This year’s Doctor Who
Christmas Special seems to have got a mostly positive, but subdued reaction, if the corners of “The Internet” I usually frequent are anything to go by. Not that that necessarily means anything – maybe we’re all used enough to Doctor Who
being a Christmas Day staple that we no longer ditch our families and run to Twitter. Weird behaviour, but there you go.
Anyway it seems like Steven Moffat’s going for an annual theme of adapting a well-loved Christmassy, or at least wintery, story into its sci-fi equivalent. After “A Christmas Carol” last year, he’s once again not making any secret that this year it’s a Narnia spin with “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.” So we get a happy-sad WWII evacuation story overshadowed by a recently-dead dad (and Xander Armstrong gets to be in front of the camera this time rather than just voicing Mr Smith) who is clearly not going to be quite
that dead in the end because it’s Christmas. (Although, what happened to his co-pilot and the wounded gunner? Did they get jettisoned over the Channel or are they sitting in the back of the plane, slowly dying while Reg goes off for turkey with the fam?)
Anyway, let’s not dwell on that, or the fact that the story’s resolution involves the universe operating according to a laboured pun on the word “mothership.” As most of the internet said, it’s a bit of a lovely episode, with a lot of people picking out the line “What’s the point of them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.” And even the trees get a happy ending, flying off into space to become stars or something WITH KYLIE! So I’ll focus on what I didn’t see mentioned, which is how funny the episode is: There’s some great lines, first from the Doctor (or as he’s mostly called here, the Caretaker, because this incognito “pretending to be dead” thing is new to him and he’s never been the best at pseudonyms; let’s face it, the Master would still sneer at the obviousness of “the Caretaker.”) Matt Smith’s delivery of “this hammock has developed a fault” is great, and my favourite line of the episode, “Why would you rewire a wardrobe?” “Have you seen the way I dress?” Later, main guest star Claire Skinner steals the show with Madge’s matter-of-fact reactions to the fantastic – “Stay inside, the rain is frightful.” “What have I told you about opening your presents early? Something like this was bound to happen.” (Also, the Arwells’ uncle would appear to be a particularly large dog – he’s called Digby and has been taken to a home in Battersea.)
Speaking of which, this episode was full of what I love about Moffat and Smith’s version of the Doctor – his rudeness and alienness, he’s a character who absolutely identifies with children but doesn’t understand them enough to know they’ll be impatient to open a mysterious present early. Meaning that, once again, this is a Doctor who makes mistakes and is pretty much the cause of most of the trouble.