I just love Donna too much. I remember that many hated her at the time for being shouty to which I say: "You're walking down the aisle and end up in a spaceship, I'd be shouty too".

    I agree with the strange use of the "Santas", it's confusing. I guess they stayed around after last Christmas and were taken by the Racnoss? IDK, IDC.

    My guess is that they had the reception without her because they were convince she'd be as shelfish as to disappear with a magic trick on her wedding day. It's ridiculous, because no one gets more attention than the bride that day. Also: clue that the groom may not be that great.

    I love Ten and Donna anyway, he does need someone to stop him.

  8. Mitch says:

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure this episode is the first time Gallifrey was mentioned in the new series. Which was a huge deal, at least to me, because he's been so eaten up over the Time Wars (ABOUT WHICH I WOULD STILL LIKE MORE INFORMATION) and sort of generally repressing/ignoring the aftermath that finally claiming the name of his planet for the new fans to hear is such a profound moment.

    I will say that I hated Donna in this episode, but that it was also the first time I'd ever seen Catherine Tate, and having seen more of her since I have to give her huge props for *making* me hate her and feel bad for her at the same time. It takes an amazing actor to get the audience to dislike them for intricate, character-based reasons, and she definitely did that. A+, Catherine Tate. I like you.

  9. Stephen_M says:

    Oh come on Mark, the TARDIS chasing the TAXI (sorry, couldn't resist) is just a wonderful moment of sillyness and the sort of thing I wish Who did a bit more often. Granted I'm a sucker for the TARDIS in flight but seeing it actually doing a rescue, in broad daylight and in familiar surroundings no less, was something my inner geek has for been waiting my entire life!

    That said, agree on the Racnoss. I'm usually the first to enjoy a good slice of ham but yeash. You have to wonder how they were always hungry as they seem to be able to exist quite happily on a diet of nothing but scenery.

    Honestly, I think most of your problems with this episode in terms of tone do come from the way you're watching 'em. That's not a criticism by the way, but, as you say, this was a Christmas episode airing six months after Doomsday. The audience had time to move on and you really need something light, fluffy and self-contained over Christmas (for the sake of the production team's sanity of nothing else) especially as it's sorta Who's 'shop front'. Lot of people watching who haven't necessarily been regulars through the previous series and you need to try and grab some of them.

    That being said good LORD there are a lot of holes here. Think you picked up on most of 'em so I'll refrain but it wasn't exactly RTD's finest hour. I remember when I first saw it thinking it was very much a meh episode but I've come to quite enjoy it over the years as a fun romp. Nothing serious, some nice moments but ultimately disposable. Oh, and I actually quite like Donna as well. Shouty, annoying, loud and OTT but there's JUST enough decent human showing underneath the bluster to make me look past Catherine Tate and treat her as a real breathing character.

    • kaybee42 says:

      "You have to wonder how they were always hungry as they seem to be able to exist quite happily on a diet of nothing but scenery."

      UPVOTE just for that sentence!

    • Minish says:

      I loved the TARDIS chase scene! Even if it didn't make much sense, but BOY was it fun to watch.

      Also, LULZ to paragraph 2.

  10. ShayzGirl says:

    This episode was a strange one. I'd never heard of Catherine Tate before I saw this episode and I remember being really sad when she didn't go with him. BTW, The Catherine Tate Show (which I've only seen a few clips from) is available on Netflix Instant all three series if you're interesting in watching it. I know I am. I just love her so much now. And I just love her character name in this. Donna Noble.
    And I think that (despite the Doctor being David Tenant) if I'd just witnessed what Donna had, I might have turned him down, too. Or taken the night to think about it, before just jumping into the Tardis and taking off with him. I think it's part of why I like Donna so much. She says no. To the Doctor. Lovely. Just lovely.

    • Lemone says:

      Ohhhh shit, is? *rushes off to add them to her queue* ~Iiiiii know what I'm doing with my tonight!~

      • ShayzGirl says:

        Yeah. I've wanted to watch more than the clips I've found on YouTube, so out of curiosity I went to Netflix and searched it. I would have been happy if it was DVD only, but was ecstatic to find that it was available on Instant. XD

  11. Skiesfyre says:

    Not one of my favourite Christmas specials either, despite Donna Noble being awesome, because I am seriously arachnophobic and GIANT CARNIVOROUS SPIDERS OMFG. It didn't help that the first time I watched this, an actual real, very large spider came skittering across my bed.

    This was the first time Gallifrey was mentioned in the New Series (I don't know when it's revealed in the classic series, I'm still only on the First Doctor's era. Partially because I'm dragging it out for as long as possible.)

    • who_cares86 says:

      Gallifrey is mentioned for the first time in the Time Warrior (Third Doctor) which is also Sarah Jane's first story. Oddly enough it's already been visited in the War Games (Second Doctor) which is also the story which introduces the term Timelord as the name of the Doctor's species. Oddly enough that's not the first time you meet another member of the Doctor's race that happens in the Meddling Monk (First Doctor).

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      > It didn't help that the first time I watched this, an actual real, very large spider came skittering across my bed.

      I can beat that. Imagine watching this, then going to the loo, sitting down and you find yourself staring at a large Daddy Longlegs stuck on the bathroom door. *scream*

      (Actually, the Doctor Who episode has very little to do with it – that would scare me at any time!)

  12. kaybee42 says:

    Oh no, I really quite like this episode!
    Let me try to defend it a tad-
    TARDIS chase down a motorway? Londoners should probably be getting used to mental alien spaceships and shit by now, non? They'll just be all "ah man, not again!"
    Throwing the reception- to be fair, they HAD been phoning the police and trying to find her… then she left that message saying she was safe and 'on earth' so they were all "what now? Wanna grab a pint?" "sure, it's a free bar at the reception!" "lets go!"
    What else didn't you like?… Robot santas! the santa shit was just a disguise,same as last time so is it possible that they were different types of robots? Because the last santa robots weren't actually to do with the sycorax as far as I remember…just pilot fish?

    • calimie says:

      Londoners should probably be getting used to mental alien spaceships and shit by now, non?
      Except Donna: hangover and vacation in Spain. (There were Cybermen in Spain. I was scuba-diving!)
      You're perfect, Donna.

      Oh, you're right, I had forgotten about the phone call, it does make the reception less callous.

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Oh, man! Kaybee! I just watched this one on YouTube! Does that guy just cruise around in that box picking up girls!? This is the best idea for a show I've ever heard of! SONIC SCREWDRIVER!? How does that work? His pockets are full of explosive ornaments! And holy crap! That spider queen's spaceship was shaped like a star and then blown to ribbons by tanks! How are you guys talking about this in such a calm manner!? This stuff is so wild!

      • kaybee42 says:

        Does he just fly around in his box picking up girls? Uhh… well, yeah…basically…
        You haven't even seen HALF of the ridiculous shit that screwdriver can do!
        Brad, does this mean you will be watching doctor who with us??? you know you want to!

        • BradSmith5 says:

          I might need to watch; my thirst for sci-fi madness just isn't being quenched with the shows here in the U.S. Over here it's just a never-ending parade of people whining in desolate landscapes and guys with awesome superpowers just standing around. But this Doctor! He's a man that gets things done!

          I saw a commercial for some show where a vampire and werewolf rent a room with a GHOST. Ugh.

          • kaybee42 says:

            THAT'S BEING HUMAN! It's a remake of a british programme πŸ™‚ It's fantasy really, not sci fi, but lots of dark humour, some angst, some romance, lots of action, horrifying werewolf transformation scenes and vampires eating people scenes and did I mention that it's hilarious?
            I'm talking about the british version there, btw.
            I've watched the American version and it's…. er…. interesting. Very Twilight-y vampire style, they don't really get the dark humour right, but it's still got a few jokes in it. And they've changed it up enough that it's a different show/
            So, yeah, DW is often hilarious, very silly, can be emotional, very exciting if kind of rubbish πŸ™‚ I'd reccommend a few episodes but maybe we should ask Mark to tell you his faveourite 3 episodes or something?

            • BradSmith5 says:

              Oh, whoops, ha,ha,ha. I'm sure the British version IS way better, though. I hated the Americanization that the epic masterpiece "Red Dwarf" got. I will try to find the first episode of this "Being Human" sometime so that I can see for myself. ;D

      • fakehepburn says:

        YOU WATCHED IT!!!

        Okay, seriously, I kind of make a habit of getting people to watch this show, and the fact that you watched this one means you're now down in my 'converted' category.

        And yeah, he pretty just just cruises in his blue box, picking up the ladies.
        Best show ever.

        • BradSmith5 says:

          Yes, I am now a fan of this show. Be sure to tell all of your holdout friends, and I will update my Facebook at once. πŸ˜‰

      • calimie says:

        His pockets also hold bananas.

  13. nextboy says:

    i know what you mean about the episode somewhat ignoring the gravitas of doomsday, but at the end of the day, it is a festive special and i think as such a huge xmas day ratings winner for the bbc they don’t like alienating the family viewing with such silly things like continuity and seriousness. Not an amazing episode, but cannot wait for you to watch season 3, probably my favourite!

    • EmmylovesWho says:

      I agree about the continuity thing. Also, there are big gaps (usually) between the end of a series and the Christmas special, so the Christmas ep is like a nice little Who diversion during the holidays before the srs bsns of the series proper picks up again.

  14. vermillioncity says:

    However, I do have to understand that MONTHS went by before this episode aired and that it was meant to be on Christmas.
    Yeah, I was just about to say this when I realised you'd already beaten me to it. We had a lot of time to adjust/grieve following the end of series 2, so this felt appropriate when it was shown in real-time. I can see why the placement would definitely jar with you, though. Especially later, when it comes to the specials, I can see this being a problem – pacing is gonna be an issue. But I don't dislike this as a stand alone episode.

    Quote-y fun!:
    The Doctor: [scanning Donna with his sonic screwdriver] Weird. I mean, you're not special. You're not powerful. You're not connected. You're not clever. You're not important.
    Donna: This friend of yours, just before she left, did she punch you in the face?

