Review: Doctor Who: The Snowmen


This years’ Doctor Who Christmas special, The Snowmen, was an exciting fun fairy tale romp of an adventure.  The Doctor has been in a self imposed exile living in London in 1892.  He has parked the TARDIS in the clouds and has an invisible staircase and ladder leading up to it.  Lady Vastra, Jenny, and Strax have been trying to get the Doctor to get involved again.  There were some things I really liked in this episode and then some things that really bugged me.


***** Spoilers *****

I’ll start with the stuff that bugged me, as I want to end on the good.  First off Strax died in A Good Man Goes To War.  The Doctor even mentions that Strax died, when Clara asks why is he still alive, the Doctor says that a friend of his brought Strax back.  I can only think of a handful of beings the Doctor knows that have that kind of power, and none of them are all that friendly or cooperative.  I would just like a better explanation as to who and why.


Then there is the whole love interest between the Doctor and Clara thing.  Really, again with this?  We’ve had this done to death in the new series, besides isn’t he married to River Song?  Let’s move on and get back to telling good stories.

Also we are back to everything revolving around the companion being extra-super-duper-timey-wimey-mega-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-special again, again, again.  Can we maybe try something different?  Possibly go back to having the companion be just a normal person who gets swept up in the Doctor’s adventures and becomes a better person for having met known him?  Maybe even have the companion be an alien.

And finally again we have the “love saves the day” motif.  I’m sorry this is Doctor Who, which means the Doctor is supposed to figure out a scientific or pseudo-scientific solution to the problem and save the day.  You see for 26 seasons from 1963-1989 Doctor Who was a Science Fiction series, like Star Trek.  Then When Russell T. Davies brought it back from 2005-2009 it became a Science Fantasy series, like Star Wars.  When Steven Moffat took over in 2010 he said that Doctor Who would be a fairy tale, like the Brother’s Grimm.  At first in 2010 it was still Science Fantasy with a touch of the fairy tale, but it seems it has mostly shifted over to fairy tale at this point.


Now on to the good.  I loved the reference to The Great Intelligence and the mention of the London subway system.  I really liked the new TARIDS interior, it actually looks like something that was designed and assembled, not something that was cobbled together with stuff you found at a garage/boot sale.  I understood why the 9th/10th Doctor’s console was such a hodge podge, because it literally was something the Doctor had kept running with whatever spares he could find.  Conversely the 11th Doctor started out with a totally regenerated TARDIS, with a high-tech looking interior, but a console that honestly looked like a junk pile.  It didn’t make any sense.  Now he has a high-tech interior and a console to match and it’s much more reminiscent of the classic series console room.  The new console room looks like something you could actually pilot a Time Space ship from.  I can’t wait to see some more of the TARDIS interior.


I enjoyed the new theme music, and loved the new intro sequence especially putting the Doctor’s face into it; it just made it feel right.  Also the part with Strax and the memory worm was hilarious.

The casting and the performances are excellent, and casting Sir Ian McKellen as the voice of the Snowmen was brilliant.  Although I thought Richard E. Grant was woefully underused as Doctor Simeon


Final Thoughts:

So with all these things that seem to be returning to a more classic Doctor Who sensibility, I hope that the story telling will return to a more classic style, where the stories make sense, even after having watched it 2 or 3 or 10 or more times as I have with all of the first 26 seasons.  The new stuff is fun an exciting the first time through, especially if you can shut your brain off an not think about it, but once you view it a second of third time and put it under a little scrutiny, most of the more recent story lines start to fall apart.  Are funny one liners or quips back and forth between the Doctor and Strax enjoyable?  Yes they are, and The Snowmen was full of good laughs, and had a great reference to two classic Patrick Troughton stories.  But a story cannot stand on one liners and fan-wank alone.  I think it is high time for a return to telling stories that are more high concept Science Fiction, stories that are thought provoking, stories where reason and logic save the day, not happy or sad thoughts.  All in all The Snowmen wasn’t bad, but the solution at the end left a lot to be desired.  I really enjoyed the chemistry between Matt Smith and Jenna Louise Coleman, but that was evident in the series 7 opener The Asylum Of The Daleks.


I know it sounds like a gripped a lot about a series I truly do love, but it’s because I love it so much that I am tired of the current regime repeating the same things over and over again.  The format of Doctor Who allows you to tell any kind of story, but also allows, almost requires you to jump from one type of story to another.   The fairy tale thing was great, once, and the beauty of Doctor Who is that it will be again, at some point a few years down the road, but 3 series in a row is a bit much.  Prior to that we had 5 years of Science Fantasy.  What say you Mr. Moffat, with the 50th Anniversary of the Greatest Science Fiction series ever looming before us, can we maybe get some good Science Fiction stories for the Doctor to sort out?  That would be the best Christmas present ever!

Check out our “The Snowmen” Photo Album.

Happy Wholidays, and a Happy Who Year!