"Doctor Who" The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (TV Episode 2011) Poster

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Another load of piffle from The Moffat Fairytale Factory
Adrianapolis3 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
2011 will surely go down in 'Dr.Who' history as an 'annus horribilis' ( horrible year ). Firstly, we lost both Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen, 'Dr.Who Confidential' was axed from B.B.C.-3 schedules, the show failed to win a sausage at the National Television Awards, and Steven Moffat's scripts plummeted new depths of inanity, completely abandoning logic and drama. It is hard to decide which was sillier; was it 'Let's Kill Hitler' which despite the title barely featured Old Adolf, 'A Good Man Goes To War' which boasted headless monks battling it out with light sabres, or 'The Wedding Of River Song' with the cast running about in eye patches for no apparent reason. It could not get much worse. But, on 25th December, it did. 'The Doctor, The Widow, & The Wardrobe' pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of being more dreadful even than last year's train wreck 'A Christmas Carol'.

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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Christmas Special 2011: Poor and with no substance to support the silliness
bob the moo26 December 2011
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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Left Me Colder Than Frosty The Snowman
Theo Robertson25 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Ah Christmas . That time of year when you're press ganged in to thinking the world is having the time of its life in the run up to the 25th December . Office parties , free drinks and hardcore sex with ones pretty female colleagues . I don't work in an office , I've got a proper job and it involves slaving away for 12 hour shifts , tea total and celibate . The disappointment doesn't end on Christmas morning because there's always a present you're always wanting that you never get . Perhaps it's destiny because it certainly prepares you for the Christmas DOCTOR WHO special which often ends up being the worst story from the entire year . Last Christmas was the exception with the touching tale of love seen in A Christmas Carol being the entire highlight of the Smith/Moffat era . Alas today's offering is like Santa forgetting to visit your home

The story opens with a sequence stolen from Moonraker and when you're stealing action scenes from the worst ever Bond film you know the writer is bereft of ideas . What makes it worse is that the Doctor is immune to fundamental physics . He wouldn't be able to breathe in space and he'd be burned alive entering the Earth's atmosphere in a space suit and even if he survived that intact he'd be killed by a fall of many miles . I know you have to suspend disbelief in order for any DOCTOR WHO story to work but this is just plain ridiculous . It stops being a drama and just becomes a cartoon that insults a thinking audience

As the story proper continues we have all the hallmarks of a Smith /Moffat tale . The Doctor runs around spouting dialogue without pausing for breath whilst bombastic muzak drowns out the nonsensical dialogue . There's always a good performance trying to get out of Smith but is always ruined by the producer's need to make him eccentric and zany . There also might have been a good story getting out this episode but Moffat's need for both quirky guest characters and a happy ending leads to portent predictability . Oh someone's dad is shot down in a RAF bomber , hey I bet this is one of these episodes where everyone lives . Oh it is . Hasn't Moffat given De ja vu a bad name ? And we have an ending featuring Karen Gillan waving a water pistol around . Allow me to kidnap de ja vu and state that the water pistol has far more range than Ms Gillan will ever have

This is just not good enough . I don't expect every DOCTOR WHO story to be a masterpiece but do expect to see something of substance . This year's Christmas special had less substance than a glass of filtered water and gives the impression that Moffat wrote it whilst he was over indulging in a vat of mulled wine . Please Santa can you give Steven Moffat his p-45 as a late Christmas present
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John Green26 December 2011
Most of the classic & current Who stories are interesting and occasionally try to educate on some level. But the real test of a good episode was if it was entertaining and allowed the suspension of disbelief. This story was full of distractions from the beginning. Being in outer space without the TARDIS and still breathing and shouting?? Falling to the Earth and catching a spacesuit to offer protection as if it were a parachute caught while from a falling airplane? Puleeeze!

