Guess what I've got, Donna? Pockets.
Today was Christmas again. I get to celebrate with the Doctor about every two weeks from now through July. Aside from that, it's been a busy day. My son had a dentist appointment, I had a pile of work plus a hotfix software release, I practiced my clarinet, I staged my home office for some Facebook Live videos to promote my upcoming show in the Orlando Fringe Festival, and I went out for my usual Thursday singing session. I'd say that makes a pretty good day.
But let's get back to Christmas, and the very awesome Donna Noble.
The Runaway Bride
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
After two years of lovey-dovey googly eyes from the Sainted Rose, it was time for a shakeup inside the TARDIS. This Christmas special is particularly significant in that it is the first episode of NuWho to not feature any actors present at the beginning of the revival. For me personally, it was the first one that I watched in near-real time.
The first season with Christopher Eccleston, I watched months after it originally aired because it wasn't broadcast in the United States. The second season, I watched on the Sci-Fi Channel and not only was it months after its British showing, but the episodes were also edited down to fit more commercials.
Starting with this story, and for all of Series Three, I was a Very Bad Boy and torrented a copy of each episode the night they premiered, letting it run overnight and then burning a disc to watch the next morning. I don't feel terribly bad about that, being as I also bought the official DVD release as soon as it came out. I gather there were a significant number of people doing that because the following year the Sci-Fi Channel lost the show, BBC America got it instead, and they made a point of airing it day-and-date with the British premiere. Funny thing: if you make fans wait months, they will pirate it in droves. If you only make them wait five hours, most of them are happy to watch the broadcast. Go figure.
The gist of this story is that Donna Noble is mysteriously transported to the TARDIS control room just as she is walking down the aisle to get married. She is upset she is missing her wedding, and the Doctor is upset that a strange person has suddenly appeared in his ship (and right when he is mourning the loss of Rose, to boot). The beauty of Donna is that she is not wowed or cowed by the TARDIS, nor is she impressed with the Doctor's rapid-fire stream-of-consciousness riffing. Several times over the course of the story she actually slaps him to make him stop talking, and for his part he is nonplused at her behavior after having been spoiled by Rose's fawning for the past two years. It is absolutely delightful.
Ultimately it turns out that the Earth is about to be invaded by the Racnoss, a sort-of spider/centaur Empress who is about to hatch her eggs that have been hidden in the core of the Earth for millennia. Poor Donna discovers that her entire engagement was a sham, that she was duped by her fiance who was in league with the Racnoss Empress and using Donna as a Guinea pig to grow and activate the magical Whatever Particles that cause her to be transported to the TARDIS to begin with (because of Reasons), and which will awaken the spidery brood from the core of the Earth.
Things don't work out well for the Empress, her babies, or for Fiance Lance. Donna also witnesses the Doctor's wrath, and recognizes that he needs traveling companions in order to keep him from going to far. It's the whole Lonely God persona, which will become an increasing issue for Ten. In any case, Donna sees how it is but has no desire to actually travel with him (yet). But she urges him to go find someone, before he goes completely mad.
This is one of my favorites of the Christmas episodes, even if it really isn't very Christmas-y. It has the elements here and there with a reappearance of the Robot Santas from the previous year, a threatening Christmas Tree, and the Empress' spaceship looks like a giant Star of Wonder decoration, but the overall feel isn't holiday-focused. That's just fine, though. Donna is amazing, and it's just a lot of fun to see the formula shaken up.
I also particularly like the Racnoss Empress design, largely because it reminds me of the cover of a particular Michael Moorcock book that I read as a teenager and loved. Check it out:
So yeah, I loved today's viewing, and I am totally psyched for the next batch of episodes. I will grant you that my three least favorite Tenth Doctor episodes are coming up in this season, but then they are immediately followed by what I consider to be the single strongest run of episodes in the entire NuWho catalog.
Companion(s): Donna Noble
Episode(s): The Runaway Bride
Steps Walked: 8,926 today, 2,749,206 total
Distance Walked: 4.86 miles today, 1,432.36 miles total
Push-ups Completed: 0 today, 1,113 total
Is the Doctor So, So Sorry?: He's a bit sorry about Lance being a duplicitous jerk, but not overly so
Weight: 249.90 lbs (five day moving average), net change -57.40 lbs