Thoughts on the Doctor Who 2012 Christmas Special – The Snowmen

by Amy Yen

“I never know why. I only know who.”

Can’t it ever just be a companion anymore? Right girl at the right time with the right amount of clever & the right amount of spunk & just enough crazy to drop everything & go travel time & space with a stranger in a police box?

I suppose after Amy, after River, that would be all too boring for Steven Moffat, so until we switch showrunners again, I guess every companion is destined for be just another mystery for the Doctor to solve. I won’t complain too much, the mystery that is Clara Oswin Oswald is by far the most interesting thing about “The Snowmen,” the 2012 Christmas special. It certainly wasn’t the Snowmen themselves, or the sinister Dr. Simeon, who is like a less interesting, less memorable version of Michael Gambon’s Kazran Sardick from “A Christmas Carol,” the best of Eleven’s Christmas adventures. I found the Snowmen plot utterly confusing & the way everything was magically solved by tears utterly lame, in the same way everything being magically solved by everyone chanting “Doctor” in “The Last of the Time Lords” was lame.

But anyway, back to Clara, or Oswin, or whoever. Despite the gratuitous kiss (at this point, it’s almost like Moffat’s just getting it out of the way, although I did feel a little indignant for River…hey Doctor, aren’t you married?), I found her charming & likable. She’s got the signature companion qualities, listed above, plus that irresistible  mystery (she’s impossible, like Amy) the Doctor will chase because he won’t be able to help himself. And at this point, I’m going to tolerate it, because hey. Whatever gets us back to the adventure.

More random thoughts on “The Snowmen”:

  • This was definitely the most I’ve liked Vastra & Jenny & Strax, all of whom were randomly introduced in “A Good Man Goes to War” in a way that was supposed to make us care about them immediately but didn’t. This episode, they finally earn it, especially Strax, even if he is now inexplicably alive again. “When you find something brand new in the world, what’s the next thing you look for?” “A grenade!”
  • New credits! I like them quite a bit.
  • The memory worm bit was both funny (again because of Strax) & vaguely uncomfortable, in that it seems a little too unethical a device for the Doctor to be using, either on Clara or the villain. I guess chalk it up to the Oncoming Storm & grief?
  • Speaking of grief, while I understand the Doctor’s over losing Amy & Rory, it did seem especially petulant &  bit out of character for him to be refusing to help. I would expect him to do his usual thing where he travels alone for a while, believing he is a danger to anyone he takes with him while not learning his lesson that he needs someone with him. But to sit in his box & flat out refuse to help when his friends call? Is that the Doctor?
  • Totally missed at first that the Doctor was wearing Amy’s glasses. Lovely touch.
  • Besides the great Strax one-liners, the one time I really sat up & said, “Now, that‘s clever,” was the one-word test Vastra & Jenny give Clara. Her one word message is “Pond,” because of course it is. What’s clever is that it’s perfectly set up, right under our noses, which is the sign of real clever writing, as opposed to the mess that is the conclusion of the Snowmen plot.
  • The new TARDIS is interesting. It feels a little less organic, a little more sterile (I understand it’s more similar to some of the ones from the classic series), which makes sense considering the Doctor’s frame of mind before this story.
  • What was the point of Clara having two jobs? Why couldn’t she just be the children’s governess? Again with the unnecessary mystery.
  • Speaking of unnecessary, sorry, that was a pretty lame Sherlock meta tie-in, IMO. If you’re going to have Sherlock exist in this universe, have him exist for real & have the Doctor have an adventure with him.
  • Does anyone else feel like the Doctor is just passing TARDIS keys out like candy these days? Remember how Martha didn’t get a key until like the fourth time she saves the Doctor’s life? When he pulls one out almost immediately upon Clara stepping in the TARDIS, I literally said out loud, “Seriously? Did she earn that?” Ah well. I’m sure she will.
  • I just want to mention again how disappointing the Snowmen were as a villain, just because they had so much potential. The Snowmen design, with the eyes & teeth, were actually quite scary (although there is no payoff to that initial scene where the Snowmen eat a bunch of people) & the idea of “snow that learns” is ominous in that wonderful Doctor Who way.
  • “Winter is coming.” Man, I miss Game of Thrones.

PS: New trailer! Enjoy:


Thoughts on Doctor Who – A Christmas Carol

by Amy Yen

By definition, a Christmas special, especially for a family show, is going to be centered on moral lessons & warm, fuzzy feelings about generosity & love & family & good will toward men. Rarely will you even have anything as substantial as Community’s excellent “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.”

Steven Moffat’s first Doctor Who Christmas special, “A Christmas Carol,” is no different, although it does manage to get in some of Moffat’s trademark dark themes (daddy issues & domestic abuse abound!) & timey-wimey goodness to boot. Overall, it was a satisfying episode, to tide us hungry Whovians over until series 6 finally rolls around, & the moral cheesiness & fake CGI shark-powered sleigh rides can be forgiven. After all, it’s Christmas.

Other random thoughts on “A Christmas Carol”:

  • Although the “big idea” behind the episode, the Doctor’s version of the famous Ghost of Christmas Past, Present & Future tale—the Doctor literally inserting himself into Kazran’s timeline & rewriting his past to change who he is—is quite clever, it does seem slightly irresponsible on the Doctor’s part. It seems the further we get from the RTD era, the less we hear about fixed points in time, not messing too much with things that have already happened, & the more we hear about how time can be rewritten. Of course, there are consequences, both the machine no longer responding to Kazran’s touch & the tragic romance of Kazran & Abigail. I like that the Doctor didn’t try to fix Abigail, realizing that this is how it has to be.
  • It happens that I just bought Steven Moffat’s version of Sherlock on DVD for my dad for Christmas. Matt Smith’s monologue, where he explains to Kazran the significance of him not hitting the boy, sounded exactly like one of Sherlock’s explanations when he has to explain the 14 logical steps he’s taken in his head, faster than everyone else in the room can get through one of them, to get to the conclusion he’s just presented.
  • “Fish that can swim in fog. I love new planets.” I love that the Doctor can always take the time to smell the roses & revel in the marvelousness of the universe.
  • Little Kazran Sardick cries for the dying shark that just tried to eat him. This is how you know Kazran is inherently good. The Doctor doesn’t change him that much. It’s also exactly the kind of thing I think will earn you the Doctor’s undying love.
  • Kazran has seemingly known the Doctor his whole life. Just like Amy.
  • “Santa Claus. Or as I’ve always known him, Jeff.” The Doctor really did have some fantastic lines in this episode.
  • “Eyes off the skirt.” Heh! PS: Yay for Arthur Darvill making the credit sequence!
  • I love that the Doctor is still possibly married to Marilyn Monroe.
  • “Like we’re saying, well done, everyone. We’re halfway out of the dark. Back on Earth, we call this Christmas.” Halfway out of the dark… Sometimes I can’t even believe how good Steven Moffat is with words.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, the series 6 trailer:

Happy Holidays, everyone! (PS: Remember, stetsons are cool.)