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12 January 2013 @ 05:34 pm
The Snowmen  
Well, I think it's fair to say that I hadn't expected this answer to Clara's identity.

In retrospect it seems obvious that the relationship of Clara to Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks was a question that would remain open after Clara's appearance. But it wasn't the answer I expected and avoids the problems I had with most of the more likely scenarios.

I enjoyed Clara. I am a little worried that she's going to tip over the edge from fun into extremely irritatingly perky and she does appear to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. However for the first time ever I did find myself recoiling as the Doctor kissed his companion. Since The Angels Take Manhattan did such a good job of presenting River and the Doctor as a married couple, it felt jarring to see him kissing someone else, even if reluctantly. It made me suddenly wonder where River had been through this apparently decades long sulk of his and then made me worry that now the Ponds have gone, River's story will be treated as done and she'll be conveniently forgotten about. She's never been my favourite character, and I'm not convinced she's always been well-served by the scripts, but she deserves better than being quietly dropped. And yes, it could be (in fact very plausibly is) an open relationship, but I feel that should be stated.

More generally, I feel about this story much as I've felt about a lot of the Christmas Specials (in particular those by Moffat). I really enjoyed it but felt a little too aware of the way my reactions were being manipulated. I'm also getting a little weary of the relentless Victorian Snow backdrop they all have. In fact I had to go back and check whether The Next Doctor was one of Moffat's or not (it wasn't). While The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe wasn't actually in a Victorian setting it was clearly aiming to invoke the same kind of feelings and use the same sort of old-fashioned imagery as the Victorian ones. I'm not sure that the sentimentality of it all really plays well to Moffat's strengths as a writer.

The visuals associated with the staircase through the clouds were stunning though. I'll almost forgive this being fantasy Victorians again because of those images.

All that said, unlike Moffat's previous two specials where he was also trying to deal with some fairly serious themes, this one was much more overtly about having fun, perhaps in order to showcase Clara's character. Madame Vastra and Jenny were, of course, great. I would happily have watched a lot more of them detecting around Victorian London and was oddly disappointed that they were relegated to sidekicks. Like a lot of people I was made somewhat uncomfortable by the extent to which the Doctor teased Strax. It seemed to step over some fine line between friendly ribbing and bullying. Oh and how are the mighty fallen? The Sontarans are clearly now to be consider comedy dwarfs, a fearsome warrior race no longer. I've not yet seen The Hobbit but I understand a similar fate has fallen on about 50% of the dwarves in that.

In summary then, this was a lot of fun but I do hope that next year's Christmas Special has a contemporary or futuristic setting. I'm getting bored of the relentless use of soft-focus history.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/86207.html.
 
 
 
ewxewx on January 12th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
The snowmen seemed rather unthreatening; IIRC they only actually did anything nasty once, and spent the rest of the time standing around displaying pointy teeth.
(...they were just begging for "They will make your blood run cold. Literally.")
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 12th, 2013 09:37 pm (UTC)
In and of themselves, I think Doctor Who monsters are rarely particularly scary. Where Who's horror often tends to come from is fear of possession or loss of self - in this respect the Snowmen were tapping into that with their destruction and then co-option of the scary-governess.

I did like the wink towards the Great Intelligence at the end though.
daniel_saunders: Eleventh Doctordaniel_saunders on January 12th, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
I'd never heard the term 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' before, but it does seem to suit Clara so far. The odd thing is Clara still seems to be similar to most previous new Who companions, yet I wouldn't I wouldn't describe them as Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Hmm.

Old fanboy that I am, I think I'm in denial about the Doctor being married. It's weird that Smith's Doctor seems both more and less sexual than Eccleston and perhaps even Tennant. I'm not sure if this is due to writing or acting or how good/bad it is or even how much is intentional and how much a product of the revamped format.

