Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Twenty five minutes in, and I've already written it off. There were nice set pieces, nice scenes, the odd laugh - sure - but nothing was coming together. The Doctor was introduced into the episode in thoroughly unconvincing fashion, the enemy was kinda just weird and unclear and too many leaps of logic were happening too quickly. The Snowmen was well on it's way to becoming another "could have been" episodes of Dr Who - a potentially good story executed badly.
Not that it was bad, so much as it wasn't all that convincing or engaging when not following the footsteps of new companion Clara. Confusingly enough, this isn't Jenna Louise-Coleman's debut on Dr Who. That came at the start of the series, in the fantastic Asylum of the Daleks, where she played Oswin Oswald. She's playing an eerily similar role here, and when she becomes the focal point of the narrative the episode improves for it.
The plot sees Clara trying to persuade the retired Doctor to return to action, in order to take down evil snowmen that seem to be popping up all over Victorian London. Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax are the gatekeepers, of sorts, although they too are trying to get The Doctor into the game. Aside from excellent scene, Madam Vastra is rather under utilised and Jenny is basically there, but little else. Only Strax gets a good showing, and his comic relief, although rather predictable, brings a very effective lightness to an episode lacking Smith's normal witty interplay between himself, Amy, Rory and sporadically River.
When things start to come together, however, things cascade into motion. The before ill-defined theme of dreams (and nightmares) come to the fore and ties what has come before surprisingly well. The rather shapeless, stammering plot gains cohesion and Moffat's ability to subvert and misdirect the audience's expectations brings tension where there really shouldn't be tension.
After only two episodes of them motor-mouthing off against each other, it's hard to deny that Coleman and Smith have an irresistible chemistry, if at times nigh unintelligible. If this were a rap battle, they'd both be getting told to slow down. When they really start squaring wits against each other the episode spikes dramatically upwards in enjoyability, and never stops rising.
At the halfway mark, I'd given up on the episode actually being good. By the end, I'd been blown away. The fairest judgement would be somewhere between the two, but I'd be inclined more towards the latter. The Snowman, is an unusual and ambitious fairy tale much in keeping of Smith's Doctor, but unlike the past two there are shockwaves to be felt in the main series itself. This is another new beginning of sorts, and great things are promised.
Roll on Series 7(2)!