The Snowmenwas just a small taster for what we can can expect later this year. As a story it mirrored a snowman in that as it melted away slowly and dissipated, leaving traces behind for us to think about.
After watching it several times I have decided that although it is not perfect, it is very entertaining. One of the drawbacks it has is the Steven Moffat trait for cramming a lot into a story with little clarification. It was very emotional and very dense and the ending felt convoluted and rushed in that Russell T. Davies sort of way.
Lately The Moff’s endings have been a bit off. But I think this is what happens when you aim for a movie of the week format filled with action and suspense. Still it fired on all cylinders.
A few things….The clever play on Sherlock Holmes was fun at first but ran out of gas as the joke went on. The idea that Madame Vastra inspired The Great Detective really is a great idea. However dressing The Doctor up as Holmes may have confused some viewers. But that scene was very funny.
The TARDIS in the clouds was great but why didn’t The Doctor just materialize it in Vastra’s residence where he could be just as undetected and undisturbed? I get that he wanted some alone time but he really worked too hard to get that.
The opening credits were spot on. They served as a fitting tribute to the show and having Matt Smith’s face on the screen was also awesome. I liked how it went into a quasi Tom Baker sequence near the end. The new music was also nicely updated without being intrusive. Both were fitting tributes to the classic series with a nod to the future.
I really liked the TARDIS interior set but the lighting seems a bit off. I am sure I will get used to it. I love how the new console room opens up and gives the actors more room to move around. The fusion of the new and old series time rotors was also pretty cool. I think viewers are going to love the other parts of the TARDIS we see later in the season.
The guest cast really carried the day here. I am glad to see more exposition with Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax. Strax may have been the best thing in it. Dan Starkey had terrific interplay with Matt Smith and he provided some necessary comedic relief that lifted the story. It was good to see Strax develop and I am looking forward to seeing him again.
In a way Catrin Stewart got lost in the shuffle. I enjoyed her performance but feel like she got the short end of the deal with the returning characters. She made the best of her screen time by giving Jenny some sass that added another dimension to the role. It is a safe bet that she will develop more in the latter half of the season.
Neve McIntosh really got to sink her teeth into Madame Vastra and do some interesting things with her. She said a lot with just her eyes which is hard to do when you have so much makeup and prosthetics to work with. She carried the most intense scenes of the drama while adding a cool warmth to her development.
Since Vastra became the conscience for this Doctor’s self-exile,McIntosh needed to sell her to viewers and did so in spades, building more texture to a character already beloved by fans.
We’ll see Richard E. Grant again this coming year. This is fantastic since he was pitch perfect as a Who villain. He melded the perfect blend of creepiness with smoldering anger and evil with great effect. He also managed to avoid camping it up and ruining a great character like Doctor Simeon. He was perfectly cast.
Jenna-Louise Coleman was much more than a pretty face. She was a pleasant surprise. Her scene where she first sees the TARDIS was wonderful fun. It is obvious she is creating an intelligent character shrouded with mystery and a bold sense of energy that is refreshing to see after the Ponds. I am curious to see how long this storyline is going to take to unfold from here on out.
Moffat is too smart to mimic the character arc pattern of River Song’s development with another character, yet again he is playing with the notion of linear storytelling in a new way. Clara seems to be a character with a lot of room to matriculate. Hence she should be a really interesting companion. Having Clara be so quintessentially different from Amy is a good thing.
The onscreen chemistry between Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman works really well. They have a good connection which establishes itself early on in The Snowmen. Maybe all the recent the criticism of how Moffat writes female characters has made him go in a new direction with this companion.
In The Snowmen Moffat has taken a seemingly forgotten villain in The Great Intelligence and brought it back into the new series with a huge air of mystery and excitement. As a result The Snowmen has now lined itself up with two classic Who serials, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear while also looking forward into new world and new challenges for The Doctor.
I suspect we shall see The Great Intelligence again later in the season. Indeed it may be the reason why we have seen so many dimming light in the first part of the season. Could the GI be responsible for a lot of the untied ends in Matt Smith’s first season? We do know that the empty duck pond from his debut story is said to be referred to later on this season. My point is that it easily could be that the Great Intelligence has been lurking in the shadows for some time.
This is a solid bit of television drama but I think the script dragged in a few places and got sloppy near the last quarter of the episode. It not only rushed the ending it created a lot of those head scratching moments that happen nowadays where the audience feels like it missed something. In general it needed a bit of clarity and maybe another ten or so minutes of exposition would have helped.
One thing about the Christmas specials is that they tend to feature much more fantasy and creative SF in their plots. This has ben the case over the last few years and you could say this about The Snowmen as well. It was a daring endeavor filled with some terrific inventive elements and subtle nuances. It also expanded several potential plot devices for Doctor Who in the future while setting up some key things for the upcoming anniversary. I loved the fairy tale quality it had to it.
