Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe

Well, quite simply that was the best Doctor Who Christmas special ever. It managed to take the different elements of a good Christmas story, and bind them together to create the sort of Christmas day television that grabs the imagination and consistently entertains without ever being too taxing for post-Christmas dinner viewing.
Sure, the story was loosely (and I mean very loosely) on the old C. S. Lewis story, taking some of its trappings from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. But it was far less slavish in the following of its inspiration that last year's A Christmas Carol, and was all the better for it. This was a Doctor Who story - albeit one fuelled by a sense of fun than menace (but what else to expect for an episode being watched on Christmas Day?) through and through.

A key part of that sense of fun was down to Matt Smith - one of the most talented actors to ever take on the role of the Doctor. Yes, he can do angry; yes, he can provide an irascible Doctor as well as one steeped in the desire for destructive revenge. However, those readings of the Doctor were not present on Christmas Day - and quite right too. Madge's story was tragic enough without having an overbearing, angry Doctor to contend with. Yes, he was silly; but he needed to be silly to help Madge at her moment of heartbreak.

And Madge was a great "companion" for this story. She, rather than the Doctor, was the motive force that made it all work. Claire Skinner made you believe that she was a Stoic widow admirably trying to save Christmas for her two kids, and the moment when she began to tell her children that their father was dead was truly heartbreaking.

But her husband was actually still alive, I hear some of you cry. Wasn't that just a massive cop-out? Well, the story explained exactly what happened - it will be one of those twists that really works for some and doesn't for others. For me, it felt like it was properly plotted in to the whole story, rather than an RTD style "reset switch" solution to the story. Besides, did anyone really think that the crazy, silly, impossible Doctor would come into Madge's world at Christmas and not (help to) bring her husband back? I mean, maybe in a mid-season filler episode, but not in a special broadcast on Christmas Day. Yeah, it was a bit cheesy that she managed to save her husband but so what? That's Christmas for you.

So in short, we got another festive romp. And great, that's absolutely the way it should be. Yes, Doctor Who needs darkness, and menace. But not all the time. Every now and again, the Doctor should take time off to be a barmy caretaker making an impossibly brilliant house for two kids. And Christmas is the perfect time for doing it.

Labels: , ,


At 4:43 pm , Blogger Pavlov's Cat said...

I have to agree, it was excellent.

Although there did seem to be a bit of dust in my eye at certain points

At 5:01 pm , Blogger The Nameless Libertarian said...

I had a similar problem, especially when Madge started to explain to her children what had happened to their father.

Clearly Christmas is a dusty time of year...

At 6:03 pm , Anonymous Rob F said...

For me, it was an allergy thing. Honest.

At 6:32 pm , Blogger Pavlov's Cat said...

It got particularly dusty for me at the end as it did for The Doctor

(It might be just me but the end scene in the beginning had a strong 'The Searchers' vibe to it, only this time John Wayne actually went in)

At 8:24 pm , Blogger PJH said...

In-laws (one of whom was the reason we actually watched it 'live' as it were) were unimpressed.

Neither, to be honest, was I - sorta fell out of the usual 'genre.'

I seemed to be the only one watching who had the problem with dust however....

I don't think the in-laws noticed.

At 8:33 pm , Blogger TonyF said...

Got very dusty here too. Must be a weather phenomenon. Nice to see NX611 'Just Jane' too.

At 8:51 am , Anonymous Tim said...

I thought it was a good special - lots of comedy, magic and Christmas-ness about it - but as a story it sagged in the middle for me. A bit more urgency and jeopardy would have helped. I'm not expecting the Daleks or Cybermen to suddenly pop up (I'm much happier without them at Xmas), but the middle third of the episode sagged a bit.

Nonetheless, good Christmas fare that stacks up well against any of the other Xmas episodes.


At 1:08 am , Blogger Jim said...

I have to agree with the positive reviews. Miles better than last year's faintly ludicrous effort, genuinely moving and at times extremely funny. I was faintly bothered by the fact that male tree person looked very like Richard Stilgoe, but otherwise it was top Who - well, top Christmas frothy Who, at any rate ;-)

At 6:20 pm , Blogger The Nameless Libertarian said...

Well, Jim agreeing with my good self on Doctor Who is comparatively rare, so this must have been a good special.

As for all those fellow dust-sufferers; I guess we are just too humany-wumany, as a great man once said.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home