December 27, 2012
Quite simply, not just the best Doctor Who Christmas special we've seen in awhile, but a really grand kick-off to the 50th anniversary.
Unlike past Christmas specials, The Snowmen focuses less on the trappings of Christmas (mostly, this is a story that could take place during any Victorian Winter), but is more of a general "teaser" for the rest of season 7. I'm sure many old school fans will complain about this not being "their Doctor" - after all, we meet the Doctor in self-imposed exile, both of his hearts broken with consistent loss, and his most recent losses seemingly haunting him without being spoken out loud.
Thankfully, though, the Doctor finds himself impressed with a barmaid by night, governess by day, and the chemistry between Matt Smith and Jenna Louise Coleman simply crackles. Without spoiling, by episode's end....we see some tantalizing hints of what may happen (including the obligatory "Coming Soon" trailer), but there's a playfulness between that two that really helps make Coleman's character stand out, and not seem as if she's another "Amy Pond wannabe."
This is also one of Steven Moffat's more clever scripts, balancing some great nods to past Who, as well as some moments of levity and humor. (The Sontaran Strax as a butler? Priceless). Bringing back Strax - as well as Madame Vastra and Jenny - help create a strong sense of family for the Doctor that really gives the script a bit of a lift, and that really hits home the central theme - that of self-imposed loneliness, and how the holidays can often wear more heavily on a person.
(Trust me, if you've been reading this blog, you know what I'm talking about).
There's been a great deal riding on this Christmas special, as it does (somewhat unofficially) lead into the 50th anniversary celebrations - and the rest of the season will prove to be one driven by a central mystery. (It's cleverly spelled out at the end of the episode, and I won't spoil - it's worth watching unfold before your very eyes). In all honesty, The Snowmen is one of the more pleasant surprises of the holiday season.