It begins with an opening shot copied from 'Star Wars Episode Four - A New Hope' with a huge spaceship flying into view. It then explodes. The Doctor is aboard. He tries to help the pilot to safety, but the man dies, and so the Doctor takes his suit, fitting the helmet back to front. He then pulls off the astonishing feat of falling hundreds of miles to Earth without burning up in the atmosphere. This disregard for the laws of physics was last seen in 'Superman 4 - The Quest For Peace' back in 1987, not generally regarded as a great movie. Questions go unanswered, such as where the spaceship came from, where it was going to, who the pilot was, and how the Doctor get aboard without the aid of the Tardis. Back on 1938 Earth, he is given a lift by 'Madge Arwell' ( Clare Skinner ). He vows to repay her act of kindness one day. Three years later, the war is on, and Reg ( Alexander Armstrong ), Madge's husband, is missing in action, but she has not told her kids, 'Cyril' ( Maurice Cole ) and 'Lily' ( Holly Earl ). The family move to a house in the country, where they meet the Doctor posing as the 'caretaker'. Incredibly, Madge fails to recognise him, even though Matt Smith has the kind of face one could possibly not forget.
Cyril is lured through a glowing Xmas present into a snow-covered forest in which dwells in a lighthouse a wooden king and a queen ( no, I am not making this up! ). Also around are three miners from 'Androzani Major' ( how Robert Holmes must be spinning in his grave at one of his creations being misused in this way! ). Two are played by Arabella Weir and Bill Bailey and serve no use in the plot at all. To cut a long ( and boring ) story short, this is essentially 'Warriors' Gate' from 1980 revisited, and given a treacly 'Narnia' makeover. Nothing of any interest happens. Watching it was like being made to eat ten Xmas puddings simultaneously. Nice at first, but after a while I felt sick. The lack of originality is matched only by the poor execution. There is no sense of danger, no villainous plot to overcome, nothing for the Doctor to actually do.
Its been said that whereas Russell Davies' Xmas specials were merely set at Xmas, this one is actually about Xmas, I would argue that ripping off old stories is not a good thing unless one brings something new to them. This fails on all levels. There is also an extra emphasis on wacky comedy - witness the Doctor falling out of a hammock. I suspect the only person to find the scene hilarious was Moffat himself.
Just as it looked as though we were going to get through the programme without any sign of 'Amy', there she was at the end, still wearing the same expression she had when little Melody was kidnapped. If there are to be more 'Who' specials, is it too much too hope that Moffat will relinquish the writing duties to someone with an imagination. The 2011 edition proves that he has exhausted himself of ideas. The programme ended for the first time ever without a trailer for future episodes. That was for me the highlight. As soon as it ended, I put on a Philip Hinchcliffe era D.V.D. ( 'The Brain Of Morbius', if you must know ) to remind myself what real 'Dr.Who' is supposed to look like.
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