Dr Who Review: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

The Doctor the Widow and the Wardrobe Doctor Who

Dr Who Review: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The Doctor travels back to World War II Britain to help a family get through Christmas after the father goes missing, presumed dead.

Best Moment: I loved the bit at the end where neither Amy nor the Doctor seem willing to be the first person to initiate a hug, but let’s face it, nothing can beat the magical bedroom that the Doctor created for the Arwell children.

Verdict: The episode was advertised as a Narnia-type story, but in actual fact, despite a few head nods, such as the TARDIS that he says is a wardrobe, and the doorway to a magical snowy forest, this was quite a bit different, and for the better.

The story was a very simple one. After Madge Arwell helps the Doctor out of a little bind, the Doctor returns the favour by coming when she most needs help, faced with a Christmas without her husband and trying to find the right time to tell her children that their father is dead

Travelling on his own, the Doctor gets to be the biggest kid of them all when he transforms the house that the Arwell’s are visiting, into a magical place of Christmas wonder and delight. Despite his own obvious loneliness, this Doctor is deliberately cheerful and happy as he is determined to make this Christmas an unforgettable one for the Arwell’s.

Of course, being Doctor Who, something weird and sinister has to happen, but also, as seems to be common with Steven Moffat’s stories, the sinister creatures are often misunderstood. In the case of this Christmas special, the sinister beings are in fact wooden creatures that are trying to flee the magical forest which has been endangered by harvest rangers.

Needing a female to help them with their escape, they choose Madge allowing her to experience the space-time vortex, that we see so often with the TARDIS, and face up to the death of her husband. It also serves as a way for the two Arwell children to discover the news of their father’s demise. It’s quite heartbreaking if not for the fact that through Madge’s piloting of the wood creatures craft, she has managed to actually save her husband, providing the guiding light he needs to safely land his bomber, which happens to be outside the home of the uncle they are visiting, on Christmas morning.

It’s the human beats that really make this story. Madge’s determination to keep the news of her husband’s death to herself, so that she wouldn’t spoil things for her children, all the way to the happy family reunion. Of the two things I do think are a shame, I wish we had got to see a bit more
Bill Bailey as one of the harvest rangers. Also, it might have been nice to see the other members of the Lancaster bomber crew show up also, or did he fly there by himself?

When we last saw the Doctor, he was in a kind of self-imposed isolation, allowing everybody to believe he was dead. As deeply moved as the Doctor is to see the Arwell reunion, he understands it’s time for him to move on. After all, the Doctor simply doesn’t do Christmas dinner. However, it becomes time for Madge to do one last favour for the Doctor by advising him to go see his friends and spend Christmas with them, which is indeed what he does, turning up on Amy & Rory’s doorstep, the door of which, happens to be painted the exact same shade of blue as the TARDIS. Even the Doctor needs a happy ending once in a while.