After two and a half seasons of The Doctor running around (and back to) the Ponds, The Doctor and the series in general needed a new beginning. The Doctor had become very depended on the Ponds as his surrogate family with Amy being both mother and daughter to him. But now she is gone for good, and the Doctor it seems has turned his back on the universe. After saving it over and over, this is the way it repays him? So he does what any 1000-year-old boy would do, he goes to sulk in Victorian England. This is where we pick up The Doctor at the beginning of the 2012 Christmas Special, The Snowmen.
Most Christmas specials work as a bridge from the last series to the next, sometimes just filling in a gap, other times to resolve end of series cliffhangers. This years special is a little different. It is instead the beginning of the second half the series. In it we meet the new companion Clara, who leads a double life as a barmaid and a governess. She works for a Captain Latimer after his last governess drowned in the pond last winter, having been underneath the ice for almost a month.Clara is a smart and quick-witted girl, who seems to be at home in both the upper crust of society as well as it lower ones. She doesn’t seem confused or even bothered by all the strangeness happening around her, more curious. This is usually one of the first signs of a good companion. In a lot of ways, Clara is like Rose was for the Ninth Doctor. After the Time War, he had forgotten about the zest for live companions give his travels, and Rose healed him. Clara seems to be the same thing for the Eleventh. She has the added benefit of being a paradox, a mystery for him to solve, which sends him off into adventure and his 50th Anniversary year.
For the most part, I enjoyed this episode. Angsty Eleventh Doctor wasn’t nearly as annoying as angsty Tenth Doctor. He’s more of a sulker than a drama queen. Clara seemed to be a good match for the Doctor.Like most good companions, she does what she wants and ignores the Doctor’s orders. Her “flirting” with the Doctor doesn’t have to go the way that many of the Tenth Doctor’s companions did, and I really, REALLY hope Moffat continues the relationships between the Doctor and his companions to stay platonic. It’s always been better that way. The companions I liked the least are the ones he was put into relationships. The Doctor needs a mate, not a date.
Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax REALLY need a spin-off series of their own. I thought this back in their first appearance in “A Good Man Goes to War,”, and I think it even more now. Strax was hysterical in this episode. Even though he was played mostly for laughs, it worked so well in character for him. There wasn’t much with just Madame Vastra and Jenny, but their scenes were great too. I love that Vastra is so straight forward about her relationship with Jenny. It was also telling of the times that Dr. Simone thought Victorians would be more upset that their favorite detective was based on a woman than a homo-reptilian. If the BBC wanted a good series to replace The Sarah Jane Adventures, then “The Great Detective” would be perfect!
I wasn’t wowed by the new title sequence. I was fine with the music arrangement, though my favorite will always be the one from the fourth series with Donna Noble. I love the strings! It really looked and sounded like a throw back to the original series, which, with 2013 being Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary, I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily. We’ll see if it grows on me. I did like the new TARDIS interior too. But the exterior could use a good scrubbing.
I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that things get back on track with this new companion. I really didn’t enjoy a lot of the first half of season seven, which was all just a lead up to what I think is one of the worst episodes of the new series. Let’s hope things only get better for this big season for such an icon of not just British television, but of sci-fi in general.