It’s Christmastime again and we look forward to the visit of that magical figure bearing gifts. No, not the fat guy in the red suit, but the skinny one with the bow tie (which are cool) and police box. However, we all know that where the Doctor goes trouble follows.
On Earth it is 1938 and Christmas, but in the atmosphere the Doctor (Matt Smith) is averting disaster by blowing up a spaceship. He dons an impact suit and plummets to the planet to be found by Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner) who helps him out of a bind. He promises to repay her one day. That day comes during World War II when Madge’s husband Reg (Alexander Armstrong) is away fighting.
She and her two children, Lily (Holly Earl) and Cyril (Maurice Cole), retreat to the countryside to a relative’s house to be greeted by the Doctor who has prepared the house for a Christmas to remember. What the children don’t know is that Reg is missing and presumed dead, a secret that Madge is keeping from them as not to ruin Christmas.
As we know, where the Doctor goes trouble follows so the group finds itself stranded on the planet Androzani Major and in the plans of some sentient trees.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Steven Moffat and company have released a love letter to both the Doctor and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It may have been a Christmas special, but the love is clearly present as obvious as a mother’s love. We get a shout out to the old show since the action takes place on Androzani Major, the sister planet to Androzani Minor where Peter Davison met his end (not so ironically getting a special edition release at the same time, review forthcoming).
The episode is devoid of any particular villainy, but does have some troubles in its short running time. We cast some familiar faces as the minor Miners, but they come and go so fast that they barely register. Smith is in top form as the Doctor who trying to make a happy Christmas only puts his recipients in danger – saw that coming.
Claire Skinner is a sympathetic heroine and protective of her cute kids, also wonderfully cast. I never thought that there wouldn’t be a happy ending but the whole thing was so masterfully done that I didn’t mind being taking along for the ride. We always get a Christmas treat from the Doctor.
The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe is presented in widescreen (1.78:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include the 1 minute prequel to the episode and the specials The Best of the Doctor, Best of the Companions, and the Best of the Monsters (all 43 minutes). The case also contains a code for the new online Doctor Who role playing game Worlds in Time.
The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe is a festive holiday treat that has a solo Doctor trying to show a family a good time and only makes trouble. We’re also treated to some fun derring-do and some heart along the way. A Merry Christmas indeed, even though the disc is released on February 14th.
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