DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: THE DOCTOR, THE WIDOW AND THE WARDROBE! – The Review!
Ross Hughes keeps his eye on all the festival Telly!
Ever since we first saw David Tennant in the role of the Doctor way back in 2005 for the first ever Doctor Who Christmas Special, the show itself has become a now tradition show to watch on the festival occasion. Its amazing to think that the show has only been keeping families entertained for a mere six years on this very day with only William Hartnell way back in the 60’s breaking the 4th wall to wish the viewers “A Merry Christmas”, but like Queen Speech, I very much will hate the day that there will not be one. Even after the presents are opened and the turkey is cold with nearly all of us quite merry with too much wine, there is a sense of expectation when you know that the show is due on. Kids in your household despite having all the things they wanted from Santa and have enough in front of them to keep them entertained up until Easter, will still find time to look up and ask you “When is Doctor Who on?”. It has become family routine especially in the Hughes household but the last few years have been a mixed bag with the story on offer.
Of course apart from the “End Of Time” saga which was bold and huge and a swansong for the departing Tennant, the many specials have left me rather cold. The Runaway Bride was ok but the Titanic in Space left me feeling cold like an Iceberg while the New Doctor bored not just me but my kids who left the living room way before the end! Last Year’s “A Christmas Carol!” was Matt Smith’s first and again it was a bit underwhelming but the problem the Doctor faces is that it tries to cram so much into a 60 minute running time that it at times becomes a confusing mess. I am yet to see a Christmas Special which has had me in awe like on of the episodes in the regular season but I lived in hope for this especially as we are free from the saga of River Song that dogged the show this year. This was Matt Smith going alone and that for me was the only reason why this year I was like a little kid at christmas but this time it was Christmas and that little quote does not really make much sense this time of the year!
Like last year which of coursed riffed on the Scrooge storyline, Steven Moffat has once again gone to an old source material to have viewers thrilled and spilled. Just looking at the title that reads The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe will tell you what this is kind of based on and for those who are still confused just replace the Doctor word with Lion and Witch with Widow and…….that’s right….now you get it!…
Story-wise its this, It’s Christmas Eve, 1938, and we see Madge Arwell (a very impressive Claire Skinner) come to the aid of an injured Spaceman as she cycles home. The injured Spaceman is no other that the man with the bow tie and like the good guy he is, he promises to repay her kindness Three years later and in the middle of World War 2 where if you think of it Jack Harkness is there somewhere (well he might be) Madge escapes the now war-torn London with her two children in tow for a dilapidated house in Dorset, a place that look likes its just stepped out of The Other’s film! Madge is a broken woman left with grief and pain at the news that her husband has been lost over the channel,but with Lily and Cyril to look after she musters all the courage she can to giver her children the best Christmas ever. Enter the Doctor whose back under the guise of Caretaker and gives the Arwells a mysterious Christmas gift that leads them into a magical wintry world, where an adventure begins and where Madge herself realises that wishes can come true.
This year’s offering once again shows that when Moffat is on fire with his writing then he is one of the best around. From the opening breathtaking pace that makes you think you have chucked on a Star Wars film to the simple delights of the family core that Moffat is beginning to enjoy telling us at christmas, this year’s special was a blast from start to finish and had me sitting there smiling and then worry about how the heck am I going to cope without this show until Autumn next year.
What I am determined to do is not go into any major spoilers in this review for the readers who just have not got the time to watch this show on what is one of the stressful days of the year. If you are those who jump on BBC I PLAYER or wait for the repeat that always airs a few days later and hope to avoid all spoilers then you be fine reading this review because I will try not to ruin anything for you. If you just want to know is the wait worth it, then damn yes! This is the best offering we have seen from the man in the Tardis on Christmas Day and while I understand those who will say “that’s not hard!”, what I reply tp that is that this is one of the strongest episodes of Matt Smiths venture yet! Its simply Smith at his very best, away from the storylines that have been building around him since he regenerated two Christmas’s now! Its great just how funny the opening half is and the Doctor is in his element with wisecracks that fully display that this is a man who is now fully comfortable in the role.
From the off there was an incredible pace to the whole show which was helped by the stunning energetic vibe created by the bonkers Smith. Yes the moment they enter the wintery forest where “there is something horribly wrong!” feels like that classic story we all know and love but when Astronauts turn up it soon shifts into a path we all know and love. The storyline is much improved from last year because it feels bigger and ambitious. The characters are all likeable so we have an instant connection of sympathy and it was a pleasure to spend time with the family that the Doctor drops into and cause chaos. Skinner in particular who takes over the mantle of Assistant from the missing Amy is a welcome treat. Her heartbreak over her husband Reg “Alexander Armstrong) pulls the strings of your heart and it was a welcome emotional punch that managed to do more than last year’s offering managed too, which is quite strange considering last year was set up to be a real tear jerker.
My main gripe is the way Bill Bailey and Arabella Weir are treated. I was looking forward to seeing the crazy Bill in Doctor Who but he is wasted in what can only be described as a cameo performance. But that is the only complaint I can find because for me this was the best Christmas show the Doctor has given us. An adventure that thrilled me and millions more and there is nothing better on Christmas Day when you see a perfect show that entertains all the family.
There are a few out there who have complained about the way Moffat has gone about last season but even those must admit that this was a belter. Its great that we are getting shows like this on the BBC and I am delighted to have been thrilled and my kids were happy and in awe in what they were seeing and it only leaves me with one thing to say
Autumn 2012 can not come quick enough…….