The highlight of any nerd’s Christmas season is the Doctor Who Christmas Special. Usually a big production with awesome new guest stars (and sometimes introducing new companions), these episodes warm your heart and keep you on the edge of your seat.
The 2012 Christmas Special, “Doctor Who: The Snowmen,” promises to be a seasonal adventure of epic proportions. Not only is it the first episode where Jenna-Louise Coleman enters her companion role as Clara, but the guest stars are among the biggest yet (Richard E. Grant!!!) AND they return to Victorian England for the first time in a long time. I am very excited.
However, I am not excited as I thought I would be. Frankly, the trailer sucked and the corny pre-quel minisode didn’t give me any more hope. It was nowhere near as intriguing as I thought or expected it to be. Most of my following comments are based on that first impression.
I look forward to finding out how Clara stacks up against the Ponds (I have high hopes) and I look forward to whatever magic Steven Moffat has up his sleeve. The BBC has also said it will be “a movie-scale episode” so that should be great. The Doctor gets a new look apparently (are bowties not cool anymore, and will his personality be the same?), and the episode features the return of some of my favourite characters from past seasons. But will it be too far-fetched for Christmas, even for Doctor Who (an army of snowmen? Are we heading back to plastic people and crazy Santas again? I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt.)?
Last year’s Christmas Special, “The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe,” was my favourite so far. It was a great contrast to spacey epics like “Voyage of the Damned.” “A Christmas Carol” was an amazing bit of interwoven storytelling (my second favourite, and the pacing was typical of Moffat and the Doctor Who crew. One of the great things about both of these was the great work on set design: the floating fish in an alternate Victorian England, the Titanic II floating far above future Earth, all settings for the wit and charm of David Tennant and Matt Smith to work their magic, and each one warming the viewers’ hearts.
“The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe” was something different though, it was not about the Doctor running around saving the Earth or racing after a lost companion, it was about a family.
It was about the Arwell’s Christmas, their family broken apart but trying to still have the perfect Christmas as a family. It was about the Doctor and his lack of family. It is so subtle it took me a second watching to catch it. The Doctor says “I am much older than you think and I can’t feel the way you feel” when encouraging Madge to fly the spaceship, something she was chosen for as the transporter of the family (the mother).
Near the end, safely back on Christmas morn, Madge also hints at the Doctor’s situation with the Pond’s by saying “I don’t believe anyone would prefer that [being alone]” and him being told off for leaving his friends alone on Christmas. All this is part of Moffat’s masterful storytelling and plot development.
The things I look forward to in “The Snowmen” are many. I hope it has the humour in serious situations, like Amy squirting the Doctor with a water pistol when he finally returns two years later. I hope it has memorable and surprising companions like Maurice Cole and Holly Earl (Cyril and Lilly Arwell), great effects like the Wooden King and Queen but not have the low budget CGI like Who of old and the tree harvester in “The Wardrobe.” I hope it makes me excited for Season 7.2 with teasers and hints for all the new adventures, but I hope it doesn’t detract too much from Christmas.
I hope Moffat doesn’t make Matt Smith change too much, after all this is the first time he’s gotten new companions and it didn’t work too well for David Tennant’s Doctor (my friends will know I really dislike how all of the remaining seasons revolved around a cast member who had been finished a few years before!).
I’m excited for “The Snowmen” because of all the new things involved, but will all the silliness and antitheses of Strax and a lizard lady in Victorian England (as compared to far fetched things on other planets and alternate dimensions) make or break the Holiday spirit? Will we once again experience “Happy crying,” that “humany wumeny” emotional response?
I guess watching would be the obvious answer. Merry Christmas everyone, and enjoy “Doctor Who: The Snowmen.”