“Winter is coming. Such a winter as the world has never seen.”
So I’m back after a brief Christmas hiatus. And what am I reviewing, out of all the many hours (too many) of Christmas telly that I watched yesterday?
Why, Doctor Who, of course. Did you expect anything else of the English Student? (On second thoughts, don’t answer that.)
This Christmas sees a Doctor depressed by the loss of the Ponds having taken up residence on a cloud above Victorian London. No, I don’t know why either. If he doesn’t want to get involved in the universe’s problems, why choose Earth over billions of less interesting and less-populated worlds?
Undoubtedly the answer to that is that the scriptwriters need him there so he can meet his new sidekick (who is, unsurprisingly, young and female). Her name is Clara, and she is the spitting image of Oswin Oswald, the dead Dalek Souffle Woman he met in Asylum of the Daleks. This little mystery is obviously going to provide the impetus for the next series, which hopefully means we are going to get a proper story arc again instead of five separate blockbuster episodes like the last series. We can cope with a story arc, Steven Moffatt. Sherlock watchers do it all the time.
Where was I? Oh, yes. The Earth is in the clutches of an evil wintry consciousness that apparently makes intelligent snowmen for reasons I don’t really understand. In the course of defeating them the Doctor appears to fall in love with Clara, which is fair enough, you know, the 10th Doctor had Rose, but what about River Song? She’s presumably still around somewhere, and she’s the Doctor’s wife and he just seems to have forgotten her.
And, I’m sorry, what was that ending? All the snow turned to rain because some people were crying on Christmas Eve? It’s narratively unsatisfying and, more importantly, it doesn’t make any sense. Lots of people cry on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t mean they can save the Earth. Sorry, but that’s just lazy scriptwriting. In fact, the scriptwriters have been relying a lot on The Power of Love recently. Last Christmas, a woman had a forest in her head (which conveniently vanished at exactly the right moment) because she was a mother. Amy brought back the Doctor after the Big Bang 2 through the power of love, apparently. Oh, and in Asylum of the Daleks, Amy stopped turning into a Dalek because…you guessed it, because of love.
All very life-affirming, but what about the Power of Reason? The Power of Science (even Science Fiction)? The Power of Wibbly-Wobbly-Timey-Wimey-Clever-Stupid-Plans? You know, like in Blink or A Good Man Goes To War or, good grief, even The Angels Take Manhattan which was otherwise completely awful? Each of those episodes managed to convey some meaningful human emotion and use a clever plan to save the Earth. That combination is, after all, what makes – what used to make – Doctor Who such a wonderful show.
In the end, The Snowmen was yet another promising episode that was failed by excessive syrup and plot holes. (This coming from someone who would quite willingly watch Enchanted and Stardust on a daily basis.) I mean, snowmen with teeth? Only Steven Moffatt could mess that up.