Donna: And it's terrible. That place was flooding and burning and they were dying and you stood there like... I don't know, a stranger. And then you made it snow. I mean, you scare me to death!
The one with the bad-tempered bride and lots and lots of hurled insults.
Written by Russell T. Davies.
... just as the Doctor had finished his last goodbye to Rose in the previous episode, some random broad pops up in the TARDIS. (Again.) Neither of them was expecting this. And she's wearing a wedding dress.
This is Donna Noble, of Chiswick who demands to be put back on Earth right now, damn it. She's getting married! Unfortunately, our old friends the RoboSantas have come back to help the Monster of the Week by kidnapping Donna. Fortunately, the Doctor convinces her to jump into his TARDIS out of a speeding car. Which is quite an accomplishment, seeing as the Doctor just told Donna that his last companion girl is now "gone" and she found Rose's jacket in the TARDIS, meaning she's pretty convinced that the Doctor is a deranged serial killer from Mars. The pilot fish, still in their Santa disguises, also crash the wedding reception, which is being held without Donna, who is rather indignant upon discovering this.
She and her fiancé, Lance, go along with the Doctor to help find out what's going on. They avoid the "pilot fish" and find a Racnoss nest under the Thames Flood Barrier, in the basement of the company where Donna temps. Which, unbeknownst to Donna, turns out to be part of Torchwood.
Turns out Donna's fiancé was actually the consort of the Racnoss Empress, who truly makes Evil Is Hammy into an art form. Lance had been feeding Donna huon particles in order to make her a catalyst and trigger a ship. That ship will carry a whole nest of Racnoss babies in the Earth's core up to the surface of the Earth. And, in the Empress' words, "Racnoss are born starving!" That's right: they would eat everything on Earth.
The Doctor uses huon particle trickery to save his and Donna's lives, and they rush off to work on defeating this new menace. He also shows Donna the beginning of the formation of Earth, which turns out to have formed around the gravitational field of an ancient Racnoss nest. The Empress decides that she'll need a new "key" and lucky her, she has Lance right there! One of the pilot fish grabs Donna and drags her away.
The Doctor realizes a bit too late that Donna's awfully quiet, and next thing we know, she and Lance are tied up in a web over the tunnel to the ship. The Empress messes with them for a bit, before she decides that she doesn't approve of Lance's treatment of Donna. So, like any sane, rational alien lady, she cuts him down dropping him into the pit for her children. She monologues a bit, before turning and revealing one of the pilot fish as a masked Doctor, who gets Donna down from the web. Guess what? The Doctor has pockets! The Doctor gives the Empress one last chance, but turns out to be very firm on his new "one chance only" rule he instated earlier this series. He kills the entire nest of Racnoss by flooding it and setting everything on fire at the same time, completely horrifying Donna. Oh, and draining the Thames. She tells him to stop and get out, and (as we learn much later) does the universe a huge favour in the process.
Donna tries to come to terms with the fact that her fiancé was just using her for her huon-particle-catalysing body. She goes home, turning down the Doctor's offer of travelling with him and leaving him alone (at least for now). But not before telling him he should find someone, because occasionally, he needs somebody to stop him.
- Actually Pretty Funny: "The Doctor-man amuses me!"
- All Webbed Up: Donna and Lance are stuck to the ceiling with spider threads.
- Arc Words: Torchwood and orders from "Mr Saxon".
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Donna's willingness to slap the Doctor so hard he nearly falls on his ass (twice!) when he starts acting high-handed with her just makes him even more impressed and charmed by her. No, not like that...
- Artistic Licence Astronomy: At the point where Donna checks her watch and remarks that it's 3:30 PM, the Sun is far, far too high, given that on Christmas Eve in London, at 51°N, that's roughly 45 minutes before sunset.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: When an extremely shouty ginger in a wedding dress shows up in the TARDIS while it's in deep space, it takes the Doctor a while to catch up.The Doctor: Hold on, wait a minute what are you dressed like that for?
