The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe: first thoughts

Utterly, utterly brilliant.  I laughed, I cried.  Simultaneously, at times.

How rare is it that a long-awaited Christmas special lives up, or even exceeds, expectation?  Rare.  But tonight: yes.  Moffat pulled it off last year, and now he’s done it again.

That’s all, for now.  Just needed to get that out of my system.

16 responses to “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe: first thoughts

  1. Happy crying. Hoomany woomany.

  2. It was a good episode, not the world ending as RTD would have done but a nice touching story. Don’t mind admitting i had a tear in my eye watching it.

  3. Well, I just downloaded it and burned it to a DVD so my wife and I can watch it tonight on the un-Blighty side of the pond! I’ll post my reactions to it later.

  4. Well, just finished watching it and have to say we enjoyed it. Definitely sappy, but DW Xmas specials usually are. I think, though that my favorite was the Christmas Carol take-off a year or two ago (was it last year, or the year before? I don’t remember…).

    Anyway, happy holiday and a prosperous New Year to you all!

  5. I don’t understand how anyone can give this episode a positive review. Fundamentally, Dr Who used to be science fiction, albeit with a lot of fantastic aspects. Now it has descended into pure fantasy and magic, and I don’t mean that in a nice way. I am so disappointed. For me, this is the final nail in the coffin of my favourite childhood hero, at least until Moffat leaves.

  6. Wonderfully touching, magical and fantastical, but for me the middle part of the story lacked any sense of urgency or jeopardy. It wasn’t the best Xmas special by any means, but it was certainly the most humany-wumany. And the coda with the Ponds was quite, quite beautiful.

  7. Wonderful. Enjoyable throughout, and brilliantly sculpted on Moffat’s part: the family’s reconciliation with their father felt a little underwhelming — but Moffat was just warming us up for the bigger reconciliation to come. A great, great Christmas present.

  8. (Spoiler safe, though I so want to discuss spoilage.)

    Pretty good episode; for some reason, having just watched it not 10s ago, I feel a little less ‘whelmed’ than I recall being for last years. (I mean, last years, werent’ they driving a _shark_?! _I know!_)

    I do like the wreath on the blue background at the end; classy :)

    tldr: Anyone spot any breadcrumbs for the upcoming season?

    Long and rambling sleep-dep:
    I’ll have to rewatch if I get time, but I’m curious what (if any) the Moff has dropped in as bits to build on in the next season; are the Xmas episodes ‘canon’ or ‘throw away’? ie: Are the season beginnings writtenm so you could have just watched the season endings and be good to go, or are they required viewing? (I forget, need to check the past ones..) — but I’m thinking they’re required viewing; Christmas Invasion introduced David Tennant didn’t it? And wasn’t Sound of Drums or the like in there as well, passing thr torch again? (And if they are required viewing, then a shame on BBC for not including them on the seasonal DVDs but making them separate :/)

    Anyway, if they’re not required viewing, maybe theres no breadcrumbs, but I’d bet Moff has thrown some on nomatter how you think of these little gems.

    So, anyone spot breadcrumbs?

  9. Sorry that you didn’t enjoy it, Alan Lee. But I certainly can’t agree that “Dr Who used to be science fiction, albeit with a lot of fantastic aspects. Now it has descended into pure fantasy and magic”. Right from the start it’s had plenty of fantasy aspects to it, and the provision of pseudo-scientific explanations such as “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” certainly didn’t make those scenes any more scientific than magical.

  10. Yeah, it was pretty awesome. I also did the laughing/crying thing (just like the Doctor himself) :-) I anticipate Mom the mech driver will become a meme around our house in the not-too-distant future.

    Alan: I could agree insofar as Doctor Who is, and I’m quoting something I heard an actor say in a commentary track, more science fantasy than science fiction. But actually, there has been a lot of that there all along.

    It didn’t start with Moffat by a long shot. There was an attempt to pull things more towards the science-y end of the spectrum somewhere during the fourth Doctor’s reign but I don’t think it ever went very far. All that ever amounted to was sometimes it would take the Doctor time to run tests and develop things and now he doesn’t have to do that.

    I could go on and on and on (really!) with examples of very non-science-y things from episodes not written by Moffat from both the old and new series.

