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Doctor Who Extra: 5 Thoughts About This Year’s Children In Need Minisode

It may not be part of the official canon, but British television viewers got a little extra Doctor Who last night at the series offered a “mini episode” for the charity telethon “Children in Need.” But you’re probably wondering what we thought of it, aren’t you?

What, No Story?
Unlike the previous Who episodes for Children In Need, this year’s installment is a little meta… and more than a little disappointing. No story? Just a plug for an auction of the Doctor’s clothes? Whatever happened to the playfulness of the “Space”/”Time” minisodes of last year, or 2007’s “Time Crash” (Both, interestingly enough, written by Steven Moffat; clearly, he likes supporting CiN)? Well, that’s arguably still here, just in a very different format…

The Doctor Is As Real As You Want Him To Be
Something I genuinely loved about this minisode was its conviction to the show’s internal reality; it’s not Matt Smith auctioning off a costume, it’s the Doctor auctioning off his clothes (which are replaced, wonderfully, by a hologram of more clothes, which is a great idea as well as a set-up for the closing gag), some of which have a surprisingly elaborate backstory… or just exist to raise weird canonical questions for the completely anal (Three boots? You just know that that’s going to end up in some slash-fic somewhere down the line, don’t you?). Who has always been a kids’ show, and the fact that this meta mini-episode allows young kids to continue to believe that the Doctor is, in fact, real is something to be applauded.

Just How In Canon Is This Episode…?
This is, theoretically, an entirely throwaway mini-episode that’ll never be mentioned again (It’s not appearing on the Season 6 DVDs, I don’t think), but I wonder if it’ll be used as an excuse to change the look of the character when he appears again in season seven? The second half of S6 saw a slight change to his look with the addition of the trenchcoat, and considering he’ll be, theoretically, undercover for part of S7, maybe a whole new wardrobe would fit right in – meaning that this episode could become a canonical explanation for those fans who need every single change to recorded and explained… Stranger things have happened…

Everyone Wants To See The Doctor Naked
You have to love the fact that there’s an implication that everyone at home is pressing the red button to strip the Doctor, don’t you? I can’t work out if that’s some implicit admission of Matt Smith’s sex symbol status despite the opening implying that the Doctor is deeply uncool, or just a suggestion that everyone would like to zap off someone else’s clothes if they had the chance. Or, of course, both.

And, Oh Yeah, That Trailer…
I’ll admit, I am very very excited about the upcoming Christmas Special, but the trailer did make me think two things in particular. Firstly, WWII again? I wonder if this era is a particular favorite of Moffat’s, or if I’m just hyper-sensitive to it being used for some reason (When the trailer started, I had a “Not this time again” reaction, but it’s only really been used for Let’s Kill Hitler and Victory of the Daleks…). Secondly, this is quite clearly ripping off The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Down to the title!)… Considering last year’s special taking “inspiration” from A Christmas Carol, I wonder if all of Moffat’s Christmas specials will be lifting concepts from classic children’s literature…?


  • Shawn

    Well I guess he also used it for Empty Child/Doctor Dances. Or was that World War I? I didn’t care the trailer looked lovely.

  • Apocalypse Thou

    Space/Time was Comic Relief… a very different charity. Also, Moffat’s first episodes, ‘The Empty Child’ and ‘The Doctor Dances’ were WWII as well…

  • Nicola Boden

    Its not the first time the Doctor has broken the 4th wall. The Tenth did a similar thing at the proms in 2009. That was included in the DVD version of the event.

    The reason this isn’t on the DVD is because its last minute. It comes out on Monday. The entire thing was made before Moff had finished the scripting of this. Look out for it on next year’s set

  • Apocalypse Thou

    Empty Child was WWII. There were several references to the London Blitz. Also, I looked it up, and it’s set in 1941…

  • Jacob

    WWII is a favorite of every time travel writer ever.

  • Jacob

    Also, that’s where Jack picked up his affinity for WWII military jackets, leading to black-guy-whose-name-I-forgot repeatedly calling him “World War II” in Miracle Day.

  • Jacob

    He wasn’t referring to “Space” and “Time”, he was referring to “Time Crash” and “Doctor Who: Children in Need”, both of which took place between seasons/series and featured mini-plots (one of which was written by Moffat and features the only appearance of an older Doctor (the Fifth)).

  • LynnE

    I wouldn’t call it “ripping off”.  I’d call it “an homage”.

  • Anonymous

    What surprises me most about this year’s Christmas story is that the DW comics did something in the same vein this year. I wonder if that was a coincidence or not. “The Lodger” had its origin in the comics as well.

  • Apocalypse Thou

    “Whatever happened to the playfulness of the “Space”/”Time” minisodes of last year(?)”

    Yes he did.

  • Anonymous

    Its all terribly boring and I will miss Amy and Rory

  • Shawn

    Rex Matheson.

  • long legged mc daddy

    that really sucked. doctor who cin special is one of the best bits normally.

  • Rebecca Harper

    My poor little girl thought she was going to get a little more of a story.  Still she laughed at a nearly naked Doctor. Would have been nice to have seen more of a mini episode.

  • Jacob

    My bad, missed that bit. I read the first sentence of that entry and was like “pass.”

  • Apocalypse Thou


  • Ghost

    I wouldn’t call it ripping off, it’s a deliberate homage, and will probably be used, as Who has many times before, to suggest that the Doctor’s adventures somehow inspired the classic story (like one of the kids tells his adventure to CS Lewis). 

  • Dkplatitude

    Matt Smith did make a comment somewhere recently that he had ideas for a new look for series 7…

  • WT Harmon

    “Homage” is the word we use to mean ripping off when we like the person doing it.

  • Dahauk

    I think the breaking the 4th wall takes away greatly from The Doctor and I hate it when they pull that..Nice to see Bill Bailey tho. And I’d welcome a new wardrobe for The Doctor, hopefully they will do one of those trying on different outfits scenes like in the past.

  • Michael Pullmann

    If Moffat’s doing “The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe,” then he pretty much has to use WWII as a backdrop, because the original did as well.

  • Emma

    No, homage is the word we use when there is no intent to pass off the work as original.

  • Annabethchase6

    I noticed the WWII theme too. I also may be ultra sensitive to it as well as I have been watching some old episodes, and I recently watched the episodes from the first season “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” which both take place in WWII.

    I am so excited for the Christmas special, but don’t think that I’ll be able to last until next August for more episodes afterward.