Donna: I'm going ten-pin bowling. WHY DO YOU THINK, DUMBO?! I was halfway up the aisle!
- Asshole Victim: Lance, who had spent months manipulating Donna and planned to hand her over to a carnivorous alien. He ends up suffering the very fate he had planned for Donna, which she said "he deserved it".
- An Ass-Kicking Christmas: In keeping with New Series tradition, this time complete with an actual tank.
- Astronomic Zoom: The zoom-in intro is carried over from "Rose" and "The Christmas Invasion", except here, it zooms in on a church instead of the Powell Estate.
- Badass Boast:
- Bad Santa: The "pilot fish", again.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- The TARDIS flying in to rescue Donna from the Robot Santa taxi driver kidnapping her, complete with two kids cheering the Doctor on from the back of a nearby car. As for Donna's reaction? "You are kidding me."
- At first, it seems like the primarily hesitant and cowardly Lance is going to pull a stealthy one, involving a fire axe and an evil monologing Empress... and then it turns out he was just adding insult to injury in his Evil All Along reveal.
- Bigger on the Inside: Besides the TARDIS, you've got the Doctor's pockets. Really, it explains an awful lot.
- Big "NO!": The Racnoss Empress. "MYYYYY CHIIIIIIILDREEEEEEEEENNNNN!"
- Bridezilla: Donna is understandably pissed that her wedding day was interrupted by a "Martian" and his strange blue box.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Donna calls the Doctor a Martian, which seems like a throwaway gag but leads to the Empress of the Racnoss underestimating him.
- The Doctor also utilises the extrapolator from "Boom Town".
- Chewing the Scenery: The Empress of the Racnoss. There was not enough scenery in the entire SERIES to account for that amount of chewing.
- Christmas Episode: The pilot fish pretend to be Santa so the Big Bad can eat humanity. The Doctor kicks their ass down the drain.
- Cloudcuckoolander: On seeing the massive hole in the Torchwood lab going all the way down to the centre of the Earth, Donna wonders if there are dinosaurs down there (because she saw a movie with something like that once). The Doctor is just completely dumbfounded by that one.
- Crappy Holidays: Although a lighthearted romp with a stupidly hammy villain, this is considered one of the darkest episodes because it shows the Doctor going over the edge.
- Crying Little Kid: The screaming girl stands in front of an incredibly slow-moving electricity weapon and is pushed out of the way just in the nick of time.
- Death Glare: The Doctor gives a pretty scathing one to Donna after she asks about Rose's jacket in the TARDIS. It shuts her up (and also gives the first showing of Donna's nicer side).
- Don't Make Me Destroy You: A Tenth Doctor trademark he generally gives the baddies a chance to walk away. In this case, he tells her he could give her and her children a chance on another planet.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Subverted; the Doctor steals a guard's uniform and uses it to infiltrate a secret chamber but the enemies aren't fooled for a second.
- Epic Fail: The Doctor frees Donna from her webby imprisonment, and readies to catch her... only for Donna to smack about 5 feet below him. Even the Empress is a little stunned.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Empress feeds Lance to her children because she isn't impressed with him readily abandoning his "wife".
- Evil Is Hammy: The Empress of the Racnoss, bringing Chewing the Scenery to epic levels. One wonders if the Racnoss actually subsisted on scenery that they chewed up, instead of meat, as they insist.
- Evil Laugh:
- The Racnoss Empress. "AK-akakakakakakaka!"
- Lance has a more subdued one than the Empress.
- Extreme Omnivore: The Racnoss ate whole planets.
- Failing a Taxi: The Doctor and Donna attempt to hail a taxi, but the cabbies who drive by variously mistake her as going to a fancy dress party, a drunk and a drag queen.
- Five Rounds Rapid: In what may be a television first, the Empress of the Racnoss' attempts to lift off from London without enough power to activate her energy shield defensesand is taken out by a single round from a British Army tank! Even TV series set in World War II (Combat and Rat Patrol, for example) traditionally avoid spending money on tanks.