    Oh, Donna <3

    • Cleo says:

      I HATE that character assessment of her. He's always banging on about how humanity is just awesome and it only takes one person to change the world and then he does that. Seriously ten is pretty much a hypocrite.

    • RocketDarkness says:

      Ten's kind of an ass, saying she's not important, hahah. I've never met anyone who's not important. =p

      • Jen says:

        Yeah, the more I watch/rewatch the Ten years, the more I come to the conclusion that he is an ass. A charming ass most of the time, but still. :

    • bookling says:

      I missed that line the first time I watched, but it really struck me the second time around, because the Doctor's always going on about how everyone's important and special. I'm going to blame it on the fact that he's still super-emo about Rose.

  15. Treasure Cat says:

    Aww Im so disappointed you werent feeling this episode Mark, I adore The Runaway Bride. Catherine Tate is a complete genius and I think this great mix of comedy and less-harrowing-than-Doomsday emotion was what the fans needed. I definitely appreciated it. Of your criticisms the only ones I really share are the plot holes (Doctor Who has quite a few but these do seem to be larger than most), other than that I cant fault this episode. It shows the Doctor in a bit of a new light when Donna calls him out for killing the Racnoss, and Donna herself is so refreshing and satisfying as a new character. If you dont mind, I would suggest not writing this ep off for good. Maybe watching it the day after Doomsday wasnt the best plan and after a little bit of time (like we all had when these eps first aired) you'll enjoy it more.

  16. jackiep says:

    It's worth watching again, this time in a more Christmassy mood. Christmas specials have to be a bit fast and fun – we're all drunk and full of food watching it!

    There's a lot of darkness behind the comedy. That moment when it's clear that Lance has betrayed her is astonishingly cruel. He was even willing to marry her to keep up the deception!

    Donna's matured a lot in a short time.

    You didn't mention a particular word in your bullet points…

    • kaleidoscoptics says:


      I'm ashamed to admit it, but I was watching TLC a couple weeks ago and one of the brides on that wedding dress show specifically requested a dress with pockets. It made my night.

  17. diane says:

    On second viewing, I found this episode to be a lot more fun than the first time. I think I was able to detach from Rose's departure and just enjoy the insanity. Of which, there is much, so much, so goodly much! I like that the manic pacing is due to direction and pacing as well as David Tennant's natural tendencies to be over-the-top.

    For the record, I'm pretty sure that the Christmas specials are intended to be disconnected from any plot lines. Not always lightweight like this one, but at least not dragging us down in fear or terror.

    I believe the Doctor referred to the Santa!robots as mercenaries.

    Yes, the Racnoss screamed too much. That's one of those villains who can make you wish urgently for death.

    Catherine Tate is so, so, so good in this role. I'd never heard of her before, but I'm certainly a fan now. I really appreciated her parting line that the Doctor needs someone to hold him back.

  18. diane says:

    Mark, I know you've said that you won't be doing Torchwood, but I do strongly suggest that you watch the first episode, even if you don't blog it for us. There's some good info there that ties up old loose ends, as well as things that inform events-to-come in Doctor Who. It's worth the hour you'll spend with Torchwood.

    • prideofportree says:

      I spent a LOT of time being happy when he said he wouldn't do Torchwood. Now I've seen it and I think he should.

      • echinodermata says:

        I think it's worth watching if you like DW, but not really worth reviewing.

      • NeonProdigy says:

        Meh, I've seen the first few seasons of Torchwood, and wasn't really all that in love with it (John Borrowman being amazing, notwithstanding)

        Has Mark said anything about watching the Sarah Jane Adventures?

        • Guest says:

          You should watch the third. Very different. Some people hate it because, they love S1+2 so much, but that won't apply to you. πŸ˜‰

        • Openattheclose says:

          There are at least two episodes of the Sarah Jane Adventures that I feel Mark must Watch! I think people will know which ones I am talking about here. I personally love SJA.

          • Neon Prodigy says:

            Oooh, I think I know what two episodes you're talking about…

            And on that note, I've finished watching the first season of SJA and I absolutely love every second of it more than the combined first two seasons of Torchwood.

            I <3 you, Sarah Jane Smith.

            "Mr. Smith, I need you!"

            *fanfare of awesome*

            Actually… I've developed something of a theory concerning Rose, Donna, Sarah Jane, and this season's companion, along with the two organizations in DW that defend against aliens (UNIT and Torchwood) as they all relate to how much I like certain companions.

            Unfortunately, that will have to wait until next season, when I can enact my "stratagem" ;D

            • Openattheclose says:

              I am glad you love SJA, it is awesome. The two episodes I referred to were not in Series One though you have probably heard about them or maybe even watched them.

  19. Fusionman says:

    Here’s some trivia!!!!
    A. A controversy occurred during filming of this story as guests at a hotel were awakened and frightened by gunfire and explosions during filming of one scene in the street below, including one who had just returned from the conflict in Israel. OOPS.
    B. Though set at Christmas, this story was filmed in late July, with an average temperature of thirty degrees, centigrade. David Tennant was quoted as saying he was “blinking boiling” during filming.
    C. Donna does count as a companion according to the writers. *SPOILERS WILL BE PUNISHED*
    D. Catherine Tate was unable to attend the traditional first cast read-through of the episode. David Tennant’s then-girlfriend, and former guest star Sophia Myles (The Girl in the Fireplace) read the part of Donna Noble on this occasion.
    E. This is the first mention of Gallifrey in the new series.

    Sorry that’s all the trivia I have. LATER!

    • psycicflower says:

      I do love the fact that it's supposed to be Christmas Eve so it should be cold, overcast, probably raining but it's clearly a roasting hot day.

    • kaybee42 says:

      THIRTY DEGREES? Seriously? I think I remember it being 30 degrees like, once, in my life… Though I do spend about 2 weeks of summer in Scotland every year…

      • Fusionman says:

        THIRTY DEGREES CENTIGRADE. That’s 86 degrees to us Americans. Then again to you Brits that is hot. Doesn’t it almost always rain. πŸ˜›

      • psycicflower says:

        Irish here so not an expert but I think London tends to be just that little bit hotter than the rest of Britain in the summer (at least that's how it always looks on the forecasts) which I assume is probably a combination of being a bit further south, being inland and all the air pollution of being a major city. Plus that was the Summer we had a heat wave which I vividly remember because I was sitting my Leaving Cert in it and we got into the high twenties in Dublin.

      • murgatroid1 says:

        lol. I'm in Australia, it's 8:30 in the morning and it's already 30 degrees ^_^ It's expected to reach a max of 38 today.

        • Fusionman says:

          Yeah if the Doctor Who group went to Australia they’d die. Either from your 20 deadly animals or the heat.

        • thisyearsgirl says:

          And that's why I'll never visit Australia πŸ˜› I'm sure it's a wonderful place, but I'd melt the second I arrived.

        • psycicflower says:

          I would melt at 30, nevermind higher. We consider it warm once we hit the late teens.

          I can't seem to find the clip on youtube but there's an Irish comedian Dara O'Briain who made a joke about how if it was twenty somthing degrees at night in Ireland they'd be waking the children up to go to the beach regardless of how dark it is.

        • Meru223 says:

          I really don't know how I survive in Australia as I don't deal with heat well. Then again I live in the southern states so… it's currently raining… in the middle of summer…

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      This is a good fact from DWM S3 Companion:

      For the scene with the cash mashine, obviously spewing out *real* money was out of the question and printing copies of genuine notes is illegal. So the production team made their own.

      The £10 notes bore the Doctor's face, with the legends, "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of 10 satsumas" and "No second chances – I'm that sort of a man"

      The £20 notes bore the face of producer Phil Collinson, with the phrase, "There's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes," a misquote of the 4th Doctor's dialogue from the end of Tom Baker's 1974/5 debut serial, Robot.

  20. fuchsia says:

    I’m sorry that you didn’t like this episode. Right after Doomsday *is* jarring but a lot of people had months to move on. The first time I watched it, I had just watched Doomsday also and wasn’t too fond of it, but I’ve rewatch it a few times now and love it. It’s my second favourite Christmas special.

    Catherine Tate as Donna Noble is wonderful. I laugh at almost everything she says, her execution of her lines is perfect.

    Have you seen the episodes of the Catherine Tate Show where David Tenant was on? Hilarious. I’m on my phone, otherwise I would link them, but hopefully someone else will.

  21. hassibah says:

    "but what would they want with you…you're not special youre not powerful you're not connected youre not clever you're not important"
    "this friend of yours, did she punch you in the face"
    okay not the quote verbatim, but still, love.
    I'll have to look up this Catherine Tate show.

      • psycicflower says:

        So much love for the sketch.
        <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

      • ferriswheeljunky says:

        PLEASE WATCH THIS, MARK. I remember watching it on TV, I LOLed forever.

      • hassibah says:

        Hahaha awesome, thanks for that!

      • leighzzz31 says:

        I have watched this more times than I can remember and quote it entirely too much. "Looketh at my face.Looketh at my face.Ist this the bovvered face thou seest before thee?"

        • calimie says:

          I simply can't think of that sonnet without saying it in my head like she does. It's rapidly becoming my favourite one.

          "You are the most insolent child I've ever had the misfortune to teach"
          "Thank you"
          "You're pointless, repetitious and extremely dull"
          "Bit like Shakespeare"

          LOVE FOREVER

          • leighzzz31 says:

            William Shakespear is basically a chav in my head now. Same accent, same attitude. Thank you dearly, Lauren Cooper XD

          • nanceoir says:

            "William Shakespeare… William Shakespeare was a genius! You, little madam, are definitely not."

            I've watched this so many times, it's ridiculous. I've got this, Tennant on Top Gear, Time Crash, and Music of the Spheres on my Zen, and I've seen them so often I can recite most of the dialogue (or conversation) along with it. Though, being able to quote directly from Time Crash is handy when talking about certain tropes.

  22. Meena says:

    I always figured that the Thames would refill itself with tidal water and water from upstream. It couldn't have been drained all the way up.

