Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Sunday, December 31, 2006

With this Time Lord ... I thee wed ...

So!! Finally I bring you my thoughts on "The Runaway Bride", the crowning glory of Christmas Day television, if not Christmas itself! (Oh dear, I'm being rather controversial now...) And the verdict? Well, I enjoyed it a lot on the whole. Although admittedly I was watching it whilst surrounded by family playing with their Xmas pressies and chattering away, and I'd also had a couple of glasses of sherry. Also I've only viewed it once so far. So my judgement may be slightly impaired and a second viewing is probably required.

Nevertheless this was a good romp that moved along at a cracking pace, yet with its quieter, more reflective moments too. However, although there were lots of things to appreciate in "Bride" I don't think I'd quite rank it as truly "classic" Dr Who. As this was a Christmas Day episode, the production team were obviously aiming for as broad an appeal as possible, with killer Santas, exploding Christmas tree baubles and the perennial Catherine Tate all thrown into the mix. And the baddie, the Empress of Racnoss, played by an unrecognisable Sarah Parish (that's her above!) was a bit too much of a pantomime villain for me, with her loud screeching and threats to take over the Earth. But again, as a Christmas episode, family entertainment was the name of the game, for better or for worse ...

Criticisms aside, what was to like about "Bride"? Well, as you might have gathered, I am a fan of Catherine Tate and was pleased when I originally heard she was going to star in the Special, whilst feeling slightly anxious as to whether or not she'd measure up. As Donna, the bride of the story's title, we saw her from the very first scene, as she is mysteriously whisked away from the scene of her wedding to re-appear in the TARDIS control room, much to the astonishment of the Dr. Ms Tate's screaming, as she "dematerialises" from the church, was I thought too reminiscent of one of her comedy show characters (the nervy, neurotic one who screams at the slightest thing). And I did find her shouting and general loudness in the first part of the story ("Where am I?" "What the hell is this place?" "I'm supposed to be getting married!!") grating and overdone (played mainly for laughs). However, I guess anyone would be slightly alarmed if they suddenly found themselves in the control room of an alien spacecraft when they were supposed to be walking down the aisle. So perhaps we should grant old Donna a bit of slack. Once she'd (slightly!) calmed down, Donna's sarcastic persona was utilised to good effect and her rapport with the Dr worked well, the two sparking off one another effectively, with some great dialogue between them. I loved the bit when Donna revealed she'd missed the arrival of the Sycorax last Christmas because she'd been hungover, and the Dalek/Cybermen invasion as she was in Spain scuba-diving!

As for David Tennant, he was on good form as the Doc and actually seemed more restrained than last season. Whilst serious and humorous at the right times, I found him a lot less manic in "Bride". I was pleased to see his sometimes annoying face pulling and silly mannerisms were very much subdued and overall David T comes across as much more comfortable and natural in the role now. There were also some nice references to the recently departed Rose and the Dr's sadness at her loss. I liked the brief inclusion of Rose flashback sequences and the Dr's grief was palpable but not overstated.

Perhaps I was a bit too hard on Sarah Parish. Although very much in the pantomime villain mould, she made a fair stab at the role of the Empress and did come across as scarey. Her costume and features certainly added to the frightening factor, rendering her truly hideous and alien and were an excellent achievement on the part of the special effects/make-up teams. However it was a shame that the Empress was confined to her chamber for the duration of the story and we didn't see her more "mobile", it kind of diminished her power as a genuine threat. I liked her spacecraft though, and it was surely no coincidence that it was shaped like a Christmas star, looking very pretty in the night sky above London until it started shooting everyone!

There were lots of good visuals and some great scenes as well. One of the definite highlights had to be the motorway chase sequence - in which the Dr attempted to rescue the kidnapped Donna from a speeding taxi. The sight of the TARDIS giving pursuit, flying down the motorway and bouncing in and out of cars, and Donna's reaction "You are kidding me" were hilarious (but not hilarious in a bad way). And the bit when the Dr tries to get Donna to jump the gap between the taxi window and the TARDIS was exciting, nail-biting stuff, worthy of any action / disaster movie. A pity then that this scene came relatively early on in the story. I thought it would have worked better at the climax of the episode.

