Ahh, Christmas 2006 – seems like such a long time ago! I was an avid listener of the DWO WhoCast, at the time fronted by Paul and Seb. I remember having just watched The Runaway Bride and opening my keyboard in a fit of rage, and banging out a message on keyboard – hard enough to break some of the keys!
Anyway, I came across my review the other day, and thought you might like to read it – and four years later, I stand by it! So here it is – feel free to let me know what you think.
Have a great Christmas and New Year!
It is always with some trepidation that I sit down to watch a Russell T Davies scripted episode – unfortunately he is just as capable of writing a breathtakingly excellent script as he is of complete drivel. Where does the Runaway Bridge fit into that continuum? Well, in my opinion, somewhere in the middle. Not quite as dreadful as New Earth but a world away from Doomsday.
Donna’s character was more or less Rose and Jackie all rolled into one. Loud and gobby balanced out by a good heart. There were times when I really thought she was going to say ‘am I bovvered’, and it wouldn’t have seemed out of place in the slightest! It was a shame to waste such a talented actress by giving Tate the personality of a character you would expect to turn up in her sketch show.
My biggest problem with this episode is that underneath it all, it was just re-run of Rose. A melancholic doctor (disturbed this time by Roses’ departure rather than the time-war) meets a blonde airhead with a black boyfriend – detects an alien menace that is lurking under the Thames Barrier (rather than the London Eye), destroys the monster by flushing her down the plug hole and then sets himself up for an emotional goodbye. Meanwhile, more deadly Christmas trees and more robot Santa’s.
Coupled with the fact that that London has been subject to yet another alien invasion at Christmas time, the episode begins to feel a bit like a formulaic pantomime rather than an innovative and interesting story. RTD almost apologises to the audience for regurgitating the same scripts through the conversation the Doctor has with Donna –
“Big Spaceship over London last year?”,
“Daleks and Cybermen at Canary Wharf?”
“(bovvered?!) I was in Spain”.
Donna is the voice of the audience as RTD would like it to be – ‘yes we’ve seen it before, but we don’t mind’. Well, personally I do mind a bit, and perhaps it might be a good idea to give the writing of next years Christmas script to a different writer to add a little originality.
More worryingly, this episode did not look anything like Christmas – it was filmed in the height of summer and wasn’t it obvious?! The scene on top of the building where the Doctor gives his jacket to Donna looked like one of the hottest summers ever! Neither Donna or the Doctor so much as shivered!
However, the mention of Gallifrey was most welcome and hopefully introduces the name for more common use in series three. With all the rumour flying around about the Face of Boe’s secret concerning Time Lords, series three is shaping up nicely.
David Tennant was excellent in this episode, and he really has developed the Doctor’s character his own way – the contrast to the way Eccleston played the role is huge. I am really beginning to look forward to see him operate in a relationship that will have a different dynamic to his ‘friendship’ with Rose.
The script was again – as per usual for any RTD script – punctuated by pop culture and innuendo (“they’re bigger on the inside” when staring at Donna’s chest!) the religious denouncement – (the Empress of Racnoss spaceship uncannily resembling the Star of David) and asking the audience to get emotionally involved with characters that are little more than caricatures.
That said, the Tardis chase sequence was hugely enjoyable – even more so when you hear on the podcast that they didn’t even close the road! The Empress looked great despite her lack of movement, and the dark side of the Doctors character was portrayed incredibly effectively. The mentioning of Rose was not overdone and the flashback scenes added an emotional level to the episode which RTD usually tries to achieve unsubtly through dialogue.
An entertaining episode, but one that I think kids will enjoy more than the fanbase – and hey, it’s Christmas so perhaps it was pitched really well.
A rating of 3 out of 5 for me.