The Doctor, The Widow, And The Wardrobe - Doctor Who blog
(SPOILER WARNING: The following is an in-depth critical analysis. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, you may want to before reading this review)
I actually went into this one cautiously optimistic for once. While there were a few problems with it, Moffat’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol was pretty damn good overall and surprisingly touching at points. (See, I do say nice things about Moffat sometimes. So I don’t want anymore hate mail saying I’m just a Moffat hater. I’m not a Moffat hater. I just despise shit writing. It’s not my fault if most of what Moffat writes is shit, is it?). Granted I wasn’t too keen on the idea of Moffat adapting The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. I’m not exactly a fan of CS Lewis (misogynistic prick), but I figured I’d give Moffat a chance. It might be really good.
Was it? Well… I suppose it’s not the worst thing he’s ever written.
Things don’t exactly go off to a promising start. Remember when the Doctor said it was time to step back into shadows? Go into hiding? Stop being so big and noisy? Well this episode opens with the Doctor blowing up a spaceship. So much for hiding. And don’t get me started on the Doctor falling to Earth and trying to put on a spacesuit whilst in the vacuum of space. I know the science in Doctor Who has always been incredibly dodgy, but this is taking the piss.
Anyway the Doctor is rescued by a woman called Madge and he vows to return the favour. Three years later, during World War 2 (yes again), Madge and her family get evacuated (to an empty house, which is unusual. Also Madge is evacuated with her children. Why I don’t know. Either she’s a lot younger than she looks or Moffat hasn’t picked up a history textbook in a while) and the Doctor returns to give them the best Christmas they’ve ever had.
Let’s quickly talk about the family. First there’s Madge, played by Claire Skinner. Not a particularly interesting character, but she seems likeable enough. I enjoyed her resourcefulness at the beginning with the lockpick and everything. I also liked her emotional dilemma. Trying to give her children a happy Christmas while at the same time handling her own grief toward her seemingly dead husband and attempting to put a brave face on it. Her husband is played by Alexander Armstrong, who gives a good enough performance with the small amount of material he’s been given, although it’s a bit hard to take him seriously as an RAF pilot considering that he played an RAF pilot in the comedy sketch show Armstrong & Miller. Every time he talked, I kept expecting him to start complaining about how he wasn’t allowed to wear his ‘well hardcore trousers with all the pockets and shit’. Their children are less effective however. Cyril is a gormless troublemaker played by a child actor who gives a performance more wooden than the trees. And finally there’s Lily, who… exists. She breathes in oxygen and breathes out carbon dioxide. That’s basically her main contribution to the story. (And don’t forget, trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, so Lily is in fact making a very important contribution indeed).
We then spend some time enjoying some wacky hijinks with the Doctor, including spinning armchairs, taps that dispense lemonade, a train set built into a Christmas tree, and hammocks. While I’ve never been very fond of Matt Smith’s Doctor, even I have to admit I found this amusing. I think it’s because of how humble it all is. The Doctor isn’t being weird just to show off how weird he’s being like he normally does. He genuinely wants make this family happy.
And then it’s off to Narnia.
At first things are pretty suspenseful. Christmas trees that grow their own baubles, mysterious footprints and a wooden building shaped like a giant Playstation Move (remember those?). But as things go along, you get the sense that the episode is treading water a bit. Let’s face it, there isn’t actually a plot here. Sure Moffat tries to shake things up with the wooden statues and Bill Bailey in a space marine outfit. He even name-drops Androzani in the hopes that it’ll get classic series fans like myself excited. But it does little to disguise the fact that we’re basically watching a bunch of people trudging through the snow for 45 minutes with not a lot actually happening. It’s a bit dull. In fact name-dropping Androzani might not have been the best idea because all it did was remind me I could be watching The Caves Of Androzani right now instead of this.
