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Reviews & Ratings for
"Doctor Who" The Snowmen (2012)

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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Far from abominable

Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
25 December 2012

A new Steven Moffat written Dr Who episode introducing his new companion, the sassy Jenna-Louse Coleman, made for a fine festive treat this Christmas. Moffat continues his predilection for making inanimate objects dangerous, after the previous season finale with the statues, this time making the protagonists sharp-toothed snowmen - next series can we expect to see the attack of the killer garden-gnomes?!

Naturally the Doc is still in a period of mourning for the loss of Rory and Amy and indeed takes some time to make an appearance and snap back into his old self but when he does the action picks up and of course he gets to save the world again. The meeting with his new co-traveller Clara (in fact a reunion, for those who saw the previous series' Daleks episode) was neatly got over with the crisp sharp dialogue we've come to expect and some clever in-jokes too, not least the references to Moffat's other recent successful creation Sherlock Holmes and later the nod to Amy Pond. It shouldn't be forgotten that a Christmas perennial in the UK at this time is Raymond Briiggs' animated story "The Snowman", "Walking In the Air" and all that, Moffat making a monster out of a snow-hill to good effect.

The special effects were excellent, especially the "Stairway to Heaven", ice-monster governess and Richard E Grant's transformation into a freezing ghoul just before the end. Along for the ride are Vastra and wife, plus potato-head Sontaran Straxa for comic effect. I must admit I got a little lost with how Clara came back to life and by crying a tear destroyed the alien menace, but I'll allow Moffat his McGoffin.

Everyone acts well, Matt Smith far from bored and boring and Coleman, with her crush on the Doc, adding even more sexual chemistry than Karen Gillan's Amy Pond. This one-off episode bodes well for next year's new series, where interestingly the preview trailer showed no sign of River Song at all, but thankfully the return of my favourite Who monsters the Cybermen.

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21 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Christmas Special 2012: Solidly entertaining mix of laughs and thrills (suggestive spoilers)

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
25 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For the 2010 Christmas special, Doctor Who managed to pull off a really good mix of festive traditions, sentiment and entertainment with its version of A Christmas Carol. It pulled it off so well that in 2011 they had another shot at it with a Narnia-inspired story involving a dead pilot and his grieving family among a lot of other nonsense – it was silly and poor, failing to do anything the previous special had done but on the plus side it seemed to have knocked the specials off the track of going for the sentimental and cloying aspect. As a result we get this much more enjoyable episode where the Christmas tone means snowmen monsters and big name guests as usual, but more importantly it is roundly entertaining, limits sentiment and links to the main series (albeit in a way that I would prefer it hadn't).

The plot sees "memory snow" creating snowmen monsters, threatening Victorian London and, by extension, the world. This produces moments that are satisfyingly frightening as we have ice monsters made from dead tutors and friendly looking snowmen with big teeth and menacing looks – all while Ian McKellen's voice gives the brains behind the operation a sense of gravitas and menace. As the show should do, this will frighten younger children but it balances it well by having the usual sense of comedy and silliness but, not as usual, it manages to keep it in check so that it is not excessive or annoying in the most part. Even the multi-species support team (which seemed like they would be stupid in the trailer/minisode) managed to work by virtue of them being used well as characters (either to be serious or to provide decent laughs); although as usual as this is new-Who, we have to have gay characters in there like it is some sort of running in-joke, which I guess it more or less is by now.

One of the main attractions for me was going to be the introduction of the new assistant, although actually a reintroduction since we had already seen her as a ghost memory trapped inside a Dalek. This offered interest to me as I hoped that she would simply be the same character earlier in the same timeline, meaning that her end was known which would mean she would ultimately be a tragic figure who would not have a big "end of the world" ending to her arch. Of course sadly this isn't the case and the epilogue and trailer suggests she will have cosmic meaning and importance, which doesn't appeal but we'll see what they do with it. As a character Clara doesn't ever threaten to break the mould either since she is yet another attractive perky girl with big wide eyes and a good line in spunky flirting – enjoyable and produces easy chemistry just like all superficial and pretty flirts do, but again we'll have to see what she does when more is asked of the character than just making a flirty and fun intro or reintro, but for now I quite enjoyed Coleman. Smith also does good work here as the material doesn't overload him with any extreme but keeps the balance even. McKellen and Grant are good with very limited time while the effects are reasonably good for the budget.

