BBC Video // 2011 // 58 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // May 13th, 2012
As seen on BBC America.
Ah, the Christmas Special, is there any long running show that hasn't produced one? Probably not, and Doctor Who is no exception as evidenced by Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow, And The Wardrobe, which is actually the second Christmas special with the current Time Lord, played by Matt Smith.
Before I get started, however, I should declare that I am somewhat biased, because I grew up watching the Tom Baker years.
The Doctor finds himself hurtling through space, falling towards earth. Lucky for him, he manages to get into a spacesuit on before crashing near in England in 1938 on Christmas Eve. He's found (with his helmet on backwards) by Madge Arwell (Claire Arwell), mother of two young kids, Lily and Cyril, and wife of Reg. Madge helps the Doctor locate the Tardis. Exactly three year later, England is engaged in World War II, and Madge has just learned that Reg has been killed in action. It doesn't look like it will be a merry holiday, until Madge and children, fleeing the bombing of London, arrive at a country house and meet the Doctor. He's got some holiday plans for them.
As you can guess by the title, this episode draws inspiration from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. The Doctor takes the Arwells on a journey into a mystical alien world, featuring "enchanted" trees that aren't what they seem. The Doctor et al appear to be in a winter wonderland, until things take a quick turn into a game of life and death. "Whovian" hi-jinks ensue, concluding with a happy (and sappy) finish.
Yes, it's a Christmas episode, so melodramatic endings are to be expected, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. And I didn't particularly like the story arc of this episode. There wasn't a well-defined villain, aside from some kind of intergalactic corporation that harvests the energy of trees using acid rain.
That said, Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow, And The Wardrobe is filled with plenty of snappy dialogue from the Doctor, as well as the typical miscalculations and misadventures. The acting is of high quality, too. I believe that Smith makes for an excellent Doctor, and think his quirky portrayal is somewhat similar to that of Tom Baker. The supporting cast is also strong.
The audio and video quality of the Blu-ray is superb. The 1.78:1/1080i high definition transfer is quite detailed, with bold colors and no defects or digital tampering to complain about. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is similarly strong, with dialogue, Murray Gold's music, and a carnival of ambient sounds all delivered crisply.
Bonus features include a prequel, which is a short (less than two minutes long) teaser for the Christmas episode, showing the Doctor on a spaceship that is about to explode. There are also three featurettes which run about 45 minutes each:
* "The Best of the Doctor" -- A bunch of minor celebrities and fans talk about their favorite episodes featuring Matt Smith.
* "The Best of the Companions" -- A bunch of minor celebrities and fans talk about their favorite companions of the Doctor as played by Matt Smith.
* "The Best of the Monsters" -- A bunch of minor celebrities and fans talk about their favorite villains that have appeared alongside the Doctor as played by Matt Smith.
Finally, we get a set of stickers inserted in the case, which includes a code to play the online game Doctor Who: Worlds In Time.
This episode didn't do much for me, but nothing will stop a diehard Whovian from purchasing a copy for their collection.
Review content copyright © 2012 Roy Hrab; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 58 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Game Code
* Official Site