    • calimie says:

      That's what I thought. Aren't there dams or something?
      /not a Londoner.

      • Tyrant says:

        No dams exactly, but there is the Thames Flood Barrier – the thing on top of the Torchwood base in this episode in fact. It's actually built to stop abnormally high tides flooding London (which is largely built on what was once tidal marsh) but I guess it could stop the water flowing out to sea too. There are also locks upstream.

        The Thames is tidal way past the point where is the barrier is so refilling it wouldn't be too much of an issue. Although, that is a deep hole. Don't want to accidentally drain the North Sea…

        I may be overthinking this. It was clearly meant to be enjoyable nonsense.

  23. who_cares86 says:

    The christmas specials always play things a little bit looser and sillier. They're never the best episodes and this one isn't among the better christmas episodes.

    Yay: Donna, Mars, Gallifrey, Highway chase (come on life a little),
    Boo: Totally unconvincing giant spider, Segways. Recycling (robot santa's, killer trees).
    Meh: Draining the Thames.

    • nanceoir says:

      Actually, of Tennant's Christmas specials, this is my favorite. For one, the Doctor's around and active through the whole thing; for another, I really like the companion. For me, it ends up being a fun time.

  24. Lemone says:

    For some reason, Netflix didn't have this one streaming. Or at least I couldn't find it. This made me sadface, because I love Donna and want to marry her and have many many babies together and it's been forever since I've seen this one and I don't remember much about it. It's like, the only NuWho aside from season 5 not available that way, too. Poo.

    At least I got The Three Doctors watched for tomorrow.

    • doesntsparkle says:

      Netflix does have this streaming. It's the first episode of season 3.

      • Lemone says:

        Ohhhhh THAT'S why it didn't come up when I searched for it. I assumed it'd be separate, since the specials in between seasons 4 and 5 are. Oh well, I'll just watch it tonight before I start with the Catherine Tate Show. It'll be Donnathon.

        • fuchsia says:

          i think the specials between 4&5 are separate because there are a lot of them, and series 5 isn’t out yet on dvd/streaming.

          • maccyAkaMatthew says:

            I think they follow the format of the DVD box sets, so. Series one is series one; series two starts with "The Christmas Invasion"; series three starts with "The Runaway Bride"; series four starts with "Voyage of the Damned"; the other specials get their own box set; and series five is on its own.

            The most recent Christmas special will probably end up bundled with series six.

    • fuchsia says:

      It’s streaming, it’s just bundled with series three (at the beginning of the episodes)

  25. Susan says:

    I have to agree that the first time I saw Runaway Bride, I totally didn't get it and wasn't a fan. Now, I love it but I have to love it through squinty eyes because everyone's turned up to 11 since it's the Christmas Special and Large Ham is on the menu.

    I'm 99% sure that the "going on with the reception" thing is in fact supposed to be just that they are the worst people in the world. Lance's speech sucks so much because it's also the way everyone feels about Donna, including her own family, basically. (Not a spoiler, just my read of the episode.)

    Every other thought I have is spoilery.

    Oh, except that my favorite moment might well be "Guess what I have? Pockets."

  26. Maya says:

    Yeah…the awesome that is Donna is the main reason I rewatch it. A lot of people didn’t like her in it (her shoutiness was the big complaint if I remember correctly) but I was sad when she turned him down because she knew from the start how to keep Ten in line.

  27. calimie says:

    They were babies!!

    (Hungry homicidal babies, but still)

    • NB2000 says:

      True, it's just the irrational arachnophobic "OH GOD NO GET THEM AWAAAAY!" part of me that was glad to see them go.

  28. xpanasonicyouthx says:


  29. psycicflower says:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    'Are you enjoying this?'
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    Sorry I just love when the Doctor gets a well deserved slap when he's ranting on and acting like someone isn't a person who is being affected by what's going on.

    I pretty much agree with everything you said here. The thing about Christmas episodes is not only do they air 6/7 months after the series finale but they're purposely designed to be a bit of fun that everyone can watch on Christmas Day, including people who don't follow the show. Hence the sudden change in tone if you're watching a bunch of episodes in a row. Generally I don't really enjoy them as much as the normal episodes and have adjusted my expectations.
    While there are enjoyable elements, the episode is slightly all over the place and I did find myself checking the time once or twice. I don't like the reuse of the robot Santas or Christmas tree. I also have a problem with the TARDIS flying down the motorway like that but I do love the touch of the little kids in the car telling Donna to jump and then cheering.

    Donna has my utmost respect for saying no to traveling with the Doctor and I'm not entirely sure how to explain why. I think it's because she's making a decision to change her own life, ‘Go out there and do something.’ and she doesn't need the danger of the Doctor to do that. It's her life, her choice and she's taking the reigns. I also like how she tells the Doctor that he needs someone, not necessarily for companionship, but to stop him when he goes to far.

    ‘I just have to park her properly. Might drift off to the middle Ages.’ Lot's of nice TARDIS references from Huon particles being part of what makes her up and the Doctor being concerned about what's wrong with her. I also love the coral growing on the extrapolator. Sentient, living TARDIS FTW!

    (I finished series 2 of Fringe today. You were right Mark, I was not prepared. *flails*)

    • doesntsparkle says:

      I totally agree about respecting Donna for saying no to coming along for the ride. Who else would have the strength to say no? It's refreshing to see someone who isn't totally in awe of the Doctor. He needs that.

    • Jen says:

      I love the respect for Donna's strength in saying no to the Doctor. She's got such a level head about it all and it's so good to see someone check the Doctor a bit. I love her for the way she just pulls herself back up after Lance and basically everyone else (especially her mother, urrgh) behave horridly toward her. Catherine Tate does such a good job with those quiet moment, btw. Like you said, Donna realizes that she needs to try a new path and chooses to go her own way. She's basically just fabulous.

      Yay Fringe!!!

  30. Tauriel says:

    Mark, a piece of advice: Stop trying to find logic in RTD’s scripts πŸ˜‰ (well, most of them. He does have an occasional moment of rare brilliance, now and then). Will save you a lot of headaches. πŸ˜›

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      Especially Christmas Specials. His philosophy on those is simple:

      Christmas Specials should be (a) Christmassy, and (b) Special, because there are far too many Christmas Specials that are neither.

      • Guest says:

        I never found RTDs Christmas Specials particularly christmassy. They have the elements, but lack the spirit imho.

        • exbestfriend says:

          At least with the first two that Mark has covered, the extent of the Christmassy areas are the Killer Santas, that ultimately don't make any sense, the destructive Christmas decorations, and the fact that the events take place near Christmas. I'm not saying to other Christmas Specials are better, although they are, but these two are less Christmassy than Gremlins and Die Hard.

          • Guest says:

            I was intentionally vague about the number of specials I was talking about, but basically I mean all of them. There's one element I even consider blasphemous, but I can't elaborate on that now.

            • Guest says:

              Oh wait, there is a way to tell you what I'm talking about without telling Mark: I will link to a picture of it.

              So, don't click this link, Mark!

            • swimmingtrunks says:

              I thought the star shape of the spaceship in this one was a little awful in that regard too. I mean, that's not just your standard adapted from pagan rituals Christmas imagery, that's the fucking star from the birth of Christ, shooting people. I can't imagine that airing on basic broadcast stations over here in the States and not having someone get riled up about it.

        • sabra_n says:

          I like them for being non-Christmassy myself, but that's because I abhor that holiday by the time it rolls around every year. I much prefer "special that happens to be aired on Christmas Day" to "special that is about Christmas". Because not everyone celebrates it, you know? I just hate that presumption of universality.

        • Hypatia_ says:

          Yeah, there's only been one Christmas special I found actually Christmassy.

      • Tauriel says:

        Actually, the only REAL, PROPERLY Christmassy DW Christmas Special was last year's "A Christmas Carol". All previous were just random adventures that only happened to take place during Christmas.

        • nyssaoftraken74 says:

          True. RTD's idea of Christmassy is definitely in the visual trappings rather than the spirit. Oh, and the obligatory new arrangement of Jingle Bells from Murray Gold.

          BTW – It's been far too long since I last watched Gremlins! I'll have to dig it out tomorrow! Love that film.

  31. flamingpie says:

    I can totally understand everything you don't like about this episode. I think, for me, part of what I loved so much about it was the quiet, character moments, and I loved them SO much that it overshadowed the kind of shitty plot and made this one of my more rewatched episodes. Coming from someone used to dead/trapped in other universes/gone to college/etc characters just kind of… being glossed over and forgotten about? I could not have been happier with how incredibly SAD The Doctor was through the whole special. I just love me some angsty Doctor.

    Plus… Donna Noble. Just Donna Noble. Love of my Doctor Who life forever and ever and ever. <3 <3 <3

    Oh, and I don't think the santa robots were with the sycorax. They just followed them, like the Doctor tried to explain with the whole pilot fish thing.

    • nanceoir says:

      "I think, for me, part of what I loved so much about it was the quiet, character moments, and I loved them SO much that it overshadowed the kind of shitty plot…"

      I think that's me with pretty much all the not-so-great Doctor Who episodes. Like, I don't think I hate any episode of the new show. There are episodes I'll rewatch out of order, just for fun, but I've rewatched all the seasons several times, and I don't skip episodes, because even the problematic ones have nice character moments.

      Actually, a friend of mine has Series 3 from the library and has to return it soon. I thought about telling her to skip an episode here and there, but I couldn't tell her what to skip, because I think they're all worthwhile.


      Donna Noble. Don't need to say anything else. πŸ™‚

      • flamingpie says:

        Agreed. I'm pretty sure I've seen most of the episodes out of the first two series at least five times. There are a few in later series I will usually skip out on during a rewatch, though I won't say which ones because… spoilers, obviously, but even those I'll watch bits off because they ALL have lovely moments. Then again, even the worst episode of Doctor Who is kind of better than most other tv, so that's to be expected.

