The Runaway Bride
Roots: The fourth Doctor and Sarah audio Exploration Earth. Donna is quite similar to some of Catherine Tate's own comedy characters. The Racnoss may have been partly inspired by Shelob from Lord of the Rings, and her ship is modelled on traditional depictions of the Star of Bethlehem. Slade's Here it is, Merry Christmas is playing at the disco, and Jingle Bells forms part of the soundtrack. Donna mentions a film that sounds like an adaptation of Journey to the Centre of the Earth. There are mentions of You've Been Framed, Pringles, Brad [Pitt] and Angelina [Jolie], Posh [Spice], the X-Factor, the Atkins diet, and Feng Shui.
Goofs: It is blatantly obvious that some of the exterior scenes are filmed at the height of summer, especially the cash machine scene and the car chase.
It's somewhat convenient that the pilot fish just happen to be in the area where the Doctor and Donna are hunting for a taxi.
How does Donna know that her holiday in Spain coincided with the Battle of Canary Wharf the Doctor's talking about?
If Huon particles need something living to catalyse inside, why risk using a human subject who could potentially walk out on you, when you could just used caged animals?
It's a bit of a co-incidence that Torchwood drilled a hole to the centre of the Earth right next to the lab where they were making Huon particles.
The Doctor says that he's going further back than he's ever been before. So he's clearly forgotten his trips to the early years of the universe/galaxy in The Edge of Destruction and Castrovalva, seeing the origin of the universe (as mentioned in Destiny of the Daleks), and the origin of the Earth in the Exploration Earth radio show, and probably a few more trips that I've temporarily forgotten. [He's referring to his current incarnation.]
The formation of the Earth seems to happen too fast to be realistic. [The TARDIS is speeding up time for its occupants relative to the outside, to give them a better view.]
If the "pilot fish" are such good shots that there's no chance of them hitting the bride, as the Empress says, then why do so many of their shots completely miss the TARDIS?
Why are the Army, rather than the RAF, attacking the Racnoss ship? Surely the air force would be faster, and be better equipped for the task. Also, if the other Racnoss ship is capable of withstanding the pressures at the centre of the Earth for 4.6 billion years, why is the Empress's ship destroyed so easily? [There's a comment about the Empress's Huon energy being depleted, but why would that affect the strength of her ship's hull?] And is it really flying low enough to be within range of the tanks?
In [TV]The Underwater Menace[/TV}, Professor Zaroff's plan to drain the oceans into the Earth's core would have heated the water enough to destroy the Earth. Even if we can assume that he would have drained a lot more water, surely there should have been a similar effect with this hole. And it's quite lucky that the hole missed the pockets of Stahlman's gas and of lava we saw in Inferno, though we can probably assume that there are areas of the planet which contain neither.
Donna claims that she became a widow during this story, but she never actually married Lance.
Technobabble: The Doctor's speculation on what pulled Donna into the TARDIS includes some sort of subatomic connection, something like a temporal field, something something pulling her into a moment with a chronon shell, and something macrobudding in her DNA, or interior matrix.
Standard Forced Eigen-tagged Quantum Entanglement.
Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: "Only a madman talks to thin air. And trust me, you don't want to make me mad."
Memorable Moments: The TARDIS takes part in a car chase.
Continuity: The Doctor says that it is physically impossible for a human to just appear in the TARDIS whilst it is in flight. The Doctor comments that the TARDIS is protecting him and Donna from the vacuum of space outside the ship. The TARDIS digests something as a result of Donna's presence on-board. He uses the sonic screwdriver to give Donna a free call from a phone box, and to get money out of a cash machine (c.f. The Long Game), and to shower money into the street. He also uses it to use a mobile phone to discover that HC Clements is owned by Torchwood within a couple of seconds, and in conjunction with the disco sound system to disable half a dozen pilot fish. He also uses it to activate the Huon particles in Donna, and use them to call the TARDIS, as well as to break the Racnoss web in just the right way to make Donna swing over his way. The TARDIS is able to chase a taxi by flying, and the Doctor uses some string to be able to operate it whilst standing in the doorway during this chase. The Doctor says that he can't go back on someone's personal timeline. He has a biodamper, a ring that can hide somebody from various means of detection. He can recognise Huon energy from how it appears on a video recording. He believes that Torchwood was destroyed during Doomsday. His pockets are bigger on the inside (the first time this has been explicitly stated on-screen, though it has been mentioned in a number of novels), and he mentions his home world of Gallifrey for the first time in the new series. He uses the TARDIS to make it snow by "basic atmospheric excitation".
