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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011/BBC Blu-ray)

Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011/BBC Blu-ray)


Picture: B+     Sound: B+     Extras: A+     Episodes: A



BBC and lead Who writer Steven Moffat score again in this whimsical sci-fi send-up of the C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.  It’s WWII and Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner) and her children Lily (Holly Earl) and Cyril (Maurice Cole) flee the bombings in London for safer quarters in rustic Dorset.  All the while Madge withholds a terrible secret. Her husband, an RAF pilot, has been shot down and reported killed in action.


Enter a lone Doctor (Matt Smith), who awaits the fraught family as they arrive at the grand old house where they intend to ride out the bombings.  It’s Christmas time, and as this is the Doctor Who Christmas Special for 2011, Mr. Smith’s Time Lord has a very special present lined up for the Arwell family.  Capricious and inquisitive Cyril gets a bit jumpy, and “opens” the present early, transporting himself into a wondrous world of trees and snow.


Having designed countless alien environments, the Who creative crew just keeps upping the ante. The “magical” forest that Cyril enters, and where the Doctor, Lily, and soon after Madge, follow looks incredible.  Still, timing is everything, especially with a Time Lord on the scene, and the seemingly sentient forest has some trouble ahead of it.


Mr. Moffat and director Farin Blackburn manage to deliver just the right bits of sentimentality, action, and mystery in this latest installment in what is fast becoming a holiday tradition of special Christmas stories.  Mr. Smith’s performance as the Doctor is always strong, but it is Claire Skinner’s turn as the distraught, but ultimately powerful Madge that steals the show. Determined to hold her family together in spite of an unspeakable loss, the Doctor manages to give her and the children the ultimate Christmas gift.


Extras include “The Best of Doctor Who” features and a prequel piece, but the strength of this Blu-ray lies in the main content.  This story and the way it was put together mark the most overtly holiday-themed effort yet, and while not as strong as 2008’s The Next Doctor, will likely score high on many fans’ lists of favorite single episodes.  Although arriving sometime after December 25, The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe marks a merry present indeed for Who fans.



-   Scott Pyle


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