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Soundtrack Review

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Doctor Who
The Snowmen / The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
Original Television Soundtrack


Composer: Murray Gold
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £9.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
SILCD1435 (CD), SILED1435 (download)
Available 21 October 2013

At one time Christmas Day on the BBC meant families gathering around the TV to watch The Morecambe & Wise Show, but in the modern era that mantle has now been taken by the Doctor Who Christmas special. This release brings together the music of the last two specials, originally broadcast on Christmas Day 2011 and 2012 and watched by a joint audience of close to 20 million. This ninth soundtrack release in the series brings the full canon of Murray Gold’s prolific output up to date, after eight years of elaborately created scores for one of the BBC’s most popular shows worldwide. The booklet is reversible, allowing the purchaser to display either of two covers for the soundtrack...

Conspicuously absent from Silva Screen’s recent release of the Series 7 soundtrack was any music from the last two Christmas specials, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe and The Snowmen. Well, here they are – though The Snowmen gets top billing on most listings of this product, even though Widow came first. I suppose that’s understandable, as The Snowmen has a better reputation among critics and fans (though for me there’s not much to separate them in terms of entertainment). However, the track listing follows the broadcast order, and the CD cover is reversible, so you can choose to show either episode on the front.

The two instalments are quite different in story terms and musically. Widow is a very light and frothy affair, barring a few moments of poignant sadness or threat, which is fair enough for a feel-good Christmas episode. Its soundtrack kicks off with “Geronimo”, a pulse-pounding teaser sequence, which recalls another descent to Earth at the start of The Eleventh Hour. Many of the tracks that follow are light-hearted – “Dressed in a Hurry”, “Bumps”, “Armchair Waltz” – and/or full of Christmas cheer – “I Know”, “Quite a Tree”. A sense of wonderment enters the score as the characters enter the wintry alien world in “Into the Present” and “Baubles”. Hot on the heels of this emotion comes a growing sense of danger from the surroundings, in the strident brass of “The King”, “The Queen” and “Interrogation”. “You’re Fired” and “Flying Home for Christmas” are more action-packed and punch-the-air – this is where Madge and the Doctor decide that they are getting out of here. The final note is a poignant one, as the Arwells are reunited with their lost father and the Doctor is reunited with the Ponds in “Safe Landing”, “Never Alone at Christmas” and “Friendship” – one of the last times we get to hear Amy’s theme.

Darker elements come into play during The Snowmen, right from the start with the sinister “A Voice in the Snow” and then later on in “Clara Who”. These are offset by more comical cues, particularly those concerning the bumbling Strax, such as “Psychotic Potato Dwarf” and “Remember the Worm”. In fact, this is such an eclectic episode (a less charitable assessment might say uneven) that you often get a diverse array of moods within a single track. For example, “What’s Wrong with Silly” takes us from a dainty version of Clara’s theme, into mystery, and then acquires a jaunty quality. “Hello Mates” takes us from playful to threatening and even a Wild West-style sense of “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” Clara’s theme returns in the latter track, as well as in the magical “Clara in the TARDIS” and the touching “Clara Lives”. One of my favourite tracks is “Sherlock Who”, which cheekily references the theme from a certain other Steven Moffat BBC One series as the Doctor pretends to be a famous detective. The album concludes with the burgeoning hope that is offered by “Whose Enigma”.

Still conspicuous by its absence is the latest version of the Doctor Who theme. When is this going to get a commercial release? That’s my burgeoning hope. That’s what I’d like for Christmas.

Until that day comes, this soundtrack makes a nice little stocking filler.


Richard McGinlay

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