The Doctor Who Christmas Special is always a worthwhile distraction from yearly Christmas festivities, and this year’s special was a great example why they’re so invigorating. As we enter the 50th anniversary celebration, it’s amazing that a TV show can still surprise us after decades of stories, but “The Snowmen” proves that the Doctor’s still got it in spades.
It’s Christmas Eve in turn-of-the-century London town, and – wouldn’t you know it? – psychic snow is biding its time until it can launch its evil plan to take over the world (as is its wont.) An appropriately creepy old man is the snow’s human envoy, ensuring all of the pieces are in place to bring the icy takeover.
Naturally, only the Doctor can save the world… except this time, he chooses not to. Following the Ponds’ departure in “The Angels Take Manhattan,” the Doctor’s inner Scrooge is out in full force, refusing to protect a universe that “doesn’t care.”
Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) and her team (whom you may remember as the Doctor’s former allies during his invasion of Demon’s Run) attempt to force him out of his emo funk. Vastra’s cross-species lover, Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart), is as sweet and alluring as ever, but it’s the delightfully belligerent potato man Strax (Dan Starkey) that proves to be the most memorable of the three. Strax’s rather wonderful “Who’s on first?”-like exchange with the Doctor and the mind-erasing worm is itself worth a DVR rewind. But, unfortunately, none of them are quite effective enough to bring him out of it. As is the Doctor’s modus operandi these days, only a beautiful, brilliant woman can pull him out of his shell.
Enter the governess barmaid, Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman.)
Right from her introduction, we know that Clara is something special. She is as clever as she is gorgeous, and her lightning-fast repartee with the Doctor quickly shows that, for perhaps the first time, the Doctor will be the one constantly playing catch up with his companion. The speech she gives on the manor rooftop as she figures out the Doctor’s plan and stares down the living ice intent on killing her, all while holding that classic Mary Poppins-looking umbrella, exemplifies just what type of girl we’re dealing with.
In the words of Abed Nadir, “She’s pretty awesome today.”
Slowly but surely, the Doctor puts on his deerstalker hat and uncovers the truth behind the evil snow, which, if I’m being perfectly honest, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Thankfully, it does provide an adequately entertaining storyline and a proper entry to the cycle of resurrection that seems to follow Oswin Oswald. Still, any faults that can be found with the story is overshadowed by the fantastical visuals, amusing supporting characters, and our newest Who mystery – just who (and why) is Clara Oswin Oswald?
As a side note, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the new retro-themed TARDIS console. It seriously looks great (love the blue-green tint), but it is downright claustrophobic compared to his previous one. I guess he needed a change to go with his new companion, including a new opening theme and a new outfit.
Just as the Doctor was reinvigorated with his new companion, so too did this Christmas Special reinvigorate me. While the main plotline of the episode was only moderately entertaining, you couldn’t help but smile while watching the Doctor interact with his new companion – their characters are just so strong. As they devote the remainder of the season finding out the why of Oswin, they’ve opened up a story thread that can lead pretty much anywhere, and I’m looking forward to when where we go. Plus, the 50th anniversary special is on the horizon! I don’t think I can be any more excited for Who in 2013!