It’s Smaller on the Outside: The Doctor Who Christmas Special Review!

Guys, I am… I am shocked.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to like “The Snowmen”, because I’ve honestly sort of hated all of Series 7 so far. I was worried about what would happen with Clara, I was worried about the characterization in general, and I was worried about Moffat being too pleased with himself and being annoying or too timey-wimey or something.

But guys, the special was actually really good!

doctorwho_photo_snowmen_02_web

I’ll be honest, the thing I was most worried and most excited about was Madame Vastra and Jenny coming back. After a rocky half-season of shitty minority representation, Vastra and Jenny were a breath of fresh air; they were never the butt of a joke, they were awesome, three-dimensional, and kick-ass. (Maybe… Moffat… listened to complaints? Grew as a writer? Is this possible??!?) They are actually Sherlock and Watson, just female. Like, that is now Doctor Who canon, that Arthur Conan Doyle based his Sherlock stories on the adventures of Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint. That is so cool. (And judging from the trailer, they might even be back later this season?! I hope so!)

There were a lot of Sherlock Holmes references, too, which could have been campy, seeing as Moffat also writes Sherlock, but was really just fun and clever and a nice touch in general. The Doctor’s total fail at deduction was really funny, and his face when he made that terrible snow pun was priceless.

And my fears about Clara/Oswin (spoilers: full name Clara Oswin Oswald) are relatively alleviated; I was worried that she would be too talk-y and annoying if she was even brighter than the Doctor, but she seems really cool, and it’s actually really fun to see the Doctor taken aback and thrown off his guard. I would have liked a bit more of an explanation of why she was living a double life in this episode; I was expecting to get it, and then she kicked the bucket. Also, I am wary, of course, of any plotline that is based entirely around a woman dying, but I think if done right this plot arc could actually be really interesting. Right now it’s not about using Clara Oswin Oswald’s apparently numerous deaths to give the Doctor angst or make the show seem dark; it’s about solving a strange temporal mystery at whose center she sits. And it’s not like she stays dead. I have really high hopes for this character, and I also really hope that at some point she meets River, because, oh my god, the Doctor would die and also because I ship it I mean what. (Although, on the topic of River, why didn’t the Doctor do what he always does with River and catch Clara in midair? The world may never fully understand why Steven Moffat feels the constant need to throw every character off a high place to their death.)

The Doctor was angsty, but in-character-angsty, not crazy gun-pointing “A Town Called Mercy” angsty or anything like that. I like that it seems like a lot of time has passed and that he’s set himself up as a lonely angel type, just hanging with Vastra and Jenny and Strax because he’s just sort of heartbroken and tired; it’s much more realistic and in-character than the angsty Doctor from the beginning of “Asylum of the Daleks”. Because his sadness was more realistic, it was easier to buy his gradual shift back into the happy fun times Doctor we know and love over the course of the episode, if that makes sense. I also love that he was wearing Amy’s round glasses from “The Angels Take Manhattan”; I’d really hoped he would keep them. I think they suit him.

The one thing that really sort of bugged me was the memory worm. Yes, it got a lot of laughs in that scene with Strax, but he was going to use it on Clara to erase her memories of him without a second thought and against her wishes. Did he learn nothing since Donna? That was the only real characterization beef I had.

On a totally aesthetic note, I was surprised by the new intro animation, but I like it! That and the new TARDIS console are both really cool-looking, and they’re also both interesting throwbacks to the Classic era intro and console, at least the one I’m familiar with from Davison. I’m wondering if this has anything to do with the upcoming 50th anniversary, but either way, I like it.

You’ll notice that I said very little about the actual plot. That’s because I’m not really sure what it was. I mean, the snowmen were kind of dumb, and the villain was sort of boring. I mean, Ian McKellen was the voice of the evil snow, so that was cool, but… yeah, the snowmen were a little corny and boring. It was the characterization, the banter, the clever scenes, and the touching moments that made this special, well, special, not any sort of people-eating snow. This special was more about introducing the mystery of Clara than it was anything else, so I don’t really care that the conflict was a little silly. It left me with high hopes for the second half of the season, and after “The Angels Take Manhattan” I wasn’t sure if anything could do that, so major kudos to everyone involved in this episode.

3 thoughts on “It’s Smaller on the Outside: The Doctor Who Christmas Special Review!

  1. We share many of the same thoughts! Also, the villain was meant to be the Great Intelligence and the Doctor had encountered it before as Two. It bothered me that he didn’t remember that until the very end of the episode, though I suppose he was emotionally distracted for much of it. Still, great callback with him telling the GI that the Underground was a strategic weakness.

  2. Pingback: TARDIS Bells Are Ringing: “The Bells of St. John” Review | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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