I give Dr Who a lot of latitude where science comes in, but this was not a very well thought out story on any level!! The plot is all over the place and while the trailers temped us with a CS Lewis Christmas feel, it failed to deliver. It would be great if RTD came back, they found a replacement to MS and wrote better stories. As a fan for over 40 years, I hope the show gets better...It needs a Doctor!
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One of the best Doctor Who's to date!
Corey4 March 2012
There is nothing to say about this episode that you don't already know about the series. It plays slightly on the Chronicles of Narnia but those expecting a religious experience are just kidding themselves. It's Doctor Who, not C.S. Lewis. What you should know about this episode is that you need to devote the entire time to it, don't stop watching, things change, fast. You might see things blink, flash for half a second, and frankly miss important happenings. The episode is played out perfectly and the message is wonderful, I took away 'never give up' but you could take just about anything positive from it that you would like. In my opinion, this is one of the best Doctor Who episodes, ever.
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A fine episode with a slightly cop out ending
Tweekums16 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It is Christmas once again so that means another Doctor Who Christmas special and as is usually the case that means The Doctor having an adventure without his regular assistant. This time his companions are a recently widowed woman and her two children. Opening just before the outbreak of the Second World War the Doctor plunges to Earth wearing a backward spacesuit; here a woman helps him back to the Tardis. Three years later her husband is lost over the Channel and she evacuates to the country with her children Lily and Cyril; here they find their new home has a rather strange caretaker... The Doctor! It is Christmas Eve and young Cyril can't sleep; when he investigates a mysterious present he discovers that it is a gateway to another world; a beautiful snow covered forest. Here he discovers something strange and follows it away from the portal. When they realise he is missing the Doctor and Lily, and then his mother follow to search for him. There is inevitably a danger; the trees aren't trees as we know but contain consciences that must evacuate the planet before it is destroyed by people who wish to harvest the trees as a fuel supply.

This was another good Christmas special; while it was a shame the Ponds only appeared in a brief epilogue The Doctors temporary companions did a fine job and I liked how the 'forest creatures' appeared rather creepy yet turned out to be benevolent. The episode wasn't without flaws however; I wasn't so keen on the comic relief forestry workers; largely because they weren't funny enough to justify breaking the more sombre tone of the story. The emotional scenes were well handled; especially the scene where the woman must tell her children about their father's death... even if it did turn out to be a bit premature due to the somewhat Deus ex Machina ending.
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Moffat keep ruining Doctor Who
sassenachaline5 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not a huge fan of Doctor Who Christmas specials, but this episode was definitely the worst ever. Steven Moffat gave us a story that doesn't make any sense, as usual.

The episode starts with the Doctor destroying a spaceship on his own. Then he falls from space to Earth with just a spacesuit to "protect" him. How this opening scene can be more wrong !

  • Since when the Doctor became a man who destroy everything, with his screwdriver in his hand ! I thought The Doctor was a genius, a scientific man, someone who use his brain to solve a problem !

  • The Doctor run in a great EMPTY corridor with nobody to stop him. Is the huge spaceship empty ??? No one tries to stop The Doctor or even run or scream ! And where is The Doctor running to ??? The TARDIS ? Well, The Tardis is on Earth ! How The doctor get on board then, and why ? Is The Doctor totally stupid to blow up a ship with no escape for him ?!

  • Apparently I was wrong to think that Doctor Who was a science-fiction series, because in this "brilliant" opening scene we can see that there is fresh air in SPACE, that we can SWIM in SPACE, that someone can survive without breathing, that someone can fall from space and crash on Earth without harm and even make jokes right after the crash !!!!!

There's only one way this opening could work, it's in a "Scary movie"; which is NOT a compliment of course.

And if it was just the opening that was wrong, but the plot is even more ridiculous after that. There's not a single scene that makes sense, except perhaps the last scene with Amy and Rory.

To sum up, this episode is visually beautiful, Matt Smith did his best for the audience to forget the nonsense script, but it's not enough unfortunately. I think Steven Moffat should quit because he didn't write a good script since the RTD era.
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Woman as Womb
trickie30615 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It has already been suggested in the media that head writer Stephen Moffat is outrageously sexist and this past season and Christmas special provide ample proof to back up this claim. Women are reduced to their basic biology when major plot lines revolve around Amy being secretly pregnant with a semi-alien baby. This insistence that women be reduced to mothers continues in the Christmas special when the resolution involves a woman saving the day because as a woman she is innately maternal. Moffat dispels any possibility that her maternal side is simply down to her personality and is instead innate in women because of a horrible scene in which her daughter can't save the world because she's not ready (read prepubescent). It denies that men can be nurturers because they can't give birth which seems to completely ignore the fact that the Doctor is constantly trying to take care of others.

To top it all off it simply isn't even entertaining.

Can we have Russell T. Davies back please? Also runner up mention for the scene were they explicitly suggest that stalking is romantic.
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I'll Be Home for Christmas
boblipton25 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Since its revival in 2005, DOCTOR WHO has offered us an annual Christmas extravaganza. Last year, Steven Moffat offered us a wonderful take on Dickens' A Christmas CAROL, This year we have one that starts off looking like C.S. Lewis' Narnia and turns into a bit of an unfortunate mess involving ecology, earth spirits and the strength of motherhood in war.