Bill Bailey is utterly wasted. Who casts a brilliant comedian like him as the comic foil? Whose stupid idea was that? It hurts especially because you just know if he was doing most of the jokes, he would knock it out of the park. instead it all feels really awkward and forced. The other two Androzani miners just aren’t very good. And more to the point, what are they all even doing there? They’re using acid rain to harvest the trees, but why do they need to be there on the ground? And why, other than for the sake of plot convenience, did they leave that mechanical walker behind?
It soon becomes clear this is supposed to be an environmentalist story. The souls of the trees wanting to escape from the destructive influence of man. A worthy cause I suppose, even if it is a bit old hat. It’s a pity it doesn’t really make sense. So their plan to escape is to just wait for a human woman to conveniently happen upon them? Bit weak, isn’t it?
And then of course Moffat’s trademark sexism comes creeping back in. When her children disappear, mild mannered Madge suddenly shifts to the Moffat default of a gun toting sass machine (where did she even get the gun from anyway?) because that’s the only way Moffat knows how to write women. Apart from anything else, it’s just boring by this point. She manages to incapacitate the Androzani miners with ease, she manages to operate the mechanical walker despite the fact it takes years of training to do so apparently, and she absorbs the souls of the entire forest. How is she able to do all of that? Because she’s a mum. Yes ladies, it’s your capacity to bear life that makes you strong.
Moffat thinks he’s a feminist. I think he has an extremely unhealthy and patronising obsession with the female reproductive system. Also he doesn’t seem to understand how relationships actually work (which is a bit worrying considering he’s married). Newsflash: A man following a woman home alone in the middle of a forest is not romantic or charming. it’s just fucking creepy.
Yeah, so anyway, after some convoluted bullshit that gets everyone back home and brings Madge’s husband miraculously back from the dead, the Doctor goes off to visit Amy. I was more than happy to see the back of her, so you can imagine my disappointment when she showed up at the end. (And with a water pistol to assault carol singers with. What a delightful person). The episode concludes with an oh so poetic tear trickling down the Doctor’s face while the audience simultaneously groans with embarrassment at such a cliched ending.
Like I said, The Doctor, The Widow, And The Wardrobe isn’t the worst Moffat story I’ve seen. It’s not outrageously bad or anything. It’s just not very good. Also, apart from the WW2 setting and the snowy forest, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe whatsoever. In my opinion, the biggest crime this episode commits is that it’s just really, really dull to sit through. My advice is to just watch A Christmas Carol again.
So, we happened to do something huge this weekend at Dragon Con. I proposed to my long time girlfriend, @sinfulmarinette, on Saturday, Sept 2nd, 2017.
We met through Doctor Who. I roleplayed as the Eleventh Doctor and she roleplayed as Clara Oswald. We met each other as those characters so I knew I had to propose to her as those characters and Dragon Con was the place to do it. After a kick of motivation from a friend, @riallasheng, and several others, I finally decided to follow though with it this year. After some thorough sneaky planning, I was able to get the ring box and rings here in time and coordinate with the guy in charge of the cosplay photo shoot so he’d gather a group up together and then call us up to come forward. She had no idea of our plans. It caught her entirely off guard (as well as the others involved in the shoot, as you can see) and it was a huge success. I’m honestly still shocked that I didn’t completely screw up my speech, haha.
And the fact the entire Pond family was there to celebrate with us made it all the more amazing! They all seemed so excited to be part of the event and that made us both feel over the moon.
You could say it was OUT OF THIS WORLD. (Hahaha. Yeah. I had to go there.)
It was wonderful and so was the rest of the weekend. We were surrounded by friends and support and that made everything better. We can’t thank everyone there enough for a perfect engagement weekend!
Doctor Who––Series 5, Episode 10: “Vincent and the Doctor”
“Between you and me, in a hundred words, where do you think Van Gogh rates in the history of art?” “Well… um… big question. But, to me, Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all. Certainly, the most popular, great painter of all time. The most beloved. His command of colour the most magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.”
“Despite Margaret and the now Queen Mum dropping their first curtsies before her, and a slightly miffed Philip told he must now trail behind her entering rooms, the money shot is unquestionably the spectral Queen Mary, covered in mourning dress, creakily sinking to her knees before her new sovereign.”