Sunday, January 1, 2012

TV Series Review: Doctor Who 2011 Christmas Special, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

I've debated in the past whether or not to review these Christmas specials since they're only an hour long but, partially since it is a self-contained story (and it looks like it will help connect season 6 to season 7) and partially since I don't have much else to talk about right now (unless you guys want me to talk about the 17th Precinct pilot that surfaced on the web which is pretty darn cool). As usual with these Doctor Who Christmas specials I was a little nervous about it, I haven't liked most of them but there's no more new DW until next fall so I wasn't in a position to be picky about it. 

Doctor Who 2011 Christmas Special: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

Summary: After being helped out by Madge Adwell in 1938 Great Britain, the Doctor returns in 1941 to help her throw a great Christmas for her two children while she is putting off telling them that there father has been killed. However one of the children opens up a Christmas present before Christmas day, a portal to another world, and the Doctor discovers that the world isn't as safe as he had thought it was.

The Good: While there were plenty of over dramatic and cheesy moments there were also quite a few genuinely touching moments, something that caught me off guard. I thought the story was well paced and worked well both as a standalone story and as a nice connecting point between the end of season six and the beginning of season seven and has a few other nods to earlier episodes in the series. I was also surprised by Madge Adwell, from the trailers she seemed like a rather stern and un-fun parent but instead she had a surprisingly amount of whimsy and tolerance for the strange, something that you really need to have to be a likable Doctor Who character.   

The Bad: That said, at times Madge seemed a little odd, like she wasn't a fully fleshed out character, her conversations with the miners were very strange. There was also a little plothole at the very end* but thankfully it's not one that should ruin the episode for most people. Honestly this was pretty well done but those some of the bits with Madge and all the parts with the miners came off as just awkward for me.

The Audio: Lots of lovely music in there, not sure if any of it was new but I recognized a few familiar theme and thought that everything worked well together.

The Visuals: There were some shots in the episode where the lighting didn't look quite right (it looked more like the lighting you would see for a promotional shot, like the one at the top of the review, rather than light you would actually find at the scene^) but other than that the episode looked great. There wasn't any strange CGI (by television standards anyway), the settings looked good, the costumes looked just fine, overall this was a really well put together special.

This is probably my favorite Doctor Who Christmas special now (mind you considering that I actually dislike most of the others this doesn't mean too much) and overall I thought it worked really well, wonder if it'll be on the season six DVD sets.

*spoilers! Where was the rest of the crew for the airplane? Dead? Didn't make it somehow? Just out of sight? I'm also assuming in this case that Madge has a "reading steiner" in effect so she can remember the earlier time line.
^come to think of it, Doctor Who has a very distinct way they light their promotional images and the lighting in the show looks different as well, but then again I've noticed that British tv shows and American tv shows do lighting differently so that's probably why.

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