    The bottom line is: Doctor Who is a show where there’s a guy that flits about in space and time in an object that looks like a British police box that’s bigger on the inside than the outside. Also, it travels through the “time vortex” whatever the heck that is. That is so far beyond what we know of to be possible via the standard laws of physics that whether you refer to it as science or magic makes very little actual difference to the telling of the story.

    Sure–you could have the Doctor giving little techno-babble speeches every 30 seconds about the design of gadget X or thingamabob Y, but that’s all they’d be–fluffy, pretty sounding bits of writers’ mummery used to cover up the fact that it’s really just Yet Another Piece Of Impossible Fantastic Technology (i.e. magic).
    NYSSA: “But why is it so much bigger inside than it is outside?”
    ADRIC: “Oh, the Doctor told me that was because it was dimensionally transcendental.”
    NYSSA: “What does that mean?”
    ADRIC: “It means it was bigger inside than outside.”
    “Dimensionally Transcendental” is just a nothing techno-babble phrase which is why it’s not used in the new series. (Although personally, I always rather liked it.)

    Basically, every kind of SF except for hard SF is really just fantasy that looks like tech. The only real question is if it’s a high magic tech or a low magic tech. Doctor Who’s clearly on the high magic.

    On the specific episode–if the life forces thing bothered you, I have to say–that’s not the first time Doctor Who has referenced that concept either. Check out The Pirate Planet–second in the Key of Time series written by Douglas Adams under a pseudonym. Quoting the Doctor speaking to the Mentiads, “You were absorbing what you would call the `life force.'”

    If you want to hate on Moffat, that’s your prerogative. But it isn’t fair to hate on him for turning Doctor Who into a fantasy show because he didn’t. It was like that when he got here.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  11. Breadcrumbs for the next season? I would have to say that the re-appearance of Amy and Rory were the major breadcrumbs.

    Somewhat undewhelmed by this one. I actually started glancing at my watch wondering when it was going to end. Had it been fifteen minutes shorter then it might at least have made for a nice, tight story.

    As for the fantasy element: I think that depends on how you’re defining fantasy. If you mean Tolkien, Lewis -v- Clark, Asimov, Aldiss, etc. then DW has always leaned more towards the latter.

  12. Favourite moment: The Doctor’s expression when Amy opens the door. Matt Smith is… every word that can be used to praise that man has been used countless times.

    Alan Lee,
    If fantasy is driving the nails in the coffin, surely they should have gone in way back at The Big Bang. And even if it’s not the Doctor Who you loved (which, BTW, I agree with Mike by saying that it’s always had fantasy undertones) then surely that doesn’t automatically make it bad family entertainment? Especially something like this on Christmas? Would you rather, ooh, I dunno, Voyage of the Damned?
    No, I loved this episode. Maybe not as much as A Christmas Carol[*], though I’m extremely pleased with how this episode had NO ALIEN THREAT. The only troubles were disruptions in the family with the death of the husband/father, and it was all about that and the Caretaker’s attempts to thank her. It truly makes for more believable Drama. Or at least believable as you can get with the maddest character on TV. The ending with the happy-tear twist was perfect. Much better than destroying a ship for profit or bringing back the Time War or… was that it? I can’t even remember the point of those God-awful episodes.

    [*] I’m almost definitely sure that A Christmas Carol could have worked just as well if there wasn’t the threat of the crashing ship….almost.

  13. “this episode had NO ALIEN THREAT.”

    Weren’t the harvesting humans the alien threat? From the forest’s point of view.

  14. Gavin: Good point.


    On breadcrumbs: I don’t know if it’ll turn out to be a breadcrumb or not (I hope not) but the tree harvesters were from Androzani Major.
    As in The Caves of Androzani. Although that adventure took place on the desert, cave riddled Androzani Minor.

    I kind of hope it isn’t a breadcrumb since that adventure involved the Doctor regenerating.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  15. You know, I kind of wish Doctor Jackson Lake (from season 4 Christmas Special) was a companion; heck, even a few episodes spin-off of this fake Doctor ..

    Can always use a little more steampunk Timelords, no?

  16. Pingback: Mike’s bang-up-to-date review of The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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