Monday, December 31, 2012

The Snowmen

As a reminder, here's my wish list  for the episode, along with a summery of how close it got.

  • Clara to be a non-modern companion. My hopes are pretty high on this one, seeing as The Snowmen is set in Victorian London.
Well, yes...and no... jury's still out on that one.
  • Clara NOT to be a love interest for the Doctor. Not only because it would mess with my otps, but because I’m kind of sick of companions falling in love with him.
At this point, it seems she'll try to be a love interest. I hope she backs off.
  • An explanation for the title monsters that won’t leave me terrified for the rest of the winter. If Moffat makes me scared of snow, my Midwestern location will make life very difficult for me.
As long as I don't start complaining to snowmen, I'm safe.
  • An explanation for the new TARDIS interior.
Not exactly.
  • Someone explaining to the Doctor how incredibly stupid he is to be alone (preferable with a slap)
Yes, explained. But no slap, sadly.
  • The episode to download in less than an hour.
Failed epic-ally. It took nearly four hours.
And, most of all, what I really want to see in this episode is something simple.
The Doctor’s smile. A real, honest, happy smile, not to hide pain or avoid questions, but because he’s actually happy.
Close enough.
 The digital age may have spend things up a bit, but I still spent 8 pm-4 pm (including some of the sleeping hours) going stir-crazy for The Snowmen.  Whatever else the episode did or did not do, it certifiably kept me engaged. The older of my two brothers kept complaining about my cries of "no, no" or "mah Doctor," but the other was equally entertained.

Besides the new companion--who I will discuss later--this episode also marked a new title sequence, a new costume for Eleven, and a new TARDIS theme.  First of all, the title sequence.
It's absolutely beautiful. It startled me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.  All the colors are absolutely beautiful,  like images from the Hubble Space telescope. And the face-effect is very subtle--not terrifying like Colin Baker's (it's just sort of creepy.) It also seems a fitting tribute to the classic series, with the fiftieth anniversary approaching next fall.

The new costume seems equally fitting. It's still him, but a sadder, more serious him. And that scene with the bowtie...ouch, very much ouch.
The Doctor: No, it's just...I didn't know I put it on. Old habits...
And the glasses, please...Ten had "brainy specs:" Eleven has "specs of sorrow." Sad specs.

Now, the new TARDIS console. I have two equal and opposite statements to make regarding it.
I think it completely suits the Eleventh Doctor at this point in time. He's trying to get rid of anything that reminds him of the Ponds, from his bowtie to his TARDIS. Whether he chose the new "desktop" or the TARDIS chose it, it just seems so much colder, darker and smaller, reflecting his choice to withdraw from the world. The orange set would have been too big, too happy for him.  (side note: Clara's TARDIS key: the Ponds never got one. That makes me sad.)

I can't stand it. It feels wrong--the metal panels feel like they belong in a military building, not the TARDIS. It feels claustrophobic compared to the glass, coral, or even the classic models. Overall, it feels like a machine, not our dear, clever, Sexy. I spent at least a minute yelling "Wrong, it feels wrong" at the screen when it first came up. It feels wrong for my Doctor, the madman with a box, who is now a lonely, sad man. I can't stand to see his feelings reflected that way. It's like walking into your best friend's room and finding it covered with posters of skulls and quotes advocating suicide.  I just want to tear it all down and paint bright colors on the wall.

Before I get to the main plot, one more element: the Paternoster Gang. The gag about Sherlock Holmes was funny, Strax's militant nature made me chuckle, and Vastra had some good scenes, especially the interview of Clara. But...I have an elementary-age Whovian brother, and the whole interspecies lesbians thing makes me uncomfortable. At least with most of the previous episodes, it was subtle enough he missed it (Closing Time was an exception). I can handle it, even if I disagree, but with a younger brother...awkward.

 Matt Smith was wonderful, showing how the Doctor's darker tendencies would play out after Manhattan. The memory worm scene was a bit surprising--I didn't think he'd go that far, even if he saw it as for the character's own good.  Clara...she was straightforward and bold: anything less wouldn't have caught his attention at this point. She's clever, too, as shown by her analysis of their escape. In some ways she reminds me of Donna, but with flirting--and one of the reasons I liked Donna was her lack of flirting.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a staunch Doctor/River shipper and the Ponds were my first companions; I'm still mourning them and reluctant to accept a new companion. Even if I didn't ship them, I think grief is a bad place to start a relationship--Eleven is grieving at least as as hard as Ten did in Doomsday, and we all know how Martha's crush turned out.  And I'm sick of companions crushing on the Doctor. Can't he just have a friend?

Plotwise: regardless of what anyone says, I liked it. Moffat rarely focuses on the monsters in his specials; he focuses on characters. The real enemy wasn't the Snowmen or the Great Intelligence--it was the Doctor's crippling depression and resulting apathy. But I knew he'd come to the Latimers' aid (Latimer--anyone else notice that?). He still can't let children cry.

On first watch, this episode seemed to be a Davies/Moffat hybrid.  But when I rewatched it, I felt the  "Davies" elements--Clara's death, the Doctor's loneliness--grew naturally from the mid-season finale. And when I was looking for it, the sense of wonder that infused The Christmas Carol or  The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe is still there...just a bit hidden. Some of the scenes--the ladder to the clouds, the shot of Clara and Eleven drenched by the melted snowmen--are absolutely beautiful.

This isn't my full thoughts on The Snowmen--I have a post on Clara's identity and another comparing 10 post-Doomsday and 11 post-Manhattan in the works. But I'd love to hear your thoughts too. So what did you think of the Snowmen?


  1. Yes it is huge change indeed, and a dark one at that. Reminds me of the resurrection of the series and how dark Eccleston's console appeared. Makes sense with the loss of all the Timelords. It only brightened up a little during Tenant's years. Surprisingly after the loss of Rose. But as the history of the shows has given us, is a fresh change of the interior. As long as the Police Box remains then I am happy with however the inside appears, even if he gets a cloaking device working sometimes, which we have seen already. Only once in the show's history has the Chameleon Circut been fixed to work properly, during Colin Bakers era, and THAT was disappointing in it's own rite. I mean, an Organ?! Seriously, please don't allow that again Moffatt. One thing is for sure though, that the console WILL change again. So ride it out. Oh, and I hear that Moffatt wrote an episode "Journey to the center of the TARDIS" so that right there is exciting. To see more of the interior that we have all been yearning for. Only a small portion was seen after the Eccleston/Tenant regeneration, and then again with the Ponds wandering around a bit. Other than that we haven't seen anything since Castrovalva, Masque of Mandragora, Invasion of Time (very disappointing), and Logopolis.

    1. I am looking forward to that episode so much...yeah, I have my hopes the interior will change back, especially since River didn't notice she walked into the wrong TARDIS in First/Last Night...part of it might be conservation of detail, but I want that one back so much...