15 January 2014

The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe: Doctor Who 2011 Christmas Special (starring Matt Smith, Claire Skinner, Holly Earl and Maurice Cole)

Watching our way through the 'new season' Doctor Who DVDs, we reached the end of Series 6 at the end of last year. Aware that this was likely to happen, I had already placed Series 7 on my wishlist - and, in researching whether there were any extra 'specials', I discovered that this particular episode, the Christmas Special from 2011, was not included in the main DVDs. So I put it on my wishlist too, and was delighted to receive them all for Christmas.

Sometimes, it seems to me, the Doctor Who Christmas specials are rather bittersweet, or over-heavy for the festive season. If I'm sitting down to watch television after a large amount of food and a busy day, I want something light, preferably mildly amusing, and with a happy ending. Although we only just watched the 2011 special, 'The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe' in the middle of January, as far as I'm concerned this is exactly what a Christmas special should be like. There's a Christmas surprise, some amazing visual effects, and a large nod to CS Lewis and Narnia (not just a snow-covered planet but a line quoted from the book). There's some humour, there are some unusual aliens, and, best of all there's a wonderful climax and a great ending.

Matt Smith is superb as the Doctor in the guise of a slightly weird caretaker. Maurice Cole and Holly Earl are excellent as the geeky child Cyril and his teenage sister Lily (who looked very like the Narnian Lucy at times) - and Claire Skinner was absolutely fabulous as their mother.

Admittedly it's not standard Doctor Who, and probably won't appeal to hard-line fans. It's only rated PG, and there's only mild suspense; there's a lot that's silly and the whole is somewhat twee. Credulity is always suspended in this series, but perhaps even more so in this. And I loved it. The episode stands alone - so for those who dislike this kind of thing, it can easily be ignored.

Sadly the only 'extras' on the DVD are various compilations of 'best of' moments in the previous series, presumably intended to inspire viewers to buy more DVDs. And it's currently very highly priced on Amazon, given that it's just an hour-long episode.

But still. Great stuff.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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