TV Review: The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe [Doctor Who Christmas Special 2011]

on Monday, December 26, 2011
'Doctor Who' Christmas Special 2011: 'The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe' // Words: Saam Das

SYNOPSIS: "Festive edition of the sci-fi drama. A madcap caretaker greets evacuee Madge Arwell and her two children and leads them into a magical world." (

It's Christmas with the Doctor (Matt Smith) again, following last year's 'A Christmas Carol'. This time around, we're transported to WWII-era Britain, as the Doctor looks after a family who have moved to safer surroundings - i.e their Uncle Digby's mansion. Lucky them.

Obviously when I say the Doctor "looks after" the family, I mean he puts them in mortal danger. It's what he does. Particularly annoying though for the mother (Claire Skinner) of the two kids who inadvertently find themselves in peril on another planet in the year 5000-and-something - she'd only gone and helped the Doctor a few years previously and this trip away was meant to be a lovely Christmas present. Except nothing's ever that simple with the Doctor.

Of course, part of the fun of 'Doctor Who' is the way he stumbles into increasingly weird and wonderful adventures. But you know, it's nice to actually have some character development and with Rory and Amy out of the picture (sort of), this Christmas special felt like it was missing their collective history.

The collective chemistry of the trio of time travellers was missed too, as the stoicism of the main guest characters made the episode inherently difficult to connect with. There was an inconsistency reminiscent of some of the previous series' episodes, with good moments (for example, Bill Bailey's cameo - "I can't interrogate you while you're crying!") in a sea of indifference.

From its Narnia-esque beginnings, the episode sadly itself metamorphosed into something of an homage to 'Avatar'. Although thankfully there wasn't really a heavy handed moralistic message. Until the end that is. But that was a rather welcome moral, appropriate for the festive period, and one that perhaps redeemed a rather middling episode. I might even have shed a tear or two, much like the Doctor himself.

'The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe' is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until 19:59, 4 Jan '12. Read reviews of older episodes here.

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