Doctor Who Christmas Special: Festive Cheer As The Doctor Is Back To His Best

This year's Christmas special was a vast improvement on last year's version, and sets things up nicely for the 50th anniversary special...
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This year's Christmas special was a vast improvement on last year's version, and sets things up nicely for the 50th anniversary special...

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-Shh, Spoilers-

It is finally that time again for the Doctor Who Christmas special.  When we last saw the Doctor, the Weeping Angels had taken the Ponds away from him forever, leaving the usually kind and caring Doctor heartbroken and apathetic towards others plight. Now as a strange snow falls upon Victorian Britain, a familiar face returns, to help the Doctor return to his old ways.

This episode had a lot to live up too, the return of Jenna-Louise Coleman and the Doctor’s life post Pond, we already had a semi tease of this life back in “Asylum of the Daleks” Jenna’s character playfully flirting with Rory and The Doctor, but there was no physical element to it, and it was still very much about the Ponds, though Oswin’s final words to The Doctor were to remember her and with a knowing glance at the camera we knew she would be back. In “The Snowmen” the depressed Doctor finally gets to meet the soufflé girl in the flesh, and the interaction between the two doesn’t disappoint, for example the eyes forward comment and the Doctor blushing after Clara kisses him (I wonder if any of the new companions haven’t kissed the Doctor). Hopefully they’ll keep the chemistry up between the two, post-Christmas special especially know that this impossible girl has the Doctor’s attention.

The whole episode was fan service after fan service, wrapped in a fairly tight script, as always with Moffat it felt like a love letter to the shows fans and to the show itself. The blatant references to Sherlock properly sent some fans into over drive, and maybe even starting the rumour mill about a potential cross-over. Though the references seem to be tongue in cheek, with Strax refereeing the Doctor as Holmes, and then dressing up as him to infiltrate The Great Intelligence (though this isn’t the first time the Doctor has masqueraded as Holmes, Tom Bakers 4th Doctor’s 1977 The Talons of Weng-Chiang).

Another thing that kept creeping up this episode was the phase, “winter is coming” the tagline of the highly acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones (and book series A Song of Fire and Ice). Maybe Moffat hadn’t seen the series and it was just a happenstance, or maybe he was trying to creep out audiences by making our minds think of the winter in Westros and the Wight Walkers. Then again saying that snow is falling isn’t very menacing, so maybe the choice, “winter is coming” was a good one.

Richard E Grant (returning to the franchise having played the Quiet Handsome Doctor in the moffet penned special,  Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death) as the villain Doctor Simeon looked the part and his limited dialogue was well executed, but sadly he just didn’t seem to get enough screen time, alongside Sir Ian McKellen’s booming voice as The Great Intelligence, a returning villain from the classic series, though the villains first appearance chronologically, that used to attack the London Underground with Snow Yeti’s (I wonder who gave it the idea that the underground was an inherent weakness to the British Empire?).

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Both were under used, but then again, the episode wasn’t really about them, it was about the Doctor’s friends trying to convince him to come out of his slumber and how Clara knocks him out of that, because let’s face it, snow, as the antagonist, not very terrifying, especially with some dodgy special effects and the oddly positioned zombie Doctor Simeon, though the idea of a woman frozen in the pond was well implemented, especially via the terror of the children and the fear they have of their previous Governess.

Three random characters also returned from the A Good Man Goes to War episode, the previously deceased Strax (a friend of the Doctor’s brought him back from the dead, but maybe not all of him), Madame Vastra (a lizard woman from the beginning of time) and Jenny (her wife), and from the looks of the Next Time trailer we can be sure to see more of them, it is nice to see a group of people who are the Doctor’s friends, ones that know of his deeds, and are as colourful as these three, hopefully we’ll learn more of their back story later on in the series.

Finally now, the next time trailer, one of main attractions of the Christmas special, we finally we get a clue at what the rest of series 7 is going to be like. Well a brief summary would be explosions, planes, period dress, standard creepy Moffat villains, a robot Doctor, a new sonic, and The Twice Dead Girl, Clara Oswin Oswald.

In conclusion, this Christmas episode was a vast improvement to the stand alone one from last year which seemed weak narratively, whereas this one brought us characters that we could actually open up too since they weren’t just here for the one day, they were here to stay, or in Clara’s case die (which makes me think that Moffat has just shifted his crosshairs from Rory on to her). So far this all series has been a slow return to the old days of Doctor Who, the St John badge on the TARDIS, the Doctor’s face appearing in the new intro, the TARDIS itself seems very reminiscent of the older desk top themes, and all in time for the 50th anniversary which is just right round the corner, let’s hope that Moffat knows what he is doing.