I really like the Narnia stories and was very excited when I heard the Moff was taking inspiration from them for his latest Christmas special.
It turned out that the beginning was where most of the similarities lie with the Doctor being the caretaker of a house taking in war refugees from London and them walking through a doorway into another world. Other than some other faint similarities, it was mostly a different tale with a different moral and different concepts.
I really liked the family Madge, Lily and Cyril as played by Claire Skinner, Holly Earl and Maurice Cole. The children were well done acting like children but not being annoying which is so easy to stumble into when using kids in drama. Lily in particular seemed like good companion material.
The story was a nice enough Christmas story but it wasn't especially exciting or thrilling. I thought last year's A Christmas Carol was much better.
The scenes touring the house were fun and great Matt Smith moments. The scenes with the bumbling Androzani soldiers were less so. Obviously comedy relief but hard to believe that any soldier would disarm simply because a woman was crying. And I'm not sure how acid rain is used for harvesting a living forest anyway. Wouldn't chopping them down be more practical?
I didn't much care for the scenes of the Doctor exiting the spaceship and crashing on Earth. Again done for comedic effect, but only achievable by throwing science and logic out the window to have a gag. He did have a special crash suit on, but this part really stretched credibility for me.
I also thought it was weird that the children didn't age between the three years from when their mother first met the Doctor to when he shows up as caretaker to their refugee home. They seemed exactly the same which is odd because a three year age difference should have been more noticeable.
With the Doctor being referred to as the caretaker throughout I have to wonder if he's using this or other aliases next series to perpetuate the myth that he's dead.
The scene with the Ponds at the end was quite nice and touching. It worked very well and set things up for their comeback next series.
Not a terrible story but one I found to be just very average with nothing particularly special about it. Disappointing fare as it was coming from the Moff himself.
Here's my customary list of favorite 23rd stories:
1) The Invasion of Time by David Agnew (pseudonym for Graham Williams and Anthony Read)
2) The Monster of Peladon by Brian Hayles
3) Partners in Crime by Russell T. Davies
4) The Ark by Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott
5) The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe by Steven Moffat