The Sontarans haven't been a serious warrior race since about 1978. :-P
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 12th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
Clara is the first "motor-mouth" companion we've had since Donna (and there was nothing Pixie Dream about Donna). In Clara's case it is particularly striking since her role here was to remind the Doctor that there is something worth living (at least actively) for.

You are right that Smith is easily the recent Who doctor who is least comfortable with overt human sexuality, while at the same time being the most maturely involved (if that makes sense) with humans. I like the idea of the marriage far more than I ever thought I would, and more than I thought I would after meeting River's character.
(no subject) - daniel_saunders on January 13th, 2013 12:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on January 13th, 2013 09:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
parrot_knightparrot_knight on January 12th, 2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
I am deeply concerned about Moffat's Who, particularly in the current production context of fewer episodes. At least this was soft focus neo-Victoriana, drawing more on recent literature, film and television set in Victorian times, than directly on Victorian writers.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 12th, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
Beyond a sense that the information we are receiving is highly spun, I've got little opinion on what is actually going on in Moffat's Who. I am, on the whole, very much enjoying it though I think it lacks the stand-out highs of Davies Who. I will certainly be sorry when he goes, but I suspect he is very much my sort of writer and than my tastes in entertainment are not those of the majority.
(no subject) - parrot_knight on January 12th, 2013 11:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on January 13th, 2013 09:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on January 13th, 2013 11:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daniel_saunders on January 13th, 2013 04:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daniel_saunders on January 13th, 2013 01:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on January 13th, 2013 01:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on January 13th, 2013 09:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on January 13th, 2013 11:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
fredbassettfredbassett on January 12th, 2013 08:04 pm (UTC)
I wasn't really paying much attention, apart from to Strax, Madame Vastra and Jenny (and I will do that fic for them with Emily, now I've seen this!).

What was the connection between Clara and Oswin? I kind of lost that bit.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 12th, 2013 09:51 pm (UTC)
Clara and Oswin are played by the same actress, so there must be a connection between them. Beyond that we don't know. When Oswin originally appeared my guesses were a) relative (verdict: dull), b) Oswin pre-Asylum of the Daleks (verdict: pre-destined doom is dull) and c) Oswin post-Asylum either as a Dalek or hologram or robot or something (verdict: too much of a plot breaker to work).

It turned out that the answer was there is some mysterious link between Victorian Clara Oswin Oswald and Dalek Oswin Oswald but we don't know what it is, and the Doctor doesn't know what it is, but he's going to find out and presumably meet another (Clara)(Oswin)(Oswald) along the way. There is a strong suggestion that they are somehow the same person (same name, same appearance, same obsession with soufflés) spread across time, but beyond that who knows.
(no subject) - fredbassett on January 12th, 2013 09:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
skordhskordh on January 12th, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
The Sontarans are clearly now to be consider comedy dwarfs, a fearsome warrior race no longer. I've not yet seen The Hobbit but I understand a similar fate has fallen on about 50% of the dwarves in that.

True, but to be fair, this was the fate of 100% of the dwarves in 'The Hobbit' for large swathes of the book!
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on January 13th, 2013 09:49 am (UTC)
Very true. I've not seen the The Hobbit so I'm not really in a position to comment. I think in my head I'm imagining their portrayal as a continuation of Gimli's in the LoTR films rather than as something that follows the text of the book.
athene: doctor elevendeinonychus_1 on January 13th, 2013 09:16 am (UTC)
Since The Angels Take Manhattan did such a good job of presenting River and the Doctor as a married couple, it felt jarring to see him kissing someone else, even if reluctantly. It made me suddenly wonder where River had been through this apparently decades long sulk of his and then made me worry that now the Ponds have gone, River's story will be treated as done and she'll be conveniently forgotten about.

Oooh, now I hadn't actually thought about that at the time when I was watching the episode, but I'm in total agreement. I love River, and I'm still sort of hoping that we'll see her pop up again, although, as you say, with Amy and Rory gone I'm also afraid that the River story might just be quietly forgotten. Which would be a shame, since, quite frankly, any scene involving Matt Smith and Alex Kingston together is a joy to watch!

