The Doctor Celebrates Life Day [Doctor Who Dissection]

Posted by on December 26th, 2011

Chatting trees, mother knows best and things get dusty for the Doctor. The Christmas Day episode of Doctor Who written by current series mastermind Stephen Moffat gave us something we got frightfully little of this season: a competent episode.

God bless us, every one.

Further dissection on “The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe” AFTER THE JUMP.


I have no idea why the awesome opener for this episode was jettisoned to the internet. In one minute and 31 seconds we get two barrels full of why Matt Smith’s Doctor is awesome and special. A random dangerous red button, a comical manifestation of the Doctor’s particular brand of loneliness and explosive, high stakes that might bring an end to the Earth as we know it. Brilliant. Also, it sets up the context of the eventual reunion with Amy and Rory.

Nothing more to say on this, just odd to me.

Golden Ticket

The meat of the episode’s emotional narrative hangs on a grieving mother’s decision to not tell her children that their father has died in service during World War II. She fears the news will ruin Christmas for them, forever. This rather grim arc is juxtaposed with the weaponized whimsy of a particularly eccentric Doctor who does his best Willy Wonka impression to cheer up the children. He even installs a lemonade fountain.

Although I had some niggling story issues, the episode succeeds on the merit of the story pacing. We are constantly being introduced to new characters and plot complications. Even the ones that are annoying and feel false (i.e. the mother pulling a gun and the weepy security guard) aren’t really around for long.

The creature design on the Tree King and Queen were also pretty awesome. Moffat has a real thing for monsters with limit facial movement.


River Song isn’t in the episode

It’s a Christmas miracle, sweetie.

Life Day without Lumpy

As the souls of all the alien trees were arising from their wooden forms and the Doctor kept talking about life forces, one has to wonder if this wasn’t the subtlest of references to the most infamous of Science Fiction television Christmas specials. At least they didn’t name their makeshift starship Jefferson.

Home for Christmas

We end our tale back with The Ponds. A few key pieces of information, he rejoins their lives two years after his plan to hoodwink the galaxy by faking his death. Then he gets a little misty and squirts a tear because he’s so happy. DAAAAWW!

It really makes you wonder, what “heartbreaking” fate does Moffat have in store for the Ponds as they enter their final season.

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