- A simple rewatch and some critical thinking (or someone who's just paying real close attention on their first watch) will reveal that, for a man who's apparently never been down to the hidden depths of the abandoned Torchwood facility beneath the Thames, Lance sure knows the quickest way to leave the lab, circle around and up, and make his way to the Empress in record time. This is a big clue, but relatively easy-to-miss in the heat of the moment and quick run of the sequence of shots, that he knows more than he lets on about the facility and its general layout.
- There is also Donna's story about how Lance gave her a cup of coffee when they first met, because later it's revealed that the huon particles are being stored in water.
- Also, for a large company like H.C. Clements, it would be considered unethical for the head of HR to start dating a temp, which hints that Lance may have an ulterior motive for taking such a risk.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: A very mild example Donna threatens to sue a cab driver who refuses to take her to her wedding in Chiswick... because neither she nor the Doctor are carrying any means of paying the fare.
- Genocide Dilemma: The Doctor even had to go through with it again. It's a split second decision and he gives the Empress of the Racnoss a chance to drop the Villain Ball but in the end the Doctor decides to drown the last offspring of an extinct species to save the Earth.
- Giant Spider: The Racnoss, as a species, cross this trope with Horde of Alien Locusts. Although the Empress is partially humanoid in appearance.
- Gilligan Cut: When Donna and the Doctor realize they have no money for the cab.
- Great Offscreen War: Ancient battles between the Fledgling Empires (including Gallifrey) and the Racnoss are mentioned.
- Hammerspace: The Doctor confirms to Donna that his pockets are, indeed, Bigger on the Inside. Just like the TARDIS.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The Racnoss ate entire planets, and were dangerous enough that the Fledgling Empires, including the Time Lords, went to war against them in the early history of the universe. The Doctor winds up killing the newborn Racnoss that the Empress reawakens because they're "born starving" and thus cannot be reasoned with.
- Human Resources: It's in the job title! Because this time, it's personnel!
- Ignored Vital News Reports: Donna was hungover for the Sycorax and scuba-diving in Spain for the Cybermen. The Doctor is confused as to why she could end up like this.
- I Lied: The Doctor to Donna regarding the TARDIS and its status as a time machine.The Doctor: Do you know what I said before, about a time machine? Well, I lied, and now it's time to use it.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: A rare aversion. The Roboforms are pretty spot on when shooting the Doctor: something just gets in their way first.
- Improbable Infant Survival: Most of the Racnoss's laser beams whip around quickly except for one heading towards a little girl, which moves sloooooowly enough for someone to grab her and run to safety.
- Instrument of Murder: The evil robot Santas from "The Christmas Invasion" attack a wedding reception with their weaponized instruments.
- It's Always Spring: It's supposed to be Christmas, but the episode was filmed in warm weather, as evidenced by the green trees seen during the car chase on the highway. Also, despite being famous for cold weather, Donna doesn't even shiver at running around London with only a sleeveless wedding dress.
- I Warned You: The Doctor says it verbatim after blowing up and drowning the last of the Racnoss."I warned you. You did this."
- Just Between You and Me: Thoroughly averted. The Doctor attempts to mask his pokes and prods at the Empress' plan as curiosity. Lance, of all people, is the first to spot this and call him out on it, with the Empress agreeing with Lance immediately after. To which Lance says "Tough, all we need is Donna." The Empress then gives the order to kill the Doctor. It's really the one and only moment she avoids falling prey to the Big Bad stereotype of old.
- Lame Pun Reaction: "This time, it's personnel!" Cue laughter from the villains and absolutely no-one else.
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: The Racnoss has set up shop in an abandoned Torchwood base under the Thames flood barrier. Donna is incredulous; the Doctor (who's used to it), less so.Donna: What, there's like a secret base hidden underneath a major London landmark?
The Doctor: I know, unheard of...
- Large Ham: The Empress of Racnoss is an enormous piece of Spider-Ham. "KIIIIILL THIS LITTLE CHATTERING DOCTOR-MAN!"
