Last nights Who was another attempt at the snowy Victorian carol scenario, which we have previously had in – 2008’s special’s : ‘The Two Doctor’s’ and 2010’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Intelligent alien snow was invading the Victorian era, being helped to coalese by evil Richard E. Grant who was keeping it in a big jar, (himself no stranger to the Who role having played the part of the Doctor for comic relief).
Voiced by Ian McKellan, the snow was carnivorous, eating a bunch of workmen who had helped Richard E. Grant set up a big freezer for them and a means to disperse the snow all over the world.
We were also reintroduced to Madame Vastra, the Silurian lizard faced, sword wielding, problem solver with her new trusty Sontaraan sidekick – Strax. Is there a spin off for them in the pipeline?
Against this backdrop, the Doctor met his future companion to be (sort of) Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman), who died in this but was also a dalek in the future, confused? She followed the Doctor back up a magical spirally staircase onto a cloud (which she could step on) and there was the Tardis.
Moffat’s Xmas writing sits somewhere between traditional Xmas Carols and Dark Fairytales. With the emphasis on the latter. The killer Snowmen and the frozen lady growing in the pond was about as base fear as a child could get, I expect.
‘Its smaller on the outside!’ Clara proclaimed to the Doctor, which was something of a departure from every other previous new companion who ventured on the Tardis by exclaiming how big it was on the inside.
And the inside was completely different again. All blue with a large yellow diarama spinning around with what looked like kiddie pictures on it – or Gallifreyian writings, as we got a better look.
To coin a phrase from Patrick Troughton from the Five Doctor’s (1983)
“Oh you’ve had the place re-decorated? Don’t like it very much!”
The snow apparently didnt have much of a brain of its own and was actually feeding off of the emotions of its nearest and dearest – in this case E. Grant who got he frozen Zombie treatment for welcoming an Alien race.
There was something else about a lady made of ice living in a pond harrassing some children but by that point, I had lost interest and decided to read my new Xmas pressie – a Viz Annual.
Clara died at the end which made the Doctor travel into the future, where he was destined to meet her more futurised ancestor (who no doubt will become his actual companion). Is she still destined to become a Dalek or has the Doctor altered her future? Guess we will have to wait and find out.
On a positive, it was nice to begin an Amy & Rory Pond-free adventure. The series felt like it was stuck in a bit of a timewarp last year and they had to go.
Jenna-Louise Coleman has the makings of a good companion to be. Also the Sontaraan butler Strax had some funny moments attempting to grouchily blend in with “ugly” humans and baffling Earth custom.
In terms of a Who Xmas special though, it was better than last year but I still find Matt Smith’s take on the Doctor a tad too middle of the road; at this rate, its going to be hard to quantify him against previous incarnations of the Doctor – as anything other than average.