Series 7, Episode 6, Christmas Special
The traditional Doctor Who Christmas special, but it’s also technically in the sixth episode of series 7. The Doctor has taken the role of the spirits of Christmas trying to teach the Scrooge-like figure the error of his ways in A Christmas Carol. This time for some of this episode the Doctor himself is the Scrooge figure, having become disillusioned with being the Doctor. But luckily he gets back into the swing of things.
He makes a terrible pun (“Takes one to SNOW one”). To be fair, the Victorians were fond of terrible puns. He gets some better lines when pointing out that “Snowmen are useless in July” and using computer terms such as “most read file” and “delete your history” to the villain, but as this is the Victorian era he is talking about paper records rather than electronic ones.The Doctor goes from Scrooge to another well known Victorian character Sherlock Holmes, which is of course another Steven Moffat series. It gets another shout out with the reference to Silurian Madame Vastra and her both professional and romantic human partner Jenny being the possible inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. To complete this reunion of allies introduced in A Good Man Goes To War we also have resurrected Sontaran Strax. They make a good, if unlikely, TARDIS team.
For the baddies in this epsiode, The Snowmen are creepy with pointed, sharp teeth which look similar to shark’s teeth. There’s also an evil ice governess who impersonates Mr. Punch. We have some guest stars Richard E. Grant as Doctor Simeon and the voice of Sir Ian McKellen as the Great Intelligence as well, but as a whole the villains and indeed the whole threat are a little sidelined. As with many episodes that are the first proper showing of a new companion, it is more about introducing them than the story.
We have sort of met Clara before, in Asylum Of The Daleks when she was known as Oswin Oswald, but this is her first time meeting the Doctor personally and having an adventure with him. It also turns out to be her last, at least in this incarnation, as she doesn’t make it out alive… It’s not uncommon for companions introduced in specials to die, but there is more going on here. She’s has the same personality, but she can’t really be the same person as she’s from a completely different time, and neither version appeared to have any knowledge of another version of them somewhere else, or if they did they didn’t consider it worth mentioning. Furthermore, at the end of this episode we see yet another Clara Oswin, this time in the modern day, walking past the gravestone of her Victorian self no less. We can probably rule out it being identical ancestors. The Dalek version and the Victorian version both have a penchant for making souffles, but I’m pretty sure that’s not something that’s a genetic trait. In any case both had the exact same last words to the Doctor. It appears that the same individual is splintered across time and space. But how and why? I am very interested in this latest mystery in the series, although the inbox for mysteries in this series always seems fuller than the outbox. I have to say I wasn’t keen on the “Doctor Who?” thing to begin with, but they are REALLY overdoing that now. It’s going to get very tedious if that happens in every single episode.
Mystery or no mystery, Clara shows signs of being a great companion. She’s certainly very keen and shows gumption, and in this incarnation of the character she’s adaptable having a double life as a Cockney barmaid similar to Nancy in Oliver Twist and as a posh governess for a wealthy family. She provides the best scene in the episode, as her climbing up a spiralling white staircase to a misty TARDIS in the sky against the backdrop of a dark blue starry night is a wonderful image.
But by far her highlight as a companion in this episode is her reaction to the TARDIS, being the first to say “It’s smaller on the outside” rather than “It’s bigger on the inside”.