Show runner Stephen Moffat chose Christmas Day to reboot Doctor Who with a new title sequence, remixed music, new TARDIS set and a scary, funny, well written romp set in Victorian England. It sets up next year’s 50th anniversary perfectly and left me waiting eagerly for series 7 part two next April.
In keeping with the style of the current run, The Snowmen was a “movie of the week” complete with its own movie poster. And cinematic it was with snow bound London skylines and the BBC’s usual attention to period detail. The BBC do Victorian so well don’t they?
Usually Doctor Who Christmas specials are a little cheesey and removed from the main series story arcs. Whilst The Snowmen displayed all the usual Christmas trappings, it was definitely part of the storyline this time. Matt Smith, as usual, expertly played the role, but this time he was withdrawn from the world and almost Scrooge-like, mourning the loss of his previous companions Rory and Amy. He’s done with saving the world. Done with giant robots and killer Christmas trees. All he wants to do is be miserable and live in the TARDIS he parked on a cloud. A cloud reached by a very Mary Poppins style spiral staircase.
But scary snowmen with shark teeth are popping up and devouring Yuletide Londoners. These were well done though I believe earlier versions looked a little too like Rainbow’s Zippy. I would have liked to see them on screen more. Perhaps they could have eaten a few more people. But hey this is a family show.
The villain played by Richard E Grant is using the Great Intelligence to conjure them up whilst searching for the DNA of a nasty governess frozen in a pond.
Cue new companion Clara played by Jenna-Louise Coleman (flitting expertly between posh spoken Miss Montague and her other barmaid persona with a more streetwise way of talking) attempting to suss out the Doctor and persuade him to return to his universe saving ways.
Also helping the Doctor (and protecting his current desire for seclusion without agreeing with it) are Madame Vastra (“Good evening. I’m a lizard woman from the dawn of time, and this is my wife”) Jenny and the Sontaran in a butler’s outfit, Strax. The latter gets the funniest lines in the story (“Try to escape and you will be obliterated. Can I take your coat?”)
And I loved the scene when the Doctor asks Strax to go and fetch the memory worm. When Strax comes back empty-handed the Doctor sighs with exasperation, “You forgot the gauntlets!”
Despite this great comedy, and despite a slightly underplayed malevolent performance by Grant – though his brief resurrection as a zombie at the end was pretty horrible – the delight of this story really lay in the developing relationship between the Doctor and Clara.
Of course we the audience know he has met her before and when she mentions her love of soufflés the penny starts to drop. She was in the season opener “Asylum of the Daleks” back in September but of course in that one, Matt Smith could only hear her voice and her name was Oswin. Only after saving the city in a typical return to form did the Doctor begin to realise. As she died Clara’s last words were, “Run you clever boy. And remember.” The same as Oswin’s parting words in the earlier adventure.
And on her grave: “Clara Oswin Oswald”.
Matt Smith is now on the run to find his soufflé girl. With a new theme tune, new TARDIS set, new Victorian inspired costume and another fascinating mystery to solve, for the first time in 8 years of Christmas specials, being part of the ongoing storyline, The Snowmen leaves us desperate for the next episodes which are still four months away.
Over to you: Do you agree with my Review of Christmas episode of Doctor Who The Snowmen?Were you right about the Clara/Oswin link and where do you think it will go next? Please share your thoughts or give a link to your own reviews. Click below where it says “Leave a reply”. Go on – share!