Doctor Who: Season 7, Episode 0

The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (25 Dec. 2011)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Family
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,966 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 10 critic

It's Christmas Eve, 1938, when Madge Arwell comes to the aid of an injured Spaceman Angel as she cycles home. He promises to repay her kindness - all she has to do is make a wish. Three ... See full summary »

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Title: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (25 Dec 2011)

The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (25 Dec 2011) on IMDb 7.4/10

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It's Christmas Eve, 1938, when Madge Arwell comes to the aid of an injured Spaceman Angel as she cycles home. He promises to repay her kindness - all she has to do is make a wish. Three years later, a devastated Madge escapes war-torn London with her two children for a dilapidated house in Dorset. She is crippled with grief at the news her husband has been lost over the channel, but determined to give Lily and Cyril the best Christmas ever. The Arwells are surprised to be greeted by a madcap caretaker whose mysterious Christmas gift leads them into a magical wintry world. Here, Madge will learn how to be braver than she ever thought possible. And that wishes can come true... Written by BBC Publicity

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25 December 2011 (UK)  »

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Trivia

There were numerous references to Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," namely: (a) the three-part name itself ("The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe"), (b) the family (children) going to a large mansion in the country to escape the bombing in London, (c) "Digby" sounds a lot like "Digory," Professor Kirk's first name, (d) the Doctor refers to the TARDIS as his "wardrobe," (e) there is a snow-covered woods on the other side of the box, (f) time moves differently on the other side of the box, (g) the aforementioned "What do they teach these children...?", (h) the door knocker on the tree house resembled a lion (Aslan, perhaps?), and (i) the spirits of the trees were sentient in Narnia as well. See more »

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The Doctor: This is one of the safest planets I know. There's never anything *dangerous* here.
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Crazy Credits

In season seven's opening credits, the Doctor Who logo is textured in a way that is relevant to the current episode. See more »

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References A League of Their Own (1992) See more »

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Silent Night
(uncredited)
Music by Franz Gruber
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User Reviews

Christmas Special 2011: Poor and with no substance to support the silliness
26 December 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A year ago I watched a Doctor Who Christmas special that retold A Christmas Carol on an alien world with the Doctor racing to change an old man's mind to save his companions while a flying shark threatened; it could have been nonsense but it captured the heart of the tale really well and was moving and engaging to the point that the silliness had enough substance to support it. I mention this special because the 2011 one was billed as being similar and had enough in common to make me hope it would be good. Moffat using the CS Lewis world of Narnia as inspiration I presumed he would be able to pull it off again in a way that was satisfying. I could not have been more wrong.

The special starts with silliness that I forgave because I thought that we had that out of the way – the Doctor falling to Earth through space in a backwards spacesuit was just a plot device to get to the meat of the special. This is the case as it introduces the characters and sets up the reason for this return – the death of a husband in the war and the woman trying to find the strength to get through Christmas and then tell her two young children. Problem is that, when the script needed to find character and emotion, it instead found a messy plot filled with almost nothing. The heart of the story, of the characters is nowhere to be found and instead we get a few brief moments of peril and a corny denouncement that is so convenient and so empty that it robbed me of what little good will I had when I reached that point.

The previous year's special was so enjoyable because it focused on the people, on the heart and placed that within a sci-fi context. Here there is no such thing and unfortunately the plot isn't enough to fill this gap with anything like tension, thrills or spectacle. It doesn't help either that the effects are surprisingly clunky and that the ideas are so half-assed throughout. The cast are solid and one can only imagine what they could have done with a better script and better characters. Smith overplays the comedy because he has been directed to do so. He didn't convince me and didn't make me care and his "emotional" conclusion was nothing of the sort. I liked Skinner but there was nothing for her here. Likewise I though Earl was really good as Lily and could have done more – although Cole is only a typical cute kid. Bailey and Armstrong are just names with no time to justify a mention. I suppose at least it was a positive that Gillan is limited to the last few minutes – the next season is thankfully her last before she heads off into the lucrative world of signing photos at sci-fi conventions.

A really disappointing special – we were thinking of watching It's a Wonderful Life tonight and instead watched this special – mainly off the back of the hope that it could be as good as last year's, that was a bad decision it turns out. Such a shame to see such a poor, heartless mess being presented as a finished product – even those just looking for basic sentimental, festive heart-warming will be left disappointed. Heartless, manipulative, messy and lacking in anything to really hook the viewer. Supposedly the jewel in the crown of the BBC Christmas schedule? Not this year.


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