Doctor Who (Matt Smith) – The Wedding of River Song, and The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe

The Wedding of River Song, which aired on 1 October, 2011, was penned by Steven Moffat, and brought the sixth series of the relaunched Doctor Who to a close.

Things are strange from the off, as the Doctor (Smith) seems to be stuck in a bit of an alternate timeline where all of time seems to be occurring at once. All of this was caused by River Song (Alex Kingston) who refused to succumb to her programming to kill the Doctor. Consequently time has gone very wrong.

The Time Lord recounts the events that led to the split; being aware of his imminent demise at the hands of River in the astronaut suit, he is hunting down connections to the Silence and is trying to work out a way to out think and outmanoeuvre them.

He trails leads through the Daleks, a deadly game of live chess, and encounters with the Headless Monks. Everything he has encountered in the course of this series is revisited, and plays an important part in resolving the arc, and keeping the Doctor alive, despite the death we thought we witnessed at the beginning of the series.

The episode plays out in a wonderful, and playful way, and explains everything (mostly) while setting up things for future arcs.

And of course because it’s an alternate timeline, things can change for our characters in a big way. The Doctor encounters incarnations of Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arhtur Darvill), who even despite their differences are still friends. The reveals come fast and furious, and the episode just rockets along, dragging the viewer with it, and I personally think it’s a wonderfully fun ride.

We also hear about Trenzalore for the first time as seeds get planted for the future. In a touch of continuity, and a nod in memoriam, the Doctor receives word that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart  (Nicolas Courtney) has passed.

wedding of river song

The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe was the holiday special for 2011, airing on Christmas day.

Also written by Moffat, this episode is fairly light, and plays with a bit of the fantasy world by referencing C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales.

There’s a but of an ecological story woven unto the episode as well.

The Doctor encounters a widow, Madge (Claire Skinner) and her two children, Lily (Holly Earl ) and Cyril (Maurice Cole), They are getting away from London, and the ongoing blitz of World War II.

The Doctor promises them a getaway, and a respite from their worries. He leaves them a present that contains a portal to a wintery planet, which looks like an Xmas card brought to life. Cyril slips through early though, and they soon discover that the trees on the planet are going to be burned down with acid rain for energy.

That’s bad enough, but the trees are also sentient – an intelligent species, and they are seeking a way to communicate with the humans to stop them.

There is also a poignant piece to the episode with Madge trying to find a way to tell Cyril and Lily that their father was killed recently in the war.

This episode is very light-hearted, and is probably the most fantasy-based, and ‘Christmassy’ of all the Doctor Who holiday specials. There are wishes, holidays, snows, and happy endings.

And despite the awesome speech to come about war down the line… there is a wonderful quote in this episode that stays with him and makes me tear up every time I hear it. “Because every time you see them happy you remember how sad they’re going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they a re going to be sad later.”

Next week, the seventh series gets underway!

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