“He’s done it again,” said my brother, when The Power Of Love provided a neat conclusion to another Christmas Doctor Who episode. And, indeed, he had. How many times has an enemy been defeated in new Doctor Who because someone loves someone else?
I must say, the latest appearance of this hogwash irritated me somewhat but, thankfully, the rest of this episode was mercifully free of the seasonal artifice of the last few years, which have almost created a new genre in fiction: Xmas Doctor Who has been in serious danger of disappearing up its own backside – the equivalent of Matt Smith eating turkey and pulling crackers for an hour.
But there was a lot to enjoy in this latest episode. After 18 months when Doctor Who seemed dangerously close to falling in love with its own timey-wimey reflection, this was – largely – refreshingly straightforward and, yes, fun.
The appearance of Strax particularly, and the fearless lesbian detectives, was rather lovely. I think there’s some consternation if fandom that this sort of ‘broad universe’ thing in Doctor Who is veering dangerously close to New Adventures-style gimmickry.
It reminds me of the colourful world of the DWM comic strips – around the Abslom Daak era. I don’t mind either way, I think Doctor Who is a lot more interesting when races aren’t simply one-note goodies or baddies. If that means a sociopathic potato head or a muff-diving Silurian then I’m all for it, frankly.
Something else I suspect will irritate some sections of fandom is the little fannish nod towards the show’s past. The inclusion of The Great Intelligence was fairly casual-viewer-proofed in that it didn’t really make any difference whether you’d heard of Padmasambhava or Sergeant Patterson, but if functioned as a lovely little reference for long-term fans – and there’s a suggestion doing the rounds in fandom that there might be another reason why the Great Intelligence was included here.
Clara Oswin Oswald is another curious element. I’m keeping my counsel thus far – because if the next year turns into another protrated, interminable and bewildering companion arc I’ll be dismayed – but I like the sparky repartee with the Doctor and find Jenna Louise-Coleman a winning performer. And she’s very fanciable, obviously. I hope Moffatt can keep on a lid on Clara’s more precocious outbursts, however, as that shtick could get annoying fairly quickly.
As with previous years, there’s was lots of Christmassy stuff here, but it wasn’t the overriding thing here, like it has been in previous years. Just some nice visuals and a seasonal central concept. Pity about tears saving the day, but nevermind.
It all combined to create something rather nice. Already there are numerous questions forming as to what we can expect over 2012. So far I’m not feeling weary about it, like I did with the Ponds and River Song sagas, I’m feeling excited. And I haven’t felt excited about Doctor Who for a good couple of years.
The title sequence – That Moffatt cares enough to throw fans little bones – like a title sequence that references the past – to fandom is something I’m grateful for. This is easily the best of the new series.
The Doctor and his gang – I enjoyed the dynamic; even though the Doctor was in a huff it was all playful and enjoyable.
Clara – For now I really like Clara and think she’s played really well by Jenna Louise Coleman. I do hope we don’t get another amazing companion that’s at the centre of everything that goes on, however.
The plot – Slight enough to hang a story that had a lot of elements upon – but with enough about it. No convoluted timey-wimey-ness or nonsensical Christmas macguffins.
REG – I generally think that E Grant is simply E Grant in most things he’s in, but he really looked and acted the part here.
The Sherlock bit – The Doctor was quite amusing in this one – and without any of the patented New Series wackiness or stupidity.
The ending was wrapped up neatly with a classic bit of Moffat Christmas nonsense. I really hope we can dispense with the death cheats, the power of love and fake endings this year.
New TARDIS interior – Nice to have a clear nod to the past but not sure about the new console room.
This kiss – Rather tiresome, but stuff like this – where it’s basically a necessity for some snogging and the DOctor looking weepy – are entirely the fault of the productions teams who have, rather cynically, woven them into the fabric of the show.
5.15 – Is this another nod to the past? Either way it seemed very early.
All told, The Snowmen did what it had to very efficiently, was charming and fun and set up a lot of intriguing stuff for the anniversary year. Why doesn’t the Doctor remember the Great Intelligence? Why does Clara die every week? Are we going to see a year of Old Monsters?
I personally hope for some old Doctors and companions, classic monsters, an adaptation of Mark Gatiss’s Nightshade and NO FUCKING RIVER SONG.