First off, Merry Christmas, I hope you all had a great time. Now though is time to be a little more depressing as we talk about this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special. Normally it’s one of my favourite parts of Christmas, but not this year. So settle down after your leftover sandwiches and a half-drunk bottle of wine and I’ll try and explain why it didn’t work for me.
First nitpicky things that annoyed me. The name. I can barely be bothered saying The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe every time I want to talk about it, never mind writing it down, and it sounds kind of lumpy, like The Curse of the Black Spot. And the name’s a bit misleading anyhow considering the story has very little to do with the Narnia story. Except the kids being moved to a big country house in the war and the portal to a snow kingdom, there’s no connection, so it seems a bit of a cheat calling it that, especially the year after The Christmas Carol which stuck quite close to the story while giving it a new twist. Oh and the harvesters being from Androzani. That’s a planet from the old series. And while I like a good shout-out to the classics, this really didn’t work. They said it too much and it was too obvious. It was like Moffat was shouting at us “Look at me, I’m making a reference! Look, Look, look!”. Just didn’t work for me.
So that’s enough of the stupid wee things that annoy me personally, now on to the actual major problems with the story.
Bill Bailey is good, but he and the other harvesters are barely in it. If you’re going to get a great guest star like that, actually use them.
The children are dull. As in, they aren’t interesting characters. The boy is generic smart kid and the girl is generic fairytale girl.
The mother isn’t anything special. Now, complaining that someone just does an ok job seems a bit pedantic, but remember last year we had Michael Gambon, and the year before John Simm and Bernard Cribbins and so on, every year has a great central character. Now, while there’s nothing wrong with the mother here, she’s just not up to the standard set by previous years.
All of the story is clichéd. The saving of the father, the Doctor as the caretaker, the mother being the strongest, etc, they were all coming obviously, and you could see the story twists about a mile off. But the main example of this was the harvester machine. As soon as the mother says “this looks a bit like a plane”, I knew she would drive it. And I hate when things like that happen, if it takes years of training, then it takes years of training, not just strong emotions.
Doctor Who is hardly a sensible show, but this episode went too far. Because it was just a fairytale. However stupid the show gets it’s always about science. But this episode about the tree’s souls just didn’t sit right. It would be like if there had been actual ghosts last year. I don’t know what it was exactly but the whole forest with living Christmas trees, tree souls and just happening to light the way for the father, just seemed to childish and silly for Doctor Who.
Don’t get me wrong, there were things I enjoyed about the special. The start however over the top was brilliant and it was all a good bit of fun until the forest. The Doctor fixing the house was mad, but the right kind of mad. And the ending with Amy and Rory was just brilliant. So basically, it had a few moments, but it just came off as a story trying to be cleverer than it was and then it losing the charm of the Christmas special because of it.