Overall this is a solidly enjoyable special that really benefits from moving away from the cloying sentimentality of the last special and just focusing on thrills, fun and the ongoing series (or, in this case, season, since we are in the middle of one). It is still a Christmas special and it does still have weaker moments but generally it serves a wide audience pretty well and I enjoyed it for focusing on its core strengths rather than losing the plot like it did last Christmas.

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28 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

A Christmas Cracker

Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
26 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In terms of television I never look forward to Christmas . The good old days from childhood where you'd look forward to a decent movie and seeing it for the first time are long gone due to the advent of the video recorder in the early 1980s . Conscious of this TV companies or more especially the BBC countered this by making hour long sensationalist soap operas or two editions of a popular soap on Christmas Day . Fine and dandy if you enjoy the miserable goings on at Walford but I don't . When DOCTOR WHO came back the BBC were quick to make it their flagship programme but somewhat cynically it would merely light , frothy frivolous fun rather than heart stopping drama . So on the 25th of December I sat down after finishing the Christmas dinner with my parents , my brother and his partner hoping that I wouldn't be embarrassed by what was going to happen on screen believe me DOCTOR WHO can embarrass a die hard fan when he watches it in company

Things weren't looking good as we're introduced to a lesbian Silurian and her partner , a friendly Sontaran which is entirely out of character and obviously going to be used for comical relief , and " Soufle Girl " who will no doubt be speaking in Moffetisms like every female character - ie smart and totally , totally unconvincing . Oh and we we're shown a glimpse of The Doctor played by Matt Smith who will no doubt camp it up and screech " Merry Christmas , Look out leftie " and " Geronimo " . I started to think maybe the only way to keep my dignity was either murder everyone in the room , fake a heart attack or if the worse came to worse consider switching off the television . In fact I was considering all three before the episode really started

Things did buck up due to the production values . After seeing THE HOBBIT at the cinema I was struck how The Snowmen had beautiful production and set design on a par with anything Peter Jackson has put on the silver screen and this viewer genuinely did believe they'd been transported back to a cold Winter's day to the late Victorian period. it's also noticeable this is a relatively Doctor lite episode and the central character focus swings between the human villain played by Richard E Grant and new companion Clara . The scene where Clara ascends the spiral stairwell and comes face to face with the Tardis deserves a special mention . The whole mis-en-scene is one of enormous poetic beauty rarely seen in film and television and made me proud that I was a fan of the show . If it was a feature film it'd be a contender for an Oscar for musical score and cinematography

Of course production values can merely enhance the mediocre and as a fan I look for storytelling as well as the imagery that the show is legendary for . As it is The Snowmen is basically a run a round but it's so well done that you don't stop to realise this and become sweept up in the events . Indeed perhaps the imagery does help as we're treated to a scene where a creature composed of ice chases the Doctor and Clara back to the Tardis . Am I allowed to use the word " chilling " without being bombarded with negative votes ?

My main complaint with the Moffat era has been " everybody lives " at the end of the story and here we see the opposite as in " Here's a new companion . Oh dear They killed Clara " . It's a brave move on the part of Moffat and one hopes that the new season doesn't get reduced to the timey wimey nonsense that totally ruined the sixth season for me . That said all that is in the future and I'll judge these episodes when they come . In the mean time the family members who started the episode talking amongst themselves quickly became silent and watched the episode with me having a bit of giggle at the humorous bits and seemed impress with the story telling . DOCTOR WHO is perhaps the most inclusive show television has produced and anyone with any child like imagination will see this as one of the greatest episodes since the show returned in 2005 . Just a pity the technical crew won't be up for any Oscars because they deserve one

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Some Christmas Gifts for the Doctor

Author: boblipton from New York City
25 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Doctor heads back to Victorian London and some old friends -- Vastra, Jenny and Strax from "A Good Man Goes to War" -- and evil, parasitical snowmen to resolve his feelings of loss.