Another effective - and actually very disturbing - scene was the one in which the Dr flooded the Empress' spiders nest, thus killing all of her offspring. The juxtaposition of the Dr's impassive face, as the water pours down soaking him and everything else, with the Empress' heart-rending screams of "My babies!" was chilling. And problematic - so the Dr had no choice but to wipe out the Racnoss to stop them taking over the Earth, but is genocide on this scale morally right? The implication at the end of story was that left on his own, the Dr is capable of doing the "unthinkable" i.e. wiping out an alien race, but with someone else around it will temper these tendencies and prevent him from doing the unthinkable more often. Mmm ... not sure what I think about that! Better get yourself a new companion pronto, Doc!

The ending was nicely done with the TARDIS creating a flurry of snow and Donna declining to join the Dr on his travels (gasp!)

And to keep us all in the mood, we got a nice teaser trailer for Season Three with some interesting clips - some brief glimpses of new companion Martha Jones, Shakespeare, lots of new aliens and ... the black Dalek!! Last seen in "Army of Ghosts" / "Doomsday" it's now a dead cert that the Daleks are coming back in the new series, in a story set in 1930s New York. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I fully agree that their resurrection in the new Dr Who has been a success but I think it's now getting to the point where they're being over-used. Besides which, WHY did the Beeb have to give the game away about their return? With a forthcoming episode entitled "Daleks in Manhattan" it's rather, erm, obvious, isn't it? (Oddly enough the Black Dalek's name is Sec, leading to the opinion that "Sec's In The City" would have been a better episode title, he he he...) Ah well. Apparently the return of another old enemy is on the cards, so I hope the Beeb / Russell T Davies can keep their traps shut about that one ...

Anyway! All in all, I'd give "The Runaway Bride" 3.5 out of 5. Oooh! So precise aren't I? For me it's strengths lay in the chacterisation rather than plot with some great interchanges between the Dr and Donna. Overall it delivered the Xmas goods very nicely indeed.

What did you all think?


  • At 6:00 pm , Blogger Minge said...

    I thought it was fabulous. Brilliant review, hen.

  • At 11:06 pm , Blogger matty said...

    Okay. I REEAAAAALLLY need to see this! Ugh! I can't wait.

    ...I should also find a way to become familiar with Dr. Who.

    ...am I to be getting married????

  • At 3:16 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Cheers Minge love!

    And Matty - I'm sure it will get shown on US tv very soon ... as well as coming out on DVD. And marriage? Who knows what 2007 will bring for you!!

  • At 4:32 am , Blogger matty said...

    You know -- we don't have TV. So, I won't get to watch it that way. It will have to be a DVD! ...but I need to see some older Dr. Who so I understand the concept.

    Never say never ( I learned a lot from Romeo Void ) but I don't think I will ever get "married" ...I don't know any happy marriages so I don't want to curse me and B!

  • At 9:20 am , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Matty - So you watch DVDs on your computer then? At a rough guess? Yep, a few older Dr Who stories would probably establish a foundation of knowledge, as it were. Although thinking about it, you'd probably be fine just starting off with the new series as it does explain everything anyway e.g. who the Dr is, what the TARDIS is ... and you don't really need any prior understanding to get into it. Goodness, I'm good at contradicting myself, aren't I? I suppose the value of watching the old series is understanding the show's heritage and origins etc etc. And the old Dr Who does have a charm of its own with its cheap special effects, low budget and so forth. You can really see how production values have changed.

    However if you just wanna start off with the current version, there's a whole new generation of viewers who weren't even born when the original was shown, so they're in the same boat too!

    Hope you liked that lengthy response!!


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