Just when you think you have sussed Matt Smith out he scrambles everything up again. Here we se him channel some characteristics of the first and Sixth Doctors in the first part of the episode and then gradually add some elements of Doctors Seven and Eight in there as well without losing the sense of whimsy he has brought into the character from Doctors Two and Four. Smith has expanded the character yet again by adding depth and complexity to his mysteriousness. In The Snowmen he gives the Doctor a dose of melancholy without losing the curiosity that is so vital to his character.
So overall I feel positive about The Snowmen and remain hopeful that the rest of Season Seven will be epic. My biggest qualm is that as a story it attempted to do an awful lot of things at once.
Nonetheless it was both retro and futuristic, complimenting itself for fans of both the classic and new series. While I was a smidge disappointed and thought some things could have been shored up The Snowmen was intriguingly both circumspect vivacious, culminating in a wild romp through in time and space.
SEASON SEVEN NEWS
The forthcoming stories feature both new and old returning foes. The Great Intelligence,The Ice Warriors and Cybermen are coming back along with some nasty new alien menaces, including something that lives in the wi-fi and some ghosts as well.
Liam Cunningham and David Warner are confirmed for Episode eight. This Mark Gattiss story will feature the Ice Warriors who have been redesigned for Season Seven.
There could be at least three separate Clara’s in various timelines this season, the one from The Alaska, the one from the 1890s and one from the present.
We will see Strax, Jenny and Vastra again in episodes Eleven and Thirteen. Thus it looks at least two return visits to Victorian England await us this season.
Another interesting persistent rumor is that the season will have a very heavy Patrick Troughton era influence in appearance and with the plots and aforementioned returning aliens.
Neil Cross and Mark Gatiss have each scripted two stories for the second half of the new season.
The remaining eight stories will have a fast and furious pace to keep up the movie of the week theme that has been established this season.
MTV Geek ran an interesting post last week about Noel Clarke possibly returning to Doctor Who. Clarke has done very well for himself as a director since leaving the show. Read it here: http://geek-news.mtv.com/2012/12/19/is-mickey-returning-to-doctor-who/
Here is a much cleaner look at Neil Gaiman’s new Cybermen from the new teaser trailer.
It looks like something nasty happens to The Doctor in The Last Cybermen. Could Neil Gaiman be revising the origins of the Cybermen? Also, the sets are said to be very similar to those used in Tomb of The Cybermen.
An actor in a Patrick Troughton fur coat was said to be seen on set. Could this be for Cybermen story or for the series finale with The Great Intelligence and Dr. Simeon returning?
The Bells of St. John is rumored to see The Doctor trying his hand at flying a plane. How very Third Doctor!
This episode also sees The Doctor dressed as a monk when he meets Clara. He also rides a motorcycle.
Journey to The Centre Of The TARDIS features an intergalactic salvage team called the Van Baalens.
There has been no confirmation that River Song is making another appearance in the second half of the season.
Digital Spy sat down with Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman to talk about The Snowmen.
MOFFAT ON TARDIS REDESIGN
Steven Moffat discussed the new TARDIS interior after a press screening of The Snowmen last week.
I thought we’d been getting progressively whimsical with the interior of the TARDIS…I started to think, ‘Well, why is that? It’s not a magical place. It’s actually a machine’. And actually potentially, as you’ll see more spectacularly later, quite a scary place sometimes. We make a lot of use of that.
2012 CHRISTMAS SPECIAL RATINGS
The BBC has released the viewing figures for the 2012 Christmas Special, The Snowmen. Doctor Who was the fifth most watched program in Britain on Christmas Day with an audience share of 33.9%. A second showing on Boxing Day garnered an additional audience of .56 million people and scored an audience share of 2.3%.
Overall The Snowmen scored an Appreciation index of 87% amidst some still competition. Not too shabby.
The AI is a cumulative score measured from one to one hundred. It is derived at from how much a specially selected audience of about five thousand people enjoyed the program targeted. This panel watched the program in question and then went online to rate the program based on their level of enjoyment.
BIG FINISH: THE CHILD
Louise Jameson is reprising her role as Leela in Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles audio adventure, The Child written and directed by Nigel Fairs. Anna Hawkes co-stars.
Tell me another story, Leela. Not the one about the walking doll or the creepy mechanical men. A new one. I want to hear a new one…”
Leela is dead but her soul lives on. She has been reborn as a young girl, Emily, whose ‘imaginary friend’ tells her amazing tales about a great Wizard and the warrior who accompanies him on his adventures through time and space.
Emily prepares to tell her parents the story of a cold, grey world whose people are ruled over by a Glass Angel. The Wizard is her prisoner and only the warrior girl and her three peculiar friends can save him…
BIG FINISH: THE WRONG DOCTORS
Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford have reunited for a new Big Finish audio adventure to be released in January. The Wrong Doctors was written by Matt Fitton and directed by Nicholas Briggs. Tony Gardner and Beth Chalmers guest star.
With Evelyn gone, the Doctor sets course for his destiny… in the form of his first meeting with Miss Melanie Bush, a computer programmer from the village of Pease Pottage, currently busy rehearsing with the local Amateur Dramatic Society – and blissfully unaware that her future is on its way, in his TARDIS.
