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18 October 2015 @ 02:30 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Snowmen  
Oh look! We're on Victorian Christmas Planet again (I think this the third in a row and the fourth over all)! The fact that this is actually England in the Victorian era doesn't really help. That aside, like most Christmas specials, this mostly works well enough, trundling along on good spirits and Christmassy imagery.

This is the episode that gives us our second glimpse of Clara in a plot involving parasitic snow that is destined to morph into the Great Intelligence. Like most of the eleventh Doctor Christmas specials it is riffing hard on the fairytale imagery, with the Tardis perched on a cloud that is reached by a spiral staircase. We are also introduced to a version of Clara which is, I think, intended as a blueprint for the character: curious, bright, intelligent, good with children, living a double life and a great deal more audacious than companions often are. I think an awful lot of that got lost in all the Impossible Girl shenanigans later in the season and arguably the show has been fighting to get back to this core ever since. She's hugely likeable as a character here.

I was troubled by the Doctor's treatment of Strax first time around. Oddly, it bothered me less on this viewing, if only because once or twice we see Strax teasing the Doctor right back in turn. I think this was supposed to be a relationship of mutual banter, though it is undermined by the fact that the writing is making Strax the butt of jokes at the same time the Doctor is, which makes it look more like the Doctor is picking on someone incapable, than that he is trading fond insults with a friend.

Richard E. Grant is great as Dr. Simeon and the intelligent snow makes a good enemy, with a reasonable set of weaknesses to be discovered and exploited.

I complain a lot about Victorian Christmas planets, not that I don't (mostly) think Moffat does them pretty well, but just because one gets tired of this kind of schtick. I think this is one of his better efforts - certainly better than either A Christmas Carol or Time of the Doctor - I also think it is one of Clara's best stories to date.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/175146.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on October 18th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
This was an odd one, as we're kind of prepared for the Christmas story to be self-contained, but this is tied in closely to the ongoing 'Impossible Girl' narrative arc, something that hadn't really happened since The Christmas Invasion had been the tenth Doctor's first episode, if at all.

I do wonder about all the Clara hate out there. I can't say she's a favourite companion, but I don't hate her, or particularly dislike her. I disagree that a lot of her character got lost along the way. Actually, I wonder if she's too capable for some people - I don't mean sexist men who want a useless screamer for a companion, but generally that she seems to good at everything, too confident in every (OK, most) situations and a bit smug at times (actually, that makes her sound awfully like a female Doctor...). It's a bit like Adric or Wesley Crusher as boy geniuses only without the teenage element. Perhaps it would have been better if we'd kept the 'bad with computers' bit to give her a weakness. I should say I'm not sure this is the case, it's just an idea I had recently that I thought I would share.
louisedennislouisedennis on October 18th, 2015 04:20 pm (UTC)
I think you might be able to argue that she's too good now, but I recall, at the time, being increasingly disappointed in her character as series 7 progressed, since she mostly didn't seem to be doing a great deal. I'm quite interested to see what she's like on a rewatch now I have a clearer handle on what's intended.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on October 18th, 2015 04:35 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen any Matt Smith episodes for quite a while, so I'm probably unconsciously basing my theory more on the Capaldi era than anything earlier.
londonkds on October 18th, 2015 09:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, her season seven portrayal was completely frozen by the desire to keep her a total mystery until the end.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 19th, 2015 11:11 am (UTC)
Which is odd given her personality doesn't much inform the Impossible Girl plot - but I definitely felt she was a bit of a cypher until the Impossible Girl shackles were disposed of.