Doctor Who has been on everyone's minds as of late. The fiftieth anniversary episode is literally just around the corner, and we've got the return of not only David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor but also Billie Piper, Matt Smith and of course, Jenna-Louise Coleman. With the epicness around the corner, I have the pleasure of recounting my own personal epicness, my favourite episode of the show. Now, I have multiple faves “Vincent and the Doctor”, “The Unquiet Dead”, “A Good Man Goes to War”, and “The Girl Who Waited” are just a few. But, I have a soft spot for the Christmas episodes because they're always so magical in their own way. One such episode is “The Snowmen”. Jam packed with the beginning of a major story arc, one of the greatest arcs in New Who history, one that will change the course of Doctor Who forever: the reintroduction of Clara and the Great Intelligence.
After watching “The Name of the Doctor”, the series final for series 7, we saw Clara Oswald jump into the Doctor's time stream, rewriting all the bad the GI and Dr. Simeon did. In so doing, we got copies of Clara who saved the Doctor, every incarnation of the Doctor and three, that we've physically seen, for the Eleventh. The second was introduced in what is, so far, the finest Christmas special we've had for New Who.
Some may say this episode was weak and full of sexism and dialect inaccuracies, but it was actually, truly magical. Truly magical in that we see the Doctor in full mourning for his Ponds. Truly magical in that we get to see the TARDIS redesigned. And, truly magical in the wonderful performances by Coleman and Smith. The two have raw chemistry that can't be denied which translates in true curiosity for the mad man who lives on a cloud and vice versa for the Impossible Girl who is a governess who's really a barmaid. The dialogue is witty and building and, going back on a rewatch after seeing “The Name of the Doctor”, the story is quite beautiful and profound. It's full of little Easter eggs.
Let's go on a quick summary for those who may have decided to skip this episode. Meet Dr. Simeon. He's a loner, perhaps even an orphan. He doesn't have friends. He doesn't speak to anyone. One day, in the snow, a snowman starts talking to him, mirroring him, showing him he doesn't need anyone. It's the Great Intelligence (voiced delightfully by Ian McKellen) who takes over Dr. Simeon and shapes him, molds him, into the formidable villain we see feed actual people to actual cannibalistic snowmen. Creepy alert. Jump to the Rose and Crown. We meet Clara Oswin Oswald. She's a barmaid who meets the Doctor and gets him out of his shell. She doesn't run when she meets Strax or when they discuss a memory worm. In fact, she follows him to his box on a cloud. Later, after the snow melts, Clara is revealed to also be a governess named Ms. Montague. She takes care of a family who lost their other governess to falling into a pond and freezing to death. The same body is being used by the GI to produce a replica of human DNA that they'll use to create an evil army. Long story short, Clara gets the Doctor back into saving the world but at a terrible cost. Despite trying his hardest, Clara is pulled off his cloud in the sky by a fatal error in judgement and the angry ice governess.
The cinematography is beautiful in this episode. The moody gray and blue of early century London is accentuated by deep purples of the Doctor's new outfit and Clara's gorgeous red barmaid dress. Not to mention the new TARDIS reveal is the best thing I've seen since the awe and wonderment on Amy's face in "The Best Below". I've seen the episode four times, now, and each time it brings fresh tears to my eyes. It's all the little things in this episode that make it a truly wonderful Christmas episode. It's full of whimsy, obvious parallels to Mary Poppins (which is who I thought Clara may have been at one time), and the best thing of all: The Doctor back on his game and back in the swing of curiousity after nearly a thousand years of being in mourning. And, of course, all of these things come to a delightful conclusion of The Doctor racing to find out more about Clara Oswald and Clara herself making an appearance next to her former self's grave declaring, rather boldly, "I don't believe in ghosts."
Belief in ghosts or not, belief in the joy and spirit of Christmas, or not, the Doctor Who episode "The Snowmen", is full of great reveals, a great build of a story arc, humour, wit, and the magic that made me fall in love with the Doctor in the first place. So, even if you don't particularly care for Clara or her now completely cannon inclusion throughout Doctor Who history, "The Snowmen" is a definite must see and quite possibly my most favourite episode of the programme ever.
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