Make that two TARDISes. Because at that very moment, a slightly younger Doctor is flying into Pease Pottage, too – returning his future companion Melanie Bush to her rightful place and time, after they were flung together during the course of his Time Lord trial.
Time travel is a complicated business – the iguanadon terrorising Pease Pottage being a case in point. But how much more complicated could things possibly become, if the wrong Doctor were to bump into the wrong Mel?
BFI ADDS CLASSIC WHO SCREENINGS
The British Film Institute has announced the screening of two more classic series episodes in their year-long celebration of the golden anniversary of Doctor Who .
Their facility at Southbank Center will kick of their celebration of all things Doctor Who with a screening of William Hartnell’s An Unearthly Child on January 12th, Patrick Troughton’s Tomb of The Cybermen on February 9th and Jon Pertwee’s The Mind of Evil is scheduled for March. The Mind of Evil should be a treat for fans since it has been fully restored.
All screening sill have a Q&A session with special guests at the end of each showing. More episodes will be announced in 2013.
In November Mark Gatiss’ (who narrated The Great Detective preview for the The Snowmen) will debut his film An Adventure In Time And Space, about the origins of Doctor Who at BFI Southbank.
Here is the BFI Press Release: http://www.bfi.org.uk/sites/bfi.org.uk/files/downloads/bfi-press-release-doctor-who-at-50-2012-12-21.pdf
DOCTOR WHO STAMPS
The Royal Mail has announced that it will be releasing commemorative stamps this March to celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of Doctor Who. These first class atamps are being issued, one for each Doctor with their opening title sequence in the background. There is also one Miniature Sheet, one Presentation Pack and one Prestige Stamp Book.
The stamps will be available for purchase outside of the UK. Information and details can be found on their website.
Royal Mail Link: http://www.royalmail.com/doctorwho
ABSOLUTE RADIO SHOW WITH DAVID TENNANT
David Tennant had some holiday fun on the radio last week when he stopped by The Absolute Radio Broadcast Show hosted by Christian O’ Connell. While in the studios he introduced the news, talked about his favorite Christmas song and participated in a version of The Nativity Play as Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
The show streamed live on the internet and can be heard here: http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk/
SPIES OF WARSAW FOR BBC AMERICA
David Tennant’s drama series The Spies Of Warsaw will be coming to BBC America. The series starring the former Tenth Doctor and Torchwood’s Burn Gorman is slated for BBC America’s Dramaville programming.
From the BBC America press release:
BBC America is co-producing a new mini-series for Dramaville, “Spies of Warsaw,” that will premiere in two parts on BBC America in 2013. “Spies” is based on Alan Furst’s acclaimed novel and adapted by Emmy-winning writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. “Doctor Who” star David Tennant and Janet Montgomery (“Black Swan,” “Entourage”) are cast in this thrilling spy story set in Poland, Paris, London and Berlin in the years leading up to the Second World War.
In the mini-series, French and German intelligence operatives are locked in a life-and-death struggle in the espionage arena. At the French embassy, a decorated war hero of the 1914 war, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier (Tennant), is sucked into a world of abduction, betrayal and international intrigue from the diplomatic salons to the back alleys of Warsaw. Mercier simultaneously finds himself in a passionate love affair with Anna (Montgomery), a Parisian lawyer for the League of Nations. Their complicated love affair intensifies as German tanks drive through the Black Forest.
“Spies of Warsaw” combines historical, intelligent narratives, interlaced with flawed and compelling characters. The cast includes Anton Lesser (Dramaville’s “The Hour”) as Doctor Lapp, Richard Lintern (Dramaville’s “White Heat”) as Colonel Lessard, Nicholas Blane (‘”The Tudors”) as Papa Heininger, Julian Harries (“EastEnders”) as Duff Cooper, and many more!
Earlier this month David Tennant wrapped filming on the eight part series Broadchurch which also features Arthur Darvill as Reverend Paul Coates along with Doctor Who alum, Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller. The production team is headed by a troop of Doctor Who veterans including Producer Richard Stokes, Writer Chris Chibanll and Director James Strong.
Tennant plays DI Alec Hardy a newly promoted detective faced with solving a gruesome murder in a coastal town.
Read the ITV Press Release: http://www.itv.com/presscentre/pressreleases/programmepressreleases/broadchurch/default.html
ITV 1 will broadcast Broadchurch in the spring of 2013.
Link from BBC America: http://www.bbcamerica.com/spies-of-warsaw/
FREEMA AT GALLIFREY 2012
Freema Agyeman will make her American Convention debut at Gallifrey 24 from February 15-17 in Los Angeles.
Agyeman is known for playing Martha Jones in Doctor Who and Torchwood as well as Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips in Law & Order: UK. She is currently playing Larissa Loughton in The Carrie Diaries.
Gallifrey is the largest Doctor Who fan event in North America.
Details here: http://www.gallifreyone.com/
Next Times…More news and a look back at 2012!