        And nothing more needs to be said about Donna Noble. The woman is fierce, and speaks for herself. XD

  32. always amy says:

    I watched this and I hated Donna, I had loved Rose and now she was gone, so I knew there would be a new companion and there was Donna. I did not like her at all… and then I realized nobody liked her. Her family didn't like her, her friends didn't like her, her fiancée didn't like her. The Doctor was half motivated by the desire to get her away from him. Donna soldiered on anyway, and she got things done. She got the hell up and she kept going. That was when I realized she was perfect for this moment.
    That was when I fell in love with Donna Noble.
    She taught me that you can't cry forever, you need to get moving and save the universe.

  33. PigRescuer says:

    I was going to point out about the space you haven't had but you did it yourself! All the Christmas Specials are like that. This year's was called A Christmas Carol, 4col!

    I didn't like this the first time, either. Actually, I didn't even watch it – I'd been so upset but Catherine Tate appearing and RUINING TEN'S SADFACE that I refused to watch it on Christmas Day. I held out for so long, I think I watched it on iPlayer on Boxing Day. ^_^

    Looking forward to the next series. πŸ™‚

  34. flootzavut says:

    I really disliked this ep when I first saw it! I've grown to like it more, but I don't love it, and although I felt bad for Donna I didn't warm to her in this one.

    I seem to recall that the Santa aliens were described as scavengers. They followed the Sycorax around to take advantage of the mayhem caused. That said, I don't understand why they'd be around at this point, as the Racnoss have been buried and how do the scavengers know? But I do remember they were attracted to the energy the Doctor was 'leaking', so maybe they were attracted to the Huon particles?

    Sarah Parish is usually fanbloodytastic, so don't let it put you off watching her in other things.

    I do LOVE the dynamic of someone who actually doesn't want to travel with the Doctor and really sees him as an alien, instead of being taken in by his apparently human appearance. Makes a really nice change πŸ˜€

    It is different seeing this after months and on Christmas, watching it the day after Doomsday would be a shock!

  35. monkeybutter says:

    What, Mark? I love this Christmas Special! I love it for being so goofy and over-the-top! And DONNA. She might be scared about travelling with the Doctor, but she's still fierce! There were solemn moments and some reflection about Rose, and I think overall it was a nice antidote to the end of the 2nd series. Sure, there are plotholes everywhere, and it's the corniest thing we've seen in a long time, but Catherine Tate is amazing, so I don't really care!

    As for the reception, wasn't it alluded to that they thought this was just one of Donna's ploys? They were more annoyed than scared! Her family and friends gave the impression that she was prone to drama, so it's possible they just didn't take it seriously. I think it's okay that they went for comedy over realism in the Christmas special of what's ostensibly a kids' show.

    And since you've already seen the skit:
    <img src=""&gt;

    • BradSmith5 says:

      I don't care about plot holes, either! This show was SO FUN TO WATCH! Who is this guy that bends time and space to his whim? And did you see that bizarre ending song!? Who was Rose? Tell me everything––quick, fill me in!

  36. Sara says:


    Srsly, just… Donna. So much love. And honestly, I love the fact that she walked away. Even though I am a huge Rose fan, it was really refreshing to see someone else interact with the Doctor and not think he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean, I love the Doctor… but he can be kind of a tactless jerk. He needs a good solid smack every once in a while to balance out all that adoration.

  37. cdnstar says:

    "Has anyone ever turned down the Doctor before? (You can answer that if it’s in the past.) WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT IT’S DAVID TENNANT" This x 100,00,000

    I love Donna, she's so spunky and opinionated and speaks her mind. I like that while she's obviously affected by the happenings of the episode, that she isn't just drawn into the Tardis to travel, that she is able to step away and say, "No, No thanks." But at the same time, WHY!???

  38. azurefalls says:

    This is probably one of my favourite Christmas episodes. LOVE Donna. Love her character, love Tate as a person and an actress, and I love the chemistry between Donna and the Doctor. BEST. FRIENDS. FOREVER.

    "It’s jarring to go from “Doomsday” to this Benny Hill-esque episode." I said it once and I'll say it again, I pretty much hate the Christmas episodes of Who. But the thing to remember is that they're never big on plot, and plotholes just… don't really matter. XD It's more about the joy and cheer and Christmas FESTIVITY, which granted, this one is pretty low on… But I just try to bear that in mind… otherwise I end up cringing.
    But yeah, one of my favourite Christmas episodes. Loved it. πŸ˜€

    • nanceoir says:

      I don't know that faulting the Christmas specials for plotholes is fair, since plotholes are kind of a staple of Doctor Who. πŸ˜‰

      Personally, I'm happy to ignore most any and all plotholes in Doctor Who; it's more fun that way.

  39. Tauriel says:

    Oh, and another thing: Donna ROCKS!!!

  40. Albion19 says:

    Doctor: Cyberman invasion.
    Donna: "…"
    Doctor: Skies over London full of Daleks?
    Donna: I was in Spain.
    Doctor: They had Cybermen in Spain.
    Donna: Scuba-diving?

    • flamingpie says:

      to be fair, scuba-diving is probably a good way to stay away from cybermen. I mean… can they swim?

      but lol, I love that bit. Oh Donna, you are so marvelously oblivious.

  41. arctic_hare says:

    You have no idea how hard it is for me to keep this comment from being nothing but a big fangirl squee over Donna. NO IDEA. πŸ˜€ Because I love her for ever and always, she is awesome! YAY DONNA~ <3 <3 <3

    Aw, I'm sorry you didn't like this special too much, I personally loved it. I watched the show in a marathon somewhat similar to yours last summer, though I don't think I waited a whole day between Doomsday and this. I tended to watch in big chunks, cannot remember if I quit for the day after Doomsday or not. ANYWAY. I didn't mind the change the tone, I found it a nice fun breather from all the SRS BZNS. Sure, it has its flaws, but I enjoyed most of it so much I didn't care. Most especially, Donna, whom I have already mentioned I adore. A lot of the fandom hated her here, but I loved her right off the bat.

    One of the reasons people state when they say they found her annoying here are the first few minutes, I think. And while I can see how that might irritate some people, putting myself in her shoes, I'd probably be acting the exact same way.

    Totally hear you on Lance's speech, my heart broke for her, I wanted to hug her so hard too. That she says later on that he didn't deserve what happened to him says a lot about her as a person, I think – she may be shouty and a little shallow and whatnot, but she's got a damn good heart and I loved that she stopped him from drowning all the Racnoss. She's right, he does need someone to stop him. I also think they have great chemistry, I like Ten a lot when she's around.

    I also appreciated that bit at the reception when Ten is thinking sadly about Rose, missing her. It's really great that it's showing us that she's not forgotten by him, that he's going to need time to get over this heartbreak. I can't stand it when shows forget about characters and have everyone move on instantly. This was great to see the opposite.


  42. nyssaoftraken74 says:

    Very suprised at this review. I ADORE this special and it's still up there as one of my faves. Have to completely disagree with about the TARDIS down the motorway: Best. Chase. Ever! And the kids in the back of the car just make it extra special. They're effectively watching Doctor Who. So there would be kids watching Doctor Who watching kids watch Doctor Who. Sort of. Maybe I have a special soft spot for that sequence because I was among the first to see it at the Children in Need Doctor Who Concert in Cardiff in 2006. It was the last thing before the interval, that brand new sequence on a big screen with a live orchestra (which, I'm convinced, is how all Doctor Who should be watched) with the visuals cutting to black right at the climax before Donna makes the jump. Oh, you should have heard the groans! Talk about leaving you on a cliffhanger!

    And speaking of the music, what a brilliant, Gershwin-esque score for this episode composed, of course, by Murray Gold and orchestrated by the unsung hero that is Ben Foster. Distinct shades of `American in Paris` or `Rhapsody in Blue`. Beautiful! Molto Bene!

    (Splitting for length…)

    • nyssaoftraken74 says:

      Really? How odd. I'll have to see if I can remember it now! I thing know what the spoiler was, though I don't quite see how it's a spolier to just quote `one particular line from this episode`. Still…

      The use of the deadly Christmas tree, given a twist this time, made me smile and wonder what might be next: Whiplash tinsel? Laser beam fairy lights? Divebombing Angel? Death Star? (No, hold on…that's another show.)

      Donna is a complete breath of fresh air and the sudden change of theme, style and feel of the show after Doomsday is precisely what I love about this show. Yes, I feel for the Doctor, that the Universe won't allow him 5 minutes to grieve the loss of Rose before another adventure spins him into its web. (See what I did there?) But maybe now he'll have that chance and maybe he'll all be the better for this experience.

      And full marks to Russell for revealing the name of Gallifrey in a way that makes it *mean* something. Not just part of some info dump like it's a name to be bandied about lightly, unlike a certain previous story I could mention.

      • nyssaoftraken74 says:

        (Adding a bit extra…)

        The Racnoss is brilliantly ambitious prosthestics creation. There was some CGI tweaking of the background, but the spider itself was completely real and Sarah Parish required 4 technician to operate her multiple appendages!

        While the Doctor is heartbroken by the loss of Rose, as Russell said, "I don't want to give viewers on Christmas Day an hour's worth of weeping and angst."

        The whole episode was light and fun and bold and brash and spot on entertainment for Christmas. And I love it to bits!

  43. Starsea28 says:

    Sadly this episode does show the worst of RTD's writing. It's best not to think about ANY of the Christmas specials too hard, Mark. It's better for your brain, trust me. I did like Donna's interaction with the Doctor.

    "I'm in my WEDDING DRESS!"
    "Yes, you look lovely!"


    And yet he does it so easily. Just assume that it will be refilled by the next time you see it.

  44. Mimzy says:

    I'm so sad you didn't like this episode Mark! This episode is easily in my mental top 5 favorite episodes list and with it usually being number two or three depending on what mood I'm in. I think this is an episode your going to have to come back to after the sad face of Doomsday has gone away for a while. I mean, this episode is just so full of happy and win it's probably not the best choice for the episode right after sad face.

  45. RocketDarkness says:

    Donna's my favorite companion of the 10th Doctor by a large margin. She gives no shits about the Doctor and his fancy time machine.

