Christmas Day always brings the best present ever: an all-new episode of Doctor Who. And this year’s episode was certainly not only a nice surprise, but also one of the more memorable Christmas episodes of the series.
Warning: The following does contain a few spoilers. I’m trying to keep them to a minimum, though, because there is a major reveal in this particular episode. I usually do a blow-by-blow of the episodes, but the way this one ends is just too big that I don’t want anyone not to have the moment I had when it all began to come clear (although there is still much mystery left for us to discover next season).
Before I begin my review, I would like to point out again how awesome UnoTelly is. I got to watch Doctor Who here in the states right after it aired in the UK via the BBC iPlayer in beautiful HD. It was nice to not to have to wait until Christmas night when part of the world had already seen it. Unfortunately, my viewing was interrupted by jolly family stuff (grr), but I prevailed and eventually managed to watch the entire episode.
First up, I absolutely adore the new characters surrounding the Doctor. Madame Vastra, Jenny and Commander Strax are absolutely delightful to have around on-screen. They create a nice, new dynamic from what the Doctor previously had with Amy and Rory (and sometimes Brian). I certainly hope we get to see more of them in episode to come. All three characters would make fine and entertaining companions in the TARDIS. Commander Strax, the Sontaran, especially stands out as the comic relief – seriously, I was laughing out loud through the first half of this episode. He was hilarious!
And now on to the new companion, Clara. I’ll start by stating that I’m already in love with Jenna-Louise Coleman (something I did not immediately feel for Karen Gillan). There is something really special about her (as well as about the character she plays) and she literally shines in every scene she appears in. It’s no wonder the Doctor is immediately attracted to her as a potential new companion. The banter between the two characters is inspiring and wonderful to watch. It’s nice to see the Doctor with a companion who can match him in a game of wits.
Of course, the big question is how is about Coleman’s recent appearance on a previous episode as Oswin, the Dalek. And I will go so far as to say that this is brought up, but I won’t give away any details. You’ll have to watch the episode yourself and see. But the minute Clara is in the TARDIS, she’s already asking if it has a kitchen…
I will admit that the premise of this episode was pretty out there, but that’s not really new with Doctor Who. One Christmas special did give us flying fish, with another giving us a Transformer… err… giant Cyberman. The killer snowmen here aren’t really that scary, but I don’t think they were meant to be. This was one of those fun episodes where you find yourself just caught up in the adventure, even as the grumpy Doctor refuses to do anything to save Earth.
Matt Smith is fantastic and gets his moment in the spotlight without the Ponds overshadowing him. He’s a really good Doctor, but I never felt he had many opportunities to show that in previous episodes, He’s at his finest here, though, and I hope this is a sign of things to come.
Some of the episode’s highlights for me:
- “Winter is coming” – was this a deliberate nod to Game of Thrones?
- The Doctor pretending to be Sherlock Holmes. I half expected Benedict Cumberbatch to pop in and complain about the Doctor stealing his hat.
- The Sontaran’s obsession with grenades and violence, as well as his mishaps with a memory worm.
All in all, this was a fun adventurous Christmas episode. But it did leave us with many questions hanging, all to do with the new companion, of course. So as always, this episode leaves us wanting more. I just hope we don’t have to wait too long.