I never really bought the whole relationship between Ten and Rose (okay, I'll admit now that I'm really not a Rose fan at all, so that may also play into it somewhat). Eleven and River, on the other hand, was a relationship that I could really believe, and I want to see more of them when they're married, even if she is only popping in occasionally.

Re Clara, I like her, and am intrigued to know just what is going on with her. Although I must admit, I was rather looking forward to having a Victorian companion, rather than *yet another* 21st century young woman *eye roll*. With all of time and space at his disposal, I'm getting a little bored of 21st century young women now!

Also, is it just me, or does Clara/Oswin remind anyone else of Jess from Primeval? That was my initial reaction when I saw Asylum of the Daleks, with the whole perky, fast talking thing, although slightly less so with Victorian Clara.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 13th, 2013 09:53 am (UTC)
I may be being overly pessimistic based on my experience of Primeval appearing to think certain characters only have stories in relation to other characters. parrot_knight suggests above that she's supposed to be in filming later in the season so, fingers crossed.

I never really believed in Rose as a long-term relationship thing. It was all far too much first-flush-of-love for me. Eleven and River actually appear comfortable and settled around each other.

I think we may be doomed to 21st century companions. There is a lot of truth in the observation that the viewpoint character shouldn't need too much explaining to the audience. Davies has a bit about it in his book where he's pitching a Victorian companion and halfway through gives up on it realising he's having to explain too much about her to the audience to make it work.

I hadn't made the connection with Jess, but now you point it out there are a lot of similarities. I think she's already done better than Jess with her scripts though.
(no subject) - daniel_saunders on January 13th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on January 13th, 2013 05:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daniel_saunders on January 13th, 2013 05:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Celeste: dw: marthaceleste9 on January 13th, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC)
Pretty much agree with this... The episode was fun and I loved the side characters. I would so watch a spinoff about Madame Vastra and Jenny! I still do really like Clara, but I think it will be sort of like Donna, who could be a bit grating in her Christmas special, but once we actually got her as a companion I quite loved her.

I didn't even think about River getting dropped now the Ponds are gone, I hope that doesn't happen. She was Moffat's character, so I'd be surprised if she's just gone.

They do like their historical Christmas specials... One of the things that bugs me about the new series is how they're so content to stay on earth!
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 13th, 2013 04:33 pm (UTC)
I would love a Jenny/Vastra spin off but I'm a little cautious because I didn't really enjoy Torchwood all that much and, in particular, feel a lot of the fun was leeched out of Jack's character for it. I'd hate to see Jenny and Vastra become all angst-ridden and troubled.

I'd like to see them being a bit more adventurous with their settings but I doubt it'll happen. It was one of Davies' rules, which seems to have been continued largely by Moffat that there have to be humans in a story in order to hold the audience's interest. On the plus side, they've done a lot more with historical settings than classic Doctor Who did after it's first three or four years.
daniel_saunders: Eleventh Doctordaniel_saunders on January 13th, 2013 05:22 pm (UTC)
Lots of people seem to want a Vastra/Jenny(/Strax) spin off and I'd watch it if it got made, but I can't really see it working. It would either be a standard costume drama detective series where the detective happens to be a lizard, which would get in the way of the plot or it would be a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-style postmodern mash up of Victoriana (detective, horror, science fiction, costume drama...) which would probably cost much more even than Doctor Who to do well, but might well find it harder to get an audience. So I can't see any money-counting executive buying it.

There is also the question of whether the characters are really rounded enough to carry a series. The obvious thing to would be to compare with the Big Finish Jago and Litefoot audios, but I haven't heard them, so I won't.

A spin-off graphic novel on the other hand (written by Neil Gaiman?) could be amazing (although Alan Moore would probably complain).
(no subject) - louisedennis on January 13th, 2013 05:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - daniel_saunders on January 13th, 2013 05:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - celeste9 on January 13th, 2013 06:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)