Xmas Special – THE RUNAWAY BRIDE

For the first time since 1989, an episode of Doctor Who was aired without Billie Piper as Rose. The instant chemistry between the Doctor and Donna was so refreshing though as any notion of romance was gone. Murray Gold produced such a fun piece of music that later became Donna’s theme through her return in series four. This special probably wasn’t as good as the previous year’s Christmas instalment, but it’s still an episode that contains festive fun, a scary monster and a good script. I’ve already said that plot holes in Christmas specials are easier to overlook as they are bonus episodes. So to say that Huon particles inside Donna attracted her to the TARDIS is a cheap plot point, would be quite harsh as it was essential to the plot. When she was finally there, the clip of her at the end of Doomsday was quite annoying, however once she got properly started and began to constantly backchat the Doctor, that’s when we were treated to the Doctor and Donna at their best. They had some great scenes in the TARDIS and then later in the streets while Donna was trying to return to the church for her wedding. Seeing the TARDIS physically fly down the motorway to rescue Donna from the taxi being driven by a robot was such an exhilarating scene. It probably was in there just for the trailer, but it was directed and executed perfectly and the CGI was magnificent. The Racnoss was a very well designed villain. She might have been even more frightening if she was portrayed in a less dramatic and pantomime-style fashion. The Webstar design was beautiful too, seeing it hover and fire at London on Christmas Eve is now an iconic scene in Doctor Who Christmas special history. More of the tenth Doctor’s dark side was displayed as he murdered the Racnoss’ children and as we found out later in Turn Left, he desperately needed Donna there to stop him before he went too far. RTD once again got the balance between Christmas and sci-fi just right. Parents couldn’t complain it was too scary for family Christmas Day viewing and hardcore fans couldn’t complain it was too soft for them either. Overall I liked this story, it was simple and enjoyable. 7/10

Episode 1 – SMITH AND JONES

From the first scene, this was a quirky and entertaining series opener that doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. The Doctor randomly approaching an apparent stranger on the street and removing his tie was odd but it was very cleverly resolved later on, a little feature I liked about this story. Murray Gold yet again came up with the goods, his theme for Martha was another fitting piece of music. I liked the setting of the moon. It worked well as it kept the feel of a sci-fi show but the problem still felt very domestic. Early on when there was mass panic, there were some very funny lines where the Doctor rudely dismissed Martha’s quivering colleague. The mystery of why the hospital was on the moon intriguing while it lasted and the Judoon looking for an inter-galactic murderer was a valid reason as to why the building was transported. The Judoon themselves were a perfectly designed creature who performed well as merciless “space police”. Mrs Finnigan was another character who I liked, she struck a good balance between evil and drama in her performance – she was portrayed well by Anne Reid. Seeing Martha’s family was another feature that I welcomed. The first two series of the modern era had close ties to modern day Earth, and Mickey and Jackie were regular characters. To come away from that so suddenly would’ve been too abrupt I think and I’m glad we were introduced to the Jones family, even though we didn’t get to know them as well as we did Mickey and Jackie. It’s not the most epic of episodes but everything is nice and tidy and I really enjoyed watching it. The Judoon chasing Martha and the Doctor through the hospital is my predominant memory from the story. 7/10

Episode 2 – THE SHAKESPEARE CODE

Gareth Roberts penned his first of many humourous and light hearted scripts here in a fantastical historical episode. The late 16th century London sets were designed beautifully, especially the Globe Theatre. I enjoyed the opening exchanges between Martha and the Doctor where Martha was so worried about her presence in the past and asked questions like “What if I kill my grandfather?”. Obviously viewers of the show don’t think like that anymore but it was good to be introduced to a character again so clueless about the laws of time travel. I’m glad Roberts gave the witches a back story and they weren’t just witches. The fact they were a race called the Carrionites and their motive was to revive their sisters and take over the world gave the story some important depth. All the way through, words were used as the Carrionite’s power so it was fitting that William Shakespeare was featured. I enjoyed his role as we found out a lot about him and he was also key to the resolution. Overcoming the Carrionites with the words of William Shakespeare, with a Harry Potter reference thrown in, was a brilliant ending to a great, entertaining story. The only thing I didn’t like was when at times Martha was treated in a second rate way by the Doctor. The scene where Kartha was wracking her brains to help showed the Doctor in a poor light. The way he treated her sometimes overshadowed their relationship. By saying “Rose would know, right now she’d say exactly the the right thing” straight to Martha’s face was so unfair of the Doctor and made me feel sorry for the new companion. Apart from that though, this was everything that’s good about Doctor Who. 8/10 

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