For show runner Steven Moffat, snow and ice assume their symbolic senses. The Doctor is tired of saving the universe when the universe doesn't care. His heart is frozen, despite the despairing help of his friends, and it calls for Clara, the young woman who is slated to become his newest companion, to melt that cold, cold heart.

Although it is an engaging episode, it has some deeply troublesome issues. Although Moffat has announced that this season will consist of only single-episode stories, this one clearly kicks off the series with an arc that renders it incomplete. Also, because of the need to let four characters strut their stuff -- the Doctor, Vastra, Jenny and Clara -- the story feels rushed. Nonetheless, the badinage, chases and promise of mysteries to be solved are more than satisfactory for fans of the series like me.

With the new season in the offing, there have been some interesting changes. I have complained in the past that the series' composer, Murray Gold, had settled into musical forms that are a bit misguided for Doctor Who. This season he has been stretching his talent, varying the music far more, and has offered us a new series theme with a much more synthesizer-based edged to it, harking back to the original series and much more appropriate for the science-fictional nature of the show. The opening credits also include some of the "howl-around" visuals from the original show.

The TARDIS has also been reconfigured to a cleaner look. Finally, the Doctor has changed his costume to fit the Victorian ambiance, including a furry stovepipe hat of the sort worn by the Second Doctor.

I suspect these retro add-ons are intended to set matters up for the fiftieth anniversary of the show, due in November of 2013. I expect this episode will please many fans of the show, although I worry that it may be tough for newcomers to get into it.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Carnivorous snow, a Silurian with a wife and wait... the woman twice dead ?

Author: doctorwhofan96 from United Kingdom
30 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I won't lie by saying i wasn't worried because i was, last years Christmas special was abysmal. So i had my doubts. But in the end they were put to rest. With beautiful imagery and scenes, this episode was surprisingly really good. The plot felt a bit weak for me at first but as time went on i got what was happening and loved how once again Moffat used a small detail to make a huge difference (e.g. the memory worm or the fact that the snow 'mirrors'). Speaking of which the 'Great Intelligence' (an old enemy revived for the new series) was rather menacing as the Snowmen with teeth. There was great humour thanks to the likes of Vashtra, Jenny and Strax, one of my personal favourite lines being 'Hello, i'm a lizard woman from the dawn of time and this is my wife', added with Strax' obsession with grenades (how very Sontaran). Then to top it off, Clara, the new companion. I knew she was going to have something to do with Oswin Oswald and as soon as she asked the Doctor if the TARDIS had a kitchen, my suspicions were answered. this topped off the episode and has made me very excited for the next instalment of the series. How can a woman die twice but still be alive (yes Clara dies but i won't explain how), but somehow she's alive again, as was the same with Oswin. How is this possible? I hope we find out soon because i'm full of excitement. You know when you get a feeling that something's going to be really good. I got that.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Return of an old foe from 1967 ...

Author: Andrew Huggett from United Kingdom
17 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Good episode – some good jokes, linear in terms of story telling for a change so it was fairly easy to follow although the ending got confusing as they set-up new complications surrounding the Doctor's new companion. I liked the references to the 1967 Yeti / Great Intelligence story and did not see that coming until halfway through. The jokes with the Sontaran and the memory worm were good fun (bit of a Star Trek 'Wrath of Khan' rip off that). Enjoyed the magical staircase to the Tardis in the clouds (a Mary Poppins homage?); I liked the new arrangement of the theme tune, Mat Smith's Victorian costume (especially the hat – Patrick Troughton reference?) and new titles – not so keen on the new Tardis interior. All in all quite a good (darkish) Christmas episode – one of the better ones – all be it much more fantasy than 'hard' science fiction.

