Mark Watches ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special: The Snowmen

In the 2012 Christmas special, the Doctor comes out of a forced retirement to confront living snowmen. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.

Oh gosh, I rather liked this special. Let’s get down to it!

  • I am going to need a spin-off show of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax solving crimes. There is no single thing I have ever desired more from Doctor Who more than this.
  • This felt more like a “Winter Special” or a “Everything is Really Cold Special” more than anything based on Christmas. The only real connection to the holiday was the importance of the emotional heartbreak that a death on Christmas eve brings to a family. And holy fuck, this was a sad Christmas, you know?
  • A new opening credits! New music! Wow, these change way more frequently than they used to. I wonder what the reasoning behind this is.
  • So, I have some reservations about Clara as a companion, but ultimately, I enjoyed her a lot. One of the strengths in “The Snowmen” is the fact that nearly all of the first half of this special is focused on Clara and her interactions with the Doctor. Plus, I have this thing about companions discovering the TARDIS for the first time, and this episode in particular has a sequence that’s possibly the most gorgeous one yet. For real, the cinematography in this special is brilliant.
  • Sentient snow! Okay, so what is it with Moffat creating villains whose main thing deals with perception? Think about it: the Silence disappear from your memory when you stop perceiving their existence. The Weeping Angels attack when you aren’t looking at them. You’re supposed to count your shadows when you face the Vashta Nerada. Is this supposed to be a commentary on human perception? It just strikes me as odd that this is such a common theme with Moffat.
  • I think you can also criticize Clara’s characterization from a similar angle. She feels like an amalgamation of Rory and River. She dies repeatedly, though this is far more acknowledged than with Rory. (Hell, that feels like it’ll be a driving point for the second half of series seven.) The Doctor meets her out of order, and he meets her at the end of her life. Twice. Why is it that Moffat’s companions (River, Rory, Amy, and Clara) are all people who are part of these super complex mysteries? Is he opposed with the idea of companions simply being people who travel with the Doctor? It feels less like these characters make the story and more like they’re part of a story that already exists. Of course, I’m in the premature stages with Clara, so I don’t think I should be making any comments about her agency quite yet. I guess I’m worried of the gimmick fizzling out like it’s done with River Song. She was such an incredible and engaging character, but season six was just a hot mess of confusion and poorly thought-out plot lines, and I don’t want Clara to suffer from the same thing.
  • Okay, I’m jumping ahead of myself.
  • Seriously, “The Snowmen” would not have been as entertaining to me without Jenny, Vastra, and Strax. They are integrated perfectly into this story. And I really love the role Vastra plays here, especially when she’s interrogating the Doctor about his intentions concerning Earth.
  • So, remember when I was totally confused by how rushed certain developments were in “Asylum of the Daleks”? Specifically, I was bewildered by the fact that off-screen, Amy and Rory were having marital problems. It was one of the more distracting elements of that episode, and “The Snowmen” does the same thing. Instead of showing us, Moffat decides to tell us through the Doctor, Jenny, and Vastra that the Doctor has stopped saving anyone, that he’s spent an indeterminate amount of time isolating himself from anyone except those two fabulous ladies, and that he stopped wearing bow ties. That seems like a HUGE bit of character development to relegate to expository dialogue, you know? Plus, it’s not like it’s unbelievable. After losing the Ponds, I understand the Doctor’s reluctance to take on companions. But the treatment we’re given leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Clara’s one word summary of what she needs and why the Doctor should help her: pond. Wow, that punch was right in the feelings.
  • This episode referenced both A Game of Thrones and Sherlock Holmes. BLESS. BLESS!!!
  • You know, “The Snowmen” was one of the bleakest Christmas specials yet. It centered around the dead body of a governess who fell into a pond, died, stayed there for a month before anyone found her, and whose DNA was then used by a parasitic mirror organism that tried to attack the people the governess originally watched. THAT’S REALLY FUCKED UP, and that’s not even addressing the whole CLARA DIES A LOT thing.
  • Eleven kisses people a lot, especially in the last batch of stories. Is that a thing? Can we definitively state that Eleven is more physically affectionate than past incarnations? He even kissed Strax’s head in this episode. Though, who could resist? Strax and his grenade obsession is adorable.
  • Though I have to say that Clara kissing the Doctor seemed a whole lot like Amy kissing the Doctor after “Flesh and Stone.” Or the first time River kissed him. Huh.
  • I don’t know how long the Doctor’s self-imposed exile was, but it must have been long enough for the TARDIS to change its interior again.
  • It was also long enough that Clara impressed the Doctor. I’ve always loved the way this show introduced a new companion, and I admit that I have no complaints about seeing that very same process unfold again. I love watching people discover the TARDIS for the first time. (Though Clara was the first to state that it was smaller on the outside.) I love seeing that look in the Doctor’s eye when he knows that this is the person he wants to travel with. It’s precisely why I didn’t like that we learned about his isolation through dialogue. Even with just that little bit of the story, I could tell how meaningful it was that Clara impressed him. I guess I just wanted more!
  • How the hell was Clara not turned to companion jelly when she fell that far down to Earth? I get that this is not supposed to be a Troma film, but… really?
  • I think the execution was a bit rushed, but I did like the idea that the giant snow globe was a reflection of all the dark, evil thoughts that Simeon had projected onto it over the years. It wasn’t an evil entity in and of itself; it only became that way when Simeon thought it in that direction.
  • The same goes for the resolution here. I like the idea that a massive emotional event could affect the snow if it was centralized, but I think the execution of it was strange.
  • It was also distracting because HOW THE FUCK CAN CLARA DIE AGAIN?
  • Hey, it’s the Great Intelligence! That’s an old school villain! I ACTUALLY KNOW THIS. How did I not pick this up when I saw the business card?
  • All in all, I liked “The Snowmen.” It was an engaging story made all the more enjoyable because of the wonderful cast of characters. I think Jenna-Louise Coleman is awesome, as is her character, but I miss the days when companions were everyday people who changed the world and then themselves. Eleven’s return to action would have been more memorable and emotional if we’d actually seen what life was like without his constant interventions. And by god, someone make that spin-off show happen. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS, I NEED MORE OF JENNY, VASTRA, AND STRAX. PLEASE.

And now we wait more than three agonizing months for more Doctor Who. GREAT.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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