‘Doctor Who’ Review – Vol. 7.6: ‘The Snowmen’ (2012 Christmas Special)
After the devastating events that lead into the mid-season break and the promise of a new companion for the Doctor fans have been on edge waiting for this next adventure. Having spent the previous two Christmases seeing the Doctor wandering through sci-fi re-tellings of A Christmas Carol and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this year keeps things more centered on typical Doctor exploits.
The story is set in England of the 1800s where a young boy finds that his snowman is communicating telepathically with only him. Decades later the boy is Dr. Simeon (Richard E. Grant) of the ‘Great Intelligence Company’ (a foe who hasn’t been seen since the age of the Second Doctor). The sallow character has been collecting the snow that exists in a large globe and together Simeon and the sentient snow (voiced by Sir Ian McKellen) plot to destroy the human race. They can already produce viscous, fanged snowmen but their goal is create an army of ice people. The Doctor, meanwhile, has withdrawn into isolation, grieving for the Ponds who had been taken by the Weeping Angels when he meets Clara (Jenna Louise Coleman). Clara is an excitable barmaid who leads a double life as a governess for a wealthy family, and is not prepared to let this intriguing character get away from her. Also on the scene are the Sontaran Strax, the Silurian Madam Vastra and her human wife Jenny who were allied with the Doctor in A Good Man Goes to War.
As a plot it is pretty flimsy, especially compared to Moffat’s usual output. The villains are never particular engaging or threatening and there are some set-ups, such as a house being surrounded by killer snowmen, that don’t really pay out. The real draw is the introduction (or re-introduction) of Clara Oswald. As the Doctor discovers she is the same person he met before on the Dalek Asylum planet who he called ‘Souffle Girl’. How she comes to exist in two different points of history is the mystery that kicks off her story, and we’ll have to wait for the rest of the season to find out how it’s going to be resolved. It’s a great hook that hopefully leads to many good stories.
Clara herself is a delightful companion right off the bat, chasing down the Doctor and proving impossible for him to shake. She’s something of an oddball but smart enough to give the Doctor a run for his money. It’s easy to see why Coleman was cast as she has an easy and highly entertaining chemistry with Matt Smith, and the character’s sense of adventure and wonder make her perfectly suited to travels through time and space.
Also introduced in this episode is the new look TARDIS. It’s a drastic shift from how the TARDIS has been depicted in recent years, more slick and technical looking but still looking like something designed by a person with a childlike attitude to time-travel. The opening credits have gone through a similar redesign with fire replacing storm clouds as the motif, and the TARDIS traveling through space as well as time. Some will like it, some won’t, but it’s good seeing the return of the Doctor’s face during the sequence, a tradition that hasn’t been used in decades.
An enjoyable episode and a great introduction to a new character, which bodes well for the coming year!