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14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A fine Christmas episode, fun and clever

Author: jonathan-harvey3 from England
25 December 2012

A really fun and entertaining episode of dr who, Matt Smith is excellent and the new assistant, soufle girl, looks very comfortable in the role. There seems to be a really good chemistry between Matt and Jenna Louise which bodes well for the future series. I also liked the new interior design of the tardis, quite retro looking which is an improvement on the old fire escape look. Not sure about the new title sequence, should never have changed that anyway. The concept of snow having an alien intelligence is certainly original and having Ian Mckellan as the alien voice is certainly a marvellous bonus. The makeup for the aliens is definitely improving, the lizard woman is very well done.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Thoroughly excellent, but perhaps too unexplained for newcomers

Author: Savvy54 from United States
26 December 2012

As a longtime fan of Doctor Who, this episode was absolutely brilliant for me. The plot's twists and turns provided just enough action and excitement while maintaining enough "still" moments to develop Clara's character. Having said that, however, the one issue with the episode was undoubtedly its callbacks to Doctor Who history--particularly, the main villain. The villain (not Dr. Simeon, but the force that Dr. Simeon is working for/with) is actually derived from Season 2 of Doctor Who, or classic Who as it is now referred. Such references for me, a longtime fan, added another dimension to the show but likely confused newcomers. Unlike past companion introduction episodes, this episode focused more on the story and adventure than truly unveiling Clara as a character, which, again, could defer newcomers.

Unlike Amy Pond, who got a proper backstory in her introduction episode, Clara seems to be getting her introduction through the arc of the season--and though I am thoroughly excited for the journey, I fear it will put off some viewers who are contemplating watching the show in the long run. My advice to newcomers would be to do a bit of background research on Doctor Who before watching this episode. Otherwise, it could just be an altogether confusing experience.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

This is no fairytale, the darkest Christmas episode to date

Author: Paul Evans from Swansea, United Kingdom
8 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Doctor encounters Clara for a second time, she's in the employ of Colonel Latimer, whose governess fell into the garden's pond which froze over. Doctor Simeon and his employer GI seek what's buried under the ice, they control killer snow and savage snowmen. The Doctor is still raw after the loss of Amy and Rory, it's seemingly only Clara that can help. Together with old friends Madam Vastra, Strax and Jenny the Doctor battles foes, new and old.

We have had some sweet, some soft, and some flat Christmas specials, this was much darker, it moved the Christmas episode in a totally different direction.

I said no fairytale, maybe a snippet of Jack and the Beanstalk, the staircase up to where? The redesigned TARDIS room looks fabulous, I love it, it's gone from looking organic to high tech.

Great to see Vastra, Jenny and Strax, although I thought he was killed in a Good man goes to War. Clara is a great addition to the show, it's a great performance from Jenna Coleman, so different to Asylum of the Daleks. Romance AGAIN though, seriously it's only Donna that's not been after him, please not the falling in love with the Doctor again.

Richard E.Grant is totally brilliant as Simeon, at last he's appeared in the show. He cuts a really nasty villain.

The best opening credits, since the show started I love them, feel like they are a proper continuation from the classic series.

Some brilliant special effects, I love the imagery of the frozen governess, scary as.

The Sherlock cameo was very funny, even the music felt like it belongs on that other series.

The first time we see a memory worm, these would appear again in future episodes. The Snowmen look great, technically 2012's Yeti?

I think this is contender for the best Christmas episode of all time, the introduction of an old foe worked wonders. The big reveal at the end is brilliant. It's fantastic 9/10

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Let It Snow...

Author: Matthew Kresal from United States
20 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Christmas specials of the Moffat era have been mixed in terms of quality with the great success of A Christmas Carol and the mixed reception to the Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe in 2011. So the two obvious questions overall then are A) How does this Christmas special rank? And B) How does this serve as the effective first story of Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary year?

