2006’s Christmas Special to whet our appetites for the third series which the BBC will start showing in the spring. Just how special was it?

Primary Cast and Crew

David Tennant as the Doctor
Catherine Tate as Donna Noble
Sarah Parish as the Empress
Don Gilet as Lance Bennett

Written by Russell T. Davies

Directed by Euros Lyn

Originally aired on the 25th of December 2006 on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis

A woman vanishes from her own wedding and appears on the TARDIS in apparent defiance of physics, leading the Doctor to discover a terrible relic of a past war buried in the centre of the Earth.

High Points

  • Many of Donna’s comments on the Doctor, and the Doctor’s responses, were extremely entertaining
  • The Doctor’s pockets are also bigger inside than out

Low Points

  • No explanation was given for the apparent involvement of Torchwood
  • Using the robot Santas again just felt like they wanted to add something extra which was Christmassy, rather than anything useful in the plot
  • The only real connection to Christmas is that the episode takes place a few days before Christmas Day
  • It’s inconceivable that Donna could not even have heard of the Cybermen or the Sycorax even if she did somehow manage to avoid directly experiencing them, although this does bring to mind the Sylvester McCoy quote from Remembrance of the Daleks about the human capacity for self-delusion

The Scores

Donna’s major plot twist – the discovery of Lance’s true colours – was distressingly predictable, and plunged an already unoriginal story into the depths which it wasn’t salvaged from when the concluding battle turned out to be almost exactly the same as that at the end of Rose – the ninth Doctor’s first story. Two out of six for originality.

The effects were a bit disappointing. Some nice paintings of space but not much else except for the shots which showed the TARDIS’ interior being very much bigger on the inside when the door is open. The Empress’ look was very odd, especially as her extra eyes didn’t have whites, but the actress’ eyes did. The TARDIS flying down the road looked ridiculously composited. Three out of six.

I found the story dull and unimaginative, with an irritating plot hole regarding the use of Torchwood facilities. Everything also happens far too quickly. Three out of six.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate put in good acting performances, but the rest of the cast seemed fairly weak. Four out of six.

Emotional response is mostly laughter at the funny parts rather than any real concern about what’s going on. Two out of six.

The production team did a good job making the setting look like a town in the UK at Christmas time, and camera work and sound were generally good. Four out of six.

Overall I found this episode rather disappointing and I hope it doesn’t bode ill for series three. David Tennant makes an excellent Doctor, but they really need to inject some decent stories into the next series. I’m really having misgivings about the one story, one episode format now. Three out of six.

The Runaway Bride therefore receives a not very grand total of twenty-one out of forty-two.