Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x06: "The Snowmen"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Saul Metzstein

The Doctor: “I never know why. I only know who.”
Clara (re TARDIS key): “What’s this?”
The Doctor: “Me, giving in.”

Is it me or did the Doctor’s attempts to stay out of people’s affairs and the like really seem to backfire on him? Even if Clara hadn’t been interrogated by the Paternoster gang comprising of Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax (in butler form) and persuaded the Doctor to help her by uttering the word ‘Pond’, then something would’ve prompted him to take an interest in the sinister goings on in this episode.

I like that the Doctor’s anguish over losing Amy and Rory was simply more than just him moping. He adopted to live the Victorian lifestyle and was even investigating the Snowmen himself before Clara managed to get caught up in the saga herself and when the two of them, already a new team was set in motion.

Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman just seem like a natural fit together and while both of them were on fine form, this episode really was Coleman’s chance yet again to truly shine and if you didn’t love Clara throughout this hour, then shame on you. Because she really is going to be a fantastic companion and already a good mystery is set up with her.

Moffat and Coleman might have described the ongoing arc for Clara as a soft mystery but this episode wasted zero time in actually drawing the obvious connection between Clara and Oswin or should I just say – Clara Oswin Oswald in the first place. Unfortunately for Clara though, she ended up getting a similarly horrible fate to Oswin.

Being killed by the icy form of the previous governess was certainly an interesting way to go but the fact that the Doctor has made the connection between Clara and Oswin means that he’s got a whole new mission on his hand, one made even more thrilling when a present day version of Clara managed to crop at the end to look at her Victorian counterpart’s gravestone as well.

Clara really was the selling point of this episode in such a manner. Her (re) introduction felt pretty natural as she flipped between accents and professions (barmaid and governess) and her scenes with the Doctor were an utter delight. After 49 years on screen, he’s finally met someone who can actually talk faster than him as well.

The scenes with the two of them running from Ice Ladies and Snowmen were a delight but it’s the moment where Clara got to see the TARDIS for the first time that really struck a chord as well. I think it’s safe to really say that she’s going to be an amazing companion once the show returns in 2013.

Of course while Clara was an absolute highlight in this episode, I have to admit that the Paternoster gang were also similarly delightful. Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax all seemed to be delighted to see the Doctor back into the swing of things and as a set of recurring allies, they work brilliantly. I’m definitely glad that Moffat decided to bring them back because they certainly were a highlight in this episode.

As for the main antagonist itself – the Snowmen and the Ice Lady managed to be suitably creepy but the return of the Great Intelligence (nicely voiced by Ian McKellen) was a pleasant surprise as was the referenced to "The Web Of Fear". It also seems that despite the Doctor and Clara managing to stop it’s scheme for a world filled with ice people, it will be also be something of a recurring threat in the second half of the season as well.

Richard E. Grant felt a little underused as the easily manipulated Dr Simeon though. He gave a good performance and played well against the rest of the cast but I sort of felt that he could’ve been a little better though.

In terms of the Christmas theme though, this one definitely felt less Christmassy than Moffat’s previous two efforts. In some ways that wasn’t actually a bad thing as it meant that the story flowed a bit more naturally compared to last year’s special but the tone was also pretty dark as well for a Christmas episode. However, this also wasn’t a bad thing when you really think about it.

Also in “The Snowmen”

The new credits are pretty nice – a feel of Classic and Modern Who with even Matt Smith’s face briefly seen in them too.

Simeon (to workers): “I said I’d feed you. I didn’t say who to.”

Clara’s employer was a man named Captain Latimer who hired her as a governess to his kids, Francesca and Digby. Oswin was also a Junior Entertainment Manager and modern Clara is rumoured to be an au pair. She was also born on November 23rd 1866.

The Doctor: “What’s wrong with silly?”
Clara: “Nothing. Still talking to you, ain’t I?”

Clara: “Doctor. Doctor Who?”

The new look TARDIS definitely translated as looking better onscreen as it did in the spoiler pictures leaked for it. It also seems to be a nice nod of sorts to the original look for the machine.

Madame Vastra: “The Doctor is not kind.”
Clara: “No?”
Madame Vastra: “No! The Doctor doesn’t help people, not anyone, not ever. He stands above this world and doesn't interferes in the affairs of it’s inhabitants. He is not your salvation nor your protector. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

Great Intelligence: “We are the Intelligence.”
The Doctor: “Talking snow, I love new things.”
Great Intelligence: “You are not of this world.”
The Doctor: “Takes one to snow one.”

The reference to Sherlock was delightfully shameful and silly to the hilt. Does this mean we’ll get Benedict Cumberbatch talking about bowties being cool in his hit show next year?

Clara: “It’s why you like me.”
The Doctor: “Who said I like you?”
Clara: “I think you just did.”
The Doctor: “You kissed me.”

The Doctor (re TARDIS): “Go on, say it, most people do.”
Clara: “It’s smaller on the outside.”
The Doctor: “Okay, that is a first.”

Clara kissed the Doctor in this episode and she made a reference to making soufflés in this one too. In fact, Clara was largely flirtatious with the Doctor but even she was beaten with Vastra and Jenny declaring they were married to each other.

Great Intelligence: “Do you feel it? Winter is coming. Winter is coming.”

The Doctor: “We saved the world, Clara, you and me. We really, really did.”
Clara: “Will you go back to your cloud?”

A trailer for the second half of Series 7 showed the return of the Cybermen, some people very interested in Clara, a submarine based story and many other interesting things to speculate until the show returns next year.

The Doctor (to Madame Vastra/Jenny, re Clara): "I never knew her name, her full name. Souffle girl. Oswin, it was her. It was Souffle girl again."

Clara (to her friend): “Nah, I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Chronology: Mostly 1892 Victorian London for this episode and perhaps 2013 with that little scene of the modern Clara we saw in this one.

As Christmas specials go, Moffat definitely got it right with “The Snowmen”. This episode really did highlight an exciting new chapter about to emerge with this series and I definitely cannot wait to see it unfold and Clara has already made a solid impression as the new companion.

Rating: 10 out of 10

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