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The Runaway Bride

ShowDoctor Who / Series III / Episode 1
First Broadcast2007/06/28 - 20:35 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDr Who Guide
Next EpisodeSmith and Jones

The Doctor finally returns in Series III. The new episode follows on immediately where the last episode left off. It was played as the Christmas Special in England, but we had to wait until the end of June. As befits a Christmas Special, it's big, loud and funny. Catherine Tate as the Doctor's companion (of sorts) is hilarious.

The story itself has many great moments. There's the car chase scene with the TARDIS bouncing along the freeway and with the doors open. Donna accusing the Doctor of making up words, like TARDIS. Donna slapping the Doctor when he's babbling on. In fact, pretty much anything from Donna where she's sending up the series. There's a poignant moment when Donna finds Rose's shirt and the Doctor speaks of the friend that he lost. The Doctor manages to hide a remote control in his pocket because they're bigger on the inside (implying his pockets are dimensionally transcendental like the TARDIS).

The story itself focuses on the Rachnoss, an ancient and evil race, that the Time Lords wiped out (or thought they had). They hid a remnant of themselves as the first rock around which the Earth formed, no doubt somehow influencing life on Earth such that spiders (arachnids) are part or Earth's ecology - the Empress resembles a spider. Now the Empress wants to free her children and rebuild her race.

At the denouement, the Doctor offers the Empress a way out. He'll take her and her children somewhere else. She declines. The Doctor makes it clear that what happens next is her own doing. He drowns the children. Interestingly, the Doctor is stony-faced, lacking in compassion, while this takes place. Donna calls out to him and tells him he can stop now. The implication that perhaps the Doctor is not as compassionate as he once was (cf: "I used to have so much mercy." from School Reunion.) The Empress escapes to her ship, but she is now defenseless, and her spaceship is blown to bits by tanks. Resolution. Except for the fact they drained the Thames :)

Donna declines the Doctor's offer to come with him, but she says the Doctor should travel with someone as he sometimes needs someone to stop him. The departure of the TARDIS at the very end is different. Rather than simply fading from view, it shoots up into the sky. (This may have been done once or twice before, but it was quite noticeable here.)

[Update:] A day or two later I realised one bit of dialog jarred a little. The tank commander at the very end says something like: "Orders from Mr. ??? Fire at will." I didn't quite catch the name. The dialog was so unnecessary that I think it significant. Perhaps the tag line for Series III. I'm determined to spot it quickly and on my own.