And now to December 2006 and the triumphantly silly “The Runaway Bride.” It’s so silly and fun for about the first two-thirds of its running time that it’s pretty easy to overlook the far less interesting climax once the alien plot is revealed and the alien menace, a big spider-woman called the Empress of the Racnoss, starts yelling. The resolution is incredibly odd. I decided the only way this giant hole “to the center of the earth” makes any sense at all is if it really just goes down ten miles or so to some waiting nursery of spider-babies, because all the water in the Thames would not even come close to flooding a tunnel anywhere near as deep as they claim it is. However, I did appreciate Donna making a shout-out to At the Earth’s Core and figuring that there must be dinosaurs involved with this ridiculous scheme.
So this is Catherine Tate’s first appearance as Donna Noble, with Jacqueline King as her mother Sylvia. Donna suffers a remarkably awful six or seven hours on what’s meant to be one of the happiest days of her life, and she bellows hilariously through them until the bottom falls out of her world. I like everything about Donna, especially her strange friendship with a girl named Nerys when neither of them actually like each other, but it must be said that her best days are ahead of her. Donna was hungover and comatose during the events of “The Christmas Invasion” and obliviously scuba diving in Spain six months ago when the Cybermen and Daleks were shooting at each other. For anybody keeping track, this seems to be the fourth major alien attack on London, two of which spilled over to the rest of the planet, in eighteen months of Earth-time. For the Doctor, it’s very, very soon after the events of “Doomsday,” because he’s an emotional mess who needs a shave.
Of course the kid enjoyed the heck out of this, but naturally his favorite scene was the wild one where the Doctor manages to steer the TARDIS into the traffic of a London highway. If Tennant and Tate’s bickering – “Good luck, Lance” – wasn’t even more entertaining, I’d agree with him. I love it as much now as when we first saw it. All the business with Huon particles and spider-people may not hold my interest, but with the rest of the story this good, why complain?
And with that, we’ll put Doctor Who back on the shelf to keep things at least moderately fresh – we do still have six new Jodie Whittaker episodes in the Sundays to come – but we’ll be back for the third series in March. Stay tuned!