- Loud of War: The Doctor creates powerful sonic blasts by combining his sonic screwdriver with a sound system.
- Love-Interest Traitor: Lance only made Donna coffee in order to drug her with huon particles. Accepting the marriage proposal was simply to keep her around.
- Missing Floor: The curious thing that the Doctor notes about the H.C. Clements offices is that the lift control panel shows an entire floor not on the official floor plan.
- The Mole: Lance is revealed to be working for the sinister Empress of the Racnoss.
- Money to Throw Away: The Doctor sonics an ATM to spray money as a distraction to escape pursuing robot Santas.
- Mythology Gag: Donna ends up in the TARDIS in the same way companion Lucie Miller does in Big Finish Doctor Who. Just like Lucie, she's not the least bit impressed by the Doctor. (Lucie assumed he was a "hippie ponce", while Donna sees Rose's shirt on a railing and assumes he's a deranged serial killer.)
- Not My Driver: Donna gets in a cab driven by a robo-Santa.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: The Empress, possibly due to her sheer age and having been in hibernation for eons, is one of the few aliens who doesn't seem to know that "the Doctor" refers to a renegade Time Lord and assumes he's a physician.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: The villains use a remote control which is essentially a modified Nintendo 64 controller.
- Oh, Crap!:
- The Doctor reacting upon noticing that the driver of the taxi Donna has climbed into is a Robot Santa, and that there are several more aiming their weapons at him.
- The Racnoss Empress, after the Doctor finally corrects Donna's mistake. Namely, his planet of origin.
- ...Or So I Heard: After the Doctor rescues Donna from being kidnapped by an evil robot Santa, she laments that they've missed her wedding service, and says she wishes he had a time machine so they could go back and change things. The Doctor mumbles that even if he did, he couldn't go back along someone's personal timeline "apparently".
- Phlebotinum Analogy: "I'm a pencil inside a mug?"
- Pungeon Master: The Racnoss Empress. Notable in that she deliberately keeps setting up puns, and Lance and Donna don't play along.Empress: DO YOU WANT TO BE RELEASED?!
Lance & Donna: Yes!
Empress: [annoyed] YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO SAY "I DO!"!!!!!!!!!
- Percussive Maintenance: The Doctor smacks a computer monitor while at H.C. Clements.
- Potty Emergency: The trope doesn't actually occur, but the dance of impatience the Doctor does while waiting in line at the ATM is reminiscent of it.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lance gives a heartbreaking one to Donna after his Evil All Along reveal. It's about how she's only a key to his ambitions and he couldn't stand being married to her.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Lance is fed to the young Racnoss because the Empress doesn't approve of males who mistreat their mates.
- Running Gag: The Racnoss Empress is the first person to call the Doctor and Donna a couple. She will not be the last.
- Say My Name: The Doctor shouts "Donna!" at least 5 times.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: It is revealed that the centre of the Earth contains hundreds possibly thousands of omnivorous intelligent alien spiders. Indeed, the vessel that holds them is the original core of the planet, nearly five billion years old.
- The Racnoss Webstar bears a striking resemblance to the Cylon Basestar of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. Both ships are made with Y shapes stacked on each other. The names are also quite similar.
- The Racnoss herself is a Drider.
- Donna's comment about dinosaurs at the centre of the Earth that she saw in a movie. She probably saw Journey to the Center of the Earth.
- The way the Doctor kills the Racnoss children is very reminiscent of the nursery rhyme The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
- Shut Up and Save Me!: The Doctor's listening at a door and talking at Donna and completely fails to notice the fact that she's been kidnapped for about half a minute, and only notices because she's not insulting him for once.The Doctor: There was a Racnoss web at the centre of the Earth, but my people unravelled their power source. Because huon particles ceased to exist and the Racnoss were stuck, so they just stayed in hibernation for billions of years, frozen, dead, kaput! So you're the new key, brand new particles, living particles, and they need you to open it... and you have never been so quiet!
