Doctor Who: The Snowmen Review -

Doctor Who: The Snowmen Review

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  • Episode: The Snowmen (Season 7, Episode 6)
  • Starring: Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Tom Ward
  • Written By: Steven Moffat
  • Directed By: Saul Metzstein
  • Network: BBC, BBC America, BBC One
  • Series:

Doctor Who: The Snowmen Review

The long wait until April has begun

By Kimberly McCall     January 01, 2013

Last week, The Doctor returned to us for his annual Christmas Day special. Since the much awaited episode was penned by the one and only Steven Moffat, we all knew we were in for a good story, featuring a new companion and a mysterious menace perfectly fitting the season...snowmen. 

The image of the Doctor (Matt Smith) as a bubbly, quirky creature with a lust for the unknown is put aside in the beginning as we are introduced to a secluded, more jaded side of our hero. The Time Lord is living in a kind of mourning alone in the Tardis, suspended above the Victorian London fog. He has all but forsaken any hope or will to help mankind and turns a blind eye to anything suspicious in snowy London at Christmas time.

The character who hurls the audience into the action by curiously meddling her way into the Doctor's affairs is Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), a slightly unorthodox governess who is the first to discover that something strange is afoot involving the winter snow. Now, the audience wil recognize this girl immediately from her sad introduction in "Asylum of the Daleks". However, the Doctor, having never actually seen her face, is unaware of her obvious significance to his existance.

Through the urging of his friends, Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), her partner, Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and the clumsy Strax (Dan Starkey), The Doctor joins Clara and is off once again to come face to face with that which will certainly (well, for about an hour, anyway) destroy humankind just in time for Christmas. He dawns a detective persona comparable to Sherlock Holmes and investigates the dry and sinister Dr. Simeon (Richard E. Grant), who is both master and minion to the Great Intelligence (G.I.) (voiced by Ian McKellen). Interestingly enough, we have seen the G.I. before. These ice monsters made several appearances in the time of the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) in “The Abominable Snowmen” episodes from 1967.

This year's Christmas special delivered a fine bit of ensemble characters and even a few holiday treats like Sir Ian McKellen and Richard E. Grant. It has heart racing action, occasional sadness, and appropriate comic relief. In fact, one of the most fantastic elements is the soundtrack. It is the achingly beautiful music that moves viewers to empathize with the character of Clara. However, one question remains unanswered. How on earth to the Doctor and his new companion finally get together? At the end of the episode, we are left to put the pieces together right along with the Doctor, as he attempts to figure out the mystery that is Clara/Oswin. This Christmas season welcomes us into a new era of adventure. The answers are coming.


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karas1 1/1/2013 7:15:17 AM

It was a whole lot better than last year's Christmas episode (which sucked).

I liked that The Doctor was hanging out with a Silurian and a Sontaran in Victorian London.  I hope we see more of those characters as I am intrigued by how they got where they were.

fenngibbon 1/1/2013 5:20:36 PM

 When it comes to the Great Intelligence, "The Snowmen" appears to be an origin story.  It started out tied to the snow, but after decades of association with Simeon it evolved to the point that it could transcend physical form.  It then apparently made its way to Tibet in the 1920's or 1930's (I can't remember the details), and, then, the London Underground in the 1960's.  


Kara, it was revealed in "A Good Man Goes to War" that Madame Vastra had been awakened from her stasis chamber by men digging the London Underground in Victorian England, and the Doctor befriended her there and got her to reconcile with the apes ruling the planet (the fact that she fell in love with Jenny undoubtedly helped).  In that same episode, the backstory of Strax was that his clone batch had disgraced itself and the Doctor came up with the idea of Strax working as a nurse as penace.  The Doctor then later collected Strax as part of his team to free Amy from Demon's Run, Strax was killed, but, apparently, Vastra was able to revive him and he traveled back to Victorian England to join her group (and play a hilarious comedic foil to the Doctor).

TheSilentKiller 1/1/2013 7:32:07 PM

 I thought this was a great ep, and much better than some of the others (my favorite standalone -albeit non-Christmas is still Waters of Mars). However. I'm not exactly delighted at the romantic attachment to Clara/Oswin (Closwin?), since it pretty much goes against anything we've seen with the doctor yet.

karas1 1/2/2013 8:40:59 AM

Ah, thanks fenngibbon.  I missed a few seasons of Matt Smith's Doctor as I didn't have BBCA at the time.

Actually TheSilentKiller, the new Doctor Who had a romantic thing going with Rose (who ended up settling down in an alternate dimension with The Doctor's human clone).  And Martha had a  terrible crush on him.  So the romantic angle is not unprecedented.  But it is unwelcome to me.  Dr Who is about high concept scifi adventure to me, not romance.  When I want romance I watch other things.  Get your chocolate out of my peanut butter!

My favorite companion of the New Who has been Donna Noble, and a good part of that was their hilarious brother/sister relationship.  Watching them squabble like siblings was funny.

monkeyfoot 1/3/2013 1:13:56 PM

“I suggest a full-frontal assault with automated laser monkeys, scalpel mines, and acid.”


Karas, actually I think the Doctor Who show is all about romance. Unlike a Star Trek show which is heavy on technobabble and rules for how things happen and why, this show is driven by emotion all the time. There isn't always romance directed towards the Doctor as with Rose and Martha, but there is alot revolving around him such as Amy and Rory or Capt. Jack crying about...well anybody. I think that is why the show has a much bigger female audience percentage than most any other genre show. It's filled with tragedies and unrequited loves, and emotional bondings and longings that stretch across eons and light years.


Squeaky893 1/4/2013 4:59:03 AM

The Doctor has always been deeply emotional.  Having being damaged the way he has there is no wonder why he would be so vulnerable to the pretty faces that just happen to wag their tail in front of him.  The show has never really been about war and action, but love and redemtpion, a kind of unconditional love no matter whom they are or their motives.  How many times have we seen the doctor try to save (before ultimately being forced to outwit) those that are trying to exterminate him.  The Uum were originally portrayed as the villian, killing numerous captors, but the doctor saw to forgive both sides and find a solution.    

karas1 1/4/2013 5:37:48 AM

The New Who has always been about emotion.  But I date back to classic Who. 

I first met The Doctor in 1980 when my family took a vacation to Europe. The Doctors I was most familliar with were Tom Baker and Peter Davidson.   Those shows were about adventure and exploring the Universe.    The Doctor would "rescue" people from situations as diverse as exploding planets or dull lives and take them on way cool trips to strange places and times.  While he got very attatched to some of his companions, the most he ever offered them was friendship.   And while the companions in the TARDIS usually got along very well together, before Amy and Rory I don't believe there had been romantic attatchments between them since Ian and Barbara back when the show first came on the air in 1964..

The Doctor has become much more emotionally available in the New Who.  While seeing The Doctor's self doubts and romantic feelings makes for better drama, it makes him seem much more human and less alien.  You never quite knew what Tom Baker or Sylvester McCoy were going to do because they had an alien feeling to them.  I can tell that Matt Smith is going for the same unpredictibility in his performance.  But he just doesn't do it for me.  He's trying too hard to be wacky.  And his romance (or whatever that is) with River Song doesn't help.

redhairs99 1/4/2013 8:20:51 AM

While little romances may have cropped up here and there in the original run, they we never the main thrust of the show, which now seems to be the norm.  I liked Rose's love with The Doctor.  It felt organic in that she really was just along for the ride in the first season and she eventually did fall in love with The Doctor after her mind-meld with the Tardis and then more so with Tennent's regeneration.  But it was something that wasn't there from the get-go and it grew over the course of their adventures.

Martha was a bit different, she had a huge crush on him but The Doctor was blind to it having just lost Rose. It was a little annoying, but I still enjoyed her character as a whole.  

Then Donna came in and changed up the dynamic where she really disliked him at first but then grew into a sort of weird sibling relationship.

River Song was great when she was first introduced, but especially with her ties to The Pond storyline, I really am grewing to dislike the character. (Maybe dislike is too harsh.  Maybe I just like her less than her first appearance).

As for The Ponds, I really liked Rory, but hated Amy.  Just something about her I disliked from the beginning.  And maybe that was just it, the beginning.  Moffat changed up the open title sequence to totally revolve around Amy Pond.  Sorry, but we're watching Doctor Who, not Amy Pond!  

So far, I'm interested in the new storyline (finally being rid of Amy helps).  I like Oswin too, but the relationship/sexual tension seems forced to me and therefore artifical.  I understand The Doctor being somewhat drawn to her future companions, but the forced romance this early on has me skeptical.

I've not been the biggest fan of Moffat's tenure as show runner.  So far he's ruined River Song and The Weeping Angels.  Matt Smith has done an admirable job in the role, but still not as good as Tom Baker, Tennent, or Eccelson.  There's been good episodes and stories here and there, but have found myself waiting weeks and weeks to watch an episode on my DVR, whereas with Davies' run, I was there every week!

monkeyfoot 1/4/2013 1:53:38 PM

Karas and Redhairs, you've made good points. I have seen some of the older Who stuff with Tom Baker but I can't remember many specifics other than I really liked it. (Whenever something keeps happening over and over again in real life I say "We must be stuck in a Chronic Hysterisis!" and everybody gives me a strange look).

I have a great love for the modern incarnation of the show. Tennent was the best Doctor for me. I don't dislike Smith but the manical curiosity, the love of adventure, the desire to help anyone in need, and the loneliness of a long existence that is inherent to the role seems forced with him.

But I think the emotional factor is what does it for me in the modern show. At times it has gotten too heavyhanded but its extreme success in the UK and America means it ain't broke so there is no reason to change the formula.

TheSilentKiller 1/4/2013 10:13:28 PM

Karas,  I think you've touched on it.  I grew up with Pertwee and the Tom, who were emotionally inaccessible - other than a bit o' righteous rage. Eccleston and Tennant never struck me as seriously romantically involved, Rose notwithstanding, Captain Jack, Martha, and even River Song all seemed one-way, non-returned romance to me, so it's a bit unomfortable to see the Doctor's obvious befuddlement at Clara's kiss. I hope this doesn't develop further. I completely get what you mean, but it feels like the Moff is forcing the "wackiness", not Matt. I was resistant at first, but he's really really grown on me. He might be my #2 after Tom, and competing with him soon for #1.

Redhairs, your hatred of Amy aside, I agree with most all of your points. 

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