The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe
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The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe

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There are many times of year that are highly conducive to the formation of traditions but at the top of any list concerning such matters is Christmas. This holiday straddles ecclesiastic and secular observations making observation on a global scale incredibly rich and diversified. In England an observation that is unlike any that most people are familiar with. Instead of Father Christmas, an infant savor or reindeer there is a nine hundred year old extraterrestrial traveling through time and space in a strange blue box that is larger on the insider than the exterior dimension would indicate. For a number of years now the new series of the BBC most successful science fiction series, the long enduring ‘Doctor Who’. Much like the titular character himself every time it looks like the show is on the verge of death it is regenerated gaining another life. In this fashion the series has survived nearly fifty years becoming an iconic television staple and a Sci-Fi legend. The seventh series is about to start which means it is time once again for another Time Lord Holiday; ‘The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe’. The current show runner and dominant writer, Steven Moffat, certainly knows how to reach his fans on a level they can appreciate. Almost three weeks before the Christmas day premiere this special he released a prequel on line. The time intervening was a perfect duration for the video to go viral sparking even more anticipation than usual. It was the original purpose of the Christmas special to pique the curiosity of the legion of fans but Moffat is keeping ahead of the trend by whetting appetites earlier than ever. Traditionally The Doctor has been a trail blazer in innovation by morphing on a regular basis with each of the eleven canonical Doctors sporting a unique personality and sense of style. When combined with the incredible latitude afforded with access to any time or location in the universe this series has retained its appeal some that fans can share their enthusiasm with their children and grand children.

In the prequel we get to see a very upset Doctor (Matt Smith), frantically attempting repairs at some access panel while desperately holding his finger on a large red button. He is on a critically damaged alien space craft that with explode the moment he releases the button. In desperation he is calling his TARDIS to be connected to his most recent human companion, the fiery red head, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). Hampered by a lack of coordinates and an inability to navigate the time machine she cannot come to his aid. The Doctor wishes her a Happy Christmas, don s a nearby impact suit and jumps free of the exploding ship as it explodes. He lands on Earth on Christmas Eve, 1938. With his helmet hastily put on backward he is unable to see as he is found by Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner). She helps the Time Lord and he promises to repay her kindness. One thing about the Doctor, he always repays a debt, no matter what species it is made to. Three years later the War is in full gear and Madge’s husband Reg (Alexander Armstrong) is listed as Missing in Action when the bomber he was piloting disappeared while on a mission. Hope her children Lily and Cyril can enjoy one happier Christmas she withholds that information from them. In a fashion similar to the C.S. Lewis story of a similar title Madge and her children are sent to the countryside to find safety with relatives. Once there they are met by a quirky man claiming to be ‘The Caretaker’, actually, ‘The Doctor’. Pay more than just homage to that other ‘wardrobe’ story the children discover a portal through time and space. This leads them to a strange world populated by bipedal, sentient tress. These creature turn out to be members of a race called ‘Forest of Cheem’, an alien race the Doctor is familiar with. The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) encountered far in the future and the end of the Planet Earth. The plot unfolds to the tree creatures need humans to help escape the planet. An action packed adventure ensures drafting Madge as an ad-hoc pilot. This employs a common trope that a woman automatically gathers knowledge if their father, husband or brother was proficient in it. Since Madge’s husband is an RAF pilot it is only natural she can fly practically anything. The mischief and mayhem continues until just before the Doctor takes his leave in his TARDIS, she realizes he was the silly man in the of space suite from three years ago. Marge is bright enough to fly but didn’t put the two oddest things in her life together.

It is a general tradition that a Christmas story can be whimsical and only tenuously tethered to the elements of the actual holiday. This has been incorporated into this new Doctor treatment by initiating the upcoming series with an episode like this. This particular offering is a bit more on the fantasy side than usual but after a season with the death of the Doctor so the show runner chose to take matters in as lighter direction here. I know a lot of fans of the Doctor that still do not accept any incarnation after the seventh actor to play the character, Sylvester McCoy. Since I, like many Americans, became introduced to the show with the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, silly seems in line with the precepts of the show. It does demonstrate that the purpose of the prequel and episode worked and curiosity over the coming series has been greatly heightened. One thing that has to remain no matter what overall tone a specific season takes the writers must be very careful about being mindful of continuity. Most Science fiction enthusiasts and fussy and extremely knowledgeable about the minute details of their favorite shows so any deviation, no matter how slight, will result in an uproar. The writers here do an incredible job keeping almost fifty years of mythology and details correctly infused in every episode. It looks like an interesting season is upon us again.

Post 03/04/12

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