Thursday, January 27, 2011

"The Runaway Bride"

It's often been my opinion that it takes effort and deliberation to craft something truly dreadful, and "The Runaway Bride" must have been one of the crowning glories of RTD's work in this area on par with his series finales. Tedious, small-minded, unoriginal and meaningless, this episode reinforces further, after "The Christmas Invasion", that the concept of a Christmas special and what it should aim to achieve is completely unsuitable for Doctor Who. Ridiculous light-hearted fluff may work for sitcoms but this is a science fiction programme and debasing it to the level where it is intended for overfed drunk people lazing sleepily on the couch on Christmas night is simply idiotic and it's unpleasant to think of Doctor Who being turned into such a populist-pandering piece of 'fun culture' obsessed with trends and replacing integrity with cheap laughs and needless spectacle for an artistically bankrupt society, and in doing so only exacerbates that state of affairs rather than remedying the problem.
Needless to say the plot is absolute nonsense. What are huon particles? Why are they re-energising the Racnoss? It's completely obvious that RTD was sitting around and thought "You know what'd be funny? A bride at her wedding being accidentally teleported onto the TARDIS. Now let me just think of some hokey bollocks to drag a whole plot out of that." The idea that they need to be 'catalysed' inside a human being has I'm fairly certain absolutely no precedent in physics and if the Empress is an ancient creature with the technology to extract these forbidden particles from river water then surely she could simulate the organic process just as easily. Of course brides on their wedding days aren't the only people to endure stress, either. It's all just cobbled together for the sake of set pieces - bride arriving in the TARDIS, chase with a taxi, big spider, spaceship over London for the third time in less than two series' worth of episodes.
Speaking of the taxi chase, it's quite cool to see the TARDIS flying in real space but it's absolutely pathetic that the robotic Santas and killer christmas trees are brought back again. They were bad enough in the first place. It is pure cheese not assisted by the unbridled hamminess of the Empress. Not only does it continue RTD's unbelievably unimaginative fixation upon anthropomorphic animals, although in this case it is the body of a spider and the head of a person instead of the other way around, but the Empress is such an annoying, ridiculously hammy villain with not a shred of seriousness that she's up there with John Lumic and the Slitheen on the scale of absurdly over-the-top moustache-twirling antagonists. I also find it quite dissatisfying that this episode suggests the Racnoss as being responsible for the creation of the Earth. It seems like something of significance is just thrown in and I don't know if that's to reinforce RTD's pseudo-existential vibe or if it's just laziness. The idea of a drill to the centre of the Earth and a flood of water wiping out the Racnoss is equally nonsensical and if the 'dark side of the Doctor' which is seen in Rose's absence involves him killing off some horrid, hammy spider children then I'm afraid I don't really mind.
At least Lance was a bad guy instead of being just another bogus love interest who ends up being cowardly and pathetic compared to the Doctor. We're also introduced to the title character, Donna Noble who, as we will eventually come to learn, has left the Library. Sure, she's pretty annoying, but besides that you don't really care because everything else is such dross that it all sort of coalesces into a semi-comatose blur. There's even a bit where they ride on Segways for absolutely no reason because RTD clearly just found it to be cool. It's absurd, meaningless and riddled with pointless elements like this. The most significant event is probably that Gallifrey gets name-dropped by the Doctor for the first time in the new series and is played up for absurd significance even though we went there all the time in the Classic Series. Yes, there was a Time War and so on but really for someone hell-bent on bringing Doctor Who kicking and screaming into the Twenty-first Century no matter the cost RTD seems to rely very heavily on Classic Series concepts and monsters to achieve a lot of his impact.
Regardless, the entire thing is a waste of time and it feels like it shouldn't have been made at all. Until they could aim towards achieving something significant through utilising a Christmas Special it only serves as a very striking example of how brainless the show was in this era.

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