Review: The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe

WARNING: There may be spoilers below

A couple of days ago, on 25 December, the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas Special aired on BBC1. Here’s the plot summary and a couple of my thoughts.

In this episode, the Doctor is once again alone, and it seems he is keeping busy. The story starts with the Doctor crashing to Earth after having just escaped an exploding spaceship. He meets Madge Arwell, who helps him to get to his TARDIS and whom he promises to help later if she wishes for him to come.

Three years later, Mr Arwell’s plane has been shot down in World War II and Mrs Arwell brings her kids to a big house for Christmas, which has the Doctor as its caretaker. There are some great scenes where the Doctor shows the Arwells around the house. Matt Smith is again his crazy manic Doctor in these scenes, and the kids (who do not know that their father has died) warm up to him pretty quickly. On Christmas Eve, the Doctor has a big box under the Christmas tree for the kids, and the boy, Cyril, cannot resist venturing in ahead of Christmas morning. The Doctor and his sister Lily follow, and it’s here where we are introduced to the monster for this episode.

On the forest planet where the Doctor planned to bring the kids, there are little ‘ornaments’ on the trees, which hatch and grow quickly into tree people. The tree people kidnap Cyril. It’s around here that Madge, looking for her kids, enters the box. She encounters people from Androzani Major, who are looking to harvest the trees. Madge then finds out that her children are in danger, because the harvesters are sending acid rain to burn the forest and everything in it, to obtain fuel.

The tree people decide that the Doctor and Cyril are too weak to help them, and that Lily is strong but too young. There’s a funny moment where the Doctor is offended and says, ‘She’s strong and I’m weak… Interesting….’ Madge then manages to drive the harvesters’ walking-robot-thingy to the tower where Doctor and company are held. She is taken by the tree people, who say that she is strong enough to be their mothership, because she is female. All the stars on the trees in the forest gather in Madge’s head. They all then fly into the time vortex.

Here the kids learn that their father is dead, when Madge accidentally pictures his death and projects it in their escape-pod-thingy. But then when they land at home on Christmas morning, their father’s plane is revealed to have followed them through the time vortex! It was a little predictable that he would survive, but it was quite creative the way they did it, and it was a Christmas special, so it had to have a happy ending.

To finish off, the Doctor visits the ‘Ponds’ for Christmas dinner, and they’re quite obviously three years older. It is a little awkward between the Doctor and Amy at the doorstep, but they all warm up quickly, and the Doctor even sheds a little tear of happiness, to end the episode on a nice fuzzy note.

What did you think of the episode? How did it do compared to the other Christmas specials? Tell us in the comments!