The 2012 Christmas Special promises a new companion who looks oddly familiar, a new-look TARDIS, the return of our favourite nonhuman Victorian detective and the usual seasonally-appropriate villain. Fortunately this time it’s neither homicidal Santas nor robot angels.

Cast and Crew

Matt Smith as The Doctor
Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara
Richard E Grant as Doctor Simeon
Neve McIntosh as Madame Vastra
Dan Starkey as Strax
Catrin Stewart as Jenny Flint
Tom Ward as Captain Latimer
Ian McKellen as the voice of the Snowmen

Written by Steven Moffat

Produced by Marcus Wilson

Directed by Saul Metzstein

Originally shown on the 25th of December 2012

Premise

In Victorian England, it seems the snowmen build themselves.

High Points

  • “I’m a lizardwoman from the dawn of time, and this is my wife.”
  • Clara exploring the staircase and the cloud.
  • “I don’t know why, I just know who.”
  • London Underground map circa 1966. Backreferences, anyone?

Low Points

  • Strax’s attempts at polite interjections start out funny and become tedious.
  • The nature of the baddie made the ice-woman’s dialogue rather shallow and quite out of place next to the level of conversation between the Doctor and his companions.

Scores

Originality: I can’t really place it but I think the basic concept of the Intelligence has come up somewhere before. That said, this didn’t end up feeling like a hackneyed rerun of something everyone’s familiar with, and it was delivered with enough twists to stay fresh. Unfortunately the Doctor-meets-new-companion-and-stops-sulking idea isn’t new at all. Four out of six.

Effects: Snow is difficult to work with on set I suppose. This leads to the unfortunate tendency of the snow to not really look like snow. This extends to the computer-generated snowmen which looked to me more like they were made of paper. The cloud and staircase were very good though. Four out of six.

Story: Picking up from the end of the previous series very well, there were plenty of twists and lots to keep me interested right to the end. Five out of six.

Acting: Jenna-Louise Coleman was very good in her first appearance and is very good in her second. Most of the new actors are minor characters, but they’re not a disappointment. The ‘Victorian trio’ of Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax get a good chance to show their talents as well. My biggest let-down was the brief appearance of the landlord trying to convince Clara not to leave. Five out of six.

Emotional Response: It’s not really tense or emotional so much as pure fun. But having fun is an emotional response too. Five out of six.

Production: Some lavish interiors evocative of what you’d expect of a Victorian Christmas setting, with some lovely period costumes. The new TARDIS interior is something of a departure for the new series, although also clearly containing elements from the previous control room as well as some which hark back to the original series. There is also some excellent new music. Five out of six.

Overall: I enjoyed this episode immensely. It’s far from flawless but it flows and is fun and not everything needs to be as draining as Game of Thrones. Five out of six.

In total, The Snowmen receives thirty-three out of forty-two.