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "Love Don't Roam" is a happy, upbeat, peppy orchestral pop song about being separated from your loved one forever.
- Spider People: The Empress of the Racnoss, who even has a web motif going on for her spaceship. Full spider below, but human upper torso and semi-human head (the actress wore a prosthesis with a big frill on it).
- Sure, Let's Go with That: The Doctor decides to run with Donna's accusation of him being Martian when he uses the sonic screwdriver on a payphone, since it simplifies matters.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: The Doctor listens to the song "Love Don't Roam" at a wedding reception while flashbacks of Rose appear onscreen.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Donna feels bad for the Racnoss Empress as she screams horribly for her children the Doctor killed.
- Take That, Audience!: Lance is an obnoxious intellectual and social snob who is given a lengthy speech mocking popular culture, and is willing to see the entire rest of the human race wiped out if it means he gets to see the wonders of the universe. As such, he looks a lot like a venomous caricature of the faction of fans who complained that the Russell T. Davies era of the show had too many stories set on contemporary Earth, not enough Space Opera spectacle, and too many mainstream pop culture references.
- Take That, Critics!: The 2005/6 seasons were criticised by some fans who complained about the number of stories set on contemporary Earth, wanted more exotic settings and Space Opera content, and got upset about the number of contemporary pop culture references. This episode features an unspeakably nasty, misanthropic, intellectually-snobbish human villain who turned out to be plotting with aliens to destroy the world just because they offered to show him the wonders of the universe, and who was given a long and unsympathetic speech mocking pop culture.
- Time Abyss: The Racnoss date from the early days of the universe, and the Empress has been in hibernation for billions of years.
- Tranquil Fury: The Doctor, and it really freaks Donna out. "Turn Left" reveals that he would've died along with the Racnoss if she hadn't snapped him out of it.
- Tsundere: Donna is mostly tsun, but gets a couple of softer moments after the Robot Santas attack the reception, she tries to get the Doctor to help the injured while he's focused on the "bigger picture".
- Twisted Christmas: The Doctor has to face an ancient menace called the Racnoss whose offspring wished to gorge on life across the cosmos. Their web-shaped ship was mistaken for a giant decorative Christmas star by Londoners until it started zapping the city with bolts of electricity. This adventure immediately follows the loss of one of the Doctor's dearest companions and features an especially dark moment for him in which he kills a ton of alien babies and almost lets himself die along with them. Oh, and the Thames is drained.
- Underestimating Badassery: The Racnoss Empress, thanks to having been in hibernation for eons and Donna's assumption that the Doctor is "Martian", fails to realize how dangerous he is until it's far, far too late when he tells her where he's really from.
- Unreliable Voiceover: Donna's description of how she and Lance got engaged. She was the one who proposed after six months of acquaintance and nagged until it was accepted, not the other way around as she tells it.
- Villainous Breakdown: When the Doctor reveals his true home, the Racnoss Empress goes from gloating to horrified shrieking:Racnoss Empress: They MURDERED the Racnoss!
- Visual Pun: How the Doctor destroys the reborn Racnoss."The Itsy Bitsy Spider climbed up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out."
- Weirdness Censor: Donna's relatives watch as she spontaneously disappears in a flash of light (while screaming piteously all the while). They conclude that it must be some sort of magic trick she cooked up for attention.
- Wham Line: We finally hear the name "Gallifrey" said onscreen in the revival.
- What the Hell, Hero?: A relatively gentle one when Donna says she can't travel with the Doctor and that he needs someone who can stop him doing the kinds of things he does.
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Donna's reaction to the TARDIS chasing her taxi down the motorway.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Poor Lance. He's only needed for a key, and once used, he's spider food.
- You Must Be Cold: The Doctor lends Donna his jacket to make up for her lack of sleeves. She immediately points out how skinny he is.
- Your Mom: Donna and the Doctor are stuck in the middle of nowhere and trying to take a cab back to the church. Eventually, they realize neither of them has any money. The cabbie dumps them out and all we hear is Donna scream, "And that goes double for your mother!"