    That being said, it's a shame her debut turned out so…bizarre. And yes, her fiance betraying her is incredibly sad.

  46. psycicflower says:

    Because I totally forgot to include it in my original reply: Love Don't Roam is the song that was playing at the reception and I just love it because it's such a fun song. This is the version from the soundtrack sung by Neil Hannon

  47. Hotaru-hime says:

    Whatever faults there are in this episode I don't care because it's DONNA. Catherine Tate is just so damn enjoyable that I love it!!
    To be honest, I'd go on ONE adventure with the Doctor and then politely tell him to take me back home. Time travel is fun and all, but it's rather terrifying to be with him…

  48. jennywildcat says:

    I honestly didn't like TRB at first, but it's become one of my favorites (the scenery-chewing Racnoss notwithstanding). I think coming straight off the utter despair of "Doomsday" makes it hard to get into this special the first time (to be fair, when this originally aired, there had a few months between the end of Series 2 and "The Runaway Bride"). Plus, I think they purposely make the Christmas specials over-the-top just because it's Christmas and they can get away with it. There are so many good lines between the Doctor and Donna (this episode is that reason that, if I get married, I am getting pockets in my wedding dress). I too was surprised that Donna turned down the Doctor's offer to travel with him, but I am glad that she's such a contrast to Rose and I love her to pieces (not that I didn't love Rose – I just think Donna is who the Doctor needed at that moment).

  49. Jenny_M says:

    I hadn't rewatched this one in years, but after not liking it much the first time around, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually did enjoy it upon seeing it again. Maybe after big epic season finales you should watch a palate cleansing Old Doctor episode before jumping into the Christmas special?

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      That's a good idea I think. For twice the fun, mark could watch an old series story on either side of the Christmas specials – thus giving an idea of the passage of time for the audience. The big gap is always between the finale and Christmas, though – both emotionally and in terms of the number of months.

  50. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    The info to make sense of most of it (sort of) is there, but it whizzes past.

    As someone has mentioned, the Doctor describes the Santas as "mercenaries". The "pilot fish" idea from last Christmas is that they stay close to the Sycrorax ship, but are independent of the Sycorax. When the ship was destroyed, the Santas would probably have been left milling around in the vicinity of Earth. When the Doctor uses the sonic to shake them to bits, he finds out that they've been taken over by something else. From that we can guess that the Empress of the Racnoss came along and took them over for her own ends, sometime after "The Christmas Invasion" – given that they had to dose Donna over six months that'd fit the timescale, probably.

    Really, though, they Santas were rather bolted on to a story that was originally supposed to be episode six of series two. The fact that the BBC wanted a second Christmas special came along quite late in the day, so you can see the joins somewhat (also there are lots of scenes that give away the fact it was filmed in the summer).

    When it comes to the party, Donna's mum got the message that Donna left and assumed she'd played a practical joke on them all. Not amazingly plausible – but they didn't think Donna was missing or in danger.

    There are quite a lot of lines that are set up to cover these things. Like the Empress saying that now she has seen the Huon particles catalysed in Donna she can force the same effect in Lance. It is a bit ramshackle, though.

    I think the biggest problem is that the TARDIS chase is so great that the rest feels like a bit of an anticlimax. Also, neither the Empress nor Lance are among Russell's best characters, they're too broad and evil. Lance, in particular, would have been more effective if we'd been able to even slightly understand why he did what he did.

    Presumably, the Thames would fill up again from its catchment area, as long as the hole could be plugged in some way. But that whole drilling to the centre of the Earth stuff really doesn't make sense and thinking too much about it doesn't help at all (like wouldn't the water all turn into steam?). I do like Donna's assumption that there are dinosaurs down there, though.

    All in all, it did work well as Christmas romp and a kind of staging post between series two and series three. I still like it, overall.

  51. buyn says:

    I think I'm going to ask for pockets in my wedding dress just to see what the assistant does. This episode does seem to hurt from believability, but the family did think she was having them on. I mean, to closeminded, people who don't believe in aliens, how else would you explain her disappearing? "Oh she's having a laugh on us. Just you wait, she'll pop out over there and say TA-DA."

    Well then, there's no scariness rating, because they skipped this christmas eppy. I don't even know why. Time for season 3…

  52. Pingback: Tweets that mention Mark Watches Γ’β‚¬ΛœDoctor WhoÒ€ℒ: The Runaway Bride | Mark Watches --

  53. fran says:


    The Thames is tidel, so it would just flood like normal. Sorry.
    Love, a Londoner

    I agree with what you said for the most part but you must rememeber that MONTHS went past. We were over Rose. Sorry. πŸ™‚

    Love your reviews by-the-way. Doomsday review made me cry. (In a good wat.)

  54. murgatroid1 says:

    All I can think of when I see the Racnoss is those terrible villains they had on shows like Power Rangers. It was the red make up, I think, especially when they zoomed in on her face. It just all looks terribly fake and cheesy, which I'm usually ok with on Doctor Who, but here, for some reason, it annoys me

    As far as Christmas specials go, this one is a bit meh. Not terrible, but not particularly memorable either. Sad!Doctor makes me sad though. His face when he's thinking about Rose just breaks my heart.

  55. Scarecrow says:

    Not sure if anyones mentioned yet, but I have the answer to the Santa question and it;'s because you've made a common misunderstanding.

    In TCI the Doctor describes them as pilot Fish. In sea terms, that's the small fish that swim around with Sharks, and take up scraps and leftovers and whatever else. The Sycorax are the sharks in thsi case. The Santas are not actually connected to the Sycorax directly. Rather, they follow them around, picking up scraps and left overs. In TCI they detected the Doctor and went after him. In this instance the Racnoss queen has obtained direct control over them.

    I hope this helps!

  56. Tyrant says:

    I first watched this episode at a friend's house when it aired on Christmas Day. I sat and enjoyed almost every minute of it, even as my brain registered that I found both Donna and the Empress of the Racnoss as annoying as hell and that it could be uncharitably described as a net made of plot holes glued together with noise. At the end my friend turned to me and she asked 'what did you think of that?'

    'It was a rubbish,' I said, 'and I loved every minute of it.'

    Yes, the Empress eats scenery with gusto (which I assume is like pesto, only louder). But the show is tapping into the great British Christmas of pantomime, which is a particular type of festive over-the-top theatre.

    Donna irritated me immensely, but I quickly realised that was the point. SHe was maent to be loud, brash and unimpressed by the Doctor anda s soon as I got that I warmed to her a lot. By the end I'd have liked to see her stay.

    Plot holes? Well, it is Doctor Who.

    And then there's the TARDI S car chase. Oh my. i can't leap about like a manic six year old enough. I loved the car chase. In fact I may just have to say whooohooo!


    And I liked that it neither dwelled on Rose nor ignored her – it had moved on in tome, so as not to torture the child portion of the audience with sadness and woe (when they want cool robots and things) but it still touched on her absence in a poignant way, such as her top, hanging there in the TARDIS, leading Donna to accuse him of being a serial abductor. And then there was the Doctor thinking sadly of her while others danced. That struck me as so true, because when you someone you loved or cared about is gone frm your life you do just that, you see them everywhere you go. Everything reminds you of them.

    Something else I liked was the idea of the Racnoss as some ancient threat, dating back to before the Earth was formed. 'They destroyed us,' screamed the Empress on hearing the name Gallifrey. This is something RTD likes to do that I always enjoy – even while it drives me mad with the fristration to know more – the hinting at backstory which isn't explained. Right there, in the Empress's scream, was a whole new mini-Time War of its own. I would have cheered aloud, had I not already been cheering at the mention of Gallifrey.

    So, to sum up. I think this episode is ribbish. It's not very good at all. And I love it.

    • Tyrant says:

      Some of those words were meant to read 'tone', 'frustration' and 'rubbish'. I'm going to have to get a proper account at some point, this inability to edit is almost annoying as my inability to type.

    • virtual_monster says:

      Ha! I now have an account so that I can actually edit my appalling typing in future. Sadly someone seems to have already taken 'Tyrant' and I suspect it was actually me – years ago – although what password and email address I used then is a mystery. Ah well.

  57. xpanasonicyouthx says:


  58. Snuffy says:

    I feel the need to post this and hope nobody else has got there first: The ATM? THESE came out of it. WANT SO BAD.
    <img src=""&gt;

  59. Huh. I honestly love this ep, it's one of my favorites of Russel Davies. Yes, the plot is ridiculous but come on, Doctor Who is not exactly known for logic/plausibility (I say this with love, Who fans; don't hate me). I mostly enjoyed this for the awesome Ten/Donna interaction. Donna is one of my favorite companions (not my absolute favorite, but I can't say who because they come much later so it's spoilery) and I just love how she's one of the few people who is just unimpressed with him. A lot of the companions tend to put him on a pedestal but Donna sits around calling him martian boy and thinks he's slightly nuts (which, lets face it, he kind of is) and is the first (in the new series anyway, don't know about classic who) that doesn't have a thing for him. Mostly though, I love this ep for some of the awesome lines. Like this little bit:

    Donna: Who are you?
    The Doctor: I'm the Doctor. You?
    Donna: Donna.
    The Doctor: Human?
    Donna: Yeah. What, is that optional?
    The Doctor: Well, it is with me.

  60. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    That comment was deleted by my mod because there was something spoiler-y in it. I don't know what, but could you repost the second half for us? Sans spoiler, of course.

  61. Ashley says:

    I love Donna and Ten's interaction, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the car chase. It was action-y and fast-paced, and still have a little moment of bonding:

    Donna: I can't do it!
    The Doctor: Trust me.
    Donna: Is that what you said to her? Your friend? The one you lost? Did she trust you?
    The Doctor: Yes, she did. And she is not dead. She is *so* alive. Now jump!

    and this was hilarious:

    The Doctor: To honour and obey?
    Lance Bennett: Tell me about it, mate.
    Donna: Oi!

    and of course, Donna keeps slapping him…LOL

  62. Minish says:

    I agree 110% with this review.