As a Christmas special, it is certainly one of the best. For the first time since The Christmas Invasion, we get a Christmas special tasked with effectively relaunching the show. There's the new credit sequence with a new theme arrangement, a brand new TARDIS interior and of course what was at least initially billed as the proper introduction to Jenna Louise-Coleman's character of Clara. The Snowmen becomes something more than just another Christmas special: it becomes the bridge between not only the two parts of Series Seven but also parts of the Matt Smith era.

Indeed, Matt Smith's performance and new costume effectively introduce a new version of the eleventh Doctor as well. The viewer, through Clara, are introduced to a Doctor apparently still recovering from what still seems to have been recent exit of the Pond's which seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back and caused him to effectively retire. The eleventh Doctor has often been said to be an old man in a young man's body and perhaps nowhere else to date does Smith's performance bares that out more. It's Smith's performance, as well as the writing of Moffat, that makes the Doctor's journey from a man sulking in a box on a cloud to a hero once more believable. Indeed, if Smith ever needed to prove his acting chops, then his scenes with Richard E Grant's villainous Dr Simeon makes the case brilliantly.

Speaking of Grant, the story features a strong supporting cast. Grant, and indeed the voice of Sir Ian McKellan, are effectively used with Grant oozing menace with every line. That said, the two of them are underused due to the focus on introducing Clara though perhaps they are so effective because of they appear so sparingly. The Paternoster Gang of Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax return and are put to good use with Dan Starky's comedy Sontaran (never thought I'd write those words) being the most effective scene stealer Doctor Who has featured in sometime. Even the supporting roles such as that of the family that Clara works for are well acted.

Which leads to the one person who hasn't been mentioned but whom the story centers around: Clara played by Jenna Louise-Coleman. Throughout the new series the companions have been the focus of the show and The Snowmen is no exception. Clara is the heart and soul of the story as it is her randomly striking up a conversation with the Doctor in a London street that sets events in motion. Without Clara, would the Doctor have quite literally come down off his cloud? I'm not so sure. What I am sure about, is the strength of Jenna Louise-Coleman's performance as she holds her own not only as Clara the character but also as a performer alongside Smith. It is in their scenes together that the story really comes alive with the wonderful interplay and chemistry between them. Unfortunately, a last second decision by Moffat undermines all this a bit but he instead offers something else: a mystery that reawakens the Doctor and takes him, and us, on a new journey.

The Snowmen also works as the launch into Doctor Who's fifty anniversary year. The Snowmen looks as much backwards as it does forwards. Who or perhaps more accurately what Grant and McKellan turn out to be is a case in point. The story drops all sorts of hints about it from the title itself onwards but it's only really made clear in the final couple of minutes. It's done in a way that hopefully please fans of what came before while thankfully not alienating to those who don't know the old series (indeed, given developments since this aired, one can't help but wonder what Moffat knew and when). The fact that the Doctor has effectively retired and takes convincing to return to what he's always done is an idea that Douglas Adams proposed before he got forced to do Shada instead (something which in turn might explain Adams' attitude towards that unfinished story). Given what would come in the episodes to follow a few months down the road, it's clear that The Snowmen was meant to set the tone for what was to follow and it does so effectively.

Yet The Snowmen has an interesting problem. It focuses heavily on characters, especially the journeys of the Doctor and Clara rather than on the threat posed by Simeon and his snowmen. The result is slightly lopsided as it were: the threat appears throughout the story and is certainly built up but that's not what were supposed to really focus on. For a story that makes rather a point of bringing back something from the show's past, it never really puts it to large use. That isn't to say that Doctor Who isn't or shouldn't be about character development, just that the balance here seems a bit off. How much that actually helps or hinders will certainly be a topic of debate I'm sure.

In the final analysis then, The Snowmen succeeds. It does so firstly as an effective Christmas special though 2010's A Christmas Carol still ranks as the best of the Christmas specials, this one comes a close second minus a couple of faults which can be forgiven nevertheless. It also works to help launch Doctor Who into a major anniversary year with references to and use, somewhat sparingly, of the show's past without be either gratuitous or alienating to those not in the proverbial know. What more can we ask of it?

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