Doctor Who Re-Review: S07E06 — The Snowmen

Season 7’s Christmas special was the offi­cial intro­duc­tion of the new companion Clara as played by Jenna Coleman. Of course she had appeared previ­ously in the show but this is where her story really begins. And her inter­ac­tion here with Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, just like the previous verbal spar­ring in Asylum of the Daleks is the high point of the episode.

The core of this partic­ular story is the Doctor finding himself again. He’s essen­tially moping after what happened with the Pond’s (okay I’m not being very sympa­thetic… but it’s true) and he’s largely cut himself off from inter­ac­tion with the world. Not completely though, which is the first hint that this isn’t really what he wants.

This is also the point in season 7 where the emphasis on the series history really starts to become notice­able. Watching it again I’m reminded how much I like the latest version of the title sequence which incor­po­rates so many elements from the past. But that’s just the start. Here we get the Great Intel­li­gence and refer­ences to the London Under­ground (The Web of Fear). We get a new TARDIS inte­rior, my favorite from the new series, which while not the old style console again has more elements in common with that than we’ve previ­ously seen.

3110733-high-doctor-who-christmas-special-2012As with much of Doctor Who during Steven Moffat’s tenure as show runner this story is more about atmos­phere and the feel­ings it evokes than about logic. Those who prefer a more science fiction approach prob­ably won’t like it. Clara’s death gives the story its heart. Yes it’s another power of love story­line of the type that some hate.

And yes you can pick at the details pretty easily here. It’s a story that relies on a fair amount of coin­ci­dence, all be it wrapped up in the notion of the universe as an entity. The larger story arc of the season will even­tu­ally address some of those coin­ci­dences, but you don’t know it while watching this.

Moffat was pretty clear when he took over that his vision of Doctor Who is heavily influ­enced by the feel of fairy­tales. And it’s that, more than science fiction which gives us these sorts of stories. I’m very happy with that, others not so much and I think that’s one of the big sources for the crit­i­cism that his run receives.

So here we have lots (and lots) of faux-Victoriana. Basi­cally it’s Victo­rian England as we see it in our heads rather than as it may actu­ally be. We have blatantly incon­gruous elements like Madame Vastra and Clara herself and yet the resulting mixture, for me, is highly satisfying.

The acting across the board is great here. But Richard E. Grant as Doctor Simeon deserves special atten­tion for being able to so effort­lessly move from arro­gantly super­cil­ious while in control and then seeming old, scared and cowed when the Doctor chal­lenges his core belief in what is happening.

I don’t think this is an episode that’s going to wear well on multiple repeat view­ings however. The story itself is really quite shallow. And while it sets up a lot of things, there’s not much depth here. It’s fun and Christ­massy and has me looking forward to re-watching the rest of the season but I’m not in a rush to watch this partic­ular episode for a third time.

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