    Also, I thought this episode was a great way to show the importance of a companion, even one who wasn't particularly fond of traveling with the Doctor. And I LOVE YOU FOREVER DONNA NOBEL! Most people thought of her as kind of a scrappy, but I think that's what made her character so great. She wasn't MEANT to be a likable character.

  63. Walk in the Dust says:

    In first X-Mas Special the Robot Santas and Killer Christmas Tree were controlled by the pilot fish that had attatched themselves to the Sycorax spaceship and were attracted to the Doctor's regeneration energy. The Sycorax themselves did not control them. In this special, the Robot Santas and Killer Christmas Decorations were controlled by the empress of the Racnoss, following a similar modus operandi to disguise her weapons.
    It was a bit lazy to repeat that stuff, though.
    I do love this special, for the chemistry between Tennant and Tate and their witty repartee, Donna's arc, where she went from yelling at the Doctor to TAKE HER TO THE CHURCH to giving him the wisest piece of advice he has ever received, that fantastic visit to the creation of the Earth (not the Universe, like you said in the review) and that chilling glimpse of a bleak and vengeful Doctor. Loved the motorway sequence. I can completely identify with the fantasy of imagining a spaceship flying alongside your window.
    Did you notice the song that played whilst the Doctor remembered Rose at the wedding? It's called "Love Don't Roam" and it's an original composition, like "Song for Ten" the previous Special.
    "You took me in, you stole my heart. I cannot roam no more. For love stays withing you, it doesn't wash up on a shore. And a fighting man forgets each cut, each knock, each bruise, each fall. But a fighting man cannot forget why his love don't roam no more. Reel me in my precious girl, come on take me home. For my body is tired of travelling and my heart don't wish to roam."

    Didn't think much of the Giant Spider, but I love that she was esentially washed down a giant plughole.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      Huh, I didn't know that song was written for the show. Makes sense, I remember thinking that those lyrics were oddly appropriate for the situation, but I just figured that some poor peon in the music department had worked some really late nights trying to find something that fit.

  64. Edel says:

    I saw this again lately for the first time since the broadcast and, honestly, it aged better than I thought it would. I am very sympathetic to Sarah Parrish, who, looking back, was just trying to out act her make up and costume. It's a loud presence without her doing a thing. Also, while it would have helped if she had dialled it down a bit, let's not forget. Everyone was up to eleven in this episode. A bit of reference though, for why it's so loud and silly coming after Doomsday. This is broadcast after the Eastenders (BBC soap) Christmas episode on Christmas Day. If there was, you know, an hour long quiet and deeply sad coming terms with losing Rose for the Doctor broadcast right after the Walford 'celebrations' it would be too much. Sometimes you need silliness.

  65. A little. Yeah, they share some of the same sort of crazyeyes facial expressions and stuff

  66. exbestfriend says:

    "I was also slightly horrified that a group of people who just watched the bride evaporate while screaming right in front of them DECIDED TO GO FORWARD WITH THE RECEPTION OF THE WEDDING ANYWAY. Either Davies intended to portray both sides of this wedding as utterly vacant, self-centered wankers or THIS IS THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE PLOT OF ALL FUCKING TIME."

    I really honestly think that Davies intended to portray both sides of this wedding as utterly vacant, self-centered wankers. I think the idea was that Lance was raised by wolves, since he turned out to be the type of person who would poison someone and agree to marry that person in an effort to sell out the human race, and that Donna's family is just as bad. I think characterizing her family that way is part of how you are supposed to see Donna. She's brash and yell-y and threatens violence constantly, but she was raised by the type of people who didn't expect her to amount to anything and would yell at her for causing them to miss the party. Where Rose was an open book, Donna has the type of layers that you don't realize are there until you see her in context with the rest of her family.

    I get why this episode was put here and I like that Donna told the Doctor no, but the tone of this episode is such a complete 180 from Doomsday that it makes it very jarring and consequently it is very hard to enjoy when watched in succession. I never think I want to watch Torchwood until I get to Doomsday and then I realize I need a spacer between Cryfest 2000 and this zany circus of an episode. Catherine Tate is such a peach and this episode does her no justice. It is my least favorite of the NuWho Christmas Specials.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      And Torchwood is such a barrel of laughs too!

      Don't kill me, I like Torchwood!

      • exbestfriend says:

        I like Torchwood as well, although as you said in some other comment, the only reason to watch Series Two is to understand Children of Earth which was fantastic, but I really enjoy Series One. Plus it gives me a chance to breathe and space out Doomsday and The Runaway Bride because the Runaway Bride is a perfectly fine episode but when it is directly compared to Doomsday, it just doesn't hold up. The funny parts aren't as witty and the emotional parts don't slaughter you the same way. Even among people who didn't like Rose, Doomsday is frightfully sad.

  67. calimie says:

    Some Tennant love:

    I'm not sure if this short has been linked before, but I don't care, it's great and it has David Tennant looking sexy.
    Traffic Warden:

    Now, for something more serious (and still ridiculous at times because that's what DT is like), Tennant's episode on Who do you think you are?: (there are 6 parts).
    I'm pretty certain there are no spoilers for s3, since it was aired September 26 2006 but if someone watches them today, they can confirm.


  68. Penquin47 says:

    Donna. Oh my god, how I hated that woman the first time I saw this. Shouty, demanding, irritating, whiny, shrieky, and thoroughly unpleasant, although with just enough redemption that I was never cheering for the Doctor to just tell her to bug off and have a pleasant life.

    Don't worry, Donna fans, she's grown on me.

    I was quite grateful for the silliness of this episode after the emotional destruction of the end of Doomsday. Sometimes, emotional whiplash is exactly what I need!

  69. swimmingtrunks says:

    Yeah, it really says something about Donna as a character and Tate as an actor that she is basically the driving force behind the affection for this special. No one is going to argue with you that this plot was "meh" at best, but if you're seeing a pattern yet- plot being secondary to other things going on is kind of something that's been happening somewhat frequently.

    I love love love love Donna, and I think she's the fresh breath of air we needed after someone who loved the Doctor, but didn't necessarily challenge him. Her interactions with the Doctor can be a little slapstick (the I'll catch you gag? UHG), but she has a lot of heart and Tate can knock those softer moments out of the park.

    The Racnoss should have had a mustache to twirl, it would have been a lot less distracting than all those swaying movements. While the effects were great, you could feel the limit of her costume– I think a cgi shot or two of her moving quickly would have made her somewhat more intimidating, and given her something else to do besides monologue. However, I have this feeling they were on a tight budget for this one- the return of the pilot fish and the Christmas weaponry seemed to me to be either saving a little money or a bit of mental work coming up with something new.

    Or maybe the budget was allocated to the TARDIS car chase, which I agree was a bad idea. I think I actually would have been more okay with it if it were a shorter sequence and a more isolated incident of Crazy Shit Happening in London, but unfortunately it's part of a bigger picture that doesn't really work for me. It's something that bothers me about this era- RTD sets up events that would have a wide impact and tons of witnesses, but then only really examines the ramifications of such events on a micro scale. He even has to find a way to work around the last few major events he's thrown at London so that his companion is an everyman even though the Whoniverse is now substantially different from our own. I think I talked before in the Christmas Invasion post maybe? about how I like my Doctor Who danger on a smaller, more intimate scale, and this is one of the reasons why. If you're going to do big crazy stuff like this, you're going to have to pay the price and do some worldbuilding. IMO, that is one of RTD's major weaknesses.

  70. echinodermata says:

    Catherine Tate is magnificent.

    That out of the way, I really appreciate someone turning down the Doctor. And, you know, yelling at him, too. And slapping him during the technobabble. I guess I really, really enjoy the Doctor being taken down a notch.

    I remember how I really enjoyed this episode the first time around, even though it seemed a lot of people (online, at least) didn't. They thought Donna was too abrasive, I think? But I love it. And frankly I think Donna only gets better on rewatch. She's just such a refreshing character for me.

    The TARDIS car chase, with the ball of twine, is so, so silly but so, so fun.

    Segweys in the green-lit basement! This scene shows up in all the fanvids, basically.

    I think from a scifi standpoint, I generally appreciate the Racnoss design in that it's not particularly human-looking. I mean, they made a big attempt to make an unfamiliar-looking alien. Which I definitely appreciate. But then, it's basically a person in an insect costume. Doctor Who in particular is pretty good at delivering aliens without human faces, so I'm actually a little let down at the Racnoss design. I would have preferred a more full mask, and not just the headpiece, I think. I know, I'm being picky.

    Also, Ten being all self-righteous in the previous Christmas episode when Harriet Jones kills the aliens becomes so hypocritical when you realize how quick he is to kill off entire species without really thinking about it.

    Anyway, S3! New companion! So excited for what's coming up.

    • kaybee42 says:

      In his defence they were still planning on devouring the entire planet, while the sycorax were retreating. But I know what you mean, and he *did* look pained at having to do it…

      • echinodermata says:

        Well, my issue is that the Doctor's fairly…mercurial, where say in Christmas Invasion he gave them a warning and let them flee, whereas here he doesn't give the Racnoss that option (not that I remember, anyway), and goes so far as to kill her children who hadn't really done anything yet.

        He just seems inconsistent, basically. Like, I feel sometimes he'd be morally fine with going back in time and killing Hitler, and other times he'd call such an action an abomination since you'd be killing an "innocent" man. I dunno, I think the writers take liberties with his sense of morality to fit whatever story they want to tell. So my opinion that the writers are inconsistent with him leads me to regard Ten as a hypocrite.

        • calimie says:

          I think he does tell her he can take her and her children to a planet (to eat that planet and then move on to another one? IDK) and she laughs at him. So she did have her "one chance".

          He's still a hypocrite.

          • echinodermata says:

            Whoops, you're totally right, he gave her a chance to flee. All the same, I don't recall him giving that chance to all the villains, which was my point. And you know, the slaughtering "innocents" point still stands.

            Not that I'm arguing with you since you agree, I'm just clarifying my point for others.

