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Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe originally aired in 2011.

I don’t understand. Is this place real, or is it fairyland?

Fairyland? Oh, grow up, Lily.

Fairyland looks completely different.

– Lilly and the Doctor get their geography straightened out

The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe is, like A Christmas Carol before it, a rather wonderful idea. A Christmas Carol mashed up Doctor Who with one of the best-loved Christmas narratives of all time. The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe does something similar, substituting CS Lewis for Charles Dickens. It’s a fantastic idea, given that Doctor Who is the spiritual successor of that peculiarly British thread of childhood fantasy.

The only real problem with The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe is that it can’t quite stretch that good idea across an hour of television.

On the run again...

On the run again…

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Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe (Review)

Where are we?

In a forest. In a box. In the sitting room. Try to keep up.

– Lily and the Doctor sum things up

I could get used to this “coopting a holiday classic” thing that Steven Moffat has going. After all, last year riffed on A Christmas Carol (right down to the name), and this one leans pretty heavily on The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. I imagine a Doctor Who episode themed around It’s a Wonderful Life can’t be too far away. Still, strangely enough, the episode worked best as an illustration of the show’s wonderful heart and its charming understanding of childhood psychology – even if the actual science-fiction plot was a little disappointing and the ending felt like a bit of a copout. Certainly not quite as good as last year’s entry into the Doctor Who Christmas canon, but not a waste of time either.

It left me a bit cold...

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