It’s just that it wasn’t A Christmas Carol.
Spoilers are quite possibly lurking herein.
And I know, I know, I know, that’s not fair of me and I agree with you — it isn’t fair at all. I wish I liked it more — I wanted to like it more!
But Carol was so outstanding and this was so…not.
It was a clever conceit for which I had serious hope at points — the nursery, the trees growing ornaments, the Green Man and Green Lady — and it never rose to the hope which I had for it and, by the end, it fell well below, sadly.
It wasn’t frightening, it wasn’t sweet, it wasn’t transformation, it was just…all right.
I have to say, the outstanding moment for me was the identification of the planet as Androzani because motherfucking hello?! That was seriously cool and I was totally down with that.
The ending with Amy and Rory, too, was beyond sweet. That was lovely — a wonderful character-building moment for all three that made a beautiful cap to the mid-season.
The rest of the special? Well. Meh?
World War II nostalgia? check.
Heroic father figure? check. (He’s even a fighter pilot.)
Charming, idiosyncratic children? check. (One of them even wears thick glasses.)
Heroic, self-sacrificing, adoring mother who wants nothing more than to see her family reunited? check. Disgustingly enough.
It was all rather pat. Even with the introduction of the Green Man and Green Lady — genuinely terrifying characters in their native mythologies — was turned into a vehicle to make the mother more of a heroic mother. Hindsight being what it is, of course this special now looks like the bleedingly obvious segue into the Amy/River/Madame Kevarian storyline that it so obviously is, but viewed as a standalone it’s just kind of…predictable. It isn’t even a particularly helpful segue because, well, we’ve gone there already! A Good Man Goes To War took us there quite nicely and then booted our asses up, down, around, and over for awhile. After that…well, Wardrobe just doesn’t really have the chops.
There’s no moment of transformation here, no moment of wonder or pain or beauty akin to anything in the Carol or even in the regular season episodes. It’s all very watchable, very charming Who but it lacks that step beyond that Moffat and Davies before him have done such a good job of reaching for.