  71. Guess what ruined that? The over-the-top performance of the Empress of the Racnoss. You’ve been floating in a ship for billions of billions of years. WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO TALK LIKE THAT?

    But is she really speaking English or are we just hearing TARDIS-translated speech? Or kind of both. She's got to be able to communicate with Lance already somehow so…yeah. I dunno.

    Has anyone ever turned down the Doctor before? (You can answer that if it’s in the past.) WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT IT’S DAVID TENNANT

    I only vaaaaguely remember because last time I saw it was when it was originally aired on TV, but the Eighth Doctor's TV movie?

    • calimie says:

      Which begs the question: WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, IT'S PAUL MCGANN

      Note: I haven't watched that movie but if that happens? What!!!

      • swimmingtrunks says:

        I think that is probably the least of the things that will produce a "What!!!" from you, if you watch that movie. But yeah, Eight gets turned down after his first outing. Ouch.

        • calimie says:

          So I've heard.

          Poor Eight, so hot but didn't get his own series. I'll always love The Chimes of Midnight.

          • swimmingtrunks says:

            Yessss audio drama love! I adore them, plowed all the way through Eight's up to current releases, now getting to know older Doctors and having a growing fondness towards Six. I think at least for those two it's been a great chance to give them the series they deserved but were sadly deprived of.

          • rys says:

            It would be awesome if they brought him in to make an appearance somehow.

          • Amanda says:

            Well he did get his own series of novels, at least. Starting with The Eight Doctors, which I think is pure awesome condensed into book form.

  72. fuchsia says:

    If Donna had gone with the Doctor, she would’ve been like the rebound companion. I think it’s good for both of them that she didn’t (the Doctor needed to hear *someone* say no to him for once!).

  73. rys says:

    This is kind of a stupid episode. I felt like RTD really phoned this one in — it's a mash of themes and plots that he's already done, he's just thrown them together with a giant spider. Santa robots and destructive Christmas trees and an alien attacking London (Londoners must be fit with all the running and screaming they do), and in the middle of it all, the Doctor and his sidekick whom society looks down on. RTD is good with writing characters, but plots not so much.

    The good bits: Catherine Tate does a great job and she makes Donna likeable (a different actress might not have been able to do so). And I like that they addressed the events of Doomsday; it would have felt cheap if they hadn't, and Tennant conveys his sadness so well.

    • Fuchsia says:

      RTD is good with writing characters, but plots not so much.

      THIS. He's great with characters (look at how much we learned about Donna and how much she grew in just this one episode) but his storylines are always more on the "WTF?" end of things.

  74. RocketDarkness says:

    Yesssss. That and the musical are the two videos I can't wait to post after Ten's last episode. =)

  75. canyonoflight says:

    Donna is my FAVORITE! I adore her to no end. The next series is really good too. Can't wait!

  76. lastyearswishes says:

    Donnaaaaaa. I love her to the end of time, even if this isn't my favorite episode. <3

  77. Nikki says:

    Like Mark, I got some whiplash from this episode coming right after Doomsday, but I honestly really enjoyed it. I HATED the ending with Donna from the previous episode so I fully expected to dislike this episode and her, but I ended up loving her. In fact, I really wish she had come along with the Doctor because I very much dislike the next companion. <_<;

    Not that I don't have my share of complaints about it. I'm kind of getting tired of Ten saying, "That's impossible!" with things that clearly must not be because they're happening.

  78. michelle says:



  79. EmmylovesWho says:

    I love Donna Noble <3
    "Maybe I just misunderstand the nature of these Christmas specials. It’s jarring to go from “Doomsday” to this Benny Hill-esque episode"

    Anything after Doomsday would be a disappointment, but specials, especially at Christmas (on UK TV) are meant to be a separate from the main series. In Doctor Who land, that often takes the form of slapstick romps and silliness.

  80. fakehepburn says:

    Okay, yes, the chase scene was kind of (very) dumb, BUT it gave us THIS adorable exchange:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  81. swimmingtrunks says:

    I'm just going to throw this shallow thing out there: Tennant's hair is A+ in this episode. So much more endearing all floppy and ungellified.

  82. EmmylovesWho says:

    I love Donna Noble forever <3

    I'm sorry for banging on about Christmas specials when it's been covered by everyone already

  83. Karen says:

    SO LATE (stupid real life), BUT WHATEVER WHATEVER I DO WHAT I WANT. I'LL COMMENT ANYWAY. No pictures today though because I’ve been out aaaalll day and I just got in and it’s 11 PM now.

    It's funny that you mention that you wanted MOAR ROSE ANGST because back when this aired, there was definitely some whinging in fandom that there was TOO MUCH ROSE ANGST because back in Classic Who when a companion leaves, they're never mentioned again. So I appreciated and loved all of the moments where we get to see the Doctor's emotions as he deals with losing Rose. His loss of Rose is important to his character and as the audience we need to see him dealing with that.

    Speaking of Rose~angst, that moment where Donna picks up Rose’s jacket just kind of twists the knife that is still in the Doctor’s (and my) heart. The look on David Tennant’s face is just gut wrenching. πŸ™

    Donna: I can't do it!
    The Doctor: Trust me.
    Donna: Is that what you said to her? Your friend? The one you lost? Did she trust you?
    The Doctor: Yes, she did. And she is not dead. She is *so* alive. Now jump!

    I like that the Doctor is able to open up the teeniest bit about Rose when talking to Donna. I think that he's not just mourning the loss of Rose, but also the loss of the family he had when she was around. Rose's home became a bit like his home in a way.
    Doctor: I spent Christmas Day just over there, the Powell Estate, with this… family. My friend, she had this family. …Still, gone now.


    But my favorite moment of Rose!angst is that moment where the Doctor flashes back to holding Rose as he watches a couple dancing and it’s enough to bring back all the pain of Doomsday all over again.

    The Doctor is in so much pain after losing Rose. I think THAT'S what the thing with the spider babies is about. It's not so much that it's so easy for him to destroy other creatures (we've seen him try to save the Gelf and the Nestene Consciousness and how sorry he was for how he destroyed the Cybermen etc etc), I just think that the Doctor was in a really dark place after what happened with Rose and he just… didn't care anymore.

    The Doctor likes Donna and so he invites her along, but he’s not ready to have a big happy family again, so when Donna invites him in for Christmas dinner, he runs. Rose did so much for the Doctor. I think the Doctor was really messed up and closed off after the Time War. Rose opened him up again. In series 1 we see him really caring for someone else (Rose) again. And then in series 2 we see how Rose drew him into her little family and how the Doctor grew to care about Jackie and Mickey too. He lost that all when he lost Rose and it's not going to be that easy to just connect with people again. He's not ready for Christmas dinner with Donna's family yet.

    • Karen says:

      I love Donna a lot. I loved her from very early on in this episode. I love her brashness, but also her sudden quietness when she opens the Tardis doors and sees that she’s in space. Catherine Tate is seriously brilliant as Donna. I get the impression that Donna feels her emotions very intensely. She can swing from happy to angry to sad super fast, of course, but I get the feeling that she feels those emotions to her core. My heart just absolutely breaks for her when it turns out that Lance didn’t love her and was just using her.

      I think the relationship between the Doctor and Donna is interesting. Something about her obviously makes the Doctor feel ok about opening up to her a bit about his pain of losing Rose on the roof and then again at the end of the episode. I love that Donna, much like Rose, just GETS the Doctor. She knows that sometimes you just have to stop him. She also recognizes that the Doctor has a tendency to treat people like objects, but Donna always snaps him out of that.

      The Doctor: [in a frenzied 'light-bulb' moment] Ahh! The wedding! That's right, you're getting married! That's it! Best day of your life, walking down the aisle… Oh, you're body's a battleground, there's a chemical war inside! Adrenaline, acetocholine, WHAM go the endorphins! You're *cooking*! Yeah! You're like a walking oven, a press cooker, a microwave, all churning away; the buttons reach boiling point and SHAZZAM…
      Donna: [slaps him hard upside the face]
      The Doctor: [disbelief] What did I do this time?

      She also understands that it’s not good for the Doctor to be alone which is something that the Doctor himself doesn’t quite get for a long time. When you let the Doctor be emo on his own for too long, he gets into the “Time Lord victorious” head space which is good for nobody. But I don’t think the Doctor gets that yet. He invites Donna alone because he likes her as a person, not because he doesn’t want to be alone.

      Donna: Promise me one thing though, Doctor.
      The Doctor: What's that?
      Donna: That you'll find somebody.
      The Doctor: I don't need anybody.
      Donna: Yes you do. Because I think sometimes you need somebody to stop you.

      In conclusion, “her name was Rose”. SADFACE FOREVER.

      • kilodalton says:

        I completely agree. There were several very obvious Rose references, which was nice – and realistic – because he had just said goodbye to her for the last time, without ever getting the chance to speak his heart. Re “her name was Rose”…. he looked like he was going to start sobbing right there, and me right along with him =(

        My favorite part of this episode though, is right at the beginning, when he refers to humans as "it" like we are puppies or something – "There is no way a Human Being can lock itself onto the TARDIS and transport itself inside!"

  84. I will love Donna 'til my dying breath. She does the slapping, shouting, and crying that we the viewer can't. Hit 'im again, Donna, do it for me!!

  85. I feel awkward coming into the Donna love, because when I first saw this episode, I was like DO NOT WANT. I seriously got cranky thinking about how I had to watch a whole season of her (because I assumed she would be the next companion, like you) and she annoyed me SO BADLY.

    I eventually took it all back, but yeah. I did give her serious respect for walking away, though. Because dude.

  86. sabra_n says:

    Aw. This is actually my favorite of all the Christmas specials – Donna is such a great creation, and past the car chase, her dynamic with Ten is just wonderful. They have that yin-yang thing going: Donna is all about the small picture, her feet planted firmly on the ground – the past few alien invasions haven't touched her, and she's caught up in work and gossip and love rather than stargazing. By Doctor Who standards, she's the most thoroughly human human the Doctor can possibly meet. The Doctor, in contrast, is all TIME WAR and CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE and GIANT HEROIC DEEDS.

