This one is an absolute delight.
We have two youngsters crawling through a magical door into another world. We have a grieving mother trying to give her children one last happy Christmas. We have a woman whose life has crashed and burned, seizing control and getting it all back together again. We have comedic sidekicks and talking trees. It’s a gem of sadness, silliness, and triumph, and the visuals are beautiful.
It doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for stories about the burden of war on families at home.
Madge Arwell is a spectacular character. She is strong and courageous and determined; she takes care of her family and she takes in strays. In another life, a younger or an older Madge would make a fine companion. She has no trouble telling the Doctor what to do. She loves the world around her and the new worlds she discovers. And she saves the day. She may fill a cliched role in life, but she does it spectacularly. The load rides gently on her shoulders.
One could do worse than Madge for a mother, sister, partner, or friend.
As Christmas specials go, this one ranks near the top. It may not hit all the notes of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ but the ones it hits ring beautifully.