There is something about Doctor Who and Christmas that is such a good fit that the DW Christmas Special already felt like a festive tradition by 2007.
It’s been, amongst other things, a disaster movie, and A Christmas Carol, but despite the title this is only superficially a visit to Narnia. We’re not faffing about with Christian analogies and talking lions, we’re dealing with the big stuff; plundering the depths of the human heart, relearning that the price of love is grief and being reminded why we love and treasure our mums.
The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardobe is classic Steven Moffat, funny, inventive, shot through with razor-sharp observations and guaranteed to make you feel very ‘humany-wumany’.
If you value your sanity you will stay away from Doctor Who internet forums for the next week or so. Those things will be frothing, hissing and spitting with venomous bile and fizzing adoration in (probably) equal measures.
I suspect for many people it won’t have been an entirely satisfactory ending. It works, when you’ve mulled it over, on many levels, but it works better on second viewing (especially without a six-year-old child noisily worried that there will be no more Doctor Who ever). Naturally the residents of Hat Towers are delighted that Matt Smith will be back for Christmas.
I could sing the praises of Steven Moffat for hours on end, but one thing that stands out as I rewatch these episodes is that they have been written with rewatching in mind. This man has two versions of the story running in front of you, and you will never see both versions on your first pass. The first line we hear after the recap is a reference to a heartbreaking conversation we’re not going to hear for another 40 minutes or so, but there is no way you could know that until it’s explained.
Steven Moffat will use every trick in the book and then a few new ones he’s invented while on the train to Cardiff to deliver brilliant surprises, and I love him for it. (Sorry, made the mistake of reading the Grauniad’s Is Doctor Who becoming too complex? article, and I’m still a bit tetchy.)
It’s a mark of how powerful the writing and performances are in Closing Time and how much I adore Matt Smith’s (and Steven Moffat’s) Doctor that this episode wrung more tears from me than almost any other this series. (The Doctor’s Wife takes the tear-stained top spot.)
There’s a great gathering together of themes here, a sense of loose ends being, if not tied off, at least being plaited neatly until we’re ready to fray them again. The lonely Doctor pops by just to say hello (and goodbye) to Craig before he treats himself to one last galactic spectacle – he has only a few hours before his date with death at Lake Silencio. Except that there are fluctuations in the electrical supply and people going missing, and try as he might, he just can not walk away.
(Spoilers from here on in.)
So we’ve dealt with Big Story Arc, done creepy and wrung out our emotions. This week we’re in mystery mode (though as always with Who, every episode has a little flavour of everything else to pep it up).
Talking of flavours, The God Complex (from the pen of Being Human creator Toby Whithouse) tastes a little like a Scooby Doo adventure. And that’s not a bad thing – I loved Scooby Doo (until they put bloody Scrappy Doo in anyway) – but I have to say neither Hat Jr or I were feeling any real sense of jeopardy. (Her concern for the alien Minotaur was quite touching though.)
(Spoilers below the line sweeties…)
I’ve a horrible feeling that the Ponds’ time in the TARDIS is coming to an end. The Girl Who Waited is horror of a different kind – no universe-threatening evil plan, no Earth-destroying aliens, but a man forced to choose between the wife he knows and adores and the wife he doesn’t know quite so well because she’s been waiting for him for 36 years. The Ponds are certainly testing their wedding vows to the point of destruction, and I fear that there’s not much more they can take.
Which will be a shame because I love Amy (I have developed a bit of a girl-crush on her to be honest) and I adore Rory. Only Rory would even attempt to put two different, but equally feisty, Amys inside the TARDIS after all. I can only hope Steven Moffat will prove me wrong about this theory.
(Spoilers, sweeties, below the line…)
Night Terrors might not rank as the scariest Doctor Who ever (and to be honest I’m not sure I want them to make anything scarier than Blink or The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) but last week’s trailer was sufficiently creepy to have Hat Jr considering watching this in daylight…
In the end, she not only couldn’t resist watching it tonight, she rated it seven out of ten. And as I write I can only hear happy sounds coming from her bedroom. Phew!
(Spoilers below the line…)
I’m wondering if writing a TV show is a little like ‘making love to a beautiful woman’ (as The Fast Show’s Swiss Tony liked to say). The more confident you are, the better the experience for both parties (as long as confidence matches ability anyway – but let’s not waste too much time on this analogy, we have another corking episode of Doctor Who to celebrate).
I don’t think there is anything about Let’s Kill Hitler that isn’t wonderful on some level (and often on several levels at once) . And, using the usual gauge, I can report that Hat Jr barely said a word throughout the whole thing (only two questions – is the Doctor really going to die and are Amy and Rory going to die?) – otherwise completely rapt.
(Spoilers, sweeties, below the line)
If you happened to catch Matt Smith looking super-dapper on the One Show sofa earlier this week (I swear I only braved it to watch him), you’ll have seen him leaning forward, mouth open, breathing “No!” in response to the “whopper” of a cliffhanger that would conclude The Almost People.
It wasn’t until Hat Jr was tucked up in bed, that I realised that was exactly what I was doing as the last few moments of tonight’s Doctor Who unfurled themselves.
It gets seriously spoilery below the line – you have been warned… Continue reading
Neil Gaiman made me cry. He also made my heart soar and my brain whirr. The Doctor’s Wife is a masterpiece. It is Doctor Who at its very best and further to this week’s Spoilergate conversations, if you haven’t seen it at least once (and you might need to watch some bits twice), then don’t blame me if reading this first ruins it for you. Continue reading
Regular readers will know that this is always a spoilery-blog post, but this week it seems only fair to say that if you haven’t seen Day of the Moon yet, you really should go and watch it first and then come back to join us in our ooh-ahh-and-blimey! love-fest.
We were promised answers – and we got some – but even the ones we did get came at the price of more questions. I’m starting to feel like the River Song to Steven Moffat’s Doctor (“I hate you!” – “No you don’t…”).
We start off back in the gorgeous-looking Utah desert with men in black, including Canton Everett Delaware III (the completely fabulous Mark Sheppard), hunting down Amy, all flying, flaming locks against the red and terracotta rocks. Apparently Canton is now working against our heroes as he shoots Amy (giving us our first glimpse of those unsettling black marker strikes on her skin), nearly shoots River (who dives out of the 50th floor of a skyscraper) and then adds Rory to his tally.
All the while the Doctor (bearded – ugh) is imprisoned in Area 51 in a strait-jacket and chains with Canton taunting him and slowly enclosing him in ‘the perfect prison’ (made of “zero-balanced dwarf star alloy – the densest material in the universe, nothing gets through it” and personally I think all party-walls should contain these magic bricks). Though personally I liked the little notices we passed on our way to the Doctor’s plinth – DO NOT APPROACH THE PRISONER and DO NOT INTERACT WITH THE PRISONER. Lovely.
Only when the prison is complete and Canton and the Doctor are ‘completely cut off from the rest of the universe’ with two body bags (for Amy and Rory) at their feet do we start to understand what’s going on and what all that nonsense about making the TARDIS invisible was about last week. Yes, hurrah, Canton is still a good guy and this is his way of helping everybody escape from the Silence.