1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
This is truly awful. This story does look good on paper but fails to deliver when it comes to execution.
Firstly, it is boring. Nothing really happens of importance and when it happens, it is very slow and dull. The story doesn't get going until about 30 minutes in, the beginning of which is some light fluff that is enjoyable in a 'I wonder what's going to happen next' way, which of course doesn't deliver. Most of the story is either walking around a forest or in a tower standing around spouting meaningless dialogue that doesn't make sense. Even when action occurs, such as the scenes with the moving King and Queen, it is still slow and makes you sigh. When the ending comes, when it finally comes, that's boring too, and there's also a boring coda with Amy and Rory that further adds to Moffat's 'we waited for you' gimmick with his writing which itself is a lazy excuse for show, don't tell.
Secondly, there's some really dreadful directing here. I'm really sad to say that because director Farren Blackburn (his only Doctor Who credit for a reason) directed the best episode of Vera, The Crow Trap. Maybe it is because he is used to directing serious dramas, but what he got the actors and everyone else to do was dreadful. I liked Claire Skinner in her role, but the way she was made to deliver her lines was deplorable. I don't think kids can act believably most of the time and the child actors here back up my argument. But Blackburn didn't even have the kids look surprised when they stepped through the present! I count the direction here almost as bad as stories like Sleep No More and The Ghost Monument.
Thirdly, it further proves that Steven Moffat relies too much upon gimmicks. This was a few years before Hell Bent, but he's putting Androzani Major in a story, not because it needs to be set there, but because it's a cheap namedrop. The characters in that weird ship don't do anything and only exist, again, as gimmicks. The stuff with the housekeeper, the concept of the TARDIS being a wardrobe, the present being a portal, the King and Queen, WW I, Amy and Rory, it is all gimmicky and don't actually do anything to the plot! And what furthers my point is that if you take away these gimmicks, there is no plot. I do like that this is based off The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which was my favourite childhood story. But again, no relevance.
Plot hole: the kids don't appear to age.
There are a few good things about this story though. I loved the sets and I enjoyed the wintry atmosphere. But this one is just dull, badly directed and full of gimmicks, with little to recommend.