Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe Review

So in the previous review I talked about how “A Christmas Carol” managed to be both festive and tell a good story, well, “The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe” forgoes plot entirely to tell a story about kids at Christmas and give a sappy (and unearned) ending for the hell of it. It’s pretty poor, to put it politely. Want to know more? So do I frankly, but we’ll never know…

Synopsis:

Christmas Eve, 1938. Madge Arwell comes to the aid of an injured Spaceman Angel, The Doctor, who promises to repay her kindness – all she has to do is make a wish. A few years later however, a mysterious Christmas gift from The Doctor leads them all into a wintry, magical world…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

It feels like they’re judging me for watching this…

I do like the setup, that The Doctor came crashing down in a spacesuit and was helped by Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner), so The Doctor decides to return the favour by giving her children a big Christmas, eventually learning to want company again so seeks out Amy and Rory at the end of the episode… if it was that for, like 30 minutes it would be a fine little Christmas time waster, sadly, that’s not the case…

The Bad:

“What’s this? A note?” “What does it say?!” “Bugger off you little shits.” “Oh.”

There just isn’t a plot. Clearly Mr. Moffatt watched or read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and thought “I should have The Doctor take some kids into a Narnia-like world” and then… didn’t think of anything else? Not to mention we suffer from bad child actor syndrome, with Cyril Arwell (Maurice Cole) being particularly bad, even if he is cute as a button, to make myself sound like I’m 100 years old. The older sister Lily (Holly Earl) isn’t AS bad, but is still just a child reading lines, as opposed to the previous Christmas special, which managed to find a good child actor who… well, acted. Anyway, Madge is rightfully upset that her husband (played briefly by Alexander Armstrong, a waste of a good actor right there!) has seemingly been shot down over water due to the whole Second World War thing, and leaves war-torn London and heads to a countryside cottage with her two children. So The Doctor arrives and eventually gifts them a large present that leads to a wintery wonderland that The Doctor half-explains with some intentionally nonsensical technobabble, and Cyril ends up there first, leading to The Doctor and Lily to follow.

There they see trees that naturally grow to look like Christmas Trees and eventually two people made entirely out of wood in a tall tower. Soon Madge also follows them to this alien planet and meets some “Rangers” (including Bill Bailey! What a waste of a guest appearance… again) who walk around in a big walker… thing. Anyway, the “Wooden King and Queen” in the tower try to transfer the seeds and essence of the whole forest, which is about to be destroyed, into Cyril but his mind is too small… or whatever, so Madge arrives in the Rangers’ mech-thing and takes his place, able to save and spread the whole forest across space before taking everyone home because of the power of being a mother, or something. At the same time her powers bring her husband back to life, or saves his plane from crashing or whatever, so everyone has a happy ending. There was dialogue about Mums having “super powers” and all this… child-friendly stuff, which again would be fine if there was actually an interesting story happening. “A Christmas Carol” was more than child-friendly but told a good story as well, this was just a super-safe… nothing. Christmassy niceness for the sake of it, and nothing else, with poor acting and one-dimensional characters to boot. I try not to be too harsh on Christmas specials with children viewing in mind, but having watched the previous story before this, it made the lazy faults of this story far, far more apparent…

Oh and why we all got a laugh out of “Time-Wimey” (well, some of us did) Moffatt runs that gag into the ground by having The Doctor use phrases like “sciency-wiency” and “humany-wumany” throughout the episode… Bloody hell.

The Continuity:

He said Androzani! Yay!! …. Oh right, the rest of the story…

Not a great deal. The Rangers are from Androzani Major, a planet featured in the all-time Fifth Doctor classic “The Caves of Androzani”, and The Doctor mentions a living tree having fancied him before, which is a reference to the Ninth Doctor TV story “The End of the World”. That’s about it… thankfully this story hasn’t ever been mentioned again…

Overall Thoughts:

A shot of the mech-thing, because I’m fed up looking for good, relevant pictures.

In case you couldn’t tell, I really… really dislike “The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe”. It’s lazily written, poorly acted, and tries for a feel-good ending that just… doesn’t work because it’s all magic hand-waving. It’s Christmassy, but that’s all it is, an actual story was left out in favour of wondrous magic bollocks. This as a Christmas special is the opposite of last year, and thankfully Mr. Moffatt learns his lesson for the next story… (Note that “Watching this again would be torture” is going a bit far, but it does deserve my lowest score for not even trying…)

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