Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe (DVD)]]>
A London family flees the bombing of World War II and comes to a country estate, where two children and their mother discover a doorway to another world… but what lies on the other side is definitely not Narnia. Instead, it's a wintry forest planet on the brink of destruction, and only the infinitely clever time-and-space-traveling alien being known as the Doctor (Matt Smith) can figure out how to save it. The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe doesn't have the complex story of the last Doctor Who Christmas special, A Christmas Carol, and the Doctor coming into a family's life and making it better veers perilously close to Touched by an Angel territory--but what makes up for it is the rich creepiness of the snowbound forest and the eerie creatures who live there. As with any Steven Moffat script, the dialogue is smart and sprightly. And Matt Smith, with his deep-set eyes, gangly body, and effervescent fusion of whimsy and intelligence, continues to develop a multilayered incarnation of the Doctor that's as compelling as any that's gone before. Extras include a very peculiar look back at Doctor Who's sixth season, in which an odd mix of artists and celebrities (including alternative comedians like Reggie Watts and Eugene Mirman, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, magazine editors, podcast hosts, and random actresses) enthuse about their favorite aspects of the show. --Bret Fetzer
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
- the Doctor: "No idea. Do what I do. Hold tight... and pretend it's a plan."
As sublime as "A Christmas Carol" was, it would take something really special for this most recent Doctor Who Christmas Special to match, let alone top, it. I quite liked "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" because Matt Smith is never less than entertaining. But Steven Moffat's cup of schmaltz really spills over with this episode. But, hey, it's Christmastime, a season ripe for excess, and surely Moffat can be excused for overindulging his inner sappy.
The story opens in outer space as a hostile alien warship menaces Earth. But no sooner do the invaders declare "People of Earth, you stand alone!" than the Doctor pops up to gum up the works. But, having once more saved our little ball of mud, the Time Lord plummets down and crashlands in London on Christmas Eve, 1938. In the crater developed by his forced landing, the Doctor finds himself in a bit of a bind, but he's aided by a passing housewife named Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner). The Doctor is so touched by Madge's generosity that he vows to return the favor. "How?" she asks. "I dunno," says the Doctor. "Make a wish, that usually works."
Cut now to a war-torn London three years later, and to a desolate Christmastime for Madge Arwell. Having just received a telegram informing her of her husband's death under enemy fire, she determines to keep the news from her children, Lily and Cyril, until after the holidays. She promises them: "This Christmas is going to be the best Christmas ever!" (And, at this juncture, maybe there's a collective rolling of the eyes from the audience, oh we jaded souls.) To escape the German blitz, the Arwells relocate to Dorset to an uncle's country mansion. There, they're greeted by an odd stranger calling himself the Caretaker. Madge isn't too sure of the Caretaker and the barrage of mad whimsy he unleashes, but the kids take to him right away. Matt Smith comes across as a big kid at heart.
I think I love this sequence best, when "the Caretaker" gives the bemused Arwells a frenetic tour of their new home. Hoping to lift up their spirits, the Doctor - c'mon, you knew it was him - had made certain adjustments. I particularly enjoyed how excited the Doctor (and, by extension, Matt Smith) genuinely seemed to be in displaying the various rooms and their singular wares (the locomotive chairs, the lemonade pipeline, the plummeting hammocks, etc.). The kids are soon eyeing a mysterious glowing present wrapped up in blue next to the resplendent Christmas tree.
Moffat doesn't try to disguise his nod towards C.S. Lewis's THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. And those moments of discovery, encompassed in the first twenty minutes, when the story was still somewhat clinging to the C.S. Lewis bits, make up some of the episode's best moments. Later, once the Doctor and the Arwells employ the "wardrobe" and begin to explore the other side's wintry woodsy realm is when I sort of started checking out. I just don't get the logic of harvesting a forest with acid rain. And I don't think Moffat developed the threats of the forest creatures and the harvesters well enough. I did enjoy the neat bit of trivia which references the 5th Doctor's final 1984 adventure ("The Caves of Androzani").
"The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" ultimately doesn't resonate as strongly as "A Christmas Carol," and yet it's still a fine holiday tale. Claire Skinner delivers a strong performance. She doesn't have so many scenes with Matt Smith, but their interactions are quirky and memorable. Matt Smith shares more scenes with Holly Earl ("Lily"), and it's gratifying that the Doctor doesn't condescend to young Ms. Arwell. He treats her like an adult. Matt Smith is incredible, able to do madcap and then effortlessly carry on with the emotional bits. Moffat has pulled out the stops in terms of tugging on your heart strings (and there's an argument that he may've tugged a bit too hard). It helps that Moffat writes some of the best one-liners in this episode, and many good character moments. It ends on a truly wonderful moment for the lonely Time Lord, one of the few times since DOCTOR WHO's been revived as a television series that the closing credits drop on an absolutely content Doctor. There's probably a plate of fish fingers and custard waiting for him.
The DVD's bonus extras comprise a Prequel to "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" (00:01:26 minutes) and three "Best Of" featurettes (totaling over two hours) which essentially recap Series 5 and 6. As such, these featurettes (each running a bit over 43 minutes) focus on the Eleventh Doctor's top moments, on his Companions, and the Monsters they face. Plenty of clips shown from Series 5 and 6 and, surprisingly, an ensemble of American comedians, actors, musicians, and nerd icons provide fanboy commentary and perspective; Mark Sheppard is the only talking head here who is British and has actually worked on the show. "The Best of the Monsters" featurette also comes with "Ask a Whovian" segments in which Doctor Who cosplay fans at a convention answer Doctor Who-related questions.
This Christmas special is mischievous and fun even without a villain, but it’s not very Christmassy. Dad’s missing and a war is on.
I am having trouble coming up with anything that won't be a spoiler, this story is so quietly rich. So I'll just say that if you don't like to laugh or cry or both at the same time and if you want to miss one of the most delightful and uplifting characters the Doctor has ever worked with, then be sure to skip this one!
A note to those who sometimes find Dr Who way too irreligious: The title and some of the devices and scenery in it are very loosely aligned with the wonderful C.S.Lewis book that this title was a obvious play on, but despite what I see as a strong anti-religious (especially anti-Christian) position (one must remember that that position seems to begin in many intelligent minds as anti-ignorance and anti-hypocracy, and evolves to include anti-[groups that had apparent ignorance and hypocrisy] ideas or else arrises inevitably out of a strict secular humanism dogma) of most Dr Who writers (certainly this one, if you assume the Doctor is in some sense channelling the author's opinions), I found nothing offensively irreverent in the story (possibly excepting the total omission of Jesus from Christmas ): just humor and pain and healing and beauty and joy.