Television: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe

"Doctor Who" written by Steven MoffatIt’s Christmas Eve, 1938, when Madge Arwell comes to the aid of an injured Spaceman Angel as she cycles home, in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, starring Matt Smith as the Doctor.

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…

Since marathoning the first four years of the revived Doctor Who, I’ve never really warmed up to the Christmas specials they’ve churned out year after year. Mostly because they’re not very Christmassy. Well, save for the first one–but even then, Christmas took a back seat to the Doctor’s new face (David Tennant) and the threat of world destruction. The following year had The Runaway Bride which really wasn’t about Christmas at all; and then we had The Voyage of the Damned which had a wonderful Christmas carol (Murray Gold’s wonderful The Stowaway), but which was just as Christmassy as the year before’s; Russel T. Davies ended his era with another Christmas special: End of Time, which was spectacular–but, again, not Christmassy.

It wasn’t until last year’s A Christmas Carol that we actually got a real Christmas special from Doctor Who. It was an exemplary hour of fun and joy as only a mad man with a box can deliver–on Christmas nonetheless. And thus, I had expectations that this year’s The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe would at least equal the joy I had of watching the previous Christmas special. And I was not disappointed.

I was not a fan of Series 6, to be quite honest with you. It lacked the whimsy that I found invigorating in Steven Moffatt’s first year as showrunner, and near the end of the series, the non-stop twists just hurt my head. But the whimsy is back in this Christmas special, and with it my faith in Moffatt’s ability as a showrunner.

The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe is a perfect example of what makes Doctor Who great for me: it’s not about the twists and the turns, it’s not about keeping the viewers guessing, it’s not about being smarter than other programmes–it’s about heart. And looking back at my favorite episodes of Doctor Who, that’s the reason why I fell in love with the show. Because it’s doesn’t speak to the mind as much as it does to the heart.

Now, here’s to hoping we’ll have more of this heart in the upcoming Series 7–whenever it might pop up.

One thought on “Television: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe

  1. Pingback: Television: Sherlock Holmes, Series 2 | taking a break

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