Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Snowmen | Review - Spoilers Ahead!

This blog will be full of spoilers. Lots of them. So if you haven't seen this episode - leave now. If you have - welcome.

I could also call this blog 'Why I love Clara Oswin Oswald/Jenna-Louise Coleman'. A large majority of it will be singing her praises. But I will try and give the episode a full and developed review as well. So I'll start with the general opinion I have. It was an OK Doctor Who episode. It wasn't great, and I wasn't really a fan of the actual monster/villain/snow storyline. But considering that this episode only really served the purpose of introducing Clara, I should judge the episode on that. Perfect. I thought that The Snowmen was a perfect introduction episode for a companion, possibly one of the best ever. If ever you want to introduce a companion, future Executive Producers, watch The Snowmen. It is a perfect example. It's perfect because of lots of factors. One is Clara/Jenna. Another is the Doctor and her relationship with him. Another is the relationship they have. And another is the fact Steven Moffat didn't mess about when getting Clara as a companion. But more of that later.

The whole 'army of ice/snow' thing and origin of something which might become the thing that controls the Yeti but might be after that but might be powerful but might be not powerful but might still be Wilfred Simeon didn't work great for me. Supposedly, the Intelligence is the Great Intelligence, and this is how it came to being. Which is fine. But I felt that Moffat, who rarely brings back classics as pure classics anyway, missed an opportunity. Or at least, didn't do the Intelligence justice. Their story of origin was essentially just last year's Christmas Special, a wishy-washy reason about a lonely boy dreaming of.. world conquering.. Either way; it's a wishy-washing-not-really-proper concept, and so for an origin for the Intelligence it's strange. I felt the explanation of the Intelligence and being Simeon's dream was all over the place basically, the storyline of it was typical Christmas Who (not very good), and the whole evil globe bit just... Didn't work. The monsters weren't great. The storyline with them, therefore, wasn't great. However - their presence, and the idea of evil snowmen, and certainly Richard E Grant - was great.

So if we move on from the Intelligence, and perhaps imagined they were replaced with some other, stronger, plot, then we can see a perfect episode. The way the Doctor and Clara meet is typically accidental - but I like it. The best thing about The Snowmen, is it introduces a new companion properly, and yet acts as a parody of previous companion-meeting episodes. The Doctor normally messes about, and on saving the world invites someone with him. But this is different. The Doctor, from the very first brief meeting with Clara, can see himself travelling with her. He wants to get to know her, and because of her curiosity, he knows the same applies to her. That means they can just agree to go away together. The Doctor wants to travel with Clara, he immediately likes her, and she immediately likes him. They don't need big long conversations about the consequences of leaving home - they just agree 'cos they're mates (or a little more). The idea of the Doctor falling in love with Clara to move on works quite well, I feel. I would have completely rejected the idea of love in Doctor Who before, but with the Doctor so distraught after losing Amy (a feeling I don't share), it makes sense that the only way he can move on is if he actually kind of falls in love with someone. And River Song? What about her? He's finally got someone who looks the same age as him.

The Doctor gives Clara a key incredibly early on. That makes it more poignant than giving it to her later (and I mean, who actually likes the stupidly over-acted scene in '42' where Martha gets the key?) and it means something. The Doctor acts brilliantly around Clara. He cares a great deal for her - and the fact he, I should think, fancies her from the word go means that any 'getting to know you' stuff isn't that necessary. There's a mutual friendship, perhaps a mutual attraction, and Clara acts not only as the Doctor's friend - but also the kind of therapy he feels he needs to move on. It was great having Vastra there to not only help the Doctor realise he needs to move on, but to push that idea of a parody further. Vastra is almost narrating the Doctor's
recovery process, and notices when he meets someone new. Clara is a source of hope. And she's brilliant.

Clara is cocky and sarcastic, but I don't find her annoying, because she's acted so well and with a great deal of charm.  Jenna-Louise Coleman was initially a terrible choice for me. I completely take that back and apologise. She is one of the best companions ever. She is the 'feisty' companion, but with something extra, with an extra dynamic between the Doctor and her. You could compare 11/Clara to 9 and 10/Rose - but with them it was more an unspoken love. 11/Clara are just having a laugh, and falling for each other as they go along. So it's minimal but present - perhaps that's why I don't mind the 'love' story.

The new TARDIS is amazing. The spinning circley bits, the console, the lighting, the balcony, and that amazing shot where the Doctor and Clara walk into it - it all looks incredible. It is as good as the original TARDIS. In fact, it is the original TARDIS - but more modern and with less clocks... The new title sequence isn't great, unfortunately. It is wonderfully colourful and mad, and it reflects the 3rd Doctor's titles in that sense. And there's a face!! The face is brilliant, though brief, and it' good to see it there. The vortex thing which is played for the credits and after the logo in the opening is great. If the titles were mad, but kept contained in the vortex, then they'd be great. But the planets and stars and weird ashy things and confusion don't work for me. There's no place for it, it's just a mad colour rush - and it fails to achieve what it needed to. They don't feel like Doctor Who titles. The new music, which is only for the opening it seems, is good, with wonderful 80s sounding whooses and sound effects. But it is just a remix - so not full marks there.

So overall: this episode is only great because of the characters. Richard E Grant and Ian McKellen, though not used that much, are great. Vastra, Jenny and especially Strax are brilliant, and all of Strax's lines are fantastic. The "I've been run over by a cab!" line was fantastic. For the first time in ages, character and script have come together brilliantly. The new companion is wonderful, and the look of the episode was amazing  (the cloud, the TARDIS, the Victorian streets, all brilliant). The only thing that let it down is the slightly out of place stuff with the Intelligence. It's just not that great, and is a bit all over the place. But purely for the companion - this episode is pretty damn good.

10/10 for Clara - and I look forward to the incredibly exciting (it appears) Series 7 Part 2....

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