There’s always one Christmas present that you really weren’t expecting, either in a good way or a bad way. This year, it was Androzani popping up again in Doctor Who.
“The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe” is clearly inspired by the Narnia novels of C.S. Lewis (who died on 22 November 1963, a day before the first airing of “An Unearthly Child”), where a family go to a country house and discover a doorway into another world – Moffat has stated as such and is clearly a big fan of the series, although he doesn’t like the religious bits. I like the religious bits as a Christian, but we’ll have to agree to differ there.
This story starts slowly and rather patchily – the pre-titles sequence is rather poor, but things get better once Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner from the wonderful comedy series Outnumbered, turning in a great performance), a recently widowed mother of two takes her two children to Uncle Digby’s house and one of them decides to open their Christmas present early.
“Space Narnia” is a wonderful setting and a great environment, playing host to a story of great pathos [Are you sure you know what that means? – Ed. Oh, stop being such a Scrooge!], humour (the trademark Moffat wit is fully present, especially with the three soldiers) and adventure. The climax is a bit predictable and some of the stuff might not stand up to a second viewing, but I enjoyed the second half considerably, making up for a lacklustre second half. Glad to see Amy and Rory – they’ll be missed once they go. The sets are great and it’s a shame that Doctor Who Confidential is no longer with us to explore the making of this special in more detail.
Matt Smith’s performance is highly praiseworthy. He’s really established the Eleventh Doctor as a unique character, being his own manic style to the role in a way that you can’t imagine David Tennant doing. Long may he continue in this role.
It’s not perfect, but the few sprouts are balanced out by some truly great turkey. A lovely Christmas treat – it’s just a pity we didn’t get a little after-dinner morsel, e.g. an episode title, to whet our appetite for 2012.