Review of Doctor Who ‘The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe’
This year’s Christmas special took inspiration from C.S. Lewis’s classic children’s fantasy ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. The book served as a jumping point into a wonderful science fiction tale rather than a ‘Doctor Who’ retelling of the story, like last year’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. There were some others references thrown into the mix this year with a creature that looked similar to J.R.R Tolkien’s tree people, the Ents. Tolkien was good friends with Lewis, so this reference may have been intentional. There was even a small reference to the Nativity itself with a bright star which guided Reg Arwell (Alexander Armstrong) back to his family.
Every year the Christmas special comes back with something vastly different to the previous year and usually it proves to be on par if not stronger than the one before. ‘The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe’ had the perfect recipe for a Christmas special. It had a simple story that could be easily understood without too much concentration and as specials go, it avoided being sickly sweet. By the end audiences were likely to be left with a warm glow created by the mixture of comedy, tragedy and general festive cheer that never became overly sentimental.
Bill Bailey, Arabella Weir and Paul Bazely formed a splendid comedy trio and were delightful to watch, particularly during their conflicted deliberations when they discovered Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner) in the forest. Alexander Armstrong took on the role of a World War II pilot but unlike his sweary street slang character from the pilot sketches in ‘The Miller and Armstrong Show’, the stiff upper lip and rude words were dropped in favour of a more neutral accent. Although he did not feature heavily in the episode, much like Bailey, Weir and Bazely, he gave a great performance. The scene where he followed ‘Madge’s star’ through the night was incredibly emotional and tugged on the viewers’ heartstrings.
The other touching moment was at the end of the episode when the Doctor brushed away a stray tear from his face before he joined Amy and Rory for Christmas dinner. Earlier, he told Madge that he couldn’t feel ‘those things anymore’ but it turned out that he was wrong and it is unlikely that this will be the last time we see this Doctor shed a tear. It was lovely to see the Doctor reunited with the Ponds and it is going to make it all the more sad when they make their ‘heartbreaking’ departure.
Something to mull over in the mean time is who the next companion will be. There seems to be a recent tradition of bringing on someone who has been on the show before. Freema Agyeman first starred in ‘Army of Ghosts’ as Adeola Oshodi before she was cast as Martha Jones, while Karen Gillan played a small role as a soothsayer in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ prior to taking on the part of Amy. Will the new companion be male or female? Will they even be human?
The highs and lows of Who in 2011:
This year has been a tremendous year for ‘Doctor Who’, with lots of Who-related things happening, here is a brief run down.
* April: Elisabeth Sladen sadly lost her battle with cancer this year and ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ ended on its fifth series. However, the show was well received by audiences and critics alike. It introduced younger audiences to the world of ‘Doctor Who’ and its popularity reinforced the enduring appeal of the Who universe as a whole.
* April: This year audiences got a double dose of the Doctor when the show was aired in two halves with a six week break in between.
* June: Audiences learned that River Song was actually Amy and Rory’s daughter, it was just one of those weird timey wimey situations.
* July: After a hiatus of several years, ‘Torchwood’ was back on our screens in a bigger and bolder way than ever before, thanks to joint funding from the BBC Wales, BBC Worldwide and American television network Starz. There were some allusions in ‘Torchwood’ to its parent show, most notably when Captain Jack Harkness described a warehouse as being ‘bigger on the inside than the outside’.
* October: It turns out that the Doctor didn’t really die he just faked it. He also got married to River in a ceremony quicker than viewers could say ‘shotgun wedding’. At the very end of the finale there was the suggestion that the Doctor’s name could be revealed in the next series.
* November: It was announced that the first ‘Doctor Who’ convention, since the series was regenerated in 2005, will be held in March 2012.
* December: Several episodes of the show previously thought to have been lost were recovered. ‘Galaxy 4’ part three and ‘The Underwater Menace’ part two were found by two collectors.
* December: Steven Moffat announced that Amy and Rory will be leaving the show next year and that there will be a new companion to accompany the Doctor on his adventures.
Please feel free to add more below.
For more information about the series click here.
Image credit: BBCTagged in: Alexander Armstrong, Arabella Weir, claire skinner, doctor who, Doctor Who series 33, Doctor Who series 7, science fiction
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter