Vastra: You missed this, didn’t you?
The Doctor: Shut up.
Doctor Who Christmas Specials are usually a treat, and 2012 special’s was no exception. It was a much-needed ray of sunshine after the bleak ending of The Angels Take Manhattan and the departure of Amy and Rory.
The year is 1892. The place is Victorian London. The Doctor (Matt Smith) has retired from his travels through the universe, still hurting from the loss of his dearest friends. He takes solace from equally strange friends like the Silurian detective Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), her human wife Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and their Sontaran butler Strax (Dan Starkey). But the Doctor no longer cares about humanity or trying to save it.
Cue our new companion, Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman). With a plucky attitude, incredible courage, and a keen mind, she refuses to let the Doctor be. Especially when a strange old doctor (Richard E. Grant) is raising an army of vicious snowmen in a plot to wipe out the human race and claim a frozen Earth all to himself. This wintery menace–along with this curious young woman–are just the catalyst for the Doctor’s revival and the premise of a brilliant mid-series episode.
The best way to describe this entire episode is that it’s one big love letter to all the fans of the current Doctor Who show. This Christmas Special gives us more screentime to Vastra and Jenny, an interracial same-sex couple that many hoped would get their own spin-off. It gives us a clever new villain: a species of telepathic snow voiced by Ian McKellen (it’s much better and scarier than it sounds). It gives us a big and beautiful new interior for the TARDIS, and a very clever way of concealing it in the middle of Victorian London.
And best of all, it gives us Jenna-Louise Coleman. Before this special, we only had one episode with her as Oswin Oswald, a cute and mysterious genius. Here, we get Jenna-Louise as a sly barmaid and cunning governess… who is essentially a cute and mysterious genius. I knew I was in love with her the moment she laid eyes on the Doctor and never stopped chasing after him. This is a girl who loves adventure the same way that John Watson loves running into danger in Sherlock (another Steven Moffat production). She’s witty, clever, and seems to have a personality that goes far beyond one or two lifetimes (in the context of the ending, anyway). It’s sad, but within the first five minutes of watching her, I almost went, “…Who are Amy and Rory?” They’re still unforgettable as the Doctor’s Companions, but Clara is a bundle of energy and intelligence that’s hard not to like.
I highly recommend this Christmas Special for seasoned Doctor Who fans. If you’re a newcomer, you might miss some of the allusions to the last few episodes, but you won’t be bored during the detective work and snowman attacks. And whether you’re a young or old fan, you won’t want to miss the sparring wit of Jenna-Louise Coleman and Matt Smith. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up desperate to see more of it in this series.
Doctor Who is available on BBC One and BBC America.
Bibliography: “The Snowmen.” Doctor Who (Series 7). Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Saul Metzstein. Produced by Marcus Wilson. BBC TV. Original broadcast: December 25, 2012.