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Review of Doctor Who ‘The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe’

Neela Debnath

Doctor Who final 300x225 Review of Doctor Who ‘The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe’SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen this year’s ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas special ‘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.

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Image credit: BBC

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502403058 David Mc Dermott

    Personally, I think the show has gone downhill since Russell T Davis and David Tennant left. Sure, they were both accused of having a tendency to ham it up, in their respective roles, but I’d take it any day over this unengaging and sometimes even boring Moffet / Smith coupling. Steve Moffet wrote some of the best episodes during seasons 1 to 4 but he isn’t a good show boss. As for Matt Smith, he has an acting range on par with mine (and I’m a scientist). Personally, I think it’s time to give them both the boot and pray the next Doctor is actually a convincing actor with some gravitas and authority. More than a couple of years older than me might be an idea too.

    As for this episode, it’s right up there with shockers like ‘Love and Monsters’, ‘Fear Her’ and ‘The Lodger.’

  • Ani

    DW needs to bring back Turlough.

  • metasepp

    The Majority of these negative reviewers sound like the
    epitome of bored decadence. If a group of them were
    put together to watch any programme, I doubt the
    television would be heard above their complaining.
    It has been a long held view that the real enemy of
    any creative effort is the collective noise of the non-
    creative audience.

  • ConanTheBrightonian

    The problem with Dr Who now is two-fold. Firstly it’s suffering from “Oh dear what can we do next?” syndrome. In the old days the Doctor would turn up and defeat the odd alien or small invading army (one spacecraft’s worth). Now we’ve had so many episodes and story arcs where the entire fabric of the universe is at stake that any low key episode is seen as ‘boring’. Secondly because some of the story arcs have been SO complicated only really dedicated fans know what’s going on, the rest of us are left to wonder how all the apparent contradictions and myriad loose ends have been explained away.

    The Christmas Day episode was a bit of enjoyable hokum. It certainly won’t be remembered as a classic.

  • DrSpinola

    Dear, oh dear. What a load of miserable old curmudgeons. If you don’t like it, why watch it?

    For God’s sake cheer yourselves up by chucking another orphan on the fire.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5NDEH6BQBZXN7P7EXKYTFAG6UI Paul

    Very mixed, a little predictable, but its not a real problem.  Hoping Bill Bailey will turn up again.  I am continually disappointed by the 1 or 2 show stories and 12 or so story arcs.  Would love to see 3 or 4 show stories and less story arcs – more fun and less moralistic story lines.  and please, bring back the Ice Warriors

  • bobbellinhell

    Happiness will prevail, eh, Doctor S?

  • bobbellinhell

    Ha ha, even the squee-ers are losing faith in Parody Who now. One hundred and twelve factories have now fallen to the rebels as they continue their drive westwards.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cliff.challenger Cliff Challenger

    “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.”
    Sorry but my standards must be very different here. I’ve been watching Dr Who since it began in 1963 and since it came back in 2005 it’s generally been one of the few British tv programmes worth sitting down to watch as it’s broadcast. But, recently the fantasy and sentimentality seem to have pushed out what little science fiction was left. There was always the “reversing the polarity” element of fake science, but Terry Pratchett is right in saying the Doctor is just a magician these days.

    As to Dr Spinola’s comment “Dear, oh dear. What a load of miserable old curmudgeons. If you don’t like it, why watch it?” I don’t choose to watch utter rubbish like the X Factor and Strictly. Dr Who has generally been good and we can’t decide we dislike the Christmas special before actually watching it.

  • Erik Cao

    Sadly, I have to agree with the critics here. DW is going downhill. RTD tends to overdo things and sometimes can’t tie things up convincingly in the end. However, there are occasionally exceptional stories: Blink (10 of 10), Human Nature/Family of Blood (10 of 10), The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (10 of 10). I have watched these episodes again and again and never got tired of them. But since Steven Moffat took over, there isn’t a single DW story that left me any lasting impressions. None at all. That is telling, isn’t it? I used to collect DW DVDs but I will not buy any more as the quality of stories is mediocre.


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