    So yes, he needs a Donna to smack him out of his self-importance and remind him of the effects his actions have on the ground. And Donna needed a Doctor to show her the creation of Earth and give her the gift of awe. Donna's decision to go "walk in the dust" is…gah, so gorgeously phrased, so graceful and poetic and right, it transcends the Santa-bots and all the other chintzy Christmas villainry RTD is so fond of. This special is Davies when he's good – the small and the large, the cheesy and the beautiful, mashed up together and full of love.


    Other things:

    Poor Sarah Parish. She played the only sympathetic character in Blackpool (in which Tennant was her love interest) and she was just fan-freaking-tastic as Beatrice in the Shakespeare Re-Told version of Much Ado About Nothing (in which Piper played Hero). So I'm blaming the direction and writing for her Rachnoss queen, one of the few false notes in this special.

    Actually, can I get back to Donna Noble? It's just so fun to have a Companion with a distinct lack of reverence for the Doctor – Mickey had a bit of this too, but he was too often cowed. Donna doesn't stand in awe of any-freaking-one, thank you very much, and demands to be treated with respect and not as an accessory the Doctor is dragging along to talk at. She demands to be talked to, and I adore that about her.

    Ten is constantly in danger of disappearing up his own hubristic ass with the "lonely angel" bollocks everyone is always showering upon him about how he's the Most Amazing Thing in the Universe Ever – I mean, the Doctor is amazing, yes, but he's also dubious as hell and we all know it. Donna brings him back to ground, and for a little while, out of his grief. I found her to be the perfect post-S2 palate cleanser.

  87. Shiyiya says:

    Am I seriously the only person who doesn't like Donna?

    • I didn't like her at first, but she really grew on me.

      • Shiyiya says:

        I've watched all of new Who at least twice, and I still absolutely loathe her.

        • agrinningfool says:

          She grew on me too. It's okay, Shiyiya. Some people just don't like certain types of characters and I can totally see why you probably don't like Donna. Cookie? *offers*

          • Shiyiya says:

            Omnom, cookie. It's just really WEIRD, because there were plenty of people commenting both liking and disliking Rose, but EVERYONE (but me, and possibly whoever upvoted my comment) likes Donna.

            • agrinningfool says:

              I bet. Maybe those who also might not like Donna are staying in the woodwork, afraid of the wrath of the Donna-lovers?

              • Shiyiya says:

                It seems to me like she should be much more divisive than this!

                I don't like ANY of the new companions that much anymore, now that I've started watching more old Who. ACE IS THE BEST FOREVER.

                • Hypatia_ says:

                  Yeah, I love Donna, but I'm with you on Ace. She is possibly the biggest badass to ever travel with the Doctor, and I'm including Captain Jack in that statement.

      • peacockdawson says:


    • Sara says:

      I have a friend who never got over the impression she got of Donna in this episode. She won't even watch the other episodes w/ Donna as a companion.

  88. illusclaire says:

    He is stroppy like a child, flailing because he doesn't get his way even though he's sooo important. It kind of works in a technical, pan-Doctor assessment/comparison/journey sense, but maaaan does it make him no fun to watch. For me.

  89. feanna says:

    I thik the Doctor decribed the christmas robots when they first appeared as (and now I can't think of the English word, those small fish that follow the bif fish/sharks around and clean them by feeding) so I took them as independent with their presence indicating that something big was also in the vincinity. (As they seem to feed off energy, or something, like the regeneration energy from the last part and the huon particles here.)

    I think it's worth considering that the people who live on earth in Doctor who are all familiar with the idea that aliens exist. Not everybody might believe it, but most people DO. They saw the cybermen and the daleks and other stuff. So, a flying TARDIS is not everyday, but not as inexplicable as it would be should it happen on the world we live in.

    Same thing, at least a little, goes for Donna's disappearance. I also took it to mean that beyond her immeadiate family, those people don't really care about Donna (her fiance certainly didn't.)

  90. scififan04 says:

    Hearts to Donna! I loved her in this episode, but that reveal at the end of Doomsday made me cringe at first. Now I just smile.

  91. Maddi says:

    Grace, the Eighth Doctor's companion in the TV Movie (or TVM as you will probably see it referred to), actually asked him to stay with her when he invited her along.

    I love Grace.

  92. Hypatia_ says:

    Damn work for making me late to the party again. OH WELL, I'M GONNA COMMENT ANYWAY. 'Cause I love this episode. I'm not a big fan of the plot, or of the Racnoss Empress, though I do find her kind of funny ("KIIIIIILL THIS LITTLE CHATTERING DOCTOR-MAN!"). I wonder if she has trouble digesting all that scenery. But impossible to take seriously.

    The homicidal Christmas decorations schtick is a bit old, I'm not sure why they felt they had to use it again. Also, whenever anyone says "huon particles" I hear "huron", which, what with all the Christmas stuff, makes "The Huron Carol" starts playing in my head. This is confusing and distracting.

    The TARDIS flying along the road=awesome. Silly, but awesome.

    The Doctor seeing reminders of Rose everywhere, with Donna inadvertently rubbing it in was so very sad. Honestly, I think that's why he massacred the Racnoss, he'd been pushed too close to the edge, and with the Doctor, that's really bad thing. It doesn't excuse it, but it does explain it. And it's scary.

    However, around 95% of my love for this episode is Donna. Seriously, I cannot stress my adoration for her enough. I really, really wish she'd gone with the Doctor, because someone like her is exactly what he needed then. Someone who's strong, doesn't put up with bullshit, and is willing to call him out (or just slap him) when he needs it. And frankly, that's something Ten needs quite often. Someone to stop him.

  93. grlgoddess says:

    I vaguely remember watching this ep before I knew anything about Doctor Who. I was flipping through the channels, and saw a big blue box thing bouncing off a car on a highway. Nothing else was on, so I watched it, wtfing the whole time (What is that giant spider thing? Who's that blonde chick he keeps flashbacking to? Just what?). Now, though, I'm fairly certain it's my favourite RTD Christmas special. Donna stan fo life, yo.

  94. pica_scribit says:

    I do like this episode. Not so much the Racnoss, but it's rarely the alien plot that does it for me. Doctor who tells wonderfully human stories, and Donna's is one of those.

    I wonder if the Doctor ever told Rose the name of his home planet? I feel like there is a connection between Rose's departure and his ability to finally mention Gallifrey by name. Like the shock of the new loss helped him come to terms with the old. And then at the end when he chokes up saying Rose's name…. Tears forever.

    I think I'm going to go and watch Torchwood even if you're not, Mark. It's about time I gave it another chance.

  95. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I recorded this episode on my TV but it stopped recording before it reached the end, so I'm off to find the transcript. πŸ™

    I liked that the woman who was looking at Donna with dagger-eyes as she walks down the aisle is the same woman who's dancing with Lance at the non-wedding reception. And how the Doctor asks Donna if Lance has a zipper on his head.

    The first time I heard it, I thought the spider-people's name was "Ragnok," one of the goblins from Harry Potter. I wanted to find the Empress scary, but her dialogue was far too corny, and I was too distracted by the fact that her main two eyes are too human compared to the other four, which do nothing but blink occasionally.

  96. _thirty2flavors says:

    This is actually probably my favourite Christmas special. That's not meant to be a bearer of bad news for the others, since most people probably disagree with me, I just find something about it so fun. Donna is awesome, Ten is sad about Rose, other stuff I can't get into. I like that the totally ridiculous, ridiculous plot contrasts with the ~srs character stuff. IDK I just find it so fun, haters gonna hate etc.

    • Karen says:

      It's definitely my favorite of the Christmas specials. Mostly because well, you know.


      Where is my gif of that scene when I need it?

  97. Danielle says:

    Russel T Davies sneers in the face of your confusion. Actually expecting coherency in the plot, and for people's actions to make sense? You sad little fanboy, don't you know this is Doctor Who? He doesn't HAVE to bother making sure it makes sense! You need to get a life, spending all your time WHINING about a CHILDREN'S TV SHOW on the INTERNET. Anyway, it's totally awesome and all the PROPER fans love it. The Doctor said "Gallifrey", didn't he? What more do you want?

    Of course, this is coming from a man who writes live-action Doctor Who fanfiction for a living and has a life-sized Dalek in his front room. Keep the above in mind over the next few series.

  98. DLXian says:

    Smith and Jones… Smith and Jones… Smith and Jones… can’t wait for next companion.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Isn't this a spoiler?

      • nyssaoftraken74 says:

        Not really. It's only the title of the next episode and the fact that there will be a new companion, which is obvious since he doesn't have one at the end of this story. OK, maybe saying `can't wait` is *technically* a spoiler, but then I *always* `can't wait` for the next episode. Downvoting seems harsh.

  99. jonni13 says:

    I've learnt that the things that make me roll my eyes and say "pur-LEEESE!" are the things that have my kids bouncing up and down and squealing (ahem tardis car chase, silly monsters), so oh well, I guess there's something for everyone…
    Good to see lots of Aussies online today! Happy Australia Day to you all \o/
    (Mark, Australia Day is kind of like thanksgiving I think, except with sweltering heat, sausages out on the BBQ, beer and the JJJ hottest 100 cranked on the radio…. oh god Aussies are so CLASSY!)

  100. GoddessMER says:

    I haven't weeded through all 200+ comments on here, but I wanted to give my thought on the wedding reception.

    You did hit on it, briefly, when you said thusly:
    "[Donna is] someone who would normally be uninterested in the world around her"

    Right there. Donna is selfish (in a very different way) then Rose is. She's crass, she's loud, she's rude and she's crude. And I honestly think that not many people (including her "friends & family") like her very much. And THAT is why they had the reception without her. She disappeared, thought it was some, stupid stunt that she pulled for attention, and then went and had the party anyway.

    I think it honestly says more about DONNA then the rest of the self serving wankers she happens to be related to.

    And yes, it is often glossed over how powerful The Doctor really is. So, I liked the fact that they had a HUMAN have to talk him down and remind him about what matters most.


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