The Runaway Bride
Donna: That’s not even a proper word! You’re just saying things!
Production Code: 3.X.
Doctor Who Season: Between S28 and S29 (Christmas Special).
Story Number: 178.
This was only the second Doctor Who Christmas Special broadcast…
Unlike the previous one, and like the one that came after, it stands alone from the surrounding seasons. (Never mind for the moment that this episode actually introduced the character of Donna, the main companion of RTD’s fourth season.)
Like the Special that was 12 months after this it’s fashioned as much as a Christmastime movie as a Doctor Who episode, and if Voyage of the Damned‘s model was The Poseidon Adventure, then this one’s model seems like the screwball Hollywood comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. The clashing personalities, both the Doctor and Donna are exasperated with each other, there’s even a taxi chase.
This 60 minutes isn’t that standalone though, as there’s a strand of the story that refers back to the fact that the Doctor has just lost Rose to the other universe. Like last Christmas, there’s an original song (the this time Love Don’t Roam) and as the wedding reception carries on we peek into the Doctor’s thoughts and see an excerpt of New Earth and Rose.
For comedy purposes the character of Donna is much more abrasive, and the drama of RTD Season 4 would be more than a year away in television terms.
For such a light-hearted romp, the climax of the story is all the more surprising for its dark tone (though that the Doctor is essentially washing giant spiders down a giant plughole with water adds a fantastical dimension to it). With the previous Christmas story, this one, and the one broadcast after, curiously for a time of goodwill: it seems to be the time that the Tenth Doctor’s cold iron core is shown. (Whether than be through scenes of tangerines or plugholes or asking people if they’ve “got a problem with that?”)
Donna’s exhortation at the end to “find someone” re-emphasises the lonely element of the running theme of the “lonely god”.