I have a confession to make: I'm not really a Doctor Who fan. I did watch when I was little with my Dad and although I loved Tom Baker with his crazy scarf and wild hair as the Doctor (yes, I'm showing my age!) certain episodes gave me nightmares and I didn't continue watching on my own. Fast forward through many years and a few attempts to see why people still loved it and... nothing.
Until now, that is.
Like many fairy tale lovers the idea of anyone walking into a wardrobe makes my ears perk up and my heart quicken with expectations of winter wonderlands and magical Narnian* creatures waiting on the other side of a bunch of old coats. In fact, I was in the middle of restoring a rickety but "magical looking wardrobe"(complete with dryad shadows in the wooden sides!) when I got the call to move to the US. Not being hugely well constructed in the first place, I knew the wardrobe wouldn't survive a trip on a boat to join me on the other side of the world so I sadly gave it up, though I think about it often and wonder where it ended up.
What does this have to do with Doctor Who? Well, I'm not calling myself a fan yet but when I heard Doctor Who was "heading into Narnia" (or at least a Doctor Who version of Narnia) I made sure I DVR'd the episode. I'm so glad I did!
It's called The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe and beyond the obvious hints towards the Narnia classic, we know Steven Moffat's tale is set during the Second World War when a widow and her two children flee London for Dorset. There they meet an eccentric caretaker and discover a portal into a winter wonderland.
I finally got around to watching it today and... it's a must see for fairy tale people. Wonderfully and smartly written but with such a childlike spirit and it truly embodies the Christmas/season spirit - I'm impressed. Not only did the episode include plenty of magic, humor and a little sci-fi on the side but it managed to blend all the different season celebrations wonderfully and celebrate them all and their true meanings. No matter if you celebrate Yule, Hanukkah, Christmas or other old year/new year celebrations, this episode managed to pay a beautiful tribute to them all.
HERE which is actually spoiler free. Though some of the visuals will give you clues it shouldn't take any of your enjoyment away from seeing it for the first time.
Fairyland is mentioned (see below) and looking at some of the visuals you can see why. And I love the two lines from the episode that are written below. How can you not love the Doctor after he says something like that?
Lily: Is it Fairyland?The Doctor: Fairyland?! Oh grow up Lily! Fairyland looks completely different.
This episode gently nods to many different tales and classics but most of all it puts the viewer in that time in your life when you once believed many more things than you would admit and it didn't take much nudging to see the world in a different and magical way (if you're lucky - sometimes you still feel like this!) I watched this again with my young son (not yet five years old) and he really enjoyed it - for many reasons. The only problem is that he now wants a Christmas tree next year just like the one the Doctor made... lol
Of course, now I need to go check out the Doctor Who tribute to Dicken's A Christmas Carol just to see how flying sharks might fit into a story and end up pulling a sleigh...
And if you've seen the episode and wish there were more to explore, there is! You can check out the current content at this site HERE - as of this writing it's all about the Christmas special - or start HERE which should be kept in the Doctor Who archives "for all time".
* Narnia - specifically The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, recently made into a lovely film. The BBC had a series made many years before but doing it again big budget style was worth it. I was pleasantly surprised by the film and loved seeing so many fairy tale creatures and connections on screen (eg The White Witch is easily inspired by the Snow Queen).