This episode starts very well. Matt Smith is his usual marvelous, bizarre, alien Doctor and Claire Skinner is superb as Madge, the muddled Englishwoman not sure how she is going to tell her children their father's airplane was shot down over the Channel coming back from a bombing raid in World War II. Everything looks very promising up to the moment when the family crawls through the big boxed Christmas present into the icy forest world -- the clear Narnia image. After that, however, there is a confusing farrago of issues, sustained, to the extent that it is, by Moffat's usual expert collection of jokes and references to the classic series. It suffers from the underwritten and telegraphic plotting that much of Series Six suffered from.

Even so, I am a sucker for a sentimental ending, and Moffat has provided us with a good one. Christmas is a time for forgiveness as well as gifts. I'll accept this gift with sincere appreciation and forgive it its weaknesses.
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Claire Skinner I applaud you.
Paul Evans7 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
We're once again in the blitz (Moffat is a fan of wartime isn't he.) The Doctor has fallen out of the sky and landed in a ditch, he's rescued by Madge Arwell. Out of gratitude the Doctor tells Madge if she needed him to make a wish. Tragedy strikes and Madge's husband Reg is shot down, the children's wish brings the Doctor to them. The Doctor's left children Cyril and lily a present under the tree, the present, a gateway to another world, a snowy ice capped world. The Doctor and Lily follow, and later Madge follows.

I really do love Claire Skinner, she's a really sweet adorable actress, when I watch her I connect to her, she does a great job, sweet and bubbly to sad and British stiff upper lipped. Great line, 'one can't imagine being a forest, and then suddenly one can' haha.

Dickens last year, in the Christmas carol, that was stunning. CS Lewis this year, sadly doesn't hit the same notes, but contrary to the many bad reviews I quite like it, it's very sweet and touching, come on it's Christmas. I must be softer hearted then my fellow reviewers but the ending choked me.

So it's not an epic adventure, and the ending is a bit of a cop out, but it's a fun, sweet tale, perfect for Christmas, even the toughest hearted of all must have raised a smile, big love for Madge though. 7/10
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dreadful, dire, abominable
stesimbrotos28 July 2012
The title indicates that this is CS Lewis revisited.

A childish tone is developed and maintained which today's sophisticated kids may, and should, feel insulted by.

The cast features several of the current batch of bland comedians who are doing themselves no favours appearing in this tosh.

This years season of Dr Who has twisted and turned with now predictable and formulaic Moffat shtick punctuated by the odd contemporary embarrassment such as the "Anglican gay marines". Hundreds of years into the future and gays still have to be defensive about their sexuality.

Moffat is on the slide - he can't possibly get worse than this.

But I'm sure he'll try.
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It's nigh impossible to defend this childish garbage Warning: Spoilers
Gotta love Christmas. Well, I do. But the downside is the people who save away at long shifts and suddenly go get scary drunk and get into trouble, but I don't do that. I set limits for myself, although I do often expect some drunken fun. However, another downside is that you never know whether the DW Christmas special will be good or bad, and even though I only got into the show just over a year so, I can tell Christmas is usually a gamble with regards to these specials, and I can say that I've enjoyed the majority of them, but I sadly can't say the same thing about The Doctor, The Widow, The Wardrobe.

This is especially a comedown after the heady thrill of The Christmas Carol, a reselling it the beloved Dickens tale with a Who twist. And it's no secret that 2011 was not that good a year for Doctor Who; with series 6 being a complete mess of over-arching story lines and tryhardism, so it's natural that Moffat would go for a more childish approach. Problem is, this episode was clearly designed for children with not a single ounce of maturity in it, and it's absolutely painful to watch. Moffat isn't the best writer for Who (but he is better than Russell T. Davies) and he is mostly really good when he writes, but when he's bad, boy is he bad, and this is a case.

Alright, so I'd be lying if I said it was totally bad. Mtt Smith is predictably great (same can't be said for that awful wig he wears) The ending was quite emotional, with The Doctor going back in time to save the housekeeper's husband, but that's something the Doctor would NEVER do, especially after he learned the nightmarish consequences of such in Father's Day. I get that every Doctor is different but this was just painful to watch. I don't expect every single DW episode to be exactly great, but I do expect it to be at least fun, and having some substance. This has none. Avoid.
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