Donna is getting married to Lance, in St Mary's, Haydon Road, Chiswick. She has a feud with Nerys. On her first day at school, she was sent home for biting. She hates Christmas, and her honeymoon is in Morocco. She is a secretary, a temp at HC Clements, having started six months ago, after two years at a double glazing firm. She was scuba-diving during Doomsday. She can't point to Germany on the map. She doesn't join the Doctor because she thinks she couldn't handle the lifestyle. She also thinks that sometimes the Doctor needs somebody to stop him.
The Doctor describes the "pilot fish" as basic roboscavengers, and as mercenaries. They have remote control systems.
HC Clements does security systems - entry codes, ID cards, and the like. The company is actually owned entirely by the Torchwood Institute, who bought it up 23 years ago.
Huon energy hasn't been in existence for billions of years. The Doctor's people got rid of Huon particles, they unravelled the atomic structure. They did this because Huon particles are deadly. Huon particles are inert, and need something living to catalyse inside.
Torchwood had a lab underneath the Thames flood barrier, which was manufacturing Huon particles in liquid form. It was linked by tunnel to the HC Clements building [and probably also to their Canary Wharf base.]
The Empress of the Racnoss claims that she was called to Earth after the "secret heart" was uncovered - referring to a hole that Torchwood drilled down into the centre of the Earth by laser. The one we see is the "last" of the Racnoss. The Racnoss lived billions of years ago in the Dark times. They were carnivores and omnivores, who devoured entire planets. They are born starving. Way back in history, the fledgling empires went to war against them, and they were wiped out. A fleeing Racnoss ship is the first large "rock" which begins the process that leads to the formation of the Earth. The Gallifreyans "murdered" the Racnoss.
The order for the tanks to attack came from a Mr Saxon.
Links: This follows on from the final scene of Doomsday, and there are several mentions of the Doctor losing Rose, and the Doctor mentions the "battle of Canary Wharf from that story. The name "the Battle of Canary Wharf" comes from Everything Changes. The Doctor asks if Lance is a bit overweight with a zip round his forehead (a reference to the Slitheen family from Aliens of London/World War Three, The Monsters Inside, and Boom Town). The "pilot fish" previously appeared in The Christmas Invasion. The Doctor and Donna's exchange about a secret base underneath a major London landmark is a nod to Rose and The Christmas Invasion. We see the extrapolator (Boom Town, The Parting of the Ways, which looks like it is being absorbed into the TARDIS).
Extras: This story has an episode of Doctor Who Confidential. The BBC made a commentary track available online, and with the red button during the digital repeats.
Location: The TARDIS. St Mary's Church, Chiswick, a nearby reception venue, a high rooftop in London, HC Clements' office, the Thames flood barrier, a tunnel between the two, a Racnoss spaceship in Earth orbit. It's Christmas Eve, and the Doctor thinks that it's 2007. The time when the Earth first starts to form, 4.6 Billion years.
The Bottom Line: '4H. Sums you up.' It felt like a bit of a mess really. The episode revolves around the new one-shot companion, but for the first fifteen minutes, she's written as an absolutely beastly character, and there's absolutely nothing to like about her. Unlike the previous year's story, the plot works as a coherent whole, rather than being two halves with little connection to each other. However, it is still pretty weak, and full of a few too many co-incidences for my liking. Having said that, the Racnoss, when she appeared, was a fantastic villain. And, as a fan of Gallifreyan mythology, I loved the scenes tying her in to the pre-history of the Time Lords. The TARDIS chase scene was, as everybody says, pretty impressive as well. All in all, it does a good job of light entertainment, once you get over the initial irritation with Donna, but don't analyse it too closely.