Oh dear God the Parent Agenda is set up to 11 on this one. Ripping off a Christmas Carol is one thing. It is arguably obligatory in a series revolving around time travel which has routinely ripped off other shows and literature since at least the Pertwee era. I am however a sucker for the Chronicles of Narnia, so if you are going to rip that off you at least need to make a good job of it. This was a largely underwhelming effort from the Moff.
These Christmas shows are usually weak from a plot point of view but you are not expecting much at Christmas and there is usually something to lift the mundane and pedestrian plots of these episodes. In the first we had our first glimpse of Tennant and the spectacle of an Alien Invasion in the real modern world (rather than a secluded spot in the home counties). The next time was built around the involvement of Catherine Tate and the Doctor recovering from Rose. The Voyage of the Damned repeated the trick on a bigger scale with Kylie. Then we had the Cybermen. Then the last story for Ten.
This episode is an exercise in atmosphere at the expense of anything else. However, the atmosphere is ultimately undermined by the happy ending. The poignancy of two children’s last magical experience before real life affects them is lost to the Hollywood miracle ending.
None of this is to say I didn’t enjoy the episode, I did. I just can’t imagine reviewing it on anything other than a marathon re-watch all of eleven in order stint.
The one particular highlight was Claire Skinner’s delightful line in matter-of-fact eccentricity. Her interactions with the Doctor, particularly her first ones are a complete joy and the way she said the line about having a forest in her head was downright hilarious.